November was a really weird reading month for me. I didn’t read much, but out of the three books I did manage to pick up, I absolutely adored two and despised the other. For a bit more clarification, here are my more in-depth thoughts:
Heartstopper: Volumes One and Two by Alice Oseman (5/5 Stars each)
I don’t usually gravitate towards graphic novels, but I’m so glad my friends quite literally pushed these at me! They’re about two boys falling in love (that’s all you really need to know going into them) and were so heart-warming and cute that I still start grinning just thinking about them. Plus, you can read them in about half an hour each, so there’s no real excuse for not picking them up! Just trust me on this.
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1.5/5 Stars)
I absolutely hated reading this book. It may be important in the history of English literature since it paved the way towards the development of the novel, but that doesn’t change the way I feel about it. If it weren’t of such literary importance and required reading for the Staatsexamen, I would have probably dnfed it after the first 20 pages. This is a religious allegory following Christian, a Christian – *let’s take a moment to appreciate the subtlety used in naming these characters* – who goes on a pilgrimage to get rid of his “burden” and gain access to the Celestial City (basically heaven). It is full of religious references, trials, and the insistence on the importance of reading scripture (John Bunyan was a devout Puritan who wanted to make the Bible more accessible to the population – which I guess is a nice thought in itself, but this thing was so pious and boring that I really can’t fathom why it was such a huge success…). Due to its extreme popularity, The Pilgrim’s Progress also got a second part, this one following Christian’s wife Christiana and their children, who realize their mistake in not having accompanied Christian and set off on a pilgrimage of their own. I hated this part even more than the first one, since many of the obstacles on the way were the same ones Christian had already encountered, so that the story was even less suspenseful. The only slightly compelling thing about this book was its historical importance. I did think it was interesting to compare Bunyan’s narrative with other religious texts and to see how it related to Puritanism and Christianity as it was commonly practiced in England at the time. I liked seeing how this story still had aspects of drama but was also starting to show some of the story-telling techniques that we now know from the novel. Hence, it still gets 1.5 stars – though, in all honesty, that might also be because Heart of Darkness, which I read in October, is still fresh on my mind, and The Pilgrim’s Progress absolutely shines in comparison…