June was another slow reading month. I’ve spent a lot more time online, reading articles and watching videos. Trying to hone in on my craft and where I would like to take my creativity. I think I’m beginning to get somewhere, but I’ll save that for another post. For now, here is what I read in June.
20. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Find it: 9780008144227
Well, this book certainly got me thinking about my life and what the hell I’m doing with it. After a bout of recurring dreams where the main character (Santiago) finds treasure, he finds himself longing to go in search of it. The young boy, a former shepherd, sells his herd and sets off in search of his destiny.
I really enjoyed Coelho’s writing style as it was intriguing yet approachable. It welcomed you into the world of destinies, travel and dreams. It became apparent fairly early on that the author had a lot of life experience, and therefore shared some insightful wisdom in the pages of this novel. Written in the third person gave the story a fairytale-like feel. I knew I was experiencing someone else’s happy ending, but I gained so much personally from it. The writing inspired me in a way that other books haven’t for so long; I felt like I could reach for any dream and make it a reality. It reaffirmed what people have around me have been telling me all along. I need to keep my focus, work hard, and keep going.
The main character was easy to connect to. We all have dreams of living out our destiny or finding treasure. However, few of us act on these dreams. Santiago’s choices always reaffirmed his character. The way he interacted with other characters, the way he handled situations, and the lessons he learnt all seemed to make his character more realistic. I’ve found with a lot of books that character development can often flop because the decisions they make don’t seem natural or fitting with their personalities. Coelho mastered his characters and wove them together beautifully. In this book, you will feel the goodness of others, but you will be reminded that sadly not everyone is as kind as they first seem. You will learn what it is like to enter other cultures, even if you have never travelled before. Santiago meets people from all walks of life. Some are ready to help, and some couldn’t care less. That’s humans for you.
This book has been translated into English from Portuguese. I think it’s important to note when a book is translated as a lot of the meaning and effect can be lost. However, this is still an incredible fable that I would recommend to anyone and everyone. Plus, if you grab the copy I got it is beaaaaaautiful!!!
21. The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons
Find it: 9780008144227
This one might contain spoilers, I warned you!
Crime/Thriller will always be a firm favourite in my TV, film and book choices. I can’t explain why, but I get drawn in and I HAVE TO KNOW WHO DID IT!! [I’ve watched a LOT of Law and Order: UK, oh how I wish they hadn’t stopped making it]. Also, when it comes to the storylines and the detectives/investigators, some writers make it all pretty damn clever. I’m afraid, for me, Parsons does not fall into this category. By about half way through I was internally screaming at DC Max Wolfe. Which character had the most to lose Max? Which character did you always turn a blind eye to? It was right in front of your face!!!!
What I can say about Parsons is that his character development is pretty good. They all held their own and stayed true to what you’d expect from each of them. Despite being woven together in a web of lies, the main suspects/victims all still felt like individuals in their own right. Despite my annoyance at the detective’s stupidity, he was for the most part clever. He acted on a lot of his instincts, which they say can often lead you to the right answers. Sadly, he let go of his instincts too soon and believed the lies of one particular character. In this story, Wolfe also has a young daughter, Scout. Making the main character a single parent with a vulnerable, innocent child seemed a little cliché. However, Scout did not come into any harm so I guess the cliché went as far as her existence.
I warn you that the author’s writing was fairly graphic at times, especially in the Prologue. If you can’t handle gore or the thought of physically hurting someone else, maybe avoid this book.
Reading this book felt a little bit like coming home, as it’s a genre I will always go back to. Sadly, this one was nowhere near as good as I hoped. It’s been on my TBR for a year now, so at least it’s finally off the pile.
22. Compendium by Michael von Hassel
Find it: 9783832798604
I stumbled across this book quite unexpectedly. Von Hassel’s work is fairly inconsistent with the style of photography that I find myself gravitating towards. His work is loud, highly saturated and deeply contrasted. It stands out from the crowd, and it holds your attention. This is an approach to photography that I’ve always tended to turn a blind eye to. Whilst I always appreciated it on the surface as an idea and a creative approach, I never delved any further than looking from afar. As I practice, experiment and try, to hone in on my style I find I am drawn to a more subtle approach to photography, style and design. However, something about Hassel’s work drew me in. And no it wasn’t just the absolutely beautiful photograph adorning the sleeve of the hardback book. (Admittedly, this was a huge part of it!) Upon leafing through the pages, I suddenly wanted to understand why people worked in such high contrast. Why they used photography to produce such loud colours. Having read the snippets of texts scattered in the pages of this publication, I can now say I get it. Von Hassel’s work focuses on taking the ordinary and making it seem extraordinary. It reminds us why the simple, slower moments and views are the most important. There’s clear messages to the viewer, but also some more hidden ones. Such as the irony of our chanting for peace and calm. Michael von Hassel has really challenged me to think about what I’m trying to show in my photography. To really focus in on the messages I want to convey to the world. An unusual pick, but a very good find.