Marco's readings

Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I have finished reading in 2007.
This page is built leveraging the goodreads.com API.

Nemesis
by Isaac Asimov (1990)
My review: I grew up reading Asimov's novels. It was strange to read one of his books after so many years, in the original language it was written. I devoured the book as I devoured his book when I was a child. Definitely a fun book. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 22 2007 Finished: Nov 27 2007
Interpreter of Maladies
by Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
My review: I enjoyed The Namesake, but this book is just astounding. A very deserved Pulitzer Prize, the book is a collection of short stories. What makes them special is the incredible ability of the author of portraying the characters with few adroitly placed strokes. The characters are realistic, credible and, as a result, the short stories are powerful and touching. They have a way to work their way into the reader hearts, moving him or her to tears. (★★★★★)
Started: Nov 13 2007 Finished: Nov 21 2007
Blackberry Wine
by Joanne Harris
My review: It was quite a surprise to discover that this book is in part a sequel of Chocolat: the story takes place in the same small town and some of the characters are the same, as a result you get to see what happened to them. It is quite a magical book, where millenniums old folklore and traditions, superstitions and myths are intertwined with the life of the characters. Remarkable. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 26 2007 Finished: Nov 12 2007
Master of Dragons (The Dragonvarld Trilogy, #3)
by Margaret Weis
My review: This is the last book of the Dragonvard trilogy. The first volume was quite interesting, but the following two volumes have been quite disappointing. (★★)
Started: Oct 23 2007 Finished: Oct 25 2007
Oliver Twist
by Charles Dickens (2003)
My review: I would describe the book as a soap opera written at the beginning of the 19th century. The plot is masterfully crafted so that all the pieces at the end perfectly fit. The writing style is classic: an omniscient narrator tells you what to look at and how to interpret it. The author uses the plot as a way to describe and complain about the state of England and some of the "modern" laws (e.g. the Poor law). The story is witty and funny at times, and some descriptions of the city of London are breathtaking. This said, I did not like the xenophobic, sexist and classist innuendo of the book. I understand they were common in England at the time, but it really stains a book otherwise quite remarkable. (★★★)
Started: Sep 02 2007 Finished: Oct 22 2007
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
by Thornton Wilder
My review: The book starts with the death of 5 people during a bridge collapse. The rest of the book is dedicated to answers to the following questions: Why those people died? Was God punishing them? Was preventing them to do something? Was releasing them from suffering? Or it was just a random accident and our lives are not governed by some higher scheme? But if so what sense our lives and deaths have? Does it make sense to even ask those questions? These reflections are carried over in a fictional setting, quite entertaining to read. The author tries to avoid giving an answer, but it hints at a quite touching one towards the end. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 20 2007 Finished: Sep 01 2007
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
by J.K. Rowling (2007)
My review: I enjoyed to read the book, even if I did not really like the ending. The part I liked the most was to seeing how wise and powerful Dumbledore end up making unwise mistakes because of love. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 15 2007 Finished: Aug 19 2007
The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger (2001)
My review: I was looking for a good book at the bookstore when one of my best friends told me that this book is a must read. As a result I picked it up.
