It was a scattered and busy end of the month, as I was away from home. But that also meant time spent on planes, which gave me the chance to power through some books. It’s the perfect way to pass time on flights, especially when you’re wrapped in a mask, dowsed in sanitiser, and trying not to touch anything.
Sweet Valley High #105: A Date with a Werewolf and #106: Beware the Wolfman by Kate William (created by Francine Pascal)
On Halloween I picked up A Date with a Werewolf in a secondhand bookstore (read that as a sentence and not a book title and it’s a whole different story!). Sweet Valley High’s werewolf story spans over three books (#104 #105 and #106). I’d bought the middle book and still owned the last in the series – and since a werewolf story perfectly suited Halloween, I set to it. By the time I finished, I wanted to complete the saga, even though I remembered exactly who the werewolf was and what happened to him.
Earth is Room Enough by Isaac Asimov
I’d read this collection of short stories before, but couldn’t remember them. Besides, I get through a collection of short stories very quickly. It’s like watching a sitcom: the episodes are so short, you always say, “I’ll watch just one more” and before you know it you’ve rewatched all ten seasons of Friends. Of course, the content of Asimov’s books is far more though-provoking. It even has a story about the U.S. elections, which was very apt, as the U.S. election took place on November 3. But in Asimov’s story (written in the 1950s), he envisions a future (which seems to be around 2012) in which a machine picks one person to represent the whole nation and vote for president on behalf of everyone. At least that would make the count go a lot faster!
Why I Killed My Best Friend by Amanta Michalopoulou
The 135th book for my challenge to read a book from every country in the world, this was the title I chose for Greece. It was recommended by my Greek friend Cleo and I absolutely loved it. It’ll definitely rank in the top ten books I read this year. Set against the sociopolitical turmoil of Greece in the last few decades, it delivers potent and passionare observations and ideology through the lens of two young girls’ friendship. At (most) times, their relationship is as explosive and turbulent as their surroundings, and it strongly reminded me of Elena and Lila’s friendship set against the backdrop of post-WWII Naples in My Brilliant Friend. The two books certainly have a lot of parallels, and considering how much I love the former, it’s no surprise I loved this book by Michalopoulou.
Freedom means doing what you want, not having what you want.
The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis
In an attempt to buy less books and read more of what I already own (but haven’t read yet), I’m getting back to several authors I’ve read a lot of in the past. One of these is Ellis. This is a collection of short stories; but they’re all tied together, either by the same characters or characters who know each other. I whizzed through this collection, because they’re short stories (see above for why they’re so easy to get through) and due to Ellis’s casual and dialogue-heavy style of writing.
Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
This was a hangover from Halloween month. I listened to it on Audible and it took me forever to finish, because it was such a bore. It was an interesting story, which is what drew me to the book in the first place, but the execution was incredibly tiresome. The only thing more disappointing and infuriating than the one-dimensional male characters, was the no-dimensional female characters. I did quite like the ending though, but the horror genre is really letting me down. I’m still desperately looking for something as well executed as Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s eerie I Remember You.
The Maid’s Room by Fiona Mitchell
This was a book I received from my aunt along with The Girl from Berlin. I preferred the latter, but this one was OK. It was an interesting story based on real-life working conditions of maids in Singapore. I liked the main character, but the rest of the characters were too caricatured. The ending was not what I was expecting. The way the story was unfolding I anticipated a fairytale ending with a dash of white Western saviourism. Thankfully, it ended on a very different note. I could actually see this book having a sequel, but hopefully focusing more on Dolly and cutting out the unnecessary character of Jules.
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
This is another author I’ve long wanted to read, and I’m glad I did. Bukowski is dark and cynical and funny all at once, and I loved the short, impactful paragraphs and chapters he writes, punctuated with mundane details like time stamps and wordy written warnings from managers that perfectly encapsulate the dreariness of Henry Chinaski’s work at the U.S. Postal Service.
December is almost halfway done! I loved the first book I finished and am already immensely enjoying the second one. Check back soon for what they are.