Nathalie's (Deern's) Reading in 2012 - Part 1
This topic was continued by Nathalie's (Deern's) Reading in 2012 - Part 2.
Join LibraryThing to post.
This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.
Welcome to my first 2012 thread! Wishing everyone a Happy New (Reading) Year!
No snow here all winter, so I can't post the promised typical winter panorama. Here is the view from my new office instead.
Books read, but not yet reviewed:
15. La corriera stravagante (The Wayward Bus) by John Steinbeck - library book - IT - 3,5 stars
Books finished and reviewed:
0. Memento Mori by Muriel Spark - gift audio book - EN - 4,5 stars (finished in 2011, reviewed in 2012)
1. Nils Holgersson by Selma Lagerloef - free Kindle - DE - 4,5 stars
2. Asterix e i Goti and Asterix e i Belgi by René Goscinny - library books - IT - no rating
3. Gargantua und Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais - free Kindle - DE - 4 stars
4. Vicolo Cannery (Cannery Row) by John Steinbeck - library book - IT - 4,5 stars
5. Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis) by Franz Kafka - owned - DE - 4 stars
6. The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville - Kindle bought - EN - 4,5 stars
7. Warum die Deutschen? Warum die Juden? by Götz Aly - bought - DE - 4,5 stars
8. Der unaufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht - library book - DE - 4 stars
9. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk - library book - IT - 3,5 stars
10.Uno, Nessuno & Centomila (One, No One & One Hundred Thousand) by Luigi Pirandello - owned - IT - 3 stars
11.Beowulf on the Beach by Jack Murnighan - Kindle owned - EN - 3,5 stars
12.Ungeduld des Herzens (Beware of Pity) by Stefan Zweig - library book - DE - 4 stars
13.A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - audible credit - EN - 4,5 stars
14.Radetzky March by Joseph Roth - free Kindle - DE - 4,5 stars (February)
16. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence - free Kindle - EN - 2 stars
17.The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - library book - EN - 4 stars
18.Die Selbstmord-Schwestern (The Virgin Suicides) by Jeffrey Eugenides - library book - DE - 3,5 stars
19. God's Philosophers by James Hannam - Kindle - EN - 3 stars
20. Joseph und seine Brüder (Joseph and His Brothers) by Thomas Mann - library book - DE - 5 stars
21. Gefährliche Liebe (Catching Fire) by Suzanne Collins - library book - DE - 3,5 stars
22. La tete en friche by Marie-Sabine Roger - library book - FR - 3,5 stars
23. Everything that rises must converge by Flannery O'Connor - owned - EN - 4 stars
24. Die Liebeshandlung (The Marriage Plot) by Jeffrey Eugenides - library book - DE - 4,5 stars
25. The Sun also Rises by Ernest Hemingway - owned - EN - 3 stars
Normal books (where there's a chance I might finish them in the next two weeks):
- L'inverno del nostro scontento (The Winter of Our Discontent) by John Steinbeck - library book - IT
Very Slow reads:
- Arabian Nights: Tales From The Thousand and One Nights - free Kindle - EN - I might take this into 2013 - 19% in/ 272 (of 1001??) nights read - finished volume 3!! (February 19, 2012)
- Il Cimitero di Praga by Umberto Eco - owned - IT - page 170 of 514
- La Vie Mode d'Emploi by Georges Perec - owned - FR - page 112 of 579 - finished part I
- Clarissa Harlowe by Samuel Richardson - free Kindle - EN, chronologic reading, started January 10, 7 letters read
- Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times by Neil Astley (500 poems for 500 days!) - 57 read
- The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens - free Kindle - EN for Dickens anniversary ( 1000 pages - I AM MAD!)
Some of the more difficult 1001s I want to get off my tbr:
- Kindheitsmuster by Christa Wolf
- Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
- Simplicissimus by Hans von Grimmelshausen
- Clarissa Harlowe by Samuel Richardson
Books I put on hold in 2011 and really need to finish:
- Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - library book - DE
Janet memorial reads planned:
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce - owned - EN
- Palace Walk Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz - bought - EN
- Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times by Neil Astley ==> planned one poem per day - bought - EN
- The Child Thief by Brom - bought - EN (TA)
- Warum die Deutschen? Warum die Juden by Götz Aly - bought - DE - read
- The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville - Kindle bought - EN - read
- Palace Walk Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz - EN (TA)
- Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times by Neil Astley - EN (TA)
- Finnegans Wake by James Joyce - EN (TA)
- The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark - EN (TA)
TA = Thingaversary book
Hi Nathalie, I always enjoy your pictures and your thoughtful comments on the books you read. I've got you starred once again.
OK, so I now I know you're WAY ahead of me in the Italian department (and several other languages), but I'll still compare notes! Ciao!
Hello and welcome Stasia, Donna, Anita, Cushla, Steve, Jim, Richard! Thanks for the good wishes! My New Year is starting in about 2hrs 45 mins, and I'll try to squeeze some more reading into the last minutes of 2011. It has been a difficult year for me, and I thought spending New Years Eve alone, reading and visiting LT threads, might be a positive way of ending it.
I had some nice dinner and now I'm looking forward to the fireworks at midnight.
I hope you're all having a great time, as we say in Germany "guter Rutsch" (a safe slide) into the new year!
Hi Nathalie! Found you and starred. :) There are some interesting reads you plan for this year! I'm already curious about your opinion about Eco's Cementary. Maybe I'll join in when you read Pasternak or Dickens. Have a nice 2012!
Hi Nathalie! Happy New Year. I look forward to reading you in 2012 (that's in 43 minutes for us)
Thanks Stasia and Ilana!
It's January 1st, 1pm and I am in my first book panic for 2012! Ignoring the list of books I am intending to read this year, I started 2 different ones, along with the 4 big ones I am already reading. Now I am running from book to book, randomly reading a chapter here and there and not getting ahead with anything. Okay - Arabian Nights doesn't really count, as the one 'night' I am daily reading is usually not longer than 5 Kindle pages and can't cause a panic.
But of my latest amazon order I found La Vie Mode d'Emploi by Georges Perec too challenging to put it on the shelf. I am only on page 34 of 579, but so far find it strangely alluring, although it seems nothing is going to happen there. And my edition has tiny print and is difficult to read for my ageing eyes. :-(
Then I bought a book yesterday with the Christmas money I got from my grandmother. If she knew how I spent it, she wouldn't be all too happy (she's 88 this year and doesn't want to be reminded of the past). It's called Warum die Deutschen? Warum die Juden? (Why the Germans? Why the Jews?) by Götz Aly, a non fiction book trying to give an answer to the ever present question why the Germans of all people started the Holocaust, after having established the most liberal pro-Jewish laws in the 1800s and early 1900s. I've read 45 of the 300 pages and must say that this book contains some shocking truths about the character of "the Germans". Shocking because it becomes obvious already in the first chapters that we haven't changed that much - we are a people of envious individuals. Sure this is a generalization, but you only have to look into the forums of renowned magazines like "Der Spiegel" to find an echo of that quickly in many of the posts. Nowadays it's not the Jews who are openly accused (and no longer the 'foreigners' as in the 60s and 70s), but 'the rich and wealthy' in general are dubious. The idea is never "Hey - this guy made his way, what can I do to achieve something similar?" It's more "I have a right to be just as wealthy. He should either share or lose his wealth". No wonder the word 'schadenfreude' has found its way into other languages. Something is still wrong with the values we are brought up with. When I look at the Italians here for example, I can identify some 'typical' characteristics - good ones and not so good ones, but envy is not one of them.
Anyway - reviews prepared me that the book will get considerably weaker in its 2nd half, but so far it's a clear recommendation for everyone interested in the Holocaust, and no doubt it will soon be translated into English.
I am trying to get through the tome that is Nils Holgersson, one of the best childrens books I ever read. I am 50% in and enjoy it greatly, but it needs slow paced reading, to better enjoy all the descriptions of the Swedish landscapes. I'd estimate it has about 900 pages (more than 10,000 Kindle locations).
Then there's Il Cimitero di Praga by Umberto Eco. I am now in chapter 7 of 27, so there's a long way to go. The Italian is contemporary and grammatically easy, but as usual with Eco the narrative is very dense and I often need to look up words.
For no apparent reason, two days ago I started another tome with Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais in the fantastic old-fashioned German translation. Is it embarrassing to say that I enjoy it enormously? It must be the most vulgar book I've ever read, but it's fresh, it's fun and it's full of attacks against the medieval church (published originally in the 1530s and apparently an enormous success from the start). 30% in so far.
So... no reviews for 2012 books to expect in the near future. I'll have to finish at least one till January 10th when I am planning to start the looooong read of Clarissa Harlowe.
wow, Nathalie, that is more books at one time than I would ever manage!
I usually read one at the time, but somehow worked myself into two books at the moment... of a similair genre (fantasy), it is hard work to keep the characters straight ;-)
Nils Holgerson is a dear memory of childhood.
We used to own Gargantua and Pantagruel but it was sold when we had to un-own a lot of books because we moved to Lelystad and had not enough room for all. I never read it...
The German book sounds interesting, not sure if I would like to read it, but I am looking forward on your comments.
I read Gargantua and Pantagruel eons ago! It has been so long that I cannot even remember if I enjoyed it. I wonder where my copy is hiding?
I will be interested in reading the German book if it is ever translated. I will need to keep my eyes open for it.
Peeking over the Alps to wish you a Happy New Year, Nathalie! Wishing you all the best in 2012!
#15 LOL! Welcome to my world - this last year I have been the least focused I've ever been (reading wise). I currently have 10 books on the go which is complete madness. I'd say it would give me a speedy start to 2012 but some of them have been hanging around for ages. Sigh...
Oh and a very Happy New Year to you. :)
#16: I've always been reading 2-3 books in parallel, but this situation now is a bit extreme. Usually I have a nice mixture of short and long books going.
I am so in love with Nils Holgersson, I just looked up the various Swedish regions on wikipedia - so beautiful! I didn't like the book much when I was a child - too much geography, not enough action, too realistic (animals dying, like the geese being caught by the fox). Now it's an almost meditative read for me.
#17: I was a bit put off in the first chapters by the extent of vulgarity in Gargantua and Pantagruel. All those bodily functions - much worse than in Ulysses. Luckily I wasn't eating. Then I felt reminded of some farmer's talk during beer fests in the village where I grew up (those good old times!) and started seeing the funny side.
@ whoever is interested in reading G&P: better have a look at the first chapter of the gutenberg version first. I am feeling a bit abnormal for enjoying it.
#18: Thank you - the same for you, Lynda
#19: 10 books! Are you sure you want to add Clarissa Harlowe to that batch??
*wails* I know! The idiocy of starting 2 more books in the dwindling days of 2011, not lost on me. I'm going to try and finish them both off (both short) before the 10th...
Wow Nathalie, you are starting your reading year in a big way. I'm just trying to make my way through the Sunday newspaper. ;-)
Your description of German envy sounds much like the condition here in the U.S. My simple wish for the new year is that we all learn to get along with others.
New to your thread this year, Nathalie, although I've seen you around. I can't read books in parallel at all! Your "Why the Germans?" book sounds very interesting, but probably quite a difficult read.
Hi Nathalie! Yes, your reading report is somehow impressing. But try to still enjoy your readings! :)
I will definitely put the Warum die Deutschen? Warum die Juden on my list.
In 2011 I started to look for and read books about how such "murder systems" are possible. Maybe the following books could be interesting for you: Ungehorsam als Tugend by Peter Brückner, literature about the Milgram-experiment (Obedience to authority), or about the Zimbardo-prison-experiment, e.g. The Lucifer Effect is waiting in my library. If you like a more philosophical approach, Hannah Arendt's Über das Böse might be worth a try. All of the books give a horrific insight in the nature of people.
And I guess I have to take a look at the Gargantua-thing...
G&P sounds intriguing, I will check it out. Is your version a collection of 5 books?
Nathalie found you! Will follow your threads also this year with, I'm sure, pleasure.
Look like you have already planned a good start to the new reading-year, Nathalie.
I'm also planning to read Nils Holgersson - actually I bought it last year but then discovered it was an abridged edition - so now I have to buy the unabridged version. Also Doctor Zhivago is on my list of books for 2012.
#21: I read the first letter some days ago, and it's a short one. Then we'll have a break till the 13th to finish other books...
#22: Big fat Sunday newspapers with an extra long culture section - how I miss them!
Well, mix the US envy with the typical German angst... Let me just say: I so do share your wish!
#23: Welcome, Laura! I found the introduction to the German book difficult, but from then on (until now) it has all been very coherent, a fluent read I'd say, good language which also plays a role in non-fiction. On the other hand I am quite familiar with the history basics now, having read several books on Germany in the last few years. This one adds a new aspect, it's like an additional piece of a puzzle.
#24: I am trying to gain some ground, knowing there could be weaker periods again, like last year.
Thanks for the recommendations. The Lucifer Effect sounds very interesting, but also scary. Do we really want to know what we are in theory able to do to others? Über das Böse might be the counterpart to the Aly book. He says he wants to get away from the 'evilness' theories and show that the roots have been planted much earlier than most historians think. I put all three books on my watchlist/wishlist.
#25: yes, it's a collection of all 5 (the German edition). So far I've only read the first which must be the longest.
#all: I hope you won't hate me for the G&P book... The first chapters have so far been the worst - they may serve as a test if you can stomach the book. It gets better (slightly less vulgar, much funnier) later in the book and some chapters are quite brilliant.
I heard that book 1 and 2 are the best, the other 3 are suffering a bit from an early serialisation problem: the public keeps asking for more, the author has to deliver. Well, I'll see.
#26: Hi Paul and welcome!
#27: Hi Carsten, haven't found your 2012 thread yet. I am sure you'll enjoy Nils Holgersson. It's a long book, but I am sad already because it'll have to end at some point. :-(
I don't know yet when I'll be getting to Doctor Zhivago. Maybe we can start a group read on that one, that helped me a lot last year with War and Peace.
#8: Sorry Steve - something I forgot to say: my Italian is sadly merely "theoretical". This means I can read quite well, can write a letter with errors (without being able to respect the extreme politeness and eloquence required in Italian written communication), can understand radio and TV sometimes and am almost unable to speak. That's because everyone here speaks German and when I start stuttering something in Italian, I get an (impatient) German answer. Well, I keep trying.
Just a small footnote: Arendt just writes about that - all these crimes were done by HUMAN beings and not by a great anonymous evil. She coined the expression of "Banalität des Bösen" ("banality/triviality of evil"). (Described it in particular in Eichmann in Jerusalem)
Chiming in as another multiple-book reader; I usually have 7-8 going at one time. Don't Panic! I'm a fairly scatter-brained person, but I'm able to keep them all straight, so I'm certain you can too. :)
#31: thanks for the addition, I will definitely look out for her book.
#32: thank you! Panic is quite over again, but maybe that's because I took only 2 of the 6 books (i.e. my Kindle) to work today.
I actually finished my first 2012 book today, "Die wunderbare Reise des kleinen Nils Holgersson mit den Wildgänsen" by Selma Lagerloef. I couldn't put it down last night and stayed up until very late, reading it. Wonderful book, a great start into the new reading year.
I am glad that your panic has subsided and you have found a wonderful book with which to start off your reading year, Nathalie.
#34: thank you, Stasia!
I am now somewhat annoyed with G&P, as I found out my supposedly complete version with that wonderful translation is not at all complete. There are 8 chapters missing from book 1, book 2 and 3 are merged into one, etc. Now there exists a really complete translation online (not downloadable), but it's so old that its almost incomprehensible. So I think I'll go on with the one I have, keep enjoying it and maybe later make some comparison. I have so far identified 3 missing chapters from book 1 and none of them was great anyway.
Last night I made a good start on one of my new year's resolutions that are not book-related and spontaneously agreed to go to a ballet with my English landlady. My local theater can't afford an own ensemble, so instead they offer many interesting guest performances throughout the year. I've seen some of those in the past, but in 2011 completely neglected that, along with many other things. So last night it was a performance of the Balletto di Milano, dancing to 30 more or less well-known French chansons by Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, etc. . It was absolutely stunning! The audience, mainly Italians, many with their children despite the late hour, was absolutely enthusiastic, giving spontaneous applaus, clapping in unison along to the music and screaming 'Bravo' during the performances (all quite unthinkable where I come from). One of the songs was 'Nathalie' by Gilbert Bécaud, the song that inspired my parents when they selected my name, and that performance (a pas de deux) was as heartbeaking as it should be. I should do that more often. There are announcements for a Brecht play and for a Shakespeare (Othello) within the next weeks, but I can't imagine those in Italian, so maybe I'll concentrate on the musical events for now.
Time for the first reviews of the year:
0.2012 or 119.2011 Memento Mori by Muriel Spark - contains some spoilers
This audio book was given to me by Ilana via audible. Thank you again - it was a wonderful gift and I enjoyed it very much!
