Top 5 Wednesday: Favourite Polarizing Books

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There are certain books that people seem to either love or hate, with no in between. For this Top 5 Wednesday, I was supposed to chose 5 of those books that I like. Honesty, I’m not completely sure if these fall into this category, but from what I’ve heard I think they do. Also, some of these are not really favourites of mine, but I don’t hate them as some people do.

Let’s start!

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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I love this book and it’s one of my absolute favourites. I know a lot of people who share these feeling, but I’ve also come across a lot of people who kind of hate it… Which makes me a bit sad… Those people often say that characters are unlikeable, but I think the part of what makes this book great is the flawed characters. I did come to care for them, in spite of their flaws.

2. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

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I can understand why some people don’t like this book. It’s not a pleasant one to read. But I still loved it! I already mentioned it in a post about my favourite villains – the way it’s written is just amazing!

3. Medieval sagas

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I don’t think this is a case of love-or-hate, it’s more like: some people enjoy these sagas and others don’t read them at all. I loved The Song of the Nibelungs (or the Nibelungenlied), The Saga of the Volsungs (Völsunga saga) and I loved Beowulf. There’s just something about these stories that fascinates me. I’m kind of a medieval geek. 😄

4. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

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You don’t read books like this for the wonderful prose, you read them for the fun and mystery. I was still in high school when I read it and I found it very interesting then. I also liked Angels and Demons. It was a perfect fast-paced summer read.

5. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

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I didn’t know which book to choose next, so here’s one I don’t actually like, but I don’t hate it as much as some do. Twilight is a book that really gets a lot of hate and a lot of love at the same time. And yes, it’s not a book I love, but I did like it when I first read it (this was also in high school) and I wanted to know what would happen next. The books get worse and worse as the series progresses, that I have to admit, but the first one wasn’t that bad.

So, do you have any thoughts about these books? I’d like to hear from you! 🙂

 

My Top 10 Books of 2016

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Hi people, and I wish you all the best in the new year! ❤ I came back from my trip to Austria and I’m planning to share some photos with you, but I took so many so I need some time to pick and choose. Until then, let’s get back to talking about books!

The start of a new year usually means making new plans for some new beginnings, but it is also the time when we reflect on the year that has passed. I’m not really the new-years-resolutions kind of person, but I do like to reflect on the books I’ve read. 😄 I was really looking forward to this post, since I had no idea which books I would choose before checking my Goodreads account. Yes, I was certain I would include a few books that immediately came to my mind when thinking about this post, but there are also some I read early in the year and almost forgot they were actually read in 2016. Let’s get to the list (in no particular order):

1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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I read this one in January. I should’ve done it a long time ago. This is an epistolary novel told through the eyes of Celie,in her own words and broken language, but it also speaks about the lives of African-American women. It’s very sad, raw and real.

2. The Vegetarian by Han Kang 

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A strange book, in the most wonderful sense of the word. Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. That’s how the book starts. What follows is much bigger then anyone would expect. The book tackles so many issues, and all of them are hidden inside of a short, but amazingly captivating narrative.

3. Alice by Christina Henry

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Speaking of strange… This adaptation of Alice in Wonderland is extremely dark and violent, but I loved it so, so much. The way in which Henrry uses the well-know characters to make something completely new is done very well!

4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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Another book I should’ve read a long , long time ago… I’ve read some of Plath’s poetry, but this book always somehow remained one of those I wantd to read, but never actually did. I’m so glad I finally read it. Plath’s prose reads almost like poetry, and the emotions this book evokes feel very, very real.

5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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“Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.”

Hosseini’s writing is beautiful, and his stories are very emotional. It hurt to read this. I cried. And I loved it. And amazing tribute to the suffering of Afghan women, and an interesting story as well.

6. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

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I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about Russian folklore, but I have read some Russian fairy tales. This novel takes them all, and mixes them into an interesting, strange, dark and often confusing story. Confusing in a good way. I loved this book! It was unusual, which is always good, unpredictable, and magical.

7. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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This is now my favourite Gaiman novel. The world he creates in Neverwhere is wonderfully dark and fun at the same time, and the characters are intriguing. And the ending was great! Escapism at its best. 😄

8. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

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Next two books on the list are graphic novels. I don’t read these as much as I should, especially since the two I’m going to mention were more than amazing. Persepolis is not only interesting, it taught me a lot about Iran, its history and present.

9. Watchmen by Alan Moore (Author), Dave Gibbons (Illustrator), John Higgins (Colorist)

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Yes, I should’ve read this a long time ago, too. Watchmen is an amazing graphic novel! It poses so many questions other superhero graphic novels don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I like superheroes, but this is so much more than a superhero story. It’s gritty, dark, and very realistic.

10. Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding

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Now, something completely fun! I’ve read the first two books in the series this year, Retribution Falls and The Black Lung Captain, and I’m definitely going to read the next two soon. If you want a fun steampunk adventure with interesting characters you’ll love despite all of their faults – this is a perfect series for you! I mean – airship pirates! Who doesn’t want to read about airship pirates? 😉

Have you read any of these book? Did you like them, too?

