Deciding what to read next each time I finish a book is quite random. In fact it tends to be luck of the draw. The book that grabs your eye on the library shelf; the one that you’ve read a review of and know you want to read it; or an author you’ve read before and would like to read more of. November started with the latter…Hans Fallada.
Hans Fallada was a German author who wrote in the first half of the twentieth century, around the time before and after Hitler came to power. The only word I can use to describe his writing is ‘sombre’, which is probably not surprising given the fact that he was writing about living in Germany during that time.
This is a glimpse into the life of a newly married couple trying to survive the economic hardships that many endured between the wars. With the benefit of history and hindsight, this novel lets you look back at a time and gain a better understanding of the struggles of ordinary people, living ordinary lives, during an extraordinary period.
This is the second novel I have read by Fallada. Alone In Berlin (also called, Every Man Dies Alone), was a slow, intense read that kept me captivated. Little Man, What Now? is in the same vein. Both are recommended reads.
The intensity of the subject matter of the Fallada novel meant that sometimes during the month I just wanted / needed something a little lighter to read with my morning cup of tea. That was provided by The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**K (Sarah Knight). This is a light-hearted approach to taking your life in your hands and realising that some things / people / events…are not worth giving your time to. It’s all about prioritising what’s truly important to you. Did I learn anything? Not really. But I have this feeling some people would get a whole lot out of it. Especially those who can’t say no, or feel guilty when they do. I’m an ‘own your own problems’ kind of person: own it, solve it, move on. So I’m sort of on the same page already, but it was a good book to pick up and skim when something humorous was required.
I really like Hans Fallada as an author, but the reality is, it takes me a while to read his books. As a result, November was a three book month. Well two really, because I skimmed number two and used it as a filler. Book 3 was The Nest (Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney) – an enjoyable, easy read, which is just what I wanted. The ‘nest’ refers to the anticipated family inheritance that has been severely depleted in order to bail out a brother who was in an accident and needed to pay off an injured party. The impact this has on the four siblings of this dysfunctional family makes up the drama of this book. This is about what happens when you spend money you think you are going to inherit, but then you don’t get. It left me feeling a little bit ‘so what’, because we are essentially getting an insight into greed, entitlement and selfishness. Did I like the characters? No. Could I relate? No. But I enjoyed reading it and sometimes that’s all you need.
This month’s reading was a great mix: light, funny and thought provoking. If you have anything to recommend I’d love to hear about them. Enjoy!