I finished it on December 29, but then didn’t find the time (or thoughts) to write a review before the new year started, so I’ll review it here as #0.
Loitering with Intent had been my first book by Muriel Spark earlier in 2011 and my favorite character was an old, weak, somewhat confused lady. I had wished to read some more about her and although there is no sequel, my wish came quite true with this book which is full of wonderful old ladies (and some slightly less wonderful old men as well). One of them, Dame Letty, receives mysterious anonymous phone calls, the caller only ever saying one sentence: “Remember you must die”. I found this a generally very true statement, but for Dame Letty it expresses a death threat and she informs the police. After a while, some of her friends and also her brother receive similar calls, although they can’t agree on the voice of the caller. The police isn’t able to trace the calls, so at some point the idea comes up that it might be Death himself, reminding the old people that their days are coming to a close.
As it seems to be the rule with Muriel Spark books, there isn’t much of a story. Instead she invites us to watch the old peoples’ lives, to see how they are coping with their growing physical and mental issues and the approach of death. Again she has created some fabulous characters – there’s Charmian (spelling?), a once-famous author who is suffering from dementia but regains her spirits when her books celebrate a revival. There’s her husband Geoffrey, who has a not-so-secret weakness for stockings and suspenders. There’s Mrs Pettigrew, the sinister housekeeper. There’s a full ward of old ladies in a nursing home - called ‘grannies’ by the doctors and nurses – who despite their age and their serious health issues manage to keep their dignity.
As I am single and childless, without brothers and sisters, I am sometimes worried thinking about what old age might be like. This book doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but it gave me some hope. It was quite a perfect read/ listen for the end of such a disturbing year.
The reading by Nadia May was an absolute delight and earned the book an extra half point.
Rating: 4,5 stars
Sorry for the length, but I loved this one so much, a shorter review would have felt incomplete.
1. Wunderbare Reise des kleinen Nils Holgersson mit den Wildgansen by Selma Lagerloef (the touchstone refuses to work)
This book should be a 1001! When I look at Water Babies in comparison I can’t believe it didn’t make it onto the list. Selma Lagerloef is the first female author who won the Nobel Prize for literature, and I am planning to read more of her books.
I am quite convinced Nils Holgersson will end up as one of my top 10 reads in 2012. The French “Le Monde” lists it as one of “the 100 Books of the (20th) Century”.* It’s a children’s book (or better: it was written as a school book for geography), but I remember that as a child I didn’t like the slow-paced story at all, and now I enjoyed every minute spent with it. With > 10,000 Kindle locations it is a long book, but it is an easy read with short sentences and many short chapters, perfect for being read aloud, especially now in the winter. Should you want to read it, be aware that there are many abridged versions. From my otherwise great edition two of 55 chapters are missing – the very last one for no apparent reason (which leads to a strangely abrupt ending), I still have to identify the other one. The English version I found on gutenberg.org has only 43 chapters and less than 6,000 locations. Maybe some of the episodes have never been translated.
Nils is the 14year old son of poor parents, living on a small farm in Schoonen, in the South of Sweden. He likes to play pranks and to hurt animals, and he is a lazy student. While his parents are away at church one Sunday in March, he catches a kobold (leo offers me here leprechaun, tomte, goblin, gremlin, pixie and many more, I don’t know which one fits here: a kobold looks like a very small human and can do some magics, he usually lives on farms hidden from the humans). As punishment the kobold shrinks him to kobold size. When a flock of wild geese flies over the house and the white gander Martin decides to follow them to Lapland, Nils jumps on Martin’s back with the intention to stop him – and there they are, on their long way to Lapland, the very North of Sweden. Quickly Nils learns that in his new form he can talk to animals, and he becomes friends with many of those he meets on his way, helps them out of dangerous situations and can even be of help to some humans. But those chapters never sound moralistic, which is the great strength of the story. It is also an extremely honest book: people die and animals die, though most stories have some kind of happy ending. This is no sweetened Disney story, but it’s a wonderful and positive book. Sure it is a bit old-fashioned and expresses a strong belief in all the benefits that industrial progress might bring to the people.
The descriptions of all the Swedish landscapes are absolutely beautiful and often Lagerloef interrupts the plot by adding some old tales, often telling the history of a certain region (which no doubt helped the Swedish children memorizing all those places). I found those bits extremely interesting, as they give an idea how knowledge used to be passed on to younger generations before school education became compulsory.
I read that the Swedish church tried to ban the book from schools on the grounds that Nils never went to mass during his travels. Lagerloef gave the obvious answer: if he’s a kobold, how should he go to church? There’s no mass for kobolds! Lagerloef’s love for her country, for its people and its animals pours out of every paragraph, and in this sense I found it a very spiritual book.
Rating: 4,5 stars
*it’s an interesting list with many great books. The first UK book listed however is only #21 (“Brave New World”, followed by “1984”). Here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Monde%27s_100_Books_of_the_Century
Happy New Year, Nathalie! I'm looking forward to following your 2012 reads.
Warum die Deutschen? sounds interesting, if hardgoing. Memento Mori sounds like a good antidote...
I think my real-life reading group will be tackling Doctor Zhivago this year, possibly in April. And we're all reading a Dickens of our choice in February. A Tale of Two Cities is the only one I own but haven't read, so that's my choice, though I'd like to try some more Dickens later in the year. Shamefully, I've only read David Copperfield...
#38: Thank you, Rebeki!
On the tutored reads thread (http://www.librarything.com/topic/129209) there was the question if people were interested in a tutored read of A Tale of Two Cities.
Should I start Doctor Zhivago in time, we can compare notes. Or maybe I'll start a group read, if anyone else is interested. I think Carsten (ctpress) also plans to read it this year. A tutored read would be even better, I heard it's really difficult.
And again the wrong touchstone for the Dickens book, leading to a Patti Krapesh(???) book with 15 copies on LT. And when I remove the 'A' from the title ==> "Tale of Two Cities" I get the touchstone to 'A Tale of Two Cities' by Charles Dickens
#39 How annoying about the touchstone (maybe it's a plot by the mysterious Patti Krapesh to promote her book ;)). I've now edited my post so it links to the Dickens book
I'm not sure I'd want to commit to a tutored read of this book, as the timings may not work out, but I'd certainly read the thread with interest.
Hmmm. I'd also heard that Doctor Zhivago was difficult. I'll find out in a couple of weeks which month I'm supposed to read it...
#40: I noticed in the last weeks that this happens a lot with famous works, like "North and South" by Elizabeth Gaskell, "King Lear" by William Shakespeare, etc. The touchstones lead to some book of the same title which is usually much less popular.
I have to learn how to fix touchstones.
Edit: another one I found today: "The Grapes of Wrath" leads to a book which is not Steinbeck's.
Edit2: I noticed there's a thread already in the 'Talk about LT' group, I reported my examples there. A bug report has already been opened.
Hi Nathalie, you have a fascinating thread! I am also starting Clarissa on 10 January, (as is another member of this group), so I will be interested in what you think. I'm just waiting for my giant book to arrive from amazon and then I might read the introduction, ready for the big day (one week today!).
Edited to add: I have started a group read thread for Clarissa, which is here
One of these days I will get to Memento Mori. It has been in the BlackHole far too long.
Clarissa!! Oh Nathalie...save yourself...get away from this kitten-squisher-sized monster of tedium and snore-making now, before its gravity sucks you into the black hole of utter, despairing boredom!
#42: Hi Susan, thank you! I got an ebook edition of Clarissa Harlowe so it looks less scary than the real book. And thanks for the link, I'm in!
#43: Stasia, this is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend, I hope you'll like it.
#44: Richard, thank you so much for the warning. But I just can't help it, I must be something like a book-masochist... it was actually Becca's non-recommendation of 'Pamela' which made me immediately get the even much longer 'Clarissa'. Well, the good thing is I can always abandon it.
News re. Gargantua and Pantagruel: My library had a complete edition which I got yesterday. Now it's quite a modern translation, and I just hate it! I decided to go along with the shorter, but much funnier Kindle edition. It's incredible how the whole experience of reading a book can depend on the translation!
And I got the Italian version of Cannery Row (Vicolo Cannery) and will join the first group read of the 2012 Steinbeckathon. It has 200 pages, so it will take the better part of the month to get through it. I might still change my mind and get the English e-book or maybe that collection of 6 short novels, but I find the prices for all the Steinbeck books exceptionally high, so am still hesitating.
I also got 2 Italian Asterix comic books (Asterix e i Goti and Asterix e i Belgi), inspired by Steven's (scvlad's) thread. Steven - if that was your first Italian book you have my full admiration!! I haven't read any Asterix for years, and I fear I am really getting old. I am finding it extremely difficult to decipher those handwritten speech bubbles, everything being written in capital letters. The Italian is not as easy as could be expected. And the names are different in Italian - Miraculix the druid becomes Panoramix (which doesn't make any sense imo), the bard Troubadix is something with 'assurance', etc. (It's a bit like reading "Harry Potter" in Italian, where all the teachers, including Dumbledore, got new Italian names)
Panoramix and Assurancetourix are the original French names, in the Dutch editions they are called the same.
#46: Really?! Then I'm sorry, but I found the names in the German edition somehow made more sense: Troubadix for the troubadour, Miraculix for the miracle-creating druid, Majestics for the boss, etc. - I believed they were the real ones or only slightly germanized.
Thank you for the info, Anita!
All caught up. Friend at the door, so will be back later! Great reviews as always!
#45: It is unfortunate that my local library does not carry Memento Mori. I wish it did.
Oh, Nathalie, you make me wish I were reading what you are. *G&P* and *Dr.Z* are on my list to read sometime, but I can't really see when that time will come. I do hope to investigate some M. Spark this very year. Thanks for your fine reviews.
Asterix in Latin - fun stuff! (I also realize that I am losing my Latin. Oh dear. I don' t know whether I'll try to get it back or let it go. English is so easy. I'm so lazy!)
Impressed to be able to read books in three languages Nathalie. Must admit I relate to your troubles with "speed reading" in Italian. I read in Malay in a stumbling manner and Of Mice and Men would probably take forever in Bahasa Melayu.
#37: Wonderful review of Nils Holgersson Nathalie - you make me want to buy the book right away - I think/hope it's the unbridged version I've found in danish - 520 pages -
A group read of Clarissa Harlowe? Considering the next few days....Wow...it's a monster-huge novel (my Kindle-version amounts to an impressive 36.000 count) - can it be right? Well, maybe a group-read is the motivation I need :)
#45. Well you're right, that 'gothic' script was a little rough on the eye site. And don't be too impressed - I had to look up a word every couple of bubbles or so, and some of the colloquialisms still have me flummoxed. I'm not even trying to figure out the names. I'm just accepting them. They're completely different in English, French, and Italian (I think?) so I just go with them. And of course, the puns are difficult ... Still fun though. Now I'm doing Asterix Gladiatore and having the same issues (minus the 'gothic' script). Of course, now I know how to say 'wild boar' in Italian! I'm sure that will come in very useful in my travels!
Sorry for neglecting my thread a bit. The new year hast started in such an unusually 'social' way for me, I haven't been at home much this week. I've been out with friends on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and I have plans for tomorrow. That's more than the last three months together. Okay - being more social again after the isolation of 2011 has been another New Year's resolution, but that's almost too much for me now. I am a little relieved that things will slow down a bit again, now that the holidays are over - theaters and many bars and restaurants are closing until spring when the tourists will be back.
I managed to finish Gargantua and Pantagruel today during the readathon, but haven't written the review yet. And I finished Asterix e i Goti.
#48: I heard the worst things about "Pamela", usually connected with "Clarissa is a bit better". Still not really encouraging, but I'll give it a try
#49: Hi Ilana! :-)
#50: that's a pity, Stasia. My library offered me once to order a book for me, I don't know if that would be a possibility with yours as well?
#51: Peggy, I've officially lost my Latin, it only helped me with the Italian a little. When we did the Aeneid group read I had a look at the original, but it was just hopeless. And of my Greek I only remember the alphabet, it's quite a shame.
#52: Paul, I have never heard Malay/Bahasa Melayu (I guess), but even to get to a level of 'reading in a stumbling manner' is so impressive!!
#53: Thanks Carsten, I am quite sure you'll like "Nils Holgersson". It could be the complete version, the longer German versions I looked at on amazon all have about 600 pages. Re. Clarissa Harlowe: It's #5 on the list of the world's longest novels, according to wikipedia. I'm officially scared, and if I don't like it won't hesitate to put the book at least on hold.
("Arabian Nights" seems not to count as a novel, it's not on the list. It's endless!)
#54: the Gothic script in capital letters is really something special! I also found the Roman legionnaires were speaking very strangely, was it a Roman dialect?
Cinghiale will definitely come in handy when you're travelling Tuscany. You'll see it on every menu and in all the delis.
I think I will probably just buy Memento Mori at some point, Nathalie. I have seen several good reviews of the book.
I finished another book - Vicolo Cannery/ Cannery Row by John Steinbeck for the first group read of the Steinbeck-a-thon 2012. And I read another Italian Asterix, this time Asterix e i Belgi. Reviews... I don't know, I'll be quite busy this week. I'll try to get them done slowly, one by one.
I'll now concentrate on Warum die Deutschen? Warum die Juden? and then tomorrow start with the Clarissa group read.
2. Asterix e i Goti by René Goscinny
Usually I don't review comic books (and haven't read any in my LT years except for my yearly rereads of Ralf Koenig), but I'll make an exception here, as I read these in Italian.
It must be at least 20 years since I read Asterix e i Goti and my reread now confirmed me that it is one of the weaker books. Usually I like the 'Asterix goes abroad' comics, but this here was quite boring and also not easy to read with all the gothic letters. The druid which I am used to call Miraculix but whose Italian/ Franch name is Panoramix, is kidnapped by a group of Goths. Asterix and Obelix travel to Germania to free their friend, dressing up first as legionnaires, later as Goths, causing endless confusion. As usual everything goes well and in the end they have a big party with cinghiale/ wild boar, being glad to have escaped Germania's cabbages.
Asterix e i Belgi by René Goscinny
This time our friends travel to Belgium, more than a little offended after hearing that Julius Caesar has declared the Belgians the most virtuous people in all of Gaul. Determined to prove him wrong and to make him admit that the (Breton) Gauls are more virtuous, they start a competition with their new Belgian friends - who can destroy more Roman forts in a day? I liked this one better than the Goti book, and it explains the invention of (French) fries.
No rating for both
3. Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
This was a book I did not expect to enjoy when I started it, and it ended as one of the most funny books I've ever read. In 5 volumes it tells the story of the giant Gargantua, his son Pantagruel and the latter's human friend Panurg. It's vulgar, it's obscene, it's sarcastic and full of intelligent hints at the evils of Rabelais' time. Much of it can be directly transferred into the 21st century, as the humans haven't really changed that much. Not unlike Dante in the Commedia, Rabelais quite openly accuses the Catholic church of his time for its double moral standards and for its sluggishness. As I learned from the introduction, Rabalais had been living in a monastery for about 15 years, so he wrote from knowledge.
Book 1 describes Gargantuas's birth and upbringing, book 2 (though published earlier) does the same for Pantagruel.
In book 3 Panurg and Pantagruel start on a long journey to the 'oracle of the bottle' to find out whether Panurg should get married or not (he's in a panic that his future wife might cheat on him), and this journey lasts through books 4 and 5. They stop on numerous islands which either stand for a country, a people or an institution, and often they need all their wits to escape and get back on their ships.
Should you be interested in reading this book, look out for a good translation, it's absolutely crucial. I compared three (German) versions and decided to go with the abridged one by Gottlob Regis, although I usually only read complete books. Of the other two one was too old-fashioned and almost unreadable, the second one however too modern and lacking the richness of the vulgar and raunchy language.
Rating: 4 stars (4,5 for the translation minus 0,5 for the missing chapters)
Thanks for your teaser of a review of Gargantua and Pantagruel. I do believe I started it once and quickly gave up. I'd like to think that it was the translation at fault - probably not. I have whatever Penguin published in the 60's, and I'm thinking that it might be just right now. (By "now" I don't mean "right now"!!!)
#60: Hi Lynda - great day to you, too!
#61: Peggy - I fully understand it if everyone else doesn't like it. It was a real suprise for me that I did. I'm scared that people will throw the book away in disgust and hate me after reading the first pages. So if you don't feel like reading it - better don't! :-)
Gargantua and Pantagruel has been on my hitlist for a while but it is not easy to find good translations of it in Malaysia. On Bahasa Melayu - my wife (SWMBO) is Malay as are, of course, her family. After a year of suffering being talked about I gave them all a nice surprise one fine day commenting on their remarks! Most of my staff are Malay and we enjoy a good laugh in the vernacular - it is a great language to joke in - but the formal Malay is a bit cumbersome.
