Friday, November 30, 2007
Christmas Book Challenge
I should have known that a book of Irish stories would not necessarily be an uplifting set of Christmas stories. I thought they would be more like Maeve Binchy - modern, happy, heartwarming stories. These were good, but more in the vein of Angela's Ashes, set during or around the wars. So, a tad more depressing, but still interesting. More stereotypical Irish, poor, drinking stories. Keane can turn a phrase and some passages had me chuckling. There was even a page at the back of the book to decipher terms.
My favorite story was the one with two wren-boys (mummers who go singing and entertaining on St Stephen Day, or the day after Christmas) but who are so geared up, preparing to go, planning from the last year with anticipation, that they drink too much and fall asleep and don't wake up until the next day, and miss all the fun.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I don’t so much mean something like reading a series from beginning to end, but, say, a string of books that all take place in Paris. Or that have anthropologists as the main character. Or were written in the same year. Something like that… Something that strings them together in your head, and yet, otherwise could be different genres, different authors…
I don't read books that have any noticeable theme. Sometimes I will try to read a series from the start, but I find I need to take a break from the same characters one after the other.
It may not be planned, but I think I automatically find connections from one book to the next, even if those connections might only be in my head. Or two books might not be one after the other, but in some way in my head, I find parallels. For example, I read Tomorrow by Graham Swift and On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwen and I certainly tied them together in my head. I think because I read them close together they seemed similar.
One of the first Booking Through Thursdays that I participated in was like this: connect 5 books on your bookshelf, one after the other, by some means that makes sense to you. It was really fun, and we should do it again! I did mine here a while ago.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
We had a family wedding on Friday night at 7pm, and I worked all day, and got my hair done (straightened) and then we hosted a little happy hour to get some food in our bellies* before the wedding. And the computer just got ignored.
We had a wonderful time on Friday night, and then that caused Saturday to be a complete write off, as the four of us - me, my sister and our husbands, could barely summon the energy to eat, let alone look after our kids. That's how great cousin memories are developed - the parents are having too much fun to pay any attention to the kids. And then I didn't blog on Saturday either, since I'd already lost my mojo.
The books I want to finish before the end of the year and the actual number of days and my reading rate seem to be an inverse function right now, see graph on left. I made a list of books I really want to finish, in some sort of priority order:
- Lolita by Nabokov, reading now
- Irish Christmas Stories by John B Keane, reading now
- The Plague by Camus
- Mercy by Jodi Picoult
- Another Christmas book: The Cricket on the Hearth
- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
- Lisey's Story by King
- Special Topics in Calamity Physics
* my brother in law thought we should go out to eat at a restaurant before the wedding since there wouldn't be a sit down meal. I surmised that the h'or derv's served at the fancy hotel reception would be substantial enough if we ate some snacks before we went. He was leery, and it would have been on me if he didn't get enough to eat. Thank goodness they brought around trays with bacon wrapped scallops, among other food. I was right, and I told him so.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Lights! Camera! Action!
With at least a week to spare, I completed the Book to Movies Challenge. I still have a few more I'd like to read, but they won't get done in time to be added to this list officially.
Here's my list of books, linked to their reviews:
Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Interestingly, I haven't seen any of these movies. I usually try to read the book first if I can, and I haven't been watching too many movies lately. Strange how I can't seem to commit to watching a two hour movie, but I will read umpteen books instead. I guess I have my priorities straight!
A few books I still want to read include:
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (movie called Simon Birch)
Shaking Hands With the Devil by General Romeo Dallaire
The Last King of Scotland
Of the books I read, I liked Gods and Monsters bests. It had great atmosphere and characters, and reminded me of the movie Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp. It was kind of creepy and could have been a part of the RIP II. The movie I'd most like to see is The Hours because I think I'd actually like the movie better. The other two were good books, but caught me at the wrong time because I couldn't get into them. I never got lost or absorbed enough to fly through them.
Thanks to Callista at SMS Book Reviews for hosting this great challenge. I still have more of these to read, and if you want any suggestions, she's been posting all the reviews so you can see if your favorite book has been made into a movie, or what the book that your favorite movie is based on was like.
