Hello, people! I was tagged to do this fun tag by the lovely Anna @MyBookishDream – thank you so much! Here are my answers:
1. Totally Should’ve Gotten A Sequel
I don’t think I have an answer for this one… I prefer stand-alone books, so I don’t think any of the books I like would’ve benefited from a sequel. Maaaybe it would be nice to have another book by Ellen Evert Hopman in her trilogy about the Celts. Each book has it’s own story, especially the last one, so it wouldn’t ruin anything, and I would like to read more about that period in history.
2. Totally Should’ve Gotten A Spin-Off Series
I’ll have to agree with Anna on this one, some Harry Potter spin-offs would be great! The Founders Era sounds particularly interesting. But, not to repeat the same answer, I would love to read a spin-off about Natalie Oscott from The Memoris of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. I loved her, and I think her story would be very interesting since she’s a female inventor in a Victorian-like world.
3. An Author Who Should Write More Books
Honesty, most of my favourite authors are dead. XD I’ll have to go with Elen Evert Hopman again. She did write quite a lot of non-fiction, but I’d really like to read more fiction from her. Her books are mostly historical fiction, but they feel so magical.
4. A Character Who Totally Should’ve Ended Up With Someone Else
These questions are obviously very hard for me. XD I’m not a big “shipper” so I don’t really know… I don’t really have a couple I hate.
5. Totally Should’ve Had A Movie Franchise
I don’t really like books being turned into movies… Oh, my, I sound like a real hater in in this post! XD But, yeah, I prefer books to stay books, and movies to come up with original plots. If I had to pick, I’d definitely say The Vampire Chronicles. Yes, it’s been done before, but I’m ready for a new one. Apparently, a tv show is in the making and I really hope it will be great.
6. Totally Should’ve Kept The Original Covers
I literally have no answer for this one… Soooo, can I turn it around? The old cover I saw for The Daughter of the Forest was pretty, but the new one blew me away with its simplicitly. I think it’s prettier that the original one. Unfortunatelly, I think the other two books in the series haven’t been published with new covers yet…
7. Totally Should’ve Stopped At Book One
I think The Vampire Chonicles should’ve stopped after book three. Maybe the books about Armand and Marius could stay, as spin-offs, but I think the first three were perfect and the rest was just too much. Tale of the Body Thief wasn’t that bad, but I didn’t like Memnoch the Devil at all. I’ve recently read Prince Lestat, and I enjoyed it at first, and was happy to meet the characters again, but in the end I though it was meh…
And, that’s it! I won’t be tagging anyone this time, but I hope some of you will do this tag! 😉
Hello, bloggers and other visitors! I recently noticed a hashtag on Instagram called Classics Thursday, and it gave me the idea to start a similar “meme” here on the blog. I’ve seen it on @katha_logisch and I’m not sure who the actual creator is, but I hope they don’t mind my idea of writing posts to accompany the Instagram photo. I’ve actually been thinking about making my blog and my Instagram more connected, so this is one way to do that, too. Anyway, the plan is to write a post about a classic on Thursdays (probably not every Thursday, but as often as I can manage).
My first Classic Spotlight post will be about one of my favourite classics, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. Well, actually, it won’t be about the book, but the author’s Preface, which is a very important piece of feminist writing. In the preface, Anne Brontë responds to those who found her book too scandalous (and, sadly, her sister Charlotte was one of them). Some found it especially concerning that the author of such a book is female.
In the novel, Brontë writes about alcoholism, and the suffering of a woman whose husband is an alcoholic. The main character, Helen Huntington, leaves her husband to protect her son from his father’s influence, aware of the gossip and scandal her decision might cause.
What’s interesting to me is that Helen never actually divorces her husband – she even comes back to take care of him as he is dying. She is also extremely pious. Nothing Helen does is truly scandalous. Today, no one would find the novel too graphic either. And yet, that was how it was perceived. This opens some questions about censorhip and the many books that get banned even today for similar reasons.