#59 I've been intimidated by this for ages - you make it seem much more do-able. Not this year though I fear!
#63: that's a great anecdote, Paul, I guess you'll never forget those faces! :-)
#64: Well, it is intimidating in a way - it has a whole chapter on what to use best to wipe your "behind" (avoiding the more obscene expressions used by Gargantua). To give you a tip: it's not kittens, he tried, but it didn't go well.
Asterix used to be my favourite, even so, I didn't read all his comics as a kid and I don't think I have read this one. Looks like you really enjoyed G&P.
I started the Clarissa Harlowe project this morning, and as it looks like it will take me a whole year to read it in chronological order of the letters (it's an epistolary novel), I just had to squeeze in another short book to make January look a little better. So I reread Die Verwandlung / The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka last night. I was 15 or 16 when I read it last, so my perception of it has changed, although I still like it. Great writing!
#66: Piyush, don't bother reading that Asterix. It's really quite weak.
I might now reread some more of them, at least the ones I can get from the library. My own collection is hidden in some box in the attic of my parents' house.
#68: I was fascinated by the Kafka short stories when I read them as a teenager, I must revisit them, and soon! Of his novels I only read The Trial in 2009, and although it is doubtlessly an important book, I found it also to be a long and 'dry' read. Wouldn't say 'boring', but those 200 pages had the weight of at least 500. I am a little scared of the other ones on my tbr, The Castle and Amerika.
I started another book today and am already 25% in: The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville. Cushla recommended it when I asked for a realistic romance with protagonists being in their 40s or 50s. Don't know about the romance aspect yet, but the language is so beautiful! And it's set in the Australien outback. LOVE it!
#69 Ditto on Kafka - Metamorphosis is okay/good. But I would definitely go so far as to say The Trial was boring. I loathed it. I htink I'm still on a Kafka embargo for another year or two!
#69, #70 - I really struggled through The Trial. I still have it and will try to re-read it one day to see if I like it any better. I wouldn't normally give a book a second chance like that, but I feel I ought to like, or at least appreciate, it. It also put me off trying anything else by Kafka, though I own The Metamorphosis. That sounds less hardgoing, at least.
>69: Nathalie, I absolutely loved The Idea of Perfection also. It's on my list of all-time favorite books!
I must have read all the Asterix et Obelix series when I was a kid, and though I know they've been translated into countless languages, I can't imagine reading them in anything other than French, so was quite shocked when you started criticizing the original names of some of the characters. I always thought it was terribly clever of Gosciny that he had these names that were puns that were just completely absurd. For example, Assurancetourix, which if memory serves was the inept bard—from "Assurance Tout Risque" literally translates to "comprehensive insurance", which still makes me laugh when I think of it.
Speaking of French, I'm surprised you didn't read the original version of La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel. To be perfectly honest, I've never read anything by Rabelais, though his name is famous in French literature, probably for the following, which I found on wikipedia: Rabelais had studied Ancient Greek, and he applied it in inventing hundreds of new words in the text, some of which became part of the French language. Which means I am now obliged to add it to my wishlist as an incontournable... will have to find an thoroughly annotated version which points out the words he invented though, otherwise I will miss them completely for obvious reasons.
As for Kafka, I've only read The Metamorphosis, which I found quite brilliant. I have French translations of The Trial and The Castle and once attempted to read the former and couldn't get past the first two pages because the translation made absolutely no sense to me, so I resolved to read that one in English eventually one day. I'm not all that keen to be honest, but I feel it would be a grave omission from my literary life if I didn't at least give it a good try.
Oh Nathalie, The Idea of Perfection is such a treat of a book. Sometimes romance isn't like it is depicted in the movies! Grenville created some memorable characters in that book.
For some reason, I get the giggles about reading Steinbeck in Italian. He is such the epitome of an American writer. I love the flow of his words in English, I can only imagine how lovely they sound in Italian. My hat's off to you for attemtpting it!
#70: I'll reread some of the short stories as a bit of a warm-up for the next novel. But I'll sure take my time with it
#71: I wanted to say that 'liking' The Trial might be asking too much, but then Piyush posted in #72... Well, I'd say I appreciate the book and generally like Kafka's writing. But after The Trial I felt all weighed down for days.
#72: Your touchstone leads to The Stranger by Albert Camus, is this correct? I haven't read that one yet (it's on my tbr), but now I'm curious.
#73: another fan! Hi Laura!
#75: You're right, Donna. I absolutely love how realistic it is. Although at this point (32% in) I can't imagine the two main characters being able to form any sort of romance at all.
I now read 2 Steinbecks in Italian, Cannery Row and Of Mice and Men, and stylistically they were very different. CR was just beautiful, I read many passages aloud and it worked well. OMaM was as 'sparse' as should be.
I read two translations of Vonnegut last year, and his writing (imo) doesn't work at all in Italian.
#74: Hm... I had never thought about the names until reading the Italian Asterix(es?). At least the German translators made an effort to find names that fit well and were easy to pronounce and didn't turn Assurancetourix (I think he was the chef, already forgot the bard's name)into "Vollrisikoversicherungsix" - not a nice word to look at, even worse when actually spoken. So "Majestix" was the better choice.
G&P = app. 800 pages of 1500s French read in the original version? You clearly think too much of my French! I couldn't even handle the oldest German translation I found, it was unreadable. I am reading La Vie Mode d'Emploi, which has 600 pages in tiny print, and am now on page 70. That's enough French for the next couple of weeks. But I hope I'll get to another Zola soon.
My German edition of G&P was very rich in language, and I assume that the translator also had to invent some new German words to do justice to the original.
If you read The Trial, make sure to read something happy and light along with it. I can't say anything about The Castle yet.
4. Vicolo Cannery/ Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
I don't really feel like writing a review for this book, I'd much rather say 'Go ahead and read it'.
It's short (app. 200 pages), there is no complicated plot to follow, and the language flows so beautifully, even in the Italian translation, I felt like being carried along on it. I had read the Kindle test chapter in English, so I had my doubts about the translation, but I was pleasantly surprised. I read several chapters aloud, and it worked perfectly well.
(It didn't work at all with Uomini e Topi/ With Mice and Men last year, but maybe there the original is no read-aloud material either?)
The plot? There's not much of it. We meet the people of Cannery Row - a bunch of more or less flawed individuals. There's the Chinese shop owner who also lends out money, there's Dora with her girls in her bawdy-house, there's "Doc", a marine biologist with his laboratory and there's Mack with the boys, a group of slightly ominous not-so-young-as-you-might-think men. (I checked wikipedia and was a bit shocked when I read Mack was already 48, I had missed that information in the book or forgotten already). Doc is in the center of the story, he's the one everyone likes and respects, and one day Mack decides to thank Doc for his various acts of support by throwing a surprise party for him. That's where the trouble starts.
I found this an extremely well-balanced book. You could criticize that it's not realistic with all those quirky characters with a heart of gold, but I love books with positive messages. Even much better when they are also written as well as this one here.
Rating: 4,5 stars
Great review of Cannery Row Nathalie.
G&P: it did occur to me that I'd probably have a hard time reading the original too. I can manage fine with 19th century French, but I'm not even sure I'd be able to make out 18th century prose. I intend to give it a try eventually with Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Have you read that one? Just checked and saw you did, in German I believe. I admire your ability to read such long novels as G&P, regardless of what language they're in!
#79 - Not wishing to come across as stalky, but I lurk on your thread from time to time (though it moves a little quickly for me!) and can tell you that you'll have no problem with Les Liaisons dangereuses. I read it while studying French at university and found it quite an easy read (it was the first French book that I couldn't put down as opposed to not wanting to pick up!). So a bilingual person like you will race through it.
#80 Rebecca, I don't think of lurkers as stalkers at all! I do my share of
Thanks so much for the comments about Les Liaisons Dangereuses. I remember how much I loved the movie and I'm sure the novel is excellent, even though it doesn't have Glenn Close, Michelle Pfeifer and John Malcovitch in it! ;-)
We studied L'étranger in French class in high school (in a French school). I don't know if it's still part of the curriculum, but it was then. I remember thinking it was amazing and spoke to me directly as a teenager trying to figure out where I belonged. I obtained another copy of it a few years ago and hope to get to it soon. Though now I know I belong right here, on LT. :-)
Great review, Nathalie. A lot of quirky characters with a heart of gold. Sounds interesting.
Grapes of Wrath was not a hit with me - I thought it dragged on for too long...although I was fascinated with the first half. But I want to read some other stuff by Steinbeck, maybe this is it.
BTW - my touchstone for Grapes of Wrath says it's written by John Ford....is this a movie-site :)
#79/83: I read Les Liaisons Dangereuses many years ago when the movie came out, but I don't even remember if I finished it then. I'd say it's time for a reread. Looks like I am almost fully booked for 2012 already.
#80/81: Re. lurking: there's a couple of threads where I am only lurking, mostly the ones that are moving real fast. I agree it's often difficult to keep up, so there's only a limited number of threads where I am posting regularly (and I feel bad about it). I am sometimes absent for several days and then it becomes almost impossible to catch up and still do my RL work .
The Stranger is moving upward on my tbr list.
#82: Hi Linda, I hope you'll like it (and won't hate me if you don't)
#84: Thank you Carsten. I'll try to read as many of those Steinbecks as possible this year, but CR was so great that I have my doubts any of the other ones can reach it. Maybe 'Grapes' goes more into the 'Of Mice and Men' direction which I didn't like too much either.
There has been a touchstone issue since December, I've posted on the respective thread and gave "The Grapes of Wrath" as an example. There's also a bug entry. The search should always come up with the title with most copies on LT.
5. The Metamorphosis/ Die Verwandlung by Franz Kafka
This reread was inspired by a non-fiction book I read in December, Die Sprachverführer, a book dealing with the history and special characteristics of German in literature. The first sentence of the Metamorphosis was used as a perfect example of how German, in all its intricateness (the only word leo delivered for 'Umständlichkeit'), can be used to express something that is not perfectly translatable into other, seemingly superior literature languages like French and English.
More after I have consulted that non-fiction book for the exact quotes, maybe tonight.
Edit: It was Kafka's special thing to end his sentences with a bit of a surprise, that's what I learned and that's why I reread the book.
The English first sentence
"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin"
is different from the original, because Kafka placed the 'transformed' as a surprise element to the end of the sentence, like this:
"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself in his bed into a monstrous vermin transformed".
This has not been done out of necessity, German allows for both versions, and Kafka deliberately chose the second way. The effect is that the the reader ponders a bit longer on the uneasy dreams and the awakening, the transformation comes unexpectedly, and the German reader will read this first sentence again to see if he hasn't misread it. The emphasis in the German sentence is put on 'transformed', in the English version it's on 'monstrous vermin'. (It's the same for French)
So when I read this novella again, I had a closer look at the use of the language and appreciated it much more than before. This time (25 years older than on my first read) I was also able to see how much effort he must have put into observing the natural behaviour of insects, while the first time around the horror aspect had prevailed. I don't want to go into the interpretation of what the vermin stands for and what can be said about the reactions of the family members. This is a typical Kafka, with 50 pages it has a good length, it is a good starting point for new readers interested in his writing.
Rating: 4 stars
Just to weigh in and say be careful with Dangerous Liaisons - there's a section of letters in the middle that DRAGS on for so long that it beat the rest of my book group! I thought it was fun though.
6. The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville
First of all: I LOVED THIS BOOK! Thank you Cushla for recommending it! (I had asked Cushla on her thread for a romance book with the protagonists being over their childbearing years, and she immediately came up with this one. )
And now I have to take a step back and try to look at it more objectively.
This is a book where you'll either find a personal connection to (and then you'll LOVE it!) or not (and then you might find it boring). This results in very mixed reviews and an average rating both on LT and amazon of 3,5 - 3,8 stars.
In my opinion you are likely not to connect when
- you are very young
- you are a city girl/ city boy who has never experienced country life or hates it
- you are and always have been a strong, self-confident and happy person.
I am neither: I am 41, grew up in a small rural village and share many of the flaws and quirks of the main characters in this book. So I felt at home, from the very first page on through to the ending. The story is set in a small Australian village (town) of 1300 people, 'out in the bush', but not too far from Sydney. I've been to Australia and some outback places there, I remember the flora and fauna, and all the sounds. I remember a night where I couldn't sleep because it felt like the earth was alive and humming. It all came back to me while I was reading this novel.
The story is an unusual romance (this is not a spoiler, it's obvious from the beginning). We have Harley Savage, a museum curator, and Douglas Cheeseman, an engineer, both from Sydney, both in their 50s, both not very attractive by the usual norms, both single after more or less desastrous marriages, both social misfits, extremely insecure, almost unable to have 'normal' communication. They meet in the little outback town Karakarook on very different missions: Harley is to oversee the development of the new Heritage Museum, Doug's job is to substitute the old bent wooden bridge (Karakarook's only real tourist feature) with a new concrete version. The 'romance' (this word gives a wrong impression) develops very slowly, there's too much to overcome in both minds.
There's also a side story, which I found a little annoying at first, but which ends on such a strong note, that it really hit me, because I didn't see that coming. Felicity Porcelline, the wife of the local banker, who is so obsessed by her own looks that she reduces her smiles per day for fear of lines and wrinkles, falls in lust with the butcher, against her will. He's of Chinese ancestry which adds to her problems, but she is no racist. Or is she? But the poor man is in love with her. Or maybe not? This side thread had stand-alone novel potential for me. Actually, I would have liked to read both stories separately and might do so on a re-read.
The story of Harley and Doug is not flawless, and there were moments when I feared it might be tilting into a wrong, over-dramatic direction, especially Doug's heroic act seemed a little too much, but Kate Grenville always managed to get her people back on track.
The writing is beautiful, often poetic when Grenville describes the landscapes. And her observations of the people are spot-on.
Before I forget it: a special mention must go to another wonderful character - the stray dog who adopts Harley as his new mistress as soon as he meets her in the first chapter.
Something technical: The Kindle version was not too expensive, but had a couple of typos and many punctuation errors.
Rating: 4,5 stars
#87: Thanks for the warning! I'll see how I like "Clarissa" and then decide if I am ever likely to read an epistolary novel again.
>88: excellent review, Nathalie. I agree with your assessment of people not likely to connect with this book.
Nathalie - I did indeed want to direct to The Stranger by Albert Camus, the story lines of both the books are similar and so is the treatment to an extent. I read The Stranger with extremely high expectations and I would have probably liked it a lot better had I read it before The Trial
Ilana - Like you I watched and loved the movie adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons and when I realised it was based on a book, I had to have it even though I haven't read it yet, something I hope to rectify this year. I, however, am not proficient enough in French to read even the simples of texts.
Nice to see folks talking about Kafka! Really interesting point you make about the original German, Nathalie. I'd not heard that before, about his putting surprises at the ends of sentences. I always wonder what I'm missing in reading a translation. That one really "pops" for me. I re-read him occasionally, and I'm going to keep that in mind.
For what it's worth, I like all the novels, but The Castle may be my favorite. The surveyor's struggles as he attempts to solve the Castle's bureaucracy, and the villagers acceptance of it, are mesmerizing.
I read Die Verwandlung by Kafka many many years ago, and I just didn't like it. But that was for sure, because I just was too young to enjoy it. Last year I've bought Kafka's Complete Works, and he's on my to-read-list for this year. So, I'll give also Mr Samsa another chance. Thanks for the hint with "putting the surprises at the ends of sentences". I will have a look on that!
As far as Les Liaisons Dangereuses are concerned, I can whole-heartedly recommend it. I read it in German and French and I loved the the story, the characters as well as that it is written as an epistolary novel. With all the conspiracies it's a great read. Just the ending might be a little bit melodramatic, but somehow it fits.
I like your review of The Idea of Perfection very much, and I guess I have to put the book on my list!
Have a nice Sunday!
Hi all, thanks for visiting my thread, and I'll be back later (hopefully today) to comment on your posts.
I am meeting a friend for lunch and a walk in half an hour and later I'll try and bake a bread, the dough is prepared already. It is a no-knead bread, to be baked in a pot in the oven, and it's said the recipe will also work for baking idiots like me (whatever I bake usually tastes good but looks quite horrible). It's my second try, the first time it went fine although my kitchen was showered with flour. This time I am using a different flour and the dough looks suspiciously different from the picture of the recipe.
Readingwise I am ridiculously overbooked once again. For every book finished, another three are 'growing back'. I'll list my new library to-be-reads later.
Hi Nathalie! The positive reviews for Cannery Row continue to come in. I've enjoyed what I've read of it thus far but it's a slow go as I have so many other books calling out to me.
Sorry, couldn't make it yesterday - the bread project was so exciting (and went very, very well!) + I had to get through 100 pages of Joseph and his Brothers by Thomas Mann.
#90: Thank you so much, Laura! Yes, I am sure if you cannot 'connect' to the characters of this book you are likely to be disappointed. I read quite a few comments of disappointed readers on amazon.
