Oh Romeo, Romeo… Shut the bloody window, you’re letting the mosquitoes in

Me overlooking Verona
Me overlooking Verona

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My summer reads

One of my favourites parts of this summer has been my return to reading. When I was younger I used to read obsessively. I would read while I was doing everything. Often my parents would check on me in the morning and I would have my trousers or tights halfway up my legs, completely abandoned to just finish that chapter.. Unfortunately in a tale almost old as time itself, with increasing school work I spent most of my free time in front of the TV (moderation is key kids). I lost reading completely because I felt guilty that I wasn’t reading my school books, so I stopped reading completely. This year I decided enough was enough and while on my year abroad I could indulge some time to my favourite hobby. So from when my exams finished in June to now, armed with my Amazon Kindle I have managed to read 21 books. I now appreciate that whilst these books might not explicitly relate to my degree or learning the Italian language, they still have value in the light of my degree. Reading often helps your writing and your vocabulary, which is important for essay writing. Also, the fact that both subjects in my degree involve people, it is interesting reading books about people, written by people. They all vary in length but I have to admit being slightly disappointed in that number. But, quality not quantity hey? I will now pick out my favourite five books and give a ‘lil review, because I am avoiding translation work and this post is semi-practical (she says).

5) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Picture taken from: https://bookgannet.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/review-from-italy-with-love/

So, Gone Girl has come in at a respectable number five. I haven’t yet seen the film so I took the opportunity to read the book while Amazon had it on a special price of 99p. I had managed to avoid the spoilers and most of the hype when the film came out, so my expectations were pretty average. But, it is a great story and very well written. It was the perfect balance between not knowing exactly what would happen and actually having no idea what might happen. I have to admit the ending was personally for me a little disappointing, but then I am usually disappointed when a book I am enjoying comes to an end. Overall, I was extremely pleased and glad that a book with some much hype was actually worth it.

4) From Italy with Love by Jules Wake

Picture taken from: https://bookgannet.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/review-from-italy-with-love/

 

With my imminent move to Italy (I still can’t believe it), I wanted to read some novels based in the country. I wasn’t too bothered about cultural accuracy, I was just super excited and this book definitely didn’t dampen that excitement. A road trip through Europe with a Ferrari ending at the birthplace of Ferrari, which coincidentally is not too far from where I am living. The exciting build-up to driving the infamous Stelvio Pass was appropriately written. I have to admit as someone who has not yet learnt to drive, this made me want to get behind the wheel of a car fast! Maybe one day I will attempt the Stelvio Pass drive, but first I will wait to see how good I am at driving. This book stood out for me because I didn’t really know what to expect and I wasn’t expecting amazing things. However, the main character was written very well, realist but not boring. Overall, a pleasant, easy summer read.

3) Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey

Picture taken from: http://www.casualoptimist.com/blog/2015/02/02/book-covers-of-note-february-2015/

‘Girl in the Dark’ charts with me at number 3 because I think it is such an important book. The book is a memoir based on one woman’s chronic illness. She develops an extraordinary sensitivity to lights and the memoir is all about charting her life in the dark. It was fascinating for me on many levels but, from a scientific and psychological point of view particularly when she sought answers from the medical and psychological community. It amazed me just how little information they could provide and how they wished to box her into something they could understand, even if it wasn’t the best/right thing. It also made me appreciate my health and how lucky I am. Chronic illness are often misunderstood and unknown. It was beautifully written, and probably the had the best writing out of all the books in my list.

2) The Summer Man by S.D. Perry

Picture taken from: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17046613-the-summer-man

The Summer Man is a recent read but it is one that I think will stick with me for a while. It makes my list because like most on this list, it is different. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good crime or romance novel but every so often I really do value something different. The Summer Man had the best of all worlds and most of all it examined the human condition in both an obvious and subtle manner. If you wanted to think about why different people might be acting in a particular way, there was plenty there. But if you just wanted the story as it was, that was also great quality. The theory of what happens in the book is very interesting and made me wonder a lot about myself and how I might personally react if I was living in Port Isle

1) John Russell series by David Downing

Picture taken from: https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/berlin-books-that-created-the-city-that-haunts-our-imagination/

 

 

The full set of the David Downing series on Jon Russell known as the ‘Station Series’ consists of 6 books. However I only read the final four because when I started the first one I read, I did not realise that it was a series. However, as my number one summer read, you can see it did not detract from my enjoyment. Maybe including a book series as one read is somewhat sneaky, however I couldn’t choose between these books because it is the whole series that makes it. What I gained most from these books was an appreciation of what Nazi Germany might have been like from the inside. I had not often thought about how the war and the regime would be affecting normal Germans, not just significant figures such as Oskar Schlinder. The book was sensitively written and whilst I cannot speak fully on topic of the historical accuracy, I think it was generally pretty good. I credit this series with providing a different viewpoint to WW2 and challenging potential views and stereotypes that had previously been portrayed to me.

If you managed to get this far, congratulations and thank you! If you go on to read any of these books I would love to hear your thoughts, so please do comment below!