Books

Book 357: Eleven Minutes – Paulo Coelho

Coelho, Paulo - Eleven MinutesAgain, I’m not sure when I picked up this and The Witch of Portobello, but I’m assuming sometime back in 2011 as I mention them in a post as far back as my May 2012 update. I once again ask why I don’t read more of his and why I put it off for so long between reading his works. He said something in the forward, that struck me,

“Some books make us dream, others bring us face to face with reality, but what matters most to the author is the honesty with which a book is written.”

Having now read six of Coelho’s many published works it is easy to see he truly lives by this. His stories make you dream and bring you face-to-face with reality, and every one of them have an honesty that is hard to find in so many authors’ works. I have yet to read a book written by him that didn’t touch me in some way whether it was on a spiritual or inspirational level or on a cognitive level.

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Books

Book 356: The Witch of Portobello – Paulo Coelho

Coelho, Paulo - The Witch of PortobelloIn a further attempt to get a few more posts up while I’m on vacation I went to my TBR shelf and found I had two more Paulo Coelho novels yet to go so I grabbed them to read. They’re always easily written, well translated and fascinatingly beautiful and The Witch of Portobello (Amazon Affiliates link), was no exception. I’m actually not sure when I picked up this book as I can’t find a photo of it, so I’m going to assume it was sometime in 2011 right after I read The Alchemist.

Every time I read a book by Coelho, I find myself wondering about and searching for my spirituality. Whether he is talking about the Mother or organized religion (usually not), Coelho has a way of writing incredibly complex ideas and intricate narratives that is so simple and beautiful that it’s almost breath-taking. I do wonder if it is even more beautiful in his native Portuguese, how can it be so incredibly beautiful translated into English and not be beyond beautiful originally. So that being said, some credit must, obviously, be given to Margaret Jull Costa who has translated other works by Coelho including Veronika Decides to Die and Eleven Minutes (my next read) and many works by José Saramago including Seeing.

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2014 Challenges, Books

Book 289: The Devil and Miss Prym (And On the Seventh Day #3) – Paulo Coelho

Coelho, Paulo - The Devil and Miss Prym (And on the Seventh Day #3)Of the three books in the On the Seventh Day trilogy, this was my favorite. It has been almost two years since I read By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and Veronika Decides to Die was too institutional for me, but this novel was great and approaches the simplicity and beauty of The Alchemist, but kept the idea of an external catalyst which Veronika Decides to Die had.

As with the last novel it’s difficult to go into this one without revealing too many details. A stranger visits the unchanging village of Viscos and creates an ethical/spiritual dilemma that the entire village must agree or disagree to participate in, all or nothing. As with Coelho’s other novels this novel focuses on very few people, but they are ordinary. He said it best in the author’s introduction, Click here to continue reading.

Books

Book 288: Veronika Decides to Die (And On the Seventh Day #2) – Paulo Coelho

Coelho, Paulo - Veronika Decides to DieI had a copy of The Devil and Miss Prym and planned to read it, but when I pulled it off the shelf I found out it was the part of the And On the Seventh Day trilogy after By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, which I’d read already, and Veronika Decides to Die. This is hilarious, because I definitely wrote about the trilogy in December of 2012, but either way I picked this up from the library earlier this week.

As I said last time, and I will probably say again, it’s been far too long since I last read anything by Coelho. I somehow let myself forget how beautiful his writing is and I can’t help but wonder how beautiful it must be in the original Portuguese! These are the same thoughts I think whenever I read Murakami, just imagine how beautiful it must be in the original language and credit clearly is clearly due to the translators! I can’t remember what author said it, but someone said that a work of translation is a different work and is just as artistic and I truly believe it with these two authors.

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Books

Book 251: Seeing (Blindness #2) – José Saramago

Saramago, José - SeeingMy first, of what I hope to be numerous, library book of 2014! I trekked through the sub-freezing weather last week after finishing Blindness to grab this from the library. And although not as stark or disturbing as the first book, Seeing left me in just as much confusion and distress. Saramago is clearly a master at speculative fiction and created a second work in what I could only hope would have been a trilogy, but unfortunately Saramago died in 2010.

This novel takes place four years after the events in Blindness and this is fascinating because the first mention of the “white plague” by the omniscient narrator is on page 77 and the first mention by a character isn’t until page 157 (almost exactly half way through the novel). I actually had to stop around page 30 to read the premise of this novel again to make sure I hadn’t imagined this was a sequel.

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2014 Challenges, Books

Book 250: Blindness (Blindess #1) – José Saramago

Saramago, José - BlindnessMy friend Dominic recommended this book ages ago and I’m so glad he did! After thoroughly enjoying The Velvet Rage I knew his reference would be worth it and I’d put it off long enough so bumped it up on my list.

First response to this book: what a way to start 2014!  I can’t wait to hear what It definitely makes me wonder if this will remain one of the top books of 2014. I read 1Q84 in January of 2013 and it was one of my top five books. Finishing this book inspired me to immediately go out (and brave the sub-freezing temperatures) to pick up Seeing, the sequel.

The book starts out pretty slow, and considering the lack of action and movement throughout the world, moves surprisingly rapid after that. The basic premise is similar to any plague-type novel starts with patient zero (we assume) and slowly expand out, the difference is rather than a traditional plague people go blind for no reason and with no physical manifestations other than blindness. If you want a longer description of the novel check out this 1998 NYTimes summary.

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Books, Quotes

Book 159: By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept (And On the Seventh Day #1) – Paulo Coelho

Coelho, Paulo - By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and WeptThis is Coelho’s second book I’ve read and although it wasn’t as good as The Alchemist, it was still incredibly well written and moving. I do have a couple more of his books on my shelf and plan on saving them for when I need a break from other books. However, I might need to read the other two books in the ‘trilogy’ (according to Wikipedia) Veronika Decides to Die and The Devil and Miss Prim sooner rather than later.

Deepika, over at Purplebooky reviewed this book and there’s really not much more to add. It’s a deceptively simple love story with religion interwoven and provides a lot of lessons on love, life and faith. Compared to The Alchemist, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept lacked some impact (the love was definitely there, it just wasn’t as powerful) and the story is a bit less monumental. This is definitely not a bad thing because the simpleness of this story is part of what makes it so beautiful.

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