Team’s Books of the Month: December 2016!

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Norvegian Wood By Haruki Murakami

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Books of the Month

“I’m twenty now. And I have to pay the price to keep on living.”

These are the words of Toru Watanabe, who recounts the years of his adolescence and university, frightened by the possibility of making mistakes and soon forced to realize how death is part of life, and how all emotions, including negative ones, leave a weight on the heart that marks us hopelessly. Suspended between two girls, Naoko (whose boyfriend and close friend of Toru took his life away when he was just 17 years old), whose fragile psyche forced her to retire to a clinic in the mountains (moving away more and more from the hope of being happy with Toru), and Midori, an university’s friend outgoing and cheerful, Toru grows and develops his own idea of the world, characterizing in this way the novel with deep thoughts which all of the readers can share. The realistic setting and the masterly characterization of the characters make this novel engaging until the last word even if at first the reading can seem a bit difficult: Murakami is a writer who likes to hide clues and reasoning in smaller details, creating a secondary layer that emerges only from an active participation.
This intimate and melancholy novel with a slow paced and a great capacity to investigate the human soul is the most recommended one if you want to approach for the first time this author: if you love it, then you will be able to love the rest of the production of Murakami, in my opinion one of the masters of contemporary literature, a great storyteller and an even greater inquiring of consciousness, experience, skills, mind and life in general.

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The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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Books of the Month

            Feast your eyes and fill your mind with the dramatic and troubled travel of the Joad family in search for the promised land and a better life described in The Grapes of Wrath; the novel was published for the first time in America in 1939. Throughout the pages John Steinbeck reveals the best part of its realism and creates characters that are able to tell the story of a sad and harsh episode of the American history.

            In the 1920s the great depression oppresses and damages consistently the poor landowners who invest high hopes in that land which saw them grow up. The drought and the creation of new agricultural machinery force Tom Joad and his family to sell their land and abandon their farm: they pack up only the most strictly necessary goods, and they leave in the direction of California, described as the land of plenty and prosperity. Unfortunately they realize, along the road, that reality is tougher than they expected to be, and that there are too many families like theirs who desire to find a job and a house in a new country.

            Steinbeck fascinates his readers with an enjoyable and fluent narration, he animates his protagonists and their adventures on the basis of what he saw and felt through travels and interviews. The author doesn’t spare us the most macabre and miserable details, he wants to make the reader part of both sufferings and joyful moments of the protagonists, he opens a window onto the sequence of events that thousands of families of that period had in common. Despite the various difficulties and vicissitudes, the Joads will stick together until the end, and most of all they will join with other groups in order to support each other and to overcome the obstacles that the road and the life disclose.

            Dear readers, at the end the novel will leave a bad taste in your mouth, you’ll want to know more about that, but after all you will get the feeling that you’ve learn something more about life.

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Books of the Month

Maybe The Hobbit is the most important book of my life. I read it the first time in third grade, and from that moment the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien carried me away. But let’s start from the beginning, the book recounts the adventures of Bilbo Baggins a Hobbit: the Hobbits are known to live a routine life with no adventures or unexpected events. But everything changes when Gandalf knocks on the front door of Bag End with 13 dwarves on his side, guided by Thorin their rightful king.

Bilbo gets involved in this adventure that will take him to a lonely mountain or better said to Erebor, the ancient home of the dwarves and now inhabited by the dragon Smaug, the last of his kind. Taking unexpected journey, leaving the monotony and getting carried into the unknown are some of the reasons why even today when I read the Hobbit I go back with affection and nostalgia to the green hills of the Shire, the thick forest of Mirkwood, home of the elves or the great halls of Erebor, home of the dwarves lords. The world created by Tolkien marked my childhood and my teenage years, made me fall in love with literature and will always be a source of inspiration. In short, this book was created for children but it’s still able to move a nostalgic twenty-five years old.

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Tanya Bakes by Tanya Burr

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 Books of the Month

Since this month is the month of parties, festivities and food, I wanted to throw myself on an unusual reading: a cookbook. Not a 360° cookbook, this is only for sweets lovers. Yes, if you have a passion for sweet treats and cakes, this book (in my opinion) can’t miss on your shelves.

The author of the book is Tanya Burr: YouTuber, Blogger and founder of the make-up Tanya Burr Cosmetics brand (and she’s only 27). In short, a force of nature that has also decided to devote herself to writing this book of recipes for cakes of all kinds, especially American and English ones (she’s British). Perhaps the best thing is that she’s not a professional chef and as such she presents simple recipes that capture the eye.

The book is divided into 8 chapters: cookies and giant cookies, muffins and cupcakes, cakes, puddings, pastries, sweet bread and finally she gives us recipes and ideas for brunch and “special occasions“. In the final chapter you will find recipes for Christmas cookies, Halloween muffins, cookies used for Christmas decoration, sweet “baskets of eggs” for Easter and…the typical multi-colored layer cakes for birthday parties!

Finally the last recipe: the “ultimate celebration cake“, a joy of chocolate of all kinds. Well, for sure it is not a difficult reading but it will give you many inspirations for amaze your guests or to cook together with friends or, even more,  to give your usual recipes that extra touch! 🙂