Carsten's (ctpress) Take and Read - 2012 - take two
This is a continuation of the topic Carsten's (ctpress) Take and Read - 2012.
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Another reading picture - this is by the danish artist J. F. Willumsen - it's the danish poet Sophus Claussen who's reading.
This will be my third year in this wonderful reading-group. I will continue mainly to read the classics and spiritual/theology books. Also I hope to add more children's literature, sci-fi and scandi-crime. But I know that I will soon be led astray by all the inspiring book-recommendations....
1. North & South by Elisabeth Gaskell (1855)
2. Jack's Life: The Life Story of C.S. Lewis by Douglas Gresham (2005)
3. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter (1913)
4. Adam Bede by George Eliot (1859)
5. Poor Folks by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1846)
6. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1893)
7. Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery (1915)
8. The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell (1991)
9. The Adventures of Robin Hood by Robert Lancelyn Green (1956)
10. Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë (1847) reread
11. Thank You, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse (1934)
12. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope (1861)
13. The Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy (1899)
14. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1935)
15. Narcissus & Goldmund by Hermann Hesse (1930)
16. The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker (2010)
17. The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way by Anonymous (1884)
18. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1951)
19. Barabbas by Pär Lagerkvist (1950) (reread)
20. Mary Poppins travers by P. L. Travers (1934)
21. Joe Calico by John Grisham (2012)
22. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)
23. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare (1538)
24. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (1927)
25. The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo (2001)
26. Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales (1609)
27. Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)
28. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (1954)
29. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Dover Thrift) by Victor Hugo (1831)
30. Herzog by Saul Bellow (1964)
31. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2005)
32. The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen (2008) - Rating: 4/5
33. Meditations by Aurelius (180) - Rating: 2.5/5
34. My Antonia by Willa Cather (1918) Rating: 4.5/5
35. The Lighthouse by Alison Moore (2012) Rating: 4.25/5
36. Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset (1920) Rating: 4/5
37. Inside (Borzoi Books) by Alix Ohlin (2012) Rating: 3/5
38. Walden by Henri David Thoreau (1854) Rating: 5/5 - reread
39. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (2009) Rating: 4/5
40. Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1951) Rating: 4/5
41. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (1968) Rating: 3/5
42. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010) Rating: 5/5
43. Defending Jacob by William Landay (2012) Rating: 4/5
44. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1817) - reread - Rating: 4/5
45. The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde (1888) 3/5
46. De profundis by Oscar Wilde (1897) 4/5
18. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1951)
"But man is not made for defeat," he said. "A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
Hemingway have written a story full of empathy and compassion for an old simple-minded fisherman who struggles to catch a big swordfish.
“Fish," he said, "I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.”
We follow the intense "sea battle" and Santiago's interior conflict as he prepares to fight to the death - his thoughts about a life lived at sea - the things that make him content, his love for his friend, the boy, the deep respect he has for his "enemy" - the fish. The spiritual bond between them is strong as the fishing line that hold them together.
“Half fish," he said. "Fish that you were. I am sorry that I went too far out. I ruined us both. But we have killed many sharks, you and I, and ruined many others. How many did you ever kill, old fish? You do not have that spear on your head for nothing.”
I'm happy I gave Hemingway another chance. I listened to this short novel in one sitting (well, actually why cleaning and cooking). A story that reads almost like a parable about man's relationship to nature. It's full of age old wisdom.
“I could not fail myself and die on a fish like this," he said. "Now that I have him coming so beautifully, God help me endure. I'll say a hundred Our Fathers and a hundred Hail Marys. But I cannot say them now."
Consider them said, he thought. I'll say them later.”
Happy new thread, Carsten!
I read that book twice, both times in German, and didn't really find access to it, although I liked it better on my 2nd try. I've always planned to read it once more in English. Now listening to the English audio version sounds like a good approach, I'll put it on my audio WL.
Hi Carsten. Some lovely photos of Stockholm on your last thread. I've added The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way to my wishlist - that sounds like a really interesting book. (I also did some sorting and combining of all the different editions so hopefully the touchstones should be easier to find now..)
#2 I have a copy of that Hemingway story but I haven't been brave enough to try it yet.
Yes, let's hope it will be a happy new thread, Nathalie. Actually I heard a danish audiobook for a change - to save some money I lend it from the library. But I wished I have heard it in english, but my expectations were very low - I didn't like A Farewell to Arms - maybe I should try some more Hemingway.....
Heather - The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way is a little spiritual gem. Hope you'll like it. Yes, that touchstone were quite difficult to get to behave.
Wonderful review of Old Man and the Sea, Carsten. Thumb! Love this quote: But man is not made for defeat," he said. "A man can be destroyed but not defeated. I also did not like A Farewell to Arms when I read it many years ago, but you make me wonder if it is worth another shot.
Great new thread! Love the reading pics you always open with : ).
Thanks, Nancy - yes, after this one Hemingway might be worth another shot - but he's not going to be in the top of my pile anytime soon.
Nice to see a shiny new painting up top, and a review to boot. What happened in February? Your reading was down then, and March? Surely not no books read?
Not that Im complaining! Just curious :)
Hi Megan - yes one month is missing :) I started the year in stellar form, but all the high ambitions slowly withered away and a genuine book flunk appeared in March (had other things on my mind - job-related). Was reading some but couldn't finish anything....But the joy of reading is back now.
Carsten - nice to see you back on form and especially in time for your new thread. Love the cover of The Old Man and the Sea - I haven't seen that one before.
Yes, I like that cover too, Paul. Stumbled upon it on the web and had to pick it.
Carsten I trust that spring is gently melding into summer over there and that you will enjoy it to the fullest this weekend.
Yes, Paul we are enjoying the warm weather this week. Seems we had a short spring, but now summer has started early. Sitting outside yesterday evening at a cafe enjoying a steak.
#13 Ah, sounds delightful. Once school wraps for the summer, I practically live on my patio. If it's not raining, I'm out there! Summer is my thing.
It sure is delightful, Nancy. Took a swim in a nearby lake yesterday and had a long bicycle trip in the sunny countryside. What a day :)
Book 19: Barabbas by Pär Lagerkvist (1950) (reread)
This novel is a fictional account of what happens to the historical Barabbas, who was acquitted in stead of Jesus - we follow Barabbas from the time he is freed from his death sentence. He’s drawn to this mystical figure who is innocent yet who give up his life. He watches the crucifixion, he visit the grave, he talks to Lazarus, but all the time he has rational answers for the miracles.
He didn't remember ever having seen anyone like him before. Though it must have been because he came straight from the dungeon and his eyes were still unused to the glare. That is why at first glance the man seemed to be surrounded by a dazzling light.
His life is one big crisis of faith - he’s seeking, watching the Christians, analyzing their behavior, wanting to have the assurance of faith yet are unable to grasp it.
The swedish Nobel-prize winner Pär Lagerkvist draws a powerful portrait of the modern sceptic. Lagerkvist called himself "a believer without a belief, a religious atheist". It’s remarkable how honest this crisis of faith is portrayed in Barabbas. It’s not a relief, but a real dilemma - one that Lagerkvist knows all too well.
Most interesting review, Carsten. I've thumbed this one on the book's main page. I can see that the "portrait of the modern sceptic" would be a dilemma. Sounds like Lagerkvist himself has had the same experience?
Hi Nancy - I think Lagerkvist had this experience. He rejected his parents pietistic lutheran beliefs. His authorship deals a lot with death and the existence of God - and for him it was the paradox of rejecting God but still having this religious feeling ruminating in the soul. Well, I'm no expert on Lagerkvist but this dilemma I think he wrestled with.
Book 20: Mary Poppins travers by P. L. Travers (1934)
Mary Poppin's eyes were fixed upon him, and Michael suddenly discovered that you could not look at Mary Poppins and disobey her. There was something strange and extraordinary about her - something that was frightening and at the same time most exciting.
