Hunting and Gathering
By: Anna Gavalda
The book caught my attention because I had watched the movie Ensemble C’est Tout starring Audrey Tautou and Guillaume Canet. I liked the movie so I decided to check out the book. Firstly, I dunno where “Hunting and Gathering” came from “Ensemble C’est Tout”; it baffles me but I have given up wondering since, lol.
A Year in the Merde
By: Stephen Clarke
I’ve always seen his books in the bookstores, was always amused by their covers, but I never got around to reading his book until recently. I always thought his book was more nonfictional than fictional (then again, I noticed his book close to the travel section in Indigo’s, which didn’t mean much). But anyways, the book follows the story of Paul West, a English businessman who was invited by a French business owner to open a series of British tea room franchise in Paris. Paul figures why not and goes for it, figuring it’d be a piece of cake. Little does he know what he’s really in for: constant strikes, fellow employees whose work ethics are completely different from what he’s used to, a series of women he just can’t really understand and a boss who isn’t all that he appears to be. The book follows his adventures from Septembre to Mai, chronicling his encounters and the contrasts in French culture. It’s an amusing read, perfect if you’re taking a break from a string of hefty reads. My favourite aspect of this novel was the narrative; it’s written in Paul’s point of view, so the way in which he describes his surroundings and his experiences and his use of analogies to aid him in this are what I think makes this book as hilarious as it is.
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The Witch of Portobello
By: Paulo Coelho
I had been waiting for this book to come out on paperback for some quite time. The story basically follows the question of who Athena was, according to interviews from many of the people who knew her. The narrative is interesting that way, presented as a series of interview monologues about Athena. The theme for this novel has to do with being true to oneself even if a) one is not sure who he or she is and b) the world is telling you you cannot be this person or that. It’s an interesting premise and there are some good points that are raised throughout the novel. However, I didn’t connect to this novel as well as his previous novels. My sympathy for Athena dwindled down with each interview and despite the symbolism and her concerns, I couldn’t entirely grasp why Athena impulsively did the things that she did. For example, she impulsively decided to have a child but then at times it seemed like she didn’t care for the child. And then rising to the level of a spiritual icon…it wasn’t inspiring or thought-provoking but just downright weird. The really interesting bit about this book was at the end and the discovery of who made the compilation of interviews to begin with. Overall, I think this was not the greatest I’ve read from Paulo Coelho; it was an okay read, but his previous work are far more interesting and far more inspiring.
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The Dim Sum of All Things
By: Kim Wong Keltner
This book came to my reading list through a recommendation. “Chick lit” apparently is a very controversial term so let’s call it a “light read”; as a “light read”, it’s certainly a unique one. It focuses on a Chinese-American woman who lives with her grandmother in California, who has an o-kay job and who, having grown up in North America, is struggling to reconcile her ethnic Chinese heritage with the manner that she had grown up in. It’s something I personally could relate to on certain levels, which is why I was extremely curious to read this book. Ms. Keltner does a superb job in setting the stage and really exploring that tension there, of Lindsey growing up completely immersed in American pop culture but at the same time dealing with the Chinese culture many of her family members and relatives have kept on and how she describes them. The process of her coming to terms with her heritage is quite touching (if not slightly cliched of other “coming-of-age” stories out there). However, the book did hit a couple of slow snags over the course of the story (will not mention particulars as to not spoil the entire premise for readers), like it’s missing some element that would’ve given the plot some sparkle, and what started as a promising story ends up partly flat by the end of the novel. Another thing that slightly irked me was the characterization of Lindsey’s best friend, who is a Filipino, in the novel. It seemed rather…well, unauthentic. The father’s characterization was on the dot there, but the friend just seemed rather…well, odd in my opinion. I recommend this book regardless for Keltner’s representation of an immigrants’ child’s route towards reconciliation between two cultures that they are dealing with, but in terms storytelling, it works but it could have been stronger.
Read Kim Wong Keltner’s biogrpahy from RedRoom.com || Order this book from the Book Depository