I liked the idea of describing society though the eyes of somebody that does not fit into it, somebody unable to conform to a system that he perceives as contradictory, phony and hypocritical. Quite an interesting book. (★★★)
Started: Aug 12 2007 Finished: Aug 14 2007
The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri
My review: The namesake is the story of Gogol/Nikhil (and his family) and his coming to term with his cultural identity (and with his name): Gogol lives between two words: America and India. (★★★★)
Started: May 01 2007 Finished: Aug 11 2007
The Overcoat
by Nikolai Gogol
My review: I had just started reading The Namesake (by Jhumpa Lahiri) when I decided to read this classic before reading further. This turn out to be quite hard to do: no bookstore had it and I managed to find a copy at a local library. It is quite an interesting short story to read. The story reminds me of some novel of Kafka, where the weak are crushed by the system for no reason and nothing is done to help them. The only think I did not really like was the ending, the almost gothic conclusion that does not really fit with the rest of the story. (★★★★)
Started: May 15 2007 Finished: May 15 2007
The White Castle
by Orhan Pamuk (1998)
My review: The book reads, at first, as a classic novel. The first person narrator is the main characters, and everything is seen and described from his point of view. At first, the story is a reckoning of his misadventures (he was a 17th century Venetian, that was captured and enslaved by the Turks). Soon enough the book gets more intriguing. The unnamed Venetian is given in custody to the scholar Hoja, which physically resemble him to an almost sinister degree. The East and the West meet in Hoja's house. They start discussing science and philosophy. They discuss the mysteries of the mind, why we are what we are. Hoja's strongly believes that at the end the Christians European will prevail against the Turks thanks to technological superiority. He strongly recognizes the importance of science, and he laments that its importance is not understood by many others, that he labels "the fools". Discussion after discussion, the characters start to blur one into the other, they take the role of the other and at the end it is not even clear which one is the Turk and which one the Venetian. An incredible literary achievement. I am not surprised that the 2006 Nobel Prize for the literature was awarded to Orhan Pamuk "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures". (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 22 2007 Finished: May 01 2007
Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1)
by Christopher Paolini (2005)
My review: It is just another fantasy book, with nothing too special about it. This said, it is quite entertaining. I was quite surprised to learn it was written by such a young writer, because the book is very readable and well-written. (★★★)
Started: Mar 30 2007 Finished: Apr 20 2007
Flesh and Blood
by Michael Cunningham
My review: Another incredible literary accomplishment by the author of The hours. The inter-personal relations between the characters, their internal growth and their shortcomings are told with unprecedented realism, sensibility and humanity. Each member of the Stassos family is so well-rounded, so painfully and cynically real, that page after page they become real in the mind of the reader. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 19 2007 Finished: Mar 29 2007
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)
by J.K. Rowling (2006)
My review: I liked reading the Harry potter saga, but this book was not one of the best. It is as entertaining as the previous ones, but it lacks originality, and it is quite similar to all the others. (★★★)
Started: Feb 08 2007 Finished: Feb 18 2007
Dragons in the Archives: The Best of Weis & Hickman
by Margaret Weis (2004)
My review: I grew up reading Weis and Hickman's novels, hence even simple collections of stories like this one manage to stir something deep inside of me: the longing for many nights spent reading as a child, lost into fantastic worlds. Krynn's feels like home, the characters are childhood friends. This anthology collects many stories written in the past 20 years and they witness the creative path of the Dragonlance world. It feels like picking up an old photo album from my childhood. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 04 2007 Finished: Feb 09 2007
La misteriosa fiamma della regina Loana. Romanzo illustrato
by Umberto Eco (2004)
My review: In tutti I romanzi di Eco il protagonista principale e' sempre la storia, ricostruita nei minimi particolari, con precisione certosina. Questo libro non fa eccezione, e l'italia del fascismo e' la protagonista. A differenza dei precedenti romanzi pero', l'autore ha vissuto quel periodo storico. Di colpo il tutto si tinge di autobiografismo e la ricostruzione si colora di emozioni, desideri. Non e' piu' la storia degli storici, ma quella vissuta sulla propria pelle da ragazzini, ove le guerre si mescolano ai fumetti e i film alle cotte. Oltre al tema storico/autobiografico si innesta il tema portante del libro, quello della memoria, dei ricordi e dell'esperienze come elementi di definizione della persona. Questo e' uno dei romanzi piu' riusciti dell'autore, che consiglio vivamente. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 06 2007 Finished: Feb 03 2007
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years, #1)
by Gregory Maguire (2000)
My review: I was expecting a fairy tale, a simple, unsophisticated book. I was quite surprised to discover that Wicked is something quite different. While the novel is quite entertaining and fun to read, it is a deep investigation of the nature of Evil and a metaphor of Nazi's Germany. Reality is perceived differently by people and History is written by the winners. This is a surprising literary accomplishment. (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 03 2006 Finished: Jan 06 2007