Sunday, 16 January 2011

Libby's Reading Challenge: Book One

Well, it looks like its time for me to start blogging. This is very exciting for me, a so far blogging novice! Here is the first of many many blogs reviewing books from my reading year.

I have decided to start what I like to call my reading digression. I’m intending on reading books that are related in some small way, whether it be a theme, setting or writing style; basically anything that particularly interests me in the book I am reading I will learn more about in my next. I’m hoping this journey will take me to all the different sections of Mr B’s and stop me comfort reading solely in the fiction section. Saying that, I hope you will all forgive me for easing myself in gently with a novel that I plucked from our shelves more or less randomly in the section of authors beginning with ‘A’.
And my first book of 2011 is…(drum roll)

The Yacoubian Building by Alaa al Aswany

This novel is set in Cairo during the first Gulf War in a once grand apartment block. The large cast of characters range from an aristocratic womanizer to a homosexual magazine editor and a Muslim extremist. The intricately woven plot jumps from character to character, describing episodes in their lives and giving a multi layered insight into modern day Egypt. It is essentially a portrait of the ambitious Egyptian people; each of the characters seems to sacrifice important things in order to move up the social ladder.

I can see why this book was such a massive bestseller in Egypt and also why it was so controversial when it was released in 2002. It shows a darker, grittier side to Cairo that I have never really encountered before. It is definitely worth keeping track of the multiple characters and their stories, (luckily there are character descriptions in the first few pages!) I found this book rewarding, funny, poignant and very insightful.

For my next book I will be delving into the, more or less unexplored, depths of the Mr B’s basement with The House by the Thames, and the people who lived there by Gillian Tindall which is about a building in a very different setting. Having browsed the British History section for this one I’m hoping, that in my next blog, I’ll be able to wow everyone with my knowledge of London through the ages. I had better keep my notebook handy!

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