I turned 21 on the 18th of May and was lucky enough to be surrounded by the most amazing people and I can safely say it was the best birthday I’ve had in years. While I was not gifted any books, I received two extremely literary birthday cakes, and I received a gift card for the mothership, Waterstones! And thus, I have a book haul for you guys!
Let’s start with the birthday cakes though…because….cake.
Now that I’ve made you all hungry (sorry!), shall we talk about the books I bought? Yes? Okay!
P.s. If you are interested in any of these books and would like too purchase them for yourself (I don’t blame you), I have linked to their pages on Amazon.
He is a brilliant maths professor with a peculiar problem – ever since a traumatic head injury seventeen years ago, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.
She is a sensitive but astute young housekeeper who is entrusted to take care of him.
Each morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are reintroduced to one another, a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms between them. The Professor may not remember what he had for breakfast, but his mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. He devises clever maths riddles – based on her shoe size or her birthday – and the numbers reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her ten-year-old son. With each new equation, the three lost souls forge an affection more mysterious than imaginary numbers, and a bond that runs deeper than memory. (Goodreads)
Funnily enough, when I was perusing the shelves in Waterstones this book stood out to me for the title. I read the title and automatically (and quite wrongly) assumed that this book was going to be some sort of trashy romance novel. However, when I picked it off of the shelf and sceptically read the synopsis, I bought it without question and took it home and began reading instantly.
I am fascinated by memory and I have recently been studying amnesia and cognitive impairments to memory at university. I also am extremely interested in and love reading about intergenerational friendships and relationships of any sort, as I find these books immensely heartwarming and important, as I myself love socialising and learning from older people. I am 50 pages into this book so far and I adore it!
Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.
Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic. (Goodreads)
I have only ever read one book by Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart, and I thoroughly enjoyed his writing and am eager to read more by him. The title of this book intrigues me, as I think it could be very poignant and shed valuable insights on society and on the relationship between genders, showing this through its absence. This book was released this month and so is only available in hardback at the moment, but I love the cover!
Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination, but an answer.
In heaven, five people explain your life to you. Some you knew, others may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?” (Goodreads)
I have wanted to read this book for some time, as I am extremely taken by this idea of five people who may have been constant or strangers in a person’s life being so integral to retelling their story. I am interested in different perspectives on afterlife and the idea of heaven, as while I don’t necessarily believe in heaven, the notion is both interesting and comforting. I am excited to read this and see if it moves me in the way I expect it to!
First published in 1927, Men Without Women represents some of Hemingway’s most important and compelling early writing. In these fourteen stories, Hemingway begins to examine the themes that would occupy his later works: the casualties of war, the often uneasy relationship between men and women, sport and sportsmanship. In “Banal Story,” Hemingway offers a lasting tribute to the famed matador Maera. “In Another Country” tells of an Italian major recovering from war wounds as he mourns the untimely death of his wife. “The Killers” is the hard-edged story about two Chicago gunmen and their potential victim. Nick Adams makes an appearance in “Ten Indians,” in which he is presumably betrayed by his Indian girlfriend, Prudence. And “Hills Like White Elephants” is a young couple’s subtle, heartwrenching discussion of abortion. Pared down, gritty, and subtly expressive, these stories show the young Hemingway emerging as America’s finest short story writer. (Goodreads)
I hate to confess it…but I have never read any Hemingway before, which is shocking! I love American literature and American classics, and I thought a short story collection may be the ideal place to start with Hemingway. Also, this book has the same title as the Murakami book I purchased, and I am eager to read them back to back to establish whether Hemingway played a significant role in inspiring Murakami’s work. Can’t wait to read this, plus it is a short book, a quick read.
A grand hotel in the center of 1920s Berlin serves as a microcosm of the modern world in Vicki Baum s celebrated novel, a Weimar-era best seller that retains all its verve and luster today. Among the guests of the hotel is Doctor Otternschlag, a World War I veteran whose face has been sliced in half by a shell. Day after day he emerges to read the paper in the lobby, discreetly inquiring at the desk if the letter he s been awaiting for years has arrived. Then there is Grusinskaya, a great ballerina now fighting a losing battle not so much against age as against her fear of it, who may or may not be made for Gaigern, a sleek professional thief. Herr Preysing also checks in, the director of a family firm that isn t as flourishing as it appears, who would never imagine that Kringelein, his underling, a timorous petty clerk he s bullied for years, has also come to Berlin, determined to live at last now that he s received a medical death sentence. All these characters and more, with all their secrets and aspirations, come together and come alive in the pages of Baum s delicious and disturbing masterpiece.” (Amazon)
I love the sound of this book! I love books set or written in the 1920s, and I have never read anything that would be considered a German modern classic. This sounds mysterious, interesting and decadent. I can’t wait to pick this up.
Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.
When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways.
This is a book about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new. (Goodreads)
I read Americanah by Adichie this year and I absolutely adored it. Her ability to create flawed but realistic characters and to immerse you in a story is like no other. I love her work, as it is extremely empowering and feminist, as well as just incredibly beautiful to read. I am so excited for Purple Hibiscus, and I am excited to read more about Nigeria and the circumstances of Nigeria in this story.
I am extremely pleased with the books I have purchased and I can’t wait to read them all over the summer months. I have a variety of books from a diverse group of authors, and I am pleased to say three of the six are pieces of translated fiction! I am looking forward to reviewing each one as I read them. I’m going to be busy!