Monday, October 4, 2021

September Books

Two books for you this month, that has been my average this year.  

The first one was Blindness by Jose Saramago.

This is an older book but my neighbour told me to read it and lent it to me.  It is kind of timely since it is about a pandemic that hits quite suddenly and how the world responds.  The pandemic however causes people to go blind, but there are no other symptoms or effects.  It also seems like there is no way to prevent the transmission of the "virus" or whatever so those who are blind are just taken away and locked up in an old abandoned hospital.  We follow only a handful of those affected and see how they manage in the hospital without their sight, how people come to join them there, and how the people start interacting.  One thing that I noticed about halfway through the book was that no one had a proper name, they were all referred to as "the doctor" or "the boy with the squint". There were also no quotation marks around dialogue or new paragraphs so you had to pay attention to see who was actually speaking. 

It was kind of like a Walking Dead type scenario where society just disintegrates and the worst in people really comes out.  It also reminded me of this pandemic as well, and I considered how lucky we are that we know what Covid is and how it can be prevented and even treated.  These people were just going blind with no rhyme or reason, and then no one with sight could look after them, they were basically left to fend for themselves.  This was certainly a different book than I normally read and I would recommend it, especially now.

The second book I read was The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller.

This one is on Reese Witherspoon's book club list and many people are reading it now.  I picked it up for myself the last time I was at the bookstore.  This book is written the way most new books are written nowadays, where you start by getting a hint of something that has happened, but then you are taken back and forth between past and present as we uncover all of the background and learn the motivations of the various characters.  I like that way because it does keep my attention and the pages turning.  
The story here is about a woman, married with children, and a tryst with her childhood best friend.  The present day is at the cottage that has been in the family for years and then we go back through her life, her mother's life, and even her grandmother's a bit, to learn about what brought them all to this place.  There are several tragic events that take place and it really showed how people are many layers to them to make up their personality, some of which they probably don't even recognize as impacting their behaviour.  I thought it was so well written and explained why the woman could not make an easy choice between her husband and her best friend.  From the outside without knowing facts, one would say the only choice is to stay married and not have an affair, but getting the backstory shows that it's not black and white. 

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