“No-legs lay on one-leg,
Two-legs sat near on three-legs,
Four-legs got some.”
— A riddle to Gollum from Bilbo; The Hobbit: Riddles in the Dark (J.R.R. Tolkien)
39. Things Fall Apart — Chinua Achebe
Another book I read for my grade 12 literature class, Things Fall Apart is a staple in modern African literature today. It’s set in Nigeria, around the time of colonialism and missionaries arriving in Africa to preach their religion. I didn’t think I’d like the novel that much, but it was actually very well done and an eye-opener. You get a kind of perspective on pre-colonial Nigerian culture which you may never have thought of; I knew nothing of this before the book. Customs are explained, religious aspects and certain social protocols. I really liked reading about some of these new and interesting perspectives.
There were only two things I struggled with: the complicated (to me) names, and my opinion of Okonkwo. Okonkwo, the main character, was one of the only ones I could get down straight. There were a lot of minor characters, and if I wasn’t paying the closest attention I would get them confused easily. Also I wouldn’t dare pronounce anything aloud. In my opinion of Okonwko, I couldn’t decide if I loved or hated him. It seemed I was either on the polar opposites of the scale with every page or nothing at all. He’s a strong, independent character who wants to preserve his culture, which is admirable, but sometimes he’s just so stubborn you want to throttle him.
If you like books based in other cultures, I would recommend this. Its quite interesting in that aspect, and it does pull at your heart strings somewhat too.
“I don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me.”
— Harry Potter; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling)
“A box without hinges, key, or lid,
yet golden treasure inside is hid.”
— A riddle to Gollum from Biblo; The Hobbit: Riddles in the Dark (J.R.R. Tolkien)
38. Howl’s Moving Castle — Diana Wynne Jones
Initally I read this book because Howl’s Moving Castle (by Studio Ghibli) is one of my all-time favourite movies. I love Ghibli in general, but Howl’s Moving Castle always stuck out most for me. I knew it was based off a book, by an author who Ghibli has used more than once in their film-making, so decided to seek it out.
It really is a fantastic book. Keep in mind, though, if you’ve watched the movie first there are some major changes between the two versions. Of course the book is longer, and goes into more detail and such, but there’s also major differences in some of the characters, such as Markl (Michael) in the book is much older, and Sophie has another sister, Martha. Also, there’s a little bit more to Sophie that makes her somewhat more extraordinary.
I really, really recommend this book. It does have it’s slow, and somewhat uninteresting moments, but in all it really is mind-blowingly fantastic and I do mean to re-read it very, very soon. Plus look at how hip and cool that cover is?