What Are You Reading The Week of Nov 5th, 2011?
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November 6 - James Jones (1921 - 1977)
November 6 - Michael Cunningham (1952 - )
November 7 - Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)
November 8 - Kazuo Ishiguro (1954 - )
November 9 - Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)
November 11 - Kurt Vonnegut (1922 - 2007)
Thanks for getting the new thread started, Mark. Looks like some fun reading.
I'm about 2/3 of the way through 1Q84, and it's just my cup of tea. Odd, page-turning, haunting imagery, lots to think about.
Thanks Mark! I am currently reading To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.
Devourer of books, according to NPR the Catherine the Great bio is pretty good. Enjoy! I'm in the midst of a bunch of books and none of them are exciting me enough to induce me to finish them. When that happens, I usually pick up something handy (usually a mystery) and wolf it down.
Thanks for getting us going this week Mark. Nice start.
#3 jnwelch - Keep us posted on IQ84. I've got this one on my 'to read' pile. It's always an interesting ride with Murakami ...you never quite know where he's taking you. Love to hear your thoughts when your done.
You are welcome everyone! I'm not off many Saturdays, so it worked out perfect.
Joe- I'm so glad you are enjoying the latest Murakami. You know I have that one high on the WL.
Divinenanny- I have The Magician King saved on audio. I've heard great things! Enjoy!
Thanks for another great start to the week, MSF59!
Lkernagh # 4 I'd love to hear your thoughts on To the Lighthouse. It took me a while to understand Woolf's fiction. Now, I love it!
As for me, I'm reading Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer, which is a golden age mystery and a ghost story all in one, and which I'm enjoying immensely.
Hope you like it, Anne. It's on my holiday wish list. Like you, I really enjoyed The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
>>6, 8 I'll keep you posted, Kim and Mark. As Mark knows, I'm a big Murakami fan. If you happened to read his short story "A Town of Cats" in a recent New Yorker, it turns out it was pieced together (seamlessly) from different parts of 1Q84, and its content and meaning are extended in the novel.
I'm heading toward the finish line with Shutter Island. Not at all what I expected but very good regardless.
I have just started reading "The Wrong Chase" by Laxmi Natraj. The book is about a murder mystery and I hope it ll be a good read. - MPH
Book : http://www.librarything.com/work/11909782/book/79680730
msf59, thanks for starting this week's thread. :)
(5) bjace, I know what you mean: when I was not intrigued by The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn after two chapters, I picked up an old favorite, Borden Chantry and read it in two evenings (I was tired!).
Along with Zoo Station, I also picked up The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. I've not read John le Carre before, so I'm sort of looking forward to it.
I'll choose which one I want to read when I go to bed tonight...
I finished and reviewed The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz, Volume Three 1863-1869. (Touchstones not working) Extremely interesting, I might even say essential, for readers interesting in the Reconstruction era in the U.S. and the years immediately thereafter. My review is on my 50 Book Challenge thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/106335
Sometimes my reading choices seem a bit perverse, even to me. While recently shopping at the Fort Bragg, CA, Senior Center Thrift Store, I came upon a nice, hard copy edition of the gothic romance Dragonmede by Rona Randall. A little voice inside me said, "Read that!" So now I am.
Robopocalypse just walked into my hands, so I'm adding it to my reading list as soon as I finish my ER Books! :)
I've just finished Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer, which I loved, and now I'm at loose ends over what to read next. The strongest contenders for my next read are Terror on Tuesday by Ann Purser and The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. I'm leanng a bit more towards Terror on Tuesday as I seem to be a bit on a cozy mystery binge lately.
I'm about half way through The Portrait of a Lady and am enjoying it. I thought it might be too dense to deal with but I'm not finding it that way at all.
I'm also reading The Ethics of Sightseeing which is sometimes a bit convoluted and assumes one can follow a wide variety of obscure references. Just when I'm ready to give up, he makes a point that is really thought provoking and I decide to continue on and get what I get out of it and not worry about the rest.
Lastly I'm reading Idiot's Guide to Getting Published which is a very straightforward guide book. Now I just have to do what it suggests (easier said than done).
Thanks for starting off this thread! I finished Room and I have to say I did not enjoy it at all. Maybe it was the narrative by a 5 yr. old but after a while it was extremely annoying and I ended up skimming the last part of the book. Up next either A Fine Balance or Invisible Bridge--any recommendation as to which one 1st?
Thans for the great start, Mark.
>20 jwrudn, what a great combination of books. Lucy Grealy sure looks different seen through her own then Anne Patchett's eyes.
I read a couple of books about village life: The Country of Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett which I thought was wonderful then Scenes From Village Life by Amos Oz which didn't really work for me. I also read another great graphic memoir, The Shiniest Jewel by Marian Henley about attempts at adoption at the age of 50, her commitment phobia and the decline in health of her father. This reminded me of Fun Home and had me crying for at least half the book. Now, finally, I'm starting The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Thanks for starting the thread, Mark!
I don't seem to have a lot of reading time lately so I'm still enjoying my reread of The Woman in Black. I'm trying to soak up the creepy atmosphere. Also, I picked up a book of essays by Robert Vivian, The Least Cricket of Evening. I've only read the first two, but they were both great.
