Marco's readings

Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I have finished reading in 2008.
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Unaccustomed Earth
by Jhumpa Lahiri (2008)
My review: Jhumpa Lahiri shines the most when she works on short stories. She manages to capture and to describe with simple and delicate strokes, the feeling and the tragedies of her characters. While all the short stories are interesting, the last three really stand out. These intertwined stories shows reality as perceived through the eyes of the characters (similarly to what Pirandello does). What I particularly loved is the description of the inability of some of the characters to accept their feelings, the struggle between what is considered right and true happiness, between the American and the Indian soul of the characters. It is like Room with a view with a strong ABCD flavor. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 19 2008 Finished: Dec 28 2008
More Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #2)
by Armistead Maupin (1994)
My review: This is a very enjoyable book. After watching the TV series, and reading the first book, the characters are familiar. Beside the witty jokes and the familiar character, this work of fiction turns into a very accurate portrait of the San Francisco and America of the late 70s. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 10 2008 Finished: Oct 18 2008
One Across, Two Down
by Ruth Rendell (2001)
My review: An interesting analysis of the transformation of a loser into a killer, tempered with clever witticisms. (★★)
Started: Sep 11 2008 Finished: Oct 09 2008
Ricordi di un vicolo cieco
by Banana Yoshimoto (2006)
My review: Cinque racconti, cinque diverse persone che si ritrovano ad affrontare situazioni difficili, a lottare per dare un significato alla vita e ritrovare la felicita' (★★★)
Started: Sep 01 2008 Finished: Sep 10 2008
The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays
by Oscar Wilde (1985)
My review: I cannot stop thinking how many masterpieces Wilde would have produced if he was not being thrown in a jail because of homophobic laws. He was a genius, able to show to the people of his time how hypocritical they were, with wit and sensibility. Just amazing. (★★★★★)
Started: Jul 06 2008 Finished: Aug 10 2008
The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3)
by Philip Pullman (2003)
My review: A great ending for this masterpiece, able to bridge fantasy and philosophy. Undoubtedly one of the best book of the century. As The Hours find its root in Mrs Dalloway and builds on it, similarly this trilogy find its root in Milton's Paradise Lost, as the starting point of a deep and enlightening reflection on human existence. (★★★★★)
Started: May 07 2008 Finished: Jul 04 2008
Il delirio di onnipotenza
by Cristiano Capuzzo (2008)
My review: Una piacevole sorpresa, un sorprendente thriller, capace di descrivere i desideri piu' turpi e violenti di un serial killer, e la gioia di vivere e la capacita' di sorridere di fronte alle avversita'. Una lettura consigliatissima. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 10 2008 Finished: May 06 2008
The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)
by Philip Pullman (2003)
My review: WOW, this was quite a surprise! I liked the first book, but this second installment is even better. Some of the themes that were just barely hinted in the previous book are now developed and extended. While the first volume was just an interesting fantasy tale, the second volume is a fantasy modern re-edition of the Romantic rebellion against the authority and traditions in the name of freedom and free will. A modern Paradise Lost. The pace is fast, it is really hard to put this book down (I finished it in 3 days even if I was working on my dissertation... as a result I practically haven't slept!), entertainingly and... it goes quite deeper than expected! I strongly recommended! (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 06 2008 Finished: Apr 09 2008
Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #1)
by Armistead Maupin (1994)
My review: A very accurate portrait of San Francisco in the 70s, when the heat of the summer of love was cooling down and before the AIDS days. At first each chapter reads like a funny stand alone story. In reality is a well thought paint stroke. And stroke after stroke, an incredibly powerful and accurate portrait emerge. The books was written before I was born, but I can still see and feel the Tales of the City's San Francisco in the city I live in today. The book made me understand it a little bit more, even if it is just a work of fiction. I am looking forward reading More tales of the city... (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 31 2008 Finished: Apr 05 2008
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)
by Philip Pullman (2007)
My review: I was expecting a fun to read fantasy book, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this book is actually quite a literary masterpiece, with interesting reflections on the role of religion and philosophy. I am looking forward reading the next volumes of the series. (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 08 2008 Finished: Mar 30 2008
Il coperchio del mare
by Banana Yoshimoto (2007)
My review: Un'altro piccolo capolavoro di Banana Yoshimoto, una riflessione sul significato della nostra vita ed esistenza. A detta di Mari, siam candele nell'oscurita', presto il vento ci spegnera' e fara' sparire ogni nostra traccia. Ma Hajime le insegna che la vita va vissuta, i ricordi son fiori da raccogliere lungo la via, creando un profumato bouquet da portare con noi fino alla morte. Insegna a Mari che il vero orrore della vita e' l'avidita', la continua corsa alla richezza, che fa perder la capacita' di apprezzare le piccole cose e i nostri piccoli traguardi. Se tutti condividessero questa visione "l'oscurita' sarebbe spezzata per sempre da una grande luce, generata dalla luce di tutte le stelle unite, cosi' luminosa da essere visibile anche nell'ora piu' scura. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 04 2008 Finished: Mar 07 2008
The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files, #1)
by Charles Stross (2006)
My review: The book is a collection of two related stories. The concepts behind them are quite interesting, but the execution of the first story (i.e. the atrocity archives) is not great. It is confusing and the plot flow does not work well at times. On the contrary the second story (i.e. Concrete Jungle) is great. The interesting ideas are finally used in a adroitly written geeky and fast paced story. The best way to describe this book I can think of is: Lovecraft meet Dilbert. (★★★)
Started: Feb 17 2008 Finished: Mar 03 2008
The Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James (2003)
My review: I read this book slowly. I was quite surprised at first because nothing really seemed to happen. Then suddenly everything fall in place. Suddenly everything single word has so much meaning. The characters are vivid, realistic, complex, and alive. The psychological motivations of each act are adroitly communicated. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 30 2007 Finished: Feb 16 2008