Books of 2019 – Madame Bovary, I Capture the Castle, Life According to Lubka and more

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This is the last post in the Books of 2019 series! Wow, I’ve hit 20 books since I started keeping count in October this year. Not bad. Most of them are pleasure reads and nothing too taxing, and I’m happy to have found this world of beautiful books again! As a result of this, I’ve been watching less TV than usual.

Let’s get straight into December reads. I had a good start, but had a week or so without much reading… Still, I’ve managed to read some good books this month. I really wanted to read a book I could rate 5 star, but sadly, that was not to be.

14. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert – 4/5

Tragic. Dull ache of a read. The story moves very fast which I liked. Melancholic, very observant & honest, however, there were too many unnecessary descriptions. I skimmed through some of the descriptive paragraphs. Emma is quite an unlikeable character, and I felt in this day and age she’d have been diagnosed as being bipolar or with depression. Again, thinking about it from today’s perspective if she’d had a job of her choosing, something that helped with self actualisation, it might’ve been a different story. I did feel bad for Charles, the husband. But his blindness towards her anguish was also strange. I liked that the author commented with his take on Emma’s behaviour…. sometimes authors don’t do that with unlikeable characters such as Elena’s Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, although, of course, there’s a difference between the two as Ferrante wrote in first person narrative (Elena), while Flaubert wrote as a third person omniscient narrator. Anyway, overall this was a good book, and I’d recommend it. I can see why it’s a classic, since it’s one of the first ever written honest & somewhat thrilling psychological portraits, but I don’t think it’s a MUST read.

15. Life According to Lubka by Laurie Graham – 3.5/5

Largely entertaining, but needed a better editor. Too many typos. Language could’ve been better. It felt a bit disappointing in some ways because prompts for further examination of some simple truths of life were there but they were not explored fully.

16. I capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – 3/5

This was the most frustrating book I read this month. I actually picked up this book with the confidence (based on the many reviews I’d read) that it will end up being a 5 star read. Sadly, it was utterly disappointing (the second half). I LOVED the first half and can easily rate it a 5. But the second half felt like it was written by somebody else!! The second half is a 1 for me, so it would average out to a 3.

It is a bit Austenian in the sense that it is a comment on & satire of the society and position of women during that period. However, there were many themes which were treated with such nonchalance that it was quite shocking for me. Violence against women, emotional neglect, snobbery. The characters were not actually likeable (especially the father) (I liked Cassandra in the first half, not second half where she turns into this highly weepy and deluded teenager), EXCEPT Stephen. If you read it and also feel annoyed by it, feel free to drop a line to discuss it! It’s a hugely popular book though and also considered a “classic” by many, so may be you’ll like the ending! I didn’t, but oh well.

17. Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by MC Beaton – 4/5

Another comforting, relaxing instalment of Aggie! Very pleased with it.

18. Death of a Gossip by MC Beaton – 3/5

Since I’ve been loving on Agatha Raisin this much, I wanted to try out other series by MC Beaton. However, I didn’t quite like this book much. It was just meh. It took me a long time to get into the book, unlike Agatha Raisin which was go go go. It was hard to get to know the main character, as the story isn’t really told from his perspective mainly. There’s a lot of head jumping, so it’s hard to relate. I understand though that it improves vastly from Book 2 onwards, so let’s hope that’s the case! I have the next one with me, and can’t wait to get into it!

19. The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith – 4/5 

20. The full cupboard of life by Alexander McCall Smith

– 4/5

I read two more instalments of Mma Ramotswe (Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series) this month, and both were fabulous, as expected. They feel like a warm mug of soup on a cold, grey winters day. Side note, I had first picked up the first book in the series in Law School from the Common Room Library, but felt bored with it and returned it without finishing it. Now, however, I see so much meaning and wisdom in these books. Though many teenagers might read these, these are the kind of books you appreciate more the older you get. Much like the Anne of Green Gables series. There is so much life experience here.

Abandoned:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

TEDIOUS. Utterly under-researched, and quite stupid honestly. It’s the post apocalyptic world, yet gypsy theatre performers have 100 candles lit up at the edge of the stage at a time when the author is trying to demonstrate how even basic necessities are scarce?!? Also, why/ how did this virus wipe out all civilisation? If its such a fast virus, it wouldve been contained. Also, North America is not the only place on earth. Surely, with such a deadly outbreak there would’ve been more serious attempts at quarantining the infected people? Also, why are people living in shops in the post apocalyptic world? Clearly buildings have survived, so dwelling houses/ units could still be occupied? Writing is a bit bizarre, flits and flops between characters and timeframes, and also rambles on. Characters randomly introduced and left behind. I reached page 100 and was very underwhelmed, and frankly quite annoyed. ABANDONED after 100 pages.

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

Not my brand of humour, felt very contrived. Abandoned after 50 odd pages. I read somewhere that if you’re not LOLing within the first few pages then it’s not for you, and decided to take that seriously.

Currently reading The Hobbit. It’s nice, but nothing too exciting. Quite a bit of wisdom in there, so that’s good. Let’s see.

My TBR pile has grown alarmingly tall/ long in the past few weeks. I have finally managed to stop ordering books every second day, but November and early December saw a surge in book ordering resulting in my TBR pile hitting 30!! And this is just all the books I have RECENTLY ordered (i.e. not counting the 10 odd fiction titles and may be 25 non fiction title from the past few years lying in my shelves). Most are paperbacks, as I really love paperbacks and don’t love reading on the Kindle as much. I hope to not order more books until my TBR pile has whittled to under 5. Ambitious.

Also, Happy New Year!

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