I finished reading The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise: A Novel by Julia Stuart last night. I have been hooked on mystery/thrillers for months and this was a nice change. Quirky characters that gave me a lot to think about.
So, on the same (somewhat) track I moved on to The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Enjoying it!
But... After these I think I will go back to murder & mayhem for awhile.
Just coming to the end of Midnight's Children which has been a much more entertaining book than I ever expected. Also dipping in and out of The Prince Charles Letters (no touchstones) by David Stubbs.
13> I read Shutter Island for the book group last month. It went at a cracking pace and maintained the suspense until the end.
26> Henry James, to my mind, is the greatest nineteenth-century novelist (though I haven't read anything by George Eliot yet). He takes some getting used to, but he gets inside a character like no-one else. I was very impressed by The Portrait of a Lady, and The Bostonians is a gem.
27> I've got Room lined up for our next book group read. My wife thought it was a wonderful book, although I have to say it sounds a bit grim. I'll know soon enough. A Fine Balance - another reading group novel - is well worth reading and finely observed, though harrowing in parts and I thought it drifted towards implausibility towards the end: it depends whether you want cheering up or food for thought, mommom.
29> I enjoyed The Power House. A ripping yarn!
Am almost halfway through Fanny Hill. Not bad, but faintly boring. I'll be glad to get to the end of it, so I can read Room.
Awesome thread start Mark! Thank you!
#27/35 - I was a huge Room dissenter too. I thought that was utter rubbish. Kinda floors me the accolades it gets. But it does seem more people like it than don't. Invisible Bridge and A Fine Balance are both wonderful novels. I'm not sure I could choose, but the slight edge might go to A Fine Balance. It remains one of my favorite books (but I just love his writing).
#20 - I loved those books, although they still really affect me today. Not easy reading, emotionally, that is for sure. I read Truth and Beauty first and I kind of wished I had read The Autobiography of a Face before.
I am about half way into Blind Your Ponies and just really enjoying it. Sometimes the soul needs a "feel good" story (although there is plenty of sad things in it as well) and one where the underdog wins!
Okay, has anyone read The Art of Fielding yet? Yikes, this one is as divisive as Freedom: A Novel (which I loved but set out not to love). But it seems everyone just wants to really rip on the author (due to the advance, Vanity Fair article, etc.) and it's hard to get a fair assessment of the book itself. I have a 40% off @ BN and wonder if I should get it (it's on reserve for the foreseeable future at my library circuit).
>36 Carolyn I read and quite enjoyed The Art of Fielding. Part of my enjoyment might have been in having absolutely no idea what anyone was saying or writing about it!
I haven't read The Art of Fielding. I've been wondering about it, too.
Elegy on Toy Piano by Dean Young is a poetry book I've been reading over a long period of time (I can't read a lot of poems all at once). Some poets make me want to write, inspire me, because it looks like fun or just worth the doing. He's one of them.
He has unusual ideas and conjunctions which grab me. Here's an example, excerpted from his wanting to be a "Tongue Doctor":
"Ever jump out of bed and realize your head
is still on the pillow? We are all driven
forward by explosions after all.
I tell you this because I want to be your tongue doctor.
First I will learn the polysyllabic latinate term
so my job can be immediately impressive
for being un-understandable.
I'll be in constant legal wrangles
but you keep coming because, for tongues,
there's really no one else."
He gives other good reasons why this is the right profession. In another one, "I Said Yes, I Meant No", he explains how to make best use of percentages for how much you like people, and he warns that if you like yourself "Over 85% it means you are a self-involved bore/ I don't care about your Nobel prize in positrons/ or your dogsled victories." It's ok to shoot up briefly over that percentage, but you need to balance it out:
"Then as you venture forth to boil water,
you may feel a sudden surge to 90%,
Hey, I'm GOOD at boiling water!
which may be promptly counteracted by turning on your email."
Anyway, I really enjoy this guy's poems.
I just finished reading The Girl Who Played with Fire and while I found it more entertaining and page-turning than The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I still can't stand Lisbeth Salander. I finally realized this morning that she is a total Mary Sue and that's what's bothering me.
Anyway, I've started Await Your Reply and it's going fast. I'm already about 10% in and I have no idea what's going on yet, but I'm intrigued.
Just finished King of the Godfathers by Anthony M. Destefano and just added a review. I would recommend this although I found it hard going to begin with but one you have to stick with.
Just started Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella. A chick lit book. A bit of a random mix of book choices but I like reading a wide variety and mix it up. She is a very funny author so I know I will enjoy this.
Once again guys, you are more than welcome!
It doesn't start until the 15th but I did post the 1st thread for the group read of the Night Circus. If you are interested and CAN find a copy, come join us, it looks like it'll be a lot of fun.
Find it here: Group Read
Joe- Thanks for sharing the poem. A tongue doctor, huh?
Finished reading Hollowland by Amanda Hocking. Good stuff! (It was also a freebie on Amazon and I think B&N if you have a reader.)
Thanks Novalee, Cappybear & CarolynS. I think its going to be A Fine Balance up next and then Invisible Bridge. Thanks for your input!!
