A few months ago, I re-discovered my once-lost passion for reading.
The reason for that is simple: since COVID-19 started, my attention span has been shrinking increasingly due to the progressive digitalization of work and education. Simply put, I couldn’t resist five minutes going through what seemed to be an endless series of words that, sometimes, didn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.
After barely finishing Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, I started Birdbox by Josh Malerman back in March, quit it for a few months–the period I was getting ready to move to Canada–and then picked it up again around November. From there, I pulled up my list of books I had wanted to read for a long time and started selecting the first ones. I started with The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, then continued with contemporary literature like Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. That was the most I had read in over two years.
I noticed that I started feeling pleasure from reading again as if a switch had been turned on in my brain. (That’s how I like to imagine my mind: as a switch that turns on and off, sometimes without my consent.) Another thing that helped massively was being able to borrow books from the Toronto Public Library, which is currently saving me a lot of money.
So what did I read during my unexpected reading spree? Good question.
I finished 2022 and started 2023 with Everything is Fucked by Mark Manson, bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. (If you’re asking why I didn’t start with the latter book, it’s because the library branch I was at didn’t have it, but it’s on my list for sure.) I was expecting nothing less than a flawlessly cynical writing style, witty observations and an overall pessimistic tone from Manson (his books are titled what they’re titled, after all). I did find his book insightful and I will keep his down-to-Earth wisdom in mind as the months go by.
Next, I read Room by Emma Donoghue. I watched the movie years ago when Oscar-nominated features were actually enjoyable and not an endless series of one irrelevant scene after the other. Although I was expecting a page-turner of a novel, I was also afraid that the story would bore me because of the initial setting (aka the room where the two protagonists are held captive). It turned out I was not bored for a moment and finished the book relatively quickly. You can check out my YouTube video for my full commentary on the book.
Then I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s short story collection Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall. I found his writing style to be extremely enjoyable, even when the stories were not going anywhere–plot-wise–but then I understood the ending wasn’t as crucial as the characterizations and observations the author makes throughout.
As a former classical piano student, I appreciated the strong musical element that each story carries and the relationship that most of the characters have with it, although the stories have almost nothing to do with music per sé; rather, they explore the personality of musicians and people working in the music industry. Ishiguro’s slow-paced yet witty writing style is what definitely caught my attention from start to finish.
Next, I wanted to start The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I say “wanted” because I didn’t actually continue past the fifteenth page. The introduction–a rant about Dominican folklore, history anecdotes and conspiracy theories that really wasn’t going anywhere–was enough to scare me away for life.
Another book I didn’t care too much about was The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. Having read “The Company of Wolves” in college and having gotten an A in an assignment that asked us to compare this short story with the Grimms’ version of “Little Red Riding Hood,” I got interested in Carter’s gothic style and thought her collection could be a pleasant read. But those were other times, and my interest and reading goals have changed quite a lot since, so I decided not to continue with it.
To recover from these very disappointing readings, I picked up a lighter book (both metaphorically and literally) by Vivek Shraya: People Change, an essay about the importance of evolving and transforming for as long as we’re alive. The author’s story is very interesting and the writing flows flawlessly, so I finished it in one day. Lastly, I’m currently enjoying Nick Hornby’s pessimistic humor in High Fidelity.
Thank you for reading today’s blog! I promise Art Kills is not going to turn into a bookish blog but today I wanted to share my latest readings. Feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments below!
Cover image credits: Pixabay
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