Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I read of the fiction genre since 2001.
This page is built leveraging the goodreads API.
Heartstopper: Volume Four (Heartstopper, #4) cover
Heartstopper: Volume Four (Heartstopper, #4)
by Alice Oseman (2022)
My review: Wow, the author really upped her game with this fourth volume. I liked the previous instalments quite a lot, but this one is even better. I am glad there are such wonderful books available to this generation of young adult readers. It is very important to have realistic portrayals of adolescence, as diverse as the real world is.
This volume focuses on Charlie's struggles with mental health and he coming to terms with his eating disorder. The issue is portrayed with tremendous empathy, and really powerfully. I hope that readers struggling with similar issues will gain hope, and decide to seek the help they need. And for the rest of us, it will help better understand the problem, and boost our empathy and awareness of the problem. This is a great read, I strongly recommend it. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 21 2024 Finished: May 05 2024
Heartstopper: Volume Three (Heartstopper, #3) cover
Heartstopper: Volume Three (Heartstopper, #3)
by Alice Oseman (2020)
My review: What a sweet and touching story! I am glad there are such wonderful books available to this generation of young adult readers. It is very important to have realistic portrayals of adolescence, as diverse as the real world is.
In this volume Nick and Charlie and their classmates go on a school trip to Paris! Not only are Nick and Charlie navigating a new city, but also telling more people about their relationship AND learning more about the challenges each other are facing in private… Meanwhile Tao and Elle will face their feelings for each other, Tara and Darcy share more about their relationship origin story, and the teachers supervising the trip seem… rather close…?
By Alice Oseman, winner of the YA Book Prize, Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us. (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 10 2024 Finished: Mar 22 2024
Heartstopper: Volume Two (Heartstopper, #2) cover
Heartstopper: Volume Two (Heartstopper, #2)
by Alice Oseman
My review: What a sweet and touching story! I am glad there are such wonderful books available to this generation of young adult readers. It is very important to have realistic portrayals of adolescence, as diverse as the real world is.
Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie is gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn’t.
But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family … and himself.
By Alice Oseman, winner of the YA Book Prize, Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us. (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 03 2024 Finished: Mar 09 2024
Klara and the Sun cover
Klara and the Sun
by Kazuo Ishiguro (2021)
My review: I had never read anything by this author, and I was quite eager to try given all the good reviews I read about his work. I was not disappointed. What a remarkable book!
From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans. In Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love? (★★★★★)
Started: Feb 14 2024 Finished: Mar 03 2024
Heartstopper: Volume One (Heartstopper, #1) cover
Heartstopper: Volume One (Heartstopper, #1)
by Alice Oseman (2018)
My review: I heard a lot of good reviews for this graphic novel, hence I decided to give it a try. I really liked it. And the graphics quality is quite remarkable: the artist is able to conjure deep emotions with a very small number of strokes.
This is the story of Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player. They meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more...?
Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn't been too great, but at least he's not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He's heard a little about Charlie - the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months - but he's never had the opportunity to talk to him.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn't think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner... (★★★★★)
Started: Feb 19 2024 Finished: Feb 21 2024
Go Tell It on the Mountain cover
Go Tell It on the Mountain
by James Baldwin (2001)
My review: I have heard about James Baldwin in the context of the struggle for racial equality, but I had never read any of his work. I am ashamed to say I did not realize he wrote fiction (I wrongly assumed his work was focused on non fiction). I read this book thanks to my work book club and... wow what an incredible work of art. He is clearly among the best of the best in American literature.
Go Tell It On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin's first major work, a semi-autobiographical novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy's discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin's rendering of his protagonist's spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.
I strongly recommend this book to everyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 29 2024 Finished: Feb 11 2024
My Brother's Husband, Volume 1 (Otouto no Otto, #1-2) cover
My Brother's Husband, Volume 1 (Otouto no Otto, #1-2)
by Gengoroh Tagame
My review: Many friends recommended this book, but I never got around reading it. The story is moving and touching, and I strongly recommend it to everyone.
Yaichi is a work-at-home suburban dad in contemporary Tokyo; formerly married to Natsuki, father to their young daughter, Kana. Their lives suddenly change with the arrival at their doorstep of a hulking, affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan, who declares himself the widower of Yaichi's estranged gay twin, Ryoji. Mike is on a quest to explore Ryoji's past, and the family reluctantly but dutifully takes him in. What follows is an unprecedented and heartbreaking look at the state of a largely still-closeted Japanese gay culture: how it's been affected by the West, and how the next generation can change the preconceptions about it and prejudices against it. (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 25 2023 Finished: Dec 25 2023
Flamer cover
by Mike Curato (2020)
My review: I read this book as part of Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community (librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types) in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
For the past few years I have been participating to the event reading some of the most challenged books in the previous year.
Award-winning author and artist Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in Flamer, his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love. The main character of Flamer knows he is not gay. Gay boys like other boys. He hates boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both. He hatse that word. Gay. It makes him feel . . . unsafe. It's the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone's going through changes—but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can't stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.
The art is incredible: simple, yet stunningly beautiful and expressive. The story is very honest, easy to connect with, and touching. I strongly recommend this book to anyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Jul 31 2023 Finished: Aug 05 2023
Nightcrawling cover
by Leila Mottley
My review: When the book club at work I lead selected this book I was quite curious. I have heard that it was quite good, and it is set in the town I live, so I was quite intrigued. I became even more interested when I learned that it was inspired by a true story.
Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison. But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent--which has more than doubled--and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed. One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. Her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.
The book is masterfully written and shed lights to topics and situations that are never discussed enough. I do recommend it to everyone, especially if you live in the USA. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2023 Finished: Jan 16 2023
The Bluest Eye cover
The Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison
My review: I read this book as part of Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community (librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types) in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
For the past few years I have been participating to the event reading some of the most challenged books in the previous year.
This book was written by Toni Morrison, winner for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and recipient of the Presidential medal of freedom. It is the story of Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, that prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife.
A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison's virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.
"Concerned parents" challenged this book because it talks about child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit. As if banning the discussion of the horrors of child abuse would make the problem go away.
Instead, I found this a great book, extremely well written (no wonder the author won the Nobel prize in literature), and I am looking forward more from her. I strongly recommend this to anyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 17 2022 Finished: Dec 26 2022
Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World (Aristotle and Dante, #2) cover
Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World (Aristotle and Dante, #2)
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My review: I had previously read and loved Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, so when I learned there was a sequel... I could not resist reading it.
In the first book, two boys in a border town fell in love. Now, they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence. Ari has spent all of high school burying who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can’t go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies of all kinds, and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante, dreamy, witty Dante, who can get on Ari’s nerves and fill him with desire all at once. The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he’ll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.
I really enjoyed the book, even if I found it way less interesting than the first book. The plot here is much much weaker, and big part of the enjoyment comes from meeting again the characters that we loved so much. I particularly appreciated the representation of the historical events of the time in the background, and some of the personal interactions between the various characters. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 01 2022 Finished: Nov 18 2022
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo cover
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My review: I had never read anything by this author and I confess that I would have never picked it up if it was not picked by my book club. I am glad it was picked because it is quite good, and very different from what I expected. I was expecting a boring and sappy love story set in highly fictionalized hollywood. Instead I got a rich and intriguing portrait of a well rounded character (the actress Evelyn Hugo) that while fictional is inspired by real actresses of the time. This is a remarkably good book.
The book premise is the following: aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 19 2022 Finished: Oct 11 2022
L'amica geniale cover
L'amica geniale
by Elena Ferrante (2018)
My review: Era parecchio che sentivo parlare di questo libro. Tutti i miei amici in America, forse per il fatto che l'autrice e' Italiana, continuavano a consigliarmelo. Quando il mio book club di lavoro l'ha selezionato, ho colto l'occasione al balzo e l'ho letto.
Questa e' la storia della intensa relazione di due donne, Lila Cerullo ed Elena Greco. Questo primo libro copre il loro primo incontro da bambine, e le segue fino alla puberta'. Sullo sfondo c'e' l'altra vera protagonista, Napoli negli anni Cinquanta del secolo scorso. L'amica geniale comincia tra le quinte di un rione miserabile della periferia napoletana, tra una folla di personaggi minori accompagnati lungo il loro percorso con attenta assiduità. L’autrice scava intanto nella natura complessa dell’amicizia tra due bambine, tra due ragazzine, tra due donne, seguendo passo passo la loro crescita individuale, il modo di influenzarsi reciprocamente, i buoni e i cattivi sentimenti che nutrono nei decenni un rapporto vero, robusto. Narra poi gli effetti dei cambiamenti che investono il rione, Napoli, l’Italia, in quegli anni del dopoguerra, trasformando le amiche e il loro legame.
Il libro e' parte di una quadrilogia, e ho l'impressione che l'autrice stia sistemando con arguzia i pezzi su una scacchiera, gli attrori sulla scena, e son curioso di sapere cosa succedera'.
Molto interessante la relazione tra Lila e Elena, molto intensa, piena di ammirazionee gelosia, odio e attrazione, tanto da farmi pensare che fosse amore. Vedremo cosa accadra' nei prossimi volumi! (★★★★)
Started: Jan 06 2022 Finished: Jan 29 2022
All American Boys cover
All American Boys
by Jason Reynolds (2015)
My review: I read this book as part of Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community (librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types) in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
For the past few years I have been participating to the event reading some of the most challenged books in the previous year.
This book, winner of numerous Young Adult Fiction State Awards and of the Coretta Scott King Book Award, follows the lives of two high school students, Rashaad and Quinn, both attending the same high school. Rashaad is a model student, a son of an African American cop. One day Rashaad is shopping when a lady trip over him. A policemen see it happening and misinterpret the situation and decides that Rashaad was stealing... and almost kill him even if Rashaad was not resisting to the arrest. Quinn is a Caucasian American kid of a soldier dead during the war. As he walks toa store he sees his best friend older brother, his role model, beating up close and almost kill one of his schoolmates. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like "racism" and "police brutality". Quinn realizes he’s got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.
Rashad and Quinn, one black, one white, both American, face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn't die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.
"Concerned parents" challenged this book because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”.
Instead, I found this a great book, that does a great job in introducing younger readers to what is happening in the real world. It's a great book to read, I strongly recommend it to everyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 20 2021 Finished: Nov 17 2021
Their Eyes Were Watching God cover
Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston (2021)
My review: After reading good review after good review of this book, I had been wanting to read Their Eyes Were Watching God for a while. I was not disappointed. While I had initially some minor difficulty with the use of a Southern vernacular I was not used to, I soon came up to speed and got enchanted by the highly lyric and poetic writing.
This book is one of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century. It brings to life a Southern love story with wit, pathos, and incredibly beautiful writing. I loved following the main character (Janie Crawford) through her life, see her growth beyond the strict gender norms imposed by society to be able to finally find love in a fulfilling relationship of equals.
Out of print for almost thirty years, due largely to initial audiences' rejection of its strong black female protagonist, Hurston's classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 04 2021 Finished: Jan 25 2021
The Blind Assassin cover
The Blind Assassin
by Margaret Atwood (2001)
My review: I had read and enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale, and I was quite curious to read this booker prize winner book by the same author. The book definitely earned the award, Atwood is clearly a master of the craft, adroitly waving a complex, multilayered, story-within-a-story-within-a-story masterpiece.
While the book refuses an easy genre classification, the book is, among other things, a mystery novel, with clues and hints cleverly spread along the way to prepare for revelations / plot twists. Some of those clues are adroitly crafted so that, while true, they will misdirect you.
The book starts with a death: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge." They are spoken by Iris, one of the main characters and the main point of view of the entire book. After her sister Laura's death in 1945 an inquest report proclaims the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist...
It's hard to say more or to comment without spoiling the story, so I will just say that this book proves once again that Atwood is one of the most talented, daring, and exciting writers of our time. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 29 2020 Finished: Oct 28 2020
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante, #1) cover
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante, #1)
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My review: What an incredible book! No wonder it won all those prices! I confess I was expecting a sappy love story, instead I got an incredibly nuanced story that focuses on immigration, bullying, and the PTSD of Vietnam War's soldiers. What a great story, I strongly recommend it to everyone.
