Sum up: January 2021

February 3, 2021 § Leave a comment

Malaysia is currently under extended lockdown again. Our daily Covid-19 cases have been increasing in the past couple of months, reaching our all-time high of more than 5,000 just about a week ago. The slight optimism with which I had ended the year with in December 2020 is fast evaporating.

The overall vibe of the world is not an encouraging one, and it affects me rather deeply. Still, I try. Don’t we all?

Reading-wise, I started the year quite well, with my third Keigo Higashino book. I had written about my thoughts on this earlier.

Following that, I chose My Wish List by Grégoire Delacourt. I had high expectations for the book, mostly because it came highly recommended by a friend whose taste I trust. Perhaps I set them too high. But while it was not the best book I’ve read in recent times, it did have its charms. On the cover, it reads

If you won the lottery, would you trade your life for the life of your dreams?

How intriguing, I had thought. It was a complex question, one that felt so simple on the surface, yet packed so many layers of meaning and contemplation beneath, and it boasted of a type of burning soul-searching to get to the core. And that’s where I thought the book fell a bit short. There were moments, of course, where I felt the pain Jocelyne felt, the things that she yearned for, and the things she lost, her relationship with herself, with her husband, with her children. And those moments do stay with you for a while afterwards.

I then read Charlie Jane Anders’s Six Months, Three Days, Five Others. It is a collection of six short stories that are out of the world. Literally. These stories explore some pretty out-there scenarios. I did think that I would enjoy this collection more than I did. After all, I thought I had would have enjoyed the absurdity. In actual fact, though, perhaps this book showed me how far I could actually go, or enjoyed going. Not my best choice of read so far.

I ended the month with Matthew Quick’s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. Absolutely loved this. It was a simple book, but there was also an underlying tension that was going on throughout the story. And I was genuinely surprised when we got to a point in the story when I felt tears streaming down my cheeks. I was not expecting that at all.

We followed Leonard around on his 18th birthday, and this was also the day, he decided, that he was going to shoot his ex-best friend, and then kill himself after. He doesn’t tell us why, because, obviously, he already knows, and we are the ones who are joining him only today. But when we do find out, it hurts us like it hurts Leonard. And yet it is not the most painful thing we are to experience yet.

How important and crucial those small things become when we suddenly realise that we have them. And how painful when we realise that we take them for granted.

This book, as an afterthought, reminds me quite a bit of A Man Called Ove. It was like getting to know a guy, from the inside out. Learning about what he would do on the day he thought would be his last day.

The hurt we carry around with us, our history, our secrets, our burdens. We may not all have the same ones, but we each carry with us something we might never want to reveal to anyone. Sometimes even to ourselves.

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