Monday, November 26, 2007
In 2006, Bierce's story was referenced on an episode of the ABC television series Lost entitled "The Long Con".
At the end of "My Occurrence", an episode of the TV series Scrubs, it becomes apparent that the lead character has imagined many of the events of the episode as he does not want to believe that a friend has cancer.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Pulitzer Winner 1999
Three parallel lives are followed through a single day in each life: Mrs Brown, a 1950s housewife who is reading Mrs Dalloway; Clarissa, known as Mrs Dalloway who is living the life, in present day New York, from Mrs Dalloway, the novel; and Mrs Woolf, the author who is writing Mrs Dalloway in 1920s England. Hmm, perhaps I should have read Mrs Dalloway first? I'm pretty sure I missed a lot of the symbolism and parallels that connect this book to Mrs Dalloway. While I usually firmly believe in reading the book first, in this case I think the movie would stand alone better than the book. Now I need to see the movie and see if I am right.
Themes of suicide are throughout; the prologue details the author Virginia Woolf's drowning suicide, Mrs Brown is contemplating it as a means of escaping the life she feels trapped in, and Clarissa deals with the death of a friend. I read about other themes and important symbols at the Sparks notes site. This novel will be discussed at Bookawards Yahoo Group during the month of December and I expect to discover some interesting ideas and themes during that discussion.
However, any book of only 225 pages that takes me over a week to read must have some problems. I didn't connect enough with the story and the characters because it was so busy being important, with symbols and parallels. Not to say that I wasn't interested, because I did want to see how all three stories connected in the end and I would like to read Mrs Dalloway, I think, if only to see where this book came from. But overall, this book was just an okay read, nothing wrong, just not a book that I will rave about or remember too much from. I applaud the author's ambition, and with enough prior knowledge and background, I think I would have enjoyed it more. But there was no prerequisite listed on the cover, and I think there should be.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Joanna and Brad are asking about “connecting words,” and they don’t mean conjunctions like “and” or “but.” No, what they’re looking for are unique, or treasured words that we’ve found out and about in our daily travels, words that might not be common usage, or often heard, but which struck a chord for some reason.
This is unorthodox, of course, but here’s the thing: if you link back to Joanna’s post (which is where the rules are written), you’re eligible to win a prize. Not to mention joining in some great conversation about interesting words.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
See what I made:
I can't seem to stop. Be careful, images may be copywrited, so don't use for commercial applications.
- The Amazing Race: This is possibly the best reality show, although I prefer the term game show. I like that you lose based on your own results, not based on friendships or bad behaviour. It's just your own skills. And of course, I would do really well on the race, only they don't allow Canadians to compete. I would race with my sister, and on our cruise last year, we pretended we were racing when we would be getting in lines or finding meeting points. The countries, the challenges or tasks, and of course Phil. The editors rock on this show.
- Cold Case: The cases themselves can be a little corny or contrived, but the team of investigators, led by the best boss and toughest cop, are what make this show special. The relationships between the cops and their dysfunctional lives are very touching. And I always cry in the last musical montage, showing how powerful images and music can be.
- Brothers and Sisters: I've always liked dramas and family shows, like thirtysomething and Once and Again. And this show has Rob Lowe, looking very presidential, like he learned how to be, on The West Wing. The family is real, or as real as a rich Californian family can be, but they fight and drink, and gossip and talk all the time and are there for each other. Funny and drama and did I mention, Rob Lowe?
- House: Again, it is not the medical story, I find them quite gross at times, but it is the relationships between the characters, especially House and Wilson. Wilson and House make one of the best pairings on TV. I am particularly liking the new 'numbers', auditioning for a spot on House's team of doctors, AKA the Cottages. I am not missing Foreman, Cameron and the Blond guy too much.
- Seinfeld: We are still enjoying the old reruns of the funniest show ever on television. I was in on this from the get-go, and can remember watching the first few episodes, like the one with 'the levels' that Kramer was going to put in his apartment. We use so many of the phrases from this show around our house. We used to torment our children in the car, when they would ask 'How much longer?" We always replied, 'Five, ten minutes" with just the right accent. Do you remember that episode?