This is the story of Aristotle and Dante. Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 09 2020 Finished: Apr 24 2020
Lincoln in the Bardo cover
Lincoln in the Bardo
by George Saunders (2017)
My review: I read many good reviews of this book, and I have been wanting to read it for a while, and I was quite happy when my book club selected it. It was definitely different from what I expected, definitely groundbreaking in its unusual narrative style, but definitely a pleasure to read and very interesting.
The story unfolds in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other. It's February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln's beloved eleven year old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. "My poor boy, he was too good for this earth", the president says at the time. "God has called him home". Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy's body. From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory, where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state (called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo) a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie's soul. Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction's ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices, living and dead, historical and invented, to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end? (★★★★)
Started: Jan 21 2020 Finished: Jan 31 2020
The Hate U Give (The Hate U Give, #1) cover
The Hate U Give (The Hate U Give, #1)
by Angie Thomas (2017)
My review: I read this book as part of the 2019 Banned Book Week, an annual international celebration of the freedom to read, aimed at raising awareness of the constant attempt to limits this hard fought right. As in previous years I participated to the initiative reading some of the most challenged books in the USA in the previous year. I picked The Hate You Give, a National Book Award nominee and three time winner of Goodreads Choice Awards, that was strongly recommended to me by many friends.
This is the story of sixteen year old Starr Carter. She moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does, or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
It is a beautifully written story, deeply moving and touching. It was almost impossible for me to put down at times... and then I reached a point in the book that made me put it down quickly because I suspected I knew what was going to happen next, and it was going to be really terrible. And while the characters are fictional, these stories are all too real.
This reminded me of how privileged I am to be able to NOT experience this directly, but just through books that I can close at any time.
What a fantastic book. I will send a copy to my elementary school. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 09 2019 Finished: Oct 31 2019
Elevation cover
by Stephen King (2018)
My review: When I was a teenager I read a bunch of King's book. After a while I got tired of them, I started to feel them less novel and more of the same. I picked Elevation because of the rave reviews, and wow, I was not disappointed. It is, by far, one of the strongest book by the author. First of all, this is not even remotely an horror. It does have a fantastic element, but it is not really what make the book so interesting and original. The central element are people, their feeling, and their interactions.
Elevation is the moving story about a man whose mysterious affliction brings a small town together, a timely, upbeat tale about finding common ground despite deep-rooted differences. Although Scott Carey doesn't look any different, he's been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis. In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King's most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade (but escalating) battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott's lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face, including his own, he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott's affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.
I strongly recommend it. (★★★★★)
Started: Feb 21 2019 Finished: Feb 27 2019
People of the Book cover
People of the Book
by Geraldine Brooks (2008)
My review: Many years ago I read Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders and I loved it. I could not wait to read more from this author, but I was disappointed by the Pulitzer Prize winner March. After many years I decided to give a try to this book, and I am glad I did, because it is incredibly good.
This is the story of the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war. In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding, an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair, she begins to unlock the book's mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book's journey from its salvation back to its creation. In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city's rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah's extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna's investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love. Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is at once a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity, an ambitious, electrifying work. (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 15 2018 Finished: Dec 27 2018
Boy Meets Boy cover
Boy Meets Boy
by David Levithan (2005)
My review: A sweet and cheerful teen romantic heartwarming comedy with a uplifting message. It is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: the cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen, Infinite Darlene, is also the star quarterback. When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he's found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul's not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.
I felt some of the plot thread were left a little too open-ended., but overall I liked the book, it was sweet, cheerful, and funny. I would have probably loved in my high school / early college days.
Started: Dec 07 2018 Finished: Dec 15 2018
Fen cover
by Daisy Johnson
My review: The lighthouse keeper was first published as part of Fen, a collection of stories that uses elements of myth, legend, and folklore to capture the complexity of small, isolated and isolating communities. The collection focuses on family, friends, relationships and explores what it means to be a woman engaged in this world.
The Lighthouse Keeper is the final story of the collection. In this short story a woman comes across a fish she's never seen before. She becomes obsessed with catching it, and one night after two bottles of wine, she notes that "It moved with an almost human intelligence. Not a food source or a pretty thing to watch but, maybe, a friend". The lighthouse keeper fears for the fish, watching as boats (manned by men) begin hunting it: "They would catch the fish: most of them drunk … Barely enough for a bite each and with the taste of marshes and fen earth, but more of a ritual than anything else, as potent as taking church bread onto your tongue". ()
Started: Nov 18 2018 Finished: Nov 18 2018
The Vegetarian cover
The Vegetarian
by Han Kang
My review: I was browsing through my local library list of popular books when I ran into this novella. The cover was intriguing, and the title was familiar: a google search quickly reminded me I read rave reviews of it when it won the first new Man Booker International Prize in 2016. I decided to give it a try, and I was quickly trapped: while the book is not what would be my usual cup of tea, it soon deeply captivated me. The main character of the story is Yeong-hye, a woman that before a nightmare, lived a quite ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye's decision to embrace a more "plant-like" existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye, impossibly, ecstatically, tragically, far from her once-known self altogether.
When I finished to book I find myself confused. I felt like some big truth was shown to me, but I was unable to grasp it. Maybe the truth that is shown is too complex to grasp. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 06 2018 Finished: Apr 12 2018
It Can't Happen Here cover
It Can't Happen Here
by Sinclair Lewis
My review: It Can’t Happen Here was written in a moment of big social turmoil and tensions both in the United States and abroad. The country was still dealing with the depression. Some populist politicians with platforms that had strong similarities with the one of Hitler were increasingly getting wide support across the country. Sinclair Lewis, the first American author to win the Nobel prize for literature few years before, was seriously worried. His answer was this book, a deeply disturbing piece of propaganda and an attempt to protect the American democracy.
The book is a cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America. The book juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press. Called "a message to thinking Americans" by the Springfield Republican when it was published in 1935, It Can’t Happen Here is a shockingly prescient novel that remains as fresh and contemporary as today’s news.
New York Times review: (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 23 2017 Finished: Oct 19 2017
Melissa cover
by Alex Gino
My review: For the third year in a row I participated to the American Librarian Association's Banned Book Week initiative, reading the book that have been banned the most in US in the previous year. "George" by Alex Gino was the third most challenged book of 2017. It is a young adult novel, winner of the California Book Award Gold Medal for Juvenile (2015) and the Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children's (2015). It is the beautiful story of a transgender kid named George. I loved the book, it is very sweet. It's heartbreaking that people found something in it that they believe should be banned, and acted to prevent anybody from seeing it.
New York Times review: here.
The banned book week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read. For this year’s celebration, the coalition of organizations that sponsors Banned Books Week will emphasize the importance of the First Amendment, which guarantees our inherent right to read. Last year there was an alarming 17% increase in book censorship complaints. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 23 2017 Finished: Sep 27 2017
A. cover
by Diana L.
My review: The book is currently going through the last round of reviews. I promised the author to not leak anything about it... so I will replace this placeholder review with the real one, once it gets released. It is a great book! Stay tuned for more info. (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 14 2017 Finished: Mar 15 2017
Black Swan Green cover
Black Swan Green
by David Mitchell (2007)
My review: I loved David Mitchell's previous book, Cloud Atlas, and when I saw this book I just picked it up without even looking at the book synopsis. While the book is beautifully written, it is a partially fictionalized memoir, and I am not fond of the genre, hence I did not enjoy it as much. This said, it is the best memoir I have ever read.
Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen year old Jason Taylor (a fictionalized version of the author), the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirteen chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. The story mixes boys' games, tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falklands War and its human toll, bullism, young love, and divorce.
I particularly enjoyed the cameo of one of Cloud Atlas' characters, Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, that re-appear here as an elderly bohemian emigre'. (★★★)
Started: Dec 01 2016 Finished: Dec 14 2016
Burned Away cover
Burned Away
by Kristen Simmons (2016)
My review: Burned away is a standalone story that introduce us to the world of Metaltown, that will be further described in the homonyms book released in September 2016 by Tor. It is the story of Caris, a sixteen year old young woman, dreaming of following her mother path becaming a good reporter. When rumors of an uprising in Metaltown’s factories hits Bakerstown, Caris knows she's found the story that will finally prove her worth to the Journal.
It is not a bad story, but I have never been a big fan of young adult romantic fiction, and as a result the story did not really work for me.
A shout out to Goñi Montes for the stunningly beautiful cover. (★★)
Started: Nov 29 2016 Finished: Nov 29 2016
Two Boys Kissing cover
Two Boys Kissing
by David Levithan (2014)
My review: I read this book as part of the 2016 Banned Books Week, an initiative celebrating the freedom to read, and fighting book censorship. I picked Two Boys Kissing because it has been one of the most challenged book in the previous year. What a pleasant surprise this book was!
The story is told through the eyes of a previous generation of gay men, killed by an epidemic, and by the lack of interest of a nation for what happens to the less desirable ones. From the afterlife they follow the lives of many young man, growing up and confronting big challenges (including bullysm and being thrown out of home into a street by homophobic parents), but fighting for the right to live freely and love. It is a poetic, stunning, moving short novel, full of hope and love, that I recommend to everybody, gay or straight, of any age. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 30 2016 Finished: Oct 05 2016
Looking for Alaska cover
Looking for Alaska
by John Green (2006)
My review: I read this book as part of the 2016 Banned Books Week, an initiative celebrating the freedom to read, and fighting book censorship. I picked Looking for Alaska because it was the most challenged book in the previous year. After reading it, I am a little confused: I cannot believe this book was the target of so many challenges. There is nothing outrageous in the language, or on the topic. While it may feature mentions of sex, smoking, and drinking, every book that wants to truly describe what is to be a teenager should include those. Moreover, the book does not even celebrate them, but even warns about the dangers of drunk driving. I did some research to figure out why it was so challenged. It was labeled "pornographic" and "disgusting" by a group of "concerned parents". Also some of them refused to read the book they were challenging, reportedly saying that "One does not need to have cancer to diagnose cancer".
The story in itself is not bad, but nothing too special. It is a coming of age novel, where the characters struggle with the concepts of death, suffering, and depression. The main character ends up coming to term with it with a simple, quite uninteresting non denominational theistic approach.
To summarize: I can't see why this book should be challenged, it is just another teenager drama book as many other, not bad, but not too great either. (★★★)
Started: Sep 22 2016 Finished: Sep 29 2016
The Cheater's Guide to Love cover
The Cheater's Guide to Love
by Junot Díaz
My review: What an incredible, moving, at times gut wrenching story, and what a great flawed character. This is the story of a Dominican-American, a professor, that lose his great love when found cheating. This is the story of the ordeal he has to go through, to try to come to term with the loss, year after year.
