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Reads & Challenges Archive > dely's books 2014

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message 1: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments I start the thread only now because I was very busy and I hope to have time to follow much more this group.


The books I have read till now are:


1) Belle per sempre by Katherine Boo 3,5/5

English edition: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

I have read better books about India. This is not a bad one, but till the end I couldn't understand if it was fiction or non-fiction. In the afterword the author explains that everything she has written was true, she has lived in India (I don't know if in the slum of the story) for 4 years.
The story is set in Annawadi, a slum near the airport of Mumbai, from 2008 to 2011 and we have several characters. There is the theme of surviving doing the worst and hardest works, the corruption of the police, the judicial system full of loopholes, the war among the poorest and so on.
It is a snapshot of an Indian slum in these last years in an India that is growing econimically but has still a lot of poor people and children who can't go to school.


message 2: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments 2) Una donna spezzata by Simone de Beauvoir 4,5/5

English edition: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir

Wonderful book! The book contains three stories about three different women but all of them have to put into question their lives, their marriage and themselves.

The first story talks about a woman that is betrayed by her husband. Their children are already grown up and live by their own and this woman is dispaired because she was sure of the love of her husband, she was sure to know him and, above all, she lived only for him and for the family. For a while she accepts his lover hoping that this "love" would finish soon and her husband would stay with her. She must put into question all her life and everything she had believed.

The second story talks about an elderly couple and their different way to see the old age and their careers; in addition to this their son gives them a huge disappointment: for the father it isn't a big problem, but the mother stops talking to her son and she would like that her husband would stand by her side. They start to question but at the end they find each other again.

The third story is a monologue, a stream of consciousness by a lonely and desperate woman. More than desperate, she was really half mad. She has had two marriages and two children and a bad relationship with her mother. She really suffers for her loneliness but the reader also understands that this woman is a little bit crazy. She would like to live again with her second husband but only because of her son. The problem is that her first child, a girl, had committed suicide because of this crazy mother. This mother was sure to be the best mother of the world and blames others for the suicide of her daughter. She thinks to be the best person of the world and that everybody hates her for her sincerity. She was really paranoid.

All the three stories were very touching and the author was really very good to make three different insides in three different kinds of women and of despair.


message 3: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments 3) La vita davanti a sé by Romain Gary 5/5

English edition: The Life Before Us by Romain Gary

If I could I would give much more than 5 stars to this book. It is brilliant!

The story is narrated by Momò, a (perhaps) ten years old boy who lives in a bidonville in Paris. He lives with Madame Rosa, an ex prostitute that works now as a "babysitter" helping the children of other prostitutes (in France, in the '70 it wasn't allowed that a prostitute could grow her own children so they were entrusted to Madame Rosa who helped them). That district of the city was multiethnic and the immigrants did the most different works: there are jews like Madame Rosa, transvestites, Muslims like Momò, Africans and much more.
The story is sometimes funny but also sad. Momò tells the hard truth of his life but with a childish language and it is sometimes funny how he describes events. But he makes also a lot of deep thoughts about life. It is funny and sad but, above all, very moving. It shows also how all these different people were able to help each other in need and misfortune.

I really recommend this book, it is wonderful!


message 4: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
You look like an expert of indian literature, or of books which generally speacks about India.
I'll ask you something later on ...


message 5: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments 4) Avevano spento anche la luna by Ruta Sepetys 4,5/5

English edition: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Another good and engrossing book! I couldn't stop reading it, I was so involved in the story.
The book tells the story of the deportation of Lithuanians (also Estonians and Latvians) during the regime of Stalin.
The story is narrated by Lina, a 15 years old girls, which is deportated with her younger brother and her mother (also the father, but separately). They are treated like criminals, or also worse, and after a long and awful trip in the train they are brought in labor camps. Later they will be deportated in the north of Siberia. A lot of people die, a lot of people are killed by Soviets who are without pity, but there are also some people who don't lose hope in order to survive in extreme conditions.
It is always hard to read about this sad period in history. Thinking that everything is true brought tears in my eyes. It is a very touching story.


message 6: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments 5) Il Gattopardo by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa 3/5