#91: I'll wait a little (or better: I should wait a little) and then I'll get to The Stranger and see which one I like better.
#92: I was looking for Amerika in my library, but didn't find it there although the have a collected works series. So I guess I'll get to The Castle first.
#93: I had The Castle in my hands on Saturday in the library, but put it back on the shelf for now. But good to know I can get it whenever I want (the classics are not much in demand in my library).
#94: the first time I read it I concentrated too much on the 'insect horror', and never forgot the rotting apple in Samsa's back. I liked it just for that, and so I am glad I had my reread now.
Re. Les Liaisons Dangereuses: I had a quick look at the original on wiki, and I haven't decided yet if I can read it or should better get a translation. Can't read it now anyway - I just can't(?) start any more books! *panicking again'
#96: 'Books calling out': they really do! And right now there are too many calling out to me when I look at my shelves or get to the library.
We may need to start a 'Too many books at once' support group :/
Actually... that's what this is, isn't it!
I went to the library on Saturday to order the Italian versions of The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk from their magazines. They'll be ready and waiting for me this afternoon.
Instead of just filling in the form and dropping it at the check-out I wandered around a bit and then took a closer look at the 'Complete Works' shelf. I considered getting Kafka's The Castle, decided it was too difficult and then for no real reason checked out Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers, knowing it would be 'long'. Well, at home I noticed the > 900 pages book I checked out has only 2 of the 4 novels. Great, I am in for some more tome fun.
So now I am 150 pages into volume 1 and just remembered that I also requested Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot which I am likely to get by the middle of the week.
And I restarted Uno, nessuno e centomila by Luigi Pirandello because it's short, but I had obviously forgotten that I had put it on hold because it was so terribly difficult to follow.
I finished Warum die Deutschen? Warum die Juden?. And just in time I remembered I had another library book, due to be returned this week: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, a Brecht play which quite perfectly complemented the non-fiction book. Reviews will be difficult in both cases, but I'll try.
And I finished the 2nd volume of "Arabian Nights", but that one story that has now been going on for at least 60 nights is continued in vol. 3. *sigh*
in RL I had to lay off my one employee and my office is now moving into the building of our new partner's company, so at least I'll save the rent. Anyway, it wasn't such a nice week and having to give notice to a perfectly good employee (altough we had been discussing this measure already for a while so it wasn't a surprise for him) isn't an experience I have to repeat. So I "over-booked" myself to somehow cope with it and paid with a bad headache over the weekend which ended just in time for work on Monday morning. :-)
I hope that this step of slimming down the company will help, at least it looks like there will be some fresh demand for our products in spring.
#98: I guess we'd have to be willing to change this bad(?) habit, and somehow I am not. I can well handle 3-4 books and I'll have to find a way to handle 7 or 8.
I saw on your thread you passed the habit on to William - great picture!
Ta - he loves the box of little books :)
Yup - it's true, I don't really want to change either. Though I'd like to get back to 4-5 rather than 8-9 :/ I am, however, nearly halfway through Vol 9 of the 15 of Ovid's Metamorphoses so the end is, if not in sight, at least getting closer! DO NOT let me start Arabian nights this year...
Edited to say - really sorry about the job situation - letting someone go must be a horrid thing to have to do. Hope the new offices are ok.
Yes, waiting a bit before you tackle The Stranger is a good idea.
Fight Club is a fun and I might be able to squeeze in Choke in my reading schedule this year.
Cannery Row remains for the second year in a row, a book I want to and intend to read soon, it is really surprising how I have not been able to find time for even a book as tiny as this one.
#101: I made a mistake - I checked amazon for the length of those 16 volumes of "Arabian Nights", and the sum of the pages is about 5700 of which I only read 700 so far. So DO NOT start that book this year, Bekka!
#102: yes, I'll wait, especially now that I am having this additional reading assignment of The Hunger Games :-)
Sorry you needed to let your employee go, Nathalie. Looks like talking about it before hand lessened the blow.
I'll be looking forward to you thoughts on Hunger Games
Now you have made me want to read Arabian Nights and Metamorphoses too :(
It took me something like 2 years to read Arabian Nights. It was worth it, though. :)
I try so hard not to drop out of lurk unless I really have something to say. I don't know whether this qualifies.... Your review of *CR* was so familiar that I almost think I must have skimmed it sometime in the distant past - or maybe I only started it.
I wanted to love *Idea/Perfection* as much as you did. I really liked the characters and the story and the writing, except that her constant use of italics annoyed, then irritated, then enraged me. All the characters ended up sounding like Felicity. I do wish that she had limited them to her. As you can see, I never got over it and have been afraid to try The Lieutenant for fear of something similar.
I truly read only four books at a time although I may have started 7 or 8. Mostly, it makes me happy.
Oh. I'm fascinated by the Kafka sentences. How I wish an English translator had preserved that surprise where possible! I taught The Metamorphosis to my tenth graders, and they really connected with the idea of being different. (North Carolina puts the study of world literature in the tenth grade. I suspect that this was dreamed up by somebody who had never read any literature in translation and had never met an American 15 year-old.)
Nathalie I must admit having cheated by reading Richard Burton's version of Arabian Nights. Amber if it took two years to read one book we would have to join a different group! (Not in Amber's case of course as she reads 16 books at the same time - amazing!)
#105: If it doesn't help when I say 'DON'T', maybe I should just say 'DO!' :-)
#106: Hi Amber, thanks for the encouragement. On some days I try to gain some ground by reading more than the one 'night', but then I quickly lose my patience with the current story and enjoy it less. It's obviously made for very slow reading.
And I see you are well able to handle 11 'currently read' books - how do you manage it?
#107: I don't remember all those italics, maybe they got lost in the Kindle version, along with the many full stops and commas. But now that you mention it... Felicity had some italics for sure (but he is 'Chinese'!).
I'm glad your students were able to connect with the Metamorphosis. I remember Kafka's short stories being among the nicer encounters with high literature during my school days. You're right, it must be the idea of being different. At least your high schools explicitly teach world literature, although I agree 15 might not be the best age for that.
I remember my teachers made us read what they liked best, which was mainly plays by Brecht and far too early as well!
#108: I don't know yet if I'll have the patience to read them all. At least I can take a long break if necessary without losing the plot.
#104: yes, that was really sad and I am feeling bad about it, but can't help it, I just can't pay him anymore. I'm sure he'll quickly find a new job though - this region is in the lucky situation of having an uneployment rate of 2%.
For those who haven't seen it yet - our friend Janet (JanetinLondon) died on January 4th after her long fight against her illness. Her family left a message on her last 2011 thread
http://www.librarything.com/topic/127568#3178487 with a link where you can donate for a charity, and Jim set up a thread for condolences here in the 2012 group: http://www.librarything.com/topic/131201
Like many others I have been checking Janet's profile and her hospital blog during these last few weeks hoping for her to show up again, as she always used to.
I am terribly sad, and although I never met her in person she felt like a friend. I remember some wonderful group reads and her ambitious reading projects, her smart and funny comments. Her death is a big loss, and my thoughts go out to her family and her friends.
It has been a very sad day yesterday. Something went wrong with my donation to Janet's charity (kind of a timeout after I had entered my credit card details), so back home I checked my private email to see if I had received at least a bill, so I'd be sure the transaction had worked. I use this email account only very rarely, often check it just once a month and this explains how I had not yet noticed a 2 week old email from an old high school friend, telling me that her father had died unexpectedly on January 2nd. I hadn't seen my friend and her family for about 10 years, but I share in their mourning for a beloved person.
I also spent some time revisiting Janet's threads here on LT and our War and Peace group read. Reading her last 2011 thread is especially painful, as she was so full of hope and for the first time in a long while had been making reading plans for the next month. I regret that I couldn't make it to the London meet-up last year, hoping for another opportunity. It teaches you that you should take opportunities when they arise.
I can't stop thinking what the loss means for her family and close friends when it is already so grave for us here on LT.
Well... time for a review, I guess:
7. Warum die Deutschen? Warum die Juden? (translates to "Why the Germans? Why the Jews?") by Goetz Aly
Being German and having been confronted with the atrocities of the Holocaust from an an early age on (the schools in Western Germany did a good job here), I have always been wondering how it was possible that this happened in my country, which had not been among the most antisemitic ones in the early 1900s - on the contrary, the laws were so liberal that Jews immigrated in high numbers from other European countries. Talking to grandparents didn't help much, that generation had learnt to keep their silence and only very recently my grandmother admitted to not having been totally ignorant.
This book claims to give an answer to that question, and having finished it I can say that indeed it is very conclusive and shows the situation from a different perspective. Whatever I am writing here to give you an overview will be too superficial and incomplete. On its 300 pages the book contains so many facts and each one logically leads to the next, so if I say now "the Germans killed the Jews because they were jealous of their education and their success" it sounds completely wrong, although it is the essence of the book.
If you are interested in the subject, please wait for the translation and read this book. It not only offers a quite conclusive answer to the above question, it also offers a look into the German mind, into our deeply rooted fears, into our secret wishes as a people. There might be no antisemitism left, but we haven't changed so much, and that was the most shocking aspect for me in this book. The values we are taught, at home and in school, are still basically the same, although we might concentrate our jealousy and our fears now on different objects (the Euro, the partners in the EU, the banks, the 'rich people'). There are many of us expecting our government to provide 'social justice' and confuse it with something that's close to socialism and takes away the responsibility of the individual for its own well-being. Many would be willing to give up parts of their freedom if the government would in turn guarantee safety from the 'evils of the world', whatever those might be. We have never found to a balanced national self-confidence and still have a tendency to over-react.
Some questions are left open - I for instance would have liked to know what the situation of the Jews was in other Western European countries. Not to do any fingerpointing, but if the author says 'the situation in Germany was the best' and then goes and lists countless acts of the most brutal crimes against Jews committed in Germany in the 'liberal' 1800s and early 1900s I'd really be interested to know more about how it was elsewhere.
The book is also very well written and so full of facts that I often had to put it down for some days to let it all settle.
Rating: 4,5 stars
8. Der Unaufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui / The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht
I read a Brecht play! The first one in about 25 years and the first one I ever read voluntarily. And I enjoyed it.
(Note: what is the sense of making 12year old students read plays by Frisch or Brecht? Especially if they are not told anything about the historical background that lead to the creation of those 'strange' works. God - I hated those plays and I wished they'd instead give us some nice classics like Schiller)
It is a parable that shows Hitler's rise and takeover up to the point where the Third Reich swallowed Austria. Brecht places it in the gangster milieu of the 1920s Chicago, with numerous references to Al Capone. Arturo Ui (Hitler) is a gangster on the decline when he suddenly sees a chance to get the cauliflower trust (the German industry) on his side. By bribing 'the old Dogsborough' (Hindenburg), a widely estimated and experienced city politician, he gains the trust of the cauliflower dealers and takes over. Helped by his gofers Giri (Goering) and Givola (Goebbels) and his lieutenant Roma (Römer) he quickly gets justice and police on his side and the reign of terror begins.
I think I have finally matured into being able to appreciate Brecht, and I might reread some of the plays I so hated as a student.
Rating: 4 stars
>111: Nathalie, you've expressed so well what I have also been feeling about Janet. I'm very sorry to hear about your friend's loss as well.
#116: Strangely I am finding it extremely difficult to talk about it in RL. When I told people 'I am very sad today, because my LT friend has died', the reactions were all like 'but you knew her only from the internet'. So LT is the only place where I can share my thoughts, because we are (almost) all in the same situation - having known Janet only from her posts here and on her blog and still being sad and missing her.
I am now trying to read as much as I can to make space for all the books I planned for February. And I am preparing the relocation of my office which is projected for next Friday. I am packing boxes today, it's incredible how much stuff has been accumulating in 2 years.
I need to go to the library today to finally pick up 3 books I ordered last week. At least the chronological reading of Clarissa Harlowe now gives me a break of 4 weeks, as the next letter is dated February 20. I'll finish the first volume of Joseph and His Brothers today, but it was the shortest part with only 400 pages, telling the story of Joseph's father Jakob. It is so completely different from everything else I read by Thomas Mann. I am still enjoying it, but I fear this might change.
Nathalie, I was visiting Stasia's thread and read of Janet's passing. I am truly sorry you have lost your friend and sorry people are being a bit insensitive! Distance nor how many times you met in person, neither diminish your friendship!
>117: Strangely I am finding it extremely difficult to talk about it in RL.
Oh, I know what you mean. Janet is the third "internet friend" who has passed away in a roughly 5-year period. I was not super close to any of the three, but I still feel a sense of loss. The idea that "internet friends" cannot be as close as real-life friends is really changing, but most people haven't experienced it yet.
Hi Nathalie! I was and still am really sorry to hear about Janet's passing. I also enjoyed the War&Peace-discussion last year. And I can totally feel with you: Even if you know the people "only over LibraryThing", that doesn't mean there can't evolve a friendship. You exchange your thoughts and experiences - and by doing that you can get to know that person better than the people you're meeting everyday in "real" life!
Too many fascinating things for my tired head to comment on, but it's been a treat catching up with you Nathalie.
I'm really sorry about all the grief you're going through. It's hard to explain the bond we can feel with people we've "only" exchanged with online to people who haven't experienced that, but at least you can share your feelings here among us and find understanding and support.
Nathalie, I am also pondering why the passing of Janet is so effecting to some of us here. I guess one of the things with this site generally and this group in particular is that, aside from an obvious shared interest, it is a place we can be ourselves, open up and ventilate what we are really thinking - our hopes, passions, fears, concerns, ambitions, frustrations and so on. I have felt in my near one year on LT that some of the friends I have made here know more about me and what I think and feel than colleagues and friends that I meet face to face with regularity.
#118-123: I am sorry it took me so long to answer. I am very moved by your posts, and I can't find the right words to respond.
I agree that this group here is something special. I have almost no activities on FB or other communities, this here is the only place in the whole www where I write at all and where I feel I can open up to a certain point. We all have our nicknames, but most of us have shared their real first names, and this alone shows the level of trust in each other.
I know I am not among the most communicative members and lurk much more than I post, I am trying to get better here!
Despite the beautiful winter weather I spent all weekend reading, to make some room for all the February books. I participated in Monica's readathon and finished two books - both in Italian - both with a similar basic idea, the question of what is our real identity:
- Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk which I enjoyed more than expected. I'll rewatch the DVD tonight.
- Uno, Nessuno & Centomilla/ One, No One & One Hundred Thousand by Luigi Pirandello
The second one was one of my "New Year's Resolution" books, started twice already and never finished so far. I had a hard time with its 140 pages and I am glad it is finally off the list.
I found out that Joseph and His Brothers by Thomas Mann has a complete length of about 1700 - 1800 pages, so the book I have here is only the first half of the whole thing. Had I known this before I would have waited with it. It is so far such an amazing read, I hope I'll have enough reading time in the next few weeks to fully appreciate it.
Hi Nathalie. Just delurking to send you a hug and to say that you expressed really well how I've been feeling about Janet's death.
9. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk and
10. One, No One & One Hundred Thousand (Uno, Nessuno e Centomila) by Luigi Pirandello
Two not so different takes on the question of what defines our identity, with both protagonists being in the same situation by the end of the books.
The Palahniuk was the expected easy read. I read the Italian version which was all direct speech (unusual also in translations) and present tense, so I guess that also in English it is not stylistically challenging. I actually liked how Palahniuk used the simple language with short sentences and many repetitions here to get to the point.
The Pirandello however was a difficult read for me - old fashioned Italian, long sentences, constant repetitions of the obvious: we are not just one person, because we present ourselves to others in different ways + they perceive us differently - this spread out over 140 pages can be quite tiring.
The Fight Club protagonist meets Tyler Durden, breaks out of his convenient self-made prison of regular job and IKEA furnished appartment, and goes on a quest to 'hit bottom' to find out who he really is.
Moscarda in the Pirandello book does basically the same - he commits acts that make him a 'pazzo', a crazy person, in the eyes of the people who thought to know him.
Both protagonists use the 'growing up without a father' motive as an explanation for their identity crisis, with their actions they fight against their absent dads. An interesting additional issue in FC was the believe that you need a flaw - an illness, a black eye, a scar - to escape from the undistinguishable, faceless crowds and to be set on a path to enlightenment.
Fight Club was clearly more fun to read, One, No One & One Hundred Thousand feels like the 'better' book and deserves its place on the 1001 list, although it was one of the most joyless reads ever and I needed 3 attempts to finish it.
3,5 stars for Fight Club
3 stars for One, No One & One Hundred Thousand - mainly for its literary value
Something I wrote on the readathon thread re. Fight Club - book vs. movie:
The surprise element was better worked out in the movie and the simple, straight language was very well transferred into movie action. The book is even more graphically violent (but I have to verify that, it's been some years since I watched the DVD). The ending is different, can't say which one I prefer, they are both strong. The book gives a little more information about the protagonist's background and motives and has more society criticism.
