I love writing, but apparently I don't have any talent, or I can't find it (if it's something you can find), so my dream of becoming a writer is just that. I'm a lawyer now (yup, no kidding).

Anyway, I love books, music, movies, pizza, lemon pie and people with good sense of humor.  If you don't have any, if you make Mary Bennet look funny, interesting and witty, or if you're a fanatic that's still not acquainted with the fact that people have their own personal taste and therefore, their own opinions about books, music, movies, etc., so you can't bear that another person dislikes your favorite book, song, movie, etc., then please don't talk to me. Let's save the awkwardness :)

The Graduate - Charles Webb Hace tiempo vi la película, y me gustó... ahí. No la tengo entre mis favoritas, tiene detalles que no me terminan de cerrar, cosas que se ven forzadas. No sé. Pero sí sé que a raíz de esta extraña sensación que tengo con la película, tengo ganas de leerlo. Quizás lo que se ve forzado, se lee mejor; no todo se puede trasladar a la pantalla con éxito. Me imagino excepcionales descripciones de lo que pasa por la mente de Benjamin. Ojalá no me equivoque. Por ahora, son solo conjeturas de un libro por adquirir.
Los Conjurados - Jorge Luis Borges * There may be some spoilers *I read Los Conjurados in 2005. It's not that I have such an outstanding memory that I can remember what was I reading one, two, eight years ago. Moreover, if I can remember what I had for dinner last night, I'm on my good days. Anyway, I know I read this in that particular year because I tend to add footnotes, references, names, new vocabulary, personal thoughts on how little I feel when the book I'm reading is brilliant... all that on the margins. I don't like dog-earing my pages, but when a book is that good, when it makes me work and begin my little investigation, I write on it (unless it's a really old one, but I tend to buy paperbacks, so I can work with them without feeling too guilty; plus, I just want to read them, not brag about having a beautiful hardcover or the first edition of Whateverthename; at least, not for now). So, "dog-earing people" of the world, it's fine. You don't like using bookmarks and I write on the margins. We're cool. In this case, the first note was about Borges' prologue. This particular paragraph: “No pasa un día en que no estemos, un instante, en el paraíso. No hay poeta, por mediocre que sea, que no haya escrito el mejor verso de la literatura, pero también los más desdichados. La belleza no es privilegio de unos cuantos nombres ilustres.”My first thought was something about his pretty optimistic vision and his humility, then I continued with some kind of "emo lines" that I won't mention now. Nor ever. And that was dated "nov/2005". Today, I re-read it, and it was like reading a whole new book. And that's not because I found new meanings and all that, but because after those years, I didn't remember a thing :) “Why did I write those remarks?" "Who are those people Borges is talking about?” “Huh?!” It's not that this is a forgettable work, it's my memory. Or my lack of it, actually.Back to the book. It was written in 1985, a year before Borges' death. And there are little masterpieces all over this book. I personally love: Cristo en la Cruz, Juan López y John Ward, Abramowicz (“Esta noche me has dicho sin palabras, Abramowicz, que debemos entrar en la muerte como quien entra en una fiesta”, just beautiful), Alguien Sueña, Alguien Soñará, Los Conjurados (“En el centro de Europa están conspirando (…) Han tomado la extraña resolución de ser razonables. Han resuelto olvidar sus diferencias y acentuar sus afinidades”, a humble wish in the last days of his life).

The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

Do I really want to read it? Should I? ...

We'll see.

Como agua para chocolate - Laura Esquivel I went to a book club once, years ago, and it was Esquivel's turn. That's it. That's all I should say about this book. Because if I begin to remember everything I hated about it... Well. It won't be pretty for me. I mean, I enjoy magical realism, but not when it's so damn sappy, mushy, sentimental and other 5 synonyms that I can't come up with right now. I don't know. I guess I don't do well with such an enormous amount of melodramatic romance. It's fine when it's a well-written part of the story. But when the descriptions become so ughh... I just feel bad. Those 2 stars are because of its nice structure and, well, there's food (?). Seriously, that creative connection among the story, the food and other cultural aspects, it's kind of interesting. But the rest... I just wanted to forget it. And I successfully managed to do so. Until this review.Damn.

