My Collection

Time for something different. I don’t feel like elaborating on any specific piece of writing today, so I’ll just “show off” a little bit and put my collection of books. It’s not very impressive when it comes to the number of books on my shelves, but the vast majority of them are very close to my heart and I’d definitely call them my favourites. The rest… well… the rest turned out to be a bad choice and I shouldn’t have bought them. But I could never throw out any book, so I keep them. There are still a lot of books I’d love to have, so hopefully the list that you can see below will be getting longer and longer.

The list will be divided into countries. I’ll try to provide an English title for every book which is not British or American. If there isn’t any official translation of the title, I will provide my own one, just to make it easier for you to follow.

 THE UNITED KINGDOM 

1. J.R.R. Tolkien – ‘The Silmarillion’ (1977)

2. J.R.R. Tolkien – ‘The Hobbit’ (1937)

     J.R.R. Tolkien – ‘The Lord Of The Rings’:

3. ‘The Fellowship Of The Ring’ (1954)

4. ‘The Two Towers’ (1954)

5. ‘The Return Of the King’ (1955)

6. Emily Brontë – ‘Wuthering Heights’ (1847)

7. Charlotte Brontë – ‘Jane Eyre’ (1947)

8. Joseph Conrad – ‘Heart Of Darkness’ (1899)

9. Joseph Conrad – ‘Lord Jim’ (1900)

10. Bram Stoker – ‘Dracula’ (1897)

11. Mary Shelley – ‘Frankenstein’ (1818)

12. Virginia Woolf – ‘Mrs Dalloway’ (1925)

13. Tony Parsons – ‘Stories We Could Tell’ (2006)

14. Lewis Carroll – ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’ (1865)

15. George Orwell – ‘Animal Farm’ (1945)

16. William Shakespeare – ‘The Tragedy Of Macbeth’ (1606 – written)

17. William Shakespeare – ‘The Tragedy Of Hamlet, Prince Of Denmark’ (1598-1601 – written; 1604 – published)

18. Daniel Defoe – ‘Robinson Crusoe’ (1719)

THE UNITED STATES

19. Diana Gabaldon – ‘Outlander’ (1991)

20. Elizabeth Kostova – ‘The Historian’ (2005)

21. Matthew Pearl – ‘The Dante Club’ (2003)

22. Matthew Pearl – ‘The Last Dickens’ (2009)

23. Stephen King – ‘Everything Is Eventual’ (2002)

24. Stephen King – ‘Salem’s Lot’ (1975)

25. Stephen King – ‘The Shining’ (1977)

26. Stephen King – ‘Duma Key’ (2008)

       Anne Rice – ‘The Vampire Chronicles’ :

27. ‘Interview With The Vampire’ (1976)

28. ‘The Vampire Lestat’ (1985)

29. ‘The Queen Of The Damned’ (1988)

30. ‘Memnoch The Devil’ (1995)

31. ‘The Vampire Armand’ (1998)

32. ‘Merrick’ (2000)

33. ‘Blood And Gold’ (2001)

34. ‘Blackwood Farm’ (2002)

35. ‘Blood Canticle’ (2003)

      Anne Rice – ‘New Tales Of The Vampires’:

36. ‘Pandora’ (1998)

37. ‘Vittorio The Vampire’ (1999)

      Anne Rice – ‘Lives Of The Mayfair Witches’:

38. ‘The Witching Hour’ (1990)

39. Dan Brown – ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (2003)

40. Ira Levin – ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1967)

41. E. A. Poe – ‘Tales’ (1845)

42. H.P. Lovecraft – ‘The Dunwich Horror And Others’ (1963)

43. Tosca Lee – ‘Demon: A Memoir’ (2007)

     Stephenie Meyer – ‘Twilight Series’

44. ‘Twilight’ (2005)

45. ‘New Moon’ (2006)

46. ‘Eclipse’ (2007)

47. ‘Breaking Dawn’ (2008)

POLAND

48. Jan Parandowski – ‘Mitologia’ (1924; tr: Mythology)

49. Andrzej Sapkowski – ‘Narrenturm’ (2002)

50. Andrzej Pilipiuk – ‘Wampir z M-3’ (2011; tr: The Vampire From M-3)

51. M.L. Kossakowska – ‘Siewca Wiatru’ (2004; tr: The Sower Of The Wind)

52. M.L. Kossakowska – ‘Zbieracz Burz’ (2010; tr: The Storm Collector)

53. Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz – ‘Sława I Chwała’ (vol.1- 1956, vol.2 – 1958, vol.3 -1962; tr: Fame And Glory)

