Monday, September 2, 2013

Reading of the past year

I haven't talked about my reading material in almost a year.  That's because I usually write about books because I want book recommendations, but I haven't needed recommendations lately.

In the past year, my interests have turned towards historical fiction.

I read several novels by Kazuo Ishiguro.  One of them, Remains of the Day, is about a butler who reflects back on his life, and realizes that his master was a Nazi sympathizer.  Another, Artist of the Floating World, is about an artist in Japan, who reflects back on his work supporting the Japanese empire in WWII.  There seems to be a bit of a pattern in Ishiguro's work.  The history provides an emotional background, but the main focus is actually the main character, the narrator.  As they tell their story, the reader can see that their perceptions are distorted by what they are unable or unwilling to see.

I also read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.  It's a story of magicians, that takes place in the early 19th century.  Naturally, the magicians set out to solve the greatest problem of their time: Napoleon.  Very fun.

Lastly, I'll mention Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood.  She's generally thought of as a feminist author, and Blind Assassin focuses on a female character who is trapped by gender roles.  But that's not what's great about the book.  The main character's sister kills herself, and leaves behind a novel.  The novel tells the story about a woman and her lover; her lover tells her a sci-fi story.  So it's a story within a story within a story.

Kazuo Ishiguro and Margaret Atwood can be quite dry, and I can only imagine that I would have hated them in high school.  But for now I'm enjoying the high-brow literature (or "snooty" literature, as I like to think of it).  Maybe later I can read some pulpy stuff too.

I was considering reading J. K. Rowling's new novels, only it would take a long time for them to become available at the library.

ETA: If you know me and are on GoodReads, you should add me!