- Survivor: Again, I remember watching the very first episode. I thought when I read the preview, that it sounded so stupid, but within the first half hour, I was calling to my husband and telling him how great the show was. Of course, Richard was the best player, because he figured it out first, how to win. But then, people who won afterward, like Brian, and Tom, who won when everyone already realized how the game was played, also deserve a lot of credit. Some seasons aren't as good as others, but overall, they keep it fresh and find a way to keep me interested.
- The Daily Show/The Colbert Report: I shouldn't be watching these shows because they don't come on until midnight here in the Maritimes, damn that Atlantic Time Zone, which is way too late for a little girl who has to teach the next day, but they are so funny. The writer's strike is hurting these shows so much, and I love how they manage to be humorous and informative at the same time.
There are many other shows that would fall into my second tier of shows I like to watch. I'll talk about those other shows another day. Oh, wait, one more show that my kids would say is my favourite show.
- Compass: Our local CBC news hour show. We let the kids pretty much have control of the television during the day, but at 6:00, I get the control and get to watch the first 10 -15 minutes of news, and the weather with Boomer for the next day.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
1. Do you remember learning to read? How old were you?
I don't remember learning to read. I do remember trying to teach my 3 year old sister to read when I was six, in grade 1. If I knew how to read, she should learn too. I guess I've always tried to be a teacher.
2. What do you find most challenging to read?
Big thick books, Austen/Hawthorne/type writing, magic realism doesn't do much for me at all.
3. What are your library habits?
I keep a list of TBR at my library's online resource; I request books if I can; I used to browse and wander, but my reading is mapped out too far right now for impulse reads; I usually have at least one or two books out from the library
4. Have your library habits changed since you were younger?
I've always borrowed from the library.
5. How has blogging changed your reading life?
wow, that's a huge question! I never wrote reviews before, but I kept a list of books read for the past 8 years. Reading challenges are new this year, so I have expanded my reading genres quite a bit.
6. What percentage of your books do you get from: New book stores, second hand book stores, the library, online exchange sites, online retailers, other?
From my librarything data, I've read about 60% of my books this year from the library. The other 40% is about 20% on line retailers, 5% new book stores, 5% second hand book stores, and 10% borrowed from friends/received as gifts.
7. How often do you read a book and NOT review it in your blog? What are your reasons for not blogging about books?
I'm still pretty new, so I have blogged about every book I've read. Or have I? How will you know?
8. What are your pet peeves about ways people abuse books? Dogearing pages? Reading in the bath?
Oops, I dog-ear books, and I would read in the bath. I don't have any pet peeves like that. I don't like when people give away the ending when they review books, without a spoiler warning.
9. Do you ever read for pleasure at work?
Unfortunately, no. If I had a job with regular lunch hours, I might read then. But I have a library at work, and a librarian who believes the school library should have books for the teachers too, so she gets some with more adult content than just young adult. She keeps some books in her office for mature readers. so I may not read at work, but I get some books to read for pleasure at work. And bonus: no late fees.
10. When you give people books as gifts, how do you decide what to give them?
So much depends on the person. I have a good idea for my husband and children what they like to read, since I supply their books for the most part anyway. My mom would be trickier. She would probably request a book, or I would get her one from a series she is reading. My dad would be the same, but I would have an idea of an author he would like, and he would try anything to read. It gets tricky beyond that. I would have to have read the book already for the most part, unless they requested it.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I like books like this: a murder mystery, with a seemingly unconnected cast of characters. The first half of the book is spent setting the stage and I felt like a juggler keeping track of all the people and motives and backstories. And then, gradually, people become connected and the story really picked up.
The Carnival is ready for this month. What is the Carnival? you ask. I wondered that when I first heard about it. Someone (Armenian Odar) organizes a different theme of bookish topics (Short Stories). Different bloggers submit posts that relate to the theme. Some posts are written specifically for the Carnival, others submit previously written posts. Then the organizer puts them altogether in the Carnival.
