A Wrinkle in Time

“Qui plussait, plus se tait. French, you know. The more a man knows, the less he talks.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)

A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy novel written by American writer Madeleine L’Engle, first published in 1962. It is also a first book of a Time Quintet.

Book follows the lives of the Murray family. Father of Meg and Charles Wallace has disappeared mysteriously a long time ago. One day the kids meet a new friend Calvin and three strange women named: Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which. These ladies tell children that their father is in danger and that they have to travel through time to find him.

“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time: With Related Readings

I had a hard time getting into this novel. I guess it had been on my TBR list for a long time because but I truly learned about the existence of this book when the movie adaptation hit the theatres. I have mixed feeling about Wrinkle in Time. I felt like the younger me would have loved it but somehow magic of this book didn’t reach me as adult. And that made me confused because I still love Narnia to death.

There were a lot of good  things in this book. First, genre is funny… it’s like science fiction except that it’s fantasy and that shows in the book. I feel like it has more emotion and less technical/ science fiction-y mumbo-jumbo. I liked W Ladies and them quoting everything and everyone because the words did not come easy for them. And I liked how simple everything was. Evil in this book is mostly described as ‘The Black Thing’ or/and ‘IT’, yet you knew exactly what it was.

“Euripedes. Nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Characters were well built and Meg is an unique persona. I don’t know that many main characters who’d be like her. Homely, awkward and math loving. Fantasy elements, new worlds and creatures were entertaining.
4/5 stars but I wouldn’t read it again.

How-To Read A Wrinkle in Time
1.
Short (just over 200 pages) simple and creative, perfect read for kids. I think it also has nice lessons on how things and people and places are different and how we should always fight the evil in this world.
2. First part of a quintet so there are 3 books more for those who adored this.
3. I sensed some religion-ess in this book. A bit similar to Narnia.

“A book, too, can be a star, “explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,” a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Have you read this? Thoughts?
Have you seen the newest movie adaptation? I haven’t but I found cast choices interesting.

Featured image source

Night by Elie Wiesel

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

Night, first published in 1960s is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps both Auschwitz and Buchenwald, at the height of the Holocaust toward the end of the Second World War. 

I read Night because of my earlier read Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. In that book, Sapolsky had quoted Elie Wiesel and that quote is stuck in my mind. “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” It’s unimaginably deep quote. If we do not care, if we stay silent,  if we do not pick sides, the world will fall apart. I don’t think I’ve realized it before or not to full extent of that it is a great crime to remain silent. And so I was intrigued by this book.

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Night (again I listened to it) was shocking, beautiful, torturous read. It describes undescribable horros and undescribable pain. Thinking about the book makes causes me to shiver. I felt like  crying so many times but at the same time I couldn’t stop listening to this book.

Let’s start with the title. Night. It’s not just the darkness outside but also the darkness within. It’s not a night you’d imagine at first. It’s a night so full of smoke that you cannot breathe. Despair so strong that the dawn will never come. A Night that does not end.

“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed….Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

People lost hope and stopped believing in their God. Because why would God be silent through all of this. As one man describes: “I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.” It’s a scary read because it also describes how people lose not just their belief but also their humanity. Cruelty becomes a new norm. People turn against one another as self-preservation takes over. Words like Brother, Father, Friend are meaningless.

“One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. One less reason to live.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Audio performance by acclaimed George Guidall was just a stunning one. I felt like it was Wiesel himself was telling the story as Guidall’s voice truthfully carried all the impossible pain.  My audio book also included Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech and preface to new edition of the book and it made me so mad. Original version of the Night was over 800 pages long and it was cut basically every time it was published. And author had to plead and beg to get his work published in many countries. Imagine that.

I feel like I’m unworthy to review this book. I could write thrice as long review from what it already have and still I wouldn’t be able to describe this properly. I guess for me, the most important lesson from this and from Wiesel was how neutrality kills. How indifference kills.

Night touched me to the very core. It’s brutal but necessary read. One of the best reads of my life. I loved it and I will be haunted by it.

5/5 stars

How-To Read Night

1. Just 120 pages but it feels like 1000 pages long.  It’s a heart-wrenching book and even though I would like to urge everyone to read this, it’s a difficult book and I know some will find it hard to stomach. Then again, you have no right not to know.  We must take responsibility for humanity’s sake.
2.
Night is a trilogy so there are two more books to read: Dawn and Day. I’ve heard they’re more fragmented than Night but I cannot not leave them unread.
3.
It’s a beautiful book. Yes, it’s about holocaust but Wiesel’s thoughts on all his experiences are  uniquely expressed. So many lines make you stop and think.

“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Have you read this? Thoughts?

Featured image: Smoke (Public Domain)

The Decameron

“Essere la natura de’ motti cotale, che essi come la pecora morde deono cosi mordere l’uditore, e non come ‘l cane: percio che, se come cane mordesse il motto, non sarebbe motto, ma villania” – The Decameron, Boccaccio
The nature of wit is such that its bite must be like that of a sheep rather than a dog, for if it were to bite the listener like a dog, it would no longer be wit but abuse. 

