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text 2018-01-03 10:08
Looking back on 2017
The letters of Herman Melville - Herman Melville,Merrell R. Davis,William H. Gilman
A True Novel - Juliet Winters Carpenter,Minae Mizumura
Wir - Евгений Замятин
Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame - Else von Schorn,Victor Hugo
What the Hell Did I Just Read - David Wong
Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
Сердешна Оксана - Григорій Квітка-Основ'яненко
The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo - Oscar Zeta Acosta,Manuel Acosta Sero,Hunter S. Thompson
The Revolt of the Cockroach People - Oscar Zeta Acosta,Marco Acosta,Hunter S. Thompson
Ein so langer Brief - Mariama Bâ,Irmgard Rathke,Rolf Italiaander

Hey there! I hope everyone had a fantastic start into 2018!

 

I always like to take the first days of January to look back and recap what I read in the past year – which books did I love, which ones did I like ok and which ones did upset or disappoint me. So here we go – quick and dirty!

 

Books I loved

There were a lot of books which I really liked in 2017, so I wrecked my brain to distil the three absolute best of the best for you:
My favourite book must have been The Letters of Herman Melville – interesting, well written and as an highlight I recommend reading the letters he addressed to Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Another one of my favourites was A True Novel by Minae Mizumura which I binge read in 11 days despite the sheer amount of nearly 900 pages. And last, but definitely not least was the mother of all dystopian novels We by Evgenij Zamjatin.

 

Books I was disappointed in

Luckily, in this category there were not that many books to choose from. The biggest letdown and as I can remember also the most exhausting one to read must have been The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, which is sad, because I expected so much more from this classic. What the Hell did I just read was no favourite of mine neither, although this did not come as a surprise, because David Wong’s books are gradually declining in quality. And since I mentioned We as one of the best books, I have to admit that 1984 wasn’t really a good one, despite its status as the dystopian novel par excellence.

 

And some honourable mentions

Сердешна Оксана as the first (and so far only) book I read in Ukrainian, So long a letter as a fascinating account of the life of African women and both books written by Oscar Zeta Acosta (The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo and The Revolt of the Cockrach People), because Acosta proves that even lawyers can be amazing writers and fight for what is right.

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review 2017-11-24 05:30
Accessible adaptation of a classic tragedy
By Victor Hugo Manga Classics: Les Miserables Softcover - Victor Hugo

I quite liked this adaptation. I've always found Les Misérables to be pretty tough going, and the tragedy tended to overwhelm its beauty, so the stripped down format and much faster pacing of a graphic novel/manga version works much better for me. It still touches on the tragedy and fits in much of the complexity, while exposing the story structure more plainly. Also, it's pretty. Great way to introduce a classic in a more accessible way.

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review 2017-06-16 20:16
Everyone (but me) loves Esmeralda
Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame - Else von Schorn,Victor Hugo

Such a tedious beginning! Way too many secondary characters, way too many unimportant names and way to many descriptions of clothing, uniforms, buildings and architectural details. Not to mention the following excessive descriptions of the city structure of Paris. This was so confusing and the more I read, the less I was able to imagine what Paris looked like and additionally, you are completely pulled out of the plot. Not helping, Victor, not helping. You know, Čechov used to criticise the young Gorkij for using way too many adjectives in his writings. Its a good thing, Čechov never saw Victor Hugo’s mess. Man, that writing is not only overloaded with details, but also really patronising.

 

The overall theme of the book is perhaps best described with the word love, while also featuring a lot of racism, sexism, violence, poverty, class struggles and cruelty. What bugged me though is, that in the beginning Hugo touches on many crucial subjects like civil disturbances, power struggles, the beginning of printing and hence the churches’ loss of power over the written word, but unfortunately, he does not pursue them any further.

 

Character-wise, I fell in love with Pierre Gringoire, the constantly twaddling philosopher, who is the personification of the principle of comic relief. He is sweet, funny and loveable, especially in his love for Djali the goat! I absolutely agree with his attitude – save Djali, forget about Esmeralda. I wish there was more of him in the book.

 

Oddly enough, I kind of also liked Frollo, even though I was shocked when I found out, that he is only 35 years old and Esmeralda is just 16 (I imagined him around 50 and her somewhere in her late twenties or early thirties). But still, up to a certain degree I can understand him, I guess this is what happens if a hardcore Catholic gets a boner. He tried to fight it, but well, the (pedophiliac) urge was stronger.

 

Esmeralda. According to my former knowledge of the story (thanks, Disney) I expected a strong, smart, confident woman who fights for equality. But all I got from Hugo was a naive, stupid, superficial and ignorant child, madly in love with playboy Captain Phoebus. But hey, at least she has some principles. Cheers to that! I guess…

To be fair, she is also kindhearted when she saves Gringoire (which I am thankful for) and of course, a victim of getting stalked.

 

And Quasimodo. First of all, for a 600-page book that is called The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, there is not much of our hunchback Quasimodo in it.

I might get a lot of shit for my opinion on him, but I think, that he really is a beast. Even though he is misunderstood, gets mistreated (basically more by the Parisians and Esmeralda than by Frollo I might add) and therefore probably does not understand the basic concepts of human behaviour, he still does unspeakable things. Kind of like Frankenstein’s monster which I also deeply disliked. Do you remember all the heroic stuff the Disney version of Quasimodo did when defending the church and Esmeralda? He does most of it in the book too, but only much more violently and against the good guys (unknowingly though). Deaf or not, if you act like a beast that went apeshit crazy, you get treated like one. So it goes.

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text 2017-06-15 09:43
Reading progress update: I've read 439 out of 663 pages.
Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame - Else von Schorn,Victor Hugo

Hmm. I am still hanging on, but for a book called The Hunchback of Notre Dame, there is not much going on Quaismodo-wise. Stuff is happening, though.

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text 2017-05-26 14:28
What did just happen??
Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame - Else von Schorn,Victor Hugo

Damn, I am confused now.

For the last hours I was reading excessive descriptions of what felt like every single building in 15th century Paris. The more I read, the less I could imagine, what the city looked like. I feel like I should take a break and play some AC Unity for a while to get a feeling for the town, because thanks to Hugo, I am completly lost now.

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