Sunday 29 September 2013

Books of September

I know September is not over yet but I think I can make a recap of the books I've read on September. I've been also reading Sherlock Holmes' Complete Stories but since I haven't finish it yet I won't put it among these books. Most of these books were read on holiday. I made some little comments on these books under the cut. 


Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer (9/10)
Jonathan Safran Foer, a young American Jew and an aspiring writer travels to Ukraine to search Augustine, the woman who saved his grandfather's life during the Nazi liquidation. In this journey Alex, a Ukrainian native who is fond of American culture and his grandfather accompany him with their very limited guiding services.
This book was on my to-read list for a while since it's acknowledged as one of the best books written in 21st century in many lists. Firstly I must say, this is not a holocaust book. The book has two story arcs. One is Jonathan's family's history starting 4-5 generations back and the other one is their journey's story told by Alex. At first the story of Jonathan's family seemed more intriguing to me and this may be caused by Alex's less catchy language. But as the story progressed I wondered more about their journey and the characters, grandfather, Alex, Jonathan and their secrets and read the book in quite little time. Which means I liked it. A lot. 

Making History - Stephen Fry (6/10)
Michael Young, a history PhD student on the verge of completing his thesis meets Leo Zuckermann, a physics professor who is extremely interested in Michael's studies because of this father's past; early years of Adolf Hitler's life. As Leo's obsession leads them to the idea of changing history, the effects on bigger scale is not considered, of course.
I seem to be reading a lot of books related to holocaust this month, don't I. Well, coincidence. Anyway, for me the most entertaining part of this book is Fry's sense of humor. Half of the story is told by Michael Young himself while the other part takes place in history. Mostly personal history of Hitler and later introduced Rudolf Gloder, a fictional addition to Hitler's and world's history. The butterfly effect, 'changing little things can change the whole course of events' is the main idea of the book and the personal details of never existed historical characters or events is the main attraction. All in all, although it's not a masterpiece and some characters get a bti stereotyped (like Jane) it was a fun read. Especially the details like unchangable destiny of Leo's father.

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn (6/10)
"There are two sides to every story." That's the catch phrase of the book. Amy Elliot Dunne, a woman who moves to North Carthage, Missouri from NYC with his husband goes missing and all evidence is directing that his husband, Nick Dunne had killed her. 
When I first started the novel, I thought that first sentence meant that one side is Nick's side (after Amy went missing) and Amy's side (Amy's diary) but it's not. The story changes in second half of the book and my review might include some minor spoilers after this point. Before going to detail I must say that every character in this story is unlikable, despicable and not in a 'everybody has flaws' kind of way. In first part, we realize that Nick is a mysogynistic a**hole while Amy is naive woman but it didn't make me like Amy. It made me hate her, too. Because I couldn't understand or sympathize with an intelligent woman who can see all of these but do nothing. After second part, maybe we should like Nick more since Amy turns out to be someone other than the manic pixie dream girl we thought she was but a psychopath (not too bad maybe?). But the book keeps Nick still as the bad guy. Maybe not bad as killing his wife bad but as a cheating, ignorant fool. So in the end I thought 'Yeah, you deserve each other. At least you can ruin each others' life but not others". I don't say the book is bad or the characters are badly written. But the characters are 'bad'.

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (8/10)
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. 

The Book Thief, one of the most discussed books lately (probably due to the upcoming film of the book) was recommended by many people. Taking place in Munich in WWII, it is surely a holocaust book but it is more than that. I'm not going to go into details, except to say that I enjoyed the book thoroughly. The fact that story is told by death itself, books being one of the main characters, details of daily life and characters affects you deeply. I'm not going to talk about this book much though, mostly because I feel like there are a lot of reviews already and I think the beauty of the book is mostly on little things that can't be told simply. 
South of the Border, West of the Sun - Haruki Murakami (8/10)
This one is a little novel about a man, Hajime who realizes that he's been longing for his first love interest Shimamoto all his life. The book starts with him telling the story of Shimamoto and his other girlfriends, women in his life and finally his wife. Being married and having two kids complicates the matter and his confusion. In general I think the whole book is like a jazz song and tells the story of how other people gets into our lives and how love can be in many varieties and many dimensional. The story is told in a very egocentric way, from Hajime's point of view, not taking into account women's stories and while it makes you wonder those stories, like Shimamoto's, it also makes it hard to sympatize with them or understand their motives. Although I'm not an expert on Murakami's books (read only one or two), I love his way of making me question character's reliability. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman (9/10)
Oh, I've been long waiting to read this book because NEIL GAIMAN! (I love him. Can you tell?) Anyway the story is about a man who visits his hometown for a funeral and remembers what happened 40 years ago, when family lodger commited suicide and striring some ancient powers related with the house at the end of the lane. I'm not adding to story more not because of fear of revealing spoiler but because I think this book's story is not about the end. It's how a children story should be and I read it with a feeling that it's a bed time story told by my parents. In this story, like in the other Gaiman books, the details, the little unrealistic facts seemed to make so much sense that I thought that it's the reality or how it should be and how I couldn't think that before. So in the end, Hempstocks, the ocean, the house, the moon is so real, in a magical way.


  1. I approve of this post. Too bad I couldn't get the hang of Gone Girl, seems a bit overhyped to me. Looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of that Murakami, tho.