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Here are five books that struck a chord with us recently

By Enid Parker

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Published: Sat 21 Mar 2020, 9:09 AM

Last updated: Sun 22 Mar 2020, 12:07 PM

The Gambler/Fyodor Dostoevsky
An interesting bit of trivia about this classic, originally published in 1866, is that Dostoevsky wrote it under threat from his publisher and against a strict deadline so he could pay off his gambling debts; however, despite these pressures, one can discern a cheeky undertone (perhaps deliberate?) in The Gambler. Humour lurks in unexpected corners, lightening up an otherwise dark subject from the famed Russian author who also penned what many consider to be the first existentialist novel, Notes From Underground.
This One Summer/Mariko & Jillian Tamaki
In any graphic novel the illustrations bring the writing to life and sometimes they lift up an otherwise forgettable storyline. I was particularly enchanted by This One Summer (published in 2014) - not so much for its plot, about a pre-teen girl, Rose, who returns to a beach house every summer - but because of the beautiful artwork (by Jillian Tamaki), all done in shades of blue. It actually inspires you to pick up a pen or pencil and draw! I speed-read this 320-page coming-of-age bestseller that is definitely worth your time, for its artwork alone.
The Book Thief/Marcus Zusak
If all the world's a stage, as Shakespeare believed, is death one of the players? This haunting tale of Nazi Germany seems to think so. Narrated by Death, the story gets off to a slow start but eventually steals its way into your heart, just as the titular thief, an adopted girl called Liesel Meminger steals her way through a traumatic period in history. How many books has she stolen and how do these stolen books/words help her? Does she feel any remorse? This 2005 bestseller that was translated into 63 languages and sold over 16 million copies worldwide has some inspiring messages about humanity, family, friendship and love that will stay with you for a long time.
The Sound of Waves/Yukio Mishima
Considered one of the most notable Japanese authors of the twentieth century, Mishima was born into a samurai family in Tokyo in 1925. He published The Sound of Waves, a poignant romance set in a remote fishing village in Japan, in 1954. It tells the story of Shinji - a young fisherman - and Hatsue - the daughter of the wealthiest man in the village, whose affection for each other grows gently, shyly but steadily. Certain books magnify the sounds of their backdrops; at times in this book you can actually hear the sea - a fittingly beautiful soundtrack to the rapture of first love.
Celtic Fairy Tales/Joseph Jacobs
We're accustomed to fairytales like Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where good triumphs over evil and a happy ending is ensured. But Celtic Fairy Tales is a selection of unconventional stories collected by British folklorist Joseph Jacobs, which while transporting you to an ethereal realm with their imagination, do not always have the neat conclusion we have come to expect from fairy stories. If you want to let your mind and heart wander a bit, amongst sea-maidens, horned women, boliauns, and other mythical creatures, then curl up on your sofa with a cup of tea and bury your nose in this magical book.

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