This week the theme is: Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way)
For this I am going to scroll through my Goodreads Read List and see which ones were surprises for me 🙂
1: Bad way 😦
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Hardy tells the story of Tess Durbeyfield, a beautiful young woman living with her impoverished family in Wessex, the southwestern English county immortalized by Hardy. After the family learns of their connection to the wealthy d’Urbervilles, they send Tess to claim a portion of their fortune.
I didn’t like it at all and I actually had expected to as I usually love classics. I found Tess to be an idiot and the boys weren’t much better. I struggled to the end only because I am stubborn and don’t like to leave anything half-finished.
2: Good Way 🙂
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life–why did he leave? what did he learn?–as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.
3: Bad Way 😦
Go Set a Watchman (To Kill a Mockingbird #2) by Harper Lee
Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past – a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience.
4: Good Way 🙂
Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn
An absolute delight of a debut novel by William Kuhn—author of Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books—Mrs Queen Takes the Train wittily imagines the kerfuffle that transpires when a bored Queen Elizabeth strolls out of the palace in search of a little fun, leaving behind a desperate team of courtiers who must find the missing Windsor before a national scandal erupts. Reminiscent of Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, this lively, wonderfully inventive romp takes readers into the mind of the grand matriarch of Britain’s Royal Family, bringing us an endearing runaway Queen Elizabeth on the town—and leading us behind the Buckingham Palace walls and into the upstairs/downstairs spaces of England’s monarchy.
This came up on a kindle special so I bought it on a whim and then ignored it for ages. When I finally started reading it I fell in love. It was a beautiful, light-hearted whimsical read that I would not hesitate to recommend.
5: Bad Way 😦
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.
After reading Mrs Queen Takes the Train I was excited to read another version of the same story. I was not that 😦 Apparently the Queen, who tends to read things that the average mortal would struggle with, doesn’t know what a lending library is. If they had given her a couple of trashy romances or the latest top 100 thriller then I probably could have gotten on board with the story but this was not the case and I found myself rather disappointed.
6: Good Way 🙂
The Left Hand of God (The Left Hand of God #1) by Paul Hoffman
The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a place where children endure brutal cruelty and violence in the name of the One True Faith. Lost in the Sanctuary’s huge maze of corridors is a boy. He is strange witty and charming, and violent. But when he opens the wrong door at the wrong time he witnesses an act so horrible he must flee, or die.
7: Good Way 🙂
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Gone with the Wind is a novel written by Margaret Mitchell, first published in 1936. The story is set in Clayton County, Georgia, and Atlanta during the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. It depicts the struggles of young Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, who must use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of the poverty she finds herself in after Sherman’s March to the Sea. A historical novel, the story is a Bildungsroman or coming-of-age story, with the title taken from a poem written by Ernest Dowson.
8: Good Way 🙂
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens–until the day its complacency is shattered by a school shooting. Josie Cormier, the daughter of the judge sitting on the case, should be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened before her very own eyes–or can she? As the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show–destroying the closest of friendships and families. Nineteen Minutes asks what it means to be different in our society, who has the right to judge someone else, and whether anyone is ever really who they seem to be.
9: Good Way 🙂
Angels and Demons (Robert Langdon #1) by Dan Brown
When a world renowned scientist is found brutally murdered in a Swiss research facility, a Harvard professor, Robert Langdon, is summoned to identify the mysterious symbol seared onto the dead man’s chest. His baffling conclusion: it is the work of the Illuminati, a secret brotherhood presumed extinct for nearly four hundred years – reborn to continue their bitter vendetta against their sworn enemy, the Catholic church.
In Rome, the college of cardinals assembles to elect a new pope. Yet somewhere within the walls of the Vatican, an unstoppable bomb of terrifying power relentlessly counts down to oblivion. While the minutes tick away, Langdon joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and mysterious Italian scientist, to decipher the labyrinthine trail of ancient symbols that snakes across Rome to the long-forgotten Illuminati lair – a secret refuge wherein lies the only hope for the Vatican.
But with each revelation comes another twist, another turn in the plot, which leaves Langdon and Vetra reeling and at the mercy of a seemingly invisible enemy…
10: Bad Way 😦
The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon #2) by Dan Brown
Harvard professor Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call while on business in Paris: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered inside the museum. Alongside the body, police have found a series of baffling codes. As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, begin to sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to find a trail that leads to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci – and suggests the answer to a mystery that stretches deep into the vaults of history.
A week late but there you are 🙂
Ka Kete Ano xxx