The Art of War

The Art of War - Thomas Cleary, Sun Tzu I think it might be useful (?)We'll see!
The Overcoat - Nikolai Gogol My first contact with Gogol, and not my last, I can guarantee that. This little book tells the story of Akakiy Akakievitch, a certain official in a certain department where nobody showed him any sign of respect. He was laughed at by his co-workers. That's got to be the worst thing that can ever happen to any human being: realizing that high-school did not end (for a lot of people, it wasn't all flowers and rainbows). All the bullying, the bad jokes, the embarrassing moments where you gently ask the ground to eat you alive, the psychological violence you can't get rid of, all that, now... at your workplace? Yup, hell indeed. The Overcoat is, well, about that, an overcoat. It seems to have more relevance than Akakiy, the responsible guy with the unfortunate name. That's another thing... mothers, what the hell are you thinking when you give your children ridiculous names? Please, spare them a lot of trouble and save yourselves a lot of money in psychologists and start naming your kids properly. I don't know why they don't change their own name into some fruit, weird magicians, comic superheroes, cars, cardinal points or whatever they seem to love. Especially you, celebrity people that don't know I exist and won't read this in your entire life! Anyway, it's ok. Rant officially over. (If you search for "Akakiy Akakievitch", you'll understand. I had to do that because I wanted know why the author spent several lines explaining how he got his name and yeah, I don't speak Russian.)As I was saying, this book is about a man that was constantly humiliated at work, and his ruined overcoat, which he wanted to repair because of the cold, cold winter and the bad, bad jokes. So he decided to buy a new one and after living under a tight budget, he managed to do so. And, suddenly, he was a respectable man. That laughable poor devil that always endured those bad jokes and never replied to anyone, was now a relevant part of his department; of society, even. His brand new overcoat gave him confidence, some self esteem. People at his department even organized a party in his honor. Actually, in the overcoat's honor, but still, it was a big deal. And then something happened... I loved this story. It's well-written, it has some beautiful lines (“and many a time afterwards, in the course of his life, shuddered at seeing how much inhumanity there is in man, how much savage coarseness is concealed beneath delicate, refined worldliness, and even, O God! in that man whom the world acknowledges as honorable and noble”; so true), it reflects society back then. And now. Everything seems to change but the most significant aspects don't change that much. That's one of the reasons I love literature. Books written hundreds of years ago reflect situations, attitudes, emotions, ways of thinking that we see nowadays. Feelings towards routine and extreme bureaucracy, discrimination, injustice, exploitation, alienation are the same two centuries ago and now. Not all writers have what it takes to explore these universal emotions and write something that you can immediately relate to. But Gogol seems to be one of them. Apparently, he had that keen eye meant to observe individuals and humanity as a whole, and was able to write about it in such a beautiful manner (I can totally see my previous boss in some pages). Like Dostoyevsky, whom I absolutely love and admire. Gogol's influence on Russian literature is unquestionable. It also appears in Kafka's work, so my favorites authors are kind of connected in here. The Overcoat is a short story that contains too much. Do not miss it. Note: I think this is a very long review for a short story, but whatever, it's the excitement talking and some weird "Saturday night writing" mood.
El oro de los tigres - Jorge Luis Borges I can't write anything new about Borges. He's one of my favorite authors and I can't repeat over and over what I think of him. I love his prose and poetry. He's a complete challenge. While reading one of his books, I'm actually reading two, his and an encyclopedia, because most of the times, I have no idea to whom he's referring to... And that's one of the things I love the most about him.This book contains thirty-seven poems and some prose. Major works about love, time, hope, dreams, life in a yellow shade because of his progressive blindness. El amenazado, El centinela, Tankas, El ciego... Simply beautiful.Definitely not a forgettable book.
Cuentos que me apasionaron - Ernesto Sábato This book starts with a heartbreaking prologue. A couple of lines that shows you the quality of this author (this is if you haven't had the fortune of reading his work yet). In the final years of his life, he decided to share with us the stories that he loved, that he never forgot. He wanted us to get to know those authors because he thought it really was worth it. Jeez, he was right. This book alone will take you to other universes, and let me tell you (even though my opinion doesn't change a thing), you won't regret it. There's a couple of writers I've never heard of, and now, they're my next stop. (Well, after I read that Tower of Babel I have as a to-read shelf. There's so much to do and so little time. If only I could be paid just for existing, eating and reading... Fine. Babble over.) Most of them are considered “classics”, but that doesn't mean they're