Some past themes have included classics, and scary stories. Since I have been participating in Short Story Mondays, I finally felt brave enough to submit a post to this Carnival which is all about short stories. A couple of people even wrote their own original stories for this carnival! So head on over to The Armenian Odar and check out this months Bookworms Carnival. Lots of interesting posts and new blogs to discover.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Two names you go by:
1. Mom - my children
2. Mrs MacAulay - my students
Two things you are wearing right now:
1. comfy fleece sweatshirt and pants. Who invented this new soft fleece? I love them.
2. contact lens. Only one though, I have monocular vision
Two of your favorite things to do:
2. talking - on the phone, in the staff room, ...
Two things you want very badly at the moment
1. a spa weekend alone, with much wine and reading
2. to get organized around the house
Two favorite pets you have had/have:
1. I never, ever had a pet
Two things you ate today:
1. leftover ice cream birthday cake from last weekend
2. hot turkey sandwich with perfect diner fries, at lunch with my son at a local restaurant
Two people you last talked to:
1. my husband (thank you, the stew was delicious)
2. one of my three children at supper.
Two things you're doing tomorrow:
1. put up Christmas decorations
2. having lunch at my parents
Two longest car rides:
1. PEI to Ontario by way of the States. I was in grade 5
2. train ride from NS to Alberta, then drove from Calgary to Vancouver through the Rockies
Two favorite holidays:
1. Christmas. I know Christmas can be a bad, sad time for many people, but I live in a perfect bubble and Christmas is full of happy family memories and get togethers
2. Canada Day. We have an annual party we go to, and it means summer vacation has begun.
Two favorite beverages:
1. diet pepsi
2. Long Island iced tea
Just as a final note, the phrase "twofer", sounds so much like "two-four", which is slang for a 24 case of beer around here. That subliminal message has made its way to my head, and now I shall go have a nice, cold Corona, which didn't make the list of favorite beverages, but could have.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I don't write in books, but not for any noble reason. I've never been a writer in books, it wouldn't occur to me to write anything. Probably because we didn't buy many books when I was growing up. We were library people. I think I'm too scared to write in a book, but I wish I was a person who did write in books.
I actually enjoy getting library books that have been written in, I find it interesting to see what other people thought was interesting enough to underline or write in. My copy of Galileo's Daughter from the library had been studied, and was underlined and annotated; I wanted to keep it, and buy another book for the library to have.
I think I am neither a Footprint Leaver not a Preservationist.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
She just doesn't stop,
The challenges she makes,
Put me over the top
We have all year,
Just take a look,
All we have to read,
Is 12 YA books.
I don't have a full list yet, but young adult books can be a quick read, and very enjoyable after those 'important Pulitzer' winners. Plus, I work at a high school and have easy access to these books. Cause if they don't have it, it's not young adult.
Here's a list of potential reads (probably already on another list):
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
- Pretties, Specials, by Scott Westerfield
- Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Twilight by Stephanie Myer
- Beauty by Robin McKinley
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O"Dell (Newbery )
- So Long, Jackie Robinson by Nancy Russell
- The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
- Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn
- Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler
- Zel by Donna Jo Napoli
- Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (Newbery 1991)
- The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
update: April 30th, challenge completed, wrap up posted here
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Two Tales for the Holidays
I recently read Richards book Hockey Dreams and really enjoyed the writing of his reminiscence of life playing hockey on the Miramichi River. This slim little volume is more of the same, but fictional, thoughts of Christmases from ago.
Carmichael's Dog tells the story of two little boys, who find a dog on Christmas Eve, which is, of course, the perfect present for their widowed mother. But the story is more about what life used to be like, when kids ran the neighbourhood, outside all the time, with nothing more than a 'be home by dinner' as they live. It is also about the rules of the street, being confronted by another kid when you are doing something you aren't supposed to do. And Richards has a way of writing, that brings you right back there.
The Christmas Tree is the story with the miracle of sorts. Two brothers, again, in their twenties go looking to chop down a tree, because in those days, nobody buys a tree. My husband was like this when I met him - they always chopped down a tree from the woods, he could not understand buying a tree. So these boys, and a neighbourhood urchin whom they don't know, go to the woods looking for a tree. But like most university age kids, the trip was afoot before any real plan, like an axe, was thought of.
