Antal Szerb: Journey by Moonlight
“And while there is life there is always the chance that something might happen...”
― Antal Szerb,
This book is one of the best novels of 20th century Hungarian literature. You can find a pretty good review about it here on Guardian. Why would I recommend to read this novel? Because I can tell it from my own experience that sometimes it is really nice to read something new and different what is still quality stuff. From time to time there are big literature trends when everyone is reading at once Scandinavian literature or German or Indian or Middle Eastern books. But there are so many good books also from other countries what you might have never heard of yet. Speaking of Hungarian literature I can also recommend Magda Szabo (The Door) or Peter Eszterhazy if you want to read more from Hungarian writers just to name a few.
Journey by Moonlight is a great travel novel introducing historical cities of Tuscany as the story unfolds. It is also a great character novel showing how different people are and how different they try to create a meaningful present while having a nostalgic longing after the past or -exactly the opposite- forecefully denying their past selves. The novel starts with Erzsi and Mihály who are on their honey moon to Italy. Mihály takes by accident the wrong train in Venice and instead of going back to find his wife he decides to leave her behind and continues his journey alone. The novel follows his and his (former) wife`s journey after they loose track of each other while the plot is shifting continously between past and present.
Gabriel García Márquez: Strange Pilgrims:Twelwe Stories
“Both described at the same time how it was always
March there and always Monday, and then they understood
that José Arcadio Buendía was not as crazy as the family said,
but that he was the only one who had enough lucidity to sense
the truth of the fact that time also stumbled and had accidents
and could therefore splinter and leave an eternalized fragment in a room.”
― Gabriel García Márquez,
In his world famous novel One Hundred Years Of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez managed to write the history mankind in the story of the village of Macondo and the family of Buendías. There are many great reviews about this book on the web so I will not spend time on trying to write an ok review about it. To cut it short: it is a very good book with interesting characters and a magical story line what captures your attention from the beginning to the end. Macondo is first a small village which develops to a flourishing city, then comes civil war and turmoil, everyone`s life is turned upside down and at the end inevitable decdence follows. The title refers to the life of all the Buendias and the people connected to them. As I read it in one review these people are utterly separated by their own solitude living next to each other, love helps to bridge the gap from time to time but if it can be the final solution..well you should decide it for yourself by reading the book.
If the person who you are looking for some good books has not read this book yet I would buy this one. On the other hand if he is a Marquez-fan but have not read short stories from him yet I would go for Strange Pilgrims: Twelve Stories. This collection is surrealistic even on a Marquez-scale. I can tell from own experience that even if you forget the details of the stories with time, you will always remember the feeling after finishing reading them. Many of the stories evoke quite strong feelings in the reader. "Each of the stories touches on the theme of dislocation and the strangeness of life in a foreign land, although quite what "foreign" means is one of García Márquez's central questions."
Finally some more tips: if I would buy a gift for someone who likes philosophy I would buy Meditations from Marcus Aurelius if he has not read it yet. Or The Art of War by Sun Tzu which can be used nowdays as a good strategy book for mental training when preparing for negotiations or to kick off a bigger project for instance. And something totally different but a bit similar: I think Kelly Cutrone rocks big time. I love the way she sees the world and how she promotes fierceness along with strong work ethic in the advices she gives in her books. Her books are not fine literature but can be a good read for someone who is a bit stuck or is starting a new lifephase or thinks that she has still some things to learn about real life.
“So you know how things stand. Now forget what they think of you.
Be satisfied if you can live the rest of your life, however short,
as your nature demands. Focus on that, and don't let anything distract you.
You've wandered all over and finally realized that you never found
what you were after: how to live. Not in syllogisms, not in money, or fame,
or self-indulgence. Nowhere.”
― Marcus Aurelius,
“This is an important lesson to remember when you're having a bad day,
a bad month, or a shitty year. Things will change: you won't feel this way forever.
And anyway, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul
needs most. I believe you can't feel real joy unless you've felt heartache. You can't
have a sense of victory unless you know what it means to fail. You can't know
what it's like to feel holy until you know what it's like to feel really fucking evil.
And you can't be birthed again until you've died.”
― Kelly Cutrone,