unapproachable, difficult to understand and all that. Actually, several classics aren't. That specific word may lead some judgmental people to the silly conclusion that we're talking about difficult books that make you look smarter (even if they do... for me, it's annoying to listen to a person brag about it). I tried a lot of genres, but, as a “mostly classic” reader, I personally dislike people that think they're better than the rest because they read those books, or people that think that other people think they're better than the rest because they read those books (yup, I got lost too). It happens, people that don't even know you but still give you the “oh you think you're so smart with your Dostoyevsky and your ego that's taking all over the room” look... those people are everywhere. All in all, it's a matter of taste. (Speaking of an objective review, babble #2 over.)I enjoyed reading this book, these stories filled with timeless thoughts and feelings. Sabato also included a little bio of each author, so you can be a bit more prepared. But I don't want to prepare you, at all! I don't want to spoil a single thing. I shall remain in “Siddharta contemplating the talking river” kind of silence, in order to let you read his brilliant selection with all the mystery and excitement intact.
Inferno - Dante Alighieri, Anthony Esolen Lo comencé hace años pero nunca lo terminé, no porque no me guste, sea denso, etc. Se me fueron juntando otras lecturas y después, bueno, quedó ahí... Cosas de la vida. Así que no es tan "forever-currently-reading", es un "for-the-moment", un "definitely-coming-back", un "must-finish-it-before-buried", y afines. Intuyo que era más fácil agregar ese estante que hacer toda esta aclaración. Así que, por si no quedó claro, en breve lo retomo.
The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins Finalmente, obtuve la trilogía, y hoy la comienzo. Sin ningún apuro, tranquila, prometiéndome leve y superficialmente no ver la otra película antes de leer algo del segundo. No suelo tener expectativa con este tipo de libros, PERO, reconozco que tengo ganas de leerlo.
White Nights - Fyodor Dostoyevsky Well, at this moment, I'm supposed to be reading Clockwork Angel because I don't want to be a judgmental snob and form an opinion without even reading the book. Or this kind of book. BUT, I found White Nights, lost in my bookshelves. I think it was fate; I don't usually believe in fate, even though I don't have any proofs to disbelieve in it but also no faith to really believe in it, so I'm kind of floating in that department. However, in this particular moment, I think fate spoke to me. And oh my... Fyodor, what the hell are you doing to me? Yes, talking to a dead person, here. But this man is always talking to my soul, wherever that thing is. I can always relate to his narrators (they're all so sociable and happy with no problems whatsoever) or some of his other characters. This author described human nature like no one. No one! What a talent to explore the essence of people, from a psychological and philosophical point of view, including the social, political and religious context, of course. He's the whole package. White Nights is a short novel told by an unnamed narrator that goes for a walk everyday and knows everybody by sight; never talked to any of those people. He even imagines conversations with St. Petersburg's buildings. That's how lonely he feels. He's too shy to have any sort of human contact, so he just dreams about it. Until he meets Nastenka, a lonely young girl with a not so cheery story, and they become friends. For the first time, talking-to-buildings guy had someone to spend time with, to talk about anything. Anyway, this novel ends in such a way that shows you what a pure soul this lonely man had. A truly unselfish ending. I even forgot the fact that this man seemed too damn needy. I personally don't like a person THAT desperate for some human contact. You can be desperate, but don't show it that much... don't expose yourself that much, because most of the times, the other person doesn't deserve it. And you let it all out, you share your story and let them see your heart, for nothing. And that, might be the cheesiest thing I ever wrote, but it is true.Despite all that, I loved it. If you know what it's like to live in a heartbreaking solitude and to have this one single moment of true happiness repeating itself in your mind, night after night, then you'll love it too.Dostoyevsky has an outstanding way to describe his characters, their inner processes, feelings, thoughts, and if you can relate to any of them, or find them remotely familiar, well my friend, you're stuck with them. You won't forget those people. Ever. Lucky us!
Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare And... I'm done for now. This goes straight to its owner, thank you very much. Putting all prejudices aside (or most of them), I tried, and it didn't work. But I had to try, I can't talk about a book before reading it, even if I knew I wasn't going to like it. Clare's writing is quite simple, sometimes it seems forced. I couldn't finish it (it was physically and psychologically impossible) so maybe all the witty remarks are in the end of the book. I don't know.Anyway, I didn't care much about the plot or the characters (that guy most people love, a bit of a jerk, huh?). So, here we are. I'll wait for the movie.
Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse, Hilda Rosner * There may be a little spoiler *The time: an old one. The place: India. There's this guy named Siddhartha, who was everyone's love and joy. A wise and decent young man who inspired everyone around him, but himself. He wasn't content with his life and everything around it, spiritually speaking. He felt it wasn't enough. And why wasn't it enough? I don't know, but it's in human nature to wonder about the essence of things, like the existence of God, of any god. He was in a better position, though. He was certain that a superior entity existed, he just needed to know and feel more. Those who aren't sure, who are floating in the middle, those people experience the worst kind of uncertainty, a painful one.After a while, he thought that everything he had wasn't enough to be satisfied, blissful. He thought that his father and the other Brahmans already gave him all the wisdom they had. But "the vessel was not full, the spirit was not content, the soul was not calm, the heart was not satisfied". So, he leaves his family and good friend Govinda, and begins a life of contemplation, hoping to gain some spiritual illumination. He became a Samana. However, these guys' philosophy didn't satisfy his heart either, therefore, he continues his quest, alone.A river and a ferryman later, he finds a city called From living a peaceful, contemplative life to livin' la vida loca. Siddhartha meets Kamala, a beautiful and intelligent woman who teaches him everything about love and... stuff. Nevertheless, after some years, this empty lifestyle of earthly pleasures tires him, and makes him go back to the river, which gave him the inspiration he was looking for. After some time, after certain situations, he was able to listen to the river's voice with the ferryman, now Siddhartha's spiritual guide, and he finds enlightenment. He reaches the Nirvana on his own. This is a beautiful story about a man's journey of self-discovery. A wise young man that had his ups and downs like every human being. After that time of pleasures and materialism, he went back to the spiritual enlightenment he was looking for. However, that time he spent with Kamala, can't be considered a waste. He needed that in order to achieve something greater. Both the ascetic life and the Kamala life helped him to gain experience and thus, to return to the path he was intended to walk. Sometimes, we all need to hit rock bottom just to go back to the right track again. And if staring to an apparently talking river helps you and your spiritual growth, so be it.Despite any ironic comment, I loved this book. It kicks that Alchemist's butt; several times. It really is an inspirational book, in my opinion; it makes you wonder and think about things you thought you knew. I read it in English and Spanish at the same time; it was like reading two different books, of course. But I can say I liked Hesse writing style, if there's something of his style in those translations. (I have to learn French, German and Italian, and thus, I shall find peace.) Metaphors, reflections, descriptions, people, feelings; they're all beautifully written. He tends to repeat terms in one passage and that gives it a graceful sound when you read it (and sometimes it's just redundancy). I don't know if that only makes sense in my head. Probably.I like philosophical novels, and this one was no exception. I don't know if it's going to change my perspective on life (I think I'm still on my "discontent phase" and haven't found any rivers yet) but it was a delight to read.
Eugénie Grandet - Christopher Prendergast, Honoré de Balzac, Sylvia Raphael This story takes place in the town of Saumur. That's where Eugénie and her very normal family lives. Her father is a miserly former cooper that hides his fortune from her wife and daughter and made them live in an old, cold and poor house that he doesn't want to repair because, well, money must be spent and that's what he tries to avoid at all cost. Reading this made me mischievously smile from time to time because let's face it, we've all met a Felix Grandet in real life, at least, once. A person that only accumulates money just to see it on the table. He needs to know it's there so he can feel secure. He doesn't have a coat in a 20°F winter afternoon but he sure feels secure seeing a pile of money somewhere in the house. The way those people think it's truly amazing. They want to make a lot of money, they don't want to spend a dime and before they realize, their lives went by without actually living. They get old and die, or get hit by a bus and die young, and they can't take the money to their graves or above, or to whatever we go after we die. If we go somewhere. Ironically, their heirs enjoy that money without moving a finger to get it, except being born in that family to, consequently, become an heir, but they don't have control over that. Anyway, I don't know what I was talking about exactly, but it seems a good time to say that Balzac described places, situations and characters to the last detail (it doesn't get tedious, most of the times). It feels you're there, living in a solid house three centuries old, sharing moments with poor Eugenie, chatting about how every men that approaches her has an agenda. That's the other side of the story: people being around other people just to see what they can get out of them. Some young men are sent to visit Eugénie with eventual marriage proposals, because their families knows about her wealth. Of course that hypocrisy is not something that only appears in the upper class, but she learns that her only true friend might come from a usually overlooked lower class. Her kindness, her noble spirit coexists with the miserliness of her father, with the materialism of her world. She is the opposite of selfishness, and knows that happiness can be found in helping others, too.This brilliant novel tells a story about the effect that money can have over people, how it affects family relationships, or any kind of relationship, for that matter; but it's also about love, that neverending search of love, whether you find happiness in that material world most people desire or not.
