I am currently half way through Terry Pratchett's Nation. I got bogged down when characters started speaking with spirits instead of each other. For the sake of my newly revived reading exercise, I hope this changes.
The White Hotel - D.M. Thomas
I had recently finished Sigmund Freud's Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria before I picked this up so I was in no mood for more psychoanalysis. Yet, piecing together the incongruous bits of information about the main character's past kept me going until I reached the chapter that made the Holocaust real to me in a way that no movie nor novel ever has. The apt term for the book's depiction of the Holocaust is chilling, not depressing.
Our Mutual Friend - Charles Dickens
This book was challenging only because it is as thick as a dictionary. I pride myself on being a speedy reader and yet, Our Mutual Friend took me seven days - after I had forsaken attending my classes in favour of holing myself up in my room. It was easy to get lost in Victorian London and the characters that occupy every facet of society. This was Dickens's last completed work and it seems that in his old age, Charles enjoyed aiming comedic barbs at the more pompous members of Victorian society. Admittedly, the ending is contrived but the overall experience was still enjoyable. Do not see the 1998 BBC production, which is overly dramatic and turns the male lead into a morose stalker.
Amsterdam - Ian McEwan
Before McEwan's Atonement was published and turned into a big budget movie starring Keira Knightley, McEwan was known for nasty novels about sophisticated people drawn into violent situations. Amsterdam won McEwan the Booker Prize but it has none of the grandness and ambition of Atonement. Rather, its spare and ruthless treatment of its characters made it engrossing even as it filled me with dread. Atonement has a great ending that betrays the reader's previous peceptions but Amsterdam fulfills the pact that it makes with its readers from the very beginning.
Next up: books that I could not finish. It could be my longest reading list yet!