And for those of you that do not speak Spanish, you may want to use this cheat sheet to understand the Dominican Spanish words used in the story: Cheater's Dominican Cheat Sheet for Junot Diaz's the cheater's guide to love (★★★★★)
Started: Aug 30 2016 Finished: Aug 31 2016
Il Maestro e Margherita cover
Il Maestro e Margherita
by Mikhail Bulgakov (2014)
My review: Uso le parole di Montale per descrivere il libro: "Il Diavolo è il più appariscente personaggio del grande romanzo postumo di Bulgakov. Appare un mattino dinanzi a due cittadini, uno dei quali sta enumerando le prove dell'inesistenza di Dio. Il neovenuto non è di questo parere. Ma c'è ben altro: era anche presente al secondo interrogatorio di Gesù da parte di Ponzio Pilato e ne dà ampia relazione in un capitolo che è forse il più stupefacente del libro. Poco dopo, il demonio, in veste del professore di magia nera Woland, si esibisce al Teatro di varietà di fronte a un pubblico enorme. I fatti che accadono sono così fenomenali che alcuni spettatori devono essere ricoverati in una clinica psichiatrica. Un romanzo-poema o, se volete, uno show in cui intervengono numerosissimi personaggi, un libro in cui un realismo quasi crudele si fonde o si mescola col più alto dei possibili temi: quello della Passione, non poteva essere concepito e svolto che da un cervello poeticamente allucinato. È qui che Bulgakov si congiunge con la più profonda tradizione letteraria della sua terra: la vena messianica, quella che troviamo in certe figure di Gogol e di Dostoevskij e in quel pazzo di Dio che è il quasi immancabile comprimario di ogni grande melodramma russo." (★★★★)
Started: Mar 06 2016 Finished: Apr 17 2016
Please Undo This Hurt cover
Please Undo This Hurt
by Seth Dickinson
My review: Dominga is an EMT who cares too much, and her friend Nico, that just lost his cat and broke up (again) with his girlfrind. Life hurts. Nico's tired of hurting people. He wants out. Not suicide, not that, he'd just hurt everyone who loves him. But what if he could erase his whole life? Undo the fact of his birth? Wouldn't Dominga be having a better night, right now, if she didn't have to take care of him? (★★★★)
Started: Jan 22 2016 Finished: Jan 22 2016
Islands Off the Coast of Capitola, 1978 cover
Islands Off the Coast of Capitola, 1978
by David Herter (2015)
My review: This short story contains many interesting elements, and the narrative style is quite interesting, but a lot is left unsaid, and this often make the story hard to understand. I am still trying to understand what happened at the very end. (★★)
Started: Dec 27 2015 Finished: Dec 27 2015
Piccolo blu e piccolo giallo: Una storia per Pippo e Ann e altri bambini cover
Piccolo blu e piccolo giallo: Una storia per Pippo e Ann e altri bambini
by Leo Lionni (1999)
My review: Questa e' la storia di piccolo blu e piccolo giallo che giocando insieme finiscon con il diventare verdi. Una storia simpatica per i piu' piccoli, che ha destato le ire del sindaco di Venezia che ne ha richiesto la rimozione da tutte le scuole della sua provincia per il fatto che i due protagonisti sian amici nonostante sian di colore diverso. Sconvolgente che un episodio di razzismo cosi' eclatante possa accadere al giorno d'oggi con completa impunita'. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 13 2015 Finished: Dec 13 2015
The Hell of It cover
The Hell of It
by Peter Orullian (2015)
My review: This is the story of a widowed father, trying hard to stay afloat. He tried to avoid unsavory and illegal jobs, even when he is desperate, to give a good example to his son, and to keep the dying wish of his late wife. Some heroes don't carry blades or go to war. Some heroes are fathers desperately trying not to fail their sons.
The story is interesting, and it is well written. Unfortunately it come across a little preachy and fake. It something that would fit perfectly well in a local little church magazine. (★★★)
Started: Oct 06 2015 Finished: Oct 06 2015
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian cover
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
My review: I read this book during Banned Book Week, an initiative aimed at fighting censorship, and raising awareness of the constant challenges to the freedom to read in the United States of America, and abroad. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian won many awards (including the prestigious 2007 National Book award), but was the most challenged book in the States in 2014 and in 2015. It was removed from schools across the country being accused to be "anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, violence, etc". I confess I am quite surprised. While book censorship is always troubling, in this particular case the accusations seem to be baseless. This book is everything but anti-family: the love for and by his family is the only wealth of the main character, as it is made clear over and over again. The book contains characters addicted to drug and alcohol, but those are portrayed as something to stay away from. Last but not least, the language did not strike me as vulgar. I wonder if the people that challenged the book actually read it before making their claims.
This is tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
Started: Oct 03 2015 Finished: Oct 04 2015
The Joy Luck Club cover
The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan (2006)
My review: Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue. With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery. (★★★★★)
Started: Aug 30 2015 Finished: Sep 07 2015
The Days of Anna Madrigal (Tales of the City, #9) cover
The Days of Anna Madrigal (Tales of the City, #9)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: Amazing. Just simply utterly amazing.
I woke up early as always this morning, when it was dark. I could not tell the time because I had misplaced my phone somewhere. I retired to the guestroom because I did not want to wake my partner up. From there, I started outside at San Francisco, at the neon light of the Castro theater, and the downtown skyscrapers flickering against the backdrop of the bay, a tranquil ocean of darkness broken only broken by the pale East Bay lights. There is something very peaceful and rewarding in waking up before the day starts, to get a chance to see the city sleeping peacefully, when there is no hint of all the commotions to come.
I picked up the book I just started, Maupin's The Days of Anna Madrigal, and started reading it in the silence and darkness of the night. It kept me company hours after hour. As the sky started lighting up, as a small kindle of light emerged on the horizon, I kept devouring and savoring page after page, completely captivated, trapped by the story. This is not only tremendously well written, it is also the most powerful, touching, and moving book of a series, its perfect conclusion. And now the sun is high in the sky, and I find myself still in my PJs, staring out of the window with the book still in my hands, deeply and gratefully moved to tears. (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 22 2015 Finished: Mar 28 2015
La nuvola di smog / La formica argentina cover
La nuvola di smog / La formica argentina
by Italo Calvino (1996)
Publisher review: La nuvola di smog è un racconto continuamente tentato di diventare qualcos'altro: saggio sociologico o diario intimo. Immagine e ideogramma del mondo cui ci troviamo a far fronte è lo smog. La nebbia fumosa è carica di detriti chimici delle città industriali. Questo volume comprende anche un racconto di qualche anno prima e molto diverso, La formica argentina, che l'autore ha voluto affiancare a La nuvola di smog per un'affinità strutturale e morale. Qui il male di vivere viene dalla natura: le formiche che infestano la riviera.
My rating: ★★★★
Started: Sep 09 2014 Finished: Sep 12 2014
Il visconte dimezzato cover
Il visconte dimezzato
by Italo Calvino (2016)
My review: Una fiaba piena di allegorie sulla societa' dell'Italia del secondo dopoguerra. Questa e' la storia del visconte Medardo di Terralba che, colpito al petto da una cannonata turca, torna a casa diviso in due meta' (una cattiva, malvagia, prepotente, ma dotata di inaspettate doti di umorismo e realismo, l'altra gentile, altruista, buona, o meglio "buonista"). Come disse Calvino Tutti ci sentiamo in qualche modo incompleti, tutti realizziamo una parte di noi stessi e non l'altra.
Ho letto questo libro due volte. La prima lo finii il 24 Giugno 1999. (★★★★)
Number of times I read it: 2
Started (first time): Aug 23 2014 Finished (first time): Aug 24 2014
Rosso Istanbul cover
Rosso Istanbul
by Ferzan Özpetek (2013)
Publisher review: Tutto comincia una sera, quando un regista turco che vive a Roma decide di prendere un aereo per Istanbul, dov'è nato e cresciuto. L'improvviso ritorno a casa accende a uno a uno i ricordi: della madre, donna bellissima e malinconica; del padre, misteriosamente scomparso e altrettanto misteriosamente ricomparso dieci anni dopo; della nonna, raffinata «principessa ottomana »; delle «zie», amiche della madre, assetate di vita e di passioni; della fedele domestica Diamante. Del primo aquilone, del primo film, dei primi baci rubati. Del profumo di tigli e delle estati languide, che non finiscono mai, sul Mar di Marmara. E, ovviamente, del primo amore, proibito, struggente e perduto. Ma Istanbul sa cogliere ancora una volta il protagonista di sorpresa. E lo trattiene, anche se lui vorrebbe ripartire. Perché se il passato, talvolta, ritorna, il presente ha spesso il dono di afferrarci: basta un incontro, una telefonata, un graffito su un muro. I passi del regista si incrociano con quelli di una donna. Sono partiti insieme da Roma, sullo stesso aereo, seduti vicini. Non si conoscono. Non ancora. Lei è in viaggio di lavoro e di piacere, in compagnia del marito e di una coppia di giovani colleghi. Ma a Istanbul accadrà qualcosa che cambierà per sempre la sua vita. Tra caffè e hamam, amori irrisolti e tradimenti svelati, nostalgia e voluttà, i destini del regista e della donna inesorabilmente si sfiorano e, alla fine, convergono. Questo libro è una dichiarazione d'amore a una città, Istanbul. Rossa come i melograni, come i vecchi tram, come i carrettini dei venditori di simit, come certi tramonti sul Bosforo che mischiano lo scarlatto al blu, come lo smalto sulle unghie di una madre molto amata. Ed è, insieme, un libro sull'amore, nelle sue mille sfumature. L'amore che non conosce età, paese, tempo, ragione, differenze di sesso. Che sceglie e basta. Una storia romantica, imprevista e nostalgica che racconta di un regista, di una città e di un ritorno. E poi, come una scatola magica, di una storia nella storia. Proprio come in un film di Ferzan Ozpetek, se decidesse di raccontare la sua.
My rating: ★★★★★
Started: Mar 09 2014 Finished: Mar 10 2014
Fox 8 cover
Fox 8
by George Saunders (2013)
My review: Fox 8 has always been known as the daydreamer in his pack, the one his fellow foxes regarded with a knowing snort and a roll of the eyes. That is, until Fox 8 develops a unique skill: he teaches himself to speak Yuman by hiding in the bushes outside a house and listening to children’s bedtime stories. The power of language fuels his abundant curiosity about people—even after danjer arrives in the form of a new shopping mall that cuts off his food supply, sending Fox 8 on a harrowing quest to help save his pack. Told with his distinctive blend of humor and pathos, Fox 8 showcases the extraordinary imaginative talents of George Saunders, whom the New York Times called the writer for our time. (Goodreads review) (★★★★)
Started: Jul 06 2013 Finished: Jul 06 2013
The Testament of Mary cover
The Testament of Mary
by Colm Tóibín
My review: Mary in this book is not the meek, docile and obedient woman that traditional misogynistic iconography portrays. In "The testament of Mary" she is a tragically human heroin, torn by the sense of guilt for abandoning her son on the cross to save herself, blaming herself for not keeping her son to the bad influence of a "group of misfits he gathered around him". Whatever your religious beliefs are, this alternative version of the new testament succeeds in creating an incredibly memorable, novel, and deeply human portrait of one of the cultural icons of the Western world. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 06 2013 Finished: Apr 07 2013
Mary Ann in Autumn (Tales of the City, #8) cover
Mary Ann in Autumn (Tales of the City, #8)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: Twenty years have passed since Mary Ann Singleton left her husband and child in San Francisco to pursue her dream of a television career in New York. Now, a pair of personal calamities has driven her back to the city of her youth and into the arms of her oldest friend, Michael "Mouse" Tolliver, a gay gardener happily ensconced with his much-younger husband.
Mary Ann finds temporary refuge in the couple's backyard cottage, where, at the unnerving age of 57, she licks her wounds and takes stock of her mistakes. Soon, with the help of Facebook and a few old friends, she begins to reengage with life, only to confront fresh terrors when her speckled past comes back to haunt her in a way she could never have imagined. Over three decades in the making, Armistead Maupin's legendary Tales of the City series rolls into a new age, still sassy, irreverent and curious, and still exploring the boundaries of the human experience with insight, compassion and mordant wit. (★★★★★)
Started: Nov 16 2012 Finished: Nov 25 2012
Cloud Atlas cover
Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell (2004)
My review: I do not know why this book touched me so deeply, but it really did.
In Cloud Atlas Humans are Devils, always prone to enslave, kill, and slaughter. Humans are always ready to take away the dignity of others in the name of a Natural Order that determines that people of color, homosexuals, old, cloned people, or members of other tribes are not even worthy of the title of "men". This is demonstrated over and over 6 times in the 6 different stories (the number 6 recurrence in the book is significant).
But the Humans of Cloud Atlas are also Divine, because over and over, experiencing and witnessing small acts of kindness and incredible acts of self-sacrifice they come to realize that all these Natural Order boundaries are just human made conventions. Our lives are the result of all our choices, all our encounters. We are all bound together, each little act of kindness, each mistake goes beyond our lifetime and affects all humanity and the future. And so it is that a little act of kindness on a San Francisco bound ship will ultimately bring salvation to the Human race in a very far future.
Selected quotes:
Our lives and our choices, each encounter, suggest a new potential direction. Yesterday my life was headed in one direction. Today, it is headed in another. Fear, belief, love, phenomena that determined the course of our lives. These forces begin long before we are born and continue long after we perish. Yesterday, I believe I would have never have done what I did today. I feel like something important has happened to me. Is this possible?
Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 30 2012 Finished: Oct 20 2012
Michael Tolliver Lives (Tales of the City, #7) cover
Michael Tolliver Lives (Tales of the City, #7)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: Armistead Maupin wrote this book 20 years after completing the last book of the classic "Tales of the city" series, and, as the different color of the cover suggests, it stands apart on its own. While the settings and the characters are the same ones we felt in love with, a quarter of a century is passed, and things changed a lot in all those years. Anna Madrigal is now in her 80s, Michael Mouse Tolliver in his 60s. Some of the characters are deceased, and Shanna is now an adult. The different (time) settings, and the aged characters completely change the feel of the novel. The plot is relatively simple, it does not feature mysterious sects leaders or cultists (as some of the previous books of the series did), but it focuses instead on the relationship between the characters, on their evolution, on their feelings. As any Maupin's reader already knows, the author has an uncanny ability in creating characters we can't help but falling in love with. They feel so real and alive that they slowly became members of our family, friends, people we can relate with. This is even more true for this last novel: despite a relatively simpler plot line, the book is by date, Maupin's most powerful and touching book. This is achieved leveraging on the adroitly built intimacy with the characters, and not via a convoluted and epic plot line.
Many of the themes of the book (including inter-generation marriage, AIDS, the pain caused by the separation from your grown up kid moving out of home) are quite interesting and worth discussing, but nothing make this book worth reading more than the shiver I felt listening to Anna talking to Mouse on the top of the De Young tower, or the tears in my eyes at the end of the book. Yes, the themes touched in the book are interesting and worth discussing, but at the end, the characters are the ones we all fall in love with, and we laugh, and cry, and grow up with. The message is important, but the characters are family. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 15 2012 Finished: Sep 19 2012
The Best American Short Stories 2011 cover
The Best American Short Stories 2011
by Geraldine Brooks
My review: I love Geraldine Brooks books and I was googling her to see if she had published any new book. I was disappointed to discover she hadn't, but I was intrigued to discover that she was the 2011 editor for "The Best American Short Stories" series. I decided to give it a try. The stories have very little in common. They span multiple literary genres and narrative styles. Some of them are powerful, poetic, and touching: a good example is "Housewifely Arts" by Megan Mayhew Bergman, focusing on the relationship of a mother and her aging mother, and the longing of the first after the death of the second. Some others are able to shake you to the core: see for example "Free fruit for young widows" by Nathan Englander, describing the life of a Jewish Death Camp survivor, or "ID" by Joyce Carol Oates's, the story of a young teenage girl, growing up with a violent father that almost disfigured her, and her prostitute mother. Some features quite interesting experimental narrative styles, while others failed to capture my attention. (★★★)
Started: Aug 05 2012 Finished: Aug 27 2012
Life of Pi cover
Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
My review: It's quite hard to review this book without giving away any spoiler, and this is a great book that does not deserve to be spoiled. I still remember seeing it in the "reccomended" section of my local bookstore, picking it up with interest and putting it down thinking "what? a story about somebody being stuck on a boat? It has to be boring". Oh I was wrong! The book is actually quite captivating, so fascinating that you find yourself still reading it in the middle of the night thinking "it's late, but let's read another one of these short chapters". As the story progresses, I found myself captivated, and at its conclusion deeply shaken and shocked. (★★★★★)
Started: Jul 29 2012 Finished: Aug 04 2012
The Diary of Darcy J. Rhone (Darcy & Rachel, #0.5) cover
The Diary of Darcy J. Rhone (Darcy & Rachel, #0.5)
by Emily Giffin
My review: This short story was available for free on the Google play store, and I decided to give it a try even if I did not know what type of books Emily Griffin writes. It turns out she writes romantic comedies, that it is definitely not what I usually enjoy reading. The main character is Darcy, a gorgeous and shallow girl. The author tries (and sometimes succeed) to make the reader smile focusing on Darcy's shortcomings, on her inappropriate words and actions. Unfortunately I can see many of these as tragically real and typical in teenagers (of any generation), and that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The smile dies on my lips when I heard jokes on real issues like teen bulimia or STDs. (★★)
Started: Jul 28 2012 Finished: Jul 28 2012
Sure of You (Tales of the City #6) cover
Sure of You (Tales of the City #6)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: The familiar Barbary Lane's characters are back, a little older. Reading this book feels like a high school re-union, where familiar faces trigger powerful memories, and we are faced with the realization that those time are gone, and time flew by. Michael moved to the Castro with his partner, living what would be a great life if not for the HIV virus in his blood. Mrs Madrigal and her daughter Mona travel to the Greek islands, and Mary Ann is given a great work opportunity that may strain her relationship with Brian. As always, Maupin excels in the deep psychological portrait of his characters, and his amazing ability to portray the spirit of San Francisco, its contradictions and inner turmoil at a particular moment in time. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 01 2012 Finished: Feb 17 2012
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Maybe the Moon
by Armistead Maupin
My review: Armistead Maupin take a break from his beloved "Tales of the city" characters and San Francisco to the sunnier South California. This book is a fictional diary of Cady, a little person, that even if talented, has an hard time to find a job in Hollywood because of her height. The book is a joy to read, fun and witty, and I strongly recommend it. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 13 2011 Finished: Jun 23 2011
Significant Others (Tales of the City Series, Vol. 5) cover
Significant Others (Tales of the City Series, Vol. 5)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: Every volume of Tales of the City is a portrait of San Francisco in a particular moment in time. Each volume captures the dreams, the fears, the atmosphere of the city, and recreates the struggles and the achievements on the time. The actors are, as always, the loved inhabitants of Barbary lane. The settings are San Francisco in the 80s, AIDS, and the new and old struggles of family life (love, career, infidelity, and compromise). Enjoyable read, bitter sweet and wise. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 01 2010 Finished: Aug 15 2010
Babycakes (Tales of the City, #4) cover
Babycakes (Tales of the City, #4)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: We are back to 28 Barbary Lane, San Francisco, following the adventure of Mary Ann, Brian, Mouse and Mona. It's the forth book, and all the character are now so familiar, that they do feel like family. This is, so far, the best written book of the series, Maupin really improved his writing skills over the year (and he was great to start with). The story flows very smoothly now and it's adroitly crafted so that everything falls in place without forcing events. As a result the story feel credible and real. The story takes place during the AIDS years. Mouse is mourning the loss of Jon, Mona is looking for a new life in Seattle, Brian wants a baby to give a meaning to his life, and Mary Ann tries hard to balance married life with her career. A quite amazing snapshot of a San Francisco of the end of the last millennium, witty and touching at the same time. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2010 Finished: Jan 16 2010
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Specimen Days
by Michael Cunningham
My review: A second masterpiece (after The Hours) by Michael Cunningham. In The hours the lives of three women are intertwined together. In Specimen days we follow three characters in three historical periods, in three apparently unrelated separate novels. The historical background of each story is a different New York: the horrors of the industrial revolution, the fears of the Post September 2001, and a post apocalyptic feature. In each story the same characters come back over and over again, struggling over and over to understand the truth, to see what is hidden behind the reality, and to discover it in awe. (★★★★)
Started: May 05 2009 Finished: Jun 25 2009
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Mothers and Sons
by Colm Tóibín
My review: A collection of short stories, each of them is an in-depth investigations of the human interactions between mothers and sons. The focus is on their feelings, fears, and desires. As in Blackwater Lightship, the author demonstrates an astounding sensibility and understanding of human nature. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 19 2009 Finished: Jun 24 2009
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Gentlemen and Players (Malbry, #1)
by Joanne Harris (2006)
My review: Joanne Harris managed to awe me again, with this clever and amazing novel. I really enjoyed this book, the characterization and detailed analysis of the main character. The only thing I did not really find great was the final "shocking revelation", that, even if very surprising and unexpected, it is not really convincing. Despite that, it is another masterpiece of Joanne Harris, that I strongly recommend. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 16 2009 Finished: Apr 27 2009
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Chie-chan e io
by Banana Yoshimoto (2008)
My review: Ho sempe amato i libri di Banana Yoshimoto, e anche quest'ultimo e' stata una piacevole lettura, ma devo dire che i piu' recenti volumi sfigurano a confronto ai suoi libri della giovinezza. Questa e' la storia di Kaori e Chie-chan, e del loro particolarissimo rapporto. (★★)
Started: Jan 26 2009 Finished: Feb 15 2009
Further Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #3) cover
Further Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #3)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: The calamity-prone residents of 28 Barbary Lane are at it again in this deliciously dark novel of romance and betrayal. While Anna Madrigal imprisons an anchorwoman in her basement, Michael Tolliver looks for love at the National Gay Rodeo, DeDe Halcyon Day and Mary Ann Singleton track a charismatic psychopath across Alaska, and society columnist Prue Giroux loses her heart to a derelict living in San Francisco park. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2009 Finished: Jan 16 2009
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Unaccustomed Earth
by Jhumpa Lahiri (2008)
My review: Jhumpa Lahiri shines the most when she works on short stories. She manages to capture and to describe with simple and delicate strokes, the feeling and the tragedies of her characters. While all the short stories are interesting, the last three really stand out. These intertwined stories shows reality as perceived through the eyes of the characters (similarly to what Pirandello does). What I particularly loved is the description of the inability of some of the characters to accept their feelings, the struggle between what is considered right and true happiness, between the American and the Indian soul of the characters. It is like Room with a view with a strong ABCD flavor. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 19 2008 Finished: Dec 28 2008
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More Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #2)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: This is a very enjoyable book. After watching the TV series, and reading the first book, the characters are familiar. Beside the witty jokes and the familiar character, this work of fiction turns into a very accurate portrait of the San Francisco and America of the late 70s. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 10 2008 Finished: Oct 18 2008
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Ricordi di un vicolo cieco
by Banana Yoshimoto (2006)
My review: Cinque racconti, cinque diverse persone che si ritrovano ad affrontare situazioni difficili, a lottare per dare un significato alla vita e ritrovare la felicita' (★★★)
Started: Sep 01 2008 Finished: Sep 10 2008
Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #1) cover
Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #1)
by Armistead Maupin (1994)
My review: A very accurate portrait of San Francisco in the 70s, when the heat of the summer of love was cooling down and before the AIDS days. At first each chapter reads like a funny stand alone story. In reality is a well thought paint stroke. And stroke after stroke, an incredibly powerful and accurate portrait emerge. The books was written before I was born, but I can still see and feel the Tales of the City's San Francisco in the city I live in today. The book made me understand it a little bit more, even if it is just a work of fiction. I am looking forward reading More tales of the city... (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 31 2008 Finished: Apr 05 2008
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Il coperchio del mare
by Banana Yoshimoto (2007)
My review: Un'altro piccolo capolavoro di Banana Yoshimoto, una riflessione sul significato della nostra vita ed esistenza. A detta di Mari, siam candele nell'oscurita', presto il vento ci spegnera' e fara' sparire ogni nostra traccia. Ma Hajime le insegna che la vita va vissuta, i ricordi son fiori da raccogliere lungo la via, creando un profumato bouquet da portare con noi fino alla morte. Insegna a Mari che il vero orrore della vita e' l'avidita', la continua corsa alla richezza, che fa perder la capacita' di apprezzare le piccole cose e i nostri piccoli traguardi. Se tutti condividessero questa visione "l'oscurita' sarebbe spezzata per sempre da una grande luce, generata dalla luce di tutte le stelle unite, cosi' luminosa da essere visibile anche nell'ora piu' scura. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 04 2008 Finished: Mar 07 2008
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Interpreter of Maladies
by Jhumpa Lahiri (1999)
My review: I enjoyed The Namesake, but this book is just astounding. A very deserved Pulitzer Prize, the book is a collection of short stories. What makes them special is the incredible ability of the author of portraying the characters with few adroitly placed strokes. The characters are realistic, credible and, as a result, the short stories are powerful and touching. They have a way to work their way into the reader hearts, moving him or her to tears. (★★★★★)
Started: Nov 13 2007 Finished: Nov 21 2007
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Blackberry Wine
by Joanne Harris
My review: It was quite a surprise to discover that this book is in part a sequel of Chocolat: the story takes place in the same small town and some of the characters are the same, as a result you get to see what happened to them. It is quite a magical book, where millenniums old folklore and traditions, superstitions and myths are intertwined with the life of the characters. Remarkable. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 26 2007 Finished: Nov 12 2007
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The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
My review: I was looking for a good book at the bookstore when one of my best friends told me that this book is a must read. As a result I picked it up.
