2016/08/28

BOOK HAUL:
AUGUST

I cannot contain my excitement of the fact that autumn is JUST AROUND THE CORNER. I can't wait! There is nothing like fall.

August was a good month. I went to the United States for a couple of weeks, and I must say; NYC is fantastic for going to museums - and bookstores, of course! I had quite some trouble fitting them all in my suitcase on the way home, but I managed!

Anyways, here are the books!



















Now, I'm going to curl up with some hot chocolate and read some of these!
ALL LINKS ARE AFFILIATE
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2016/08/27

BOOK REVIEW:
KITCHEN BY BANANA YOSHIMOTO

Title: Kitchen
Author: Banana Yoshimoto, Megan Backus (translator)
Published: 1988
Language: English (translated from Japanese)
Pages: 150
Rating: 4/5


Summary:
This contains two stories of women in contemporary Japan, dealing with grief, life and love.


Review:
Quite some time ago, I stumbled across this on Instagram and I just instantly felt like this was something I would like - and I was right, it was wonderful.

This book contains two different stories, one longer one (about 110 pages) and a short one (40 pages), but they deal with a lot of the same themes: life in the modern world, overpowering grief and love. Though both were pretty good, I prefer the first one over the last, as I found I was much more connected to the characters in the first one.

I especially loved how the author captured sadness and the thought of being alone. I also love how the author manages to make ordinary life into something worth reading about by using beautiful language, which transforms it into something special. It's simple but lovely.

I would recommend this book if you like slow stories about life. I also think if you've read other Japanese authors and liked their work, this would suit you, as it has something to it that seems to only come out of the East.
You can get this book at The Book Depository*
You can read more about it on Goodreads
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2016/08/26

2016/08/24

BOOKISH REFLECTIONS:
HOW I RATE BOOKS

Around two years ago (blows my mind that it's been two years) I wrote this post on ratings, basically explaining how I rate the books I read. However, after some time has passed, I find myself in need of sharing my updated thoughts on this topic.

What's happened is that I see myself being much stricter in my ratings nowadays. I think it has something to do with reading much more than I used to and having read a fair amount of books, I have developed a bit of a different taste for what I appreciate and what I don't. I also have to say that I trust myself more with my own thoughts on books, now being more able to explain what I think.

I still use a five star rating system (the one Goodreads uses), but my thoughts behind the different ratings has changed a bit:

1 STAR
This rating means I did not like the book. It isn't often I use this rating, as there is almost always something good to find in most of the books I read, but I find that I have used it a couple of times in the last few years, whereas before I never did. It's still rare though.

2 STARS
This means I thought it was OK. I find that there are many books that are just OK, and even though 2 seems like such a strict rating, it's not necessarily. Sometimes a book is just OK and that's fine. 

3 STARS
This rating means I read and enjoyed the book and that I liked it. For me, 3 stars is not a bad rating at all - I find that most of the books that I read are 3 star reads, and most of the time, I would still recommend them, because I enjoyed them, but I'm usually a bit more specific as to what kind of readers I think would enjoy these books. About 40-50% of the books I read get this rating. 

4 STARS
This means I thought the book was great, and there was something to it that made it above average. It also means I would highly recommend it. There will still be an element or two that I thought made it less than perfect (or sometimes just a feeling), but still, 4 star reads are some pretty damn good books. About 30% of the books I read are 4 star reads.

5 STARS
The ultimate rating means I LOVED IT. I used to throw this around to more than a few books, but how often is it that you really love a book? Not that often. Even though not all 5 star reads make it into my favorite shelf, this rating is for books I truly adore and probably push on people. I'd say about 10% of the books I read make it into this category, if not less.


There are things that play into my rating of books that I feel a need to mention:

Genre:
I usually take the genre into consideration when reading a book, as I think it matters. However, it doesn't play as much of a role as it used to, as I think sometimes the genre can be used as an excuse - or sometimes even as a defense - but a good book is a good book. A genre doesn't guarantee a good or bad book, and it shouldn't restrain it.

0.5s:
I don't use 0.5 ratings. I try to make up my mind and if I'm unsure, I usually tip the scale down. 

Expectations:
This is still a big issue. I try to note my expectations in my reviews if it has made an impact, which it often has. It's near impossible to stay unfazed, but I think it's important to mention when it makes a difference.

I hope you found this enlightening. I would love to know how you rate your books (if you do) and if your way differs from mine.
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2016/08/23

TOP 5:
NONFICTION BOOKS I WANT TO READ III

It's time to look at some more nonfiction from my TBR! I've been reaching for so much nonfiction this year and keeping adding tons to my list of books to read, so I thought I would share some with you.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander


This is a book about incarceration in America, a land deemed colorblind, and yet most of the people behind bars are black. I find this topic very interesting, so I can't wait to read this one.