#39 Ursula: What exactly is a "Mary Sue"? I read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but didn't enjoy it because it seemed to be missing an editor. Also, it was quite lurid, I thought.
>45 Here's a wikipedia explanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sue
The first line says "...a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader." It also frequently is used to refer to characters who have had some sort of tragic (usually abusive) past, but come out of it with these unbelievable skills and traits.
Thanks, Ursula. I had no idea it was an actual literary term.
I thought you'd call someone who "had some sort of tragic (usually abusive) past, but come out of it with these unbelievable skills and traits" a super hero. Like Christian Bale's character in Batman Begins or Spiderman's character.
One of the annoying things about GWTDT was how little we got to see/know about said Girl. I was so happy to be done with the book that I never bothered to read the other two; life is just too short for that.
>43 bearmountainbooks, I got all excited to see Hollowland was free, and post apocalyptic. Then I saw it was about zombies. Zombies and macadamia nuts, two things I see absolutely no use for.
I have just started The Sisters Brothers , first chapter only, it looks good!! I like the small chapters.
>49 WordMaven, if only she were supposed to be an actual superhero, I might be all right with that, haha. Unfortunately, there's supposed to be some sort of believability to her.
I think the second book was actually better than the first one, and it's much more in depth about Lisbeth. It didn't make me like her or care about her, though.
I suspect I'll read the 3rd one eventually. These are a little like the Harry Potter books for me - I'm appalled by the writing/characterization, but I really want to know what *happens*.
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I am only one at home... with my computer. online fashion
So many questions in the first chapter only............The Wrong Chase.... http://www.librarything.com/work/11909782/book/79680730
I'm enjoying all of my current reads -- I only wish I had more time to read. Going through a very busy patch at the moment. Now reading The Whole World Over by Julia Glass and The Son of Neptune by Rick Riorden. Audio is The Brandons by Angela Thirkell, which I love. Read aloud is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.
Beginning my next study book, Kim. I know everyone else in the whole world loves this book but I'm not sure it's going to be my kind of thing. Still, I haven't actaully read the first page yet so let's hope I'm wrong.
I know someone (sorry, I can't remember who) asked me to report back on Midnight's Children and I have to say it was a great read. It's not going to make my all-time top ten books but it was much more enjoyable than I have expected, very funny in parts and a most intriguing story. I was reminded in many ways of A Suitable Boy by the writing style but I found that one about 600 pages too long, which doesn't apply to MC. It's not a book you can rush through but is probably perfect for a week on a quiet beach.
That was my feeling too. I don't really care for zombies, but I have to tell you, the focus is on the characters and on the plot. For free, it's worth picking up IMO. :>) But I should also say that I love macadamia nuts so...
I have Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy on my TBR list and it is rapidly moving up the chain.
I started reading Berlin Game by Len Deighton this weekend and am about half-way through with it. The complete line-up of Deighton's books were just re-releasead and most importantly they are now available in Nook and Kindle versions. They are priced at $4.99 right now. Combine that price with the fact that I have had this series on my TBR list for a long time and I just couldn't resist and started Berlin Game on my Nook immediatly. I actually sat in the B&N store and watched all the traffic on the main roads while reading. It was a beautiful football weekend and all the traffic was due to the "Game of the Century" here in Tuscaloosa. (Yes, and for those of you out in the West, the football games in the SEC are much more important than any old game between KSU and OSU.) There was lots of traffic in the B&N coffee shop on Friday night as the nighttime temperatures were a little on the chilly side for these warm bloods down south. However, Saturday night during the game there was hardly a soul in the store. The final score was announced just before closing and I don't think that anybody in the store even noticed. Berlin Game was so interesting that I heard the announcement that the game was over but didn't catch the score until I got home.
Aside from Berlin Game (spy stories are pure escapism for me and I am addicted to them) I am reading I am Hutterite and listening to A Voyage Long and Strange another one of Tony Horwitz travels through LaLa Lands. Both of these books have ties to my personal history. My mother grew up along the Missouri River on the South Dakota side, close to the Hutterite colony just west of Yankton. I actually visited that colony when I was a teenager. The book was on the list of Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers a few years back. I gave this book to my mother for a Christmas present and she passed it around to many others before it finally made its way back to me. I am enjoying it. Lots of insight into the way Anabaptist groups function. Tony Horwitz book is all about the period of American history between 1492 and 1620. He covers the journey's of both Coronado and De Soto in detail. I now live in Alabama, where De Soto is everywhere and I grew up north of Coronado Heights in Kansas. It was amusing to read about Horowitz tracking Coronado and discovering the Vikings of central Kansas while on that trip.
I've just finished with The Thirty-Nine Steps portion of The Thirty-Nine Steps and The Power House by John Buchan and enjoyed it immensely. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoy a good espionage or political thriller, adventure, or humor. Bear in mind that it is dated, but it's great fun!
I hope to enjoy The Power House as much. It is beginning to shape up that way.
Next up will be Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, thanks to some of the comments here. I've already nibbled at it, and loved the first 20 pages or so.