54. Adam Mickiewicz – ‘Pan Tadeusz, Czyli Ostatni Zajazd Na Litwie. Historia Szlachecka Z Roku 1811 I 1812 We Dwunastu  Księgach Wierszem’ (1934; tr: Sir Thaddeus, Or The Last Lithuanian Foray. A Nobleman’s Tale From The Years 1811 And   1812 In Twelve Books Of Verse)

55. Adam Mickiewicz – ‘Wiersze…’ (1998; tr: Poems…)

56. Henryk Sienkiewicz – ‘Krzyżacy’ (1900; tr: The Knights Of The Cross / The Teutonic Knights)

        Henryk Sienkiewicz – ‘Trylogia’ (tr: The Trilogy)

57. ‘Ogniem I Mieczem’ (1884; tr: With Fire And Sword)

58. Henryk Siekiewicz – ‘Quo Vadis: Powieść Z Czasow Nerona (1895; tr: Quo Vadis: A narrative Of The Time Of Nero)

59. ‘Potop’ (1886; tr: The Deluge)

60. ‘Pan Wołodyjowski’ (1888; tr: Fire In The Steppe / Sir Michael /Colonel Wolodyjowski)

61. Władysław Reymont – ‘Chłopi’ (vol.1,2 – 1904, vol.3 – 1906, vol.4 -1909; tr: The Peasants)

62. Eliza Orzeszkowa – ‘Nad Niemnem’ (1888; tr: By The Neman River)

63. Bolesław Prus – ‘Lalka’ (1890; tr: The Doll)

IRELAND

64. James Joyce – ‘Ulysses’ (1922)

GERMANY

65. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe – ‘Die Leiden Des Jungen Werthers’ (1774; tr: The Sorrows Of Young Werther)

FRANCE

66. Albert Camus – ‘La Peste’ (1947; tr: The Plague)

67. Gaston Leroux – ‘Le Fantôme de l’Opéra’ (1911; tr: The Phantom Of The Opera)

BRAZIL

68. Paulo Coelho – ‘Onze Minutos’ (2003; tr: Eleven Minutes)

SPAIN

69. Arturo Pérez-Reverte – ‘El Club Dumas’ (1993; tr: The Club Dumas)

70. Arturo Pérez-Reverte – ‘La Tabla De Flandes’ (1990; tr: The Flanders Panel)

71. Arturo Pérez-Reverte – ‘El Pintor De Batallas’ (2006; tr: The Painter Of Battles)

ITALY

72. Umberto Eco – ‘Il Nome Della Rosa’ (1980; tr: The Name Of The Rose)

BELARUS

73. Olga Gromyko – ‘Profession: Witch’ (2007)

74. Olga Gromyko – ‘Witch The Caretaker’  (2010)

75. Olga Gromyko – ‘The Supreme Witch’ (2011)

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The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

General information

The debut novel and New York Times Bestseller,International Bestseller and Booksense 76 selection hailed by Esquire as “audacious and captivating” and by The Boston Globe as “a preternaturally accomplished book as wise as it is entertaining.” Chosen by New York Public Library as one of 2003’s 25 Books to Remember (taken from www.matthewpearl.com). The novel was published in the United States in 2003 and quickly reached the top of several best-seller lists. The book is classified as a mystery novel and the plot is mainly fictional, although the main protagonists are real, as are many of their biographical details.  

Plot overview

The action takes place in 1865 Boston. The group of highly respectable men – poets and Harvard professors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell and publisher J. T. Fields set up a group which aims to provide the first American translation of ‘The Divine Comedy’ by Dante Alighieri. They call themselves Dante Club and are not only translators of the Italian masterpiece, but also true followers of its author. However, they bump into some obstacles on their way to introduce Dante to American society. One of the members of Harvard society – Augustus Manning wants to prevent the Club from revealing Dante’s description of a journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. However, the worst is yet to come. A series of mysterious murders takes place in Boston and Cambridge. As the time goes by, the members of Dante Club realise that the ways victims were murdered had been based on punishments described in Dante’s Hell (Inferno). The group of friends start their own, secret investigation and try to stop the killer. They find an ally in Nicholas Rey, the first black member of the police department in Boston, and they get closer and closer to puzzle out the mystery. The answer turns out to be closer than they could have thought.