English edition: The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

The book could be considered historical fiction because it talks about the Italian Unification in 1861 through the story of the Gattopardo family; the story goes on till 1910. There is the story of the Gattopardo family, a noble family that observes its decline because of the unification and therefore the advancement of bourgeoisie. The most important character is Don Fabrizio, the last of the Gattopardi.
That period of Italy is really well described but also the Sicilian customs (the Gattopardo family lived in Sicily); there are also interesting descriptions of the landscape and the mentality of the people. But the most important thing is Don Fabrizio's thoughts about this big change in Italy and in his life, but also very keen observations about politics and death.
Really interesting though the beginning of the book was a little bit boring.


message 7: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments 6) Lezioni americane sei proposte per il prossimo millennio by Italo Calvino 4/5

English edition: Six Memos For The Next Millennium by Italo Calvino

This is a very interesting non-fiction by Calvino who talks about literature in the new millennium (the one we are now living in because the book was written in 1985).
Calvino had to make six lectures at Havard University but he died some months before he could go. He had written only 5 of these lectures and his wife published them after his death.
It is a very interesting book but it was also pretty difficult. Calvino talks about the 6 values that literature must have: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility and multiplicity (the sixth hadn't been written). He makes a lot of comparisons among a lot of authors and poets and it is really interesting. Reading this book helps also to understand better Calvino's books and it could help also people who want to write a book; seen all the terribile books that are printed now, there should really follow the values that Calvino underlines.


message 8: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments 7) Gente di Dublino by James Joyce 3,5/5

English edition: Dubliners by James Joyce

It is a collection of 15 short stories but all are connected by the same theme: Ireland, Dublin, failed people who live unconsciously dead and useless lives.
The stories are very nice to read but they are also sad and the reader has an oppressive sensation of worthlessness of life. It rains often in the stories, there is fog, it is cold...everything leads to a sensation of death. Also, people can't escape from their sad and useless lives.

I think some years ago I would have liked much more this book and its message. But in these last months I find it so hard to read depressing books. I liked it and I liked Joyce's writing style and the descriptions he did about people, emotions and life, the words he used for the descriptions, but it was so depressing.


message 9: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
dely wrote: "3) La vita davanti a sé by Romain Gary 5/5

English edition: The Life Before Us by Romain Gary

If I could I would give much more than 5 stars to this book. It is b..."


When my mother died three years ago she wrote to my son to read this book when he felt like it ... he's not done so yet, but I have, and I'm still crying


message 10: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments LauraT wrote: "You look like an expert of indian literature, or of books which generally speacks about India.
I'll ask you something later on ..."


I love to read about India and I love Indian mythology and everything about Hinduism. I hope to go one day to India but I'm afraid to take an airplane!


message 11: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
I was born on an airplane!!!
No, I'm just kidding, but since my mother was from Sardinia I took at least twice a year a plane to go to my relatives there, and still do it!!!!


message 12: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments LauraT wrote: "When my mother died three years ago she wrote to my son to read this book when he felt like it ... he's not done so yet, but I have, and I'm still crying "

I have read the kindle edition but this is one of those books I would like to have on my bookshelves and I will buy as soon as possible a paperback edition.


message 13: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments LauraT wrote: "I was born on an airplane!!!
No, I'm just kidding, but since my mother was from Sardinia I took at least twice a year a plane to go to my relatives there, and still do it!!!!"


:D


message 14: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments LIFE BEFORE US looks like an interesting book. And I have no complaints whatsoever on Italo Calvino. I have loved almost all the books that I have read by Calvino.

P.S. I too still have the fear of flying. From the moment the plane takes off I wait for the moment of its landing.


message 15: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
Dhanaraj wrote: "LIFE BEFORE US looks like an interesting book. And I have no complaints whatsoever on Italo Calvino. I have loved almost all the books that I have read by Calvino.

P.S. I too still have the fear o..."


And you should be used to flying Dhanaraj!!!


message 16: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments I have flown only six or seven times as of today. Before coming to Rome I had taken flight only twice. And they were short flights. Now I have to fly for 10 hours minimum, if I have to go to India.


message 17: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Dely, this thread is a danger to my TBR!! I want to read pretty much every single book listed here! Great way to begin a literary year it seems :)


message 18: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments Dhanaraj wrote: "LIFE BEFORE US looks like an interesting book. And I have no complaints whatsoever on Italo Calvino. I have loved almost all the books that I have read by Calvino.

P.S. I too still have the fear o..."


This book by Calvino is a little bit different from the others. It's non fiction and he talks about the values of literature that should be preserved. I think it's a good book for people interested in writing books or for people who want to have a deep inside in literature. It wasn't an easy read, at least for me.

