As I said in my previous reading post, this year I’m taking on the Goodreads + Popsugar reading challenge, and I have to say — it’s been quite motivating! I’m already ahead of schedule in my personal reading goal and eager to get my TBR list down. But, I have to say, the year didn’t start all that well for me.

Let’s talk about books!

Here’s how my challenge is going so far

War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

As I also mentioned in a previous post, I have a book club with my friends where each of us takes turns suggesting books to read together. At the end of every ‘round’, we choose a classic we’ve never read before. This is the current one!

I’m 35% into it already and thoroughly enjoying it. My experience with Russian literature is very limited but I think it’s safe to say Tolstoy is already one of my favorite authors. I’m loving all the characters and storylines, especially the historical parts. The way he depicts the war and societal hierarchy is priceless — sometimes full of sarcasm, sometimes gut-wrenching. His writing is very characteristic and easy to follow, something that is uncommon for his contemporaries.

One of the things I was most excited about picking this up is the edition I chose: it’s the first ever direct translation from Russian to Portuguese! Up until now we only had translations from other languages, like French and English, which doesn’t mean they were bad, but one thing about translation is that you always lose something from the original text. So, by being translated from a translation, the text lost even more. I’m very excited because I remember discussing this project during class in college and now I’m reading it!

But, since it has a million and one pages and I might take the whole year to finish it, I’ve been reading some other things in parallel.

These were the first books I finished this year and they were big disappointments. I usually don’t review books I don’t like because I see no value in criticizing something based on my individual taste, so I will only tell what I did like: Rachel’s writing and Fern’s characters.

Rachel has an exquisite writing style, which was so important to set the mood in Suicide Club, as well as to show the character’s emotions. The book contains some of the most beautifully written excerpts I’ve ever read! I’ll definitely try to read other things by her in the future for this reason alone!

In Better in the Morning, although I didn’t like the main character’s personality, she was actually very well written. Not only her but all of them. They were all very different people, with very different voices and quirks, which is something I myself find very difficult to do.

Then, this month, things finally started looking up with these ones! I’ve been hearing about Victoria Schwab for years now but had never read anything by her. I’m happy to say the hype is well deserved! I read the whole duology in two weeks, the second one even faster than the first because I desperately had to know.

From the very beginning, the story is full of action and movement. The characters are very interesting, layered, and consistent — again, something that’s really hard to find. The plot is very involving, the whole concept of the monsters, especially how they come to be, had me very interested in the dynamics of this society.

Another unexpected yet weirdly satisfying aspect of the story (at least in the first book) was the lack of romance. Although I shipped Kate and August, it made a lot of sense that their relationship didn’t go there. It gave the story a realistic layer, despite it being fantasy/dystopia.

My favorite part overall was probably the different take on humanity. I feel like we never get to see this other side — the ugly side — of who we are, of who we’re capable of being. At least for me, this felt very new and very raw and it certainly stirred something within. I think the author accomplished a lot, pretty fast — there are no spaces in the story, everything serves a purpose, everything makes sense. That’s really hard to do.

The only aspect I didn’t LOVE about the books was the fact they are YA, but that’s a pet peeve I have with most YA. It’s hard to believe teenagers would deal with such things, take such actions, behave in such ways as they do in these books. Also, in this particular case, I think the story is a bit too heavy for young people to go through and I often forgot how young they were as I read it, which I think helped the whole experience.

This is my current read. I actually started reading this one last year and ended up forgetting about it, but now I’m back on track. I picked this one up because of the story that inspired the movie Arrival. Have you watched it? If you didn’t, I totally recommend you do! This has become one of my favorite (if not the favorite) movies ever. Let me explain why: I’m a translator. In school, one of our recurrent discussions was how language shapes the way people perceive the world and how recognizing it is key for a good translation. It’s not about getting words from a language to the other, it’s about conveying the message in a way that feels like the original text. It’s about the intention, not really the content. And watching this theoretical aspect take shape with a practical application on a Hollywood movie was magical for me.

I haven’t got to the story which the movie was based on, but I’ve liked everything I read so far. I have a feeling this might be my first five-star read of the year! Fingers crossed.

What about you, what have you been reading? Did you read any of these? Do you have any recommendations?

» If you’d like to know what I’m reading and follow my reviews, you can find me on Goodreads and BookBub!

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