Review: Family Lexicon

Family Lexicon (also titled Family Sayings) is a semi-autobiographical novel by the Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg. It takes place between 1920 and 1950, and she narrates aspects of her daily life starting with early childhood memories until she reaches adulthood. It mostly follows a linear order but instead of making the events a central core to the story, the book focuses on people’s behaviors and communication styles, hence the title.

The book describes how the author’s family, among many other Italian families, lived through the fascist period and those first post-World War II years. Ginzburg’s writing style is eloquent and ironic, even when describing these grim times and the difficulties she had to face.

I read this book deliberately slowly, the ambiance surrounding the characters just felt so tangible and homey, I did not want it to end. While reading it, it also made me question my own family’s lexicon. If it weren’t for this book, I wouldn’t have realized how many words, phrases, and inside jokes that my family members usually repeat would have no meaning or simply confuse external passersby.

t seems to me that Natalia Ginzburg is a rather low-key author that deserves more recognition, and I cannot wait to read more books by her.


Review: Daisy Jones & The Six

This is the second book I read by Taylor Jenkins Reids. And let me tell you, she definitely knows how to write page-turners. I believe that by now, most of the bookstagram community has already read it, so I feel there is little else to can add. For those who don’t know, Daisy Jones & The Six is a historical fiction novel that follows a famous rock & roll band from the 70s. Starting from their formation until their abrupt split.

What caught my attention the most was how Taylor Jenkins Reids used Fleetwood Mac as inspiration. Fleetwood Mac is famously known for its music and also for the drama that happened between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Their song, The Chain, is literally about their relationship falling apart. So if you have listened to this band and know their backstory, you’ll find some similarities to Daisy Jones & The Six.

Anyway, back to the book. Unlike typical novels, it has the structure of interview transcripts, making it a light and easy read. Different characters recount the same events from their perspective, more often than not, narrating it differently and landing in contradictions. So who should we really believe? 

Overall, I found it entertaining. But similarly to The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, I felt something was missing. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to reading books with more character development, or maybe the writing style was too straightforward for my taste. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining read and I look forward to watching the TV adaptation that will be released in March.

Review: Ninth House

As you may have noticed, I don’t read fantasy books that often, but when I do, I generally end up loving them. And Ninth House was no exception. What I enjoyed most about this book was the setting. It involves Yale University, secret societies, magic, ghosts, among other things which I rather not spoil. It contains all the evocations of dark academia. 

Like most fantasy books, at first it’s confusing getting used to the world-building. There are so many new concepts an characters being introduced that it feels hard to keep up with everything. But once you get into it, you want to keep digging further. Just one more page, one more chapter. That’s how I finished this book within a week. 

I haven’t read Shadow & Bone, but I did read the Six Of Crows duology (and watched the show too — though it’s not the same it still counts as something) so I knew already what Bardugo was capable of. She’s definitely a great writer. 

Ninth House felt darker and somber, but more realistic in the midst of all the magic because unlike her previous books set in a fantasy world, this one is mostly set in New Haven, and Los Angeles is also mentioned. Hence, everything was more palpable. This book made me laugh, curse, and worry. It’s worth the hype and I cannot wait to read Hell Bent and see what troubles Alex Stern gets into this time.

Review: The Waves

Is it possible to admire a writer but not completely love their work? It might sound contradicting, but that is how I feel about Virginia Woolf. The writing is outstanding. Woolf effortlessly forms perfect and palpable phrases. But similarly to Mrs. Dalloway and To The Lighthouse, The Waves doesn’t have a specific plot. It’s a book about life and the passing of time.

The Waves centers on six characters: Bernard, Neville, Louis, Susan, Rhoda, and Jinny. It begins when they are all kids at a school playground and transitions until they are senior adults. The stream of consciousness jumps between these characters, often describing the same situations but having very different viewpoints. One of the main themes is how friendships can distort your sense of self. All characters have insecurities and create their inner identities based on how they think the rest sees them.

The description of waves itself sets the mood for the entire book. The crashing waves, sunrises, sunsets, the chirping of birds, and falling leaves, all symbolize the constant changes and the inevitable ending – death.

So while I did enjoy this book overall, at times I felt remorsefully bored and just wanted something to happen. And while many things do happen, at the same time, it feels like it doesn’t. Virginia Woolf may not be for everybody, her books represent a challenge but it’s worth giving them a try.

I was always going to the bookcase for another sip of the divine specific.

Virginia Woolf, The Waves

What are we, but remnants of our old digital identities?

Hello. Today’s post is a bit different, just a quick break from book reviews to share some thoughts that have been on my mind lately.

I don’t know if anyone was a tidy teenager who kept track of all digital accounts and e-mails they owned alongside the corresponding passwords. I certainly wasn’t, and I deeply regret it.

As a millennial, my digital life began with my first Hotmail account in 2004 when I was eleven years old. To be honest, I can’t even remember the e-mail itself, though I’m pretty sure it contained the word “princess” somewhere in it. What I do remember is that I created my first blog shortly afterward using Windows Live Spaces, where I’d write entries as if they were my diary, only that they were public and everyone could read them. Yes, very cringy. In parallel, I came across Matmice and created my website. I remember the platform was targeted at kids and teens and allowed the users to connect with other kids around the world. My page used to have a pastel pink background and a ton of glitter gifs and images from DollzMania.

My curiosity for creating and customizing websites led me to set up another site using FreeWebs (now called Webs). It consisted of tons of dolphin pictures since this happened during my short era of sea obsession, where I even asked my parents to paint my room aquamarine. Having a dolphin website was not enough, and around 2006 I created a Xanga account. I’d dare say it was my first “real” blog, where I began writing book and film reviews and mixed them with ramblings of my personal life. I named the blog “Decoding Scribbles” and that name stuck with me when I later used it for my first Blogger site in 2009. By then, Xanga was long outdated, and Google’s Blogger became the home for my ramblings during the remainder of my teen years until 2011.

Continue reading “What are we, but remnants of our old digital identities?”

Review: Fault Lines

Emily Itami’s debut novel centers on Mizuki, a Japanese housewife who has all she could ask for, two lovely children, a hardworking husband, and an apartment with a great view of Tokyo. Until she meets Kiyoshi, a successful entrepreneur, with whom she will rediscover herself and doubt her decisions. 

Halfway through the book, I knew it was going to be a 5-star read for me. The prose was vivid with a witty sense of humor, making me giggle and squeal on several occasions. It also made me fall in love with Tokyo, a city I’ve never been to, but the descriptions were so evocative it felt as if I were walking there side by side with Mizuki. It was also a great opportunity to learn about Japan’s culture.

What stood out the most for me was the main character herself. I’m not married nor have children, but Mizuki’s internal monologues were relatable. The gap between the story and the reader was anything but distant. It was easy to comprehend the reasons behind her actions without judging her. 

The ending was realistic and bittersweet. Definitely worth the read!

Having a secret makes me feel like nobody owns me, and that any opinion of me could always be inaccurate; no one has the whole picture, so it’s like trying to judge somebody’s appearance from a shard of broken mirror.

Emily Itami, Fault Lines