Sum up: April 2021

May 1, 2021 § Leave a comment

April saw the tying up of some loose ends in terms of work-related matters, which also meant that I got more time on my hands to do what I wanted. Obviously, I spent a lot of that time sitting on my bum and watching shows on Netflix. Not extremely proud of that, but I also know better than to admonish myself for consuming brilliant content. After all, what better way to learn than by watching and studying how others do it?

Meantime, I also managed to read a couple of books.

The first was The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway. This was one of the first books I bought way back more than ten years ago when I actually started buying my own books. Somehow, I managed to let this book sit there, moving from a small box in a small room, then onto a small shelf in a bigger room, and now onto a big shelf in my living room, without opening it to read a single page.

I trust in the ways of the universe. I believe that somehow, timing is everything. And things that are meant to happen will happen when the timing is right. So perhaps I was only meant to read this book now. And what a powerful book it was.

There was a certain beauty to the scenes that Galloway painted through his words. And it does seem like an odd thing to say about a book that describes a war-torn city under siege. But for me, it was beautiful. Everything seemed so temporary, so destructible, so much so that any present moment became something to embrace and cherish, no matter how hopeless it seemed.

The siege is told through the eyes of three different characters in the city, all of whom never cross paths with each other, and yet, their fates are so tightly entwined. The cellist, who is really the core of the whole book, doesn’t feature very often, but when he does appear, it is almost as if I am there, too, listening to him play that beautiful music in the middle of the street.

And the most amazing thing about this book was how relatable it was, despite how little I knew about Sarajevo and that part of the world. Galloway was very specific about the places in which the characters roamed in the city, and often I’ve found this level of detail to be a little too overwhelming. And yet, with this book, I did not feel that way at all. I did not know the streets, the bridges, or the buildings that Galloway talked about. But in a strange way, I could see the streets, bridges and buildings that I do know, and they had somehow got implanted into this world that Galloway created. I’ve never known war, but everything felt so intimate, it was almost like watching everything happen in slow-motion right in front of me.

***

The second book I read last month was The Dog Who Dared to Dream, by Sun-mi Hwang, and translated from Korean by Chi-Young Kim. I had a really pleasant experience reading a previous book by this same author, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, and I perhaps made the mistake of going into this book with expectations that were placed too high.

I remember what it felt like after finishing the one about the hen—I remember thinking how odd it was that I could somehow relate to that hen! With this one about the dog, however, I found myself constantly stuck floating about above the characters in the story. I was unable to get down to the ground, go deep into their thoughts, and it was frustrating. It wasn’t a bad story. But it most definitely didn’t have the same impact on me as her previous book did.

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As for the other books on my nightstand/desk/”currently reading” pile.

I’ve given up on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for now. I had left it on the side for far too long, and I had lost track of the thread. I know I’ll pick it up again one day. Maybe when the time is right.

Instead, I’m reading Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. It’s a non-fiction book, a personal account and recollection of a disaster that struck when he was climbing Mount Everest. It came highly recommended to me by a friend who is a keen hiker. It’s a really good read so far, and I expect I’ll be finishing it before the month comes to an end.

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