Regarding the Steig Larsson books. These books could have used an editor. Especially the English language versions as they were published after the death of the author. However, in defense of the author, he and outlined and submitted to his Swedish publisher a series of ten books. These were just the first three. I suspect that there are many threads present in these three books that would have been developed into story lines in future books in the series and that is why there are still in the books. This would increase the length of the books and leave readers somewhat frustrated by superfluous stuff that doesn't seem to have any reason for being there. However, if you think that perhaps in book 6 or 7 they might have been important threads or clues then the over-all inclusion of them isn't such an intrusion.
My biggest example of this is found at the beginning of book 2. Why the lengthy description of what Salander did in the Caribbean? Why the teenage boy and the preacher's wife?
In general I find myself lamenting the sad state of the fine old profession of editing in the publishing industry. Why are books in general getting longer and longer and saying less and less?
All that being said, don't even get me started on those horrible under-edited Hunger Games books and the ploy that the publishers used to make one book into three and get us to pay for one book three times. Sometimes, as a reader, I just want to stand up and scream GET AN EDITOR!
# 66 Generally, I could not agree with you more. You are so right, a good and honest editor can make all the difference. Just look at Patterson's books! They could be cut back at least a third to eliminate repetition. You would thing editors get paid by the # of words in their books!
(61) bearmountainbooks: That was my feeling too. I don't really care for zombies, but I have to tell you, the focus is on the characters and on the plot. For free, it's worth picking up IMO. :>) But I should also say that I love macadamia nuts so...
I am in total agreement with you.
Bring on the macadamias!!!
#59 - I recently read Kim and I found it a little difficult to get through. In fact, a few times I accessed outside sources on help with the plot because I simply wasn't sure what the heck was actually going on. So it was challenging for me to read/enjoy. Overall, I found the writing really stilted in some places (not sure how else to describe that), and funny and entertaining in others. It is a good novel of India, but not great, and I've read WAY better by now (some mentioned in this thread too). But I'm glad I read it.
I thought The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was ghastly and possibly one of the worst, if not THE worst, books I ever read/finished (Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper is neck and neck). But I sounded off in my review, so I'll leave it there. I know the majority of people dig those books. Although I do not know why.
Read Sir Percy leads the band yesterday. I've been reading my way through the Scarlet Pimpernel sequels for the last year or so and this was one of the better ones.
I have just started reading Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson. I am only about 50 pages into the book but want to keep readind. That is always a good sign.
Finished To The Lighthouse this evening. It is only the second Woolf novel I have read and enjoyed it almost as much as Mrs. Dalloway. Bookwoman247, I have posted a summary review over on the Reading Through Time group which can be found here http://www.librarything.com/topic/94056#3024106 (post 14).
Next up is Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife.
RE: Stieg Larsson - I'm another person who didn't care for the books, mainly because...they needed an editor. What I can't understand is the enormous worldwide hype...I thought I was the only one who didn't care for them, but I'm glad to see that I'm not.
Unfortunately, I've been busy the last week or so and haven't gotten as much reading done as I would have liked, but I did manage to review my ER book: We Wanted to be Writers. The book is a compilation of anecdotes and interviews with a bunch of students/teachers from the Iowa Writer's Workshop in the 1970's. That in itself is fairly interesting, but I grew tired of the stories from the workshop, simply because I couldn't relate to the experience or the time period. The writing advice/descriptions of the different writerly routines was interesting at first, but I grew tired of reading about how a writer's life was lonely, difficult, and full of suffering, and that was the only way to achieve real art. Some people may find it inspiring, but the advice completely went against what I believe as a writer. So I gave it 3 stars - might be interesting to some readers, but not to me.
Also working on The Shining, which is going a little slowly just because I've read it so many times and I don't have that burning desire to figure out what happens next. Not sure what I'll read after that...might just close my eyes and point to a spot on my bookshelf.
#74 Mr. Durick
I loved Ian Frazier's book about the Great Plains. I have wanted to read the one about Siberia for some time. You will have to let us know how you liked this book.
To Everybody: I love this thread! There are so many different books and tastes and opinions - it's like being in a good, privately owned bookstore but with better reviews. :)
Ditto. I get more good tips on books here than anywhere else.
>>70, 72 I know my daughter, a big Scarlet Pimpernel fan, enjoyed the sequels, too.
Ditto here, too! My TBR library is out of control!!! LOL Thanks all! ;)
#81, #83 and #84 I agee, too! It's a both a blessing and a curse at times, isn't it?
coloradogirl14 - regarding Stieg Larsson- I did not care for his books either. I even tried the audio version thinking there was a language barrier for me.. no luck. I was feeling like an odd duck.. not liking them lol.
#88 You aren't an odd duck, at least not concerning Larsson's books. I read them, but I skipped a lot of stuff if it didn't pertain directly to the story. It's a bad habit of mine but it lets me get through books. I found it easier to watch the movies even though some of the scenes were upsetting. I bet the Hollywood version is not going to be as good as the originals.
