I’ve read a bunch of books this year that I haven’t written about. I have fallen far behind on the blogging train, so I’ll try to catch up. Though it’s been weeks or months in most cases, I’ll try to remember my thoughts on each of the books I’ve read this year that I haven’t yet mentioned:
Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
There is a certain kind of book which I really enjoy, and always makes me chuckle. These kinds of books are about social misfits, narcissists, losers, incompetents, etc, who somehow have convinced themselves that they are above everyone else, and that the world is to blame for their failings. Notes from Underground is definitely one of these, though, as with all Dostoyevsky books I’ve read, it has a pure heart with good intentions at its core. A quick and enjoyable read.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I forgot how much I loved Jackson and now I want to buy all the rest of her novels. Jackson is the master of subtle eeriness, and this story really highlights her ability to make the most mundane things terrifying. It also makes it pretty clear to me that she was a social recluse and agoraphobic. I loved this book almost as much as The Haunting of Hill House, and if you read my comparison of that book to the Netflix series, you’ll know that I love subtle, understated creepiness so much more than in your face screams. This book was unnerving on the same level, but in its own unique way. Another quick read, very highly recommended.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Despite the overwrought and pretentiously obscure language, this one still managed to be pretty dang creepy. The story follows a Governess who is taking care of two small children while their father, and master of the house, is away. It’s a typical haunted house story (perhaps atypical in it’s time, first published in 1898) featuring ghosts staring from afar or standing outside windows, but the way in which it is described is very emotional and unsettling. Enjoyable, but I’m glad it was short, some of the language was off-putting for me.
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, by Yukio Mishima
Another stunning masterpiece by someone fast becoming a favorite author. As with his other books it was disturbing, unnerving, upsetting, while at the same time being painfully beautiful. This story follows a widow’s love affair with a sailor, and its effect on her thirteen year old son. There are layers upon layers of metaphor and allusion in this story, yet it manages to stay tight and focused and powerful. The end left me out of breath and spinning with thoughts, I think this might be a perfectly constructed novel, and one of my favorites in a long time.
The Woman in the Dunes, by Kobo Abe
My first read by this author and I will likely seek out more. The story follows an entomologist who becomes lost in a desert, and finds himself trapped in a hole in the sand, with a woman who lives in a house at the bottom of the hole. They are forced to constantly dig out sand to keep the house from becoming buried. The novel is quite surreal like this, but very identifiable and human. A quick, engaging, and strange read.
2666 by Roberto Bolaño
One of the longest books I’ve read in my adult life, but it didn’t feel like it. This sprawling masterpiece covers a range of topics that all are tangentially connected, and circling one specific area and topic. It starts with a group of literary critics obsessed with a mysterious author, then moves on to a university professor, and expert on the same author, who seems to be slowly losing his mind amid a violent background, to a series of murders, and finally about the mysterious author himself. All intertwined, yet distinct, and every one of the 900 pages is stunning in its beauty and impact. A one of a kind read.
I feel like I’ve read very few books this year, looking back, but this year especially has been hard to focus.
Stay tuned for more, I won’t let the world hold me back any more!
2 Replies to “2020 books catch up”
I was just thinking of “Women in the Dunes’ by Abe a day ago and how the entomologist has this creepy rel;relationship with her. Some guy 3 years ago wrote this was a great “mansplainingh” book as the protag only ever looks at the woman as an object for him and never really asks why she is the way she is and what he can do for her other than perpetually having sex with her.
James on the other hand is reputated to have died alone and be a gay man. His stories usually seems to have closeted queerness or eeriness and people going insane due to loneliness so that novel defo captures that stuff.
“The Lottery” by Jackson is still one of my favourite stories and because of this I think I love the subtle ghost or creepy genre. You read a lot of good books this year man. I have not finished reading Bolano but I must read him as I have the book. Hope you are doing good Jonas.
Thanks 🙂 you ought to post on your blog, too! 🙂