Both stories had plenty of humor, and were perfectly touching for Christmas. And because they are memories, just like all Christmas memories can be, are looked at through the rose coloured glasses. But this is just the kind of story to read to get in the mood for Christmas. I am becoming quite a fan of Mr Richards' writing. My only problem here was that these were fiction, and the last book of his I read was nonfiction, and I felt like these was his real stories, so that distracted me a bit. Christmas stories are perfect for short stories, so I'll have to look for some more.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Books to Movies Challenge
originally titled Father of Frankenstein
I haven't seen this movie yet, but I remember when it was nominated for a few Academy Awards, back in 1997. I don't actually see a lot of movies, so it isn't surprising. Bram tells the story of James Whale, director of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Set in 1957, Whale is retired by now, and recovering from a stroke. He is getting mixed up in his head, past and present, and looking for a way out. He forms an unlikely friendship with his gardener, Clay Boone, a white trash he-man who is put off a bit by Whale's homosexuality, and yet fascinated by the famous director at the same time.
Bram took the true basis of Whale's life and built a world of what the last few weeks of his life may have been like, based on the available information. He provides an afterward to my paperback edition to explain what was true, and what was conjecture - Boone is completely fictional. The look at Hollywood in the thirties and forties, even the glamourous fifties, with lots of name dropping, and the background and filming of some of the movies, and the interesting friendship between Boone and Whale made this an interesting read. Bram is obviously a fan of the old horror movies, and his love and respect comes through. It also shows how the effects of war are life lasting, as Whale descends in his mind back to the trenches of World War I. Rather touching for today, Remembrance Day.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
These are the series' that I am glad were written. My favorites over the years. I notice a large number are from my childhood. I think for this list and my purposes, a series has to be more than two books, that is, a trilogy minimum, which is why Bridget Jones isn't here. This list is in no particular order.
1. The Earth Children by Jean Auel
The prehistoric sex books, I was lucky to find these after they had all been written, except for the last book which was published within a year of reading about Ayla and the cave men. You must watch Ice Age after reading these books.
2. The Outlander by Diana Gabaldron
The Scottish sex books, that were passed around our staffroom for a few years. Claire and Jamie and their time travelling adventures throughout history. How can you not love Jamie? hmm, third daughter is named Jamie. That's weird.
3. Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Fabulous books, I read the first five aloud to my son. Luckily, he learned to read them himself this year. The imagination of Rowling to create this wizard world amazed me. I want an owl to bring me messages. I have found it very difficult not to read these books straight through. I knew it about Snape!
4. Bruno and Boots (MacDonald Hall) by Gordon Korman
Probably one of my favorite set of books all time. Korman has written much more than Bruno and Boots, but for young teenagers, these hilarious stories are terrific. Korman wrote the first book, This Can't Be Happening! (at McDonald Hall) when he was just fourteen, and I was ten when it first came out - it seemed so close. I still remember Mrs Adams reading it aloud to our grade five class, and laughing so hard she couldn't continue reading. Books can be so much fun.
5. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
What little girl didn't read this series? And wonder how they went to the bathroom? Laura and Mary, and Manly, and the Long Winter. I reread this series continually, and still have my books in the basement. I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to read these. She better enjoy them!
6. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
My comfort food. I think it gets better as the series goes along, and Anne becomes a smaller and smaller character. Once Anne finds her family, and the love she needed, she becomes quieter, and leaves the scrapes to her neighbours. Still lots of interesting people, and her children's story, especially Rilla's, is a wonderful view of life in Canada during World War I.
7. The Great Brain by John D Fitzgerald
Life in a small Utah town at the end of the nineteenth century, with The Great Brain, swindling and conning everyone in sight. Another funny series of my youth, and such a different life than I was used to.
So, what did I forget? Remember, mysteries don't count here, we'll look into that another day. I never read Chronicles of Narnia, or The Lord of the Rings, because I'm sure those will make many other lists. I'm know I've forgotten some British series; I've always read a lot of British books. I contemplated Enid Blyton, but I don't remember a particular series that I loved to read. What are some of your favorite reading, non-mystery, series?
