Hello, friends! I hope you find my book recommendations useful. Some might be wondering why I always give books high ratings and never share bad reviews. Well, it’s simple. If I don’t enjoy a book I do not finish it and when I don’t finish a book, I just don’t feel comfortable rating or reviewing it. Usually, the first 10 to 20% of a book is enough to tell me if I will like it or not. After that, I stop reading and move on to the next book on my TBR. I know some readers find it difficult to give up on books, but I’m not one of them. My TBR list is so long, and there are always unread books available on my shelf (or Kindle) that I find it necessary to move on.
Books Keep Us Alive
White Nights by Fyodor Dostoevsky is a beautifully written short story. I read it for a book club I recently joined, and thoroughly enjoyed the story.
I find it sweet, heartwarming, and heartbreaking all at the same time. The story is told in first person narrative, where the protagonist shares four memorable nights of his otherwise mundane life.
He is a shy person, who never interacts with other people and mostly lives in his dream world. He calls himself a dreamer and understands that his way of life isn’t normal. But he is unable to do anything to change his circumstances.
Quite unexpectantly, he falls in love and spends some fleeting moments with a girl he knows he will never forget. And then, he wonders if those few white nights would be enough to sustain him throughout his otherwise dark life.
To be fair, the plot is nothing special. I have read stories like this before, maybe even written one or two. But what sets this one apart is the writing style and the dialogue. Within a few pages, the author has created two of the most developed fictional characters I have ever come across. And I’m still wondering how is that even possible. Must be something special about the author if he can make us feel so much identification with his characters. As a person who has never been in love, this story made me feel as if I have; as if I have been in the protagonist’s shoes; as if it is my story that the author is relating. And that, my friends, is a beautiful feeling for a reader.
I know classics are rarely everyone’s cup of tea, but this story is most definitely my cup of tea. Loved it and will be re-reading it many times, I’m sure.
Books Breathe New Life Into Us
Unfortunately, It Was Paradise by Mahmoud Darwish is a poetry collection by one of the most renowned Arabic poets. It is translated by Munir Akash and Amira El-Zein.
I don’t know if it is the translation or the poetry itself, but I don’t think I’ll read this author again. While I can feel the author’s pain through his words, overall I wasn’t able to enjoy the book. But then, not everything is everyone’s cup of tea. I rarely read poetry and there aren’t many poets I’m a fan of. So, it’s understandable that I didn’t become a fan of Darwish. Still, based on the writing I’d give it a 3 stars rating, meaning that I also didn’t completely hate the book.
The thing I took away from this collection is a profound sense of loss, grief, and hopelessness. As if the author is disappointed in humanity and can’t find any good thing about it. I suppose, when you consider Darwish’s background, it’s understandable. Yet, I found some of these pieces too depressing to fully appreciate their beauty. I will sum up this book in the poet’s own words;
So where are these questions leading me?
I am from here, I am from there, yet am neither here nor there.
Books Bring Us Back to Life
After reading a few non-mysteries, I needed another Agatha Christie book to sustain me. That’s how I ended up picking my sixth Christie mystery of the month. Halloween Party by Agatha Christie is unlike any other Hercule book I have read so far. If I recall correctly it is one of the last books starring my all-time favorite detective. I might not have enjoyed this book if I wasn’t completely biased about Mr Poirot. There are too many unnecessary things and the ending isn’t as satisfying as I would have liked. Still, it’s not bad for a lazy day.
This is the first Christie book that really made me angry at the killer; where psychology failed to explain anything; where the killer has absolutely no personality and we don’t get to see their side of things. I always say that the strongest point of an Agatha Christie mystery is her character development and insights into human psychology. Unfortunately, that is not the case in this book and I find it disappointing. But that didn’t mean I would rate it any less than 5 stars. Why? You might ask and you will be well within your rights to question it. It’s because where it’s lacking in one aspect, it’s perfect in another. This is also the first Christie book that gave me the chills; that scared me. I know technically Agatha Christie’s books are murder mysteries but I have always thought of them as cozy mysteries. There is no thrill factor. But Halloween Party is an exception. I found it quite thrilling. I think part of it is because the victim is a child. Anyhow, this book isn’t an instant recommendation from me. I don’t vouch for it. You might like it or you might hate it.
Elephants Can Remember is another Agatha Christie book that I found to be mediocre. It seems that Hercule Poirot is getting old and the stories are getting boring. Anyhow, these are the last few Poirot mysteries that the author wrote. If I’m not mistaken, I will be saying goodbye to Hercule after the Curtain; his final mystery. I have already started the book and enjoying it immensely. Although it is making me a little sad to see Hercule in a wheelchair. Hastings has returned, though. I honestly missed him and wondered why must he move to a different continent after his marriage. Anyhow, good to see him back for the last mystery with his friend.
But we are getting off track. This review is about Elephants can Remember. At times, I wondered if Agatha even wrote this book. It is definitely not her usual style. I can almost feel that she is bored with her own characters. It has the most unoriginal and predictable plotline that I have ever come across in a mystery. In one word, this book is dull. And I do not recommend it to anyone.
I won’t say, I didn’t enjoy it though. But my situation is indifferent. I have been reading Hercule Poirot’s books in (almost) chronological order. And I’m glad that I read it because it will make it easier to read the final book in this wonderful murder-mystery series. Don’t worry, I’m not saying goodbye to Agatha Christie yet. There are several Miss Marple mysteries that I haven’t read.