Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird

Hi all!

I just finished reading Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and I have to say that it was a pleasant surprise. I heard a lot of people saying that it’s really good, but I like to decide that on my own πŸ˜› And when I started reading it, I didn’t really understand why it was listed among the best books of all time. But at about the middle I started to get it. And it turns out this book is more than it first seems. And in the end I really enjoyed it.

The book presents the story of the Finch family, who live in Maycomb. At first, it presents details of their everyday lives, like how Jem and Scout spend their summer with Dill, or how the people of the neighborhood are. But after a while, the story gets more serious as the father, Atticus becomes the lawyer of a young black man charged with rape. This event turns the whole town upside down and also leads to the kids learning the lessons of life.

These lessons of growing up represent the main idea of the book, and they seem to become more clear by looking through the eyes of the children, because they are the ones than don’t judge people by color or wealth, and they truly feel the unfairness of certain situations the adults are, sadly, used to.

The title is symbolic and is referenced three times in the book. First it is explained that killing a mockingbird is a sin because they don’t harm anyone and provide beautiful music to people. The other two times it is used as a metaphor for Tom Robinson and Boo Radley.

I liked the ending of the book a lot, because it seemed really sweet and serious at the same time. And the lesson there is also valuable, as we can’t really understand others unless we put ourselves in their shoes and try to see the world through their eyes.

I think this is a really good book and I would recommend it. It is also an easy and fast read, even though it’s not all that short. If you’d like to read it online, you can find it here: To Kill a Mockingbird.

That’s all for now, and next time I’ll be talking about John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read!

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Paulo Coelho – By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Hi all!

As promised, I’m back with another Coelho book and I’m starting to like his books a lot. This is only the second one I’ve read from him, but I’ve heard good things about a few others too that I’ll definitely read in the future.

As far as I can tell, at least from these two, the main idea that he tries to focus on is finding happiness in life and following our dreams. This has been presented in both books, but in this one, it’s a bit different.

The book presents the story of Pilar, who meets her childhood friend again after many years. She discovers that he has changed as he has seen much of the world and discovered its miracles, while she stayed in the same little town building herself a safe and stable life.

She finds that she doesn’t want to return to her routine, and changed herself by what she learns by his side, she chooses another life for them both. Rediscovering her love for him, she understands that true happiness lies in following ones heart and not the “Other”.Β  And even though the road of our path can be hard and we may suffer along the way, because “God hides the fires of hell within paradise”, it is worth all sacrifices to live our dream.

The book also talks about spirituality, about communicating with God and using the gifts we were given. It presents an interesting concept, that is the feminine face of God, present in all religions in one way or another, but it is not yet accepted by the Catholic church. It talks about the different sects that have already accepted Her as the Great Mother and look to Her for guidance.

I found this interesting because this was something I’ve not heard about before, but somehow it makes sense.

Furthermore, I liked the way the author presented the struggles within Pilar as she tries to follow her heart and be happy with the man she loves. The story is a touching one, written in a style that the reader can sympathize with the characters and is reached by the message of the author.

I would recommend it, because it can really give you courage to face your fears and follow your dreams, especially if you read it at crucial times in your life.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the book in a to-read format online, but you can download it from various sites if you’d like.

That’s all for now, and next time I’ll be talking about Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read πŸ™‚

Mary Shelley – Frankenstein

Hi all!

As my summer holiday has finally begun, I have a lot more time to catch up on my reading. To get me motivated, I’ve entered a monthly challenge at www.goodread.com and have a couple of really interesting picks for July. So I think it’s going to be a fun month reading-wise πŸ™‚

I think I made a good choice to try and read the classics for now, because I found out a few months ago that these are the books that really speak to me. I just love their style and the era they portray. And sometimes I wish I had lived then instead of the world of today which sometimes can be quite disappointing. But enough whining for now and lets look at the book πŸ™‚

I’m pretty sure most people are acquainted with the story of Frankenstein, which is an interesting one from the point of view of the plot and also the idea behind the book.

