september-december.

It’s been a dark and long autumn and I haven’t done half of the things I was supposed to. Like writing here. My reading has been mostly good, I finished my 50th book two hours before the new year. I haven’t been good at writing about the books I have read in the past few months.

The first book, read all the way back in September, was All the Rage by Courtney Summers (2015). It is about a teenager being raped at a party and no one believes her because he is the popular girl. And they bully her. The book gave me a lot of feelings, and especially the raging kind. This is a book that should be taught in schools worldwide. If you’re curious about what rape culture is all about, this book will give you an idea.

The 7th Vera Stanhope novel, the Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves (2015) was also read in September. I wasn’t entirely won over by the last Vera novel, so I’m happy to report that she’s back on track with this one. Ann Cleeves is my go to crime writer and I regularly check when she has a new book coming out.

From June to November I have been chasing Moby Dick (Herman Melville, 1851). My chase has been as hard as Captain Ahab’s. It should have been a great read for me, but all the detours made it boring. And that’s a shame because I was totally into it until the ship left the harbour. Oh well, at least now I can understand all the references to Moby Dick. I’m hoping Ahab’s Wife will be better.

I finally got around to reading Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (1945). I should have read it before visiting Monterrey back in 2012 (possibly the most touristy place I have ever visited – we ended up with a quick stroll and an expensive Mexican restaurant before continuing to Big Sur). Anyway, it is about a group of young men in Monterrey trying to work as little as possible and party as much as they can. It is a short, entertaining read and I wanted more. I’m glad I still have a lot of Steinbeck’s work unread on my shelves.

Book #49 was Career of Evil by J.K. Rowling (as Robert Gailbraith (2015)). I haven’t been too happy about the previous Comoran Strike books but this was bloody near perfect. It is surprisingly and delightfully dark, nearly grotesque and I was unable to put it down. I hope Rowling will never stop writing!

The final book of last year was Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata (1952). I chose it because of its length, 147 pages. It is about a young man attending a tea ceremony with 3 sexually frustrated women (okay, that was maybe taking it too far, but you can definitely feel the sexual tension between him and the women). It is a beautiful book and I fear I didn’t give it the attention it deserved as the clock was ticking towards midnight. Kawabata is an author I will definitely read more of, having won the Nobel prize and all.

Noon at the darkest day of the year in Jarfjord, Norway.

Happy New Year!

the last book I read in 2014

the Silkworm by J.K. Rowling (2014)
(Cormoran Strike  #2 , as Robert Galbraith)

Owen Quine, the author of one best selling novel and a lot of mediocre ones,  has disappeared. And his wife asks Cormoran to find him. Quine’s just finished a new novel which makes fun of a lot of people in the publishing industry. Could that be a motive for his disappearance? And then Cormoran finds Quine’s body. The body is arranged the exact way as Quine’s described his own death in the unpublished novel.

Rowling, as always, is spot on with her characters and descriptions. And the plot was never boring either. I was racing the clock to finish this on New Year’s Eve as I desperately had to read 50 books before the year was up. It was the perfect book for the job, but I’m afraid I don’t remember much of the plot afterwards, although the characters are still very vivid nearly three weeks after. I really like Cormoran and his secretary, Robin, and I hope Rowling continues writing about them. But I’d rather have more of Harry Potter’s universe and books like the Casual Vacancy, of course. 

thirty-seven.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K Rowling (2013)
(As Robert Galbraith)
A famous model, Lula Landry, fell off her balcony and the inquest ruled suicide. Her brother, John Bristow, is convinced that his adopted sister, despite having a mental illness, never would have killed herself. He hires the private detective Cormoran Strike to investigate the case.

Strike is an ex-military with just one leg after a landmine blew off the other. The detective business is not making much money and his creditor is constantly on his back. Still he hires a temp to do his secretary work, Robin. And together they make a brilliant detective couple.

After finding out that J. K. Rowling wrote this, I instantly bought it on the Kindle. And I instantly fell in love. Her characters are amazing and I just love Strike and Robin. I also like how she manages to describe the layers of the society, from the rich skinny models to the homeless. And the solution of the murder is just crazy. I also like how this is one of those old-fashioned types of a crime story, its style reminded me of Agatha Christie.

And finally, it’s a perfect portrait of London and as I’m there right now, just a stone’s throw away from the streets described, it was a perfect read on my way to London.  I hope that Rowling will continue with the series despite the raised expectations from being found to be the author.

fifty-six.

the Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling (2012)
“Cobbled streets and no shops open past six o’clock, a communal life that seemed to revolve around church, and where you could often hear bird song and nothing else: Gaia felt as though she had fallen through a portal into a land lost in time.” 
Pagford is a small drowsy village, but when one of the parish council members suddenly dies of an aneurysm, the inhabitants have something to gossip about. Who is going to take his chair at the council and will it decides the faith of the run-down council housing project, the Fields?

Pagford has some interesting characters which take turns as narrators. All of them have their own problems and secrets and when the Ghost of Barry Fairweather starts posting accusations of the runners for the council elections, they all are concerned. My favourites were definitely the teenagers and they were the ones that really made the book an awesome read.

J.K Rowling uses the same observations and details as in the Harry Potter series, but the language is much more mature. It took a while before the plot thickened, and I spent a lot of time wondering what the book really was about. But around page 200, I became really interested and read the remaining 300 pages in one sitting. And the story of Krystal and her family really broke my heart. Some of the characters got what they deserved, while others really got away with things. I like how this wasn’t some sort of happy ending fairytale book, but a criticism of municipal spending and politics. I just wish she didn’t have to go about killing my favourite characters. I cried buckets at the end.

I hope J.K Rowling continues to write brilliant stories, whether they are meant for kids or adults, I will definitely be reading them.

forty-two – forty-eight: harry potter

Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), Hary Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the first book I read in English. I had to borrow it in English at the library because the waiting list on the Norwegian version was too long. And since then I have preferred to read in English. I don’t know how many times I have read Harry Potter. I used to reread the books when the new one came out, and I know for sure that the last time I reread the series was in 2008.

While rereading the books now, I tried to figure out which book I like the most. It is a hard one. I know it’s not the two first ones, because they are too short. I think I have settled on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, because of the introduction of new characters, Hogsmeade and the Marauder’s Map. But both Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix could also be my favourite.

I realised how little I care for Harry Potter’s fight with Lord Voldemort, and how much I love the setting of the books. I love Hogwarts (the lessons, its history and the castle itself), Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. I have never really been fond of Harry himself, I prefer the other characters in the books, and especially Hermione and Dumbledore. And I found myself wanting more on the background history of everything in the books. Because of my thirsting for more, I will register at Pottermore, which is kind of creepy when you’re 28.

I never got the pleasure to read the books as a kid myself, I was probably fifteen or sixteen when I read the first book. I will therefore never know what it’s like to let myself be completely captured by the books. But I guess it would be equal to what it was like to read the Chronicles of Narnia; explore the old closet in my grandparents house and hope that it will lead to a secret world, to play out various characters with your friends in the forest on a moonlit winter night.

I do not care much for the films, and I still haven’t seen the final one. I don’t think they could ever do justice to the books. But I wouldn’t mind a tv series about everyday life at Hogwarts.