Travel isn’t always a reader’s best friend.
When it comes to my building my reading repertoire, I’ve been lazy. I used to breathe books – literally, because I wouldn’t take my nose out of one long enough to do much of anything else. I don’t know how the obsession started, but it’s never really stopped. It’s slowed, surely. Sadly, it gets harder to read the older you get. The stress of everyday life does a very good job at getting in the way of many things.
University didn’t snuff out my will to read entirely. I studied English lit, so of course I was going to have to pick up dozens of books. I practically bled ink and prose. But the courses were fast paced and it isn’t exactly easy to breeze through a lot of Austen, some Milton, and multiple Shakespeare plays in a semester. I enjoyed them but, with the course load of all my other classes and the countless other articles, poems, and creative work I was analyzing, I kind of just sputtered to a stall. Reading was a chore and it was hard to come across things I understood, let alone found interesting.
Reading shouldn’t be impossible. I could keep making up excuses, but I know that isn’t going to help. How can I expect to write if I don’t have time to read? As I was perusing the rows and rows of books at Waterstones, I realized there were so many books I wanted to read. The passion was still there, I just had to latch onto it again.
But I didn’t just want to read the fun stuff. I wanted to take another stab at the classics I had dragged my heels through in school and also find new, engaging writers. The girl standing in front of the bookshelves now wasn’t the same girl who had left the US alone to find a job in Europe, and no way was she the girl who had started university. Maybe this time, I wouldn’t just understand books because of what I had been told to analyze, but I would actually understand them because I had gone out into the world and experienced a thing or two in the improvised rollercoaster that is life. And when would a true lit major ever shy away from a new perspective?
So, here are the books I finished in June.
Naïve. Super – Erlend Loe
I picked this up while exploring London. The summary was a bit misleading – a 25 year old realizes he doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life, so he drops everything and travels across the world to New York. What came across as a finding-my-way, lifestyle-change, backpacking adventure was more of a boy sits in his brother’s apartment while said brother is on work leave in the Big Apple, all while contemplating the best way to live life.
While nothing physically spectacular happens with the plot, Loe’s simplistic grasp at prose is pretty amazing. It’s a story that searches for meaning in mundane things, things that we all hope might have some actual meaning less our lives be meaningless.
It was a #1 on the bestsellers list in Loe’s native Norway. It was a great book to pick up while I was traveling – a quick yet contemplating read. It can even fit in your jacket pocket. His weird, yet extremely relatable, protagonist was oddly endearing yet utterly brazen at the same time.
I have two friends. A good one and a bad one. And then there’s my brother. He might not be quite as friendly as I am, but he’s OK.
I feel like Naïve. Super is one of those books I can pick up in 10 years and I’d fall for Loe’s simplistic style all over again.
Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard
A alternate world separated by red and silver blood. Silvers lead the world, as their blood comes with the gift of god-like superpowers. But what happens when a common Red discovers her own supernatural ability, one no one with her type of blood is supposed to have?
I was absolutely hooked by this idea. The book itself is relatively recent, published in 2015, and it’s been in the top YA section for a while. You’re never too old for a good YA.
I practically breezed through this one. If you’re looking for a refreshing idea with a page turning plot and interesting characters, don’t look too far. Aveyard does a great job opening up this semi medieval/half dystopian/half sort of steampunk world. There’s the betrayal, forbidden love, and futuristic gladiator fights. It’s an easy yet twisting read, one that will keep you on your guard until you close the back cover. There’s a lot of promise with this first novel, and I’m hoping to see great character development, especially in the protagonist, Mare.
Also, can we just take a moment to drool over the cover art?
L’appel de l’ange – Guillaume Musso
To keep French relevant, I’ve been slowly meandering my way through this relatively daunting 400 page, entirely français, monster of a novel.
Two strangers accidentally switch phones in an airport and end up on different ends of the world. One’s a Californian chef who’s been on a bit of a downward spiral, the other a Parisian florist with a dark past. Nothing really seems to connect them, that is, until they gain access into each other’s phones.
Musso was recommended to me by a friend who’s second language was also French. While it takes a bit to get used to the literary past tense conjugation and the overall strange formatting the French use, I haven’t struggled too much with comprehension. Ironically enough, most of his novels are set in North America. While my French is pretty good, of course I can’t read as fast as I usually do. It takes 3 to 4 English books for me to finish one decent French novel. I’ll definitely be reading more Musso in the future.
What have you read recently that you’d recommend?