For years, I thought The Shadow of the Wind was a standalone novel. When I learned that wasn’t the case, I ignored that information for more years. I thought The Shadow of the Wind was pretty nearly perfect on its own, and didn’t need expanded upon. I’ve read some marvelous books that should have been left alone, that had further books tacked on later that didn’t measure up to the first, and somehow manage to tarnish that first book. I didn’t want that to happen to my magical experience with The Shadow of the Wind, so I just ignored the rest of the series for a long time. But then, I found a gorgeous copy of The Labyrinth of the Spirits, the last of the quartet, on sale. I had to buy it for the cover alone, because it just captivated me. But I still didn’t think I intended to read it, or the two books between it and that first novel I had so loved. …
I was very much on the fence about picking up this book. I loved A Man Called Ove and Beartown, but I wasn’t sure I cared to read about a hostage drama. I’m so glad I took the plunge, because Anxious People was incredible. Brilliantly written. It doesn’t quite have the charm of A Man Called Ove or the emotional weight of Beartown, but it’s a pretty great marriage of both. The prose managed to be both amusing and deeply philosophical in the same sentence, which I found incredibly impressive.
“They say that a person’s personality is the sum of their experiences. But that isn’t true, at least not entirely, because if our past was all that defined us, we’d never be able to put up with ourselves. We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.”
“There are worse prisons than words.”
The planet lost an incredible talent today. Carlos Ruiz Zafón, the author of this truly magnificent book, lost his battle with cancer, at the age of 55. Zafón had a brilliant, gorgeous way with words, and told stories in a way that sink into your bones and stay with you long after you read the last pages. Though he left the world too soon, he left behind him an amazing legacy in the novels that have touched countless readers across our world, which have been translated into more than 40 languages. I’m so thankful to have read and been touched by The Shadow of the Wind, and I’m grateful to have the rest of his catalogue in my future.
“Well, this is a story about books.”
“About accuse books, about the man who wrote them, about a character who broke out of the pages of a novel so that he could burn it, about ta betrayal and a lost friendship. It’s a story of love, of hatred, and of dreams that live in the shadow of the wind.”
I can’t remember the last time I read a book from cover to cover in a single sitting. I found Convenience Store Woman such a compelling mix of heartbreaking and enraging and delightful. Keiko Furukura is a woman in her late thirties who is completely fulfilled by her part-time job as a convenience store worker. However, everyone in her life is deeply concerned by the fact that she has no relationship to speak of, much less a marriage, and no real career. Keiko isn’t quite normal and, though she tries her best to mimic those she believes she should emulate, it never seems to be enough.
“You eliminate the parts of your life that others find strange–maybe that’s what everyone means when they say they want to ‘cure” me.”
“Hate can be a deeply stimulating emotion. The world becomes easier to understand and much less terrifying if you divide everything and everyone into friends and enemies, we and they, good and evil. The easiest way to unite a group isn’t through love, because love is hard, It makes demands. Hate is simple. So the first thing that happens in a conflict is that we choose a side, because that’s easier than trying to hold two thoughts in our heads at the same time. The second thing that happens is that we seek out facts that confirm what we want to believe – comforting facts, ones that permit life to go on as normal. The third is that we dehumanize our enemy.”
I would’ve never picked up this book had I not enjoyed another book of Backman’s so much. But Beartown couldn’t have been more different from A Man Called Ove; honestly, I wouldn’t have even guessed they were by the same author. That being said, they were both masterfully done. A Man Called Ove made my heart swollen and tender in the best way. Beartown shattered my heart and sharpened the fragments into deadly shrapnel that threatened to rip into those I love. It absolutely wrecked me. And not at all in a healthy, cathartic way. No, I wasn’t myself the entire time I was reading this. I was barely suppressed rage. …
I remember when A Man Called Ove first took the book world by storm as a book in translation that everyone should read. Judging from the cover and synopsis, it didn’t at all seem like it would interest me. I’m not normally a lover of contemporary slice-of-life fiction. Give me dragons and magical libraries and quests to save the world from imminent doom any day of the week. As with everything, there have been notable exceptions, but A Man Called Ove didn’t strike me as a contender for that role. I can’t believe how wrong I was. This is a book that I loved so fervently that I honestly don’t have much to say about it. My words won’t be able to do it justice.
“Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say.”