Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

This is one of those books that has been around quite a long time. If you've watched the movie Sister Act 2 with Whoopie Goldberg and Lauryn Hill then you will know that Whoopie told Lauryn to read the book.

It's a series of letters written by Rainer Maria Rilke who was a poet. The man writing to him was asking Rainer to look at his work and to give him advice on writing. There are no letters from the point of view of the man who wrote to Rainer, only the letters that the man received from Rainer. 

The reference that I have seen often when this book has been mentioned is what Rainer says about writing. I am paraphrasing here, but he says that if you look inside yourself and ask yourself "must I write?" and if the answer is anything but a resounding yes, then you should just walk away. If the answer is yes, then you must write. 

His point of view is very interesting, and the book is full of wonderful quotes about life and writing. He focuses on details of the self and of using whats around us in our work. 

It's not a easy read even though it is very short and comprises 11 letters that Rainer wrote. His thoughts are esoteric and at times a little difficult to follow. 

The beauty of it is, Rainer was being completely candid and open with his thoughts and feelings during this period of time. It was like reading some one's journal. I found it quite interesting. 

Recommendation: Pick this up if you are interested in writing, or even following your dreams. It's so full of wisdom that I think it's worth having around to pick up again and again because I'm sure you'll come across something new each time. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Martha Grimes: The Richard Jury Novels

Martha Grimes is the author of one of my favorite series about fictional Inspector Richard Jury with the Scotland Yard. He works cases together with his old friend Melrose Plant who is not a member of the police force to solve mysteries.

I love these books. The mysteries are a tad heavier than, say, Agatha Christie's or M.C. Beaton's, but they are still very good. I am a huge lover of British mysteries and British mystery writers. 

One of the biggest things I enjoy about these books is that they follow two men who are simply friends, no partners on the job, not people required to work together. They are friends and they help each other out. It's an interesting partnership that I find quite refreshing. 

There is a whole cast of colorful characters that appear in a lot of the novels that add some lovely interest to each story. For one, Melrose Plant actually has a title or two that he no longer uses, but comes in handy in some cases. The stories tend to be titled after the name of a Pub that features in the story which is another interesting part of these books that I really do love. 

I have quite a big collection of her novels that I got second hand (for the most part) from used book stores. I have made it one of my missions to collect them all at some point. (So seriously hard to photograph though! So excuse the photo please!)

Recommendation: These are novels for any mystery lover, especially those who enjoy British mysteries. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

This book was intense. I cried at times, I felt sad, I felt inspired, I felt like what it would have been like to be married to Hemingway back in the day.

I really do enjoy reading about the lives of others especially when it comes to the lives of writers. Doesn't matter if the stories are fiction, I still love them. 

I won't lie, I was left with a bit of an empty feeling at the end. This book took a lot out of me. It was definitely an emotional journey. I won't go into details (as usual) but this book follows the life of one of Hemingway's wives. The good, the bad, the ugly, the great. It's all there imagined how the author, using details from her life, thinks it went. It's all there. 

I find that the same thing that happens with movies happens with books. So often you will hear of a new release of a movie on a topic and right after, or even at the same time, you see another movie just like it come out. This book came across my radar around the same time I heard of Z the book about the life of Zelda Fitzgerald. I have read both, and I think I read both in the same year (though I'm not saying they came out at the same time). It's just interesting how that seems to happen. 

Recommendation: Read this if you enjoy stories about people who lived, life stories, and stories about the lives of writers. It's worth the read.