I liked the idea of describing society though the eyes of somebody that does not fit into it, somebody unable to conform to a system that he perceives as contradictory, phony and hypocritical. Quite an interesting book. (★★★)
Started: Aug 12 2007 Finished: Aug 14 2007
The Namesake cover
The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri
My review: The namesake is the story of Gogol/Nikhil (and his family) and his coming to term with his cultural identity (and with his name): Gogol lives between two words: America and India. (★★★★)
Started: May 01 2007 Finished: Aug 11 2007
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Flesh and Blood
by Michael Cunningham
My review: Another incredible literary accomplishment by the author of The hours. The inter-personal relations between the characters, their internal growth and their shortcomings are told with unprecedented realism, sensibility and humanity. Each member of the Stassos family is so well-rounded, so painfully and cynically real, that page after page they become real in the mind of the reader. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 19 2007 Finished: Mar 29 2007
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Presagio triste
by Banana Yoshimoto (2006)
My review: Ho sempre amato Banana Yoshimoto per la sua capacita' di comunicare emozioni, stati d'animo e sentimenti con poche minimaliste pennellate. Questa e' la storia di Yayoi e del suo viaggio alla ricerca della sua memoria e vita perduta, ben conscia che cio' che trovera' nell'altra sponda di Lete distruggera' la sua vita com'era, ma che e' ormai impossibile evitare tale passo. (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 29 2006 Finished: Dec 30 2006
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Exit to Eden
by Anne Rampling
My review: I was given this book as a present from a friend. I confess I was expecting something very different from the author of Interview with the Vampire. I was expecting the typical erotic tension of a gothic novel, but the book gives you a way more than that. I enjoyed it. It is the story of Lisa, a woman raised in a claustrophobic and moralist Catholic family that believes to have reached freedom escaping into a world of fetish. In reality the baggage of her childhood are still with her, as she soon realizes when she find herself unable to feel and love. A lot of people can probably relate to this story: the world is full of people that, at first, may seem sexually liberated, even daring, but that are still fighting their sense of guilt and inhibitions inside. (★★★)
Started: Jul 21 2006 Finished: Jul 28 2006
The Hours cover
The Hours
by Michael Cunningham (2002)
My review: This book is an extraordinary literary achievement. It is the story of three women, each of them living in a different place and time. Their stories are though intertwined and the choices of one impact the one of the others. It is a story of depression, suicide and every day miracles that helps people to hold on and go on. Intended as a tribute to Virginia Woolf, this book manages to even surpass the original. (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 12 2006 Finished: Mar 25 2006
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The City of Falling Angels
by John Berendt
My review: It's strange to follow the author while he guides you through familiar places of your youth, while he introduces you to people and events you are familiar with. All the pieces, all the events that were happening years ago while I was there now appear in a book. It is strange to re-discover them and to re-experience them under a new light. I really liked to immerge myself in this vivid and realistic portrait of what I used to call home. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 11 2006 Finished: Feb 20 2006
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Brokeback Mountain
by Annie Proulx
My review: This is a short novel, with a great and powerful story. The book teaches how you can sometimes end up ruining your life, losing what you love and what matters the most to you, because your afraid of it and of losing it. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 03 2005 Finished: Dec 05 2005
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Holy Fools
by Joanne Harris
My review: Another great book from Joanne Harris, one of my favorite writers. Even if not as powerful and magic as five quarters of the orange, the book is a little masterpiece. One of the main theme of Chocolat is back: the clash between the barren hypocrisy of the church and an ancient sensual and wise superstition. It comes back with a new twist: in here there is a strong attraction between the two opposites. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 21 2005 Finished: Aug 25 2005
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Solitudini imperfette
by Andrea Mancinelli (1998)
My review: La storia di un trentenne Milanese, e della sua reazione alla vita d'adulto. Mattia si scopre intrappolato dal tram tram quotidiano, dalla carriera, da rapporti fugaci con amici conosciuto per caso e presto dimenticati. La morte di un caro amico mette in moto profonde riflessioni e lenti assestamenti. (★★★★)
Started: Apr 13 2005 Finished: Apr 17 2005
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The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold
My review: This is one of the most powerful and touching book I ever read. The first part is such a powerful punch in the stomach that left me breathless more than once. The second part of the book is drastically different and less interesting: it does feel like it was written by a different person. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2005 Finished: Jan 28 2005
The Little Prince cover
The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (2000)
My review: A touching little masterpiece. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2000 Finished: Aug 01 2004
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The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde (2004)
My review: I read this book translated in Italian many years ago and I did not like it at all. I guess I was too young or the translation was poor. I read it again, this time in English and I have been surprised: the book is full of wit! Many authors has hitherto wrote about the relationship between moral and moralism. Dorian is the man that free himself from the moralistic preconceptions of society, but he cannot handle such a freedom and he loses himself. (★★★★★)
Number of times I read it: 2
Started (first time): Feb 22 2004 Finished (first time): Feb 28 2004
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The Blackwater Lightship
by Colm Tóibín (2005)
My review: This is an amazing book. It is the story of three women, grandmother, mother and daughter. It is the story of two sick men that are going to die, father and son. Death and sickness are the main catalyst of the plot, which is centered in the complex emotions of the three women at war with themselves. (★★★★★)
Started: Feb 09 2004 Finished: Feb 15 2004
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Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë (2002)
My review: I really had high expectations before start reading this book, based upon readings of small sections of the book in high school. I was intrigued by a story that shows how love can turn into a curse, consuming an entire existence. I probably set my expectations too high, and as a result, I was a little disappointed. Still, it is a great classic that it is worth reading.
Started: Jan 24 2004 Finished: Feb 09 2004
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Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen (2000)
My review: This is by far the best Austen's novel. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 07 2004 Finished: Jan 24 2004
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Angels in America
by Tony Kushner (2007)
My review: Quite a literary achievement! The characters are painfully human, with all their weaknesses, fears, and dreams. The storytelling is innovative, modern, captivating. The plot is adroitly sewed, so that all the different threads come together to create an awe inspiring, powerful, touching, and intense masterpiece.. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 06 2004 Finished: Jan 07 2004
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Delitto e castigo: Parte I - II - III - IV
by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1982)
My review: Era da molto che non leggevo un libro in Italiano e da molto che non leggevo Dostoevsky, e devo dire che questo libro m'ha fatto proprio pentire di aver fatto passare tanto tempo. Dostoevsky e' un genio: la descrizione dello stato morboso in cui si trova Raskolnikov e' incredibilmente realistica ed inquietante. Uniche due note negative del libro: il fatto che solo a meta' il tema del superuomo compaia e il finale aperto... (★★★★)
Started: Oct 01 2003 Finished: Dec 18 2003
Chocolat (Chocolat, #1) cover
Chocolat (Chocolat, #1)
by Joanne Harris
My review: The worst thing that happened to this book, was to be made into a movie. The movie was not bad, but it pales in comparison. There is something magical, awe inspiring in Joanne Harris's writing. Her characters come alive, and feel so real with all their limitations and missteps. The plot is captivating and touching. It's really a little masterpiece. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 01 2003 Finished: Nov 12 2003
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Sense and Sensibility
by Jane Austen (2003)
My review: I enjoyed the book, but I was disappointed by the ending: the happiness of Elinor, and the end of the relation between Marianne and Willoughby conform to archaic society rules of convenience. (★★★)
Started: Jun 01 2003 Finished: Sep 01 2003
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Le rose di Atacama
by Luis Sepúlveda (2002)
My review: Il viaggio, il vagabondaggio per il mondo, e' il filo conduttore delle storie raccolte in questo libro. Lo scrittore narra le vicende di personaggi anonimi e marginali incontrati per il mondo, uomini e donne che hanno in comune l'aver fatto della propria vita una forma di resistenza. Un amico cileno che ha diretto la rivista Analisis, prima barricata della lotta contro Pinochet. Un cantante che ha partecipato alla Primavera di Praga. Un cameraman olandese ucciso dall'esercito del Salvador. Uomini che non hanno mai sperato di uscire dai margini, ma che per una volta sono affiorati, con le loro storie, dal buio dell'oblio. Come le rose che, in un solo giorno dell'anno, ricoprono il deserto di Atacama. Certi racconti non sono male, altri scivolano sul pateticamente melo'. (★★★)
Started: Jul 12 2003 Finished: Aug 01 2003
H/H cover
by Banana Yoshimoto (2003)
My review: Due racconti che trattano della morte mostrando i diversi modi con cui la si puo' affrontare e mettendo a fuoco il contrasto tra la sofferenza della perdita, la tentazione di sprofondare nel dolore e una inarrestabile voglia di rinascita. (★★★)
Started: Jul 10 2003 Finished: Jul 11 2003
The Fig Eater cover
The Fig Eater
by Jody Shields
My review: I usually am not really fond of mystery books, but I quite enjoyed this book, a mix of historical fiction, psychological introspection, mystery, and feminism. It is inspired by one of the most famous and controversial of Freud's cases (Dora's case, a girl that discovers the father infidelity with the father of his best friend, the same friend that later tries to seduce Dora), and it starts with the body of a young girl found dead in the middle of a park in turn-of-the-century Vienna... (★★★★)
Started: Oct 23 2002 Finished: Dec 05 2002
Honeymoon cover
by Banana Yoshimoto (2003)
My review: Amo particolarmente i libri di Banana Yoshimoto. Le trame delle sue storie spesso contano assai ben poco. I veri protagonisti sono i sentimenti, le sensazioni, che lei e' abilissima a descrivere in maniera evocativa con pochissime parole. Questa e' la storia d'una giovane coppia, sposatasi prestissimo. Il padre dello sposo sembra far parte di una setta religiosa. Ho finito questo libro in un giorno assai particolare: il giorno della caduta delle torri. Lo shock m'ha impedito di godermi la fine come avrei dovuto. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 10 2001 Finished: Sep 11 2001
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Snow Falling on Cedars
by David Guterson
My review: This was one of the book Kirsten suggested me. I started it while I was going to the Broadband wireless world forum. It is a good book. (★★★)
Started: Feb 21 2001 Finished: May 06 2001
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The Lost Language of Cranes
by David Leavitt
My review: This book is a Christmas present. Matteo bought it for me while we were in a bookstore in San Francisco. He really enjoyed the book and he wanted to share it with me. I liked reading it, I did not enjoyed it as much as he did. The book is a painfully honest description of ho to different generations came to term with their own homosexuality. (★★★)
Started: Jan 08 2001 Finished: Feb 10 2001
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Incontro d'amore in un paese in guerra
by Luis Sepúlveda (1997)
Publisher review: L'avventura e la politica, l'amore e la guerra, il viaggio e l'utopia. Tutto Sepulveda con le sue passioni e i suoi temi più cari, rappresentati in questo libro che raccoglie 24 racconti dello scrittore cileno. L'appuntamento d'amore tra un sandinista che combatte in Nicaragua contro la dittatura e la moglie di un prigioniero in mano ai rivoltosi; la notte di terrore di un ricercato politico in attesa dell'arrivo di uno "squadrone della morte"; l'impresa di dodici confinati sperduti nel mezzo del deserto cileno; l'incontro mancato tra un esule e la donna amata... E ancora: dittatori senza scrupoli, fieri malavitosi dei porti, vecchi anarchici con un'antica ferita d'amore, coppie senza più speranza, prostitute commoventi e grottesche.
My rating:
Finished: Jun 19 1999
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Il vecchio che leggeva romanzi d'amore
by Luis Sepúlveda (1993)
Publisher review: Il vecchio protagonista vive ai margini della foresta amazzonica equadoriana. Egli custodisce un tesoro inesauribile, un accordo intimo con i ritmi e i segreti della natura. Solo lui potra uccidere il tigrillo, il felino accecato dal dolore per l'inutile sterminio dei suoi piccoli.