The book presents the story of Victor Frankenstein, an ambitious young man who, by the study and practice of natural sciences, attempts to create life. He is successful, but the cost of his success proves to be too high. The creature he had given life to realizes his own deformity and monstrous aspect, and, to his utter despair, finds that he shall remain always alone.

To put an end to his solitude, he tries to persuade his creator to make him a companion, by threatening to make Victor as miserable as he is. Victor declines his request and is forced to face the consequences.

The story is a rather touching one, and has many parts that made me think.

An interesting episode is when the beast first encounters the world around him and he is always astound by its beauty. He seems innocent and ambitious to learn about the world, almost like a child would be. His feelings are of wonder, joy and maybe even love, when encounters the little family. But as he realizes that no one would befriend him, due to his hideousness, his feelings soon turn to a more darker shade.

This part seemed interesting because it gave me an insight into what can make man miserable and change a pure heart into one thirsty for blood. And solitude and a life of an outcast could render a heart suitable for dark deeds.

But the idea of the book focuses more on the responsibilities of the creator towards his creation. This is a conflicting issue for the main character, as he is indeed marked by the desolate fate of his own work, but still can not bare himself to create another alike. And I think his fears aren’t without ground despite the promises of the beast. His struggles are definitely an interesting psychological portrayal and it all leads back to the idea that man mustn’t act as a god, because he does not have it in his power to create a being as perfect as himself or to grant happiness for his creations.

I think this book is a really good one, with interesting thoughts behind it, and deserves to be read. If you would like to read it online, you can find it here: Frankenstein.

That’s all for now, and next time I’ll be talking about another Paulo Coelho book, “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read πŸ™‚

Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist

Hi all!

It’s been a while, yet again, since I’ve posted anything, but this is definitely going to change in the future. I’ve finished my exams and finally finished my thesis also (which I still have to sustain, but at least the hard part is over πŸ™‚ ), so in a few more days my summer vacation will also start πŸ˜€

I have a lot of plans, including catching up on my reading, which I have neglected the past few months. Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” I think is a good start.

This was definitely perfect the book to read right now. With all the stress that was laid on me the past few weeks, I ended up feeling pretty lost, but I think the book got me back on track.

I’ve looked over some reviews of the book after I’ve finished reading it, and it lead me to believe that this is one of those books that you either love or hate. And I personally loved it.

The book presents the story of a young Spanish shepherd named Santiago. His life changing adventure begins when he realizes he had had the same dream twice and talks about it with an old man, who calls himself the king of Salem.

Inspired by the words of the king, Santiago decides to pursue his dream to find the treasure by the Egyptian pyramids. His road is full of turns, as he ends up many times in places he would never before imagine, but all contribute in him finding his path.

The book is a greatly philosophical one, and I think that is why I liked it so much. It covers the theme of destiny, of the importance of following ones dreams and the unity of the universe. The presented thoughts have a magical and mysterious intonation, as the role of each thing on Earth is explained, with the steps one has to take in order to become one with the world surrounding us.

The role of an alchemist is also described and it is quite different from the one we normally tend to think of. It is pretty awesome nonetheless and I don’t think I would mind being the apprentice of one πŸ˜€

I loved this book because I really wanted it to be real. I want to believe that there is more to life than want I can see around me. Because sometimes it can be rather depressing, and I love books that restore my hope in the beauty of the world and make me want to live life to the fullest, and not just settle for the ordinary.

I think it is worth reading, but I guess it’s not everyone’s cup of tee. So if you do want to read it, here’s where you can find it online: The Alchemist

This is all for now, and next time (hopefully soon) I’ll be presenting Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read πŸ™‚

Alexandre Dumas – The Count of Monte Cristo

Hi all!

It has been a long time since I’ve been here and I can’t even imagine it myself that it took this long to finish “The Count of Monte Cristo”. It is indeed a long book, and I knew that when I started it, but I also knew it would be great. And it was. I have to admit, this was one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. But definitely, this was the worst time to read it, and I guess that is one of the reasons why I finished it so late.

