Reading Wrap Up | May 2017

My best month so far with eight physical books and one audio book. I spent a lot of time at the airport/on the plane/in public transport at the beginning of the month and got a lot of reading done. So much that I actually had to borrow books from my family while staying at their house because I had nothing more to read with me. I finished all the books I got from the library as well and I’m planning to just give them back and not take out any new ones because I really got to read my TBR books.

What did you read in May? Let me know in the comments.

Mark Gatiss – The Vesuvius Club // Book One in the Lucifer Box Series. I really enjoy Mark Gatiss as an actor and as a writer for Doctor Who and Sherlock and was planning to pick his book up for years now. I finally managed and although it is something completely different to his normal work I enjoyed it. Lucifer Box is an aristocrat but also a spy in his majesty’s service. In this particular adventure he has to solve the murders of three famous scientists in England and Italy. Lucifer is lavish, flamboyant and of questionable moral nature which makes the novel entertaining and different. The crime was deliberately unrealistic and exaggerated so don’t go in with too high expectations on that part.

John le Carré – The Night Manager // John le Carré is the master of spy novels and The Night Manager is no exception. After having crossed paths with arms dealer Richard Roper in Cairo, Jonathan Pine wants to end him and his friends when he meets them again in Switzerland. He becomes an informant and burns all bridges to his past to infiltrate Roper’s close circle. Although the book was not a complete action thriller but slowly grew Jonathan’s evolution into a spy and friendship with Roper, it had me on the edge all the same. But the forbidden alliance with Roper’s girlfriend Jed became a bigger factor then necessary in my eyes and was much better suited for the BBC series with Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie.

Sophia Amoruso – #GIRLBOSS // A fast, entertaining read from the woman behind NastyGal, an ebay business that become one of the biggest online retailers in the US. There are some good ideas and quotes to take away from the book but it was also quite repetitive and not something I had never heard before. It would definitely fall under the category „empowering feminist read“ for all those HBOs Girls Fans out there. I like the Netflix series that’s very loosely based on the book more than the book itself.

Paolo Giordano – The Solitude of Prime Numbers // Both Alice and Mattia had something happen in their childhoods that took happiness away of them and they are nursing their insecurities, aversions and regrets throughout their lives. When they meet at school they have the chance to lift each other out of their misery but life just won’t play along. Something for fans of sort-of-sad-ending lovestories like 500 Days of Summer or La La Land but not as good as them overall to paint over the – for me – unsatisfactory ending.

Richard Flanagan – Gould’s Book of Fish // William Buelow Gould is the perfect unreliable narrator. What is fact and what is fiction in his history of life imprisonment in the most feared penal colony in Australia? The reader has to be willing to go into this novel; its gruesome aspects as well as its meta-narrative which is true for all of Flanagan’s novels. I would definitely recommend it but don’t expect an easy read.

They say the storyteller is the man who would let the wick of his life be consumed by the flame of his story. But like good Trim Shandy I shall confine myself to no man’s rule. Next to my paintings I intend to make a bonfire of words, say anything if it illuminates a paltry momement of truth in my poor pictures. (p91)

Lauren Graham – Someday, Someday, Maybe // Possibly very loosey based on Lauren Graham’s own life, this novel is about Fanny Banks whose self-set deadline to become an actress in New York is coming near. And she has nothing to show for her three years spent in the Big Apple. Will her acting group’s final show be her ticket to stardom or should she move back home, marry her college-sweetheart and become a teacher like her father? A funny story that’s full of the quirkiness and comedy I have so dearly missed in the new Gilmore Girls episodes, Lauren Graham’s book is an entertaining, quick read if you need something to pick up your spirits.

J. G. Ballard – High-Rise // I have still no idea how to rate this novel or even describe it. Hundreds of tennants move into a newly built high-rise at the outskirts of London but soon tensions between them arise over the failing electricity, air-conditioning and garbage disposal which ends in violence and death. The building is basically a vertical class system with rich people at the top and poor people at the bottom. Throughout the novel those groups basically get into a war over who’s in charge and let all social norms behind them. It is gruesome and completely mental. If you liked American Psycho I am sure you will enjoy this as well.

Margaret Atwood – Hag-Seed // Margaret Atwood’s retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series. It is a good retelling of the original play but does not satisfy on its own. Atwood takes up the theme of revenge and put’s it into a modern setting while playing with the theatre notion of the original on several levels. After being sacked before he can stage his great rendition of The Tempest, the theatre director Felix nurses his wounded pride for years and becomes obsessed with the people responsible for his downfall. He seems to settle in his quiet life and work as an unconventional english teacher for non-violent offenders at a correctional facilty but when the occasion for revenge arises, Felix – like Prospero – puts on an elaborate play to make his enemies pay. The ending then seems lacklustre and wraps all ends up too nicely. One of the things I also dislike about the original. But the modern take on staging Shakespeare’s plays by Felix‘ „students“ was an aspect I really enjoyed.

Giulia Enders – Gut // A non-fictional book about our most underrated organ: The Gut. With a witty tone and humourous illustrations, Giulia Enders explains how the health of our gut influences our whole body and mind. It is informative and easy to read, but the book turned out not as funny as I hoped which might me due to the translation since I haven’t read the original.

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