A few weeks ago I was tagged by the sweet Ugnė from My Passion is Happiness to do a book tag. I’m excited because it’s the first time I was ever tagged to such a thing. At the same time, I’m nervous because I sometimes find it difficult to answer such questions and these ones were pretty tough for me. That’s why it took me a long while to post it (sorry!).
As the post title denotes, this tag is about cliches in the form of proverbs. I have to match a book for each of the cliche.
Here it goes!
1. Actions speak louder than words
A book that wasn’t or couldn’t be better than the film
Good, it’s just the first question and I’m already going to cheat a little bit! I can’t think of any film that was better than the book (it’s all in the details!), so I have to look at those films of which I have never read their paper counterpart. Therefore, I choose The Lord of the Rings (and I can put The Hobbit as well) by J.R.R. Tolkien. Why? Simply because it’s not the genre I like to go for when it comes to reading. Fantasy involves adventure, the kind which, in my opinion, looks better on the silver screen. And in this case, I think Peter Jackson and the great cast of actors did an amazing job. It’s so pleasant to watch. I don’t think I could stand reading all the details of the journey or of the magical elements.
2. The grass is always greener on the other side
A rags-to-riches or a riches-to-rags story
I choose Empress Orchid by Anchee Min, a rags-to-riches story set in the last decades of China’s Qing Dynasty. Orchid lives in poverty with her family after the death of her father, who was a governor. She gets the chance of her lifetime when the Emperor starts looking for new consorts and concubines. She gets chosen as a consort of the fourth rank and from then on, it’s all a battle for her to progress up the ladder, gain the Emperor’s attention to become his favourite, and to give him a male heir. Interestingly, this book is a first-person narrative based on the real-life Empress Dowager Cixi.
3. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
A parent-child relationship you loved
Believe it or not, on Goodreads I tag books that deal with parent-child bonds, but most of these books depict problematic relationships. The only nice story I can remember is from The Greenhouse by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir. Young Lobbi leaves his homeland, Iceland, to travel South, on a journey of self-discovery and self-definition. Only to find himself having to take care of baby Flóra Sól, the daughter he didn’t know he had conceived until a few days before. The description of the baby is so vivid and charming that it gives me fuzzy feelings and it’s amazing to read how Lobbi matures as he observes and cares for his daughter.
4. You can’t judge a book by its cover
A great book that NEEDS a better cover
This was another tough question to answer because, honestly, I don’t pay too much attention to book covers, unless they’re really awesome to look at. After studying my long Goodreads list, I set my eyes on the cover of Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. It’s very simple with an image that takes up just the upper quarter of the cover. My problem is with that image: it’s a person behind a half-foggy glass pane. It’s both boring and creepy at the same time. Sure, there’s a major creepiness factor in this thriller but personally, I love my thrillers to have more artistic and eye-catching covers. The other covers for this book I’ve seen on Goodreads do not look much better either.
5. You can’t please everyone
A book you hated/loved that everyone else loves/hates
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold seems like a popular book so I’ll go for it. I really hated it! I thought it was awfully written as if it was mirroring the 14-year-old protagonist’s way of talking, who I also found too stereotyped. Apart from that, I found the whole premise ridiculous and boring. I wished it had been just a crime novel because the crime part was the only bit I liked.
6. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
A book you are a better person for having read
This time I have to go for a non-fiction book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I read this three years ago when I was still struggling to find a full-time job. This book made me realise that being an introvert does not mean that I should feel inferior to extroverts, especially in the work environment. This knowledge empowered me to learn my real skills as an introvert and to sell them in my covering letters and job interviews. In fact, one month later I landed a job and I attribute a lot of this personal success to the self-knowledge that Cain’s book gave me.
7. Love is blind
A book with a disabled character, or actual “blind love”
I choose Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, even though the ‘disabled character’ is actually a healthy protagonist who remains maimed in a fire only near the end of the novel. After hearing about the incident, Jane goes back to Rochester and despite his conditions (or even because of), she decides to stay with him as his wife. I have my reservations about this outcome and the characters in general and I don’t like this book as much as other readers do.
8. Ignorance is bliss
A book you know is bad but don’t want to admit it
I’m sorry that I have to choose a book from my favourite author, Natsuo Kirino. I read Tokyojima in Italian (L’isola dei naufraghi) because it isn’t translated into English, and I think I can understand why. This one is extremely different than the usual Kirino books because it’s set on a deserted island where different groups of shipwrecked people – one woman and several men – end up living over a number of months. Though I tried to appreciate the themes, for the sake of my love for Kirino, I just couldn’t find it exciting. I wish to re-read it someday, but I’ll need a good dose of courage.
9. There is no time like the present
Your favourite contemporary book
This one comes from my recent reading challenge and it’s Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove. It’s fresh as a contemporary book should be, with some themes that are very actual, such as cultural diversity and homosexuality. It gave me a lot of different feelings, like making me want to be in the company of old people who have many stories to tell and to appreciate human relationships in general (something which is very difficult to do).
10. Better safe than sorry
A book you don’t want to read in case it’s bad, or vice versa
My choice fits both the above proposition and the vice versa. I choose The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I’d like to read it someday because I’m interested in the dystopian genre and the praise I hear about it (and the films) sounds encouraging enough. On the other hand, the hype surrounding it scares me and I’m afraid I can’t appreciate it as I’m supposed to.
And that’s all! I’m not going to tag anyone, just feel free to do it. 🙂