My Thoughts on Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov |IcthusBookCorner (my biggest review yet)

Hey everyone! Today I want to talk about a book that did nothing but worsen my mental state, Lolita by Nabokov.

I’ve talked about this book on my bookstagram (follow me there if you want to follow my readings more closely), and I had a lot of feeling while reading it. This book was published back in 1955, and it is now considered a classic by a lot of people. You probably know it is a book about and from the perspective of a paedophile, Humbert Humbert. It follows him during his middle age as he finds himself obsessed with the nymphet Delores Hayes.

I had been hearing about this book my whole life and knew people either loved it or hated it, so I decided to put it off for a while in fear. Once I finally decided to read it, I went into it with no preconceived judgements so it wouldn’t ruin the experience.

The first thing I need to say about this book is that I loved the writing style, really really loved it. Can we talk about the fact that Nabokov isn’t an English native speaker? I applaud Nabokov’s mastery of the English language. He uses English better than most writers whose first language is English. He is daring with his words; he is pure genius. It is the type of writing I love, you know? It’s poetic, and it’s not sparse, and he uses flowery language.

In the beginning, it was quite tolerable, but as it went on became progressively more upsetting. The first person narration was making me feel sick. Sometimes it physically hurt me to read this book, like someone was squeezing my heart. Never in my life had I read a book that made me this uncomfortable. I’m just glad I’m someone who can enjoy a book and dislike the main characters, otherwise I’m pretty sure this book would have killed me.
Because it’s first-person narration, we are inside Humbert’s head, and the problem is that this person’s head is a terrible place. We have to be beholders of grooming, gaslighting and abuse. Humbert has no redeeming quality, which is both terrible for the reader but the only correct choice. Nabokov created a character that no one could pity because he (Humber) is just a horrifying human being. However, the author was still able to create a multi-dimensional character, and that is not usual and something I appreciate. There is a lot of depth, there is a lot to dig into, I love it.

This book was notably hard to read, but for some reason, I couldn’t stop. One reason for this was, like I said, the writing. Even so, there was something else, something that made me want to know what was going to happen next, something that got me hooked.

The book is divided into two parts. The first one is before the abuse, and it follows Humbert from his pre-adolescent self to when he gets to be a disgusting human to Lolita. The second part accompanies him from the moment the first part left off to when the book is supposedly being written. The first half of the book was much easier to read than the second, most likely because there is a smaller amount of sexual assault.

The only negative aspect of this book, for me, is the last two chapters. The book could have an amazing ending, but, for some ulterior motive, Nabokov decided to go with underwhelming.

To end this, I feel the need to say a few things. First of all, I don’t believe this book romanticizes or glorifies paedophilia. From what I read from the author, and what I gathered from reading Lolita itself, I believe Nabokov wanted to create a reality which the average person wouldn’t have access to. He wrote one of the most brutal accounts of abuse there is. I think this is an important piece of literature, if not one of the best.

Finally, I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it to everyone who can get into a story without liking the main character and to whom abuse is not a severe trigger.

Bye, keep on reading.

8 Books I Plan on Reading in 2021 | IcthusBookCorner

What is up people?

Today I’m going to talk about eight books I plan to read in 2021. I’m not a tbr list type of person, but this allows me to focus on my reading goals for this year without making me feel restricted. So without further ado, let’s dive into this glorious list.


Unholy Ghosts

I’m going to start this list with a book that will be obvious if you have been following me since I first started this blog and this is Unholy Ghosts by Richard Zimler. This book was first published in 1996, I believe, but was translated into Portuguese last year (2020). Unholy Ghosts is about a man who decides to leave the United States and look for a new life in Portugal when he finds out that his most talented student tests positive for HIV and threatens to take his own life at the age of twenty-four. This pick isn’t a surprise because if you know me you know I love Zimler’s books and I’m sure this one will be just as amazing.

Out of Africa

The second book I want to read is Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). I can once again say that you aren’t new here this won’t be a surprise, you can probably find one of my blog posts from 2017 where I talk about wanting to read this book. It has been on my tbr pile for five years now I can’t keep looking at my shelves and see it there. I don’t really know muck about this book except that Hemingway said it was a good book and here on the blog we believe in Hemingway’s word.

War and Peace

The third book I’m bringing to the table is War and Peace by Tolstoy. I’m a massive fan of Russian classics, even though I haven’t read that many. I loved Anna Karenina, Mother and How Much Land Does a Man Need and loved them with all my heart. If you don’t know what this book is about it focuses on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 while following three main characters and studying their humanity.