#125: thanks Heather - hugging you back.
#126: My library has half a shelf of Palahniuk books in Italian. I might read Choke next, though not in the very near future
#127: *smooch* back at you, Richard
Up next is a book I found on one of Janet's threads: Beware of Pity /Ungeduld des Herzens by Stefan Zweig. It has 450 pages, but I suppose it will be a quick read, I find Zweig's writing generally very accessible and gripping.
I put Il Cimitero di Praga on a short hold, as I couldn't cope with the antisemitism expressed by its protagonist (it's part of the story and I hope he'll have to pay for it) while at the same time reading the non-fiction Holocaust book reviewed in #114.
La Vie Mode d'Emploi, as great as it is, is a very difficult read for me. There's no real plot, so it's hard to pick it up every day to read another couple of pages about appartments, their inhabitants and the furniture, all in French. I read the wiki entry and am looking out for clues concerning the big puzzle, but it's hard going.
I spent January's audible credit on the audio book of A Monster Calls which was highly recommended by Linda and Stasia. I listened to the first chapters, but will probably not get to the rest before the next weekend.
The Marriage Plot has not yet been returned to the library by my 'pre-reader' which gives me some more time with the other books.
Nathalie, let me add my thanks to you for expressing how I feel about Janet and her death. I think she had a great gift for making each person feel special to her in the way that counts most for that person.
I'm envious of you for starting Joseph and His Brothers! I picked it up before we learned of Janet's death and thought that it would be my first monumental work of the new year. Now though, I think that I'm going to read The Cairo Trilogy first. I'll follow your progress with interest! And I will surely be on the lookout for *Why the Jews?* AND I have had the Perec on my wish list for a long time. I'm first in line for it at PBS, but nobody has put up a copy since 2009!
#131: We should co-ordinate our reading plans better - "Joseph" is such a great book for discussions (noted as New Year resolution 2012/13). I also ordered The Cairo Trilogy, but given my other reading plans I won't get to it very soon, maybe in summer.
I guess the Perec is a book many people own but never finish, so they don't donate/swap it.
I was thinking about posting my thoughts on the Thomas Mann book here while I am reading it. Not very deep thoughts though. It's just too long for a simple review and too much might be lost on the way. I finished volume 1 (400 pages) and am half through volume 2, which is the shortest part with only 260 pages. Volume 3 and 4 have around 550 pages each.
When I got it from the library I thought I could "just read it", but it's one of those books that dictate the reading pace, no matter what the reader was planning. It took me 500 pages to realize that and I am now taking a slower approach.
I have read the one or the other book by the Manns and by Zweig, but I'm far from what I want to have read. Hopefully I can eliminate something from my reading list this year.
Der Friedhof in Prag: I see your problem. But somehow the books are matching, because Eco tries to explain how prejudices and scapegoats are created.
BTW: I finally got the book by Zimbardo from the libary and I hope that I can take a look at it this week.
Hi Nathalie, thank you for that fantastic review of The Idea of Perfection. I'm eagerly awaiting your thoughts on The Marriage Plot when you get it. We seem to be channeling each other's reading. I also recently read and enjoyed Cannery Row.
You have expressed my thoughts about the loss of Janet so well. I took a day's vacation from posting on threads and was amazed by all the people who went on with life as usual. I'm usually not a judgmental person (and I got over this little hiccup quickly), but I simply couldn't read or write about books until the shock wore off a bit. I'm still sad, but now I'm looking forward to reading some of Janet's favorites in memory of her.
#133: Well, Zweig will be quicker to 'eliminate'. I had not read any Zweig for ages and then Janet's reviews for the Chess Story and Beware of Pity brought him back to my attention. He always throws his protagonists into such hopelessly fatal situations and lets the reader suffer along with them.
Looking forward to your comments on the Zimbardo! My library owns it, and it's on my tbr.
#134: thank you, Donna! And I think for most of those who knew Janet here it wasn't life as usual. Maybe they were just able to better share their grief in RL and to separate it from the book talk. I'll send you a PN later (maybe not today) if that's okay for you?
>135: He always throws his protagonists into such hopelessly fatal situations and lets the reader suffer along with them. I've only read The Post-Office Girl but it certainly fit that description, and was a fabulous book. I really should read more Zweig.
#136: I haven't read that one yet (*making mental note to check library*), but I read a book of short stories and they all followed that pattern. I want to grab the protagonists and shove them through one of the few possible exits out of their situation, but they just go on and make everything worse.
11. Beowulf on the Beach by Jack Murnighan
This book was recommended on Karen's (I think ?) thread a while ago, I got it immediately for my Kindle and started reading, but only finished it now. It's a book about books, listing 50 major works of literature, giving an overview about the plot, the characters, the time when it was written, etc.
There were many elements I liked:
- the selection of works (from the Bible and the Aeneid over War and Peace to more modern literature like Giovanni's Room)
- the casual way he addresses the readers (you'll feel encouraged to at least give those scary works a try)
- the short wrap-ups on work and author's life
- the "best quotes"
- the erotic bits - he tries to find at least one erotically interesting scene per book, which in some cases is almost impossible and therefore funny (in W&P it is the description of Helene's neck in an evening gown)
There was only one element which made me feel uncomfortable and that was the 'what to skip' part. In my opinion, if you start a book like W&P you should be determined to read it fully. If you find you just can't do it, then okay - before giving up completely it might be helpful to at least read the recommended sections. And I accept it for a book like the Bible - who reads that one from end to end?
But to give a typical example: to read Dante's Commedia and then to leave out half of the Inferno, all of the Purgatorio and the major part of the Paradiso, so less than a third of the text remains - sorry, then you can claim to have read some Dante, but not to have read the Commedia. And the argument that even the Italians hated reading it at school is not a good one - it's active discouragement of potential readers.
So when I started a book listed here, I always skipped the 'What to Skip' part, and only read it after finishing the book.
Rating: 3,5 stars - easy reading and I like book lists
Looks like an interesting book and I completely agree with you, skipping ain't reading.
Natalie, I affirm the comments above regarding your wonderful ability to express feelings/thoughts regarding Janet. Thank you for your eloquence and ability to express what so many of us thought and felt.
My book order from amazon UK just arrived in my office. It contained two books for the Janet memorial reading: The Cairo Trilogy and Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times
The Cairo Trilogy is huge with 1300 pages and terribly heavy, it's even a hardback. I'll take my time with it, I think Janet read it over the course of a year, taking breaks between the separate books.
The poetry anthology is also big, with 500 'life-affirming' poems, as it says on the back. Janet had started to read it some time in fall, one poem per day and that's what I am planning to do as well. It consists of 12 chapters, each with an introduction. There's also some information on rhyme schemes and a glossary. I noticed on the back that there are two more volumes, "Being Alive" and "Being Human" and I wonder if Janet chose this one deliberately.
I got two more 1001 books I had on my WL and which are not available on Kindle or in my library: The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark, a real short one with 140 pages, and - yes, I must be completely out of my mind - Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. Maybe, if I make it a 2year project, I will be able to finish it. It won't be reading though, it will be looking at the pages.
Hi Nathalie! Your comments on Janet in London ring true for many of us. It is difficult to explain but, for me, seeing an LT friends moniker/name on your screen in the morning is like seeing a RL friend at work. When that moniker is missing we tend to search them out to see what's up. It's amazing, though many of us have never met, that we're similar to, what can be considered, a family.
I like fb because I feel so much closer to my family in Texas but I don't search out old high school friends to add to my friend total and the way fb is changing lately I may use it even less.
So sorry to hear of your friends loss as well. Plus, good luck on the office move.
My office move went extremely well. Okay, maybe I shouldn't say that before Monday. But the furniture is all in place, the phone works and the little problem with the firewall will hopefully be fixed during the weekend...
I am terribly tired now, actually too tired to catch up on threads, so I will do that and respond to your posts tomorrow. But there was something I wanted to do today:
4 years ago I joined LT, and for two full years all I did was catalogue my books, before I found the 75 group and made it my second home. Paul said it much better than I could, so I'll quote him:
"aside from an obvious shared interest, it is a place we can be ourselves, open up and ventilate what we are really thinking"
I am happy to be part of this group and I'd like to thank you all for sharing a bit of my life with me.
And sure I bought books. My 4 TA books arrived yesterday (see post #141), and I fear the remaining 6 (from all the TAs I missed) won't wait long.
Nathalie, I and avaland are hosting the Reading Globally 3rd quarter challenge this year, which will focus on literature from the Middle East. I own the Everyman's Library edition of The Cairo Trilogy (which ends at page 1313), and I am planning to read one book from it each month, starting in July. I've read Palace Walk and Palace of Desire, but it was many years ago and I'd rather not start with the last book, Sugar Street. Would you be interested in joining us?
Happy Thingaversary, Nathalie. I "third" Paul's eloquent words. I value the friendships I've made on LT.
Just bobbing in to add to the big LT love. Can't imagine not having it now.
Get some rest Nathalie. X
Nathalie - thanks for quoting me but I think you have stated it very eloquently yourself elsewhere!
Oh yes, I read about Beowulf on the Beach last year. I like book about books - and book-lists.....so I have to get this one. It sounds like a humerous approach to the classic. "What to skip" must be a joke, right? - Dante? It's a journey and you just can't tag along for a while and rejoin the trip when it looks like better weather. One should rather read an abridged version if one is not serious about a classic.
Hello all, I'd like to apologize that right now I can't respond individually to your posts. Thank you for all your kind comments here, I am sending (((hugs))) into the world.
Just one thing, #144 Darryl, I'd love to participate in that group read, should I then be in a situation to do so! Thank you for inviting me!
Short reading update: I finished Ungeduld des Herzens/ Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. The second book made me cry. It confirmed many of my thoughts about Janet, and somehow it was also such a relief, how openly it attacked our ways to avoid confrontation with the inevitable.
And I saw that, although this book deals with a child confronting the fear that his mother might die of cancer, its main message is that we have to face our fears, whatever they are. If we hide from them they will get us in some way, be it nightmares, be it isolation, etc. and in the end might cause irreparable damage to ourselves and maybe to others.
So last night, long after having finished the book, I admitted to myself that for quite a long time now I have felt that my business is failing, which is even possible if your products are the best ones on the market (even our competitors admit that they are!), and that I need to confront that fact and actually plan for the near future. Too many bad things happened, and sometimes the best ideas are just ill-fated.
Then today came the blow: after having my office, my furniture, the IT, the documents, everything, successfully moved into the building of our partner company, I received an email from the owner who cancels all plans for our future co-operation and basically asks for his money back. The reasons he mentions are not valid, so either something has happened over the weekend or it has all been a long-going plan, a possibility I find scary, because then who should I ever be able to trust again? My father still hopes we will come to a reconciliation, but I don't think so, and I would just really like to know the true reason for his change of plans.
Whatever is going to happen now, I decided that it is better to face it and live with the consequences, unpleasant as they will be, than to continue to cover up.
I am still in shock and confused. Most of all I am concerned about my parents, and I fear my Dad has been hit hardest. He is a very trusting person, although this trust has been misused too often already in his life. This business here has cost him his old job and a big sum of money. I hope he'll find the energy to recover from this new blow coming from someone he called his personal friend.
Oh hell. That's just truly shit - apologies for the language, but it really it. Massive hugs and I hope that things can still be reconciled.
#150 Oh Nathalie, what a blow. Like your father, I'd hope a reconciliation is possible but it's difficult (or impossible?) to know how you could trust them again. I will be thinking of you...
Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about your business woes. To rephrase an old saying, when a door closes, somewhere a window opens - maybe this will turn out to be for the best.
Nathalie, I was quite a bit behind and was going to make comments on other things I read here, but your latest news makes all the rest seem unimportant right this moment. I'm so very sorry things have taken such a turn and sincerely hope everything works out for the best for you one way or another.
#151, 152, 153, 154: thank you for your messages!
I just got an update a few minutes ago - this guy called my Dad, apologized, and said 'we should forget about the mail', that he had been over-sensitive (which imo is the opposite of professional behaviour here). So it looks like I will still have some kind of work and workplace tomorrow. This doesn't improve the overall situation though which is really bad.
So there will be some tough talks during the next days and then we'll see if it makes any sense to keep this thing going or if we should better make a cut and sell what is left.
I called my landlady earlier today to tell her that I might have to move out of my appartment soon. She was incredibly understanding and supportive, even offered her garage as storage room for the office furniture. I didn't want to say that I might need the garage to actually live in there. She taught me some Buddhist mantra which she promised to chant for me.
Usually you don't become friends with your landlady, but she has somehow adopted me here. She blames the adjoining birthdays.
#150: Oh Nathalie, I am so sorry to hear that. It's a horrible, horrible story! Isn't there a contract or something where you can adhere to? I wish you a lot of energy and all the best to solve this situation! Hang in there!
#156: there should be a contract in one or two weeks, right now there's only a letter of intent and an advance payment.
The strange thing is that I wasn't even really angry with him for myself, only for my parents' sake. Shocked yes, but not angry. I just wanted an honest explanation, not some fake and invalid motive. I wonder if I'll get that tomorrow.
> 150 & 155: I am sorry Nathalie that you have this problem. Trust is always difficult if you feel it is violated. I hope the apologies to your Dad are sincere and you can work it out...
Sending positive thoughts to you!
Nathalie, I just caught up with your business woes. It must be quite stressful, and I do hope things get sorted soon!
Nathalie my heart went out to you and your Dad after reading your post about the seemingly despicable corporate manoeuvering you are facing. What is your business product by the way as you never know where potential investors can spring from!
Nice to see you have a nice supportive landlady and hopefully business issues will resolve themselves in your favour. It is clear you believe in your product and that is always the way that a business idea will eventually flourish if you can get the support.
Best wishes always. xx
Well, if the guy called and apologised, its good news really, hopefully, first of many more to come. I am sure you would need to take some tough decisions on your business difficulties though, maybe even have to think about salvaging as much as you can if the need arises. I am getting the feeling that your dad maybe too attached to the business and if such is the case, you will have to be the impartial judge.
Glad to know of your excellent relationship with your landlady, it definitely is quite a unique situation, makes you wanna trust people again I hope?
Sorry to hear about your family's business-trouble. Hope you will be able to keep it going, Nathalie - and support your father through all of this.
Hi everyone, thank you so much for your messages of support!
Sadly my LT time has been drastically reduced with the office move. I learned that everyone else in the office (except for the boss) has no direct web access. They have no e-mail - can you imagine? There's one e-mail work place that everyone can use for business things only, and it's in the middle of the room.
So while I am in the comfortable situation to have both e-mail and internet, as I really need both (because I am in fact a seperate company with separate room/phone/fax/ mail domain), I fear that I am being "watched" now. We share the internet, so I am sure they could check what I am doing. So I'll spend my lunch break lurking on threads, but will mainly write from home.
Things have been strange these two first days. The guy never really apologized, and I lost some of the respect I had for him before. This might make it easier though. Too much respect can also be a hindrance for work. The problematic thing is that he cancelled the date for the contract which will now be delayed for weeks, and I really need the money to pay the company bills.
Along with the LT time, my daytime reading has also been reduced. But at least I have my Kindle app on my PC and can read a couple of pages whenever I need a break. I am now concentrating on the Thomas Mann book, of which I have read almost 800 pages, which doesn't sound so great anymore when you know 1000 more are coming. My February list of books finished will be very short.
Good luck Nathalie - stick at it and stay with your principles - if you have the best product and if it can be funded and marketed properly - you'll not look back.
Nathalie, I wish you all the best as you cope with a stressful work relationship. It is difficult to trust someone who goes back on their word. I wish there were more people like your landlady in the world. I sincerely hope things improve...and soon.
Hi Nathalie - just popping by to check on you since you've not been around for a few days. Hope everything is okay.
I am quite okay, I just had an unusually busy and social weekend, and writing during the week has become difficult. Sometimes I read your threads during the day and take notes where to post on what once I am home - then in the evening there are like 30 new posts on each thread and the subject has changed since the (European) morning. Then I just read as much as I can and (sorry!) post less. I'll try and get better organized again.
Work... well, I still have no new date for the the appointment at the notary's and I have no money left. So I'll just see what happens.
like last year and the year before the snow is avoiding my region here. It's terribly cold though, with strong northern winds. The sun is shining, but it's too cold to stay outside. So on Saturday I met a friend in town for an aperitivo, which then became several aperitivi, and this didn't help the headache I already had that day (I am a bit sensitive with this stormy weather).
Sunday I met friends and we drove up a mountain to a Gasthof (inn) where we spent the day and had some hearty but delicious regional food - a big pot with roast lamb was placed on our table, and heaps of dumplings and cabbage. We shared a Kaiserschmarrn for dessert, then the Wirt (innkeeper) treated us to several rounds of his home-made schnaps to help digestion. Very nice!