Fearless Girls, Wise Women and Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World by Kathleen Ragan


The title says it all. What I'm most intrigued by is that it looks at tales from many different countries and cultures.

In Search of Buddha's Daughters: A Modern Journey Down Ancient Roads by Christine Toomey


A journalist vividly reports on her two year global journey with women across the world who dedicates their lives of buddhism.

Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years by John Guy


Apparently this is a groundbreaking book that sees our favorite Tudor queen Elizabeth in a new light. Who doesn't love a bit of female power in 16th century?

The Morning They Came For Us: Dispatches from Syria by Janine Di Giovanni


Tales from ordinary people in Syria through one of the most brutal conflicts in recent history. I think this will be heartbreaking but important.

Do you have any nonfiction books on your TBR?

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2016/08/22

BOOK REVIEW:
VINEGAR GIRL BY ANNE TYLER

Title: Vinegar Girl
Author: Anne Tyler
Published: 2016
Language: English
Pages: 240
Rating: 3/5


Summary:
In this retelling of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, a woman realises her father is trying to marry her off to his awkward, foreign lab assistant so he can stay in the country.


Review:
Though I have never read The Taming of the Shrew, I am quite familiar with the plot and so felt like it would be fun to read this retelling. And it was definitely entertaining.

This is a quick and easy read. The characters are good, the plot is fast-paced and amusing and there are parts of dialogue that is quite witty. It doesn't have a lot of big surprises a long the way but it's still a fun ride.

It's not amazing though, and certainly not perfect. I think almost all the characters could've been sharper and the whole story could have dug deeper and hit harder. I found the ending a bit lacking in strength, to be honest, it wasn't quite there for me.

Like I said though, I found it wholly entertaining and I read it in a jiffy. If you enjoy a witty romance, I would recommend it.
You can get this book at The Book Depository*
You can read more about it on Goodreads
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2016/08/20

BOOK REVIEW:
POEMS BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Title: Poems
Author: William Blake
Published: 1905
Language: English
Pages: 288
Rating: 4/5


Summary:
A full collection of poetry by William Blake.


Review:
Reading this felt like visiting an old friend. I first read Blake in my teens and it's one of the reasons I fell in love with poetry, so he will always have a special place in my heart and remains one of my favorites.

I had read quite a lot of the poems in this already, but it was lovely with a reread. There were also some new ones I discovered, and though I don't equally enjoy all his poems, there is more I like than not. What I like most about his poetry is that one poem often has a counterpart that shows the other side of the coin, such as innocence turned on its head.

One of my many favorites by him is A Divine Image;

Cruelty has a Human Heart
And Jealousy and Human Face
Terror the Human Form Divine
And Secrecy the Human Dress

The Human Dress is forged Iron
The Human Form a fiery Forge
The Human Face a Furnace seal'd
The Human Heart its hungry Gorge
p. 76

His themes are usually focused around religion, politics of his day and quite a bit of philosophy, so if you like the sound of that, I would definitely recommend reading some of his poems.
You can get this book at The Book Depository*
You can read more about it on Goodreads

PS: This edition is to die for!



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2016/08/19

2016/08/16

TOP 5:
RECOMMENDED BOOKS I LOVED

As most of my friends and many members of my family are readers as well, they often recommend books to me, and today I thought I would share five that I read because they suggested it - and loved.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss


This was recommended to me, or rather, pushed upon me and nagged on until I read it, by a friend of a friend in high school. I wasn't completely convinced until one of my other friends read it and raved, but then I read it, and I LOVED IT. If there's one fantasy book I would recommend to everyone, it's this one.

PS: Still waiting impatiently for the third and final book in this trilogy, PATRICK!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky


This was recommended to me once when I was in a bookstore. I picked it up to read the back and the saleswoman rushed over to me, looked me in the eye and said: YOU NEED TO READ THIS ONE. So I did. And it was fantastic.

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami


The recommendation for this came from a colleague, who also kindly lent it to me. It was one of my favorite books last year. It's a weird one, but so good!

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


If there's one book all bookstores recommend, as well as everyone whose ever read it, it's this one. There's a very good reason for that - it's great.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


This is the first book I can remember reading when I was a kid - recommended by the lovely woman who worked in the library at my school. Students were allowed to go to the library once they'd finished their assignments and I was almost always the first, and I remember her giving me this book and winking at me. It's still one of my favorite books to this day.


Do you have any books you always recommend to people? If so, which ones?

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