I finished Elizabeth Bowen's The Heat of the Day which I admired more than liked, though I have a feeling it's one of those books that's going to haunt me for a long time. The mood of the book -- that sense of waiting for war news, wondering when the bombing of London may begin again, of life continuing in the midst of enormous events, a sense of isolation, of inventing your own life each day, of not knowing how to plan for the future, to hope for a future -- I think it had more of an effect on me than I know. Where I live we're waiting for a cool front that seems stalled and the heat and humidity have been oppressive -- and that "heat of the day" has added to the way I've felt about the book. The cool front is still miles away but I've finally finished with the book and can move on. In the book the Allies finally stormed the beaches of Normandy and the people in the book have moved into a new phase in the war and they seem released to make decisions and move on toward the future.
And I can get to a book that's been sitting here waiting for me and that I've been hearing good things about:
The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak
Note to those discussing Stieg Larsson's books: There's now a Lisbeth Salandar clothing line -- and, no, I don't know if a complimentary dragon tattoo is part of the deal.
I wonder if anybody dressed as Lisbeth Salandar for Halloween?
Come to think of it, in the summer we sometimes see people who look just like her. Tourist season - the hot one - is always interesting. Cold season tourists look like mummies.
#92 I only read the first of the trilogy. I loved it when her boss likened her way of dress "as someone that was colour blind". Also I liked the way that Lisbeth got even with the one that had wronged her.
Lisbeth is one of my favorite heroines. Too bad we didn't get to see how she matured over the 10 books. I also would have liked to see how Mikael Blomkvist matured, or failed to. I loved these characters.
I'm currently limping through Saul Bellow's 'The Victim'. I know it's supposed to be a classic, but I'm struggling to stay involved. I felt the same at various points while reading 'Herzog', 'Seize the Day' and 'Dangling Man'. Can't quite work out what it is... a same-ness in the male voice or something.
The big Norton collection of American short stories is next on the list.
94 Citizenjoyce . . . I loved Lisbeth, too, ached for her in her pain and isolation . . . but she was, perhaps typically, not well-served by the man who created her . . . who inflicted himself, via Blomkvist, into her life. Blomkvist is such a disappointment to me -- from the moment they wound up in bed together I was screaming at her to get away from him. He, in many ways, was the worst of the men in her life, maybe because he wasn't a fully formed character -- a real person -- and because her relationship with him drained her of some of her own humanity, her uniqueness, her power.
I really did respond to the person who was Lisbeth, but I didn't like how Larsson used her -- yet another man who didn't "see" her, who didn't value her enough to let her be the hero of her own life, to paraphrase the great question asked by David Copperfield. I didn't like how Larsson cluttered her story with all those other stories he needed to tell. Those books needed to be about Lisbeth, to be as great as Lisbeth.
Sorry, didn't mean to preach . . . I have avoided thinking about the trilogy because it disappointed me so much, and I guess I just needed to finally say what I felt about it.
Spent a whole day yesterday trying to get Kim out of the way - not my kind of thing at all. Now I'm reading Titus Awakes which, to be honest, isn't proving much more enjoyable. I guess it's a bit of a 'must read' for Gormenghast fans but it's hard work for such a small book. The writing is spare to say the least, though not in a good way - the whole thing reads more like an outline than a finished text. One 'event' follows another with no character development, virtually no dialogue or motive and very little to make the reader care one way or the other. Such a shame - it's perhaps an interesting comment on Peake's intentions for the story and on Gilmore's grief but it has no literary merit whatsoever as far as I can see. Thank god for the Everyman's Pocket Classic book of Ghost Stories, which is a real relief to fall back on every few chapters of Titus Awakes.
Re Lisbeth - she loved Blomkvist, he didn't love her. That doesn't make him admirable, or a better person. But that was part of who she was, another tragedy in her life that she was determined to overcome. She's one of my favorite characters, too. The thought of a lost chance to get to know her better over 10 books is tough to accept.
I just finished 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I want to go somewhere with my wife and watch the moon! Unusual book (of course) and romantic. There are things going on in the visual presentation (backwards title and numbers on alternate pages, for example) that I think are meant to convey, at least in part, the feeling of alternate worlds, alternate lives. (Alice through the looking glass?) It was an immersive experience. I was with Aomame, Tengo, and the others for quite a while. Really well done. Kafka on the Shore and The Windup Bird Chronicle will probably continue to top my list of his books, but this was pretty darn close.
I am loving all the input on 1Q84! Thanks for the review jnwelch. I am a little tossed on Murakami (the cat killing violence was not good for my soul) but I KEEP going back (visually and emotionally) to Kafka on the Shore. I think it's the road trip stories with the two guys. I just loved that. I have not read The Windup Bird Chronicle yet, but will soon.
To All: I too do REALLY appreciate the diversity and spirit of this thread. It amazing how I've come to look foward to the varied opinions, even if they are far different from my own. Some even make me laugh because I can recognize I like, or don't like, a book, for maybe not the greatest of reasons - and see the other side sometimes. I've never once seen anyone get bent out of shape (or take things personally?). This is a real rare gem in the internet world, from what I understand.
(99) Carolyn, the mild-mannered nature of most of the people here at LT is one of the reasons I love the place!
I've also started reading some of the books that have been suggested to me, and I've spent a bit more at abebooks and amazon...uh oh...
I'm reading Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock by David Margolick.