This quote sums up the enjoyable and bewildering tales of Mary Poppins - nanny extraordinaire. She's brisk in her manners - self-conceited, elusive, mystifying and lovable. She's of course not of this world but only travelling through and making new friends along the way. Who knows who she will visit next? All children should meet her - it would do them good, I'm sure - even if it aches a little bit.
It was a mixed bag of stories, some too weird and silly, others mystical and beautiful, others just plain out hilarious. It wasn't a top read, but definitely a must-read children's classic.
Book 21: Joe Calico by John Grisham (2012)
Grisham is not always just law-thrillers - I loved his football-novel Playing for Pizza - this one is about baseball and it's not as good - more moody and for a long time quite depressing actually. But with Grisham you know it will all come nicely together in the end. It's worth waiting for.
There's a great sense of relief in this son-father-reconciliation story. it's predictable and yet powerful. I didn't connect so emotionally with baseball - but I love sports so it didn't matter all that much. This short novel shifts between two time periods and the effect is quite good. I wanted more of the "good old times" but it's in the present that things are being resolved.
Hi Carsten! I agree with your take on Marry Poppins: not a top-read, but a must-read children's classic. I read it aloud a few years ago, and the kids happily continued with Mary Poppins Comes Back on their own. Hope you're having a good summer!
Hi Anne - I think I will read the next one in the series as well - sometime in the future.....
I've had some LT-time-off but are starting to get back into reading more - time to visit some more neglected threads....
Hope you have a good summer too - weather here is bad and everyone is heading for Greece, Italy, Spain etc. Just not me.
times two! Love your characterization of Mary Poppins, Carsten: She's brisk in her manners - self-conceited, elusive, mystifying and loveable. I haven't read this one since childhood, and you make me want to do that again ... right now! Also haven't read Grisham for quite a few years, and I miss him, too, reading your review of Calico Joe. I think that's the best we can hope for when we comment on books ... that we make someone else want to join us in reading : ).
Carsten - nice to see you back and posting mate. Hope that the weather in Scandi land is pleasant and joy inducing.
Carsten, Nice review of the children's classic, Mary Poppins. I had a small picture book even before I saw the movie. I remember the line that stuck out to us in the movie was "Practically perfect." We'd go around and imitate that line. Then I read the full version after I discovered it in a used book sale while in college.
Glad to hear that you enjoyed Calico Joe. I never managed to read the football one. Perhaps I should look for it since I love football!
Thanks, Nancy. Yes, that's what make LT a great place - the enthusiasm for recommending good reads :)
Paul - actually today we have nice summer weather and are enjoying it. Good to finally make some posts again here.
Hi Lori - Good movie-memory. Practically perfect :) - yes I would recommend Playing for Pizza for football lovers. It's a funny and short novel.
OMG - Marry Poppins! It's 30(!) years since I read that. I loved it then.
Good to see you posting again!
Hi Nathalie - good to be posting again - I'm a little late reading Poppins I realize - everyone having read it as a child :)
Book 22: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)
I'm not really sure what to write about this, the only novel by Edgar Allen Poe - mostly famous for his imaginative short stories of the grotesque. This novel starts out as a real boy-adventure story at sea - mutiny, shipwreck etc. but it quickly turns very brutal and horrific.
Most of the story the narrator is dazed and confused - either from lack of sleep or lack of food and water - and it gives the tale a dreamlike quality - his turmoils seems never ending and I must admit too much for my stomach.
It's also very detailed in its description of various things the main character encounters - which slows down the action considerable. I didn't understand the ending either - which made me a little irritated. Well, I have read some of his short stories and they are much better. This novel was a disappointment.
Book 23: Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare (1538)
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
Reading a Shakespeare-play and seeing one is two entirely different things. Having been to the Globe in London and experienced the magic of an evening with Shakespeare it seems a dry thing to "just" read the play. Still, reading it offers time to stop and contemplate and enjoy and savour all the famous quotes and lines of poetry.
In this romantic tragedy there's plenty of over-the-top emotions, frantic pace, overwhelming love-songs and declarations of eternal bliss or eternal sorrow - it's just a thing you accept coming to Shakespeare. This is his world and it's just for us to drink it in.
And although it's exaggerated the theme is eternal and universal - love - mixed with infatuation and madness - it's a force too powerful to be kept down - and it's explosive in the midst of a feud between two families.
This emotional tour de force between Romeo and Juliet is something to be appraised and lamented at the same time. I'm not sure what Shakespeare does most. But both things are there. The admiration of such head-over-heels love and the warning against it's power to overwhelm and blinding the persons involved.
Good Night, Good night!
Parting is such sweet sorrow
Two more fine reviews, with thumbs, Carsten : ). I'm glad you've read the Poe for me; that's one I'll definitely pass on.
Romeo and Juliet is another matter! I've read this one a couple of times and will do so again, I expect. Excellent review; loved the quotes you opened and closed your review with, and this great line of summary: In this romantic tragedy there's plenty of over-the-top emotions, frantic pace, overwhelming love-songs and declarations of eternal bliss or eternal sorrow - it's just a thing you accept coming to Shakespeare. This is his world and it's just for us to drink it in. His world, indeed! Well said, Carsten.
Thanks, Nancy. Stepping in to The Bard's world is something special :)
Hi Carsten! I had lost track of your thread, but am now caught up. Excellent reviews, particularly the Romeo & Juliet.
Book 24: Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (1927)
I do not see you as you really are, Joseph; I see you through my affection for you.
This is not a novel of plot - which one finds out along the dusty way - it's more a chronicle of various events of two french catholic missionaries - which Willa Cather have based on two real life characters.
The story covers several decades beginning in 1851 when Father Latour reaches Santa Fe to become Vicar Apostolic of New Mexico. The task is daunting - trying to recover and rebuild their french version of the Catholic Church in the midst of superstitious Indians, pioneer Americans and worldly Spaniards. There's several setbacks and incredible long travels on mule in their "jurisdiction" - one has to admire their devotion and sacrifice (still while maintaining the french love for good food and wine, music and art)
I found it historically very interesting - the conflict of cultures and religions - I loved the sense of place, Cather's dreamlike poetic prose, the descriptions of the barren, desolate landscape - so, ok it's a western of sorts - and really at it's center a story about a long-lasting beautiful friendship (although they are quite different), about loneliness being far from home - but finding a new home and a new sense of belonging. Specially the last part of the book is a very simple, yet emotional conclusion of two lives - lived well and faithfully for the God they loved.
The old man smiled. "I shall not die of a cold, my son. I shall die of having lived".
Carsten, thanks for another excellent review! Thumb! You are reading such interesting stuff. I'm not familiar with Death Comes for the Archbishop at all, but you certainly make it enticing!
Thanks, Nancy - I don't know much about Willa Cather but I have My Antonia in line as my next Cather-novel - also about the american frontier - and I think it's more known than Death Comes....
>28 I recently saw Ian Mckellan perform the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, on stage (both parts- he was a one man show). It was so so fantastic to see it done so well, and I was amazed that the cliche of "he brought it to life" was so true.
You have been reading some ancient literature lately, Carsten!
He, he, that's a new approach. Well, a man did play Juliet back in the old days I'm told. But then again Ian Mckellan is such a gifted actor - would have loved to see that performance.
Yes. I do cherish much of the ancient classic literature :)
Carsten, I loved your review of Death Comes for the Archbishop. It's one of my favorite books, and it does absolutely capture that special sense of place. Santa Fe is still wonderful :)
Aha, Now I know why the author's name sounded familiar. I've read great reviews of O Pioneers and have been meaning to get to it (along with a thousand others.)
Thanks Anne - Never been to Santa Fe but would like to :)
Thanks Kerri - I'll have to take a note of O Pioneers.
Paul - it seems O Pioneers is the most famous of her novels.
Nancy - Hot again, but I was too late to see it myself. Things go fast on LT :)
Hi Heather and Stasia - glad to hear good things about My Antonia. Have just downloaded a free copy for the iPad and are looking forward to another great Cather-read soon.