The Lower Depths

Continuing with Russian literature we have The Lower Depths by Maxim Gorky. Apparently, it is the best known of Maxim Gorky’s plays and since I love Gorky’s work I feel like I must read this play. The theme of this play is the harsh truth versus the comforting lie and that seems really interesting.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The fifth book I plan on reading this year is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. (It’s becoming increasingly obvious that I feel the need to read all the classics.) This book is the tale of a young man who purchases eternal youth at the expense of his soul. It’s the only novel written by Oscar Wilde and it received a lot of backlash from reviewers with it first came out.

Orlando

Next on the list, we have…drum roll, please… Orlando by Virginia Woolf. If you follow me on social media you probably know that I’ve been fangirling Woolf like a crazy person. I read A Room of One’s Own and now I’m reading Three Guineas, from where I stand they are both masterpieces of non-fiction. So my little brain thinks it’s time to try to read her fiction. The book is about someone that undergoes a mysterious change of sex at the age of 30 and lives on for more than 300 years into modern times without ageing.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller

The seventh book is If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino. The first time I heard of this book was while watching one of Emma Angeline’s videos on youtube (her channel is amazing, please go check it out). She talked about the book with such enthusiasm that, on that exact moment, I knew I had to read it. It’s about a reader trying to read a book called If on a winter’s night a traveller, emphasis on the TRYING.

Notes from Underground

And finally, the last book on this list is Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky. (Yes, yet another Russian classic. Who knew?) This book presents itself as an excerpt from the rambling memoirs of a bitter and isolated retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg that remains unnamed. I don’t know much more about this book but you know, Russian literature is Russian literature.


And that is my list of books I really want to read in 2021. If you liked the list, please let me know. I’ll make a part two because I could very well go on with this, there are a lot more books I want and plan to read this year. Also, let me know the books you plan on reading in 2021 because I really want to know what you are looking for to read this year.

Bye, bye, bye. Keep on reading!


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The Classics Book Tag

Hello, people of the internet!

As you can probably tell by the title of this post, today I’m going to do the classics book tag. I’m aware that this tag is almost as old as the internet itself, but you know I love classics so, here I am.  
So, let us start!

  • An overhyped classic you really didn’t like.

My answer is a common one, which is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. This book was far too melodramatic for my liking. Personally, if the plot is more drama intense I need there to be a self-awareness from the characters, which is not the case in this book.  

  • What is your favourite time period to read about?

I have to go with the late 19th century and the yearly 20th century. There is a revolutionary feel in books from that time which I love. 

  • Favourite fairy-tale.

I’m not an avid fairy-tale reader or fan. So, I don’t know. I had a Grimm Brothers’ book when I was younger I liked, does that count? 

  • What is the most embarrassing classic you haven’t read yet?

I have never read a book by Jane Austin, feel free to judge me. I picked up Sense and Sensibility once and just wasn’t feeling it. 

  • Top 5 classics you would like to read (soon).

I do know this one, I have a list:

  1. A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf.
  2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.
  3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
  4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
  5. And the one I just bought, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. 
  • Favourite movie version/tv-series based on a classic.

The 1954’s adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four by the director Rudolph Cartier. 

  • Worst classic to movie adaptation.

I don’t know. I really don’t like the 2012’s adaptation of Anna Karenina but I highly doubt it’s the worst classic to movie adaptation, it’s just not for me.

  • What is your favourite edition you’d like to collect more classics from?

Easy, Oxford World Classics. They have both a good font and a nice size. Not to mention, the introductions and notes. Love it. 

  • An underhyped classic you’d recommend to everyone.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy! I have to recommend Mother (in the original: Мать) written by Maxim Gorky in 1906. It’s about revolutionary factory workers, as well as the story of the radicalization of an uneducated woman/mother. It’s amazing!

So, that is it. That is all I have for you today, hope you enjoy. Talk to you next time.
Bye, keep on reading!

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – Book Review

I have two words to describe this book: MEANINGFUL DRAMA.

I’ve always been afraid of picking up Anna Karenina, I have a problem with big books, I’m always afraid I won’t like them and afraid to end up forcing myself to read them, as I do with all the books I end up not liking (I just can’t dnf a book). When books over 800 pages came along, I became truly afraid. As you can easily understand, forcing myself to read 800+ pages of something that doesn’t bring me joy is quite more dreadful than 300 unfulfilling pages.IMG_20190711_223955_408

Anna Karenina by Tolstoy is a Russian classic written in the nineteenth century. To me, the book serves to show us how difficult life can be and that all families have their own problems. It’s, in essence, a story about life at its core.

