The Book of Mirrors, by E. O. Chirovici

I completely forgot to write the review about a book I read this month. I want to be held accountable, so I’ll write it now.

Every person who loves books loves books about books or libraries or writers, so when I learned that the book of the month of my pseudo-book club for the radio show A Todo Terreno was going to be The Book of Mirrors, by E. O. Chirovichi, a Romanian author, I was excited.

I did like it, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to the hype. It’s a fast reading book, as every crime novel should be, and it’s interesting. It’s divided in three sections, each narrated by a different person. First, it’s the editor who receives this manuscript titled The Book of Mirrors (oh! A book within a book, it has to be good!), claiming to be a tell-all account of the unsolved murder of a Princeton professor back in the eighties. Then, it’s the journalist hired by the publisher to find out the rest of the manuscript or the real story, because the author died before sending the last part. And then, it’s the ex-police officer who makes it his quest to solve the mystery.

I expected so much more, after reading that even Iceland bought the rights of the book before it had been published (and tried) in the US and UK markets. It’s a good crime book, I can totally envision a movie based on The Book of Mirrors, but I don’t think the characters are that likable, and in the end, the resolution seems so unimportant… which isn’t necessarily bad, though. I can see how the editors felt the particularity in Chirovici’s voice, and I wish they translate him more, because I believe it’s important to enrich the global market with diverse voices. But, at least for my taste and extremely personally because books about books are my absolute favorite, it just didn’t fulfill my expectations.

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Have you read Chirovichi? Have you ever read any of his Romanian novels? Are they better than The Book of Mirrors?

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A girl reading Jules Verne in the 21st Century

So I remember reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea when I was a little girl. I probably read it a couple times before I was 12. I also read Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days, and School for Crusoes (I refuse to use the title Godfrey Morgan, because I read it in Spanish under the title Escuela de Robinsones). Of course, back then, twenty years ago, I wasn’t thinking of feminism or intersectionality, and I was amazed by the extraordinary deeds of these extraordinary men without even noticing that there wasn’t even the mention of a girl. Ever.

So now, I’m 34… with the goal of reading more diversily, at least 50% women authors. And I find myself reading Five Weeks in a Balloon for two reading challenges.

It was painful.

There was actually a mention to a woman: Madame Blanchard. She was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist, and also the first woman to be killed in an aviation accident.

But that was it.

Throughout the book I could read terrible examples of colonialism, of toxic masculinity, of discrimination, of exploitation of resources… That was how the 19th Century [male] mind worked, and that’s what brought us where we are: still fighting gun violence against black people (who were brought by the kind of guys portrayed in Jules Verne’s books as slaves), losing our last male northern white rhino (Sudan died just a few days ago, and there’s basically no hope in recovering the species), and with women still struggling for equality.

It was especially painful to read Five Weeks in a Balloon in March, just after seeing (twice) Black Panther. The fictionalized portrayal of what could have happened if people like Samuel Fergusson, Dick Kennedy, and Joe Wilson hadn’t destroyed Africa was such a pleasure to watch.

Anyway… I finished Five Weeks in a Balloon, and as much as I [think I] love Jules Verne, I will keep away from him for a while. A long, long while.

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This is my entry post for the Monthly Motif reading Challenge: Travel the World, and also for the Back to the Classics Challenge: A classic travel or journey narrative.

February wrap-up and why is it okay to not read much sometimes

I almost decided not to write this. In a way I find it shameful that I was only able to read ONE book this month… But the truth is that February was a hectic month. And I’m not trying to make excuses or justify myself. A lot of things happened that maybe didn’t take lots of time, but they occupied space in my mind in a way that was impossible for me to concentrate enough to read.

First of all was the #RiotGrams challenge in Instagram… I almost completed it. You can see my posts here. I had so much fun looking for books and setting them up in various places. And there’s something worth mentioning: I was featured in Book Riot’s feed!!! OMG!!! You can see the post here… it has +900 likes so far…

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Also, at the beginning of the month I went to a homage made to an uncle, Ángel Gaviño Iglesias… he worked with Louis Pasteur and was one of the first scientists in Mexico to talk about bacteriology, so he was a cardinal figure in Mexican Public Health. I got very curious about my ancestors because this guy was the great grand son of one of the most recognized —female— figures in the Mexican Independence (Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez), so I started reading a bit about them, but I couldn’t find much online. Fortunately, an uncle has material about our family and I hope I can get over to his library soon. The event was a couple hours long, the ceremony and the unveiling of an obelisk, but before and after I was just thinking about that. It was in a cemetery where a lot of historic figures lay… I saw Rosario Castellanos’s tombstone, for example. She’s one of the few female writers known by everyone, and seeing all those important people there, you can just wish for the day when there will be an equal number of women and men…

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And that’s it about nice things. On the 16th we had another strong earthquake, magnitude 7.2. It wasn’t as devastating as the one we had last September, but I was alone, driving home… and as I’m still trying to recover from the one I just mentioned, I just couldn’t calm down for days. I did nothing except reading the news, twitter, and just being nervous… On Sunday night, just three days later, the earthquake alarm went off again. It’s terrible to just live waiting for another earthquake to hit 😦

And then, on the 22nd my dad had a rollover crash in the highway. Fortunately (and fucking surprisingly) he didn’t have a scratch, he’s perfect, as if nothing had happened… but you can imagine how I felt when he called me, and hours later when I saw the pictures of his car.

So, yes… this month I only read Middlemarch and heard The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Return of Sherlock Holmes. I usually read/listen to audiobooks or podcasts while I do the dishes or drive by myself, so that’s how I managed to advance so much on the Canon this month.

I was a little ashamed, but I think you just have to accept and acknowledge when your brain is busy with other things (especially when it is trying to survive thinking that any alarm is the earthquake alarm). Of course I would want to be like those booktubers or instagram book celebrities who read 30 books a month… But my reality is different, and I’m just glad I actually finished a book that I loved.

The good thing is that with Middlemarch I covered THREE prompts (for +800 pages, that’s only fair!) for my challenges. I won’t do a statistical analysis of my readings this month hehehe, just this:

Challenges prompts completed: 3/107

Total: 9/107