Summary of August Reading and Films

Books

Overall, a good month of reading: 11 books, of which four were outstanding (Haushofer, Teffi, Kawakami and Melchor), three were very good (Puhlovski, Michele Roberts and Sarah Moss), two were entertaining and two were fine (just not as good as I expected). Unsurprisingly, with it being Women in Translation Month, I read mostly women, Mark Billingham being the sole male writer sneaking in because of the Virtual Crime Book Club.

If you include the Spanish Literature Challenge reads from July and the Tokarczuk which I read in July but did not get to review until August, I’ve reviewed a total of nine books for #WITMonth and they represent a nice diversity of nationalities.

  1. Liliana Colanzi – Bolivia
  2. Margarita Garcia Robayo – Colombia
  3. Lina Meruane – Chile
  4. Olga Tokarczuk – Poland
  5. Marlen Haushofer – Austria
  6. Teffi – Russia
  7. Marina Šur Puhlovski – Croatia
  8. Mieko Kawakami – Japan
  9. Fernanda Melchor – Mexico

I also had the best experience that can happen to a book blogger, who can sometimes feel they are writing in the dark, spending all their money buying books, then hours on writing fair reviews, only to discover that a handful of people read them. [Always the same handful, usually, and I am very grateful to my constant readers!] But then… Mieko Kawakami actually read and retweeted my review and thanked me for it: ‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing such an insightful, courageous and wonderful review. I am also touched to know that you wrote it in time for my birthday’. I think that will keep me going for another few years in terms of reviewing motivation, for sure!

In between reading and reviewing these more demanding books (ostensibly – I found most of them on the whole pleasant and easy to read), I had some down time with the non-fiction of Michèle Roberts in Negative Capability, a gentle, contemplative and very evocative book about learning to live with uncertainty and even failure, while still enjoying life, and the hilariously accurate and often poignant observation of people on holiday in Summerwater by Sarah Moss (reviews to follow).

Films

I mentioned some of the films I saw in early August, before the boys joined me for my share of the holidays. Since their return, I have watched some of their film choices, as well as mine. Let’s see if you can spot which is which!

  1. Christian Petzold: Barbara (Germany) – captures the chill factor and claustrophobia of East Germany when the Stasi have their eyes on you
  2. Alejandra Márquez Abella: The Good Girls (Mexico) – what to do when the economy of your country is in meltdown, your currency worthless and you still have to keep up appearances – the original ladies who lunch, viewed with biting satire but also some compassion
  3. Almodovar: Live Flesh (Spain) – I love my early (1980s-90s) Almodovar – complex female characters, good-looking young men, and always elements of the past creeping in and tainting the present
  4. Tarantino: Django Unchained (US) – was not expecting this Western approach to the story of slavery (and yes, he does rather glorify violence, but that is Tarantino every single time)
  5. Alejandro G. Iñárritu: Birdman (US/Mexico) – the long, long single shots worked a treat (only found out afterwards how difficult they were for actors and crew to get right) and Michael Keaton, with his own Batman background, was the perfect actor for this part

I’ve just noticed that I’ve had quite a good dose of Mexico this month in both books and films!

Plans for next month – well, what’s even the point of planning, because I don’t seem to stick to any of my plans?

 

 

 

 

12 thoughts on “Summary of August Reading and Films”

  1. Awesome list! Added some of your recommendation on my to-read and to-see for the next months (cannot commit to a clear deadline, you know the feeling :))

  2. That’s so neat that Mieko Kawakami wrote and thanked you so wholeheartedly! Can you imagine, if one day she were to review a book of yours? Stranger things have been known to happen! Congratulations on having formulated such brilliant reviews, as part of your formidable skill set.

  3. What a lovely message from Mieko Kawakami! I had a similar experience right at the start of blogging where an author DMed me to say that I had really “got” her book and that she appreciated my comments. It’s so encouraging.

  4. What a wonderful comment from Mieko Kawakami! I have watched Django and Birdman. Tarantino was as expected and I really ‘enjoyed’ it at the time. Watched Birdman during lockdown…what an odd movie..

  5. Your comments about those reading your reviews and what a thrill it is to receive comments from a wonderful author came home to me in a way I need to share. I am not an author! But a silent appreciative reader of your blog. Last year when I was having, for me, a horrible time I found your November German lit. Month reviews. I bought a book recommended by you and it put me back on track. I now look with great pleasure for your reviews and twitter feed comments and love when I find something you have enjoyed which adds to my growing TBR. When I find something I’ve already read. E,g, Olga Tokarczuk, which you review I feel immense satisfaction that I am on a good reading path. I have now decided to comment more and please know how much I enjoy your posts and how your reading is influencing mine.

  6. Isn’t that a wonderful feeling, when an author reaches out like that, Marina Sofia? That’s fantastic (and your review really was excellent). I’m glad you had more enjoyable reads than disappointments, and that even your disappointments weren’t terrible. To me, that’s a good spate of reading.

  7. How lovely of Mieko Kawakami! That’s only happened to me once and I was so touched the author took time to read my review. Totally agree with you on early Almodovar – sumptuous! A great month Marina 😊

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