This is what Anne Brontë writes in defence of her novel:
“…when we have to do with vice and vicious characters, I maintain it is better to depict them as they really are than as they would wish to appear. To represent a bad thing in its least offensive light is, doubtless, the most agreeable course for a writer of fiction to pursue; but is it the most honest, or the safest? Is it better to reveal the snares and pitfalls of life to the young and thoughtless traveller, or to cover them with branches and flowers? Oh, reader! if there were less of this delicate concealment of facts – this whispering, ‘Peace, peace,’ when their is no peace, there would be less of sin and misery to the young of both sexes who are left to wring their bitter knowledge from experience.”
I have to agree with Anne Brontë completely. Life can be gruesome and horrible, and literature should be allowed to present it as it is. I know some people are sensitive to graphic imagery, and that is fine, they should be warned about it so that they can avoid the books which disturb them. However, this doesn’t mean that such books should be banned. Literature, and art in general, has the right to question and to provoke. Anne Brontë’s words are a voice against censorship. She also writes about equility, and says:
All novels are, or should be, written for both men and women to read, and I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man.
Quite opiniated and maybe not as meek as she was usually protrayed to be, eh? You can read the entire preface by Anne Brontë HERE, it is great, and short.
Company of Liars is, for now, exactly what I wanted it to be. Yes, I haven’t gotten far enough into it to give final judgement, but what I can say is that it portrays the Middle Ages very well. I just finished Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England so I’ve brushed up on my knowledge of the Medieval Period. I’ve always been fascinated by this era, and if you are, too, than I highly recommend Ian Mortimer’s book. It’s about how people actually lived during the fourteenth century, which is something that has always interested me.
Now, back to Company of Liars. A lot of things mentioned in The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England come to life in this novel. It takes place in England, in 1348, at that start of one of the plague outbreaks. Similar to some famous medieval works, such as TheCanterbury Tales and The Decameron, it follows a group of people who try to escape the disease. And while the book is quite realistic and historically accurate (at least it seems so to me, but I’m just an enthusiast, not an expert), it also has elements of fantasy and the supernatural. This works really well because belief in the supernatural was very strong during the Middle Ages. And it makes the novel feel eerie, which I really like.
Hope may be an illusion, but it’s what keeps you from jumping in a river or swallowing hemlock. Hope is a beautiful lie and it requires talent to create it for others. And back then on that day when they say it all began, I truly believed that the creation of hope was the greatest of all the arts, the noblest of all the lies. I was wrong.
This quote I chose to share with you is from the very beginning of the novel. The man who says it sells relics which he knows are fake, but still, he believes they provide hope and comfort for people who buy them. I think it’s a very interesting thought. Is false hope completely bad, or can it do some good? I’m quite a sceptic, so false hope rarely works for me, but it might help some people in a way that it gives them power to move on and maybe even find a solution to their problems.
What do you think? Feel free to chat with me. Also, have you read this book? What did you think of it?
I wasn’t actually tagged to do this, but I saw it on @acourtofbookandlove and I realised I really wanted to do it. The tag combines books and music, and it’s always nice to talk about other things you like, apart from books. So, here it goes:
1. My Jam
A song you MUST listen to every time it comes on, no matter how old or how many times you’ve listened to it. + A book you’ll never get sick of.
My songs rarely come on. XD But sometimes, Youtube suggests something I’ve listened to many times before, and if that video is Deception by The Cruxshadows I always click on it. Or if it’s Sleepwalking. Oh, I love this song! Well, I love The Cruxshadows in general, so when I see them in recommended videos, I just click. XD
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley if my favourite book, so, of course, I’ll have to choose that one. How could I ever get sick of it if I adore it?
A song that reminds you of the cringiest time of your life. + A book that also reminds you of this time (or just something you wouldn’t like as much if you picked it up for the first time now).