The writing is magnificent, the author manages to talk about farming methods, political policies, or philosophical discussions without making you feel bored. He’s also able to betray every single character in a flawless manner, you truly get to know and understand everyone’s perspective on life and on what is going on in the story.

If there is one problem if the story it’s the amount of drama, which might as well be a “me” problem. From time to time I had to stop and read other things in order to reflect on everything that was going on. There are so many subplots I just couldn’t keep up without before taking a step back.

Tolstoy has this incredible power of being capable to show how one person can change their mind, how a person, can become so infatuated with something or someone and then with the blink of an eye, the feeling can change (this made me think a lot about relationships and so on).

Anna is the heroine and the villain, you love her and you hate her, you want her to be okay and then at times you just want to shout “don’t be so stupid and start accepting the consequences of your actions!” HOW DID TOLSTOY MANAGE TO DO THIS??????

This book portrays an impulsive affair, a man questioning his beliefs, an unpleasant divorce and a woman questioning her mental health. All these are still incredibly relevant nowadays, ergo its timeless appeal.

Instead of listening to me, I recommend that you read it for yourself.

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – Book Review

This book follows Tom, a young rebellious boy who lives with his aunt Polly, a very strict but caring woman. General consense says the purpose of this book is to “capture the spirit of american boyhood in the pre-civil war era”.

A lot happens to Tom in this book, he fells in love with the new girl in town, witnesses a murder, makes others paint his fence, pretends to be a pirate and goes off to live in a nearby island, makes the town believes he and his friends have drowned, among a lot of other things. As you can see he was a busy child.

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The treatment of extremely important issues in this novel was very appealing to me. Even though it is considered a children’s book it talks about murder and rape. There is also a lot of racism in this book, but I don’t know how intentional it is given that it was written in 1876.

The use of English from the 1800s together with the use of now considered archaic words certainly toke me some time to get used to. A big drawback for me was the fact that I couldn’t seem to feel empathy for Tom whatsoever, which is something that has never stopped me from enjoying a book but he just reminded me of those really mean children who need to hear the word “no” more often.

With all that being said, I found this to be an okay book, I went into it really excited expecting to be one of the best books I would ever read but it was just a quick, entertaining read, not that there is anything wrong with that. I recommend it if you want to get a perspective of what life was like during pre-civil war time in the united states.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.

January Book Wrap Up|2019

Hello, people of the interweb!

It’s never too late for a wrap up if it is let me believe it since we are already in the middle of February! I managed to read six books in January which was a great start, two of them because of my internship, but I’m still counting them for this wrap-up.

Let’s get on with this wrap-up!

51qz8w2bwtnlFirst, we have Death by Black Hole and other cosmic quandaries by the one and only Neil deGrasse Tyson!

My rating: 4/5 stars
Recommend to: Shameless nerds like me with a bit more than the high school understanding of physics.
Genre: Science, Nonfiction
Sinopse: “Tyson compiles his favourite essays, which were first published in a monthly column in “Natural History.” One of the worlds best-known astrophysicists, he is at his best here, as a natural teacher who simplifies the complexities of science while sharing his infectious excitement for our universe.” (via wook)

37807180The second reading adventure I had last month was Sweethearts by Gemma Gilmore.

My rating: 2/5 stars
Recommend to: I don’t know…
Genre: LGBT, Young Adult
Sinopse: “When seventeen-year-old Ingrid Harper realizes she may not have the talent to pursue a scholarship for the most prestigious art school in Australia, she turns to pink hair dye as a distraction.” (via Goodreads)

 

After that, I read Introduction to High-Temperature Superconductivity by T. Sheahan and Introduction to Superconductivity by Michael Tinkham. Since they are both academic books, it doesn’t make sense to rate them, but they are amazing books on the topic of superconductivity if any of you need to do research on this specific area of study.  I read them because of the internship I’m currently doing and they made me feel much more knowledgeable on the topic.