#46 Carsten, I'll be looking forward to your thoughts on My Antonia. Enjoy : ).
And now I've got an audiobook version of My Antonia, so I can "double-read", Nancy.
#48 Carsten, I often "double-read" too. I find it really helpful when I'm listening to audio to be able to search in an electronic copy for a particularly moving passage. Did this a lot when I was listening to Trollope's Barsetshire series. Will do it again with the Palliser novels. Dickens, any of the classics really ...
We're on the same page there, Nancy :) For me it's also a language thing, that I sometimes miss something in the audio-book-reading and have to check my e-book-copy. Well, when classics are free to download it makes it a lot easier....
Book 25: The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo (2001)
This is the third in the detective Harry Hole-series. And no doubt it's one of the best scandi-crimes I've read so far. I like the writing-style of Jo Nesbo - a lot of humour and chapters ending with funny remarks or good cliffhangers - but make no mistake - there's also some very brutal and shocking murders.
Our hero makes a mistake in the first chapter - which ironically enough end in a promotion to the intelligence service - a job he's not that keen on. He's somewhat of a loner, brisk, quick-tempered, cynical and lovesick.
The novel follows two timelines - one from a group of Norwegian men who have enrolled with the Nazi-German forces to fight the Russians at the eastern front.
And up to date Harry Hole is trying to solve a murder that seems to have something to do with a neo-Nazi group. What is the connection?
I liked the detailed descriptions from WWII-battles on the eastern front - which also contains a beautiful love story. Sometimes I wished we could stay there a little longer.
It's a long novel with an ambitious plot and many characters to sort out. But I think Jo Nesbo delivers and hold it all together with some good surprises along the way.
Book 26: Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales (1609)
All true and living devotion presupposes the Love of God
This spiritual classic is written not by a monk for monks but by a catholic bishop advising a young wife of an ambassador to live a pious life. Mme. de Charmoisy found it difficult to maintain a devout spirit in the midst of all the glamour of courtly life. So she wrote to Frances de Sales for advise.
Francis de Sales starts with an explanation of what a devout life is. Then follows very practical advise on prayer introducing topics to meditate on and several resolutions. In the third section he describes various virtues and how to pursue them - then there's a section on temptations and how to overcome them. The last part focuses on the conscience and how to maintain a pure heart and a love for God.
I found Francis de Sales very balanced in his understanding of spiritual formation and direction - of course when he gets practical on "worldly" things like card playing, how to dress etc. time and culture has changed in the last 400 years.
What was specially helpful was the section on virtues - when he talks about patience, humility, gentleness, purity, poverty of spirit and the chapters on true and false friendships. These parts I will return to, no doubt.
Wow, two more excellent reviews, Carsten. I happily thumbed both. I have an electronic copy of Redbreast which I'm hoping to get to this reading year. Your 5* rating is encouraging!
#51 - Great reviews! I will have to get to the Harry Hole series. I don't think all of them have been translated into English, but I could be wrong.
Nancy - Thanks. It was my first Jo Nesbo and I think it's a good place to start. Although the main plot is solved there are some loose ends that will be followed up in the next novels in the series.
Kerri - Thanks. I think Redbreast was the first one to be translated into english. I read it in danish (very similar to norwegian) and we have actually most of the series in a public e-book library. Great that you can just sit at home and lend ebooks over the net. For free. Then I walk over to the library to read my ebook because it's quiet there :)
Book 27: Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)
I've read Washington Square (which I liked) and Portrait of a Woman which I didn't like - now here's another one by Henry James that I didn't like.
This is about a governess who takes care of two children and the landlord or master or whatever is not around - and then she sees dead people (ghosts) (former employees) - or does she? And do the children see the manifestations? There's nothing all that shocking about these ghost's - but I wondered about the children's behavior. There was something eerie about them, but I couldn't put my finger on it exactly - and of course the ending is up to discussion, and I won't go there. No need to, because frankly, half way through I was quite indifferent. All the repetitions and speculations and strange conversations…It was too much.
The writing is very "rich" or "complex" and I struggled with the sentences, having to read them twice or three times and sometimes I just gave up. So even though it's a short novel it took forever to finish. But only because I can be so stubborn sometimes with novels.
But as it is a very popular classic I guess other's have very different experience with it….
Hi Carsten, Central City Opera is doing Turn of the Screw as part of its summer festival this summer, and one of our Chorale boys has a big part in it. Opera-goers are having the same sort of reaction as you (music is by Benjamin Britten, who I love, but in opera, anyway, he doesn't really write any singable melodies you take with you) but the critics love it. I'll remember your comments about the book and try a different James when I'm ready for him!
Hi Anne - Yes, to do this story as an opera is a bold move - and without any singable songs I can't imagine. But of course the critics love it, then :)
I've seen the pictures of the choir on your thread - what a wonderful group they seem. And a lot of experiences for life they are getting.
#55 - I read this last year and enjoyed it. However, I was thinking about it and I believe my Henry James tolerance comes from the fact that I love James Baldwin and James Baldwin apparently loved Henry James and you can kind of see the influence in the long sentences with lots of commas. I don't know if that makes any sense, but it's sort of why I'd like to read a few more James novels.
However, I'm currently listening to a Thomas Hardy biography and Henry James had some terrible, nasty things to say about Thomas Hardy and his novels. He (James) was quite the snob, or so it seems.
Kerri - It's interesting how one author inspires another author - and us as readers - I can picture Henry James as a snob :) - well, I prefer Thomas Hardy over Henry James - without a doubt - although difficult to compare when they are so much different in style of writing.
Book 28: Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (1954)
A biting british satire and a most enjoyable reading.
About a young academic Jim Dixon who struggles to secure a teaching position in the History Department of a university. He tries to ingratiate himself with the head of the department professor Welsh and his family - but again and again he gets himself into embarrassing and awkward situations - and trying to cover things up by lying it only gets worse.
He detest his life as a medieval history lecturer, swallow in self-pity, has money-problems, has trouble with women - trying to help one girl Margaret and falling in love with another - which is a girlfriend of the professors bullying son Bertrand - a pompous artist. Everything seems to go wrong for Dixon in this comedy of manners, but somehow he manages to avoid total catastrophe.
I like Amis's perfect dialogue - but for a quote I've chosen his description of Dixon's hangover after a disastrous weekend-party at Welsh's house:
Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.
Carsten, fab review of Lucky Jim! Comedy of manners, indeed! And the quote is hilarious, LOL.
Thought you would like the quote, Nancy :) I have to search for other Amis comedy-novels.
>51 what a fascinating book...times have changed so much it must have been like reading about a freak show.
I had a hard time with The Turn of the Screw as well.
And....Lucky Jim is in my queue to read, the first paragraph of your review makes me want to read it sooner rather than later! Ill save the rest of your review til I have read it.
Megan - good to know I'm not the only one who struggled with Turn of the Screw :)
Book 29: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Dover Thrift) by Victor Hugo (1831)
This novel was a disappointing read. Disappointing because Les Miserable was so good.
The tragic story is in itself a good one - and of course with the tragic hero climbing around at the top of Notre Dame as it's main imaginative creation.
The other characters are deeply flawed: One proud priest - a pompous poet - an angry hysterical and secluded woman, a violent captain and of course the irritatingly vain Esmeralda.
The writing is full of over-the-top emotions, theatrical outbursts en masse and the characters remain very stereotype. It's very difficult to take serious in any way.
To make matters worse, Hugo decides to insert long chapters on the history of Paris and a detail description of Notre Dame and other historical stuff. Come on, Hugo. Do we have to inspect every single corner of that church?
The Huncback have been retold many times, and it might work very well as an opera or in an very abridged retold version for children. As it is read here - the original story - it's a no go.
Oh good gracious, Carsten! You've been doing some very serious and important reading! Good for you! But... I know that a new Scandi Crime by Jussi Adler-Olsen will soon be available in Canada! It's called - The Absent One in English. I'm very much looking forward to it and Dept Q! :)
Some fabulous reading going on there, Carsten!
