I haven’t been reading a whole ton of a lot. I did a catch-up post last month of the summer reading that I was doing, so if you missed it you can see what I read:
But this month it’s been slow. I was recommended a book by 2 really good-reader friends. And when not, one, but two people have read and loved a book, I usually take some notice even if it wouldn’t have appealed to me before:
My Brilliant Friend, Book One: Childhood, Adolescence
by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein
Europa Editions (2012)
So, I am honestly just half-way through this. I thought it would move fast, but I am liking it and am taking my sweet time. Problem is that I don’t have time. So there you are. No rest for the weary reader though, so I must finish this within the week since it’s a bit overdue at the library!
About the book: It’s a translation from Italian, written by a women who calls herself Elena Ferrante, but that isn’t her real name. Apparently no one has known her real name for years, or where she lives other than in the Naples area of Italy. I love this quote from her taken from the New Yorker (Jan. 21, 2013):
I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors. If they have something to say, they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they won’t.- Elena Ferrante
Which sounds a lot like, “Every reader his or her book. Every book its reader.”(S.R. Ranganathan- a famed library guy) This is just so true for me: Books that I love, you won’t necessarily even like a little. And books that you couldn’t even get past the first page, I might be tearing through and love it. You just never know. I also love that Ferrante isn’t looking for the fame. Once the book is written, the author isn’t in the forefront. Love that. Very rare these days that someone doesn’t want to be famous, so I respect this. She also doesn’t seem to need people to even like her book. I also like that. She just writes because she wants to.
The story is the first in the (Neopolitan) series of novels; the others being The Story of a New Name (2013), Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014), and The Story of the Lost Child (2015). I would say that this is a “coming of age” type of story of two girls (Elena and Lila) growing up in a poor and rather tough little area on the outskirts of Naples around the 1950’s. There is a varied cast of characters, who are intricately mapped by their respective family names in the preface of the book, and who come into play as Elena narrates her life with Lila from their first meeting through their teenage years.
It is so interesting how Elena describes her life for the reader, doubling back on stories she may have touched upon, and not finished, making complete for the reader the vision of her life at this time. It isn’t an easy childhood, but the tone isn’t sympathetic, it is quite stark and matter of fact. We are following her life throughout her awkward, sometimes painful, lovely, adolescence. I am truly looking forward to finishing and moving on to the next in the series.
So, what is on order at the library and next on the list “to-be-read”? I have ambitions of reading more than I probably will, but one is an audio book, which helps my reading quantity a lot!
Both of these look like a lot of fun, so stay tuned next month for a recap. What are YOU reading? I would love to hear about it in the comments! Really! I add books to my “to be read” bookshelf on GoodReads all the time, so I take recommendations!