Reading-wise, October was a pretty good month for me, especially compared to some of the other ones in 2019. I found a nice balance between reading for fun and reading classics for the Staatsexamen (which was sometimes, but not always, fun too). Also, this month I went to the Frankfurt Book Fair with some friends, which was a lot of fun! I met some authors I really like, got to browse through bookshelves all day, and have lots of fun with my friends. Plus, I’m really proud of myself: I was a financially conscious person and only bought one book 😉 But back to what this post is actually about – here are the books I read in October.
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (4.5/5 Stars)
Qualitywise, I might have rated this book too highly – there were quite a few clichés in here, and apart from the three most central ones, the characters weren’t really fleshed out all that much. Still, I absolutely loved this book, so I don’t care what other people think and stand by my rating 😀 Elisabeth Scrivener, the story’s protagonist, is an orphan who grew up in one of the biggest libraries in the Kingdom of Austermeer. But books in this kingdom are more than simply stories – they have personalities and can turn into vicious monsters if they aren’t handled with care. It is one of Elisabeth’s biggest dreams to one day become a warden, a librarian tasked with protecting Austermeer from the tomes’ power. When one of the most dangerous grimoires in Elisabeth’s library is released, Elisabeth has a glimpse of what she might be up against. However, rather than being commended for her intervention, she is implicated in a crime and sent to the capital to face her trial. Even worse, she is to be accompanied by a sorcerer, a natural enemy of any librarian. Elisabeth is sure than Nathaniel Thorn has more sinister plans than he is letting on, and that there is something just not quite right about his servant Silas (Whom I absolutely love! He is one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever read about and honestly, it’s almost worth reading this book for Silas alone…). However, when things in the capital don’t go as planned and Elisabeth is suddenly in huge danger, she finds that she may only have Nathaniel to turn for to help. Overall, this is a wonderfully compelling fantasy standalone with one of the most unique magic systems I’ve ever read about, a great hate-to-love romance, and wonderful friendships. Please read it!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (4/5 Stars)
I tried to read Pride and Prejudice twice before this, but somehow, I never got past the first 40 pages. Which is weird, since I absolutely adore the 2005 movie version, which I’ve seen countless times by now (though I must admit, I have since also watched the 1995 version and that one is, in my opinion, even better and truer to the book). This time, though, I read the book with my study group and once I got past those first pages, I absolutely fell in love. I’m so glad someone finally pushed me to read it in its entirety, because let me tell you – the saying is definitely true: the book is tons better than the movie. I loved all the interactions between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, didn’t know whether to laugh about or be embarrassed by the antics of Mrs Bennet and Mr Collins, and overall, I had a really good time reading it. Trust me: If you don’t like it at first, don’t give up! Once you get into the story, it’s highly enjoyable. And that’s all I’m going to leave you with here, because even if you by some miracle don’t know what Pride and Prejudice is about, you don’t really need to know any more going into it 😉
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1/5 Stars)
This is now officially one of my least favorite books ever. It masterfully combines everything I hate in a story. It’s boring, racist, and misogynistic, the writing convoluted and sometimes hard to follow (Honestly, this took me forever to read considering it was only about 100 pages long), and the characters have little to no personality. My deepest sympathies to everyone who ever had to read this for school – I feel you. Just to give you a glimpse of what Heart of Darkness is about: It takes places in the 1800s and follows a man called Marlow as he journeys up the Congo River to meet Mr Kurtz, an ivory procurement agent employed by the British government. I’m not going to go into more detail, since I’ve already dealt with this book more than I would’ve liked. If you’re not required to read this, I highly recommend putting your time to better use!
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (2.5/5 Stars)
(The edition that I read included both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, with the original Tenniel illustrations)
This is another classic where I just don’t get the hype. I doubt I have to say much about what this is about, since I think pretty much everyone knows the basics, but just in case: Alice in Wonderland is the story of a little girl who falls through a rabbit-hole in the ground and has all kinds of adventures there. In all honesty though, I thought this was pretty boring. There’s not really a connected narrative, Alice just meets and talks to all these different characters, but I never really got attached to any of them since they are only ever briefly present. The only thing I liked about this book were all the puns and philosophical questions hidden in the story – from a linguistic standpoint, those were really interesting! Still, it baffles me why so many children, who obviously don’t have any background in linguistics, love it. This just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (4/5 Stars)
In contrast to the previous two, this is a classic I would highly recommend – I loved it! This is the story of Victor Frankenstein, who tells it to an English explorer called Robert Walton after being rescued by his ship in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. A smart and ambitious young man, Frankenstein was obsessed with the mystery of life, and eventually, he succeeds in creating it. However, the creature Frankenstein brings to life is so hideous that he flees and leaves it to fend for its own, not knowing that by doing so, he has unleashed a monster that will eventually destroy everything that means something to him. In my opinion, the monster is the best part of Frankenstein. I related to it so much, and its story really showed how the way we treat others can shape their actions. I was honestly quite upset when I was searching for summaries online (I always include a summary in the study notes I make for the Staatsexamen), and none of them included the monster’s side of the story, other than to say that the monster told it to Frankenstein. That story takes up the whole middle portion of the book! How can you leave out that part, especially when the monster is already treated so badly!? I think everybody should read this and give the monster the love it deserves, especially since all the portrayals I’ve seen in modern pop-culture depict it as purely evil. The story is so much more nuanced, and the poor monster deserves better!
Five Fall Into Adventure (Famous Five #9) by Enid Blyton (4/5 Stars)
This was an extremely nostalgic read for me – I loved Enid Blyton’s books as a kid, and I still enjoy re-reading them now. This one, however, I’d never read before. I didn’t have a copy, though I did own all the previous books in the series and some of the later ones. So when I found a used copy at the Frankfurt Book Fair at an English-Books-Fleamarket there, I immediately grabbed it. It only cost 2€ and was in excellent condition, so I think I made a very good decision… And I loved being with these characters again! Like they often do, Julian, Dick and Anne are spending the holidays with their cousin George. Then, however, George and her dog Timmy are kidnapped, and it’s up to the other three members of the Famous Five to rescue them. Though I don’t think this one is as strong as the first few books (it does recycle a few old ideas), I really enjoyed reading it and being transported back to my childhood 🙂