@Jenny, thanks. Yes, I have read some good books till now and I hope it will go on this way for the whole year. I'm glad if you find interesting books to read :)


message 19: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments I am a die hard fan of Italo Calvino and I have the secret mission of reading everything written by him. And this book is for certain to be read for it comes with your recommendation.


message 20: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments Dhanaraj wrote: "I am a die hard fan of Italo Calvino and I have the secret mission of reading everything written by him. And this book is for certain to be read for it comes with your recommendation."

:D


message 21: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
Dhanaraj wrote: "I am a die hard fan of Italo Calvino and I have the secret mission of reading everything written by him. And this book is for certain to be read for it comes with your recommendation."

We know we know!!!!


message 22: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments 8) Jaya An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata 4/5

I think I will never get tired to read about the Mahabharata. It is such a deep epic full of wisdom and teachings to improve our life, the spiritual one but also everyday life.
"Jaya" could be considered a good introduction that contains also basic explanations of the Mahabharata. I have already read the Mahabharata and I'm following lessons with a Swamini about the Bhagavad Gita, so I know there is a lot more and deeper meanings but "Jaya" is really a very good book. I have found a lot of things I didn't know but I also like to re-read the stories I already know. I didn't grow up with the tales of the Mahabharata so I'm always glad to read something about it because I find always something new.


message 23: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments dely wrote: "8) Jaya An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata 4/5

I think I will never get tired to read about the Mahab..."


Sounds like a good book for the Ramandan Theme challenge.


message 24: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments Leslie wrote: "Sounds like a good book for the Ramandan Theme challenge. "

Do you mean I should join the challenge or to use this book as a recommendation for somebody else for the challenge?


message 25: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments dely wrote: "Leslie wrote: "Sounds like a good book for the Ramandan Theme challenge. "

Do you mean I should join the challenge or to use this book as a recommendation for somebody else for the challenge?"


You can post under the Theme Challenge (which by itself is a kind of recommendation), which is all you need to do to 'join'. But honestly, it was just what I thought when I read your summary rather than a suggestion for you to do anything.


message 26: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments Leslie wrote: "dely wrote: "Leslie wrote: "Sounds like a good book for the Ramandan Theme challenge. "

Do you mean I should join the challenge or to use this book as a recommendation for somebody else for the ch..."


Ok, will do it ;)


message 27: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments 9) I Fioretti di San Francesco by St. Francis of Assisi 2/5

English edition: The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi

I gave this book only two stars not because I didn't like the content (the life and the miracles by St. Francis and the foundation of the order) but because the editor mantained the old Italian language. This made the reading boring and poorly flowing. Also, there is no introduction and no insights and these were important things for me. So the low rating is not for the content but for the editor's choice.


message 28: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments 10) Le braci by Sándor Márai 5/5

English edition: Embers by Sándor Márai

What a book! I started it this morning and couldn't stop reading. I hold the book also while cooking!
The plot is very easy: Hendrik, a general of the Hungarian army, is now 75 years old and he receives a letter from his childhood best friend. He starts to remember his youth, his parents, his best friend and his life. After 41 years these two men meet again but there is something that they must talk about, something that made them suffer and changed their lives.
The most impressive thing of this book is the wonderful prose, the descriptions, the insight of human nature, the reflections about life, friendship and love.
I will surely read more by this author. I have heard from him the first time watching a documentary (Il sapore amaro della libertà, sorry it is available only in Italian) some time ago in a month dedicated to Italo-Hungarian culture. In the film they talked about another book by him, Il sangue di san Gennaro, who talks above all about his exile in Italy but I was impressed by the strenght of this man who loved so much his homeland and continued to write in Hungarian also when he was in exile.
Also in "Embers" we can feel his love for Hungary but we have also this deep insight in human nature.


message 29: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments I loved this book when reading it dely, glad you've enjoyed it too!


message 30: by Dhanaraj (last edited Feb 10, 2014 01:05PM) (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments EMBERS by Sandor Marai seems to be an interesting book. The other friend of mine in GR (Jenny) also had rated it highly. I should give a look at it.


message 31: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments Jenny wrote: "I loved this book when reading it dely, glad you've enjoyed it too!"

Sometimes I think: how many amazing books are there that I still don't know and haven't yet read?


Dhanaraj wrote: "EMBERS by Sandor Marai seems to be an interesting book. The other friend of mine in GR (Jenny) also had rated it highly. I should give a look at it."