My rating:
Finished: Nov 23 1998
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Confessioni di una maschera
by Yukio Mishima (2008)
Publisher review: Un giovane, cui "difetta in via assoluta qualsiasi forma di voglia carnale per l'altro sesso", deve imparare a vivere celando la propria autentica identità. In pagine in cui risultano indissolubilmente commisti sessualità e candore, esultanza e disperazione, il protagonista di questo romanzo, un classico della letteratura giapponese moderna, confessa le esperienze cruciali attraverso le quali è giunto a conoscere se stesso: dalla "adorazione indicibile" per un paio di calzoni all'elaborazione di fantasie sadomasochistiche, dall'identificazione con personaggi femminili celebri alle sconcertanti interpretazioni di fiabe e motivi iconografici occidentali... L'accettazione di se stesso come uomo diverso dagli altri uomini non si attua senza una lotta, tanto strenua quanto vana, per conquistare la normalità: simula vizi immaginari per far passare inosservate le proprie vere inclinazioni, si costringe a corteggiare giovinette per chiarire sino a qual punto la donna possa offrire piaceri reali, corregge con zelo manifestazioni di rischiosa passionalità... Ma "le emozioni non hanno simpatia per l'ordine fisso" e i suoi sentimenti reali rimangono, tenaci, quelli nascosti dalla maschera della correttezza ufficiale.
My rating:
Finished: Oct 11 1998
Il processo cover
Il processo
by Franz Kafka (1988)
Publisher review: Josef K., condannato a morte per una colpa inesistente, è vittima del suo tempo. Sostiene interrogatori, cerca avvocati e testimoni, soltanto per riuscire a giustificare il suo delitto di "esistere". Ma come sempre avviene nella prosa di Kafka, la concretezza incisiva delle situazioni produce, su personaggi assolutamente astratti, il dispiegarsi di una tragedia di portata cosmica. E allora tribunale è il mondo stesso, tutto quello che esiste al di fuori di Josef K. è processo: non resta che attendere l'esecuzione di una condanna da altri pronunciata.
My rating: ★★★
Finished: May 05 1998
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La Trilogia dei Re
by Acheng (1993)
Publisher review: Il re degli alberi; Il re dei bambini; Il re degli scacchi. Una scrittura semplice ed epica. Uno stile che richiama quello degli antichi cantastorie, l'ironia pacata dei grandi maestri del Dao: così Acheng racconta le vicende tragiche e comiche di studenti e contadini durante la Rivoluzione culturale: da quella del boscaiolo dalla forza prodigiosa (Il re degli alberi), ai conflitti del giovane maestro Lao Gar con la burocrazia rivoluzionaria (Il re dei bambini), alla storia itinerante di Wang Yisheng, povero e geniale giocatore di scacchi nella Cina di Mao. La trilogia dei re segna un punto di rottura con il ""realismo"" della tradizione letteraria cinese. Ha scritto Acheng: ""Negli ultimi quarant'anni, in Cina sono accadute cose che gli stessi cinesi considerano fantastiche. Per questo, quando il Partito chiede ai cosiddetti scrittori di perseverare nel ""realismo socialista"" - dato che secondo me la realtà del socialismo cinese è l'assurdo -, basterebbe descrivere realisticamente l'assurdo per ottenere la realtà"". Con il suo mite sguardo visionario Acheng ha sottratto all'ingenua iconografia realista le gesta di un'intera generazione di cinesi e ne ha reso partecipi migliaia di lettori in tutto il mondo.Nato in Cina nel 1949, Acheng vive dal 1987 a Los Angeles.
My rating:
Finished: Apr 14 1998
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La donna e la scimmia
by Peter Høeg (1997)
Publisher review: Una storia d'amore tra una donna e una specie di scimmia ancora sconosciuta, un antropoide di straordinaria intelligenza simile all'uomo. La coppia fugge insieme e vive per qualche tempo una vita selvaggia e spregiudicata, sopra i tetti di Londra. Ma la scimmia tuttavia è arrivata in Inghilterra con una missione da compiere, e sarà proprio l'ultimo colpo di scena a rivelarci le origini e lo scopo della sua presenza tra gli uomini.
My rating: ★★★★
Finished: Mar 31 1998
Lucertola cover
by Banana Yoshimoto (1997)
Publisher review: Sei racconti intorno al tempo, alla guarigione, al destino, al fato, immersi in una Tokyo sfolgorante di luci notturne e pulsante di vita. I protagonisti sono accumunati dalla stessa sorte: tutti in qualche modo feriti si sono chiusi in un guscio che li protegge, ma contemporaneamente li separa dal mondo, impedendo loro di agire e di interagire con gli altri. Ma sensazioni dimenticate si affacciano alla memoria, la vita, prima paralizzata, ricomincia a scorrere rivelando la catartica necessità di entrare finalmente in azione e di fare i conti con il passato. E' alle soglie di questa trasformazione che lo sguardo di Banana Yoshimoto si posa sui suoi enigmatici personaggi per raccontarne il disagio, l'angoscia, la liberazione.
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Finished: Mar 01 1998
Kitchen cover
by Banana Yoshimoto (1993)
Publisher review: "Non c'è posto al mondo che non ami di più della cucina..." Così comincia il romanzo di Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen. È un romanzo sulla solitudine giovanile. Le cucine, nuovissime e luccicanti o vecchie e vissute, che riempiono i sogni della protagonista Mikage, rimasta sola al mondo dopo la morte della nonna, rappresentano il calore di una famiglia sempre desiderata. Ma la grande trovata di Banana è che la famiglia si possa, non solo scegliere, ma inventare. Così il padre del giovane amico della protagonista Yūichi può diventare o rivelarsi madre e Mikage può eleggerli come propria famiglia, in un crescendo tragicomico di ambiguità. Con questo romanzo, e il breve racconto che lo chiude, Banana Yoshimoto si è imposta all'attenzione del pubblico italiano mostrando un'immagine del Giappone completamente sconosciuta agli occidentali, con un linguaggio assai fresco e originale che vuole essere una rielaborazione letteraria dello stile dei manga.
My rating: ★★★★★
Finished: Nov 11 1997
La foresta in fiore cover
La foresta in fiore
by Yukio Mishima (1995)
Publisher review: La foresta in fiore è la prima traduzione mondiale dell'opera d'esordio di Mishima, pubblicata in Giappone nel 1944. I racconti, scritti durante la guerra tra i sedici e i diciotto anni dell'autore, scaturiscono dall'abbandono della mente a uno stato fluttuante, ed evidenziano il rapporto libero e ludico di un adolescente con la poesia e la letteratura. Gli antenati, la tradizione, le antiche capitali, il mondo degli dei, una sottile analisi introspettiva dei personaggi, la creazione di un mondo, onirico e psicologico, alternativo a quello reale, animano questi racconti giovanili nei quali è già possibile intravedere le caratteristiche più profonde di Mishima: l'ispirazione classica, risolta in uno stile enfatico e solenne, e l'analisi distaccata.
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Finished: Aug 26 1997
Tokyo Blues - Norwegian Wood cover
Tokyo Blues - Norwegian Wood
by Haruki Murakami (1995)
Publisher review: Per le strade di Tokyo Toru e Naoko, due ragazzi non ancora ventenni, camminano insieme in silenzio. Non sanno cosa dirsi, o forse hanno paura, parlando, di sfiorare il segreto che li tiene sospesi in mezzo alla folla: il ricordo di una sconvolgente tragedia che li ha legati e divisi per sempre. Una struggente storia d'amore ambientata nel clima inquieto del Sessantotto giapponese, tra lotte studentesche e passioni culturali e politiche. Attraversato dall'esperienza musicale dei Beatles, dei Doors, di Bill Evans e di Miles Davis, il libro è il racconto di un'adolescenza che già sfuma nel mito.
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Finished: May 05 1997
Dell'amore e di altri demoni cover
Dell'amore e di altri demoni
by Gabriel García Márquez (1994)
Publisher review: In un porto dove approdano i galeoni carichi di schiavi provenienti dall'Africa, è comparso un cane idrofobo. Vittima illustre del suo morso è la figlia dodicenne del Marchese di Casalduero, creatura bellissima e trascurata dai genitori, che passa il suo tempo con gli schiavi di colore e ne ha assimilato gli usi, i costumi, la lingua. Secondo Abrenuncio, medico portoghese che ha fama di negromante ma legge segretamente Voltaire, per il muto dolore di Sierva Maria non c'è terapia, perchè "non c'è medicina che guarisca quel che non guarisce la felicità". Ma per il vescovo del luogo la bambina è posseduta dal demonio e deve essere esorcizzata secondo le regole del Sant'Uffizio. Chiusa nelle segrete di un convento, intorno a lei si moltiplicano eventi meravigliosi e "inspiegabili"...
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Finished: Apr 14 1997
Le Cosmicomiche cover
Le Cosmicomiche
by Italo Calvino (1993)
Publisher review: “Avevo preso l’abitudine di segnarmi le immagini che mi venivano in mente leggendo un libro per esempio di cosmogonia, cioè partendo da un discorso lontano dal meccanismo di immaginazione che mi è consueto.” Da un’intervista di Calvino del 1965 I grandi miti della fantascienza: astronavi, macchine futuribili, viaggi interstellari, rivisitati e trasformati da una fantasia ironica e intelligente. Una originalissima raccolta di divertenti racconti del grande scrittore.
My rating: ★★★★
Finished: Jul 20 1995
I dolori del giovane Werther cover
I dolori del giovane Werther
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1993)
My review: La trama è semplice eppure di un agghiacciante realismo: Werther è innamorato di Lotte, di cui sa fin dall'inizio che non è libera, perché legata ad Albert. "Stia attento a non innamorarsene", sarà il consiglio di una cugina a Werther. Ma la tragedia è già innescata. Considerato il primo grande testo del Romanticismo, il Werther supera le barriere storiografiche per divenire il libro di una generazione, di tutte le generazioni, intramontabile. (★★★★★)
Started: Aug 01 1994 Finished: Aug 01 1994
Le metamorfosi o l'asino d'oro cover
Le metamorfosi o l'asino d'oro
by Apuleius (1977)
My review: Lucio, protagonista e narratore, in Tessaglia per affari, abita a casa di Milone e di sua moglie Panfile, ritenuta una maga. Procuratosi un unguento magico che sapeva aver trasformato Panfile in uccello, Lucio si trasforma però in asino. Dei ladri saccheggiano la casa di Milone e caricano l'asino Lucio del bottino. Giunto poi alla caverna dei briganti, Lucio ascolta la favola di Amore e Psiche, narrata da una vecchia a una fanciulla rapita. Sconfitti i briganti dal fidanzato della ragazza, Lucio passa di padrone in padrone, subendo ogni tipo di tormento, Finché non si addormenta sulla spiaggia di Cencree. In sogno gli appare la dea Iside che gli indica la strada per riprendere la forma umana. Lucio esegue le indicazioni della dea e si fa iniziare al suo culto. ()
Started: Jan 01 1993 Finished: Jan 01 1993
Fino all'estremo cover
Fino all'estremo
by Joseph Conrad (1990)
My review: Tutti i temi piu' tipici di Conrad son presenti in questo romanzo del 1902: il mare, l'avventura, la lotta disperata dell'uomo contro le forze cieche che lo sovrastano - e di cui il mare e' il simbolo, il senso della sconfitta inevitabile, la presenza dominante di un grande, tragico protagonista. Per molti aspetti il libro si puo' leggere come un giallo, offrendo una risposta perfettamente moderna al bisogno di avventura tipico dei ragazzi. ()
Started: Jan 01 1990 Finished: Jan 01 1990
Interpreter of Maladies cover
Interpreter of Maladies
by Jhumpa Lahiri
Publisher review: Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here Navigating between the Indian traditions they've inherited and the baffling new world, the characters in Jhumpa Lahiri's elegant, touching stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. In "A Temporary Matter," published in The New Yorker, a young Indian-American couple faces the heartbreak of a stillborn birth while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout. In the title story, an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors and hears an astonishing confession. Lahiri writes with deft cultural insight reminiscent of Anita Desai and a nuanced depth that recalls Mavis Gallant.
