Books I've read last month

A month ago, I wrote a blog about reading. I made a list of the books I had read recently, and I started reading "Crime and Punishment". Today we are one month and four days later, and during that period, I've read the following books:

F.M. Dostoyevsky, Schuld en boete; 1866, 570p (Dutch version of Crime and Punishment)
This is the first Dostoyevsky I've read and I'm sorry to say, but I didn't like it. I know this is probaby blasphemic for some readers, but hey: this is my honest opinion. Maybe I didn't understand the book; maybe the Dutch translation wasn't good. In any case: the main character, the murderer Raskolnikov, is not a very pleasant person, but that wasn't the problem: I didn't like any other of the characters either, not even Razumikhin (the voice of reason) whom I think is put forward so that the reader can identify himself with him. I couldn't relate to anything in the book. I've put a lot of effort into reading the endless dialogues about the psychology of the murderer, ethics, politics, and so on, but it all seemed so outdated, so far away of my own world.
I have two other titles in my library: The Village of Stepanchikovo and The Brothers Karamazov. I should read at least one more Dostoyevsky to find out if I didn't like Crime and Punishment, or if I don't like Dostoyevsky in general.
Maria Rosseels, Wacht niet op de morgen; 1969, 468p
Another book about a subject that is far away from my own world. The main character in Don't wait until the morning, Gille de Malle, is raised in a convent in the 12th Century. At the age of 16, he accompanies a knight, Gerard van Ridevorde, on a journey to the Kingdom of Jerusalem, where he spends his life at the court of prince and (later) king Baldwin IV, son of Almeric. His first impression of Jerusalem is overwhelming: for all he knew, Christianity was present in the Holy Land to protect it against jews and muslims, but in reality Jerusalem is a multicultural Kingdom, where the prince's physician is a jewish scholar who studies at an Islamic university. Although the book is about the 12th Century and although it's written in 1969, it's a very actual theme. Gilles' insights about society in an epoch that consisted of religious wars (first against Nur ad-Din, later on against Saladin who eventually takes Jerusalem at the end of the book) are very inspiring. Baldwin is discovered at a very young age to be a leper, making his position as a King almost impossible. His court is divided in two camps: his mother and her followers are in favor of war against Saladin; his father's friend Raymond of Tripoli prefers peaceful co-existence with the Muslims. The dispute amongst Christians eventually led to the loss of Jerusalem in 1187. I liked this book much more than the self-centered world of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment.
Brigitte Minne, Ik dacht dat het ergste nog moest komen (maar dat was niet zo); 2010, 144p
My youngest son is one of the many jury members of the "Little Cervantes," a prize for the best youth book in Flanders. I'm trying to read all the books he gets in the context of the contest. I didn't like the cover and the title of the book (nor did my son), but we really enjoyed reading it. For me personally, it brought me back in time. The main character is a girl born in Occidental Flanders in 1962. Her parents are 16 and 17 years old, and she's raised by her grand-parents. At school, she's considered a low-life. I'm born in 1970, but I recognized many of the details from my primary school years. Both the main character and I have in common that we knew that we wanted to be a writer from a very early age. Fun to read!
Anthony Horowitz, Skeleton Key; 2002, 256p
My son is a fan of Alex Rider, and this is part 3 in this "James Bond for kids" series. It was a good read in between the more serious books, but after reading the first two parts, you get a little bit bored of the pattern.

I'm not sure what I'm going to read next, but check back in a month or so, and I'll make a new overview.


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