Yes, do it. It is really worth. It is also short but full of interesting thoughts and reflections.


message 32: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments I have added to my "To Read" shelf. When friends have read and appreciated a book and if you haven't read it, you feel out of company. Lol......

dely said: Sometimes I think: how many amazing books are there that I still don't know and haven't yet read? I agree. The more you read the more you understand that there are many more books to be read.


message 33: by dely (last edited Feb 10, 2014 01:35PM) (new)

dely | 5214 comments Dhanaraj wrote: "I have added to my "To Read" shelf. When friends have read and appreciated a book and if you haven't read it, you feel out of company. Lol......"

Lol :D


message 34: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments 11) Dove nessuno ti troverà by Alicia Giménez Bartlett Dove nessuno ti troverà 4/5

It is strange that such a good book has never been translated into English. The author is Alicia Giménez Bartlett, a Spanish writer, and with this book she won also the Nabal award, a Spanish literary prize. The title translated into English is: Where nobody finds you.
Alessia recommended this book to me for the recommendation swap!

It is a fascinating story, set during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. It is fiction but based on the true story of Teresa Pla Meseguer, know as La Pastora, a female brigand of the anti-Franco guerrilla resistance. Another interesting point is that she was considered female but behaved like a man: she was strong, she dressed like a man and she behaved like a man so people didn't know what she was.
The plot: a French psychiatrist wants to study the criminal mind of this woman, he would like to meet and speak to her. He gets in touch with a Spanish journalist who wrote an article about her and asks him to help him. The journalist agrees to help him only because of the money but he knows that it is impossible to find this woman because she was hiding herself since two years in the mountains of Spain because the Civil Guard was looking for her. Also, people didn't like to talk about her because it was dangerous.
However, their journey starts and they go from place to place, talking with people who knew La Pastora or met her in the past. The Civil Guard still looked for her and it followed the two men. All the stories they hear about the cruelty of the dictatorship and the resistance, the arid scenery of the mountains, their friendship, slowly changes the characters of the two men and they have enough time to think about their lives and themselves.
The story of their journey alternates with a sort of diary of La Pastora in which she talks about what really happened in her life. People considered her a killer without mercy but from the diary the reader learns to know the reasons behind her behaviour. At the end of the book there is a postword of the author in which we also get aware of what really happened to La Pastora after her life hiding in the mountains.

It was really an interesting and engrossing read and till the end I thought that La Pastora was a fictional character. Only reading the postword (where we find also a picture of La Pastora) I understood that she really existed and so I liked the book even more.


message 35: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments I read Alicia Giménez Bartlett's first book, which I thought was excellent. In fact, she was one of the authors who inspired my "mysteries originally not written in English" category in my personal challenge :)


message 36: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments Leslie wrote: "I read Alicia Giménez Bartlett's first book, which I thought was excellent. In fact, she was one of the authors who inspired my "mysteries originally not written in English" categ..."

The series of Pedra Delicado? I had never heard anything about this author before. To tell the truth, more than deepen her bibliography, I'm interested to read more about Teresa Pla Meseguer, the main character of the book I've read! It's a fascinating person with an interesting life.


message 37: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments 12) Signorina Else by Arthur Schnitzler 3/5

English edition: Fraulein Else by Arthur Schnitzler

It was a very short read but also very deep. Miss Else is making a vacation with her aunt in a resort in the mountains. She is 19 years old and one day she receives a letter from her mother saying that her father had made a big dept, risks to go in jail, and Else must help him. In the same resort is living an old friend of his father and Else must ask him the money to save the family. She doesn't want to do it but at the end she asks him for the money. But this old family friend liked Else a lot, she was a wonderful girl, so he promises the money only if he can see her naked for some minutes.
From this moment starts the delirium of Else. From the beginning of the book we have only Else's thoughts and now we enter much deeper in her mind with her inner monologue. It is a stream of consciousness, she doesn't know what to do: help his father loosing her dignity, kill herself, asking for help to his cousin...Her thoughts are always more confusing and delirious till the final conclusion.
It was interesting because the author did really a good job with this inner monologue but I don't like a lot reading streams-of-consciousness.


message 38: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments @dely: The Pastora that you speak of in the review of A. Barlett's book seems to be the same woman of whom I read in Christ Stopped At Eboli and she was the lover of the famous brigand Ninco Nanco.


message 39: by dely (last edited Feb 16, 2014 01:28PM) (new)

dely | 5214 comments Dhanaraj wrote: "@dely: The Pastora that you speak of in the review of A. Barlett's book seems to be the same woman of whom I read in Christ Stopped At Eboli and she was the lover of the famous briga..."