I have a lot on my plate nowadays, balancing work, exams and preparing for my Bachelor’s Degree certification, so all I needed was a good book to keep me focused πŸ˜€

The weird part is that I don’t think I’ve fully understood that it’s over. I keep thinking about reading another chapter in my spare time, but then I remember, there’s no more chapters left. I guess I really got used to the characters, with all the time I’ve spent on them. And I miss them, because each one was a very interesting person, be it in vices and faults, or decency and good will. And the plot itself is very captivating and complex, with turns you don’t anticipate and many threads to present the lives of the many characters, that somehow are still woven together.

The book is actually the story of a young man named Edmond Dantes, who although very young, would soon become captain of a ship and also marry the love of his life, Mercedes. But this perfect future is soon destroyed, as Edmond is accused by Danglars, a fellow official on the ship, and Fernand, a man in love with Mercedes, to be a conspirator. Although innocent, Edmond is still imprisoned, as the king’s attorney tries to save the life of his father.

He stays in prison for fourteen years, during which he befriends the Abbe Faria, who becomes his teacher and father in their despair. When this beloved guardian dies of an unfortunate illness, Edmond finds that he was given once again a chance at freedom, and even wealth.

He returns to his home town, but the life that he left behind was nowhere to be found. The good people he remembered were all driven to misery, while the ones who plotted against him were successful and rich. And so, the plan to avenge himself stirs in the mind of Edmond, naming himself from then on the Count of Monte Cristo. He gradually enters the lives of his former “acquaintances” and by manipulating the threads of destiny, he tries to undo the wrong and bring ease to his years of pain, by punishing those that punished him with the undeserved sufferings at the Chateau d’If .

As I said, the story is a rather complex one, and also presents some very interesting ideas about destiny, about hope and about happiness. Each character is beautifully displayed, and we can almost see into the recesses of their hearts. Every pang of pain, every glitter of joy can be felt by the reader also. And I think one of the saddest episodes of the book was when the count revisited his dungeon and listened to his own story told by the guide. I’m not afraid to confess, it did indeed bring tears to my eyes. And I love when a book can achieve that, because that basically means that I bow before the author for being able to write this. And in case of this book, the bow isn’t only for that particular scene, but for the whole book. It is a masterpiece, no doubt about it.

I guess this is all I’m going to say about it for now, because I feel I could go on and on, but it’s not the time for that πŸ˜€

Anyway, if you would like to read it online, you can find it here: The Count of Monte Cristo.

So, I guess that’s all for now. I’m not really sure when I’ll be back with the next book, probably not that soon, due to causes I’ve already listed. But when I do return, I’ll be reviewing Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read!

Marquis de Sade – The 120 Days of Sodom

Hi all!

I think this is the first book, since I’ve started the blog, that I’m not all that thrilled about. Before reading it I’ve looked through a couple of reviews to know what to expect, but even though I found the reviews accurate, I still felt like something was missing. Maybe a little more psychological presentation, I’m not sure…

Anyway, the first time I’ve heard of Marquis de Sade was at a literature class, while studying a poet who was influenced by him. And since I really liked the poem we were studying, I became curious of the works of Sade. This was actually the first I’ve read from him and the book does justice to its reputation. It’s highly disturbing, with many elements of a brutal, violent and disgusting manner.

The book presents the story of four Frenchmen, theΒ Duc de Blangis, his brother the Bishop, the president de Curval and the banker Durcet, who are very liberal in their way of living and have an interesting view concerning sin and morality.

They decide to partake in a pleasurable experience (pleasurable from their point of view) and with the help of a few procuresses, kidnap eight young boys and girls, and take them, along with more hand picked people, to a secluded property of theirs. Here they spend 120 days, in which they commit horrible deeds of torture.

Each day, one of the four women, brought especially for this, tell five passions, stories from their experience and the four men are only allowed to repeat the deeds from the stories and the ones presented before, keeping “the best” for last. And I think everyone can assume that the best for them is the possible worst for their hopeless victims.

During the story we see Sade’s point of view concerning ethics and morality put into the mouths of his characters, and these ideas are rather interesting.

