4 Books I’ve Read Recently

The Wangs Vs The World | #bookrecommendations

Over the last couple of years, one of my key goals has been to read more, and I’ll admit, it’s one of my favourite goals. I mean, what’s not to love about spending hours absorbed in a different world, especially given the real world we live in, right? Or even non-fiction for that matter – it expands your knowledge and point of view so very significantly.

Anyway, getting back to the matter of the books I’ve read recently – I’ve ploughed through nearly 4 books from my stash over the last few weeks. I say nearly because I’m only about halfway through the fourth book.

1 | The Wangs Vs The World by Jade Chang (fiction) | This was a light, easy read about an Asian-American family, each member trying to come to terms with the new realities of life after the father (Charles Wang, a successful businessman) goes bankrupt and comes up with a bizarre plan to get back into the riches. The subject might seem dour, but the story is peppered with a lot of dry humour and it doesn’t get dull for a second. I loved how the characters have been fleshed out and how real they seem (despite some inevitable exaggeration). While the ending did seem rushed (with some share of wtf!), I kinda enjoyed the book on the whole.

2 | Barbara The Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes (fiction, short stories) | I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. The first couple of stories, I was like, seriously, what’s happening here? Because, really, nothing kinda happens in the short stories that make up the book. They’re more “slice of life” stories rather than stories with a definitive beginning or end of even a hook. It bothered me initially, but I was sorta amazed at how much the author was able to convey about the characters even with the limited scope. And the characters were so different, not all of them necessarily likeable, but different. It’s something I loved about the stories – the characters may or may not be like you, but the aspects of their lives presented in the pages of the book, still seem familiar. Like something that may have happened to you, or someone you know. My favourite story was I Will Crawl To Raleigh If I Have To, and the story that lends to the title of the book.

3 | Before The Fall by Noah Hawley (fiction) | This one reads like a screenplay of a fast-paced film. Not that I’m complaining. I was hooked through and through. It’s a page turner for sure, and Noah Hawley knows how to keep the readers hooked. There are flaws – oh yes, there are – but they didn’t end up bothering me enough to disrupt the reading flow. A private plane carrying a wealthy and connected news mogul and his family and friends crashes into the sea near New York and the only ones who survive are Scott Burroughs, a painter who got invited at the very last minute to board the flight, and JJ, the son of the media mogul. Once news surfaces that Scott swam all those miles to the shore, carrying the boy with him to safety, a media ruckus unfolds in trying to find out more about the seemingly mysterious Scott (is he a hero? could he be a villain?) and also why the plane really crashed into the water. I did wish that some of the characters had been given more time and thought (and really, was there a need to portray Doug as such a sourpuss?!? It seemed a bit formulaic) but I wasn’t bored for a minute and did quite enjoy reading this page-turner. Also, Meg’s book club discussion about the book was so on point!!!

4 | The Return by Hisham Matar (non-fiction) | I’m about halfway through this book, and let me say – I’m beyond fascinated! This is a real life account by acclaimed Libyan (but exiled) author Hisham Matar. In the years leading up to Qaddafi’s establishment of his dictatorial regime in Libya, Hisham Matar’s father was an important and well-respected diplomat. He was also rather outspoken against the dictatorship, and is captured by the government (along with thousand others), while the rest of the family lived in Cairo and London. After the fall of the dictatorship in 2011, Hisham returns to his homeland to find out what really happened to his father. I am yet to find out whether Hisham Matar’s father turns out to be alive or not (don’t spoil it for me if you already know it!), but I’m in love with the writing, and as sad as the circumstances of the book are, it’s an engrossing first person account of how the dictatorship failed its people and the effects it had on people, on families.

I’d love to know – Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What are you reading currently? Let me know in the comments below!

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