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Then, I picked up Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, once again by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

My rating: 5/5 stars
Recommend to: Once again, shameless nerds like me. This one is a bit easier to follow than Death by Black Hole and other cosmic quandaries, so if you haven’t had a look at anything science since high school it is still quite an easy read.
Genre: Science, Nonfiction
Sinopse: “The essential universe, from our most celebrated and beloved astrophysicist.” (via wook)

 

88e990280989f2b9727818a94588cf26The last book I read this January was The Mother by Maximo Gorki, and if you read my review on this book you know how emotional it was for me.

My rating: 4/5 stars
Recommend to: Everybody
Genre: Classic
Sinopse: “This novel tells the story of the common proletariat who protested against the czar and the capitalists which eventually led to the October Revolution…Mother represents hundreds of workers who are concerned with living their lives.” (via Amazon)

What was your favourite read of the month?

I’ve been struggling for the last seven minutes, trying to figure out what else to say here, but there isn’t much else I can say really. So…I hope you enjoyed this post. If you read any of these books please let me know!

Bye, keep on reading!

Mother by Máximo Gorki – Book Review

There is a story behind this book and I feel like I need to tell it before I review it. If you want to go straight to the review go ahead, I’ll use a line to separate this from the review.

The first time I ever saw this book I was probably around 12. It was on a living room cabinet, which meant it wasn’t my mother’s since her books have always been kept at our home office bookshelf. I remember asking my father what book it was and remember him saying it belonged to my grandmother. For 12 year old me this was meaningless and I just went on with my life.

I came across this book again about a month and a half ago (on my twenties). I once again asked my father about the book. This time the story was more detailed. You might not know but Portugal had a dictatorship that lasted about 41 years, which ended in 1974. My grandmother only ever lived inside this dictatorship, but I’d say she was pretty different from the women of her time.

This book was basically forbidden due to its socialist message, which means that if she had been caught with it she would have ended up as a political prisoner and most likely tortured to death. According to my father, she always kept the book under her bedside table just in case there was a swoop.

Even though I never met my grandmother I can for sure say that all my rebellion comes from her. Not mention that from the stories my dad tells me, she was probably an extraordinary lady who valued both education and culture, which is something I look for in every person I ever encounter.


REVIEW:

Mother follows the life of Pelágia (Pelagueya for the English edition), Pavel’s mother as she enters her son’s world when he embraces socialism and starts bringing home forbidden books. The author describes a group of factory workers in the small Russian community at the beginning of the Russian revolution.img_20190124_164321_107

It’s mainly a story about a woman, from the beginning of the last century, overcoming her political ignorance to become involved in the revolution, and for me, she is the true protagonist of this novel.

It was slow at times but the reality brought out by the author was outstanding. The way the author described the struggle of the working class from the perspective of a mother, was honestly outstanding. I really liked his style of writing: having lines spoken anonymously by anyone in the scene, it’s like we are inside the characters minds. Given its revolutionary intentions nowhere does the book become preachy.

This book was an emotional rollercoaster but it is for sure not just another book to pass the time, you need to take time to connect with the characters. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone that likes history or is at all interested in this “revolutionary” type of book.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly – Review

This story follows our main protagonist, Victor Frankenstein. He’s fascinated by science and decides to apply his knowledge in the creation of life. Creating the incredibly famous Frankenstein’s monster, later regretting his decision and spending a small amount of the story running away from him/it.

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Overall I enjoyed this book, I really fancied Mary Shelly’s writing style and I also liked the mix between letter as well as actual prose. The plot was very well developed and I think she really made clear what her point was. As I see it, she used this book to examine human nature as well as trying to define what human life actually is along with trying to show us we need to evaluate our own actions and not put how we act on other people.

All in all, I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars just because I’m not really into horror.
I deftly recommend you to read it, you know I love the classics.

 

Hamlet by William Shakespeare – Review

I really shouldn’t be reviewing the work of Shakespeare, I’m for sure not an expert but here it goes!

hamlet

Hamlet is a story of how the ghost of an assassinated king comes to haunt the living with devastating repercussions and it starts with the encounter of young Hamlet with his father’s ghost.

Revolving around revenge, betrayal, and madness, Hamlet is dramatic, entertaining and unlike what I was expecting an easy read but with a lot to take in. In this play Hamlet’s feigned madness is contrasted with Ophelia’s genuine madness.

This play was a joy to read, in the sense of inner satisfaction at the writing, the complexity of characters and the richness of the thought induced in the reader  by Shakespeare in this breathtaking drama.

I really liked this play, the only thing about it was the fact that it was a play (something I’m not used to reading).

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.