Animal Farm - George Orwell Once upon a time, there was a little farm, with little animals that got tired of serving a man, so they formed their own society and most of them ended up being exploited by their animal leaders. This may sound like a simple story, but there's a bit more; it's not tough to see. An honest idea that later brings power to certain animals and after being corrupted by that power, they betray the supposedly “lower” beings. Ringing any bells? Can you compare that apparently simple book with our reality? Huh? Can you?! It was written as a critique of another social context, but it does apply to our days.Anyway, I loved this book. You don't need a difficult, complicated story to deliver a message that can change your point of view on different things. Orwell shows that fact with this outstanding work, a major symbolic challenge. Since the beginning of time, people saw other people being corrupted and taking advantage of other people without education (most of the times, a well-planned lack of education) or economical resources; and of educated people wrapped in elaborated lies said by experts in eloquence (or brainwashing, a big characteristic of totalitarian regimes). A lot of "people" in this paragraph...Politics are great in theory, it just takes a remarkably honest person to execute those ideas without being overwhelmed by power; that's all... You might still be able to have good intentions, but your acts won't benefit the people if they're guided by power. And you may not even notice it, because that's the tricky thing about power, it blinds you and, at the same time, it makes you want to have more. I've read a lot about it, and I see it now. Besides the blindness issue, elected politicians suffer from selective amnesia. You know, during their campaign or the first days of their government, for instance, they say something like “no one can drink alcohol”, and later, they seem to forget that idea and make you forget it for real, and add “to excess” at the end of that rule, changing its whole purpose. It happens.So, in times of elections, when you see all politicians in the streets with a shovel and a smile, bringing you fliers with their pictures and two promises written somewhere; or sticking those fliers all over your window because you don't want to go out because you're in your pajamas and prefer going back to sleep than contemplate the face of hypocrisy, right there; or when they're calling at your house at 10.30pm, scaring the hell out of you because you know phone calls at night always means bad news (like you're dying in 7 days or whatever), and... Well. So. … I got lost in my own babbling. My point was: when you see all that, remember this book if you had the fortune of reading it; or read it, if you didn't. It may help you think for yourself and distinguish men from pigs. Don't waste time. Let's face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.
Cuentos de Saki - Saki, Eduardo Paz Leston, Ruben Massera ** There may be a little spoiler **I bought this book in Spanish. Then I read it in English, only to confirm (once again) that some translators are ruthless butchers. Anyway, reading Saki was a weird delight. I found a writer with unusual wit and a bit macabre at times. But I just couldn't stop reading nor feeling guilty because I was cracking up when someone wasn't having such a good time in his stories. It's Saki's fault. Him and his smart and playful writing. It's a perfect mixture between a normal sense of humor and a twisted one that makes people wonder why on Earth aren't you medicated. He can make you laugh with his characters' witty remarks, and also make you feel uncomfortable, uneasy. I loved “The Unrest-Cure”. A man that dislikes changes to the point of feeling irritated because of the relocation of an innocent thrush. Too funny! I'd like to know what is like to be so relaxed that you start questioning little things like how toasts fall (“Every time I accidentally dropped a toast, it fell jam side down; today, it fell the other way around. What's next? A five o'clock tea at 5.20 p.m.?”) or how flies fly (“I like a nice straight and level flight, stop flying on circles, damn it!”). Anyhow, I can relate to these characters; it takes a lot of courage to use curry on a non-curry day. “Sredni Vashtar” is another favorite of mine. Without his imagination, which was rampant under the spur of loneliness, he would have succumbed long ago.A beautiful line. I liked the other stories too, but especially “The Storyteller”, “The Open Window” (that girl is heartless), “Esmé”, “Tobermory”. I could have said that I liked the whole book and saved me all these nonsensical lines, really.

Currently reading

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