A thing that I liked was the storytelling, but it was ruined in places because of the language. I understand that it was meant to be demeaning and outspoken and what not, but it just seemed vulgar too me. And I don’t think that was what Sade was aiming for. But apart from that, I really liked the style.

I think it was good that I’ve read this book, because I think Sade is an important figure, and not only in literature, so this is a plus even general knowledge-wise. I’m not sure I would recommend it, because it’s not the sort of book you just recommend. But if you have my weird and morbid curiosity, then be my guest πŸ˜€

Oh, and if you didn’t guess it by know, it contains mature content. (for warning’s sake)

If you’d like to read it online, you can find it here: The 120 Days of Sodom.

Next time I’ll be presenting something a bit more decent:Β  Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read πŸ™‚

Gabriel Garcia Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude

Hi all!

I finally finished “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and even though I quite enjoyed it, I have mixed feelings about it in all.

My cousin, who is also a book-maniac like myself, is very fond of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and she said that he is a great author, but still, she didn’t really like this book in particular. And before reading it, I’ve gone through some reviews to know what I’m up against and what I found was that a lot of people liked it, but also a lot hated it. So I didn’t really know what to expect. Also, one person said that the plot of a book seems like a really weird dream from which you just woke up. And I think I agree with him the most.

The story at places is really captivating, for instance the beginning and the ending. I was really fascinated when reading the first chapters and I felt that I’m really going to love this book, but then the plot became more complicated πŸ˜€

Anyway, the book tells the story of the town of Macondo, from its founding until its destruction and presents the life of the Buendia family, one of the founding families, over a period of a hundred years.

At first that town is a really peaceful and magical place, where the gypsies would have fairs and present their mystical merchandise. What I liked most in this part, and I guess throughout the book, was that magic was presented as if it were part of reality and not something supernatural.

But as usual, a place a like Macondo can’t stay in such a perfect state without any consequences, now can it? So the state sent people to become the authorities of the town and organize the election. And because the election didn’t go so smoothly, it ended in a war between the Conservatives and the Liberals.

In the following chapters, we see how the war has its way with the Buendia family, how it turns their lives into tragedy even when the war is over. The family members have also an issue with falling in love with other members of the family, which leads to other unlucky events. But the main thing about this family is that almost no one can seem to find happiness and they’re left with their hearts sunken into sadness, grief, envy and most importantly, a devastating solitude.

What was interesting in this book was the way how each family member affected the destiny of the others, and how everything seemed to fall apart gradually from the beautiful beginning of when they arrived in Macondo, lead by the idea of a dream.

What I didn’t like, on the other hand, was that the writing was a bit foggy, and at times I didn’t know what was going on. And the fact that a lot of characters had the same name didn’t help with my confusion. And the style in places was, indeed, a bit boring and a few times I even thought that I am never going to finish this book. But the instant that I did, I felt amazed and I realized that I did like it, because the message did get through somehow. And the fact that the ending was pretty awesome did help with me thinking that πŸ˜€

So I guess I would recommend it, but beware, you will need a lot of patience and it is not an easy read, but worth it, I guess, in the end. I already miss its magic πŸ˜€

Anyway, if you want to read it online, you can find it here: One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Next time I’ll be talking about RejtΕ‘ JenΕ‘’s “The 14-carat Roadster”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read πŸ™‚

Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray

Hi all!

I finished reading this book rather late last night, but I couldn’t bare to put it down. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but actually, I think I have found my favorite book of all time πŸ˜€

I wanted to get my hands on the book ever since I saw the movie (which I loved btw :D) and learned that it is based on a book. But, of course, as it always happens when you see the movie first and read the book later, you are influenced by the movie and have certain expectations. But the book didn’t fail me. Actually, it turned out to be one of the most fascinating things I have ever read. And I want to make something clear, because at a point Dorian points out in the book, that if you are fascinated by something, that doesn’t necessarily mean you also like it. But I liked it. Well, loved it, actually πŸ˜€

The book presents the story of Dorian Gray, a young man whose exquisite beauty charms everyone who sees him. A painter, Basil Hallward, is stricken by his angel-like face and wonderful soul, and they become close friends. But when Basil finishes his masterpiece, a full sized painting of this dear friend, Dorian finally sees for his own the effect of his beauty and in a moment of despair, brought on by the words of Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian wishes that he would remain always as young and beautiful as he is now and that instead, the painting would grow old. Little does he know that his prayer has been answered.