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Orlando cover
by Virginia Woolf
Publisher review: Virginia Woolf's Orlando 'The longest and most charming love letter in literature', playfully constructs the figure of Orlando as the fictional embodiment of Woolf's close friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West. Spanning three centuries, the novel opens as Orlando, a young nobleman in Elizabeth's England, awaits a visit from the Queen and traces his experience with first love as England under James I lies locked in the embrace of the Great Frost. At the midpoint of the novel, Orlando, now an ambassador in Constantinople, awakes to find that he is now a woman, and the novel indulges in farce and irony to consider the roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries. As the novel ends in 1928, a year consonant with full suffrage for women. Orlando, now a wife and mother, stands poised at the brink of a future that holds new hope and promise for women.
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Casa di bambola cover
Casa di bambola
by Henrik Ibsen (1991)
Publisher review: Per curare il marito, Nora in passato si è indebitata con un certo Krogstad. Per anni ha lavorato per pagare il debito, senza riuscire a liberarsene. Krogstad, che lavora nella banca di cui il marito di Nora è direttore, ricatta la donna perché gli ottenga una promozione. Quando il marito, che per altri motivi lo vorrebbe licenziare, viene a sapere tutto, si preoccupa solo della sua reputazione e rimprovera aspramente la moglie. La meschinità dell'uomo porta Nora a decidere di allontanarsi, per riflettere da sola su se stessa.
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L'idiota cover
by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1982)
Publisher review: Edizione in due volumi indivisibili. Il principe Myškin, ultimo erede di una grande famiglia, decaduta, è una creatura spiritualmente superiore, la cui «idiozia» consiste in un'assoluta mancanza di volontà e in una fede assoluta negli altri. Dopo un lungo soggiorno in Svizzera, al ritorno in patria si trova coinvolto in un vortice di storie d'amore vissute con passione torbida e violenta e che hanno come protagonisti il giovane Rogozin, la bellissima Nastas'ja e l'aristocratica Aglaja. Un'intricatissima sequenza di avvenimenti, raccontati con ritmo incalzante, in cui sfocia un'immensa mole di materiale: da Cristo alla cronaca giudiziaria russa, dall'Apocalisse alla polemica con il socialismo.
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Madame Bovary cover
Madame Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert (1993)
Publisher review: Madame Bovary è il primo romanzo di Gustave Flaubert. Appena pubblicato, fu messo sotto inchiesta per "oltraggio alla morale". Dopo l'assoluzione, il 7 febbraio 1857, divenne un bestseller sotto forma di libro nell'aprile del medesimo anno, ed oggi è considerato uno dei primi esempi di romanzo realista. È imperniato sulla figura della moglie di un ufficiale sanitario, la signora Emma Bovary, che si dà all'adulterio e vive al di sopra dei suoi mezzi per sfuggire alla noia ed alla vacuità della vita di provincia. L'opera attinge alla vera arte nei dettagli e negli schemi nascosti: si sa che Flaubert era un perfezionista della scrittura e si faceva un vanto di essere alla perenne ricerca de "le mot juste" (la parola giusta). Flaubert si ispirò alle vicende realmente accadute di una giovane donna di provincia, Delphine Delamare.
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La lettera scarlatta cover
La lettera scarlatta
by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1993)
Publisher review: Ambientato nel New England puritano nel XVII secolo, il romanzo racconta la storia di Hester Prynne, una donna che, dopo aver dato alla luce una bimba, frutto di una relazione adulterina, rifiuta di rivelare chi è il padre e lotta per crearsi una nuova vita di pentimento e dignità. La lettera scarlatta è la A che per punizione ogni adultera deve portare cucita sul petto e che "marchia" in modo indelebile le azioni e la coscienza della protagonista, stretta in un patologico triangolo con il marito e con l'antico seduttore in un crescendo di tensione, sofferenza, angoscia.
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Moll Flanders cover
Moll Flanders
by Daniel Defoe (1993)
Publisher review: The Fortunes & Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (aka Moll Flanders) is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published in 1722. It purports to be the true account of the life of the eponymous Moll, detailing her exploits from birth until old age. By 1721, Defoe had become a recognised novelist, with the success of Robinson Crusoe in 1719. His political work was tapering off at this point, due to the fall of both Whig and Tory party leaders with whom he had been associated (Robert Walpole was beginning his rise). Defoe was never fully at home with the Walpole group. Defoe's Whig views are nevertheless evident in the story of Moll. The novel's full title gives some insight into this and the outline of the plot: "The Fortunes & Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, &c. Who was Born in Newgate, & during a Life of continu'd Variety for Threescore Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv'd Honest, & died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums."
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La casa in collina cover
La casa in collina
by Cesare Pavese (1990)
Publisher review: Il momento forse più alto della maturità dello scrittore Cesare Pavese: la storia di una solitudine individuale di fronte all'impegno civile e storico; la contraddizione da risolvere tra vita in campagna e vita in città, nel caos della guerra; il superamento dell'egoismo attraverso la scoperta che ogni caduto somiglia a chi resta e gliene chiede ragione. "Ora che ho visto cos'è la guerra civile, so che tutti, se un giorno finisse, dovrebbero chiedersi: "E dei caduti che facciamo? perché sono morti?" Io non saprei cosa rispondere. Non adesso almeno. Né mi pare che gli altri lo sappiano. Forse lo sanno unicamente i morti, e soltanto per loro la guerra è finita davvero". La grande intuizione delle ultime pagine de La casa in collina sarà ripresa e portata alle estreme conseguenze artistiche e morali nel capolavoro di Cesare Pavese, La luna e i falò.
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La luna e i falò cover
La luna e i falò
by Cesare Pavese (1971)
Publisher review:

«La luna e i falò - scrisse Piero Jahier nel ’50, quando questo romanzo di Cesare Pavese venne pubblicato - è il viaggio nel tempo di un trovatello cresciuto bracciante in una fattoria delle Langhe, emigrato in America, e tornato con un po’ di fortuna nelle sue campagne alla ricerca del tempo perduto, e il ritrovamento della propria formazione intima, attraverso le esperienze di garzone di fattoria e di emigrante. Tutto qui è semplice e corale, comunicativo e conseguente, solido e necessario. Anche lo scrittore è rientrato in patria. E nella lingua, come nella rappresentazione di cose e creature, appare qui qualcosa che è nuovo nella letteratura italiana. Il famigerato paesaggio decorativo o lirico, stato d'animo impressionistico o geometrico degli artisti decadenti, è ritornato la terra modellata dalla dura fatica dell'uomo. In nessuna delle sue opere, Pavese era riuscito a condensare in una sintesi narrativa tutti gli elementi della propria personalità spirituale, facendo dimenticare l’impegno dello scrittore nella naturalezza della creazione, come in questo suo ultimo libro».

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Cent'anni di solitudine cover
Cent'anni di solitudine
by Gabriel García Márquez (1982)
Publisher review: The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as "magical realism."
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Cronaca di una morte annunciata cover
Cronaca di una morte annunciata
by Gabriel García Márquez (1987)
Publisher review: Santiago Nasar morirà. I gemelli Vicario hanno già affilato i loro coltelli nel negozio di Faustino Santos. A Manaure, "villaggio bruciato dal sale dei Caraibi", lo sanno tutti: presto i fratelli della bella quanto svanita Angela vendicheranno l'onore di quella verginità rubatale in modo misterioso dall'aitante Santiago, ricco rampollo della locale colonia araba. Tutti lo sanno, ma nessuno fa alcunché per impedirlo: non la madre della vittima designata, non il parroco, non l'alcalde, neppure una delle numerose fanciulle che spasimano per il Nasar. E così la morte annunciata lo sorprende nel fulgore di una splendida mattinata tropicale. Ma non per agguato o per trappola: un destino bizzarro e crudele fa sì che la fine di Santiago si compia per un concorso di fatalità ed equivoci, mentre gli stessi assassini fanno di tutto perché qualcuno impedisca loro l'esecuzione. Basato su un fatto reale, Cronaca di una morte annunciata venne pubblicato nel 1981 (un anno prima del Nobel a García Márquez) e, pur nella brevità, rappresenta uno dei vertici della sua narrativa: un romanzo magistrale che sa fondere i toni della tragedia antica con il ritmo di una detective story in una grandiosa allegoria dell'assurdità della vita, l'apoteosi della fatalità. Edizione priva di ISBN Edition without ISBN Edición sin ISBN
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Diario di un killer sentimentale cover
Diario di un killer sentimentale
by Luis Sepúlveda (1998)
Publisher review: Un professionista è sempre un professionista, ma la giornata era iniziata male: faceva un caldo infernale a Madrid e la sua amichetta francese l'aveva piantato come un cretino per qualcuno incontrato a Veracruz. La compagnia di una buona bottiglia di whisky e di una mulatta che si portava dietro tutta l'aria dei Caraibi non gli aveva risollevato l'umore, quella ragazzina viziata dai fianchi sodi e dalla bocca rossa lo aveva proprio messo al tappeto. In fondo, dietro i modi da duro, lui era un killer sentimentale. Non che fosse superstizioso, ma in una giornata del genere la cosa migliore sarebbe stata non accettare incarichi, anche se la ricompensa aveva sei zeri sulla destra ed era esentasse. Il tipo che doveva eliminare, uno con l'aria dell'idealista, ma anche di chi non soffre la solitudine fra le lenzuola, non gli piaceva affatto, puzzava troppo di filantropia. I retroscena dell'incarico, però, lo incuriosivano stranamente. Chi voleva la morte di quel messicano? Quali peccati aveva commesso? Come mai due gringo, agenti della D.E.A., sorvegliavano la sua camera? Perché un filantropo appariva coinvolto in traffici di droga? Era sempre rischioso farsi troppe domande in un mestiere come il suo dove non esistevano licenziamenti ma certificati di morte.
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Il mondo alla fine del mondo cover
Il mondo alla fine del mondo
by Luis Sepúlveda (1994)
Publisher review: Il 16 giugno del 1988 in un'agenzia giornalistica di Amburgo, legata a Greenpeace, arriva un inquietante fax dal Cile. Secondo il messaggio, la nave giapponese, Nishin Maru, ha perso diciotto marinai, insieme a un numero imprecisato di feriti, e ha subito gravi danni. Il giornalista che riceve il fax, esule dal Cile, suo paese d'origine, per motivi politici, decide di tornare a casa e dedicarsi al caso della Nishin Maru. Durante le indagini giunge alla conclusione che la baleniera, ufficialmente demolita a Timor, stava in realtà praticando illegalmente la caccia ai cetacei nei mari australi.
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Sly cover
by Banana Yoshimoto (2001)
Publisher review: Tokyo, oggi. Kiyose, la giovane donna che racconta la storia in prima persona, viene a sapere che Takashi, un suo caro amico bisessuale con il quale aveva avuto una relazione, è sieropositivo. La notizia sconvolge il piccolo cerchio di amici di cui fanno parte anche Mimi, l'attuale compagna di Takashi, e Hideo, un giovane gay che a sua volta ne era stato l'amante. Hideo e Kiyose si convincono a fare il test, il cui esito si saprà non prima di due settimane.Per sfuggire all'intollerabile attesa, gli amici decidono di realizzare unvecchio sogno: visitare insieme l'Egitto. Il viaggio, intenso e a tratti rarefatto, prevede come ultima tappa Roma, che riserva loro l'incanto degli attimi che si sanno irripetibili.
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Amrita cover
by Banana Yoshimoto (2002)
Publisher review: La famiglia di Sakumi è composta dalla madre con il compagno molto più giovane, il fratellastro Yoshio, una cugina e una amica. Su tutti loro pesa il ricordo di una sorella morta in un incidente stradale mentre guidava sotto l'effetto do alcol e barbiturici. Con lei Sakumi intrattiene un muto dialogo, che costituisce uno dei molti fili della narrazione.