It is the fascinating true story of 15 year old Elizabeth Eckford- one of the Little Rock Nine who tried to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas- and Hazel Bryan- the girl screaming hateful slurs at her, captured in a photo that changed both their lives.
Regarding Mikael Blomkvist, I see him as a Bill Maher character: intellegent with a strongly inquisitive mind and active in the support of the underdog. And like Bill Maher I also think he's shown to be lacking an essential bit of his humanity that would allow him to make a deep commitment to another person. It would have been interesting to see if Larsson would have shown him able to develop that part of himself or, even better, to have shown Lisbeth, who was a complete person, to overcome her demons and find commitment with another man or woman who was worthy of her. The fact that she fell for an older father figure was not surprising or even damaging, I think, in the long run; but to see if Larsson could have accurately depicted a woman's evolution would have been interesting.
>101 Ellen, I'm glad to see someone else reading Elizabeth and Hazel. I hope some book clubs will be adding it to their reading list because it would be a perfect springboard for discussion.
Citizenjoyce . . . thank you for your post about Blomkvist: yes, that would have been better. I'm sorry I was so frenzied in my earlier post -- my frustration wasn't directed at you or any other reader. What Larsson needed was a great editor -- and time, more time.
I just finished reading Local Girls by Alice Hoffman. I love Alice Hoffman, but I didn't like this one as much as other books by her that I've read. It seemed choppy.
Finished The Portrait of a Lady. It is in reality a portrait of 10 or 12 people. They are all so carefully drawn with their strengths and their foibles. Each of them seem to live compromised lives, lives compromised by their own limitations. It's all fabulously drawn so that reading it is almost like seeing each scene and being able to read each person's mind. It will be with me for a long time
102 & 104: I would have liked it most if, instead of an intimate relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth, there was a great working partnership with a deepening respect and friendship. I think some good stories could have come from the growth of that partnership.
And mollygrace, I appreciated your comments. I hadn't thought of the characters in that way before.
I'm plowing through the horrible narration of The Four Ms Bradwells and enjoying it in spite of what my ears hear, but I have a question. The term galeica or jaleica keeps coming up as the name of a musical instrument that some of the women play. Since I'm the world's worst speller and I don't have access to the printed word, I can't figure out the spelling well enough to look up the instrument. Do any of you know what it is?
>104 Molly, I understand your reaction. I just choose to be optimistic in Larsson's abilities. We'll never know.
I choose to believe that Larsson did have plans for both characters. There is no doubt that he intended for them to grow and change. Look at how much Lisbeth changed between the first and the second books. Then the relationship between her and her girlfriend changed both of them. She was capable of having friends and loving them. Her relationships with her first lawyer is one example. He taught her and she responded. Her relationship with her boss (the security guy) and with the boxing champion are also examples. It is also possible that there is a bit of classism evident in her relationships in that she had problems identifying with both Blomkvist and his sister. As somebody said earlier, it fascinates me to think about what might have been in the book 4, or 5, or ...
Even so, there is no doubt in my mind that these books should have been more heavily edited. The stories are great, but they are not necessarily well crafted. This is why publishers need to have good editors who help writers develop characters and hone the stories until they are really good. In this day and age, publishers don't want to spend the money to hire editors, or to make, or let, whichever the case may be, authors take the time to get the story to that well crafted stage.
I also don't think that either the American or Swedish publisher was prepared for the huge success that these books would become. And that is the question that also fascinates me. There is no doubt that they are gripping thrilling stories, but why? There are other stories out there with the same thrills for the reader that don't become such huge phenoms. What is the difference? Of course, I said the same thing about the Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter? (I happen to think that the DaVinci Code is about the silliest thriller ever written, and am chagrined to admit that when I read it I couldn't put it down. Silliness and all.) Why the success of the Lord of the Rings and not Gormenghast? How do some of these titles get to be cultural touchstones and others of equal or better quality languish? I have come to the conclusion that often it is timing and probably a great deal of luck. Not to mention the fickleness of the public and the intervention of Oprah Winfrey.
Speaking of languishing, I forgot to mention that I finished listening to Tony Horwitz's A Voyage Long and Strange, and I have had the book on my shelves since 2008. Great deal of humor and history in this one. Well worth reading.
#98 jnwelch > THX for the review on IQ84. I will definitely be reading this one. It's a toss up for me as to which one I like more; Kafka on the Shore or Wind-up Bird Chronicle. I enjoyed both but if I had to choose ....*maybe* Wind-up just because there were a few scenes that I was absolutely riveted! Let the adventure begin ....
I too have IQ84. I saw it in the store and just couldn't resist it. I have read three Murakami books and so far Kafka on the Shore is my favorite. I like all of them but think that Kafka is the best. I think this will be the book that I take with me for my Christmas reading. I can't wait to start it. I am not put off by Murakami strangeness. I do find it strange, but not off-putting so I have had stuck with them to the end of the books and always find something to think about in them. Murakami is on my short list for a Nobel prize. I love his web site. You can find out all the information about the music in his books on that web site.
I'm reading pretty slowly at the moment, I'm currently plodding my way through The Vampire Diaries, The Reunion.