And hey - my mom and my niece are going to Iceland in a few days - my mom's grand parents were born there. I'll have them wave at you in Denmark while they are there! :)
Book 30: Herzog by Saul Bellow (1898)
This is a very cerebral novel with a lot of references to important names of philosophy, politics, history and religion.
The main character Herzog is in a deadlock in his life, twice divorced and drifting toward a total mental meltdown. The book follows him within a few days, but there are numerous flashbacks to earlier episodes in his life and then there's the letters he writes to everyone without sending them - they cut into the story - some funny others very philosophical.
The parts of narrative I liked very much and the conversations he's having with different people. Not that anything dramatic happens - but it's more the psychological journey he's on, learning to accept his place in the world.
Herzog has one problem - he has lived many years with a lot of ideas in his head - and they are presented here - in a way its fascinating to read all this seemingly random generalizations about society and culture - but it becomes quickly very tedious.
I will try another Bellow - this one didn't work for me.
Deb - thanks. I have never been to Iceland but it's such a beautiful country from what I've seen from pictures. If I see them wave I'll let you know.
I plan to read the second Dep. Q very soon.
Nancy - Thanks - and old and new classic that have been in my TBR for a long time. Hugos Miserable is a much more mature work though.
I have to echo Debbie and Nancy's sentiments. Excellent reviews for some heavy books. I've always struggle with classics but it's nice that there are so many people in this group who have an appreciation for books that I can't quite seem to connect with! :)
Valerie - thanks. It's certainly a challenge to read all those classics - but generally rewarding - Have found many Kindred Spirits among the authors but also some bad eggs to avoid.
Kerri - thanks for the recommendation - I will look out for Augie March.
Carsten, I emailed with my niece who is now in Iceland with my mom. I asked her to wave to you from the plane, and explained that you were in Denmark and your name was Carsten. :) She replied that she would have loved to have waved to you from the plane - however the route that the plane took -the arctic circle route - got to Iceland before she could see Denmark!!! Drat! You can't say I did not try! :)
Ha, ha. Well, nice try, Deb! - actually I thought I could see somebody wave from Island the other day, but I wasn't really sure - probably just a bird flapping its wings. Normal mistake.
Book 31: The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2005)
The Road, the man, the boy. A cold, burnt, godforsaken landscape that stretches forever. This post-apocalyptic story takes us on a lonesome and horrific journey. What catastrophe has happened we don't know, but all animal life seems to have died together with plant life.
The fathers reason for existence is his boy - this love drives him on - yet he has lost almost all hope - he knows what it takes to survive but how can he survive and at the same time remain human? What future is there for this boy? The boy in his innocence still reaches out to people he meet, while the father has to teach him to stay away from people who are all potential cannibals. Can they trust anyone - and what is life reduced to without human interaction, love, trust?
Also the idea about God comes and goes. The presence of God and the absence of God.
Are you there? he whispered. Will I see you at the last? Have you a neck by which to throttle you? Have you a heart? Damn you eternally have you a soul? Oh God, he whispered. Oh God.
The writing is sparse, yet powerful. It's not a pleasant read, but thought-provoking. It certainly has made an impact on me.
Woot! Carsten, that is a five-star review of The Road. Sounds like it is one not to be missed. Love your line The Road, the man, the boy. A cold, burnt, godforsaken landscape that stretches forever. Quote is great, too : ).
Thanks, Nancy. I wonder how the movie-version is. A lot of the books nerve comes in the thought-life of the main character, the father.
Marie - yes painful and I was thinking of dropping the book after a while, but glad I didn't. But soon I was engaged totally in the story.
Ah, Carsten, you're back on the HOT list! Your literary pastiche is on top again, hehe!
#62: I have had that book for forever now and not gotten it read. Maybe your review will finally give me the impetus to do so!
Thanks, Deb. It is a heavy read, but one does feel the triumph of the human spirit in their ability to hold on to their humanness through all the horrors.
Funny about titles. In danish The Absent One is called The Pheasant Killers.
Nancy - Oh yes, I have to step up to follow Hot Lick Chick with the Cellist.
Stasia - It's good with a reminder now and then to books in our TBR mountain :)
You nailed it on the head, Carsten. It is not an easy read, but definitely a powerful one and one that sticks with your for some time. You plan on watching the movie at some point?
Yes, Valerie. i plan to see The Road soon. I think Viggo Mortensen is a good choice to play the father....well, let's see.
Hi Carsten, I am so impressed with your reading lately, and your thoughtful reviews! Hope you enjoyed a great weekend.
Well, sort of, Anne - Had to work this weekend, but it was ok - yes, I've had some good classical and modern reading lately :)
#78 "The writing is sparse, yet powerful. It's not a pleasant read, but thought-provoking." Great review Carsten. It's in the TBR pile but I think I need to be in the right mood for it...
Well, I'll be curious to see what you think of it. I don't think I could bring myself to watch the movie....
Heather - The right mood - exactly. It's a tough story.
Valerie - I'll let you know when I've seen it.
>78 one of my top ten books of all time.
isnt it amazing? Loved your review.
Hi Carsten - Great review of The Road! I found it powerful and touching as well.
Thanks Kerri - It's obvious The Road has left an impression with a lot of people. I think I have to explore other novels by McCarthy.
Well, Deb, I can figure out why it's called The Pheasant Killers (the original danish) and The Absent One - from what I've read so far (a third) but Disgrace? Well, time will tell :) One english title should really suffice.
Hope it will arrive soon - or should I write some spoilers on your thread? :)
I'm officially lazy. In stead of reading Anthony Trollope I've succumbed. Have just watched He Knew He Was Right and are now watching The Way We Live Now. Wonderful, wonderful BBC-productions.
And I smile....I can almost hear Trollope whispering his mild judgement on the characters while watching. And what would we do without screenplay-writer Andrew Davies? What a productive man. Incredible.
Carsten, I am delighted to tell you that Disgrace has arrived a couple of days ago! I can't wait to get to it!!! :)
For now I am re - reading a Booker Prize Long- Listed book called The Lighthouse. While it's not as complex as The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker - it's bordering on that! I made copious notes on The Lighthouse first time round - now I'm just re - reading it to understand it better. I think it is meant to be one of those ambiguous sort of tales. I'm plumbing the depths of my shallow brain to fully understand it - though I 'm not sure I'm entirely meant to understand it. But I'll try!:)
I plan to be officially lazy after this re- read and eventually a review. Then I am going to my scandicrime! :)
So Trollope is whispering in your ear! hmmmmm... maybe it's past your bedtime!;) kidding! Enjoy you BBC productions!
It's a good feeling to have a scandicrime waiting for you, Deb.
The Lighthouse sounds like a novel not to miss. Interesting with all the ambiguous meanings - The Detour certainly kept our brains busy :)
Yes, I did watch Trollope late in the night. If you could have the author whispering to you it would make the interpretation a lot easier :)
Carsten, I think you would enjoy The Lighthouse. A very interesting and challenging novel - somewhat akin to The Detour. Not as difficult as that, but definitely a lot of symbolism and ambiguity. That is why I reading it a second time... I could use your brains on that one! I had to go out today , and since I had to wait around quite a bit, I took along a new book, The Absent One. It's excellent so far - though I am just about 40 pages in or so. The Absent One grabs you in right away!
I'll finish up my second re -read of The Lighthouse tomorrow, and then I hope to write a review.
I think I can already see why The Absent One is called The Pheasant Hunters in Danish. Great read!
Yes the setup in Disgrace/Absent One is very suspenseful. I'm hurrying over to read your review :)
#99 I remember enjoying the adaptation of he Knew He Was Right whenever it was on TV. I'm not watching any more Trollope adaptations because I want to read the books first and that might take me a while...
I had the same resolve, Heather, but succumbed to the shining dvd's just laying there tempting me....