I don't think this would be possible. La Pastora was Spaniard and she never left Spain (and she wasn't only female but I don't want to spoiler too much). She lived during the regime of Francisco Franco (nearly 1950) and Ninco Nanco was around the unification of Italy (1861).
Did you like Christ stopped at Eboli?


message 40: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments Yes. I liked Carlo Levi's book. But interestingly the description of Pastora is the same. Read the second paragraph in this book as you click the link: http://books.google.it/books?id=okLFd...


message 41: by Dhanaraj (last edited Feb 16, 2014 01:51PM) (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments Very interesting.....Isn't it? And did you like Carlo Levi's book?


message 42: by dely (last edited Feb 16, 2014 02:17PM) (new)

dely | 5214 comments Dhanaraj wrote: "Yes. I liked Carlo Levi's book. But interestingly the description of Pastora is the same. Read the second paragraph in this book as you click the link: http://books.google.it/books?id=okLFd......"

True! The Italian one has also the same nickname, la pastora. They were both sheperds!

I didn't like a lot Levi's book. For me it was so boring and depressing. I know Basilicata very well and it has really depressing landscapes, there is absolutely nothing. I could also relate with the superstitious inhabitants. Still now, it is such a rural region, full of superstitions; it is as if they live in another world. Levi did a good job observing them because he was very right and he depicted them how they are.

There is a funny film about Basilicata but it is only in Italian: Basilicata coast to coast


message 43: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments About the film: Thanks for the info. I will look into it. If more dialects are used I may not follow. If they speak Italian I may be able to follow the dialogues.


message 44: by dely (last edited Feb 16, 2014 02:54PM) (new)

dely | 5214 comments Dhanaraj wrote: "About the film: Thanks for the info. I will look into it. If more dialects are used I may not follow. If they speak Italian I may be able to follow the dialogues."

More than dialect they speak with the accent of that region. Here's the first clip of the film, so you can see if you understand it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5mYx-...

The complete film is (perhaps) available on youtube.


message 45: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
dely wrote: "Leslie wrote: "I read Alicia Giménez Bartlett's first book, which I thought was excellent. In fact, she was one of the authors who inspired my "mysteries originally not written in..."

I know her mainly for Petra DElicado. She also came to Perugia last year to talk about her writings. I like her books quite a lot - not all of them though; I didn't know this one; I'll give it a look then. On the same pariod I've read another woman's book which I've snce regarded one of the best book I've ever read The Sleeping Voice Dulce Chacón; really great


message 46: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments dely wrote: "Dhanaraj wrote: "About the film: Thanks for the info. I will look into it. If more dialects are used I may not follow. If they speak Italian I may be able to follow the dialogues."

More than diale..."


dely, Thanks for the link. I loved that and I saw some clippings which are really interesting. I loved specially the part: Una Canzone per Maria Teresa..


message 47: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments Thanks Laura, added to my wishlist. After reading this book I want to read books about brigands or however people who fight against injustices. There is already Come divenni brigante by Carmine Crocco in my wishlist.

@Dhanaraj, I'm glad you liked it. In the film you can see not only the landscape of that region but also how people are and this could help to understand better the desolation that Levi had seen around him. It is a funny but interesting film.
I like the last song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RGgRZ... but this is in dialect though there are the lyrics.


message 48: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
dely wrote: "Thanks Laura, added to my wishlist. After reading this book I want to read books about brigands or however people who fight against injustices. There is already [book:Come divenni brigante|13383133..."

Read that dely: really moving, touching, something that stays with you for yeras. The author died soon after having published it. What a loss for literature ...


message 49: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia (universe_beats) | 401 comments Dely, do you know A Walk Across the Sun? :) I've found it casually and after reading "Cultural -> India" I thought about you :-D
The average rating is high! Maybe I'll read it sooner or later..


message 50: by dely (new)

dely | 5214 comments Anastasia wrote: "Dely, do you know A Walk Across the Sun? :) I've found it casually and after reading "Cultural -> India" I thought about you :-D
The average rating is high! Maybe I'll read it soone..."


Never heard about this one before! If you will read it tell me if you liked it.


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