Category Archives: Books

“Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee

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My brain seems to be interested lately in women’s stories from all over the globe. Or maybe it is my heart. The heart of a girl’s mom.

“Pachinko” belongs to the type of the book I look forward to opening at the bed time reading. I absorbed the 400 something pages in no time.

The story spans through generations of a family who survived war, hunger, separation, discrimination and exile. The story starts in Korea and then moves to Japan. Above all, it is about soul-search and staying true to what truly matters no matter what.

The characters are authentic and their struggles and aspirations are so real you can feel it on your skin. The author did well her homework research. The book is a tribute to all silent victims of discrimination of those times on that place.

I cannot ignore the attention given to the role of women society expects from them, as described in this book and couple of others I recently read. “Women’s lot is to suffer” is reiterated couple of times in the book. That is saddening, to say the least. In fairness, the author does justice to feminine characters by endowing them with such strength of mind and spirit that it challenges the socially acceptable behavioural model for women.

Inspired by this, I bought for my daughter “Little Leaders: Visionary Women from around the World” by Vashti Harrison (more on the book in my next post).

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“Like water for chocolate” by Laura Esquivel

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I love books with stories around the kitchen, where events and Mxican dishes recipes are intertwined with flavours. Reading recipes and cooking steps also makes me hungry, but that’s another story.

The story lone is built around Tita, who is given a multitude of roles throughout the book: she is a daughter, a cook, a lover, a sister, a nurse. The character has to fight for her right to decide how to live an authoritarian mother and a series of circumstances she finds herself in.

The writing style is impregnated with tenderness and a bitter-sweet taste of life in all its magnificence. It has magic, it has love. What else do you need?

I absorbed the book in no time and recommend to enjoy it with a cup of hot chocolate.

« Less » by Andrew Sean Greer

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“You will sob little tears of joy” said one review.

The book by Greer, a winner of the Pulitzer prize for fiction, is a story of a writer – Arthur Less, who seeking love almost lost it, just to find it, after he run away to travel around the world. The author gives us a Less at first – from a 70s American bohemian period – to a Less Mexican, Italian, German, French, Moroccan, Indian to Less at Last.

I admired the writing style and the author’s sense of humour, so touching yet unforgiving in some places. Like this lines: “She was ostensibly German speaking, just as seventeen-year-old Less was ostensibly gay. Both had the fantasy; neither had carried it out.”

“Paper Wife” by Laila Ibrahim

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I was Intrigued by the title and the period it talks about. It narrates the story of a young Chinese woman who, by a turn of events, finds herself as a wife to a man she never met and a mother to a 3 year old. The title of the novel – “paper wife” – is a metaphor for the faked “documented” relationships for Chinese eager to immigrate to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century.

The author did a great deal of research, so the reader can find out about the Angel Island Immigration Detention Center, in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese immigrants received the most scrutiny. They had to study hard the documents paid by their sponsors – husbands, uncles, brothers – who wanted to bring the dear ones to the United States. Th novel also describes the life in early China towns.

The central character is a strong feminine model who overcame difficulties and used whatever means she had to protect her family. Her believes and strong moral inheritance from her mother and grand mother are depicted with respect and admiration, owned to women who relied on their ancestral roots to let new roots of their families grow in a new land.

I found the novel a light reading, perfect for quiet evenings.

“The Red-Haired Woman” by Orhan Pamuk

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From the first pages, I realised that I missed Pamuk’s writing.

I read “My name is Red” couple of years ago and I liked it a lot.

“The red-haired women” is both surprising and unnerving. The story is build around the father-son relationship in different generations, from mythology to the story of the main character – Cem. Cem’s relationship with his father, a well digging master and later – his own son  are painted in all the shades of guilt, regret, revolt, admiration. As if unable to cope with all these emotions, fathers and sons end up with blood on their hands. It is in essence an exploration of the evolution of the meaning of fatherhood.

The end section narrated by the red-haired woman, brightens up a bit the finale. As “The Guardian” puts is “The twist in the tail isn’t perhaps quite as effective as that in My Name Is Red, but it still makes the reader feel as if they’ve emerged from the depths of a well into sudden and dazzling light.”

“Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles

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“The Gentlemen in Moscow” was such a perfect match to my reading needs, so I bought “Rules of Civility” by the same author.

It is yet another exquisite novel by Amor Towles. It is his first, published in 2011.

The novel is the story of Katey Kontent, a descendant of Russian immigrants, who establishes herself in the New York of late 30s. She transforms and lets the city transform her from a typist to the editor of a famous magasine. The character is quite my type of freedom-breathing girl:

“- Come on, sweet stuff, said a conductor.

– Sweet your own stuff, I replied.”

I enjoyed the book so much that I wanted to read it again once I turned its last page.

Bookmark – by Sofia, my daughter.

“The Royal Treatment ~ a crown jewels romantic comedy ~” by Melanie Summers

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The book filled a need for a light, unsoliciting reading. So, if you are looking for a long weekend leisurely stuff, this might be it. The novel is a romantic comedy from Crown Jewels Romantic Comedy Series by Melanie Summers.

It tells the story of a young journalist-turned blogger – Tessa Sharpe – who met a prince charming of modern times. Tessa’s keeps The Royal Watchdog blog, to monitor the lifestyle of royals and to make a living out of testing new sports related gadgets. How she manages both will bring a few moments to laugh out loud, so reading it on a train or plane is fine. Anyway, everyone has their headphones on :).