Wednesday, 6 June 2012

We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver


I got the book so I could read it before the movie comes out. That never happened. After finishing the book I'm not quite sure if I want to go through the story again.

We Need to Talk about Kevin is a collection of letters, written by Kevin's mum Eva. The letters are addressed to Eva's husband Franklin, who never replies. Eva refers to an event (caused by Kevin) as Thursday. We only find out later what had happened (though if you have seen the movie trailer you already know). Was Eva such a horrible mother to have caused this? Was Kevin born evil? Although I don't think it's a female type book, it does deal with a very female question: Why are we having children? What if we are crappy parents? How do we love our child?

Eva's letters contain the relationship between her and Franklin,the 'joys' of parenthood, she describes how a child can get between partners, how a child can ruin your life by it's mere existence (at least in Eva's case).

Something about Eva made me pick her side in the beginning ... her husband was rather boring, and maybe even a little dumb. Eva herself has travelled through the world, and at least appears a very smart woman who knows what she wants (until love happens to her). I felt for her, and the whole giving up my career bit. This attitude changes over the course of the book ... I got angry with her, annoyed with her accusations, sometimes I even felt drawn to be on Kevin's side. 

The book doesn't answer why would should have kids, it doesn't answer the nature/nurture debate. There is not even a silver-lining in Eva's story (there is, but it is so tiny my head blends it away). Although there is nothing hopeful about We Need to Talk About Kevin it is a good read, that will stay with you for a while.

Also, this is one of the few books I really enjoyed reading the authors note at the end!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Nice little spot

Here is a nice little spot if you ever wondered what your books are up to during the night:

I'll soon continue to fill up this blog! Promise!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Ten Days in a Mad House by Nellie Bly


For Ten Days in a Mad House Nellie Bly faked insanity.
She got into a mental asylum on Blackwell's Island New York.
In 89 pages she reported how she and her fellow patients were treated by doctors and nurses.

It's one of the most upsetting things I have read. Ever. It's 1887 ... and there is no humanity for ill people. If they are ill after all.
I guess/hope/pray that things have changed all over the world. Though ill people, especially mentally ill people, are still very dependent on doctors and nurses. Who would believe them if they reported being treated like s**t? They are crazy ...

There isn't really much more to say about the book. Read it if you have a few hours to read, and a few more to think.

(What's up with her name ... Google suggested Nellie instead of Nelly. She's called Nelly on the book though.)

You can read parts of it here.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Before I go to Sleep by S. J. Watson


When Christine wakes up in the morning she thinks she is mid 20 years old. When she opens her eyes she doesn't know where she is. She doesn't know who the man next to her is. Looking in the mirror she doesn't who it is she is seeing.
Christine lost the ability retain any memory ... everything is lost as soon as she falls asleep. She's mid 50 (I think) and the man next to her is Ben, her husband.
Before I go to Sleep follows Christine's efforts to get better. Her efforts to form a live. After meeting a doctor, she starts writing a journal, which takes most part of the book - so the reader learns bits and pieces of her past and her live with her. We get to know her Doctor and her husband better than she does. We get to know who's worth trusting and believing.

Progressing through the book, it's not only Christine's memory changing, it's the way she writes too. I found it a bit hard to get into in the beginning ... basically just because every journal entry would start the same way. After a while she starts leaving out the beginnings of the day, so reading goes a bit smoother.

It, hardly any surprise there, makes you appreciate your memory. Everything is based on having a memory of the day before today, the year before or even ten years before. This is what makes your personality. Planning the future is based your memory. You learn from experience, you grow with them. Your character and personality relies on memories. It's not that Christine doesn't have a personality though ... by reading her journal, which really contains her deepest thoughts we get to know her.
And when you think about your childhood, your teens and college years - think about if the memories you have are really representing the experiences you had? False memories? Confabulations? How do you know?
It also makes you think about the people around you. Who do you think you can trust fully and why do you think you can?

The thing that strikes me most about the book is how realistic it is. Cases similar to that really do exist. Clive Wearing has a memory span of half minute if he is lucky. (This makes him the sweetest husband on the planet though; check this out: He doesn't even know what exactly he is eating. Thinks he's never seen a doctor. Has no thoughts. But remembers his wife. I love Clive. Such an awesome case.

Right ... if you're interested in memory and living without it I guess this book is a good read. And it's a lot better than the covers makes you think. I really wish they'd have put a bit more effort in the design of the cover.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Long Song by Andrea Levy


The life of July (such pretty name) is rather harsh. She is born a slave in Jamaica, and taken away from her mom to entertain the fat white mistress from England with 9 years. However the story takes place in the 1830's the chaos and end of slavery years in Jamaica.
Through July (and her son Thomas) Levy describes how chaotic and weird life was for everyone at that time. How everything changes within minutes, how white people panic (how could they possibly survive?) once a revolution starts.

I don't really know anything (take the really away, I don't know a thing) about slavery, but Levy gives a pretty authentic description of things...and checking the rest of the interwebs it's pretty accurately researched.

So it's well written (sometimes rather hard to read, though that's intended I think), interesting book. And we could all do with a little extra knowledge, right?!

One Day by David Nicholls


The story follows Dexter and Emma. They get together after their graduation 15th July 1988, with heads full ideas and plans for their future. The reader now gets to read what they do 15th July for the next 20 years. There is a lot of love, a lot of friendship, job success and massive failures on both sides. But somehow they manage to keep in touch, closer and further apart every now and then.

It's pretty cool because you don't just learn about the two of them but general feeling of the 90's, how lifestyle and life itself changed. They grow up (more or less) with all the common problems and joys. However there is a point within the middle ish end, where I wished it was a short story ... or at least would follow them for only 10 years, because there is not a lot left to say after a while. Though even the mini boredom, it picks up with a neat unexpected end (where again you wish it'd be over...there is no need for the last chapter, really there isn't).

Nice for summer I guess.

Oh there is going to movie with Miss Hathaway and lovely Mr Sturgess (the trailer gives a lot of story away though).