My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Book Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak


Synopsis (from Goodreads):
'In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away...'

For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life - friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .

This year, I am actively trying to read more noted literature.  One of the ways I am finding books is by reading novels that were short-listed for the Booker Man prize.  So far, I have read:



Now, I have finished 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World, by Elif Shafak.  It didn't win the Booker Man prize.  That honor went to both The Testaments, and Girl, Woman, Other.  But I think 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World is my favorite, so far.

What I Liked:
Narrative Style:
The title of the book is in reference to the fact that our brains may still be active after death for 10 minutes, 38 seconds.  In that time, the main character, Leila, recollects on her difficult life.

We've all heard the saying that when we die our lives flash before our eyes.  This is the premise of the book.  Each section covers a portion of Leila's life and the friends she made along the way.  What makes this so powerful is that we know at the end, the character we have come to love, will die.

I have never been to Istanbul, Turkey, and this book is certainly not a love letter to the city.  The setting is gritty, and at times terrifying.  Having said that, I'm sure that there are many wonderful parts of Istanbul, but like any large city, there is a parallel community of people on the edges of society.  

I liked the details of the neighborhoods, the food, and the scenery.  Amid poverty, political strife and despair, beauty can be found in even the darkest of circumstances.

This story is about the friendships we make when our biological families let us down.  Leila has five really important friendships.  They develop over her life because Leila is such an open and non-judgemental person.  I loved each of her friends.  They each had incredible challenges and were not perfect people.  But their resilience was inspiring.

Trigger Warning for child abuse, self-harm, and sexual assault. 


Release Date:  June 6th, 2019

Author:  Elif Shafak

Publisher:  Viking

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Page Length:  312 Pages

Source:  Public Library

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  Gritty and tough to read, but the payoff is meeting characters that are unforgettable.  An excellent read.

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2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 2 books toward her goal of 120 books.


80% 80% 100 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge
clean sweep 2017

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