Well, still a lot of Trollope to read. Nearly finished the Barchester-series, and then there's the Pallister-series - it will keep me busy for a while.
Book 32: The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen (2008) - Rating: 4/5
Another effective and rather sinister crime story by danish writer Jussi Adler-Olsen - the second in the Department Q-series - the tiny "headquarters" for cold cases.
Another case is dropped on the desk anonymously - a murder on a young couple many years ago - the case leads to other violent acts, which seems to indicate a ruthless gang on a boarding school for rich kids. At the same time we follow a bag lady with a lot of "baggage" - she has secrets to tell, running from events years earlier - and waiting to take revenge.
What's the connection? What has happened in the past?
Our little group with troubled investigator Morck, his syrian sidekick "crime assistant" Assad and a new team member added - a talkative secretary - are heading for big troubles in the effective finish.
I enjoyed this a lot - specially the vengeful bag lady adds a lot of nerve and suspense to the story. She's not supposed to be anyone to root for - but we do it anyway.
Book 33: Meditations by Aurelius (180) - Rating: 2.5/5
Interesting to read the thoughts of a roman emperor. Marcus Aurelius was influenced by various philosophies, prominent is stoicism - this stiff-upper-lip approach to life, where nothing really seems to get to you. It can be an advantage in a lot of situations - however specially when it comes to suffering and death the philosophy shows its strange indifferent face and offers little hope and no real comfort.
But there's also a lot of things of value. The virtues he pursues, many excellent advices on how to behave toward others. And good advice on not to be bothered with stupid people who try to pull you down all the time.
The book is divided into 12 chapters - and the various entries and advices come in no particular order.
Gidday Carsten, just doing a quick catch up and even have time for a hello ;)
Great review of The Absent One. Thumb from me! I'm really enjoying the story so far! Yes, what has happened in the past? And just what is going to happen to that bag lady! Carsten I'm on pins and needles with this one!:)
Good for you getting through Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. 2.5 stars - I bet it was quite slog. Great review!
Hi Megan - Nice of you to drop by :)
Hi Deb - yes it's a thriller that keep you in suspence until the last pages. Look forward to your judgment :)
Carsten, if you can get a hold of The Lighthouse by Alison Moore - you should give it a try! I could think of 3 plausible endings! :O I'd love to hear what you think of it. I was thinking that you needed to wait until it was translated into Danish - duh!!!!!
Don't be a stranger - come visit my thread! :)
Three endings. You get me very interested, Deb. I think I have to read it now :)
Of the many interesting books you read and reviewed during my LT absence, only Notre Dame de Paris is on my tbr... and will remain there for a little longer now. Twice so far I tried to read it and got stuck already in the first chapter. Maybe a project for 2013.
Lucky Jim however sounds like a must-read.
Carsten, I'm so delighted that you got The Lighthouse by Alison Moore. You are always so insightful . Yes I think the book has three plausible endings. It doesn't trouble me like The Detour did because I think the author cleverly planned it that way. I think you will enjoy it - at least I certainly hope so! As for The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman I've had that in my TBR pile for a couple of weeks. Glad to know that you have it too. I agree - sounds very interesting too. Really , as romantic as it sounds, I can't imagine living in a lighthouse or somewhere so isolated. I really function best in an urban environment.
Nathalie - The Hunchback was a disapointment - but the story itself quite captivating. And I think you would enjoy Kingsley Amis. Also good when you want some fun light reading. I'm going to read more by him.
Deb - I will choose the ending of my liking, probably the most opmimistic one :) maybe I will now do a double lighthouse-reading.
Oh I will be most interested in your thoughts on The Lighthouse when you get a chance. I'll be so interested in what ending you think is most likely. Another interesting thing about the story is that no one is painted as particularly sympathetically - so as to keep us at a distance, I think. And yet, I felt quite a bit of sympathy for several of the characters. I can't wait and see what you think!
Do come and visit me on my thread, when you get a chance. I'm a bit lonely there!
Book 34: My Antonia by Willa Cather (1918) 4.5/5
The narrator is Jim Burden - a prairie boy who moves to Nebraska to live with his grandparents. He is telling the story of himself and his friendship with Antonia, an immigrant girl from Bohemia which stretches three decades although most of it takes place in childhood.
The recollection involves several settler-families on the prairie and later on in the town of Lincoln. Nothing more needs to be told about this story.
It's just marvelous, entertaining and exciting. Based on Cathers own experiences moving to Nebraska as a child. It is very realistic, one doesn't want to depart with these characters - Antonia is a fascinating character torn between her new hard life in Nebraska and her old home in Bohemia. A hot-tempered girl, a survivor, resourcefull and hard-working. But personally I bonded more with the narrator himself. Admired him in his many decisions and thoughts.
There's so much truth in this story, so many real human emotions and experiences told with nuance and depth. Just read it. Or better: Listen to the wonderful audiobook read by Jeff Cummings.
We reached the edge of the field, where our ways parted. I took her hands and held them against my breast, feeling once more how strong and warm and good they were, those brown hands, and remembering how many kind things they had done for me. I held them now a long while, over my heart. About us it was growing darker and darker, and I had to look hard to see her face, which I meant always to carry with me; the closest, realest face, under all the shadows of women’s faces, at the very bottom of my memory.
Great review, Carsten. I think I may have to add that book to my wishlist! Thumb up!
Thanks, Anne - you would like My Antonia I'm sure - not a great plot or anything, just stories from settler-families and their problems and how they help each other. BTW - good classics in your currently reading at the moment. Look forward to your reviews :)
#118: My Antonia is one of my all-time favorite books. I am glad to see you enjoyed it, Carsten!
Indeed, Stasia - my second Cather this year and a new favorite author. Look forward to the next one.
Hi, Deb. Good Lighthouse-chat - found some new ways to think about the story with all your thoughts. Thanks for the recommendation....working out a review tomorrow.
Just stopping by to hi and I am eager to read your review of The Lighthouse - if you get a chance. I know for me it was a challenge to write up a review, so I understand if you don't feel like it. But I'll bet you can write a fabulous review! I am finished The Absent One , but I'm only going to make a few comments on my thread - tomorrow - too late tonight. You were right, the ending was very good/ creepy. The entire premise of the story was sinister and also very different! Good DanishCrime! I see that he has another book coming up in 2013.... I can't wait!
Hi Carsten - Great reviews! I want to get to The Absent One very soon and I absolutely loved My Antonia when I read it last year. The audiobook is a good idea too. Perhaps I'll try that for a re-read. And that reminds me that I must read more of her work - I think I have one or two more on the shelves.
Yes a good DanishCrime, Deb - there was a good payoff at the end for sure.
Kerri - I'm also thinking of trying out other of Cather's prairie-novels. There's a great sense of place in her poetic language.
Book 35: The Lighthouse by Alison Moore (2012) 4.25/5
Futh is a strange character, self-effacing, a social misfit - recently separated from his wife - we follow him on a week long hiking trip in Germany, where the main plot really seem to be his constant memories of his unpleasant father, the mother that vanished when he was a kid, the unsuccesful marriage, his ungrateful best friend.
We also read the story of a woman, Ester, who runs a hotel together with her husband. She's also lonesome and on a destructive path that leads away from her violent husband. Futh stay at this hotel in the beginning of the trip and plan to return there.
It's difficult really to describe what makes this story so haunting. It reminded me in a way of Camus' The Stranger - also about a character that as Futh has a strange way of behavior towards people and events. Futh is unable to make sense of the world around him, only living in memories, not taking an active part in life, not feeling remorse or anger when treated badly for instance. In a way Futh is so insubstantial, so superfluous, it's painful to read about his many humiliations in life - even his name seems to vaporize when you pronounce it. He is a victim and yet also his own worst enemy.
Alison Moore's writing is like Camus' very sparse, economical, chilly - so many incidents and descriptions filled with layers of meaning.
I'm not so sure about the ending - I can't elaborate much on it here - in a way it has a certain inevitable logic about it I guess.
