What I Happen to Be Reading At the Moment

"A thirteen-year-old is a kaleidoscope of different personalities, if not in most ways a mere figment of her own imagination. At that age, what and who you are depends largely on what book you happen to be reading at the moment.”

 

While not 13 anymore, the desire to read almost anything and everything in order to read for fun and for experience is still around. I'm currently working on my PhD in a physical science, but I love to read and books are one of my non-science hobbies.

My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein My Brilliant Friend is the first book in Elena Ferrante's new trilogy of novels. Knowing that there is more from this brilliant author coming (hopefully soon) is a good sign. This, the second of Elena Ferrante's novels I have read, lives up to the good first impression I had of Ferrante's work. This portion of the story of Elena and Lila is the first, when they are children and young adolescents in 1950's Naples. Elena suffers in the shadow of Lila because of Lila's own incredible innate abilities, though it is Elena that manages a sort of escape by continuing to succeed in formal education. Their neighborhood is poor, and the both of them borrow books from the library and hope to write a novel, like Little Women, that can help their families in a way similar to Alcott. Elena is some ways remains the more idealistic of the two while Lila tries to better herself economically, and the struggle between friends becomes one of how to move forward out of their poor circumstances. For Elena, it is also imagining how she can escape Lila's shadow and emulate her brilliance. Both have a lot of growing up to do in the first 300+ page installment of their story, and by the end it is unclear how we get from a wedding in Naples to 66-year-old Lila's disappearance at the opening of the novel. Old Lila has cut herself out of all of the pictures of her family and her son is confused as to where she could have gone. Something has gone wrong, as we are left guessing about what has happened in the 50 years between. We are also reading Elena's memories of her relationship with Lila, with it unclear at this point who the eponymous 'brilliant friend' may be. Overall, a strong first installment, the only downside being that I have to wait to find out what happens and cannot simply tear through the series in one sitting, like I almost did with this novel. Another downside is that this first installment reads like a typical teenage-girl friendship novel except with more backbiting and foreshadowing of worse things to come. Until I can judge the entire series, this installment will have to stand on it's merits alone, however, I anticipate more great things from this author.

Currently reading

Native Son
Richard Wright
The Great Glass Sea
Josh Weil
The Elder Edda
Anonymous, Andrew Orchard