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L'ultima amante di Hachiko cover
L'ultima amante di Hachiko
by Banana Yoshimoto (1999)
Publisher review: L'io narrante è Mao, una ragazza che vive con la madre in una comunità religiosa sorta attorno alla carismatica figura della nonna, guaritrice e veggente. La setta, dopo la morte della fondatrice, ha cominciato a tradirne gli insegnamenti e si è trasformata in impresa a scopo di lucro. Mao se ne allontana sempre più e in occasione di una delle sue fughe incontra una coppia di motociclisti. Chiama lei "mamma"; lui invece si chiama Hachi, è stato abbandonato da piccolo dai genitori hippies giapponesi in India e ai religiosi genitori adottivi ha fatto voto di ritirarsi su una montagna per dedicarsi a una vita ascetica. Con i due Mao instaura una relazione d'amore.
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Tsugumi cover
by Banana Yoshimoto (1994)
Publisher review: "Giornate di una felicità intensa non capitano spesso nella vita. Ed è inseguendo quel vivido miraggio, che le persone riescono a tirare avanti e a invecchiare... Tsugumi è un romanzo che parla di questo. Di un'estate di un gruppo di ragazzi che non tornerà mai più. Del mare e del primo amore..." Così Banana Yoshimoto parla del suo romanzo tutto dedicato all'adolescenza. Uscito a puntate nell'edizione giapponese di "Marie Claire" e apparso in volume nel 1989, Tsugumi è sicuramente il più grande successo di Banana Yoshimoto, superando i 2 milioni di copie vendute: questa è la prima edizione in lingua occidentale. Maria e Tsugumi sono amiche fin dall'infanzia anche se sono due ragazzine molto diverse. Maria, l'io narrante, è dolce e buona: ha lasciato il piccolo paesino in cui era nata e cresciuta per iscriversi all'università a Tokio. Tsugumi è bellissima ma dotata di un carattere infernale: affabile e dolce con gli estranei, nel privato è un tiranno, parla come un maschio ed è viziata all'inverosimile. Non può spostarsi dalla tranquilla penisola di Izu perché le sue condizioni di salute non glielo permettono. Il suo destino pare segnato... Ma quando due amiche si ritrovano, e se questo accade d'estate, e se è il mare a cullare le rispettive solitudini, allora la magia scaturita dall'attimo può creare sensazionali cambiamenti del mondo reale.
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N.P. cover
by Banana Yoshimoto (2010)
My review: Sarao Takase, scrittore giapponese che ha vissuto a lungo in America, muore suicida lasciando due figli gemelli, il maschio Otohiko e la femmina Saki, e il manoscritto di un libro incompiuto dal titolo N.P. (che sta per North Point, il titolo di una vecchia canzone). Pubblicato con solo 97 dei 100 racconti previsti, il libro diventa un bestseller negli Stati Uniti. Una giovane giapponese, Kazami, viene in possesso del novantottesimo racconto, inedito, alla cui traduzione stava lavorando il suo amante, Shooji, anche lui morto suicida, e che narra la storia di una passione erotica tra padre e figlia. Kazami incontra i due gemelli e trova Otohiko coinvolto in una tormentata storia d'amore con Sui, che scoprirà essere non solo figlia illegittima dello scrittore suicida ma anche sua amante. Kazami viene risucchiata completamente nel loro mondo, il mondo di N.P., per tutta un'estate, che è il tempo reale in cui si svolge la storia. Dopo alterne vicende, Kazami scopre anche l'esistenza del racconto n°99 in cui Takase rappresenta l'altra faccia della sua realtà, l'aspirazione verso la normalità e l'eterodossia. Ormai manca solo il racconto n°100. Ed è soltanto quando tutti i destini si sono compiuti e il cerchio si chiude che il libro apparirà scritto fino in fondo: N.P. di Banana Yoshimoto è il racconto n°100 che Takase non aveva fatto in tempo a scrivere. (★★★★)
Il padiglione d'oro cover
Il padiglione d'oro
by Yukio Mishima (1995)
Publisher review: Non c'è recensore, in Giappone e fuori, che, cercando parentele o fonti d'ispirazione per questo capolavoro della letteratura giapponese moderna, non abbia fatto il nome di Dostoevskij. Incominciarono i giapponesi: per quanto la cosa possa apparire sorprendente, la voga di Dostoevskij aveva raggiunto nell'immediato dopoguerra un'ampiezza senza precedenti e nel triennio 1947-50 Delitto e castigo era stato uno dei più clamorosi best-seller della storia dell'editoria nipponica. È appunto nel 1950 che avvenne il fatto che ispirò a Mishima questo Padiglione d'oro, che è del 1958: un giovane accolito buddista, deforme e balbuziente, dà fuoco a uno dei maggiori monumenti dell'arte giapponese, il padiglione di un celebre santuario di Kyoto, il Kinkakuji, il quattrocentesco tempio zen. La storia di questo clamoroso gesto è raccontata da Mishima con aderenza alla cronaca, ma in modo da assegnare un senso simbolico ossia problematico all'azione del piromane. La chiave dell'ossessione di Mizoguchi, Mishima la ricerca in quell'attesa quasi magica della grande distruzione che rappresenta il tema profondo di tutta la prima parte del libro fino al giorno della sconfitta bellica del Giappone. La calata agli inferi si svolge sul tema di straordinarie, attonite rievocazioni di memorie dell'infanzia. Il tema della bellezza suprema del padiglione affonda le sue radici in un'ossessione infantile esorcizzata dallo storpio Mizoguchi con un atto che trova giustificazione anche nella dottrina buddista della morte al mondo e della cancellazione del bello in quanto pura apparenza.
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Sonno profondo cover
Sonno profondo
by Banana Yoshimoto (1995)
Publisher review: "Il sonno viene come l'avanzare della marea. Opporsi è impossibile". Con Sonno profondo, Banana Yoshimoto indaga nel cuore di tre giovanni donne e ne trae ombre plastiche, insinuanti, che echeggiano il vuoto della notte e la paura della solitudine. Vicina al germogliare segreto delle emozioni, la scrittice disegna con le parole un mondo sfuggente e tuttavia concreto, che accompagna il lettore in un'avventura dell'anima di straordinaria incisività.
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Fontamara cover
by Ignazio Silone (1997)
Publisher review: Fontamara fu pubblicato a Zurigo nel 1933. Ambientato in un paesino abruzzese, Fontamara appunto, racconta l'eterno conflitto tra "cafoni" e "cittadini", reso ancora più drammatico dall'avvento del fascismo. I contadini e i braccianti, rassegnati ormai e quasi assuefatti a subire senza reagire catastrofi e soprusi di ogni genere, abbrutiti dalla miseria e dalla lotta per la sopravvivenza, trovano la forza di ribellarsi quando si rendono conto dell'ultima, ennesima truffa ordita sulla loro pelle, che, per una coincidenza non casuale, corrisponde temporalmente all'entrata in scena del regime fascista. Figura centrale del romanzo è Berardo Viola, che rappresenta l'esigenza di riscattare una vita di silenzio e passività, esigenza che diverrà essenziale e imprescindibile anche per gli altri "cafoni" fontamaresi.
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Il fu Mattia Pascal cover
Il fu Mattia Pascal
by Luigi Pirandello (1988)
Publisher review: Pubblicato nel 1904, Il fu Mattia Pascal, il più famoso dei romanzi di Pirandello, riveste un'importanza fondamentale nella letteratura italiana del Novecento. Grottesco antieroe pirandelliano, Mattia Pascal è un uomo senza certezze e senza vocazioni. Creduto morto dopo una fuga da casa, pensa di approfittarne per cambiare vita, ma il desiderio di spezzare le catene delle convenzioni sociali, lo slancio verso la conquista di un'originaria purezza e autenticità falliscono: perché la vita deve comunque darsi una forma e la fatica che bisogna affrontare per crearne una nuova e sostenerne i compromessi è talora così grande, che costringe a rientrare precipitosamente nella vecchia. La quale, pur con i suoi originari limiti e le sue falsità, rende possibile l'esistenza, allontanando il rischio della disgregazione, impedendo di essere altro da sè stessi, condannando a una realtà fittizia, ma inalienabile.
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Mandragola cover
by Machiavelli
Publisher review: Capolavoro della commedia rinascimentale, la Mandragola fu composta da Machiavelli dopo il suo allontanamento forzoso dalla politica. La vicenda ruota intorno alla beffa giocata da un giovane fiorentino a un marito sciocco per possederne la moglie di cui si era invaghito. Un ruolo determinante nel convincimento della donna ha il suo confessore, corrotto dai denari dell'amante. Nella commedia il tema realistico della beffa, di matrice boccacciana, si rapprende in una perfetta macchina teatrale, rispettosa fin nei particolari più minuti delle regole della commedia antica (Plauto e Terenzio). Attraverso il format della commedia Machiavelli tenta di definire un'antropologia della vita quotidiana, analogamente a come nelle opere politiche veniva descrivendo l'antropologia del potere. Si scopre così che non c'è differenza tra una sfera e l'altra: sono sempre e soltanto l'utile e il piacere a muovere gli uomini. Quando però il simulare e il dissimulare dell'agire politico si trasferiscono nella quotidianità, la realtà si fa doppia o tripla, nascono situazioni paradossali che sono di per sé comiche. Il paradosso tocca i valori della famiglia, della morale privata, della religione. Prendono forma le prime creature fredde e amorali della letteratura moderna, senza che nulla venga sottratto alla vivacità e al divertimento. La Mandragola è presentata qui in un nuovo testo critico e con un commento per la prima volta esauriente.
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La coscienza di Zeno cover
La coscienza di Zeno
by Italo Svevo (1988)
Publisher review: Le pagine della Coscienza di Zeno si chiudono con una terribile profezia: "Forse traverso una catastrofe inaudita prodotta dagli ordigni ritorneremo alla salute. Quando i gas velenosi non basteranno più, un uomo fatto come tutti gli altri, nel segreto di una stanza di questo mondo, inventerà un esplosivo incomparabile, in confronto al quale gli esplosivi attualmente esistenti saranno considerati quali innocui giocattoli. Ed un altro uomo fatto anche lui come tutti gli altri, ma degli altri un po' più ammalato, ruberà tale esplosivo e si arrampicherà al centro della terra per porlo nel punto ove il suo effetto potrà essere il massimo. Ci sarà un'esplosione enorme che nessuno udrà e la terra ritornata alla forma di nebulosa errerà nei cieli priva di parassiti e di malattie". Zeno Cosini conclude così il suo diario di malato interiore, di nevrotico consapevole che si guarisce con la sola persuasione di non essere più un possibile oggetto di studio della "psico-analisi". Nato come forma teraupetica suggerita da un medico, l'auto-racconto di Zeno percorre le tappe di una vita malata, attraverso la lotta contro il fumo, la morte di un padre colpevolizzante, la storia di un matrimonio senza amore, di un adulterio appassionante e infelice, di un'iniziativa commerciale disastrosa. La coscienza di Zeno è uno dei grandi romanzi del Novecento: come Joyce, Musil, Kafka, Italo Svevo affonda qui nelle più oscure e dolorose regioni dell'incertezza umana, per poi risalire alla quieta consapevolezza del "male di vivere".
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Il senso di Smilla per la neve cover
Il senso di Smilla per la neve
by Peter Høeg (1996)
Publisher review: "C’è un freddo straordinario, 18 gradi Celsius sotto zero, e nevica, e nella lingua che non è più la mia la neve è qanik, grossi cristalli quasi senza peso che cadono in grande quantità e coprono la terra con uno strato di bianco gelo polverizzato" - inizia così questo suggestivo e malinconico romanzo, che potrebbe essere un giallo senza esserlo fino in fondo, ma che soprattutto è un lirico omaggio al freddo, alle nevi di territori ostili all’uomo, a una civiltà in via di estinzione. La vicenda ruota intorno a un personaggio femminile, Smilla, avvolto nella solitudine e nello sradicamento; per metà danese e per metà inuit, Smilla conosce almeno dieci modi per dire "neve". Ma non solo: come altri possiedono il senso di Dio, lei possiede uno speciale senso per la neve. Ed è per questo che la tragica caduta del piccolo Esajas da un tetto innevato non può apparire come un banale incidente a chi conosce a fondo l’elemento e come le impronte vi lascino i loro solchi. Mentre Copenhagen si prepara per il Natale, Smilla comincia un’indagine ai confini del mondo, alla ricerca di una verità nascosta forse sotto la calotta polare.
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