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ellinor

Ellinor's Litventures

This blog is about my literary adventures in different genres. I like variety in my reading and will read books from most genres but particulary book with some literary merit.

July's Highlights

The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood Homo Faber - Max Frisch Emma - Jane Austen, Fiona Stafford The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights - A.S. Byatt, Richard Francis Burton, Anonymous

In July I read some very mediocre books and a few good ones. But there were 4 definite highlights:

 

THE BLIND ASSASSIN by Margaret Atwood: This was my second Atwood (the first was The Handmaid's Tale). I enjoyed it immensely. It has everything a good story should have and more: what I found amazing was the mixture of genres. There is the classic family saga, telling a family's story more than a century, starting with the rise of the family's enterprise and ending with the death of (almost) the last family member, Iris, who's also the narrator of this story. This family saga is combined with a Science Fiction story. SF is usually not my favourite story but Margarat Atwood constructed this book so perfectly that I liked even these parts. and then of course the whole book is also a psychological novel and has a bit of a detective story: I could guess what was actually going on and new the truth about the novel in the novel before it was revealed. But I never new what Iris and especially Laura were really up to. The Blind Assassin is one of the best novels I've read in a while and makes me wnat to read so much more by Margaret Atwood.

 

HOMO FABER by Max Frisch: Homo Faber was really a suprise for me. It was quite different from what I had imagined it to be. Also, I have to admit that my expectations for it weren't very high. I previously had read Gantenbein by the same author which I didn't like too much. But sometimes it's good to have low expectations for a book: I've often had better reading experiences with novels I wasn't looking forward too much than with ones that everyone was raving about. Homo faber is very well written and I literally couldn't put it down. I also liked that it was set in Mexico and Guatemala because some of the places mentioned were exactly the ones I visited last year and brought back pleasant memories.

 

EMMA by Jane Austen: I finally read this novel after having watched the movie a dozen times (I did that again after having finished the book). It still is my favourite Austen, I like it even better than Pride and Prejudice.

 

THE ARABIAN NIGHTS: I listened to this on audio and it took me 8-9 months to complete it. I was surprised of quite a few things: 1. Here you have the first cliffhanger in history (well, I knew that before, but it was still surprising how early in history this method had been invented). At the same time the method of a story within a story (and often within another stroy) is used, also probably for the first time ever.  2. We think we know many of the tales mentioned but in fact we hardly do: The stories we best know (or think we know) from the Arabian Nights are Aladin, Ali Baba And Sindbad. The first two were invented by European writers and never existed in the original book. Sindbad is an Arabian tale but was never part of the Arabian Nights. 3. This book is absolutely not for children. It is not a fairy tale book like the ones by Grimm or Andersen. There are so many rape and sex scenes children wouldn't understand or which just aren't suitable for their age. 4. Allah plays a big role in the stories. He's praised in every second sentence. Religion also is important in people's life. But at the same time people drink lots of alcohol (actually forbidden in Islam) and celebrate orgies quite often. This gives very interesting insights into the Arabian Culture. All in all a very interesting book. Even if you don't read it all you should at least read some of the stories which all have very varying topics.