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to Re-Read

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I’ve found out about the Top 5 Wednesday group on Goodreads quite some time ago, and I always wanted to participate but never did… Now it’s the time to start doing it! Maybe not every Wednesday, but as often as I can. They have some very interesting ideas, just like this one.

So, here are the five books I’d like to re-read:

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1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

I loved this book! I’ve already read it two times, but I feel the need to re-read it. And soon!

2. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

I’ve read this book in college and it immediately became my favourite. And favourites have to be re-read. 😉 I don’t own a copy, though, but I’ll get it soon.

3. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

These books are so lovely, dark and cosy at the same time. I would definitely like to re-read them.

4. Just Kids by Patti Smith

An amazing book like this one has to be read many times!

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

My all-time favourite, I’ll probaby read it many, many times more. 🙂 As you can see in the picture, the book is already very battered.

I hope I’ll have the time to actually read them all again in the near future. 😉

Anonymous Bookaholics Tag #amreading

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Hi, bloggers! Once again, I haven’t posted in a while… I’ve beeen quite busy. But, now, the lovely Nicole from Sorry, I’m Booked tagged me to do this fun tag, and I had to do it. Thanks, Nicole, so much 🙂 Let’s start!

My name is Irena and I’m a bookaholic. Here are my answers:

What Do You Like About New Books?

Everything! 😄 I like the excitement you get from getting a new book, especially if it’s a book you’ve been wanting to read for a while. And the smell! New books smell amazing. 😉

How Often Do You Buy New Books?

It depends. Now, when I have a job, I buy more than before, becuse I can. 😄 I’m actually not an impulse buyer, so I don’t often get carried away.

Bookstore Or Online Shopping — Which Do You Prefer?

I love browsing thrugh the books in a bookstore, but bookstores here suck. 😥 So, unfortunately, online shopping is the only way for me to get the books I want. Especially if I want to read them in English, not in translation. I don’t like reading translated books if I can read them in their original language.

Do You Have A Favorite Bookshop?

Well, as you can see in the previous answer, not really… There is only one bookstore that I like, but it’s not that great… When it comes to online shopping, I order books from Book Depository.

Do You Pre-Order Books?

Very rarely. Most of the books were already published when I read them. 😄 I guess people mostly pre-order books from series, because they can’t wait to see what happens next, but I don’t read many series, so this doesn’t really apply to me.

Do You Have A Monthly Book-Buying Limit?

Not really. 😄

Book-Buying Bans, Are They Something For You?

As I said, I don’t really have a problem with over-buying. (Is that even a word?) I don’t like to pile up too many books, and having a huge TBR pile. So there’s no need for me to be on a book-buying ban.

How Big Is Your Wish List?

I have about 200 books on my Goodreads TBR, but I’m sure there’s even more on my mind. 😄

Which Three Books From Your Wish List Do You Wish You Owned Right Now?

Just three? This is hard… 😄
Let’s say: Fudoki by Kij Johnson, Nothing Like the Sun by Anthony Burgess, and The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell (though it’s the first in a series, so I’d have to get the others, too. ;)).

In the end, I have to tag a few people. So, if you want to do it, I’d be happy to hear your answers: JeanyjanezMistyThat Weird Brown Girl , Genie Reads

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Sunshine Blogger Award

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I was nominated by the wonderful Misty from mistysbookspace for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thank you so so much! I just want to say that I won’t be tagging anyone this time, since I’ve done an award post recently, but I really wanted to answer Misty’s quesstions, so here it is. 🙂 If someone wants to do the award, just say it and consider yourself nominated! The rules are as follows:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer 11 questions set by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers to receive the award and write them 11 new questions to answer.

Now, let’s get to the questions!

1. What is your dream vacation location?

Oh, I love to travel, so anywhere I have never been before is great for me. Lately, I’ve really been wanting to visit Iceland. It seems so perfect!

2. When would you say you became a reader?

I think I’ve always been a reader. My parents read to me when I was a child and it all kind of started from that.

3. What was the last book series you completed?

The Mistborn series, by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve been getting into fantasy again this summer. I think summer is the perfect time to read those long books and series you’re a bit afraid to start when you know you won’t have as much time to read as you would want.

4. What advice would you give to newcomers to the blogging world?

I’m not sure I’m the right person to give advices to other bloggers… I’m not even sure what I’m doing here. 😄 I guess the most important thing is not to consider your blog as something you have to do. It’s supposed to be fun, and to makke you happy. Not stressed. So if you need a break – take a break. It’s not the same as giving up. You’ll always be welcome back. 😉

5. Do you have any unique talents? If so what are they?

You mean, besides being the most quiet and awkward person in the room? 😄 I’m not sure…

6. What character do you wish was a real person in your life?

Any vampire from the Vampire Chronicles. So that they can make me a vampire, too, and I could live forever. I need someone willing to do that, of course, or I could end up dead. So I’ll have to think a bit more carefully about this… Any suggestions? 😛

7. Aside from reading what are some of your other passions?

Lately, Instagram… 😄 But, seriously, I love to write. Just about anything, as you can see from my blog, as well as working on some longer works of fiction. Also, I’ve recently discovered I like doing yoga. I’m still a complete beginner, but I’m getting better. 😄

8. What is your favorite genre?

I think I love the classics most, though I refuse to consider classics a genre (they belong to different genres). Maybe Gothic fiction, in all of it’s shapes and forms.