Despite the schnaps I managed to finish The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck and read some more pages of Thomas Mann's "Joseph".
On my Kindle I am still reading God's Philosophers (which so far I can recommend) for the Janet memorial GR , and D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, which I hate, but finishing it was one of my New Year's resolutions. I hope to get it out of the way soon to get to something nicer.
None of my requested library books have been returned yet. Or the library hasn't managed to inform me which is more likely.
#164: thank you Paul! The product is good, and the market is there - the main problem now is fundings. But maybe it will work out somehow.
#165: thank you so much Donna! At least now I know that I have to expect unpredictable reactions - which makes them less unpredictable. I see it as a weakness, this guy confuses it with character strength. Well...
#166: thanks for checking Bekka!
Okay, I don't know if I can keep this up through the year, but as everyone is doing monthly stats now:
Books read in January: 13
Poetry books: 0
Comic books: 2 (counted as 1)
The language distribution is a clear side-effect of my reading library books. I am concentrating more on German authors and if I read translations I prefer Italian (I just finished my 3rd Italian Steinbeck), so at least I can learn something. 3 of the 4 Italian books I read in January were translations, only the Pirandello was originally Italian.
Audio books: 1 (1 bought)
Kindle books: 4 (2 free, 1 bought, 1 owned)
Real books: 8 (2 bought, 1 owned, 5 library)
Hi Nathalie, good to see you had a nice weekend.
Here the snow fell on Friday and it is still there, the dogs LOVE it!
Seeing you and Linda (verdelambton) read Asterix made me miss them, so I have bought a 2nd hand Asterix Collection ;-)
Hi Nathalie, it definitely sounds like you're going through a difficult transition, and I wish things were easier for you. Hopefully things will fall into place very soon.
I'm amazed by your capacity to read such huge volumes. I don't think I'd have the courage to pick up a book with 1800 pages—Yikes!
I'm also impressed when looking at your language distribution in the stats. Of course I already knew you read in these three languages (plus French of course), but seeing it like that, it makes me envious as I've always had this idea that one day I could read most books in their original version. The only problem is I don't want it badly enough to actually make the time to study German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Danish and Japanese (to name just those!) Maybe some day...
#170: Aaaw... doggies in the snow! :-)
A complete Asterix collection - how great! I have an almost complete one at my parents' place. I must try and find it on my next visit.
#171: Hi Ilana, this week has been quite good for a change. Many small, but hopefully positive steps. I am still practising the mantra my landlady taught me. No idea if it works, but it won't do any damage either.
Re. the languages: I find it quite irritating that now I am able to read Italian fairly quickly, but still can't speak it properly. French is even worse. I read 3 French Zolas and 2 Maupassants last year and can't form a single sentence with more than 3 words. Sure, there's always some gap between reading/understanding and speaking, but it feels like worlds. You can be so happy to be bilingual!
I'm so glad I finished Sons and Lovers! The more I read of it, the more I hated it. Just checked the 1001 list, and there are three more... they'll have to wait! I might read Finnegan's Wake before I touch another Lawrence book.
My requested library books still haven't turned up. The The Marriage Plot has been due since 18th January, and The Hunger Games since 2nd February. Why don't people return their books? They are both not especially long or difficult reads.
So instead I took The Virgin Suicides, another Eugenides and also a 1001 book. I read the first 60 pages last night and I can say I am glad it's short.
#172: Good to hear that it's been a better week for you, Nathalie! I hope that this trend continues!
The Virgin Suicides: I read that a few years ago and I loved it. Especially the aspect of voyeurism by the passive neighbours who were just lurking behind their windows. I'm going to read the book again as soon as I find some time to see if my impression remains the same or if it has changed.
Looking forward to your opinion about The Hunger Games (if the one who borrowed it decides to bring it back)!
Glad to know things have been going better for you Nathalie.
The Hunger Games will definitely be a change of pace!
#173: Well, Friday was another day with a small set-back. Tuesday will be crucial. I hope it's a good omen that we are having our next notary appointment on Valentine's Day.
#173/174: I find this aspect of voyeurism in The Virgin Suicides very interesting, especially in the first chapter. It seems to play a more important role than the suicides. I am just not sure if it will alltogether work out for me. I found out I am having problems fully immersing myself into books describing typical American neighbourhoods (Franzen's Freedom is among them and also many of Stephen King's books). Like it is expected that the reader shares a certain set of morals or values to fully understand the story. I tend to feel left out in those books and I can't appreciate them as much as maybe they derserve.
But this is also quite normal, and books that 'hit home' with me, like Jenny Erpenbeck's Visitation which is very German or Margaret Mazzantini's Don't Move with its very Italian views on fidelity in marriage will clash with the values of other readers.
#173-175: I just finished it and I liked it more than I had expected. It was also a very quick read, I finished it in less than a day.
Part 2 and 3 will have to wait though, those are not available in English in my library, and there are waiting lists for the translations.
I'm sending prayers that Tuesday will be a lovely, hopeful day for you. You are very much in my thoughts. I'm ever so sorry for all you are going through.
Linda - was that telepathy? We just cross-posted I think. I am so moved by your post. Thank you so much for your good wishes and prayers!
I am immensely grateful that my family is healthy (apart from some small ailments the age brings). Sure it isn't a nice situation with my business, but it will always be manageable in some way.
Eloquently put Linda - Nathalie best wishes to you and all yoour undertakings from the Asia Pacific (Mal) HQ of the 75ers!
#179: Thank you, Paul!
Although I am thinking so much about the books I have recently finished or am still reading, I feel absolutely incapable to write reviews for them. So I'll just start doing the placeholder thing again like last year and then hopefully, slowly fill the posts with text.
12. Beware of Pity/ Ungeduld des Herzens by Stefan Zweig
My first Janet memorial read, and a real one in the sense that it is a book I didn’t already have on my tbr. Her review is so perfect and spot-on that I’ll just post the link. There’s nothing I could add. It’s the review dated December 23, 2010 on the book page: http://www.librarything.com/work/217696
See also my review for Radetzky March in #182
Rating: 4 stars
13. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Conor is thirteen years old and in a desperate situation. His mother is suffering from cancer and it’s getting worse, his father left years ago and started a new family in the US, he can’t communicate with his strict grandmother, he is bullied at school and can’t cope with the pity he encounters from everyone else around him. He is tortured by the most horrible nightmares, and in this situation of utter isolation, suddenly a gruesome monster turns up, always at exactly 12:07. The monster is terrifying, but Conor is not scared, as the thing he fears most is so much worse. Is the monster an additional element for torture or will it help Conor to finally face what can’t be avoided forever?
The book is written by Patrick Ness, but the idea and outline derive from Siobhan Dowd, an author who died of breast cancer before she could finish her work. Her own experiences with her illness and her family’s reactions clearly influenced the book and make this story so intense and true. There were some things that irritated me a bit in the beginning: the bullying, the cold behavior of the grandmother who doesn’t have a single hug for Conor. But also these drastic elements serve a purpose at some point in the story.
I listened to the audio book and had to save a weekend for it, knowing it wouldn’t be an easy book. In the end I almost cried my eyes out. But the book is not a bit sentimental or cheesy in the way cancer is often portrayed in the movies. This book brings you to the deepest truth, to your most hidden fears. And then it offers you a hand and says ‘It’s alright’.
Very much recommended if you can face the subject.
Rating: 4,5 stars
14. Radetzky March/ Radetzkymarsch by Joseph Roth
Another book recommended by Janet, but also a book I had started some time last year and put on hold after the first long chapter, being utterly bored then. It was a mistake, because with chapter 2 the book immediately becomes much more interesting. The setting is similar to Beware of Pity and I’d recommend reading both books consecutively if you are interested in the historical period they describe (the years/ weeks leading up to WWI). BoP is a typical Stefan Zweig book, showing the world in the microcosmos of one character thrown into exceptional circumstances. In RM we have the rise and fall of the family, the von Trottas, paralleling the rise and decline of the Habsburgian empire. But Roth doesn’t only look at the members of that family, he also allows us insights into the life of the emperor Franz Joseph I to show how intertwined the fates of the house Von Trotta and the house of Habsburg seem to be.
“Honor” plays a big role in both books, and I remembered a 2011 read, Lieutenant Gustl by Arthur Schnitzler, another book set in the same period where honorable behaviour is taken to the extremes. To the modern reader it is clear that this historic understanding of honor in the end could only lead into war and destruction.
Reading Stefan Zweig is always a bit like a bad fever dream. This novel here has a very rational, descriptive and accurate note, draws a wider circle, was more demanding, and therefore I first rated it with 4.5 stars which I now reduced again to 4. Not yet sure if I won’t change it again. It feels like a 4.25. We need quarter stars on LT.
Janet’s review is dated June 10, 2010 on the book page: http://www.librarything.com/work/10159
Rating: 4 stars
15. The Wayward Bus/ La corriera stravagante by John Steinbeck - PLACEHOLDER
Rating: 4 stars
16. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
I did not expect to have such problems with this book. I had started it in September 2011 with the group read in the 1001 group, but had to put it on hold after the first two chapters. Up to that point I had quite liked it. When I picked it up again now, it started okay, but then the plot developped in a direction I found almost unbearable and the more I read the more I hated it.
The story starts with 'the mother', Mrs. Morel. Coming from a good family she marries a miner and soon has to realize she'll never fit into his world. He starts drinking and occasionally beats her, but she provokes him where she can. She tries to influence her children, mainly her eldest son William, to take a different direction in life. So far so good. But when William grows up she becomes overly possessive and jealous and
when William dies very young, she concentrates all her energies on his younger brother Paul. Paul has been a weak child, physically, but also easy to manipulate, and as a grown-up he stays a mummy's boy, unable and unwilling to free himself from her grasp, unable to have normal relationships with women, also because his mother more or less openly interferes. There are two other siblings, but they don't play a role in the main plot and I have no idea why they were added to the family at all.
I don't remember a single likeable character from this book. In the beginning I felt for the mother, but by halftime I hated her as much as I hated Paul. It isn't even love what connects the protagonists here, it is some kind of unhealthy dependance. I know such people, and insofar the story at least has the benefit of being realistic. But I didn't see where Lawrence wanted to go with this story, he doesn't offer a solution. Also the women in question didn't offer a useful alternative to the overbearing mother. Paul sees the sources of all his problems in the women who surround him and expects them to offer him 'healing'.
And I had problems with the writing. The landscape descriptions are beautiful, but the main story is told in very short sentences, almost exclusively main clause. It reminded me of the essays written by very young children: "We did this. And then we did that." There are strange jumps in the time, like "and then it was 5 years later".
There were other 1001 books I didn't like, but in most cases I could see their literary value (Tristram Shandy!). This one is an exception.
Rating: 2 stars
17. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
When everyone here on LT read the Hunger Games Trilogy, I couldn't join in because the books hadn't been published in Europe yet, so amazon didn't sell them to me. Now they are here and almost as popular as the Harry Potters, but now the hype put me off. Thankfully some weeks ago Piyush ordered (!) me to read the first one, as the movie version will be out in March. We don't have a movie theater here in Merano, but I decided to take the occasion and finally see what all the hype was about. Besides, we Germans like to follow orders. Must be in the genes.
As I am the last one here who read it, I don't have to say much about the story. Against my expectations and my plans I was hooked and read the book (English version from my library) in less than a day. And naturally I was craving for more, so I got the Kindle test chapter for book 2 and now at least I know what to expect from it and can wait for my turn with the library book.
As much as I enjoyed the story, there are two things I need to mention:
I know this was only part one of a trilogy and there will probably be a revolution, and a fall of the government and a happy ending. Still somehow I didn't like to find myself enjoying a book where a kid has to kill other kids in a game and where I am forced to root for this kid, just because I don't know anything about the other tributes. I don't want to see the career tributes as 'bad kids'. And I found Kaitness got away too easily with her own kills - they were all justifiable. But without the muttations, what would have happened in the end? What would have happened if her alleys had not been killed by others before she had to take that choice? I felt a little too much manipulated here.
Maybe I missed that, but I'd like to know how Peeta's first days, as part of the career team, had been. How did he even get there? Was that mentioned anywhere?
But yes - I liked it. And I especially enjoyed that it was such an easy and quick read for a change.
Rating: 4 stars
Proud of you for finishing your homework before time and a nice review to top it all as well! Will keep you posted for your future assignments.
>>#184 I did Sons And Lovers in high school - a class full of 16 or 17 year old girls, so you can imagine the reaction to Paul and his "issues". :)
At one point, the following conversation took place:
Me: "The only person in this book I like is Clara's husband, because he beats up Paul."
My teacher: "I think that shows a remarkably healthy attitude."
>185. I just read Hunger Games too, so you're not alone. Waiting for the second book from the library! SPOILER I agree that Katniss did get away with her kills too easily. But I think Collins had to struggle with keeping her characters likeable and this was her way to do it. So yes, there was manipulation, but I'm not sure there was going to be any other way to do it without getting into moral quagmires that I suspect were just too complicated for what she's trying to do here. But I don't know ... And as for rooting for the kid who kills all the other ones, I think it's supposed to make us feel uncomfortable. But anyway, I certainly understand where you're coming from. END SPOILER
Hey Nathalie! I'm just stopping by to wish you all the best for tomorrow! Hopefully, it'll be a step forward!
I'm sorry I haven't posted here in ages. I really hope your meeting with the notary goes well tomorrow. I'm glad you've been reading some good books (as well as some unlikable ones!) while work is unpleasant and stressful.
I haven't read the Hunger Games yet - one day!
#186: thank you, Mr. Piyush, I appreciate it! :-)
#187: Liz, having to read it at that age must have been absolute torture ! Just remember the collective hatred against whiny Werther in my high school - and Werther didn't even have a mother in his novel!
Great reaction from your teacher. I was also very happy when Paul got beaten. Unfortunately it didn't help much. Btw. there was the strangest example for a time jump in connection with Clara's husband - that court episode in just two sentences. Really - is that supposed to be great writing?
I thought the very worst bit was when he got impatient with his mother during her illness, because she ate!. Not once did I get the feeling that he wanted to spare her pain, he just wanted to get rid of her. Imagine - the mother being terminally ill, but conscious and reacting and talking and participating in the family life and being hungry (!) and he tries to withhold her food?
#188: That's what I tried to tell myself while reading: she had to write it this way because we are supposed to like Kaitness and everything will be alright in the end. I think it would have put me off less if it wasn't a YA book. I mean - will the kids notice it at all? Isn't it a bit like reading a shooter game? (Is there a videogame for this book/movie already?) But before I analyse this any further, maybe I better read the sequels first.
#189: Thank you Kathy! I already got the notary's bill today and they wanted me to pay in advance. I told them I'll only pay if the appointment actually takes place tomorrow. Well - I am trying to relax and I hope I'll get some sleep. But if not at least I'll have enough to read. :-)
#190: Thanks for the good wishes, Cushla! I've actually been quite busy those last days and didn't even do any Kindle app reading at work, which I hope is a good thing.
Good things today:
- the notary meeting took place, the contracts are signed. We are not saved and still terribly short of money though
- I found the German version of Catching Fire in the library and also La tête en friche which was recommended by Kathy
- I treated myself to a nice strawberry and cream tartlet for Valentine's Day
- my ex-employee found a new job and can start next Monday
Not so great:
- ongoing negative atmosphere at work
- last news today was that our biggest possible competitor is entering the niche where we settled one of our products
I'll have to see how this second point will influence my work. The atmosphere will sure soon be better again. 'He' will be away for 2 days and hopefully return in a better and more co-operative mood.
The Hunger Games books have idiotic titles in German. The publishers were lucky the hype had arrived here before the books. The series is called "Die Tribute von Panem" (the tributes of Panem). A typical reaction would be "the what of what"?
Part 1 is "Deadly Games" (Tödliche Spiele), part 2 "Dangerous Love" (Gefährliche Liebe) and part 3 "Flaming Rage" (Flammender Zorn). Maybe "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay" aren't the greatest titles either, but at least they have a connection to the story. And "The Hunger Games" is such a strong title for book one. If they had called it "Die Hunger-Spiele" it would have worked just as well.
#192: Hi Nathalie! I'm glad to hear that there are at least a few positive developments! But you're never save from competitors, that's unfortunately true. Nevertheless I'm sure that the atmosphere at your working place will be better - maybe it just takes some time? Do you still have the impression of being watched, or has that got better?
This may sound cliché now, but just go step by step and approach one thing after the other - and save some energy for yourself!
PS: I am so with you as it comes to the German titles of The Hunger Games-series!
#193: Linda - thank you for your post and the Valentine cake! How cute!
#194: Thank you Kathy, that's what I am planning to do. Just had an energy-saving happy reading weekend.