Thanks Deb - yes, you should try Camus at one point. The Stranger is an interesting blend of story and ideas of the absurd and existentialism. Well, anyway it's a short read :)
Book 36: Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset (1920) 4/5
Norwegian author Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize in 1928, mainly because of her 1000+ pages long trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter - a rich and complex tale set in medieval 14th century Norway.
The first novel The Wreath follow Kristin as a child and in her youth where the difficult matchmaking takes place clearly before she's ready for this step - and at the same time she meets a man with a questionable past.
She loves her father above anything, loves nature and are fascinated by the traditions and rituals of the church and the feeling of closeness with God in prayer. But her formative years also reveals a proud, stubborn and strong character - and it will lead her away from the intimate and warm relationship she have with her father - and in conflict with the doctrines and morals of the church and the local community.
The Wreath is so grounded in place and time. Undset has an ability to make such believable characters, we understand the parents and their dilemma, we pity Kristin being caught between conflicting desires - and all the deception and lies that suddenly come between them is unbearable.
Wow, Carsten, such a wide variety of books that you read!! You amaze me! Once again, an excellent review - thumb... :)
Yes, short as in Camus can sometimes be important in a book!.
Stopping by to say hi, Carsten. Hee! You think that I can sell The Absent One or whatever it is called! You are so kind. People seemed to be asking for a review, so one flowed out of my pen and it did not take long, for once. Usually I agonize about my reviews. If I were you, I would read Redemption - the third in the Department Q series in Danish. I can't wait for it to hit the North American Markets!
I noticed that you loaded up Inside by Alix Ohlin. It just went up as one of the Canadian Long Listed Giller Prize Winners - whether it will win remains to be seen. I happen to have it out from the library , but I thought, how did you know of such a book there in Denmark,Carsten. You are amazing! I hope to get to it. I've also got A Study in Scarlet in my large TBR pile - and that is because of how you have enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes series. Plus , as you say - it is short! I need to bump my number up. Shhh - don't tell anyone! :)
Hi Deb. Thought I might surprise you by reading a canadian prize-book before you did :)
Actually I came by the Giller long list selection yesterday because you mentioned it somewhere......and just picked this one out because the authors face smiled so endearingly that I couldn't control myself. It's almost too easy to buy books the Kindle-way....
I will be the Giller Long list expert and now you'll have to use me as a guide in all things canadian literature :)
Well, I'm a third in and so far an enjoyable read - no spectacular literary tricks like The Lighthouse, but just very good human observations and interesting characters. I like it so far although I don't think it has winner written all over it.
I read A study in Scarlet many years ago - can't remember it but it's Sherlock Holmes so you are in good hands. Don't worry, I won't tell about the numbers...we've all been there :)
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Carsten I bow to you with an ever growing respect of your vast and sweeping knowledge of books of all kinds! Oracle Carsen, who will win the Booker and what will make the short list with the Giller Prize! Share your knowledge with me Carsten! :) You are so much fun!!! LOL!
Hmm! I must look at the author's face - I understand how your mind works now, Carsten - not immune to a pretty face... I hope to read that book after my current read - it is a library book. Again, you'll be far ahead of me. It is easy to purchase books to one's Kindle, I must agree. I have mine set up so that my credit card is it attached to amazon, so it's one easy transaction from my kindle and 30 second later I have my book. Let's see if Inside is showing up with the touchstones yet . No. If you want a dark Giller read, try Our Daily Bread by Lauren David. Her book is up for a Giller too. I'm considering reading it, but not right away. Okay, so Inside does not have " Prize Winner" written all over it. I trust you Carsten - I'll see if I can fit that library book into my ' schedule " or not... Enjoy!
Now you know I get novels at "face value" :)
Finished Inside today, Deb. Reviews coming up. Interesting to see whats happening at the literary scene in Canada. I just have to rethink my initial respons after reading it. I might get hooked on prize-novels :)
Hi Carsten. Thanks for the " thumb". A really easy way to learn a lot about the Mormon faith, Mormon Girl. Very interesting and easy to read. I too am a Christian. I was born into more or less an agnostic / athiest family, but I had a Baptist grandma , and I choose that way, though later in my adulthood, I am a member of the Mennonite Church. They are fairly similar in their beliefs. A good friend of mine was Mennonite and I really embraced the ways of her church.
Still reading Inside (Borzoi Books) - why did the book get that crazy tag!!!!! I'm not far enough in to make a judgement as yet. Can't wait to see your review!
I really like the spirituality of the Mennonites, Deb. The way they embraces simplicity, art and the sanctity of life. Have been helped a lot by some books offered free as e-books by the Bruderhof, which is an organization within the Mennonite Church, I believe. It's so life-affirming or maybe I should say joy-affirming in many ways.
Yes, that's a crazy tag :)
Book 37: Inside (Borzoi Books) by Alix Ohlin (2012) 4/5
Just selected for the Canadian Giller longlist book prize.
In Inside (Borzoi Books) we follow mainly three persons, the first two are both therapists - Grace and then her ex-husband Mitch - and the third is Karen, who runs away from home and is one of Graces patients. The novel shift back and forth in time.
There are several themes in the novel - one is about listening/responding/connecting - the other about helping each other or should I say the inability to offer real substantial help in many situations - hence the occupation as therapists of course - and the dramatic opening scene - these themes are very thoughtfully brought together in the intertwining stories - although it takes some time.
There's a lot of sleeping together - but very little real love of the kind where you give all to one person. Not the two-persons-becoming-one kind of love. The search for intimacy, for a real friend/husband/wife to understand you and listen to you is there, unsettling, as an ache in the characters. How much should one invest in the relationship?
And of course. How do you help when the other persons doesn't seem to want your help. What do you do? All three persons have these problems (and also the fourth one - in Rwanda). The novel addresses this in a profound way. Although the stories are sad the novel offers hope in the end I think - for some of the characters at least.
Nice review of Inside (Borzoi Books) . Thumb from me! I'm nearly 100 pages in and it's an interesting book. I'm quite getting into the different characters and the shifting back and forth of the timeline.
>130 was this book a prize winner? I am feeling like I have heard of it for some reason, your comparison to Camus' the Stranger makes me want to read it and the cover seals the deal.
Yes, Megan. It's selected for the Booker longlist. A short but profound read.
Thanks Carsten, I Knew there was something special about it!
#124: Cather is an author that I really enjoy. Even in her early books her writing talent was evident.
Interesting reviews of recent award Nominees Carsten. Both of those I will get to eventually.
Hope you are having a good weekend over in Scandi land.
Stasia - I have to find other good books by Cather. He's clearly also one of my favorites.
Paul - Yes, a good weekend here in Scandi-land - no big serial killers on the loose at the moment - at least I think not :)
Book 38: Walden by Henri David Thoreau (1854) Rating: 5/5 - reread
Some years ago I walked around Waldens Pond just outside Concord. A nice and sunny autumn day - imagining how it must have been for Thoreau back in 1845 to move into his tiny house he built with his own hands.
He stayed there for two years - a self-imposed "exile" - leaving the bustling city behind, dedicated to a life of simplicity and solitude. This book is an exploration of his experiences and his many thoughts on life in general. It's more relevant than ever - thinking how much stress and unnecessary things that fill our lives and gives us constant worries.
Rereading his book I feel much more alive again. It's brimming with curiosity, enthusiasm, individuality and the wish to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life".
A mixture of philosophy, observations about nature, wildlife and crops, guidance on how to live life to the fullest, not following the crowd but being yourself, living in the present. This book has so much to offer - and completely deserves it's place among the finest american literature ever.
Thoreau's unusual attention to ordinary things in life fills me with joy - just the pleasure he gains from a cold bath in the lake each morning and his way of putting it in a wider context of living is remarkable. As with so many other things. From the food on his table, to the birds in the air. Nothing escapes his keen eye for details we so often just ignore.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Carsten, I love your review of Walden! I have not read it since high school, and now I want to pick it up again.