Oh, my “emo” phase in high school… I have nothing against emos, definitely not, but I was really silly in that period of my life, and not really emo. I was always a goodie-two-shoes, and that’s fine, but I stressed about stupid things and people who didn’t really deserve it. Anyway, my emo side reached its bottom with Lover I Don’t Have to Love by Bright Eyes, and I don’t even know why I felt such a connection to that song since it was far away from everything I actually was. (I never even drank and the song is about drugs and sex.) So, to my teenage readers: your problems are going to pass, just as this cringy phase of my life. Trust me and don’t lose hope! People who make you hate yourself will be forgotten.
The book perfect for this question is Twilight. I was almost as pathetic as Bella, so I sympathised with her. I really should’ve read about someone stronger than her, but hey, then I wouldn’t be able to feel so sorry about myself all the time. XD
A recent song you have on repeat right now + A recent favorite book
I don’t listen to many “recent” songs, but Korn released a new single Black is the Soul this summer and I really like it. When I first heard of this song I spent the day repeating the video on Youtube many times in a row.
My recent favourite book is Bright Air Black by David Vann. Such a great book! I actually wrote a post about it while I was still reading it.
4. Gets Me
The song IS ME + The book is me in book form
I don’t know exactly why, but White Flag by The Romanovs is really “my song”. There’s just something very mysterious and poetic about it. It even gave me inspiration to write. It’s probably my favourite song ever.
I already mentioned that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is my favourite book. It just has everything I like. And yet, I feel like (the first three books of)Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice might be me in book form. It started my love for vampires, and my enthusiasm for everything creepy and Gothic. Maybe I wouldn’t have liked Frankenstein as much if I haven’t had my vampire phase before reading it. (It wasn’t a phase, though. I’ll always love vampires.)
Weird but I like it?
+ A unique book that stuck out to you for whatever reason
Anything by Emilie Autumn is a bit weird, and she’s my favourite musician so I have to mention her. If I had to go for just one weird song by her, I’d chose Time for Tea. It’s very murderous. 😉
When it comes to books, I really like medieval sagas, which may be strange to some people. My favourite is The Song of the Nibelungs. Together with Norse sagas and mythology, this book inspired Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
6. Let’s Go
Best pump up song (for workouts or just life)
+ A book that inspired you
I don’t really work out. I do yoga almost every day, but I do that in silence, and I rarely feel full of energy (low blood pressure and iron deficiency does that to a person XD) but I’d say Queen really picks me up. Show Must go On, I Want to Break Free, Bohemian Rhapsody… All of them!
So many book have inspired me… It’s so hard to chose one. Daphne du Murier is definitely a great writer and I wish I could write as she does, so I’ll choose Rebecca for this question.
Fav chill, relaxing song
+ A book you’d curl up with and read on a rainy day
I don’t really listen to relaxing music. I’m all gloom and doom. XD The Romanovs are the closest to that, I guess, but they are also quite dark when it comes to lyrics. But sad can be relaxing, too, I guess? So, I’ll say Sad Theme For a Marriage by Lacrimas Profundere. Christopher’s voice is so deep and wonderful, it’s really relaxing.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë sounds perfect for a rainy day!
Guilty pleasure song – one that’s catchy and addicting but not a whole lot of substance
+ Guilty pleasure/trashy/fast/light read
For a strange reason, I really like Mika. He’s so happy, and I never listen to happy songs, but he’s the exception to the rule. So I have to choose Grace Kelly by Mika as my guilty pleasure song, though I think his songs do have substance.
I rarely read light, fast books. They kind of annoy me. XD But I’d say Soulless by Gail Carriger falls into this category. It’s witty, but also quite silly…
Throwback you look back on fondly
+ A book you read forever ago that you look back on fondly or reminds you of a happy childhood time
Anything by Evanescence, if I had to choose one song it would be Bring Me to Life since it’s the first song I’ve heard by them. Besides Marilyn Manson and Korn, Evanescence opened the door for me to all the music I listen to now. And while I still listen to Manson and Korn, I don’t listen to Evanescence as often, so it really feels nostalgic when I do.