Dorian and Lord Henry soon become good friends, and the young man is highly influenced by his companion’s views and theories about the world and he seems to discover himself in them. He changes, slowly but surely, form a pure young boy into a man with a bad reputation. But his beauty never leaves him. And all the harm he does to his soul has not a mark on him. But is has on the painting, as it gradually morphs into something hideous and evil.

Dorian is frightened at first, because he does not understand what is happening. But as he destroys his soul more and more, he feels a kind of joy to look at the portrait growing uglier and him being forever beautiful. But his conscience catches up with him as he commits his cruelest deed and fails to do a good one. He realizes that he is tired of the life he’s lead and the terrors the portrait beholds. The only question now is, how can he get out of the deal?

As I said, this is one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. It is a marvelous psychological study, because, as I see it, it somehow comes down to man’s search for happiness. Dorian sees happiness, influenced by the words of Lord Henry, in beauty and the fulfillment of the senses. He searches always for new experiences, so he can experience life.

Lord Henry’s views, on the other hand, have a sort of philosophical demeanor in a way. And what he claims is not all that bad, at least in my opinion. Some of his theories stirred something in me also and I feel that now I may understand myself a little better. And I love it when a book does this. Actually, quite a few books have made me really think of various topics and I loved them for that, but this is the first book that ever made me think about myself. It made me see life in another way, something I didn’t really see before.

Another thing I loved about the book is its time setting. Actually, I love all British classics that take place in that era, because they have a certain air that I truly love, and it always makes me think that I’ve been born in the wrong time πŸ˜€

So anyway, I would recommend this book to anyone, especially to those who like the classics πŸ™‚ If you would like to read it online, you can find it here: The Picture of Dorian Gray. You can even download it from there if you’d like.

So that’s all for now and next time I’ll be presenting George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. (I miss this book already :D)

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read πŸ™‚

Edgar Allan Poe Shortstories Part XIII

Hi all!

I’m back with part 13, and as I said before, there’s not much left. And this is definitely a good thing, because as I have also mentioned, I’m done reading them, but not so much with the review part. Actually, I’ve already read another book, for which I can’t wait to post a review, because I really liked it. But first, let’s finish this series πŸ˜€

This time I’ll be presenting 6 works again, and as before, the titles are links to where you can read them online πŸ™‚

Lionizing

This story is a pretty funny one, and quite short, so definitely worth reading.

The main character and narrator is Robert Jones, who was said to be a genius from a very early age, because he “took hold of his nose”. He then studied Nosology and saw that as his true calling. And his nose was indeed admired by everyone who saw it.

But sadly, a change in his fate occurs, when he shoots off the nose of Bluddennuff in a duel.

The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall

This story is a quite long one, but it’s actually pretty interesting. It presents the adventures of Hans Pfaall, who becoming very poor and in debt, decides to do something no one has done before: travel to the moon. And he does this in a really strange way. By balloon πŸ˜€

What I liked about the story was that this again presented another side of Poe, because it has a lot of astronomical and geographical references to it. Of course, the suppositions made about the moon are mistaken, but I can’t really decide if Poe just made that up or that was indeed what was believed at that time.

Anyways, I liked this one and I would recommend it πŸ™‚

King Pest

This is an interesting story of two seamen, who try to run from an inn, because they drank but didn’t want to pay.

They are chased into the part of the town that was quarantined because of the plague. They don’t hesitate in entering the district and they soon find an interesting company in one of the buildings πŸ™‚

The Landscape Garden (another title is The Domain of Arnheim)

This is a mostly descriptive story, that presents a friend of the narrator, Mr. Ellison, who has always been of good fortune, and therefore happy. Here, Poe describes the conditions of happiness, one of them leading to Art.