Thanks, Anne :) I think I enjoyed it more this second time - knowing what to expect. There are some tedious parts where the detailed descriptions of various lakes and ponds drag out too much. But that's just details.
He, he, Heather. Being hit by book bullets. I guess it's not safe to visit this thread :)
I don't think Kristin Lavransdatter is very well known outside Scandinavia, but it's really well written. I read the other day, that Sigrid Undset while being in USA were good friends with Willa Cather - thought it was a funny coincidence....
Book 39: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (2009) Rating: 4/5
I don't think the world (or LT) needs another review of this massive bestseller-trilogy, so let me be brief....I saw the movie Hunger Games, and it was very well made - so I couldn't really wait until 2015 when the last adaptation in this trilogy hits the theaters.
It's some of the best sci-fi YA-fiction around just now, no doubt. I enjoyed it, and also listening to Katniss and all her reasoning in her strange predicament. And what a cliffhanger..I will soon be listening to nr. 3, no doubt.
Fabulous review of Walden, Carsten! I 'm glad it's made you feel so alive! No to a cold bath in the morning though -- I'd never recover from that , but I think we females are usually a colder temperature than men are - or so it seems in my family! My husband is always running on the warm side and I'm on the cold side. LOL! Thumb!
So, The Hunger Games bug has bitten you too! You know me, I have a blind spot when it comes to fantasy, Sci - Fi and it cannot seem to helped. I'm glad you enjoyed it , as so many have.
As for Inside ( Borzoi books) , you've really caught the essence of the book in your review, Carsten. I still have about 75 pages to read - maybe less to finish the book. It is really sad how all of the characters are somehow damaged, such that they are seeking intimacy - often through sex as you mention, but never seem to achieve a lasting, deep relationship. That seems so sad and, thankfully , hard for me to understand. Interesting book and very well written.
Ha, ha....no cold showers then, Deb. I believe it to be one of the indispensable pleasures in life. Here is Thoreau's ramblings on his morning bath:
Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself. I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks. I got up early and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise, and one of the best things which I did. They say that characters were engraven on the bathing tub of King Tchingthang to this effect: "Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again." I can understand that. Morning brings back the heroic ages.
I was much in doubt on rating "Inside". I think I was very generous - but I liked the way she pushed the themes in all the stories....
Book 40: Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1951) Rating: 4/5
The premise of this sci-fi is The Foundation - an organization set up on a remote planet Terminus by a guy who have by a scientific method been able to predict future events. This Foundation is established in order to save civilization after the fall of the Galactic Empire. The motto which is repeated again and again is: "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent". Foundation is really five short stories loosely connected, but all with the same general idea - how to prevent the threat of attack by greater regimes on other planets. This involves dangerous political tactics - one of the more clever ones is starting a religious movement in order to survive.
Very cleverly thought out. But you don't get engaged in the fate of the characters - the main thing is the imagined world they inhabit, and all the great ideas that are presented. Well, it didn't matter much, since this is a satire on political maneuvering, and as satire it works very well, I laughed a lot.
Book 41: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (1968) Rating: 3/5
The movie Blade Runner is loosely based on Do Androids.. We are on earth after a nuclear disaster where most people have escaped to other planets. The bounty hunter Rick Deckard is out to find and "retire" six fugitive androids passing for humans. This chase is exciting - and as they are so identical to humans the novel cleverly plays with the idea of what is real and unreal/artificial. Deckard even starts to question his own identity and if he's placed in a real world or a game.
This idea should really be enough to hold ones attention and explore interesting ideas. But other things are thrown in - the idea of an artificial reality game called Mercerism - treated by many as a religion - this was very confusing and irritating - also the whole idea about people obsessed with having a real pet-animal in stead of artificial ones…..a goat on a roof-top? it was comical, difficult to take serious.
I am pretty sure I have never read Walden. I am going to have to get to the book one of these days!
Yes, Stasia, you should :) An american classic not to be missed. His enthusiasm and sheer idealism is so great that you can overlook - well, even smile - at his youthful arrogance when he "judges the world".
As I am following the 1,001 list, I'll have to get to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep eventually. Not in the near future though.
I am glad you enjoyed Walden so much. I didn't - in fact it was one of my hardest 1,001 reads ever - but I can see well how other readers may love it. There were parts in the book I actually liked a lot, mainly in the first half, and others I found extremely difficult to get through. Maybe I should reread it some day.
I'm also a 1001-list follower, Nathalie....sci-fi is new territory for me and not my favorite genre....but I need to explore more. H. G. Wells is so far one of my favorites...also John Wyndham, but only based on one book (Triffids) - also in 1001.
Oh yes, Walden is difficult, but I decided this time to read it very slowly, only a few pages each day, and letting the thoughts and observations breathe. I think Thoreau would like that...slow down, think, meditate.
Great reviews, Carsten! As you know, I have a " blind spot" when it comes to Sci - Fi! I'd always wondered what in the world the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was about. I sort of " follow" the 1001 books to read before you die too, but I also follow the Prizes. Tomorrow the shortlist of Canada Giller Prize will be announced. I was not keen on Inside (Borzoi as you know, but I've yet to make any comments in my thread.
Now, I've started In the Darkness: An Inspector Sejer Novel by Karin Fossum. It's quite nice to get back to a dead body or two by my favourite Scandi Crime writer! :)
Enjoy your next book (s). I cannot wait to see what the short list for the Giller Prize will be!
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? must be on the shortlist of novels with the weirdest title ever. It's really a clever title. Dreaming is also part of the novels plot, distinguishing humans from androids....
Enjoy Fossum, Deb - I haven't yet read any of her crimes. But maybe one day.....And yes, very perceptive predictions on the Booker Prize - maybe even the winner?
Nathalie - With a title like that it should be on the top, shouldn't it? :) it's a short, but very intense read - although don't expect much detailed descriptions of hiking in Germany.
#166: I just read the Kindle sample and I am going to download the book later today. And you got me - I was in fact hoping for some hiking details... :-)
It must be the Rheinpfad Futh is planning to walk, I guess.
If you have been in this area it off course adds a little to the story! Nathalie. Can see you have kickstarted the Booker Prize books.
Yes Carsten, if the judges are as wise as you and I - Lighthouse will win the Booker and we can say " we told you so." LOL! :) I actually ordered Umbrella by Will Self as it is the running for the Booker and it's not available in North American til January! I got it from the Book Depository, sight unseen. I have no idea whether I will like it or not.
Carsten, I know you have plenty of books to read - but Karin Fossum is very good!
Finished The Lighthouse and rated it with 4 stars. You are right, Carsten, it is very intense. I need to read something uplifting, if possible something funny next. And I am not sure what to make of the ending. I would have preferred something different I guess.
While it's just details I was a tiny bit annoyed with the setting... I'd say nothing in this book is German, not even Est(h)er or Bern(h)ard. But that's just me.
Of the 3 BP candidates I read now, I'd place it on rank #2, it's better worked out than Swimming Home and had more impact on me. #1 would be Hilary Mantel, but she won't get it again.
I am planning to read The Garden of Evening Mists soon, which so far is Darryl's favorite. Umbrella scares me after having read the Kindle sample.
Deb - I have know started on The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - very funny start, with an odd man on a sudden mission. I'll have to check Fossum at our ebook-library.
Nathalie - I think I'll use the same approach of downloading samples of the BP and then decide on the next one after Harold Fry....
I wasn't satisfied either with the ending of The Lighthouse - It seemed overly contrived. Still not quite sure what is meant by the last chapter on the ferry...but the novel made a great impact on me.
Oh I do hope that you enjoy The Unlike Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry as I did. Just in the past year or so my library has e-books, but they are not compatible with my kindle, so.....sigh , but I'm not ready to purchase a second e-reader. The library uses mainly the Kobo here. The Fossum is proving to be a great read!