And when it comes to childhood books, I’ll actually have to go with a graphic novel. W.I.T.C.H. was everything to me when I was about thirteen. I loved it so much!
And that’s it! Hope this was fun for you as it was for me. 🙂
What kind of music do you listen to? Who are your favourites bands and artists? Feel free to share, or you can do this tag if you think it would be fun for you. 🙂
The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.
How Does It Work:
Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog
Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog
My Answers to Lana’s Questions:
1. Is there something you can tell readers about yourself and your blog?
Well, my name is Irena and I’m a tea-drinking, almond-eating bookworm and the mother of chinchillas. (Two chinchilla girls, Seffi and Kira.) And my blog is mostly about books. I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing here, but I like to talk about books so I do that. XD
2. What satisfaction do you get from blogging?
As I said, I like to talk about books. It’ really fun for me to write the posts for the blog. It’s also great when I get some book recommendations from other bloggers.
3. How do you bring traffic to your blog?
I don’t. XD I really don’t try to bring traffic at all. I just write my posts and hope people will read them.
4. What’s something that you’d like to improve on this year?
I would probably like to write more regularly and have some kind of a schedule…
5. How do you get motivated to blog?
I am usually motivated, the only problem is to find time for writing posts. My motivation is usually low when I’m very busy. I write less often then, but still manage to keep up.
6. Do you have any favorite books this year?
Yes! Bright Air Black by David Vann, and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, which I finished a few days ago, are amazing books! I also finished Marie Brennan’s series Memoirs of Lady Trent which I really liked.
7. Are there any songs you’re into right now, or music artists?
Well, of course, though I rarely listen to new music. My tastes haven’t changed in years. XD I like Korn’s new single Black is the Soul and another song they haven’t released a video for The Hating. These songs also made me want to listen to some of their older songs as well.
8. What do you like to do with your spare time?
I read (well, who would’ve guessed that XD), watch my chinchillas eat (it’s so cute!), and since it’s summer I like to go swimming in the sea (I hate crowded beaches, though, so I just stay in the sea for as long as I can, and then go home XD). I also like to make almond butter, and eat it afterwards, of course. And I like to spend time with those few people I love. 🙂
9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Oh, no, don’t ask me that! I have some idea, but who knows.
10. If you could choose ONLY 5 subjects to read on other blogs, what would they be? (Books, music, film, health, etc.)
Books, mythology, healthy food and recipes, film, and history. I just recently spent the entire afternoon reading about medieval fashin on the internet. XD
11. Do you make money from your blog? If not, do you have plans to try in the future?
I wish! XD But no, mine is just a small blog.
1. What is your favourite period in history (the one you find most interesting)?
2. If you could be a fictional character for a day, who would you be and why?
3. What is your favourite TV show at the moment?
4. What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2017? (Or at least one of the best, I know it can be hard to choose.)
5. Do you have a favourite toy, from childhood or now? (Yes, I still buy toys for myself.)
6. Who are some of your favourite villains?
7. What is the favourite place you’ve visited?
8. What is your favourite snack?
9. If you had to choose, would you rather become a vampire or a werewolf?
10. Pirates or ninjas? 😛
11. Share a quote you really like!
This is a great topic! I’ll just start showing some lovely covers, straight away! 🙂
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone illustrated by M. Kay
Well, we’ll just get this out of the way because, of course, I need to have a Hogwarts related book cover on this list. Everyone wants to live there. I (still) don’t own any of these editions, but I think they’re gorgeous! This is the entire illustration. Just look at this!
2. The Wordsworth Classics Edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
It just looks so peaceful. And such a gorgeous view! Also, I really wish I could paint, but I’m very bad at it. Maybe I could learn?
3. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
How pretty is this, ha? Barcelona, here I come!
4. These editions of the first two Vampire Chronicles books
This is how I would live if I ever became a vampire. (There’s still time, I might.) I mean, what’s the point of being a vampire if you don’t live in a big creepy house, right?
5. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
So, I get a gorgeous mansion with this one? Ok, I’m gone, bye!
I’m really happy with my book choices lately. Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest is amazing so far, and I believe it will be amazing ’till the very end.
This novel is a retelling of the fairy tale “The Seven Swans”, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s a story about six brothers and a sister, Sorcha, who will in the end have to save all of them. I believe this sentence from the Goodreads description portrays it perfectly:
Daughter of the Forest takes the reader to an Ireland on the edge where history and fairy tale meet.
The book has fantastical elements, but the magic feels so realistic that you almost don’t percieve it as something foreign or made up. It is also deeply rooted in Celtic folklore, and it speaks about the history of Ireland and Britain, where different nations lived, fought, and coexisted. At times it felt like reading historical fiction.
One thing I’ve noticed, which may not be that important to everyone, but is very important to me, is the way this book deals with animals and nature. Respect which the characters show towards nature is very true to Celtic beliefs (I’m not an expert on this, but I’ve read about it quite a lot). It is stressed many time just how important nature is, and I think this is something we should hear more often. The villain of the story shows her true nature by doing bad things not only to people, but also to the plants. Animals are treated with respect. One of the brothers saves a dog, loyal Linn who appears all the time in the book (at least for now). Another brother saves a wounded owl, and cries as he lets her fly free. Sorcha doesn’t even eat animals, and I was so happy to read that, since it is not that common to have vegetarian characters.
I had not eaten flesh or fish since I was a small child, for I had always felt a closeness with other creatures that made my senses revolt at the very idea.
Then, there’s also her reason for not wearing shoes:
“I need no shoes, Father,” I said, hardly thinking. “My feet are tough, look,” and I raised one narrow, grubby foot to show him. “No need for some creature to die so I can be shod.”
I was so excited to read this, as I, too, don’t wear leather at all. And then, this book is also against war, and it makes it clear that people shouldn’t be judged by their nationality. So many good messages! This is what one of the brothers, Finbar, says to Sorcha:
“But there are two sides to every fight. It starts from something small, a chance remark, a gesture made lightly. It grows from there. Both sides can be unjust. Both can be cruel.”
Sorcha is kind and loving, but she’s also smart and she always speaks her mind. She knows how to make potions and is a very good healer. It is clear that she is proud of who she is, and that she doesn’t want to change for anyone.
“Why should I be polished and improved like goods for sale? I might not even want to marry! And besides, I have many skills, I can read and write and play the flute and harp. Why should I change to please some man? If he doesn’t like me the way I am, then he can get some other girl for his wife.”
Of course, good messeages don’t necessarily make a good book, but this book IS good. It is interesting, thought not too fast-paced. It gives you time to get to know the characters, without being too descriptive or slow. I really hope it’ll stay this good until it’s finished.
Have you read Daughter of the Forest? Do you want to? Feel free to let me know. 🙂
I’m currently reading Soulless by Gail Carriger. It’s a fun, witty, fluffy read, and, apparently, it’s steampunk. So, instead of doing a Currently Reading post, I decided to talk about steampunk and what the word actually means.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines steampunk as:
science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology
This is the most general definition, and the one that is often used to describe steampunk. However, this genre is much more than that, and it is much more difficult to describe. For example, the top definition from Urban Dictionary says:
Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes.
The author of the definition goes on to explain certain sub-genres of Steampunk: medieval steampunk, Victorian steampunk, western steampunk etc. For example, the film Wild Wild West is generally labeled as steampunk, but it is set in the Wild West, which makes it western steampunk. (I actually can’t think of a medieval steampunk example, so I’d apprecite suggestions.) This definiton is actually in opposition to the common perception that steampunk is a sub-genre of neo-Victorianism – apparenty it doesn’t have to take place in a world inspired by Victorian England.
This leads to another definition – steampunk is a blend of science fiction and fantasy. It can be set in any historical period, but it has to involve some kind of “old” technology in a new, interesting way. (Use of non-existent science and technology is why Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case od Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also considered steampunk by some.)
