What Shaped My 2011

On Books

1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

All ye old gods of the world slowly dying in America because no one believes them anymore.

The central premise of the novel is that gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them. Immigrants to the United States brought with them dwarves, elves, leprechauns, and other spirits and gods. However, the power of these mythological beings has diminished as people’s beliefs wane. New gods have arisen, reflecting America’s obsessions with media, celebrity, technology, and drugs, among others.  –Wiki

It kept me hooked because of my huge interest in Celtic mythology, different folklore, legends, old gods from all over the world. Gaiman introduced me into a whole new world of fantasy and fiction. It excited me to imagine how gods would fare in the modern world when religion isn’t the end all and be all of man’s existence. The book also touched on an idea that I first encountered in Richelle Mead’s Succubus on Top: “A god’s power is relative to the people/amount of people who believe in them. They would die if no one is left in the world to believe in them, worship and offer a sacrifice to them.” Through adventures, mishap and tragedies, I lapped up every word and the world as I know it.. ended.

Ever read a book that felt like you’re at home/ you’ve come home? That’s what I felt when I was reading this.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Some friend in Facebook was asking what books would be nice to read and while I commented on that status, I saw a comment recommending this book. It happened that I chanced upon an e-book of it in the office and the title of the chapters intrigued me as well as the opening lines. Set in the 1940s, in the middle of World War II, this book opened up my eyes about the locals in Nazi Germany and the two faces of humanity.

“In years to come, he would be a giver of bread, not a stealer – proof again of the contradictory human being. So much good, so much evil. Just add water.”

Reading this felt like I was also an orphan like Leisel Meminger and that I grew up alongside her to be loved by her foster parents, schoolmates, playmates and the Jew in the basement, Max Vondenburg. To be taught how to read by her step dad,  swore at and be called a saumensch by her step mum because that’s just how she is but to know deep down that Rosa Hubermann loves Leisel and her family. More than the German swear words that I’ve learned on this book, it taught me the faces of humanity and that history would always be biased and  subjective depending on who told what.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak book cover.jpg

On a side note, I would very much love a copy of this on Christmas or any of the following books in this list except numbers 5, 6, 7, and 8.

3.  Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

This was a picture on the first chapter of the book in Kindle🙂

My motive behind reading the book is purely shallow: Matthew MacFadyen is starring in the TV adaptation. I already saw this title in my friend’s Kindle so I decided to read it. I didn’t expect to fall in love with it. I already had pre-conceived notions that it might be boring when I first read the title, but seeing the trailer for the TV adaptation swayed my bias a bit. Follett has captivated me with the 12th century way of life and I’ve never put the Kindle down until I finished.

4.  World Without End by Ken Follett

Two hundred years after the legendary romance of  Aliena of Shiring and Jack Builder, Follett has once again painted a picture of what it was like in the 14th century in the midst of the first outbreak of the Black Plague.

 

There are a lot of parallelisms in Pillars and this sequel especially in the characters and their professions.  At first glance,  it seemed like Follett got lazy in creating new characters and just patterned it from the cast in the first book but this one turned out pretty well and hasn’t failed to challenge my imagination regarding cathedrals, bridges and gothic architecture. It did made me think though if there is such a Merthin in this modern world who could love me over and over even after numerous rejections and  misunderstandings.

5. The Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger

This is mindfuck. But I liked how it made me think, and think hard.

I was curious why this book made it to the controversial books of the century and how come this book was found in the possession of some assassins when they got caught, like that guy who killed John Lennon and Lee Harvey Oswald, the guy who killed JFK. Reading it hasn’t helped me understand though.

6. Oxygen by Andrew Miller

This is a book that I found in one of my morning jaunts in my favorite book shop in Cityland Tower. I just wanted to try a non-romance novel and I happened to pick up this book on the lower shelf.

Miller has shown me all kinds of love between people. A love of the favorite son for his ailing mother, a love of the un-favorite son for his dying mother,  love that has fallen apart in the years of marriage,  a love between two gay people and all the in-between.

7. The Seamstress On Hollywood Boulevard by Erin McGraw

In one of my quests for non-romance novels, I found this on sale in PowerBooks; and the life in the early part of the 1900s pulled at me and the added incentive of fashion in that era. It turned out as a serious novel about a girl who left home, her husband and two daughters to escape the suffocating world that she grew up in and build a new one in Los Angeles, in glamor and  excitement. The past caught up with her though, when years after, her two daughters showed up and threatened the balance that she finally found.

People make mistakes. What counts is what the person does to own up to the mistake and take steps to make things right again.

 

8. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I haven’t finished reading this but as you know, the series compelled me to read an epic fantasy saga like never before. See in-depth feelings about Game of Thrones here.

 

 

9. Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead 

Another adult novel by Richelle Mead who kept me entertained with her snappy dialogues, witty comebacks and a new take on the whole angels and demons lore.

 

 

10. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

A light read compared to Gaiman’s American Gods. It also involved the god, Anansi, or in this case, his sons, in a modern world.

 

A co-worker, lent it to me when I was raving over American Gods and thought that I might enjoy another Gaiman work.

Reading these books made me remember that anything can happen. Create your own world if you must or subscribe to fiction.

2 thoughts on “What Shaped My 2011

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