Review

I’ve read the following novel twice and each time my impression was exactly the same. It has everything that a high quality novel ought to have. It is interesting, very engrossing, mysterious and plausible due to its historical background and real characters incorporated into the plot. From the very beginning the author activates readers’ imagination and makes them start their own investigation, come up with their own solutions.  While going through pages I wasn’t just reading some story about some people written by some author. No. I felt as if I’d been the part of the story, as if I’d participated in the events. That’s what I love about books. Their power to move you to a different world, some other reality coexisting with the one you live in. What is more, I like when an author builds up the plot around some other literary works, incorporates other books into his own story. When it comes to ‘The Dante Club’, the author decides to utilize an Italian masterpiece by Dante Alighieri – ‘The Divine Comedy’ which I personally regard as a must read book. Finally, what is crucial when it comes to mystery novels – the ending. Pearl makes readers wait till the very end before he reveals the truth, which makes the book surprising and increases its value. All in all, I highly recommend ‘The Dante Club’. The time spent on reading this novel definitely won’t be wasted.

 

Matthew Pearl was interviewed about The Dante Club on the NPR national radio show “Weekend Edition Sunday” with guest host Linda Wertheimer. You can listen to the interview online HERE

 

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The Painter of Battles by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

  General information

‘The Painter of Battles’ (original title: ‘El Pintor de Batallas’), written by a well-known Spanish writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte, was published in 2006. It was considered to be one of the biggest literary events in Spain, since the author is highly respectable and admired and his novels have gained numerous fans, both Spanish and international, over the years. After such novels as ‘The Flanders Panel’ (1990) or ‘The Club Dumas’ (1993) readers had high expectations and waited impatiently to get lost in pages filled with reality created by the author once more.

Plot overview

Andrés Faulques, the main protagonist of the novel, used to work as a war photographer. His photos were supposed to reflect hardships, tragedies, evil and anguish brought by wars as well as the most primitive human instincts. He was unresponsive to suffering of individuals and what was of vast importance for him was to reach the only aim he had – presenting the cruelty of war as precisely as he could. He didn’t want to change the world, he wasn’t even influenced by all the horrid images he’d been exposed to. A turning point in his professional and personal life was the death of his beloved Olvido, a photographer who died after treading on a mine. Faulques gave up his job, bought a tower by the sea and decided to create a painting on its walls. The painting which depicted a battle, but not just an ordinary one. It was supposed to be the quintessence of all wars and battles. However, his isolated, little world was violated by Ivo, a stranger who turned out to be one of the people Falques had presented in his photographs. The man claimed that photographer’s impassive attitude and the presence of the camera in the middle of ongoing tragedies made him lose his sense of existence. Ivo decided to find Falques, pass judgement and finally punish the reporter by killing him. However, before he put his plans into practice, the accuser wanted to understand the photographer’s way of thinking, the motives of his behaviour. It led the two men to start a metaphorical journey through diverse aspects of life and art, in order to comprehend the sense of one’s existence.

Review

I adore and really admire Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s literary skills and find his writing style very interesting. ‘The Flanders Panel’  or ‘The Club Dumas’ are ones of my favourite books ever and after reading a few positive reviews concerning ‘The Painter Of Battles’ I hoped it would be a good choice. However, I was highly disappointed, since the novel didn’t live up to my expectations. It turned out to be a boring, elaborate set of descriptions, which made the book lame and lacking in action and dynamism. Not enough dialogues made the novel monotonous and difficult to follow. While reading I had an impression that the plot wouldn’t lead anywhere and I was really overwhelmed by a descriptive tenor dominating in the novel. I guess every author, even the best one, has some weak moments from time to time. For me, ‘The Painter Of Battles’ is a good example of that.

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Comeback

I’ve just finished my “writing holidays” which were caused by… well, I’m not really sure by what. Lack of time? Lack of ideas? Laziness? Too many things on my mind? Probably all of them somewhat.  Anyway, I’ve created this blog to drop a line from time to time, so here I am. Alive and kicking. I’ll do my best to devote more time to writing and maybe to reading as well, cause the more, the better, right?