Besides being busy with academic reading, I always try to continue reading non-academic books as well (not sure how to phrase it exactly – can’t say fiction because I also read non-fiction, can’t say books that I read for fun because I consider (some of) my academic reads also fun). So what have I been reading lately?
At the moment I am reading Tonio: Een requiemroman by A.F.Th. van der Heijden. This is a Dutch non-fiction work about the author’s loss of his son. I have only read about a hundred pages or so yet (out of 600), but it definitely seems a very promising read.
Other books that I have finished in the last 1,5 month are the following:
1. Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom – After having heard multiple stories from a friend about how great Franzen’s works are, I finally picked up one as well. I was very excited when I started reading the novel, because the friend that recommended the book usually likes the same kind of stories as I do, so I had high hopes. And oh boy, she was right. Freedom is a story about a family in our contemporary world and is written in a very engaging manner. All I can say is: Jonathan, you are my new friend. Definitely going to read more of his books.
2. Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea – I picked up this short story/novella in a bookshop when I was on holiday. Since I had read some of Hemingway’s short stories before, I was interested in reading some more work of his. I thought The Old Man and the Sea was a good story. I wasn’t blown away, but I liked it. Hemingway’s writing style is, as always, very good.
3. Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank – When I was in (my at that time regular) bookshop a while back, I suddenly found this book. I had never seen it there before and the title catched my eye. When I then saw a recommendation from J.S. Foer I was even more intrigued. I wanted to read this book. Since I still had a book voucher in my wallet, I decided to buy it immediately. And I am happy I did. WWTAWWTAAF is a book of short stories. Some are funny, some are very beautiful, and all have an historical/religious aspect to them, making this a highly interesting and entertaining book to read.
4. Nancy Mairs’ Waist-high in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled – I was introduced to this book in my Life & Travel Writing class of last semester, for which we had to read an extract of Mairs’ book. I immediately liked it. It was different, and funny. I decided to buy the book and read the whole thing. In this work of non-fiction you get to learn a lot about the point of view of a disabled person, but not in a self-pitying kind of way. Mairs writes very engagingly and makes you think about certain topics. Especially her discussion of abortion and euthanasia is very interesting.
5. Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth – I got this book as a farewell gift at my previous job. I think I wouldn’t have bought a book of Ian McEwan by myself so easily, but I am glad I got one. For my English class in high school we had to read McEwan’s The Cement Garden, which I was a bit put off by (but maybe that was the age also), so I have always been skeptical towards reading more of his work. However, I actually enjoyed Sweet Tooth. At times I did feel that the book wasn’t engaging enough, but I generally liked it. Especially the final chapter blew me away. Hadn’t seen that one coming at all.
6. Mark Haddon’s The Red House – Oh Mark, you did me proud. I am a huge fan of Mark Haddon’s books. So far I have also read A Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-time and A Spot of Bother, which I both thoroughly enjoyed. However, I was a bit afraid that I would maybe not like The Red House. I had read some reviews from people that did like the other two works but didn’t like this one. Well, I couldn’t disagree more. I love The Red House with its references to modern life and the portrayal of this family. Also, I still love Haddon’s way of writing. It is very engaging.
So those were the books I have been reading over the last few weeks. Has anyone read them too? What did you think? And what books are you/have you been reading lately?