Steampunk often features dirigibles and zeppelins, and some other long-forgotten inventions. Steampunk did, however, get its name after the steam power, so steam-powered engines and machinery should be unvolved. Steampunk also shows a lot of love to cogs and clockwork.
Now, on to the books I’ve read that are labeled as steampunk. First of them is the aforementioned Soulless. Soulless is set in Victorian England, with the addition of vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. It also features dirigibles, and a lot of talk about the natural science of supernatural creatures. The approach to science is very Victorian, so I think this book represents steampunk quite well.
Tales of The Ketty Jay series is also labeled as Steampunk, and it definitely falls into that category. This series is all about airships. The world can be seen as Victorian, but it is not a literal representation. It certainly does feel like it’s happening in the past, but it also might not be. The airships do use steam power, but they seem more advanced than digiribles, which is also very characteristic of steampunk. Science in this book is closely related to so-called daemonism, which is an interesting concept since science was often demonised in the past. This is definitely a series I would recommend, because it’s fun, and the characters are amazing.
There are also some classics that fall into the steampunk category, though they were written before the term was even invented. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne features Nautilus, a submarine that is very advanced for its time. However, in Jules Verne’s time, this book would probably be considered SF, since to its first readers it wasn’t a book set in the past. Another steampunk classic is The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.
Of course, steampunk doesn’t exist only in literature. It is a subulture – it exists in fashion and is also a music genre. When it comes to fashion, steampunks are often described as “goths who discovered brown.” You probably all know how this fashion looks like, so I’ll move on to music. Steampunk music is something had to define. Generally, it should be music that uses only old instruments (no electronics) and it can be closely related to dark cabaret. Therefore bands such as Rasputina, and even The Dresden Dolls are often labeled as stempunk. Aurelio Voltaire and Emilie Autumn are also artists who are sometimes labeled steampunk, though their artistic expression is far more diverse that that. (Emilie Autumn is my favourite! Had to say it. XD) However, some bands go further than that – they are dressed in Steampunk fashion and their lyrics are like from a steampunk novel.
One of those bands is Abney Park. They started as a goth-industrial band, but they are now steampunk to the core. The band even created a fictional backstory: the band’s plane collided with a time-travelling dirigible called the Ophelia in a great storm. The band commandeered the vessel, deciding to become airship pirates. This backstory is used for many of their lyrics.
Other similar bands are The Cog is Dead, Ghostfire, Vernian Process, Steam Powered Giraffe, Unextraordinary Gentleman and many others. Ghostfire has a particularly interesting description on Last.fm:
The music of Ghostfire resonates to the debauched decadence and absinthe-fuelled anarchy of life in the eighties…
Stalking the cobbled streets; lurking in the shadows of the darkest alleyways… Dare you glance beyond the safety of the guttering gaslights, to where the gin-soaked doxy plies her trade, the dipper watches his mark and the drunken sailor staggers blindly?
It’s this shadowy world of villains, rogues and rascals that Ghostfire calls home.
In the darkest corners of the flash taverns, we raise glasses with vagabonds, footpads, pirates and thieves, all seeking sanctuary in the anonymity only notorious London Town can afford…
Now, I’m definitely not an expert on steampunk, so there’s still a lot for me to learn. I’d definitely like to hear from you. How do you define steampunk? Do you have any book recommendations? If you do, please share! 🙂
* Talk about books that are set outside of the Western World (so outside of North America and Western Europe) or if they are SFF, books that aren’t inspired by those places (so no medieval setting fantasy!) *
Sadly, I’ll have to cheat a little bit in this one… And I say sadly because it’s quite embarrasing that I’ve read so little books that are not set in the Western World. This has to change! So, since some of these books are not entirely set outside of the Western World, I decided to make a list of more than five books. Actually, I made a list of five and then an additional list of three fantasy books or books with fantastical elements that aren’t set in our world, but are inspired by a non-Western country. Here are my picks:
Books set in the real world
1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is quite a cheat since most of the book is set in the US, but part of it is also set in Nigeria. It also speaks about race and being a black woman in the Western World, so I think it is an important read.