Friday, November 9, 2007
Here's a list of books that I will read two from:
- Irish Stories for Christmas by John B Keane
- Christmas Tree by David Adam Richards
- The Cricket on the Hearth by Dickens (I don't think I've read much Dickens ever)
- something by Debbie Macomber that I saw at the school library
- A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
- A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
- or something that catches my eye The Christmas Thief by Mary Higgins Clark
A few of these are very short, and I picked up two at the library tonight, so it might not take very long.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.
I had a little pile of books beside me and I couldn't pick one.
There was no tomorrow. - from Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
"He's a pirate," said Kit, "a playhouse pirate." - from Cue for Treason by Geoffrey Trease
The sloughs were dry, their white beds glittering in the destroying heat. - from The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowatt
I am off to read the pile of mind-numbing 70 lab reports, which will all be essentially identical, some more identical than others. I would much rather be reading a good book.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Gunesekera is from Sri Lanka and his stories describe the immigrant dilemma - living in a new place but remembering the old country, trying to assimilate and yet maintaining old traditions. The short story Storm Petrel, has the narrator meeting CK, and old mate from Sri Lanka. CK has just returned from a visit and is marvelling at the changes, and planning for a new life back home. The narrator listens to his tale and inserts comments, both aloud and internally.
I had to look up storm petrel, to understand the significance of the title. It's a little seabird, colonial nesters, displaying strong philopatry to their natal colonies and nesting sites. I don't usually like having to look up information to understand what I read, but I'll do it for Short Story Monday. In this case, it makes sense, the immigrant wanting to return home.
Although the characters and setting are London and Sri Lanka, it reminded me of the Maritimes, and the people who leave, but always have in their mind that they will return. They will have made tons of money, tons for what you need to live here, they'll come home to this imagined place in their memory. But it does change, and so have they. It isn't the place they remember. They want to return to an idyllic life, simple, like they remember the life they left. But what makes it appealing to come to is that the life has changed and progressed. So it can't be the way they remember.
So welcome to short story Monday; leave a comment, tell us what you've read. I'm hosting this week, and if you are interested in hosting, let john mutford or my know, we don't mind sharing! The more the merrier, and all that.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
a Manitoba book for the Canadian Book Challenge
Toews is more famous for her novel A Complicated Kindness which won the Governor General's award in 2004, but I read a good review of this book recently, so decided to try it.
Hosea Funk, the mayor of Algren, Canada's smallest town, is on a mission: If Algren is officially the smallest town, exactly 1500 people, the Prime Minister, who Hosea believes may be his father, will come to visit on Canada Day. Hosea is keeping very close tabs on Algren's citizens in his orange Hilroy scribbler - people returning, people dying, people having babies - maybe triplets! It is driving him nearly crazy (it might not be a long drive).
As he hovers around, looking after his town, we get to know some of the people, like people in small towns every where. There is Combine Jo, a drunk who drives her combine, natch, up Main Street once a year; Summer Lovin', a four year old who has returned (more people!) with her mother, Knute, to look after her father; and Bill Oliver, a local dog who cannot be told what to do, none of the Olivers ever could. Hosea is going so nuts, he won't let his girlfriend move in with him, since she would increase the population by one, moving down from Winnipeg.
It's a whimsy little story, with some pretty amusing parts. But Toews has hidden some more layers to the story, about living your life, and doing what you can to be happy, living without regret and making amends. It was touching story, with interesting characters, and people you want to find out about.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
I'll bet there are some short reads at http://www.dailylit.com/ , a pretty cool little site that will deliver public domain books to your e-mail box, everyday. Then, as you read your emails for the day, you can read a book. Some take a long time, but many are shorter.
Or, if you are like me, you have a Norton's Anthology of Literature in your basement somewhere from University. I didn't take the time to enjoy assigned reading in those days, but there are a few short stories that still stand out, and could do with a reread.
If Hurricane Noel gets crazy here, we might lose power. If that's the case, now you know why I might not be around. You should still read a short story though, and post here if you have to. I'm sure I'll get internet connection back up at some point.
