Bookshelf Monthly #9: Summer Reading, Heart & Soul

“Thought and beauty, like a hurricane or waves, should not know conventional, delimited forms.”
A. Chekhov, letters.

This time I’ve decided to feature my favourite fiction in this post.
I think these heart-melting, wise, yet very different books are just perfect for summer holiday.
There is one exceptional memoir; one outstanding scifi novella; three tear-your-heart-out-beautiful novels.bookshelf-monthly-reading


1. Three Fat Men (1927),
Yuri Olesha.
A powerful, beautiful, dystopian fairy tale; a highly aestheticised revolution story with wondrous Steampunk elements (from today’s point of view, of course) such as: an animated human-size doll, a mechanical heart made of iron, a balloon flight that ends up in a huge fancy cake, an equilibrist revolutionary
Russian Nobel prize nominee Konstantin Paustovsky declared Olesha’s inspired, expressionist writing as “Beethovenian“.
2. Monday Begins on Saturday (1964),
A. and B. Strugatsky.
This Soviet scifi/fantasy novel, highly entertaining, utterly humanistic, chock-full with the most ludicrous (in a good way) fairytale and fantasy references, follows a young programmer’s journey at a highly classified Scientific Research Institute of Sorcery and Wizardry.
Sounds familiar?
Still it was written way before Harry Potter.
3. The Italics Are Mine (written in 1972; English translation 1969; published in Russia 1983),
Nina Berberova.
A beautifully told, inspiring memoir of an exceptional woman, a chronicle of Russian 1917s intelligentsia in exile.
At the first glance, it might be of interest only for students of Russian history, but it has more to it.
Berberova’s sentiments-free, rational, straight-forward, precise depiction of horrible events and hopeless situations make this book stand out.
She must have been an amazing human being, strong, and focused, and positive.
In Arles, one of my favourite French destinations, a square was (is?) named after Berberova – place Nina Berberova.
4. No Woman Born (1944),
C.L. Moore.
This 1944 novella is mind-blowing.
It’s a tale about the successful cyborg reconstruction of a beautiful actress Deidre – who dies in a fire – by a male scientist.
Behold! For it is neither frankeinsteinean nor pygmalionesque. Read and let the Moore magic charm you.
Deidre is not your average 1940s woman. Not your average scifi woman, neither. This is why I love this short story so much.
Moore’s narrative is alluring and will leave you begging for more.
5. Dandelion Wine (1957),
Ray Bradbury
After The Lord of The Rings, this is the book I’ve re-read most often.
Dandelion Wine is a novel about discovering your bright and awesome “aliveness”, learning what death, loss, time, miracles, and missed opportunities mean.
It’s funny and bittersweet, beautiful and sad, scary and grotesque, heart-melting and heart-wrenching.
Buzzing with the alluring vibrance of a summer as seen through the eyes of a 12 y.o. boy, it’s my Bradbury favourite.
If it does not make you hide an occasional moved, sad, or happy tear, then I don’t know. Get back to Filthy Shades maybe 😉berlin-by-night-scifi-impression

And now I raise my dandelion wine glass to your excellent – Scifi, Memoir and Fantasy rooted – reading pleasure.



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7 Responses

  1. […] Sure, because nothing beats a huge tome of “War and Piece” under the tree! Just kidding! 😉 Here is a classic of another kind – hilarious and wise, absolutely adorable urban fantasy full of funny folklore twists and turns in 1964’s Monday Begins on Saturday. Written decades before Harry Potter, the Soviet scifi novel by the brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatzky follows a young programmer’s journey at a secret Scientific Research Institute for Sorcery & Wizardry and it’s… …my favourite book from the Bookshelf Monthly, Edition August. […]

      1. The Italics are Mine would be my first choice. Least? Mmmmm….not sure…Three Fat Men…maybe. And my choices might just depend on the day!

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