Mr. Ellison chooses landscape gardening as his form of art, and describes what this means to him. We witness as an artist speaks of his art, which alwaysΒ  seems a beautiful thing to me, because I consider myself an artist and I think there is no greater beauty than presenting a part of your soul through your own creation. And this certainly leads to a form of happiness πŸ™‚

Landor’s Cottage

This story is a quite beautiful one, but it is again rather a description, than a story with an actual plot.

The narrator presents in great detail a beautiful and dreamy valley with a charming house. And as he describes it, you can actually feel his love for nature and art, and this, as I said before, is something I like to hear (or read, in this case :P).

The Power of Words

This story is much like The Colloquy of Monos And Una, having the same style (has the form of a dialogue between the characters) and has a similar philosophical theme.

The two characters Oinos and Agathos speak about the large effect that people have even by the wave of their hands or the words they speak. It’s a really beautiful story and it makes you think of what we really are capable of doing without even knowing it πŸ™‚

So I guess that’s all for now, and I’ll be back soon with the last part of the Poe series.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read πŸ™‚

Edgar Allan Poe Shortstories Part VIII

Hi all!

I’m back with Part 8 of the series, and like before I’ll be presenting 5 works again. These are similar in the fact that it’s not the plot itself that is emphasized, because some of them don’t even have that much of a plot. The important thing in these works is actually in the idea behind the plot and characters. Some are meant to make you laugh, but they all give you something to think about πŸ™‚

So here they are, and as before, the titles are links to where you can read them online πŸ™‚

The Colloquy of Monos And Una

This is a really beautiful philosophical story in the form of a dialogue between Monos and Una, two lovers.

Monos speaks of science and art, comparing reason with sentiment, claiming the first to be the death of nature and the second, the only way in which we could truly understand it. Then he talks about the time after he died, his sensations and of Time itself, as he then truly witnessed it.

The story is a really fascinating one, the atmosphere is calm and tranquil and the ideas portrayed are really interesting πŸ™‚

The Conversation of Eiros And Charmion

This story resembles the one presented before, because this also has the form of a dialogue between the characters presented in title.

The story presents Eiros, arrived to Aidenn after death, and presents the circumstances in which he died. From what he tells us, we understand that a comet was spotted and said to bring the end to the world.

I liked this story because it gives us a view of how Poe perceived the apocalypse, it’s causes and outcome.

Diddling

This is a quite funny story, because it presents the science of diddling, meaning committing frauds.

The narrator first presents the character of a diddler, and claims that it is in human nature to diddle. Then, he tells a few stories where people were diddled.

The story isn’t all that long, and quite amusing, so if you’re bored, don’t hesitate to spear a few minutes πŸ˜€

The Duc De L’Omelette

This story is pretty short one and kind of amusing but, it’s not my favorite.

It’s about the Duke De L’Omelette, who dies and meets the Devil. The surroundings are quite interesting, as the Duke looks around and it’s a bit creepy when he notices that the music he heard is not music at all. At the end, the Duke and the Devil play cards, that has an unexpected result.

So I guess, this story wasn’t that bad. The only thing I didn’t really like was that it had a lot of French phrases and I don’t
really know French πŸ˜€

Four Beasts In One – the Homo-Cameleopard

This story is also an amusing one, but also not my favorite.

It presents Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, in the city of Antiochia Epidaphne, celebrating the fact that he has just murdered a thousand Jews. With a large group of people, who admire him and sing about his glorious deeds, he heads for the hippodrome dressed as a cameleopard. The wild animals, who previously seemed domesticated and friendly, attack him and start to chase him.

The story is quite funny, especially in describing the chase, because the narrator has a really ironical tone in addressing the king.

I noticed that these last couple of stories are a bit different than the ones I presented in earlier posts and this gives a us new perspective into the mind of Poe, because of the various themes he addresses in his stories.

These are all for now, and I’ll be back shortly with Part IX πŸ™‚

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read πŸ™‚