9. Who is your favorite author?

Just one? :O Mary Shelley, probably.

10. What is your least favorite genre?

I like to read different genres… I think anything can be done great. But I don’t really read  contemporary romances… As I said in an earlier post I don’t mind romance as a part of the book, but if it’s all the book is about, I probably won’t pick it up.

11. What fictional world do you wish you could be a part of?

Most books that take place in a fictional world have a pretty dangerous setting. That makes them interesting to read, but not so good to live in. 😄 So, I’ll have to go with the expected answer and say the magical world of Harry Potter. I’d definitely go to Hogwarts! 🙂

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New York Times “By the Book” Tag

I haven’t done a fun book tag in a while, and I’ve come across this one (among others) many times and thought: Well, this one sounds fun. So I finally decided to do it. J The tag was originally created by booktuber Mary Berg.

So, let’s get to the questions!

What book is on your night stand now?

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and I’m almost finished with it. It’s really fun! There’s also Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon, a double biography of the two wonderful Marys. I love them both, and I love the book as well.

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What was the last truly great book that you read?

The Vegetarian by Han Kang! I loved that book! It’s so beautifully written, and it’s very methapohorical, it almost feels like reading poetry.

But I also want to mention Alice by Christina Henry, for entirely different reasons. This retelling of Alice in Wonderland is truly disturbing, violent and bloody, but so sooo interesting. I love how Christina Henry deals with the characters, and makes entirely different stories for them, but they still have some of the essence of the original characters.

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What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

I don’t think anything’s too surprising… I read different kinds of books, and I think I talk about different kinds of books here on the blog. But I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I really like superheroes, so maybe you wouldn’t expect me to own some comics. Spider-man is my favourite.🙂

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How do you organize your personal library?

In a way only I understand, and is impossible to explain.😄 But I know exactly where every book is, so it seems it works well.

What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?

Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut, a book I’ve wanted to read for so many years… I would actually like to read more Vonnegut in general. But I’m also quite embarrassed that I don’t read almost any contemporary Croatian authors, and I’m from Croatia. I definitely should…

What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?

I actually like to read different things, depending on my current mood. Classics are always a go-to when I’m not sure what to read next, and I like to read about history. I’m also drawn to magic, in its different shapes and forms. And I like to read about different cultures… So, when I think about it, I guess I like to read about anything that I can’t experience myself, anything different and unknown.

The only thing I don’t read are contemporary romances. I just don’t find them interesting… Romance is fine as a part of the story, but I don’t like it to be the entire story.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? 

That’s an interesting question.😄 I don’t really like our (Croatian) president. (Sorry, not sorry.) She should read something nice and heart-warming, maybe something about a different culture, to make her more open-minded. For example A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. That’s such a beautiful, sad book… Or, if I was feeling mean, I’d give her something really, really boring to read.😉

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What do you plan to read next?

I’ll probably continue with the Shades of Magic series, and after that – who knows! I don’t usually plan ahead, it’s best to read the books you’re in the mood for. And who knows what mood I’m going to be in after A Gathering of Shadows.😄

And that’s it! Since I wasn’t tagged to do this, I won’t tag anyone, but if the questions seem interesting to you, I’d like to hear your answers. 🙂

Quote for Thought: Our Hieroglyphic World

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In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs.

– Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

I’m currently reading The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, and it reminded me of another novel of hers, one of my favourite books ever, The Age of Innocence.

The Age of Innocence speaks about many things, but I think that it’s most of all a novel about human behaviour, the social norms imposed on people, prejudice, hipocrisy and injustice. It also deals with love, and asks whether love is even possible in this superficial world. Yes, Wharton’s novel deals with the morals of 1870s New York society, but many of its issues are still present today, maybe just in a different way. From the day we were born, we had to learn how to fit into different roles that we were “assigned”. Many of these we didn’t chose. And they shaped us more than we are comfortable to accept.

The quote I chose doesn’t address these issues directly, even though the book does. The quote is maybe more about language, and how we express the “real thing”. We learn to express everything by words, but words are not “real”, they are arbitrary – as Saussure discussed in his semiotics, in a completely different context, of course. And words are signs which do not denote a particular “real thing” but a category of things.

The truth is, we rely entirely on words. Words are the way we see and understand the world, categorize things, put them in their proper boxes. Without language, we would not be that same beings that we are now. We are creatures of signs. Is it so strange that, in a certain way, our society is also based on putting everything, including people into boxes? Well, no, of course it’s not the same thing. And we are, I hope, intelligent enought to know that.

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