Essential Reading: March 2015
As I’m writing this, my Twitter feed is being bombarded by tweets about World Book Day which, in effect, has rendered me confused because I thought the WBD is celebrated during the 23rd of April. Of course, I didn’t leave this up to my own difficulty in remembering dates and events so I did a quick search on the internet and learned that today, the first Thursday of March, is the UK’s World Book Day which they celebrate separately from the International World Book Day that happens on the 23rd of April. This early celebration, when compared with the rest of the world, is because celebrating it on the 23rd of April will coincide with the Easter holidays and the National Saint’s Day of England, the feast day of St. George. Now, with my curiosity satiated, I went ahead and began writing this post about my reading list for March and will be precluded by the books that I’ve read last month:
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (4/5)
- Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar (5/5)
- On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (5/5)
- Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou (5/5)
Before I briefly talk about the books I’ve read in February, let me talk about a book that I’ve started and abandoned. I began reading Marissa de los Santos’ Loved Walked In because it was our bookclub’s pick for February. I am not too ashamed to say that I abandoned it because I hated it. I hated it because the writing felt forced, it was peppered with needless references to pop culture, and because of the author’s transparent desire to create a likeable character with a first-person narrator that was too aware of the fact that somebody was reading her thoughts. It was a terrible book and I was glad to be rid of it.
The rest of the books that I’ve read last month were, thankfully, magnificent pieces of literature. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is, to my mind, further proof that Muriel Spark is an underrated and under-read author who deserves to be recognized as one of the better writers of her generation if not only for the fact that she creates characters that are memorable and unique. S. Yizhar, with Khirbet Khizeh, has tackled the difficult subject of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine with nuance and humanity. Yizhar juxtaposes the beautiful Palestinian (or is it now Israeli?) landscape with the horrors of the ongoing occupation. My third book for February, On Chesil Beach, is also my third McEwan and it has cemented McEwan’s place in my personal Valhalla of writers whose work I admire. Finally, Maya Angelou’s slim collection of poems that celebrate black women packs quite a wallop despite being under fifty pages long.
Now, my reading list for March:
- The Red Notebook by Paul Auster – It’s been a while since I’ve read a book written by Auster, the last being Moon Palace which I read last September. I’ve decided to end the drought by reading this slim volume that contains bits and pieces of curious real-life events that either happened directly to the author or were relayed to him by a third party. Most of the events are about coincidences and fate, a theme that’s resonant with Auster’s writing. I’m already halfway in the book and it is starting to look like another home run.
- A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir – I’ve always been curious about de Beauvoir’s work and this slim work of nonfiction regarding the days preceding the death of de Beauvoir’s mother will be my introduction into the writer’s vast body of work. If the blurb is to be believed, A Very Easy Death is one of de Beauvoir’s masterpieces so I have high hopes for this.
- Amsterdam by Ian McEwan – I couldn’t resist reading another work written by McEwan even though I just read On Chesil Beach last month but his only Booker Prize-winning work shall no longer be an enigma to me.
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – Our book club’s book of the month. I’m already a third into the book and I am loving the way Roy juxtaposes the minutiae with the grand. Although the styles may be different, comparisons with One Hundred Years of Solitude cannot be avoided in my mind, especially since Rhena pointed it out to me.
- The Emerald Light in the Air by Donald Antrim – Although my feelings towards Antrim’s The Verificationist was lukewarm at the time I finished reading it, I look back to it fondly and praise Antrim’s unique style in bringing about the book’s plot. Which is why I am still excited to read him and particularly this collection of short stories. I have heard the entirety of the title story being read by Antrim himself and I must say that it was captivating and definitely demands to be read.
I’m also trying to finish Rosario Cruz-Lucero’s La India, or the Island of the Disappeared by reading one story per day and I am liking it so far. Anyway, that’s about it for me this March. Til next time, folks.