The Decameron is 600-years old collection of novellas by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio. The book contains 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three men who are sheltering in a villa outside Florence. Decameron apparently has something to do with number ten. Ten nights are spent telling stories. The book is quite humorous, the tales are full of wit and practical jokes and from time to time they offer some wisdom, although some of the tales are quite old-fashioned.

.There’s  a lot to The Decameron and that makes it hard to review it. There’s a lot of sex and many tales center priests and women. On the other hand, it’s always nice when church is mocked. There are many lies and lots of deceit in Decameron and those two are perhaps the core themes here.

“Io ho inteso che un gallo basta assai bene a diece galline, ma che diece uomini posson male o con fatica una femina sodisfare.” – The Decameron, Boccaccio
I have always been given to understand…that whereas a single cock is quite sufficient for ten hens, ten men are hard put to satisfy one woman.

I liked how they were well aware of these natural laws like there was Murphy’s Law Nature, Fate, Fortune No matter what you do in life, life is out of control. Characters in stories are prank each other yes, however there also seems to be a lot of bad luck.

I also liked this tragic backstory. Our storytellers have ended up in villa outside Florence because they are trying to escape the Black Death raging in Florence. Good sense of humor is vital survival skill. I’m rating this book 4/5 stars. It might seem quite high, however I wasn’t expecting anything much from this, in fact I don’t think I have ever even heard of this book so it was quite entertaining read.

How- To Read The Decameron
1.
You should really chew on it. The Decameron has so many themes and many wise lines so just take your time with it.
2. Paperback has almost 900 pages… so definitely take your time. Maybe read one tale a day? Maybe ask fellow readers which tales they liked.
3. If you have to read this for college or for some literature class, just skip reading and wikipedia what happens in book. It will be painful to read this for a class :D
4. Tales about lustful monks might tire you but main theme of Decameron is lies and deceit so it’s quite entertaining even with sex factor. Reading this is like watching a soap opera.
5. If you’re really excited about this, I would recommend you this book called La Divina Commedia from fellow Italian for further reading.

“Leggiadre donne, infra molte bianche colombe aggiugne più di bellezza uno nero corvo, che non farebbe un candido cigno.” – The Decameron, Boccaccio
Charming ladies, the beauty of a flock of white doves is better enhanced by a black crow than by a pure white swan.

This book pretty much  wrecked my Goodreads ‘year published’ stats. There’s no fixing that huge century-long gap… is there. Have you read any books written centuries ago that you have liked? Have you read The Decameron?

//Anastasia

All pictures very kindly borrowed from the internet & Wikipedia Commons.

The National Library of Finland

“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”
― Mark Twain

Yesterday I visited Kansalliskirjasto, The Nationa Library of Finland for the first time in my life. There I sat for many hours absorbing the wisdom of these gorgeous books. I just love libraries, don’t you?

Watership Down

“All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

Watership Down is a classic adventure novel, written by Richard Adams. It’s set in southern England and the story features a small group of rabbits who escape the destruction of their warren and seek a place to establish a new home, encountering perils and temptations along the way.

“Animals don’t behave like men,’ he said. ‘If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill they kill. But they don’t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures’ lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

I first read Watership Down approximately ten years ago. It’ll always hold a special place in my heart. The rabbit characters are very sympathetic. Then, I loved the fact that the rabbits had their very own language called Lapine, and they also have their own religion and history. For example, the story of  El-ahrairah, the rabbit folk hero.

“You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it’s not that simple.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

I guess it’s hard to write something such as Watership Down and for that I applaud the author. (I was saddened by the news of his passing last year.) I mean story featuring rabbits might sound a bit absurd at first. However, it’s far from absurd because of the well-thought story and the well-written characters as well as the serious tone the whole novel carries. I don’t know, in my experience, it’s something about the genre. If the story is told from the animal’s perspective or narrated by an animal, it eventually turns sad.

“The rabbits mingled naturally. They did not talk for talking’s sake, in the artificial manner that human beings – and sometimes even their dogs and cats – do. But this did not mean that they were not communicating; merely that they were not communicating by talking.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

“I’d rather succeed in doing what we can than fail to do what we can’t.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

“Men will never rest till they’ve spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

5/5 stars

(I suppose most of my reviews here have been four/five stars. I’m mostly only reviewing my favorite books, not every book I read because I don’t have time for it and I don’t see why bad books should deserve more attention)

Tips
1.
It’s quite a long book, nearly 500 pages and I think it gets really interesting only after couple of hundred pages so don’t give up on it right away. If you’re planning on buying this, I recommend buying  40th anniversary edition you can see in the pictures above. It’s just gorgeous.
2. 
I think this is a good book for everyone really. There are so many lessons you can learn by reading this: about the corruption of power and about compromises and about good leadership.  And I guess about how evil humans are but that there are always two sides to a coin.
3. 
If you love animal xenofiction, this one is for you and you’ll probably like other books by Richard Adams too, for example, The Plague Dogs and Traveller.
4. 
There’s a follow-up to Watership Down called Tales from Watership Down which Adams finished nearly 20 years after the first book. I warmly recommend reading it if you want to dive deeper into world Adams had created in this first novel.
5.
There’s an animated film and also tv series of Watership Down…both quite sad.

Have you read Watership Down? Thoughts?

//Anastasia