#109 benitastmad > Good post, but I also think advertising is a major factor, as your comment about Oprah points out. The question is chicken or egg. Does popularity force advertising or vice versa? Clearly (?), J. K. Rowling didn't begin with paying for advertising as a desperate single mother trying to find a way to make a living. So for her, perhaps some UK success escalated into an opportunistic advertising frenzy. Larsson may have struck pay dirt with catchy, serially linked titles which went viral on Amazon and the big brick and mortar stores. Who knows. If there were a formula for success, everyone would jump on that bandwagon. For me, quality trumps quantity every time, and I am very hesitant to purchase any highly hyped book release before seeing a few responsible reviews. Right now, I'm enjoying reading obscure and new authors and trying to find the next winner.
Interesting quote about writing from The Mighty Angel..."A person writes a book and he thinks that when the book goes out among people it will change the world--and that, I assure you, is a very great delusion. Yet to write without the faith that writing will change the world--such a thing is impossible."
I've just started The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. When I picked it up at a Friends of the Library bookstore yesterday, and read the first words, I knew that it was demanding to be read immediately. As a consequence, I've put The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James on hold, although it is such a lovely book.
Ann, good luck with Angel's Game. I started out loving it, but abandoned it about half way. Bob, who'd already tried it, agreed with my assessment. It will be interesting to see your opinion.
109# Yeah, good post. I envy you the ability to put all those thoughts together :) I think I'll check out A Voyage Long and Strange. The DaVinci Code wasn't the silliest thriller for me, I've seen a lot worse, but it sure had stickability. I think it was all of descriptions of history and art that kept me going. It was educational and became a family project to research the topics.
I'm reading Good Morning, Midnight by Reginald Hill (touchstone got the wrong author). I like Hill's Daziel and Pascoe books, the language and characters are terrific.
#110 Maggie: Say it ain't so! I'm still not too far in..about page 50 and still loving it. I'm sincerely hoping I didn't put aside a perfectly lovely book for a dud in disguise!
#118 & 119
I liked Angel's Game. I think you have to go into it thinking that it is not a prequel or a sequel. It is tied together but not anywhere near the same story as Shadow of the Wind. You also have to remember that the central character in these books is Barcelona. Not the people in the story.
I thought that about Cathedral of the Sea as well. The story was good, but it was also predictable, and much much too long. Again I find myself asking where are the Editors? That being said there was lots of information in it about life in Medieval Spain. At some point this summer I heard an NPR broadcast where they were talking about the differences between Catalonia and the area of Spain around Madrid and I was reminded of some of the material in Cathedral of the Sea. One of the things that was discussed was the language differences, and then some of the privileges given to citizens of Barcelona that were not found in other areas of Spain. These differences lead to Barcelona being much different politically than the rest of Spain. I didn't consider the book was that bad, as I liked all that cultural and architectural information.
I finished reading the memoir I Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby. I enjoyed this one but I wish that the author hadn't stopped with her graduation from high school. Doing so almost made the book another entry in the misery memoir genre. One thing that sets this one apart from the bulk of the misery memories is that this author loved her childhood. It wasn't until her family left the colony and had all the freedom they wanted that her childhood turned miserable. The author did a very good job of explaining some of the core Hutterite beliefs and how a colony actually works, but I wish there had been more of that and less of the poor, poor, pitiful me attitude. At some point I hope this author writes about the rest of her life. I would read it in hopes that there would be more information about the Hutterites.
#123 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on The Angel's Game. I'll try to keep that in mind.
I finished and reviewed Erin Morgenstern's debut novel The Night Circus. I don't usually get on the hype bandwagon for books (come to think of it I read the Dragon Tattoo books when the hype was at its peak) but I really enjoyed this one.
Now I'm reading The Sleepwalkers by Paul Grossman which was an ER book of a couple of months ago so it's about time I read it.
I finished The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak. It is a powerful book - about fathers and sons and death and war and memory and ghosts. It reminds me of stories about the Old West -- it begins in Leadville, Colorado, and the main character becomes a hunter, a sniper -- but by then the setting has changed to the Carpathian Mountains of Central and Eastern Europe and eventually to the fighting in the Alps during World War I.
I thought of so many other stories as I read this -- The Road and Cold Mountain and the tales of Ulysses, and the story of that other Ulysses, General Grant, and his war, and, MacBeth, and, in a funny way, The Sisters Brothers. In fact, I think it made me appreciate that book even more.
It's a story of immigrants, too, and of Old World and New. And the deep, abiding love of mother and child.
So much in 191 pages -- every word precise and plain -- a book elegant in its simplicity. Nothing wasted, each sentence necessary and clear. I highly recommend it.
Next up: Blue Nights by Joan Didion
Picked up Stephen Kings 11/22/63 last night at Bull Moose.. Started it this morning.. It is like returning to an old friend. You hear Stephen King's voice clearly with every word! =:)
#129 That's one of the things I love about his writing - not sure if I'll be able to wait for the p/b of this one.
I finished up Blind Your Ponies and meh, ended up being wayyyyyy too long, repetitive, too sticky sweet, unreal happy ending and some various other things. I liked the characters though and it was a pleasant journey for the most part.
