family portret

I regret a lot not having more time to read books. In fact, last year I read really a few books. Sometimes work is so time consuming and exhausting that there is no space left for this simple pleasure. Maybe some of you would disagree saying that one can always find half an hour for a good read and maybe you are right.
At times it just doesn’t work for me. But I plan to change it soon! I have got two New Year’s resolutions: to read more books and to dust off this blog a bit (which means to post more often).

For me reading a book is a certain kind of ritual.
I like studying the cover (its texture, fonts, colours, graphics), the paper (its weight, texture, colour) and the shape first. I put some water, make my tea and start reading from the editorial note. I know that for some it’s weird and most of the people omit it but for me it is a part that makes a book a whole. I like to know when a book was published, what is its original name and its original publishing company (provided
I read the translation).

Last year I bought two new books and I hit the jackpot. By a coincidence I later discovered both of them were about complex family issues, portraying American, Turkish and Armenian families and their stories.

The first book I am talking about is Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult. One of my favourite authors in general. I bought it in a department store in Madrid while coming back from a project in Italy. Except for knowing the quality of Jodi Picoult’s books, I was encouraged to buy it by short and favourable reviews on the back cover: Superior literary fiction in a gripping human story (Mail on Sunday), Once you start, you will struggle to put it down (novelicious.com), This page-turner will keep you wondering (People) and so on. In addition to that, the book had a beautiful, simple design that was half plain and half convex.
I literally ate it. The book was so gripping and the suspense so developed, I couldn’t resist to read even with my eyes half open. Lone Wolf is a unique story about a man who loved wild woves and who basically become one leaving his family behind. Lying on deathbed, surrounded by all relatives, many family’s secrets come to light. The book has two narrators and is written from two different perspectives in two different moments, which makes it not only interesting but also dynamic. It is definitely one of the best books I have read recently and I highly recommend it! And for those who are Jodi Picoult’s fans – you won’t be disappointed
(but I guess you already know that!).

The second book I am about to write here is The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Şafak. I have just finished reading it this night around 4 am.
I bought this paperback at the Dubai International Airport on my way back to Spain from the Philippines. By that time I had already had my tickets to Istanbul and when I saw the book on a shelf, I immediately reached for it. Again, the short reviews were very promising: Shocking, ambitious, exuberant (Observer),
A beautiful book, the finest I have read about Turkey (Irish Times), Heartbreaking… the beauty of Islam pervades Shafak’s book (Vogue), Engrossing (Daily Telegraph), What a pleasure (The Times). It tells a story of a family that consists only of women and the dramatic history of it. Interleaved by the vivid descriptions of Istanbul makes the reader feel as if you were living there, in that very house of the Kazancı family. A big focus is on the bloody events that happened in Turkey around 1915 and the relatioships between Turks and Armenians. The author herself was put on trial for “denigrating Turkishness under Article 301
of the Turkish Penal Code. The charges that were brought against me were due to the words that some of the Armenian characters spoke in the novel; I could have been given up to a three-year prison sentence, but the charges were eventually dropped” (The Bastard of Istanbul, Penguin Books Ltd., p. 359). The book thus takes up important topics for the Turkish society – family and family relations, history… and food. Elif Şafak’s descriptions on the Turkish cuisine make one’s mind gallop towards Istanbulite city vendors, the mouth water and the nostrils more sensitive for smells than ever. The two closing chapters of The Bastard of Istanbul are astonishing and the book will have you gasping with desbelief in the last few pages as Sunday Express wrote. It is another highly recommended read, especially for those who are interested in Turkey
and its culture.

Now I am looking forward to have some time with the books I have been collecting for last few years but never managed to read (or finish) all
of them. Some of the books on the list are: Wschód by Andrzej Stasiuk, Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk, El Prisionero del Cielo by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit by Shirley MacLaine, Zrób Sobie Raj by Mariusz Szczygieł and some more. So I wish you all and myself happy reading
in 2015!

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