I just have to get something off my chest and it's book-related: I am right now terribly annoyed by those Arabian Nights. I know of their importance for our culture and for literature, but please - can we get to Ali Baba or to Sindbad soon or to anything where the protagonist is not some whiny prince slowly wasting away because he can't have his beloved 'damsel'?
I am now close to the end of volume 3 of 16, having been furiously reading those last two days because I want to get through a volume every 4-5 weeks, and I finished the last one on January 15. The actual story has been going on now for 58 thankfully very short nights (but certainly 200 pages). This is what happened so far:
- beautiful prince doesn't want to get married, so father locks him in a tower
- female jinny sees him and is deeply moved by his beauty
- male jinny bets with female jinny that he knows a princess from a far-away country who is much prettier
- male jinny kidnaps princess so they can better compare
- prince wakes up and falls deeply in love, steals princess's ring before falling asleep again
- princess wakes up and falls deeply in love, steals prince's ring before falling asleep again
- princess is returned home
- prince awakes and falls ill with desperate love
- no-one can help him
- princess awakes and falls ill with desperate love and is locked in chains because people think she's crazy
- after 3 years the princess' brother finds out she's in love and goes on a journey to find the prince
- brother almost drowns but finally arrives at prince's castle
- prince is close to death but is immediately healed when he hears of the princess
- prince and brother escape from the king who loves his son too much to let him go by faking the prince's death (nice!)
- prince and brother arrive at far-away country and prince tricks the king into admitting him into princess' chamber
- happy ending! or - not, because:
- prince and princess travel to prince's home
- in the desert, prince finds a talisman in his wife's underwear (yes!)
- bird steals talisman
- prince runs after bird - for days and days!
- prince arrives in foreign city and starts working for a gardener (why??)
- after a year, two birds kill another bird in the garden and the talisman is found in the dead bird
- prince finds a treasure under a tree
- prince puts treasure into olive cans and puts those on a ship which might bring him home
- gardener dies and prince misses ship
- in the meantime princess has dressed as prince (not to get raped) and travelled on
- for whatever reason the king in the next town marries her to his daughter
- daughter kills bird during wedding night to fake defloration, becomes friends with princess
- ship arrives and princess buys olive cans
- princess finds gold and the talisman in an oil can and orders ships to return and bring the owner
- prince returns to princess and also marries the other king's daughter
- prince's father is all forgotten
- happy ending? No, because
- each woman has a son and after about 20 years each starts lusting after the son of the other
- both sons are unwilling
- both wifes trick ex-prince-now-king into sentencing the sons to death
- soldier leads princes into the desert to kill them, but they save him from lion, so he lets them go
- princes arrive at town, one of them is tricked into a dubious place where he is thrown into a dungeon by a black slave
That's where I am right now, and there are many more nights to go before this story ends. I realize it sounds more interesting than it actually is. I feel like I have read that first half countless times now. All princes are beautiful (eyebrows grown together seemed to be an exceptional attribute), all princesses and damsels are like the moon, all black slaves are pure evil, all bad things in the world come from women, etc. Everyone falls terribly ill immediately when they can't be with their love. Sometimes everyone dies just from love-sickness. But more often heads are sent flying and breasts are speared.
I mean - there ARE many beautiful bits. The poetry is exceptional. But most of the time the stories and the prose expressions are so repetitive, like coming from a construction kit.
End of complaint. Good reading news:
- I finished Joseph and His Brothers - 1819 pages! My first 5star read in 2012!
- I also finished The Virgin Suicides and the German version of Catching Fire
- I am more than half through La tete en friche
Yes, all I did this weekend was reading, cooking and housecleaning. Very relaxing!
18. Die Selbstmord-Schwestern/ The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Beth Lisbon, aged 13, tries to kill herself by cutting her wrists. She is saved, but makes a second attempt, this time successfully, by jumping out of her window and being staked by the fence, during the first party she and her 4 older sisters have ever been allowed to give.
This is what happens in the first chapter of The Virgin Suicides and you could think that all the events of the following year are directly triggered by Beth‘s death. But quickly it shows that there always has been something mysterious and seductive around the Lisbon girls, a strange allure, and the boys in the neighbourhood have been following their steps in a weird kind of admiration for many years.
This is the fascinating element in the book. The open group voyeurism, the stalking that actually includes even a secret intrusion into the Lisbon house via an underground tunnel and the collection of objects once owned by the girls, called ‚pieces of evidence‘.
I read the German translation and it felt like a good one. I had the impression that this is a very strong book language wise. Together with ‚the boys‘ I became a part of the observation team and although I learned on the first pages how it would end, I never felt ahead of them. Like the boys, all I could do was to watch the catastrophe unfold, unable to stop it.
I liked this book much better than Middlesex, but it has been many years since I read the latter. Despite of liking this one I am feeling a little ‚soiled‘, but I think that was Eugenides‘ intention.
Rating: 3,5 stars
19. God's Philosophers by James Hannam
I feel really bad, because I didn't like this book. There's a Janet memorial group read for it, because Janet had not only read it in 2011, she had also made us part of her experience, sharing extensive commentaries with us on her thread. I read all those posts now parallely with my own reading, and I am with her when it comes to the facts, but disagree when it comes to the conclusion. I am sorry for it, but reading is always something personal, and there was something in Hannam's writing that almost offended me. I have never written so many comments on my Kindle, and none of them were friendly.
About the book: Hannam wants to prove that the 'dark' middle ages in reality laid the foundation for today's status of the sciences. So after giving the reader a short wrap-up of the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and 1000 AD he gets into historic detail. I liked all the factual parts, and I admit that I learned a lot and I hope I will remember at least parts of it.
It became obvious very soon however, that Hannam was completely biased when he wrote the book. In itself this isn't bad - he had a theory and wanted to prove it. But quickly I felt being manipulated, and that's where I am extremely sensitive, especially in a non-fiction book that promises me facts. The first time I got angry was the chapter about inquisition. Now I am not a historian, but to claim that the treatment was all fair, as long as the accused revoked his heretic views, is 'unusual'.
I am ready to acknowledge the positive role of the Catholic church when it comes to preserving the old books, to building the first real universities in Europe, etc. But to say it was good they set all those limits (and prohibited certain books) because otherwise science and philosophy would have gotten 'out of hand' is maybe an opinion, but not a fact.
New translations of the Bible for example by the humanists, directly from the Greek, were bad because 'the Latin had been so nicely adapted to the brain capacities of the people'. No mention that those latin translations over the centuries had become far removed from the original.
Looking back in the last chapter Hannam claims to have made his point. Looking back I found that the important steps science had taken between 1000 and the renaissance/ humanism period were not as numerous or impressive as Hannam wants us to believe. Sure, some foundations were laid, but shouldn't this be normal in a period of 500 years?
In the end I myself had become so biased that I doubted every statement. I am aware that the perception here depends a lot from your own religious views.
I rated this book with three stars because I learned something, but for a while I have been considering rating it lower.
Rating: 3 stars
20. Josef und seine Brüder/ Joseph and his Brothers by Thomas Mann
If Thomas Mann had written his version of the whole Genesis and Exodus, and if that work had 20,000 pages or more, I'd read it!
The Joseph tetralogy is a masterwork. A celebration of the German language in literature and one of the last (or the last??) examples for a time when great authors could take 17 years and 1,800 pages to create something outstanding.
Rating: 5 stars
The story Thomas Mann is telling here is one most Jewish or Christian and with some variations also Muslim children surely learn early in religious education. In the Genesis it doesn’t take up much space. Thomas Mann has laid it out in a work consisting of 4 volumes, more than 1800 pages in the original German. He started working on the book in 1926 after a visit to Israel. The first two books have been published in Germany; books 3 and 4 were finished during Mann’s exile in California. Wikipedia doesn’t say anything about the publishing dates though.
I can’t believe Mann has been writing other books during those 17 years – he must have been constantly busy with research. Not everything here is historically correct. He places Joseph in the period of Egypt under Echnathon – which makes sense, because Echnathon had a tendency towards monotheism, but other sources placed Moses in the same period. But - where do you place Bible characters whose existence has not been historically and scientifically proven?
I find it incredible that Thomas Mann was given the time and the room for such a work. I don't think this would still be possible nowadays.
It is absolutely not an easy read. Don’t make my mistake and look at the page count. Thomas Mann’s writing here doesn’t allow for quick reading. The sentences are often long and complicated. There’s such a richness of religious and historic detail, it would be a pity if readers just glanced over it.
If you liked the second half of The Magic Mountain or if you got out of Doctor Faustus without lasting damage, and if you are not absolutely contrary to the biblical story, give this book a try.
Please be aware that this is neither a religious work nor is it blasphemic. Mann was officially honored by the Israeli government because he engaged himself in such detail in the history of Judaism at a time when anti-Semitism was reigning.
In the first book he says that although he is using the biblical characters, they are not the characters. Maybe it's a bit like fanfiction. He doesn't hurt them and he doesn't inflate them, he simply makes them human.
Overview of the 4 volumes in #208
21. Gefährliche Liebe/ Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I found this second part a little weaker than part 1, but that could be expected. I'll have to wait for about a month for part 3 now. :-(
I read the German version and it took me only 3 hours to get through 420 pages. For my foreign ear the writing sounds much better in English. Present tense, first person and short sentences don't go well with German. I considered buying part 3 for my Kindle, because I'd rather read it now than in a month, but decided not to spend the money for such a quick read.
This is fast food reading, but very entertaining. You shouldn't think too much though, and I am trying to avoid it, because otherwise I'd have to consider all the flaws or the many books that have 'inspired' Collins, and this would be unfair. Harry Potter has also been a collection of influences from other authors, and as long as it is well executed and I feel entertained, I am fine with it.
Isn't Peeta too good to be true? He needs some edges, or Katniss will forever prefer Gale. And I can understand no-one let her in on the big plan, she isn't the brightest character here and has a tendency to over-react before thinking (again reminding me of Harry Potter in books 5-7).
Rating: 3,5 stars
#195: Which edition of Arabian Nights are you reading? If it's an original one, I'm afraid it'll disappoint you - because the stories about Sindbad, Aladdin and Ali Baba were added later during the first translation process - they don't belong to the "urtext" but were invented afterwards!
I have started the Arabian Nights some years ago and I agree: The stories as well as the language are very repetitive, nevertheless is Sheherazad one of my personal literary heroes!
#200: it is the 'complete and unabridged selection' translated by Richard Burton. So you mean I am in for another 4500 pages of love-sick princes with only one eyebrow? I had hoped for at least 1000 pages of Sindbad. :-(
#201: I just did a little research, and it might have been a false alarm. According to Wikipedia Richard Burton did know Ali Baba, Sindbad and Alladin - so these stories should be included. Sorry that I gave you a fright! I hope for you that the next stories will be better - have fun with monobrow!
BTW: Congratulations on finishing Joseph and His Brothers! That is a huge achievement!
#202: my Kindle version has a table of contents - Sin(d)bad will turn up in volume 6, around May. :-)
4500 to go! Holy moly! How many have you read already? I was thinking about picking this up after I finally finish Metamorphoses... maybe not!
#204: I fear once I am done with Sinbad (in July?) I will hate him for the rest of my life.
#205: it's just an estimate. The whole thing has app. 5700 pages (I added up the pages of the 16 single volumes available on amazon). My Kindle tells me it has 123,000+ "locations".
I fear there are some more of those extremely long books hidden in the 'pre-1700s' section of the 1001 list. I am sure I won't start the Metamorphoses any time soon, although it's tempting (I love poetry!)
I really liked the first volume. The second one however mainly consisted of one endless tale which was even carried well into volume 3. It had interesting bits with even a holy war between Christians, Jews and Muslims, but it was just way too long for my limited patience. Volume 3 had a couple of nice and very short tales around animals, and then again some of the longer 'love-sickness and fainting' tales.
There are tales within tales within tales, so you have several levels (the maximum so far has been 4).
Often there are no paragraph separations for pages on end, but this could also be an issue with my Kindle version.
The great thing are the extensive footnotes. I wish I had the patience to look them up more often.
#199 Yeah, Peeta is too good to be true even in our world, let alone the post-apocalyptic world they live in. Book 3 is good in the sense it concludes the series well without leaving any too obvious loose ends.
And I am quite sure, I am gonna read both Arabian Nights and Metamorphoses, someday, someday soon I hope.
Some more Thomas Mann for those who are interested (review in #198):
Book 1: Die Geschichten Jaakobs/ The stories of Jacob (finished 1930, 420 pages)
After a preface of 50 pages which to be enjoyed should better be read after finishing the book, the story starts with 17year old Joseph having a conversation with his father Jaakob. We get a lengthy description of Josephs beauty (as usual Mann is in his element here), but he is also shown as an intelligent though precocious and arrogant boy. What follows then is a retrospective on Jaakob’s life and to get a good overview some part is also dedicated to Abraham and Isaak.
Mann’s Jaakob is not a very nice man. He is weaker than his brother Esau, shy and obedient and also a bit of a coward. He’s just all too human, makes terrible mistakes, and that’s what made me like him in the end. The story with the primogeniture is drawn out extensively, as is his first encounter with his later wife Rahel, the years at Laban’s, the deception with Leah.
4 stars for this part – I hadn’t yet found my ideal reading pace, and wasn’t sure if I could endure the Joseph character for another 1400 pages
Book 2: Der junge Joseph/ Young Joseph (finished 1932, 260 pages)
Joseph doesn’t get any more likeable in this book, but we see he has been the preferred son and awfully spoilt from the beginning. So he is the only son who ever got a proper education. He doesn’t miss an occasion to denounce his brothers and one of those actions loses his oldest brother Reuben his primogeniture. Joseph tricks his father into giving him a colored coat and proudly wears it in front of his enraged brothers. When he visits them later on their pasture, they beat him up and throw him into the famous well, from where he is saved by nomadic merchants who buy him as a slave from the brothers. The brothers return home and tell Jaakob that Joseph has been killed by a lion.
4,5 stars for this part. Joseph in the well was amazing writing
Book 3: Joseph in Ägypten/ Joseph in Egypt (finished 1936, 580 pages)
The marchants travel to Egypt with Joseph and successfully sell him to one of Pharao’s closest friends, the minister Potiphar. After a couple of idle years he is noticed by Potiphar and quickly makes a career, even inheriting the post as majordomo. But this is also the time when finally Potiphar’s wife, the virginal Mut-em-Enet takes notice of Joseph’s beauty and falls hopelessly and desperately in love and lust with him. Joseph resists, but in her desperation ‘Eni’ convinces her husband that Joseph has tried to rape her and Joseph is sentenced to a life in prison.
This was my favorite book. Joseph is growing up, he loses his bluntness and learns how to manipulate (in a good sense) others. The Eni story is exceptional. At first she fights hard against her own feelings and doesn’t want Joseph to notice them. After a year she is in a state where she desperately starts giving hints, soon getting to open declarations. After 2 years she is close to madness and shares her secret with everyone. This tale of a hopeless, unrequited and desperate love is so believable, Mann must have been there at some point in his own life.
(If you want to know why Eni is a virgin: Potiphar’s parents were twins and castrated him when he was a boy so he wouldn’t carry on the sin of incest)
5 stars for this part, which is also the longest
Book 4: Joseph der Ernährer/ Joseph the Provider (finished 1943, 560 pages)
It doesn’t take Joseph long to make career in prison as well. After 3 years he gets the chance to interpret Pharao’s famous dreams and to predict the 7 fat years followed by 7 years of drought. He is appointed to the post of the most important man in Egypt except for pharaoh and is called “The Provider”.
During the second year of drought, Joseph’s brothers arrive in Egypt to buy grain. It needs another visit in the next year before he finally makes himself known to them and we get a big fat happy ending with all the family moving to Egypt. The book ends with Jaakob’s death and the blessing of his sons. Juda gets the primogeniture, and that's how Judaism was born.
5 stars for this part.
#208: The detailed review is great. Somehow, I want to read that now. - Thank you very much, as for my to-be-read pile wasn't high enough - and is now heightened by four additional books! ;)
#209: no need to hurry with this book. Thomas Mann himself called "Joseph" his best work, and I am glad I read all the other famous novels first.
I just found this link: http://de.wikibooks.org/wiki/Zweideutigkeit_als_System_-_Thomas_Manns_Forderung_...
Surprisingly there's not much information on this work on the net. I'd like to know more about Mann's motivation for writing it and about the research. I'll probably have to read a 2000 pages Mann biography for that.
#207: A good thing about Arabian Nights is that you can take long breaks in between tales. Just better always check the length of the next one before starting it.
Would it help you to know that the Arabian Nights tales, in their original form, were not high literature at all - they were stories told for the masses and mostly meant to be bawdy and funny? Burton's famous translation doesn't do them justice at all, because he used high-brow language, which doesn't reflect the original tone or language at all.
Anyway, hang in there! I read the Burton translation not too long ago - it took me over a year, but I made it, and I'm glad I did!