2. Honour by Elif Shafak
Another book that doesn’t quite fit the theme, but parts of this book are set in rural Turkey. It also speaks about immigration and being treated as “The Other”, but it also speaks about the problems people face in rural Turkey, about religious fanaticism and how easily it can be spread. It’s a powerful, painful read with no idolisation. And Shafak’s writing style is beautiful. I can’t wait to read another book by her.
3. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
This graphic novel is not entirely set in Iran, because it too deals with immigration. I learned a lot from it, and I highy recommend it to everyone.
4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
This book is absolutely wonderful! And so sad. It deals of two Afghan women whose lifes get intertwined. As Hosseini himself said, it’s a tribute to all the Afghan women who suffered so much. Just go and read it!
5. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
This book is so different and mystical that it almost feels like it sould belong to the fantasy category. It’s an interesting portrayal of South Korean society, and a story of a woman’s desire to find herself despite the said society and it’s norms.
Books set in a fantasy world or with fantastical elements
1. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
Pyramids is a stand alone novel within Terry Pretchett’s Discworld series, and it is mostlx set in Ankh-Morpork, a land which is inspired by Ancient Egypt. Terry Pratchett’s books are fun and clever, and this one is no exception.
2. Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley
This book is set in the real Ancient Egypt, with the addition of some supernatural elements. Queen of Kings is a bit strange, but I liked it, though to be honest I’ve read it a long time ago so who knows what I would think of it now. XD In the book, Cleopatra doesn’t kill herself but instead makes a deal with goddess Sekhmet who then possesses her body. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but interesting.
3. Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
While the main character on these fantasy novels is from a country based on Victorian England, in each book she travels to a different part of the world. For example, in the Tropic of Serpents she travels to places based on African countries, later on she travels to places based on The Middle East etc. The books also touch upon the subject of colonisation, which is something I was very happy to find in books about dragons.
What are some of your favourite books that are not set in the Western World? I’d really appreciate your recommendations! 🙂
Recently, I talked about Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, the retelling of The Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective. The book I’m currently reading is also a retelling of a Greek myth, and this time it is the myth of the Argonauts, Jason and Medea. Mostly about Medea, though, since it focuses on her point of view.
Medea is without words, without thought. She has unstrung the world, pulled some vital thread and unraveled all. Nothing to do now but hold her breath and find out whether a new world re-forms.
Bright Air Black by David Vann is bloody and brutal, as mythology often is. Medea is a sorceress, and this book shows her in all her power and ruthlessness.
She would rather be this. She would bring all together, in balance and quiet. Rule without sound, without rough movement. All held and cought and perfect. But she knows she is meant to destroy, and she knows that she is not done.
Medea is also in search of herself and her place in the world, and she is scared of failure. Despite the horrible things she does, it’s impossible not to sympathise with her, especially when some things she says sound very true.
Kings always blind. Her father not considering his daughters, believing a threat only in a son. Daughters to him no more than a tool to bind other peoples through marriage. Unwilling emissaries, their will never considered. (…) Outcast. This is what she had chosen, and it would have been chosen for her anyway. Her father an enemy later if not now, marriage not powerful enough to prevent war.
There are similarities between Bright Air Black and The Penelopiad, but so far I like this book better. I just love how Medea’s desire to rule, and be powerful and independent is weaved through every paragraph. The writing style is wonderful and poetic. It really made me want to freshen up my knowledge of Greek myths and tales, so besides Bright Air Black I’m also reading Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes.Bright Air Black even inspired me to write some short stories (the one I posted recently is one of them), and I don’t think there’s a better recommendation for a book than that. So, I leave you with another quote and I hope this post will make you want to read the book.
Why the constant desire to kill and dominate? Even in herself, relentless, a need to conquer. She would make all cower on the ground before her, every man in every land.