I am now reading Shadow of Kilimanjaro - it's a year since I went to Tanzania and I'm feeling a bit nostalgic. My Sister is also considering climing Kilimanjaro, so we are in the "research" phase.
Just started The Night Strangers and am really enjoying it-the premise has definitely grabbed me in right from the start-a mysterious door in a mysterious house, bolted shut with the exact same number of bolts as there were passengers who died when the plane the new owner was piloting crashed...The writing style is unique and amazing, and makes you feel like you are right there in the story.
mollygrace, on the strength of your short, moving review here I have put The Sojourn on my wishlist. There's no telling, though, when I might get around to it.
I enjoyed Empire Falls. It was on my best books of the year list when I read it. If you like reading about people and their everyday lives you will like this one.
#138 abealy: I'm glad to hear that The Western Lit Survival Kit is so much fun! I've got an ER copy coming my way, and your comment makes me look forward to reading it even more!
The Flavia de Luce book should be a fun read for you as well!
(136) jnwelch, have your read A Little Princess before?
I read it as a child, then reread it just a couple years ago. I still enjoyed it.
#138-thanks for the reminder that I need to put the new Flavia de Luce on hold from the library!
I just finished Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. Terrific! Liked it better than Hugo Cabret.
Also just finished Hillary Jordan's When She Woke - also excellent. Homage to Orwell's 1984 and Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.
# 127 mollygrace, Great praise from you for The Sojourn, I shall follow it up, it is "my size" 191 pages!!!
I am still enjoying The Sisters Brothers, I have had lots of interruptions to my reading time, grrrr.
My next shall be The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty.
While out this morning I purchased a preloved copy of The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford. On the cover Graham Greene says "One of the fifteen or twenty greatest novels produced in English in our century" again high praise, I shall see!!!!
I read Blue Nights aloud (to myself) -- something I've done with most of Didion's books -- maybe they need to be read aloud, or perhaps it's because I enjoy reading aloud and because her prose has been such an important "voice" for me. I began reading her essays and journalism in college and Play It As It Lays was one of the first books I purchased when I was living on my own and starting to build my own library.
This is a wonderful, deeply touching book -- a continuation in some ways of The Year of Magical Thinking -- a mother's remembrance of her daughter, and thoughts about aging, about going on alone.
Speaking of aging . . . it's time for me to read another of those books I've been avoiding for most of my life, a book I read in high school back in the 60s, a book that gave me some trouble then though I did enjoy the adventure of the thing -- Moby-Dick. I was going to put it off a bit longer, but there have been signs lately that it's time -- an entire college devoted to the author in The Art of Fielding, one of the books Jozef's father read to his son in The Sojourner, and then today I came across a review of a new book of essays, Why Read Moby-Dick?. Ref, shouldn't there be a penalty for 'piling on'? Avast, ye mateys, I get the message -- enough already.
I'm making good progress with The Go-Away Bird. I was a little put off to begin with by the flash on the cover claiming "If you enjoyed The Other Hand you'll love this' - firstly because I do hate publishers telling me what I'll like and secondly because The Other Hand is one of my favourite books of recent years and I couldn't bear the thought of a weak imitation. However, despite a bit of a weak start, this is turning into a truly moving story that stands up well against Cleave's novel. Ashley, the singing teacher, is pretty unappealing but Clementine, the little orphan from Rwanda is a real delight and her story is heartbreaking (and I'm hoping for some kind of redemption for Ashley come the end of the book).
Yet another change of plans! My ER book, The Western Lit Survival Kit by Sandra Newman arrived last evening by UPS. The plan was to finish The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón first, before delving into my ER book, but...well, I, of course peeked at the new arrival, and found it far too much fun to put aside.
# 145 - 150 > I'm just nicely started on The Bean Trees and am enjoying it already. I put it off for so long because like you hazeljune, I didn't much care for The Poisonwood Bible either. I keep thinking I should reread it because SO many people loved it. I obviously missed something. Whatever it was, it certainly didn't 'speak' to me at the time I read it. I haven't read Prodigal Summer but you have me intrigued. I shall add it to my 'to read' pile. :)
#154 Ditto everything you say about Prodigal Summer. I'm a Poisonwood Bible and general Kingsolver fan but I always thought Prodigal Summer was a much undervalued book and it's probably my favourite of hers.
ETA - You do know Pigs in Heaven continues the story begun in The Bean Trees? So you get double the pleasure with these.
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need reviews for my Amazon novel. Willing to give out *PDF story for free in return for reviews. Please contact me at urban_suiteyahoo.com for copy of book, pdf version of Underneath the Palms of Rio by Brandon Collier. I would like a turn around time up to 2 weeks and a posted review on Amazon. Anything faster would be great!
#153, 155, 156 et. al. > The Poisonwood Bible is usually on one end of the "like" spectrum or the other. I suspect it plucks some memory strings for some with its inter-family stress and for some with its treatment of fundamentalist religious themes. It is my daughter's favorite book and my wife and I concur, at least to give it 4-5 stars, but it may not be for everyone. I'll put Prodigal Summer on my 'to-read' listing. Thanks for the suggestion.
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