Wendy, over at caribousmom, while not busy keeping everyone organized at A Novel Challenge, is coming up with interesting challenges as well. She has designed the Themed Reading Challenge, and everyone gets to make up their own theme. I am going with a decidedly nonimaginative theme of books. This one last for the first half of the year, and asks for at least four books. I have a big list of books that fit this theme that I might read, including:
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
- The Case of the Missing Books by Iam Sansom
- Housekeeping vs the Dirt by Nick Hornby
- 84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff
- Booked to Die by John Dunning
- The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
- Reading Lolita in Tehran
- The Bookseller of Kabul
- Literary Murder: A Critical Case by Batya Gur
- The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
- Ex-Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
- The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
This seems more ambitious than it actually is. Most of these books are from the Something About Me challenge list; not surprising that so many readers picked books about books to describe themselves. And several of these books are on other challenges I've signed up for. I thought I had written this all up months ago, because I already ordered a few books form amazon, and in my mind, the month of January will be devoted to reading these. I'm really looking forward to these books, especially The Book Thief. I find I like to read a challenge all at once, focus on one challenge for a month or so.
Wrap up for challenge is here
Friday, November 2, 2007
I really didn't know what to expect with this book. I've heard mixed reviews of Coehlo's The Alchemist, and I don't think I'll like that one, as I'm not into magic realism as a genre - I tried Pedro Paramo earlier this year, and didn't get it at all. All this lead up is to suggest that I didn't think I'd like this book. I was so wrong.
I'm not even sure if I can summarize why I liked this book so much. I don't think it is completely due to the drugs I was taking from my wisdom teeth operation. The story of Veronika, a twenty four year old who is so bored with her life, and how she doesn't see any future for herself, so decides to kill herself, sucked me in with its whimsy and quiet comments on what makes people sane, or crazy. Veronika doesn't succeed at her attempt, and is put into a mental institute in Slovenia, where the book takes place. There she meets other 'crazies' and we see different perspectives of life, and we decide who is crazy or not.
Paohlo covers a lot of territory in his story, including parents expectations of children, family responsibilities, medical ethics - I couldn't decide if I liked the doctor or not, law and rules, just about any issue you would like, but mostly mental illness and how society and people deal with it. But throughout, the writing is clear and easy to follow, with an interesting message. The endnotes of my edition include some notes about Paulo, and this appears to be a semi-autobiographical account of his early twenties.
We are discussing this over at booksintranslation, a yahoo book group, and I can't wait to find out what I liked so much about this book. I know I did, but when I discuss it with other people, it helps clarify some details about the book, and my understanding of the themes and ideas. I always had a problem in English classes in school with the theme; with there being a theme, and being marked right or wrong about the theme.
"You're someone who is different, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. And that, in my view, is a serious illness."
"Is wanting to be different a serious illness? "
"It is if you force yourself to be the same as everyone else. It's a distortion of nature, it goes against God's laws, for in all the world's wood and forests, he did not create a single leaf the same as another."
Thursday, November 1, 2007
It was looking slow at the beginning of the month, but with the wisdom extraction on the 25th, I was able to get to a very respectable 11 books. I can't believe the number of books I've read this year, and it just happened with a more concerted effort, an awareness of reading, and trying to read more places than just in bed at night. And these challenges have certainly focused goals. Next month I'll focus on completely a few challenges - Books to Movies, Something About me and the Seconds challenge. And I'm very distracted by the Canadian Book Challenge. Off I go to correct - I wish I could read, A Boy of Good Breeding is such a good book so far and I want to read more, but alas, school work calls. happy reading!
total books read: 11 books
RIP II reads: 4 and done!
Canadian Book Challenge: 2, 11 more to go
Books to Movie: 1, 2 more to go
something about me: 1 and pretty much done
Dystopian: 1 and done!
116. Veronika Decides to Die - Paulo Coelho
115. Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman
114. The Lost Salt Gift of Blood - Alistair MacLeod
113. The Inuk Mountie Adventure - Eric Wilson
112. Rises the Night - Colleen Gleason
111. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
110. Everything's Eventual - Stephen King
109. Farewell, My Lovely - Raymond Chandler
108. Shakespeare's Champion - Charlaine Harris
107. The Gum Thief - Douglas Coupland
106. The Tale of Despereaux - Kate DiCamillo