Let me talk today about one of my most precious treasures. As a good treasured it fell into my hands by a simple coincidence. I was in Sydney, where I used to live, and as it always happens —it is still happening to me here in France—, when I cannot find books in Spanish I don’t know what to choose. I was randomly looking inside Harry Hartog, my favourite bookstore in Bondi, when I found it. Strange title, I thought. I then saw a note of recommendation classifying it as one of the best books in fiction. I bought it and left it in my own little library for two months. And when I finally took it I regret of having lost two months in which I should had known everything about this book.
Gretchen Rubin has been famous for some years now. Not to me. I ran into her book by only a coincidence, looking for those books that are chicken soup for the soul. It was the word happiness that got my attention because, Are we not all looking to find it? Is it not the last end of life that all the philosophers talk about? The aim of all religions and theories in this world? She said she could find it and I was up for it.
This book fell in my hands after Bill Gates recommended it as one of his favourite summer readings. At the beginning I thought it was a Spy’s thriller (one of my favourite genres) and that is why I ran out to buy it.
There is this shock when you realize that even before opening a book you have had a misconception. A Gentleman in Moscow was not about spies. Yes, you could feel them breathing in the main character’s neck from time to time but the story is not typical. As I was expecting the usual spy thriller, the book seemed slow and calm at the beginning. It was good that I decided to go up to the end, otherwise I would have missed a wonderful piece of literature.
Olga Tokarczuk does not need an introduction. Well, she is from Poland, Nobel Literature Prize 2018. That’s it. She has won several literature prices before. I understand why. She writes as if she were rolling over sentences in a beautiful song and each one of those sentences are attached to one another in perfection. But it was not this what left me with an open mouth. After several days and weeks of finishing ‘Flights’ my head is still spinning trying to guess how was she capable of put such simple stories, that could happen to anyone, in paper. Some of us have lived those stories, or at least one of the stories (exploration of the human body, migration, travel, languages, romance, life and death), but none of us would have been capable of telling them in such a sublime way.