#211: I will definitely keep on reading. And funny and bawdy (new word for me - thank you!)- they surely are most of the time. About the bawdy part: I am wondering if they are still read/ told in the original form today - so many 'maidenheads are abated', I hadn't expected that.
And I am aware that my little problem (construction kit) surely applies to all collected tales. If I wanted to read all "Brothers Grimm" I'd get countless stories with kings forcing candidates through gruesome tests before deciding who's getting the princess as a bride. And usually it's the youngest and least educated (but most handsome) candidate. Or the sheer number of evil stepmothers!
Hi Nathalie! A long overdue stop on your thread and catching up with the ups and downs of your business must certainly have you tied up in knots.
I'm glad reading and nice weekends can take you away from the drama for awhile. Best wishes to you and your family. I hope that the business continues on and has only better days ahead.
#210 & #211 Yeah, whenever I do actually read that tome, I am going to make it a 2 year project perhaps.
Hi Nathalie. Finally caught up with you. Not spending much time on LT lately, so apologies for not dropping by sooner.
I was really surprised when you mentioned what a huge work Arabian Nights was. My father gave me the 3 volumes of Les mille et one nuits published by Flammarion, which all together amount to just under 1400 pages. It's the first European translation of the texts by Antoine Galland (1646–1715). In the French wikipedia page about the stories, there's a mention that Galland transcribed stories that were not originally part of the Arabian Nights: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Mille_et_Une_Nuits (look under "La traduction d'Antoine Galland"). I remember really enjoying the stories when I read them in the late 90s, but then, sort of grew up with Persian tales, which my mother was very fond of when I was a child and which tend to be repetitive.
As they originate from an oral tradition and were meant to entertain more than enlighten, I think they are best enjoyed when not scrutinized too closely.
Hope all is going well for you and congrats on finishing the Thomas Mann. I don't think I'd have the courage to embark on that particular literary journey!
>197: Thanks, Nathalie, for not making me regret returning God's Philosophers back to the library half read. I simply ran out of time but, like you, I wasn't getting the sense of reading a scholarly work like I was expecting.
Hi all, I am now myself an irregular visitor to my thread - and to yours as well, I am afraid, so no worries!
#213: thank you Lynda. I am just through another eventful week, falling into the weekend completely exhausted. The weather is so wonderful now however (spring started today all of a sudden with 20°C!!), this weekend I can't just hide with a book. Although my tbr pile is so huge now I should read day and night...
#214: two years sounds like a good plan. I thought I'd get through them 'one night per day', but sometimes I read 10 or more nights in one go (some are really short), otherwise this would be a never-ending project. Good luck with it!
215: you know, I am actually a little angry with myself. The 1001 book didn't mention an edition and when I found the 'complete and unabridged' Kindle version for just 3 USD I thought 'why not?' and only after downloading it noticed the length. Now I can't back out anymore.
And now I'd like to read your translation as well, sounds tempting. But no, I am not going there! :-)
#216: Ah - so you did return it! I am still following the thread, but stopped commenting a while ago when I realized everyone else was enjoying it much more than me and I didn't want to spoil anyone's fun. The facts were really interesting, and I always read Janet's comment parallely. But maybe I grew up too Lutheran Protestant with a tendency to non-believer to take Hannam's theses for granted. At some point I wanted to send the inquisition after him to see if he'd just renounce his beliefs as well, if that's as easy as he claims.
So many books read since I last dropped in. Amazing. You have read at least two that I plan to read - the Jacob/Joseph trilogy and Radetzky March...
I don't think Jacob was a nice man - not one I would like with all his manipulating tendencies, but hey, God used him anyway as he did with a lot of the biblical characters. Quite refreshing.
Radetzky March sounds like a good way to get some historic knowledge while immersing oneself in a family story.
Following your Arabian Nights quest....way to go.....well, I first need to read Aesop, H. C. Andersen and Grimm before even attempting the Arabian Nights.
22. La tête en friche by Marie-Sabine Roger
This book was recommended by Kathy (Persephones), and as my library had it (in French even!) I squeezed it into my other "currently readings" as a short and easy book about books.
Germain is 46 and what you could call a little 'slow'. Almost completely illiterate, he never read a book in his life. Grown up without a father and with a mother who never showed any affection he is also 'retarded' when it comes to feelings - or so it seems. Every day he goes to a park to watch the pigeons and to count them, he has even given them names. That's where he meets Margueritte - an old frail lady, just as fond of the pigeons, and an avid reader. Slowly they become friends and Margueritte introduces him into the world of the written word, first by reading The Plague to him, then by giving him a dictionary. And as Germain's mind is opening up to the richness of the language, suddenly life alltogether seems to show new opportunities for him.
This could have been a cheesy and sentimental story, and I admit that sometimes it has those tendencies. I am also aware how difficult it must be for a well-read person like the author to dive into the mind of someone like Germain and give words to the thoughts of a person whose life is devoid of words. This bit often doesn't work: although she is using simple French, Germain's thoughts are often far too philosophical, which she then counters with examples of extreme 'mental blandness' - the contrast is just too hard sometimes. Then she has given him all those sensitive hobbies - growing vegetables or wood-carving, to show he is a good guy. But I see it as a great merit that she avoids the really big traps. The dictionary doesn't immediately enrich Germain's world - because to look up a word you have to know how it is spelled.
And I can't say how relieved I was that the ending was not what would be the ending almost everywhere else!
There is a movie version (which I haven't seen), and somehow I think that the story might work better as a movie, with today's possibilities of using special effects, sounds or animations. This could show the confusion in Germain's head better than Roger's well-set words.
Recommended, but I don't know if an English version exists.
Rating: 3,5 stars
23. Everything that Rises must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
I don't like short stories, but these are by far the best I ever read. O'Connor has found a perfect technique to build up a gripping plot on just a couple of pages and the language she has been using is absolutely beautiful.
The stories however - brilliant as they are - are very hard to digest. It took me months to get through this book and by the end of last year I had to take a longer break. The average length of he stories is about 20 pages and I needed a break after every single one. There is one story I couldn't finish, it was just too painful ("The Lame Shall Enter First" which is also by far the longest, I think my O'Connor limit is 25 pages - I just can't do more).
Recurring motives are religion/bigotry, racism and dysfunctional families (strong mothers with pampered sons, mothers not being able to let go, over-strict fathers, etc.). All stories are set I'd say in the 50s/60s in the southern states of the US.
Absolutely recommended, but take it slow!
(I own the 'Complete Stories' edition - Everything that Rises consists of only 9 stories and so far I only read those. I will read the other ones as well over the years. )
Rating: 4,5 stars
24. Die Liebeshandlung (The Marriage Plot) by Jeffrey Eugenides
One of those books (like the Idea of Perfection in post #88) which wins enormously if you can personally relate to it. If, like me, you have experienced what some of the characters are going through, this book can be like therapy. If not, it is just another one of those love triangle stories, where not very likeable characters are constantly on the search for themselves.
The story is set in the early 80s. Madeleine is pretty, well-educated, from what is probably a typical WASP family. She studies English literature with her focus on the romantic novels of the 1800s, the typical 'marriage plot'. She is in a relationship with Leonard, who is bipolar - something she finds out on the day of her graduation. Her platonic friend Mitchell (who naturally is hopelessly in love with her) studies religious sciences and plans a year in India after graduation.
I don't want to go into details about how I can relate, I just want to say I have been Madeleine to a certain degree, I have been Leonard (in his early stages, though with different problems and different coping mechanisms), I have been in a very bad releationship with someone not exactly like Leonard (more narcissistic than bipolar - an experience I don't need to repeat ever!) and I have a bipolar friend who is now finally getting treatment. I couldn't exactly relate to Mitchell, but he was a nice enough guy so I followed his storyline with some interest as well.
I found the development of Madeleine and Leonard very believable, and it actually helped me to see some things in a different focus. The German translation has 650 pages and I read the book in less than 24hours - it really gripped me.
Rating: 4,5 stars (probably 3,5 stars if you are 'just reading')
#218: Hi Carsten, thanks for your visit! Yes, I feel like I am 'over-reading' a bit currently, to get some diversion from the work-related stress.
Aesop - you are right, that's another one I should read some time. Of Anderson and Grimm I read many tales already, but I am considering going through the complete works some day as well.
As for Jacob: Thomas Mann made him also a bit of a coward - sometimes he just let others take decisions for him, even if he knew they were bad. He avoided conflicts and then raged when he didn't like the results. But that's fiction anyway. I liked that the whole work showed an enormous respect for the history and the traditions without being exactly religious.
Edit: Now off to town to see if I can find an open gelateria. The weather has suddeny become so warm that I am craving for some ice cream. Not a big ice cream fan usually, but the first one in early spring is always something special.
>221: excellent review, Nathalie! I heard Eugenides interviewed recently and it made me want to read this book. Based on other reviews I've read, I think you're right that you need to be able to relate to at least some elements of it.
Nathalie - ice cream in February? Sounds delicious - coffee flavour for me if you don't mind.
OK, I am going to look for the Marriage Plot in the library now - and some Flannery O'Connor too! You are hooning through the books. (That's your NZ English lesson for today... to hoon means, um, to go racing around in an old car, and is usually used to describe bogans, which will be next time's lesson.)
Great to hear it's ice cream weather after your freezing winter.
Back from my walk, and guess what? ALL the gelaterie have opened this weekend! And stupid me just wento to the first one I saw, because I thought my favorite one (which is in some side street) would surely still be closed. But the ice cream (vanilla and torrone) was really good anyway, although the north wind that was blowing today let the temperatures drop back to winter level.
I had my camera with me and was hoping to see the first spring flowers, but no luck here. This will take another couple of days.
#224: I'll take coffee flavour next time if they have any and then I'll take a picture for you. :-)
There are some varieties you won't find here, like cinnamon which I really miss. But coffee? You can get an affogato (hot espresso with vanilla ice cream) in every bar, so maybe that's why coffee flavored ice cream is not so popular. Instead they have 'koky' (which I found out is 'cookie') and 'bacio' (which means 'kiss' and is dark chocolate with hazelnuts).
#223: Thank you Laura. Based on the reviews I had seen when it was published I had no intention to read it either. I think it was something on Donna's thread that triggered me. I fully understand when people get bored by the story. I couldn't connect to Franzen's characters in Freedom (another triangle of friends/lovers back from college times) and suffered for most of my reading.
#225: Hi Cushla, the title story in Everything that Rises would be a good start if you want to read O'Connor - it has almost all the usual elements and is (imo) extremely well written.
And I hope you'll like the Eugenides. The first part reminded me of Freedom, but that changed quickly.
And thank you for teaching me NZ words. "Hooning" is actually quite 'lautmalerisch', sounds a bit like an old car (hoonhooooon...). Do you really use "onomatopoeic"? Is that pronouceable?
Something more I forgot to add re. The Marriage Plot: as Maddy studies English and everyone else is also constantly reading or discussing books, there are many references to works I have been reading (also thanks to LT) or at least heard about in the last years. But as my MP edition was in German, all those book titles were in German as well and often I had to guess which book they meant. I am so used to the English titles that I didn't know what "Verstand und Gefühl" oder "Überredung"by Jane Austen should be (it's Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion).
25. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
I tried my best, but I didn't become friends with this book and Hemingway's writing here. I was undecided regarding The Old Man and the Sea which I had read twice in the German translation, last year I read the restored edition of A Moveable Feast and just loved it and thought I had found access to Hemingway's work. And now this book...
It's not that I found it terrible - it just absolutely didn't matter to me. If a book has only 216 pages and I can put it to the side (buried in my old gym bag I don't use anymore) for months and not miss it a bit, it clearly hasn't impressed me that much. I picked it up again yesterday on my quest to finish my 'on hold' books from the 1001 list, and now it's finished and that's it.
I also didn't find it exactly boring (except for the drawn out bullfighting scenes towards the ending which I skipped), I just didn't care. All that drinking, travelling, spending money without having any, drinking again, sunbathing, everyone running after a woman called Brett, boxing, drinking some more, watching bullfights, fishing and more drinking.
On the last few pages when the protaginist, Jake, spends time alone in San Sebastian, I found glimpses of what I had loved in "Feast" - and then a telegram from Brett arrived and the moment was gone.
Rating: 3 stars, but I promise I'll read at least one more Hemingway book.
I might put the Hemmingway to one side for a while but man! I really want coffee and ice-cream right now...
Your review sums up exactly how I felt about that book when I read it last year! I really loved A Moveable Feast, but that is the only Hemingway that I have loved so far - do you think maybe because he wrote it late in life and was more sentimental (not sure that is the word I want) or maybe just that he had mellowed a bit with age. I liked The Old Man and the Sea more than The Sun Also Rises, but maybe because I listened to the audiobook of that one and it was very well done. Some people really adore Hemingway, but so far, I have only found the one book that I truly enjoyed.
Nathalie - cinnamon ice cream sounds marvellous. Hope the business is moving forward steadily, that your prospective partner/investor is not being a klutz and that your finance is organised for it.
The icecream sounds excellent - I love affogato.
We do say onomatopoeiac, and I was delighted when Fletcher (7) came home from school one day last week and said "Mum I have to write a sentence with onomatopoeia!!"and was even excited.
You're not making me race out and read Hemingway - thanks - I have enough piles sitting here already!
#229: affogato is a perfect dessert if you don't like it too sweet (or otherwise you could sugar the hot espresso before pouring it over the ice cream). I love it!
#230: Hi Mamie, thanks for visiting! You are probably right, I thought "Feast" had been written earlier - but it had just been experienced earlier and was in fact written much later. I'd like to reread "The Old Man" in English one day, I am sure Hemingway is among the authors whose language loses much in translation.
#231: finance keeps being the major problem. But at least we have some new prospects that promise some sales. The sad thing is it all concerns the development of company brands, so our own brands (with which we'd earn more money) are not making much progress right now.
#232: Wow, I'd be delighted as well! Sounds like he goes to a very good school. But what a word! Now - how about that "bogan" thing? :-)
Wow, I'm really happy that Spring has come to your town, Nathalie.
I've got Everything That Rises on my bookshelf and by your review I'm glad I do. I'll try to boost it up the list of too reads.
Your feelings about The Sun Also Rises remind me of my feelings for For Whom the Bell Tolls. But I do want to give it another try. Maybe I'll give both a try next year. Heminwayathon anyone?!
BTW: How can you get any work done with that gorgeous view outside your window?
#234: I put plants on my window sills :-)
Actually, the view from my old office was even better - more mountains and a beautiful village on a hill, but there was also an ugly construction site on the other side of the road, so I never took a picture.
For Whom The Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms are the remaining Hemingway books on the 1001 list. I'll try at least one more - I also didn't like my first Steinbeck and my first Fitzgerald.
Nathalie, my only Hemingway read is The Old Man and the Sea which I thought was decent and I have been meaning to read something else before I can ascertain as to whether I like his writing or not, judging from your review, I guess The Sun also rises is definitely not the one I should choose.
#236: on the plus side it's short and it's war-free. I fear the other ones will have more serious plots.
I'll start a new thread tonight or tomorrow, testing that continuation feature for the first time.
My library called to tell me that my requested Mockingjay has already been returned and is waiting for me. So I'll probably finish that trilogy over the weekend.
I got through the first two chapters of L'inverno del nostro scontento (The winter of our discontent), which is another Steinbeck-a-thon read.
I am also back on Clarissa and it looks like March will have daily chapters/letters. I am looking forward to it, up to now the story is far more exciting that I expected.
Peggy's "Daily Dickens" quote and all the Dickens discussion on her thread lead me to start The Pickwick Papers. I realized only a few days ago that it's another 1000pager. I am reading it on my Kindle and from the 'Complete Works' edition, so I had no idea how long it would be before checking amazon. I am enjoying it a lot though, it's one of his more humorous stories, and there is even a wonderful Christmas chapter.
Are you going to read Mockingjay in English or German? My libraries own only the German versions, and I would prefer the original ones. How's the translation?
Samuel Richardson writes something that is... exciting? Seriously? Maybe I have to give him another chance...
My mother recommended The Pickwick Papers - I think will borrow them from her.
#239: I read part 1 in English - one of the rare exceptions where my library owned the original. Part 2 and 3 unfortunately were only available in German. The language is very simple: present tense, first person, short sentences, all things which don't sound so good in German (like "Ich gehe zum Herd. Dort steht ein Topf. Die Katze sitzt auf dem Stuhl. Sie beobachtet mich und faucht."). But the story was still gripping enough and I didn't want to spend the money on books I'd read in less than a day.
Re. "Clarissa" I have fears it will become really moralistic and dull at some point. Up to now however it's fun. The English is very old-fashioned though and needs some getting used to. That's what I like about the chronologic reading - I didn't rush through the first chapters as usual and could take the time to reread many passages.
This topic was continued by Nathalie's (Deern's) Reading in 2012 - Part 2.
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.