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TBR Takedown > Valerie's 2019 TBR Takedown List

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message 1: by Valerie (last edited Dec 31, 2019 03:16AM) (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments Here are my 24 books

1. Ryu Murakami - Miso Soup
2. Nadifa Mohamed - Black Mamba Boy
3. Elif Shafak - The Architect's Apprentice
4. Virginie Despentes - Vernon Subutex, 1
5. Paolo Cognetti - The Eight Mountains: A Novel
6. NoViolet Bulawayo - We Need New Names
7. Joseph Roth - The Radetzky March
8. Arto Paasilinna - Le potager des malfaiteurs ayant échappé à la pendaison
9. Umberto Eco - Baudolino
10. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Half of a Yellow Sun
11. Khaled Husseini - The Kite Runner
12. Yasmina Khadra - In the Name of God
13. Isabel Allende - Portrait in Sepia
14. Laszlo Krasznahorkai - Satantango
15. Marie NDiaye - Trois femmes puissantes
16. Nadine Gordimer - July's People
17. Antonio Tabucchi - Pereira Maintains
18. Olga Grushin - The Dream Life of Sukhanov
19. Miguel Sousa Tavares - Equador
20. Mario Vargas Llosa - The Time of the Hero
21. Tierno Monenembo - Le roi de Kahel
22. Siri Hustvedt - The Blindfold
23. Ismail Kadare - Broken April
24. Abdourahman A. Waberi - In the United States of Africa


message 2: by Diane, Armchair Tour Guide (new)

Diane | 12911 comments An awesome selection of books! I have a lot of these on my TBR shelf. I loved Half a Yellow Sun, Broken April, and The Lowland.


message 3: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments I finished the January book Half of a Yellow Sun

Adichie's storytelling is, as always, really beautiful. Set against the backdrop of the Biafra war in 1960s Nigeria, I think she manages to convey really effectively the experience of war without veering into excessive emotionalism or narratives of victimisation, as well as to give voice to the dreams and idealism that underpinned the Biafra project. A great read to start off this challenge!

Points: 1


message 4: by Valerie (last edited Mar 04, 2019 12:23PM) (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments I finished my February book Baudolino

This book was tough going and it took me a while to get through. The book narrates the adventures of a man called Baudolino in 12th century Europe, as he navigates the world of the court of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and goes on a quest to the mystic land of Prester John. I could see how the book was playful, humorous and very erudite. But to be honest, much of the historical and theological references went over my head. The combination of adventure historical fiction and fantasy is also not really my cup of tea, and I further felt the book could have been far shorter. But I am glad I persisted with the book as I liked the ending.

Points: 2


message 5: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments Finished my March book Pereira Maintains, in the nick of time. I really liked it - gave it 4.5 stars. Which is maybe not so surprising as it deals with one of my favourite themes in fiction: how people deal with living under dictatorship/war and how societies confront legacies of violence and repression. You can see my review here

Points: 4


message 6: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments I finished my April book: Virginie Despentes' Vernon Subutex, 1. In the book we follow the social downfall of Vernon, a former record shop owner, as he slowly stumbles from financial insecurity to a couchsurfing existence, to finally slipping into homelessness. I have very mixed feelings about the book. I enjoyed the way in which the story is told, through vignette-style chapters focusing on the inner lives of a disparate group of individuals with Vernon acting as the loose thread connecting them all. I also liked it as a quasi-nostalgic reflection on what has happened to a particular generation, the French punk-rock scene of the late 1980s and 1990s, as it has grown into middle-age and become disillusioned. However, as a general social commentary on French society, I often felt annoyed at its oversimplified representations and apparent desire to be provocative. Since the trilogy was apparently initially written as a single book, I feel I should reserve final judgment though until I have read all the books.

Points: 6


message 7: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments Completed my May book: Paolo Cognetti's The Eight Mountains

This was a beautiful, meditative, though melancholy, book about the bonds of family and friendship, in which we follow the intersecting lives of two friends centered around a remote mountain village in Italy's Aosta region. It is also an ode to mountains and how people can be irrevocably drawn to them, even seeming to extract their essential life force from them. A 4.5 star read for me.

Points: 9


message 8: by Valerie (last edited Jul 07, 2019 11:50PM) (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments I am swapping out two books

1. replacing Ishiguro's book with Ryu Murakami - Miso Soup
11. replacing Lahiri's Lowlands, as I really want to read it soon, with Khaled Husseini - The Kite Runner


message 9: by Valerie (last edited Jun 07, 2019 05:33AM) (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments Finished my June book: Siri Hustvedt's The Blindfold

I loved Hustvedt's writing: it is evocative, crisp and sharp. But I am not sure I really understood the book. It also felt like a dark and oppressive story, and I am not sure whether it felt too close to home or completely remote. So I think that, presently, I am a confused reader. Hence a 3.5 read for now, but I might change my mind over time.

Points: 12


message 10: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments Completed my July read: Yasmina Khadra's Les Agneaux Du Seigneur (English title: In the Name of God)

It was a quick but excellent read about Algeria's civil war. I gave it four stars. Here is my review

Points: 16


message 11: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments Finished my August read: Elif Shafak's The Architect's Apprentice

I greatly enjoyed this historical fiction book set in 16the century Istanbul, where we follow the life of one boy/man, Jahan, who is both the carer of the white elephant living in the Sultan's menagerie and an apprentice to the Chief Royal Architect. The story moves along at an unhurried pace and through vignettes recounting different episodes in Jahan's life, only shifting gear right at the end of the story which I found a bit disconcerting. But otherwise, I enjoyed how the book offers a vivid glimpse into palace life under Ottoman rule and the bustling multicultural character of Istanbul at the time.

Points: 20


message 12: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments Finished my September book, Arto Paasilinna's Le potager des malfaiteurs ayant échappé à la pendaison

It was an enjoyable, comical read. Here is my short review

Points: 25


message 13: by Valerie (last edited Oct 20, 2019 04:39AM) (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments Finished my october book, Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai

Written by Krasznahorkai towards the end of communism in Hungary, this book is a haunting and claustrophobic story about a group of people living on a decrepit collective farm. You acutely feel their despair, inertia, and loss of direction and purposefulnees as they are left behind by a changing world. Following the return of two men who some see as saviours, the group is thrown into a form of collective fervour which leads them to an undefined future. The book is really dark and the style of writing takes some getting used. It certainly took me a few chapters to really get into the story, but I am glad that I persisted as it is an unusual novel which leaves many threads open for reflection.

Points: 30


message 14: by Valerie (last edited Nov 23, 2019 12:27PM) (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments I finished my November book, Nadifa Mohamed's Black Mamba Boy

I really liked this novel, even though the story is heartbreaking, especially in the beginning. It gives life to experiences of movement and migration, and the sheer strength for survival. A very moving story, especially knowing that it is losely based on the life of the authors' father.

Points: 35


message 15: by Sandra (new)

Sandra The Old Woman in a Van (theoldwomaninavan) | 312 comments I want to read this book so thanks for the review.


message 16: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments sssnoo wrote: "I want to read this book so thanks for the review."

My pleasure sssnoo. Hope you'll enjoy it as well.


message 17: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (valroos) | 373 comments Finished my 12th and last book just in the nick of time, Ismail Kadare's Broken April.

In this novel, Kadare examines the practice of blood fueds in northern Albania by contrasting the view points of three protagonists: a person involved in a blood fued, the person levying the taxes on blood fueds, and an urbanite couple who are visiting the region. I appreciated that Kadare doesn't seem to take a clear moral stance on the practice, instead giving the reader an insight into the tensions and contrasting viewpoints that exist around the practice.


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