|Jonas Jonasson living a simple life, not unlike that which Allan lives (before planting with explosives). Image from telegraph.co.uk|
I’m rather late in reading The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. I mentioned in my Kate Atkinson post that my boyfriend had recently enjoyed it and I’d heard lots of positive reviews by bloggers, but I couldn’t quite find the time to start it. That was until the Friday before last, when I had a train journey from South to North England and a weekend of relaxation ahead. Perfect.
To quickly summarise, it’s a brilliant book. If you haven’t read it, you should! The protagonist is a certain Allan Karlsson, who decides to flee his care home on his one hundredth birthday, much to the dislike of Director Alice. This escape mission provides one half of the narrative, in which we hear about the people Allan meets and the mischief he gets up to. One friend he meets, Benny, has a degree in just about anything. This is no exaggeration, as we find out when an elephant needs veterinary aid, a wounded enemy – that is soon to become a friend – needs medical care, and an alluring woman wishes to be serenaded by traditional poetry. Each character is so layered and fitting for the wider plot, and there’s no undeveloped or excessive characterisation to be criticised.
The other, perhaps larger, half of the novel describes Allan’s incredibly eventful past hundred years. Allan’s life is a bit like Forrest Gump’s, really. The amount of presidents he has met, and known on a first-name basis, is nothing less than ridiculous (having the instructions for an atom bomb at hand would make presidents keen to keep you close, however). Allan also understands multiple languages for several amusing reasons, and travels extensively through his various careers, journeys, and imprisonments.
Read The Hundred-Year-Old Man if you want a light-hearted yet intelligent read, filled with historical references and laugh-out-loud anecdotes. It’s particularly good holiday reading (or just a sunny day in the garden), and I’ve already recommended it to so many people at the bookshop I work at.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Read for: anxiety, depression, a mid-life crisis, feeling stuck in a rut
The Best Bloggers on Bibliotherapy
Now to the second part of this post. Several bloggers discuss the blog posts that they’ve recently enjoyed, and I thought I’d do the same! It’s always enjoyable to share great posts.
Project Reinvention – Textual Healing: The Undomestic Goddess
Kathleen has recently started publishing her “Textual Healing” posts again, which are similar to my own posts and provide a great guide to bibliotherapy. This week she’s discussed The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, and has shared some great quotes that we can all relate to and learn from. I particularly enjoyed this quote,
“Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing all the answers. You don’t always have to know who you are. You don’t have to have the big picture, or know where you’re heading. Sometimes it’s enough just to know what you’re going to do next”
Better Living Through Beowulf – Lit Unlocks Cultural & Linguistic Barriers
Better Living through Beowulf is a blog I’ve followed for some time now. The author, Robin, seeks to emphasise the correspondence between literature, daily living, politics, and the world around us, and consistently shares engaging and enjoyable posts. This week, one of his classmates from college wrote a guest post, and it’s definitely worth sharing. This quote is one of my favourite elements of the post:
Literature has a unique value in being able to dissolve cultural and linguistic barriers between people, and to show us to each other in our common humanity.
Babbling Books – Between Two Covers
Brian here discusses his experience of entering the world of literature and broadening his literary horizons. It’s a fantastic post on of the accessibility of literature from childhood to adulthood, and emphasises how intrinsic fiction can be to the wider lives of readers.
“No one who can read, ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot.” ~Charles Dickens
In Other News… I have been rounding up noisy piglets, working at my local, very chaotic bookshop, and reading a lovely novel by Tan Twan Eng (author of The Garden of Evening Mists). This weekend my brother will compete at an athletics final in Birmingham, which is sure to be nerve-wracking yet exciting. Happy reading!