Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House – Thoughts

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I have never read a novel as deliciously disturbing as The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson.
The story begins introducing four characters: a scholar whose purpose is studying psychic phenomena, two young women who have both in the past experienced such phenomena, and a young man who is the future inheritor of a very particular estate. A house, unlike any other. Hill House.
The scholar’s intent is to spend some time at Hill House to prove that what he is studying is real. Bringing the two young women will serve as a catalyst of sorts, according to the doctor. The young heir will have to look after the estate.
Soon enough, the four guests will experience what it means to live at Hill House.
I loved how subtly, how cleverly the novel unfolded. It’s not the classic horror story, and the interpretation of the events could go either way. It all could be in the head of the characters, influenced by the peculiar and claustrophobic way in which the house was built. Or something could really inhabit Hill House.
The story’s demise is shockingly intense, it leaves you hanging in doubt.
There’s the end of a particular chapter that left me quite uncomfortable, and it never happened before while reading this kind of novels. Jackson created a true masterpiece.

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Charlotte Brontë (Narrated by Thandie Newton) – Jane Eyre – Thoughts

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Jane Eyre is one of those classics you almost feel forced to read because it’s Charlotte Brontë, because it’s Jane Eyre. Even though I had studied Brontë, watched the movie several years ago, I had never come to read the whole novel. And I had never come to try an audiobook.
When I heard that actress Thandie Newton had given her voice to Jane Eyre, I finally decided it was time for me to finally read it. And it was probably for the best I have waited all this time, for I can’t even put into words how much I loved it.
Thandie Newton mastered every voice, every shade, every feeling of every single character. To the point of being spooky sometimes, how much she can transform her voice. She makes every page feel alive, even the ones where there are long descriptions of places and characters, and feelings. Her narration flows natural, every character is alive in her voice.
Through Newton’s voice, Jane Eyre is given justice. This quiet, austere character at first, becomes her own hero, refusing to be subdued. She will continue to stand her own ground, faithful to her values, to her body. An independent, fearless woman, who will choose who to love and when. And when the decision is taken, no one literally will be able to stop her.
I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the novel without Newton’s narration, so I definitely recommend it. It’s a little treasure.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman – The Yellow Wallpaper – Thoughts

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The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is only 32 pages long, but it’s nonetheless an incredible story, narrated in the first person by a woman who spends the summer in a mansion rent by her husband, a doctor.
Her husband forces her to spend her days in a room of this mansion, to treat what he calls a temporary nervous breakdown. He forbids any kind of work. The woman’s only occupancy thus becomes writing a journal and staring at the hideous yellow wallpaper of her bedroom.
The pattern and the color of this wallpaper slowly and inexorably becomes an obsession. She starts seeing eyes, faces, she thinks she can sense a smell. The story’s demise is intense as it gives a real sense of the woman’s spiral down a dark hole. The yellow wallpaper, the yellow smell, a woman creeping from the wall: it all gives a real sense of terrific sensations.
It is very interesting to read why Gilman wrote this story. A similar situation really happened to her and she wants, with this story, to warn doctors that certain kind of treatments not only don’t help patients, but they actually increase their chances of never recovering from their situation.

Michael Ende – The Neverending Story – Why It Is Never Too Late to Read It.

51DdVppZqqL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_The Neverending Story by Michael Ende holds a special place in my heart. It’s the book that made me fall in love with reading, it’s the book I have reread various times in the course of my life, every time as if it were the first.
It is really a never-ending story, as every time you read it the marvel and the joy you feel are the same, actually, they get stronger and stronger each time. Magic is real, and it’s in this book. It can be read at any age. A child and an adult can both benefit from it. All the adventures flow like a river, dragging the reader along.
Bastian, Atreyu, Falkor the luckdragon, The Childlike Empress (or Moon Child, my favorite name) become friends, companions in your heart.
Children should read this book, and then they should reread it when they get older. It’s not just a fantasy novel, inside you will find numerous and important life lessons.
Personally, I feel this book is like a friend. I have reread it recently because I needed to go back to Fantastica, I needed to take that journey with Bastian looking for the Water of Life.
This story emanates a comfort that is, indeed, never-ending because it will never cease to amaze those who read it. It is pure and sweet, and enchanting.

Pure and enchanting as Falkor, the luckdragon.

“Falkor, the white luckdragon, was singing. High in the night sky, he flew in circles over the Lake of Tears, and let his bell-like voice ring out in a song without words, a simple, grandiose song of pure joy. The hearts of all those who heard it opened wide.”

Ernest Cline – Ready Player One – Thoughts

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was truly a fun read. It would have been even more enjoyable, I guess, if I happened to know even 5% of all the 80s references the book is filled with. But even if you don’t have the knowledge to catch the references, it will still be an adventure worth reading.
In a now not so distant future, human beings have almost completely destroyed our planet, and so most of them live in the virtual utopia called OASIS.
I can see something like that happening, sooner rather than later. It wouldn’t surprise me. We are surely down the “right” path of totally destroying our only source of sustenance.
Wade’s adventure, like the hero of a video game who has to earn his victory, is highly captivating.
This was the first read of a virtual book club composed of me and a dear friend. It was fun reading and commenting along the way!

Emily Brontë – The Complete Poems – Thoughts

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I loved this collection of poems by Emily Brontë. A lot of them spoke to me on so many levels.
They are captivating, fluent to read.
My favorites are “Anticipation”, “Hope”, “Lines”.

There are a few quotes I particularly loved:
“Hope soothes me in the griefs I know,
She lulls my pain for others’ woe,
And makes me strong to undergo
What I am born to bear.”

“Now trust a heart that trusts in you
And firmly say the world Adieu
Be sure wherever I am roam
My heart is with your heart at home.”

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – Thoughts

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The Handmaid’s Tale has been on my TBR list for a long time. I’ve always wanted to read it, but for some reason, there was always something else to read first.
Maybe it was for the best, for when I started watching the tv series which is inspired by the book, I only knew the basics of the story, as I obviously had heard about the book and its contents.
I think watching the tv series first helped me in facing this story.
As I read Offred’s account, I could imagine a face, as well as for the other characters, even though many aspects in their physicality is different in the book.
I won’t go into a detailed description of what the book is about because everyone should know. This book should be mandatory at school. It’s not something that might happen in a distant future if we don’t act blah blah. It’s something that has already happened, and it’s happening right now.
I fell into the pages of this book immediately. The way it’s written allows you to be one thing with Offred, as we go through her story.
The ending was a wise way to let the readers make their own decisions, whether we want to believe that there might be hope or not.
Now that I have read the book, I am very curious to know how the tv series will continue, in a path not already marked by the book. For once a tv series that does justice to its source.

Some of my favorite quotes include:
“Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.”
“You might even provide a Heaven for them. We need You for that. Hell we can make for ourselves.”
“Humanity is so adaptable, my mother would say. Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.”