So many good books here and great reviews to compliment them, Carsten. Several books you've read I have waiting on my TBR mountain. It's just finding the time to actually read all of them...
I'll be curious to see what you think of Mockingjay when you get around to it since it has received such mixed responses.
Deb - It's really irritating with all those different e-book formats, and "protection" that comes with the purchase. Ah well, I have an iPad so now I'm not bound completely to the Kindle.
Valerie - Thanks :) it's really interesting to try to guess how the Hunger Games trilogy will play out in the final novel. Hope I won't be dissapointed - it's my next audiobook....well, I will begin listening tonight, so a review is not far away.
Carsten, I know what you mean about all of the different e-book formats and so called " protection" that comes with the purchase! Oh well. I'm glad that you have a Ipad! Perfect!
I've finished up In the Darkness: An Inspector Sejer Novel and I really enjoyed it! 4. 25 stars, though I've yet to update my own thread.
I've started another book from the Canadian "Giller Prize" book longlist , Our Daily Bread by Lauren B. Davis. I've looked at it before and thought it would be too dark. Well, it's kind of dark, but it is really interesting! Tell you more later. I am about 1/2 way through.
I can't wait to see/ hear what you think about Mockingjay and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - or whatever else you are reading!:)
I will be very interested to see what you make of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry as its reviews have been, erm, mixed. I have bought most of the longlist books this year and plan to have a month knocking them all off sooner rather than later.
Hi Carsten, good review of Do Androids...I have seen it around a while ago on LT and never looked into it, but it looks fascinating even if it is out of my genre comfort zone. My copy of The Lighthouse should be arriving soon and I hope to read it asap.
Deb - looking forward to your review ogf the Giller-prize Novel. I don't mind dark - but prefer light in the end :)
Paul - have been stuck with other things the past few days...now there will be time to go on the road with Harold. I think.
Megan - Do Androids is indeed out of the comfort zone. Hope you'll like The Lighthouse. Definitely not for everyone...
Hi Carsten! I really loved Our Daily Bread. 5 stars! Like you , I've been busy with other things so I've yet to make comments/ do a review.
Stopping by to say hi! I finally got my review of Our Daily Bread done. I hope your reading is going well for you! And life too!
Hi Carsten! Great review of The Lighthouse. I'm reading it right now and I'm loving it.
Do you think you'll continue the Foundation series? Words really cannot describe how much I love it. I actually read Prelude to Foundation first, which was written much later, but sheds some light on some of the stuff that goes on in the trilogy.
Deb - I have bought Our Daily Bread - looking forward to it.
Kerri - I think I will return to The Foundation. My plan is reading the trilogy that begin with The Foundation. Are the others also short stories from different time periods?
Good you are enjoying The Lighthouse...a story that really stays with you.
I need to get to The Foundation Trilogy one of these centuries. I look forward to your review of the books when you get to them, Carsten.
Ohhh! I'm so excited that you purchased a copy of Our Daily Bread, Carsten. I was pondering on mailing you my copy because I think you will really enjoy it . I know it's not in e- format of any kind, so did you get it from the Book Depository? Despite both of us not really enjoying Inside (Borzoi books ) - guess what! It's on the short list for another Can Lit prize, the Rogers Trust Prize!!! Ugh! Someone must not have the high standards that you and I have. sigh. I guess I'll to try to get on the panel as a judge ;)
I hope to get to them soon, Stasia - before I forget all about the Foundation-history.
Deb - There is no Kindle Store in Denmark, so I'm using the american one. And it has Our Daily Bread....so I have downloaded it. Living in Denmark with no access to Kindle Books, Netflix etc. we have to be a little creative....
I'll support you, if you apply for a jury position. You are an obvious choice :)
Book 42: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010) Rating: 5/5
I had a hard time putting this book down or should I say take my headphones of. I knew nothing of the life of Louie Zamperini, Olympic runner and later POW during WW2. What a fascinating life-story. This is a well-research biography. So many details, letters, facts about the war have been put into this book - yet it's a page-turner that never seems to lose pace, a spellbinding read from start to finish. Horrendous suffering, remarkable survival instinct, and a story of forgiveness and redemption when all hope seems lost.
The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when their tormentors suffer.
Thanks to Nancy for recommending it - a five-star read, no doubt. As her biography on Seabiscuit, Hillenbrands Unbroken will be made into a movie...
Yours is the second glowing review of Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption that I've seen around here recently, Carsten. I don't usually gravitate towards biographies, but I may have to cave and see if my library has a copy of this one!
Yes, the book had a great emotional impact on me.
If you are into audiobooks, Valerie, this one was very well read, by Edward Herrmann.
You are very creative and smart , Carsten, to be able to transfer a Kindle book to work on your Ipad! I'm afraid that I have far too few brains for things like that. I wonder if it was recently that Our Daily Bread was put onto amazon com ? I know I looked on amazon com for my kindle books and I don't recall seeing it a couple of months ago when I purchased a second hand copy from amazon ca. Or maybe I failed to notice! At any rate, I'm glad that you've got it.
Great review of Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption .. That is a book that I've yet to get to. Of interest , last time I had to go see my family doctor, somehow WW11 came in to the conversation and he told me that his father was a German Pacifist during WW11, and so was imprisoned for some years in Dachau. That's an area of German WW history that we seldom hear. His father was Methodist. I had not even known that there were Methodist in Germany , especially during WW11.
Hmmm , perhaps I should try listening to that on audio too.
Great review, Carsten. I am jealous as havent had a 5 star book in a while.
Deb - Yes it would be interesting to know more about what happened to those who chose not to fight in Germany. It's good to sneak in a biography now and then.
Of course you read also historical novels that are in many ways biographical.
Megan - Oh yes. Try an audiobook. I enjoy it so much. Hope you'll get to a five-star read soon :)
#182 - Hi Carsten - It's been about 15 years since I've read the trilogy and it's interesting that I sort of think back on them more as novels, but I could be wrong. I think it's time for a re-read of them since they're one of my favorites and I always find myself getting into discussions about them. I think I'll see if my library has them as audiobooks.
Have a lovely weekend!
Stopping by to say hi and hope that you had a great weekend, Carsten and that your reading life is going well!
Kerri - As much sci-fi in that period it first came out as short stories in sci-fi magazines but it has also a very clever subplot that binds it all together. I think they will make good audiobooks with all the dialogue there's in them.
Deb - Yes, a good weekend. But not much reading...mostly some audiobook listening. Got tired of the third Hunger Games book and are now listening to Defending Jacob which is quite good so far.
#194 - Hi Carsten - I just picked up the trilogy as audiobooks from the library, so I'll get to them sometime in the near future.
I have yet to try audiobooks. I think it's mainly because I find it hard to concentrate when someone else is reading the story. But, at some point, I may have to give them a try since my library does have quite a good selection.
Hi Kerry - Sounds like a good idea to make it an audiobook-experience. I might have to check this out.
Hi Valerie - If the narrator can make the main characters with good "voices" it's a wonderful experience. Try it :)
Hi Valerie - thanks for stopping by. The last few weeks have been rather slow - reading-wise. Busy at work and other stuff, so I've dropped pretty much all I was reading and started listening to Northanger Abbey - just a comfort read for the moment. See you are reading A year of living biblically - looking forward to hear what you think. It's on my radar.
Hi Anne - so you have also decided to read (reread?) The Hobbit? Did it last year in preparation for the movie premiere. Looking forward to that :) Actually this weekend was good for me - I look forward to have some time soon to start reading more again....... I haven't been on LT for a while.
Carsten, I am new to The Hobbit, and we're enjoying it so much (we're reading it aloud) I can't believe I waited until now to read it! We were inspired by the movie as well, and because my daughter will travel with her choir to New Zealand in the spring.
Anne - Oh, I want to listen to your reading also :) a perfect choice - I was a choir boy once, travelling to the Faroe Islands to sing. I'm sure she will have a great, great time. It's such a beautiful nature...I'm told :)
I think the beginning of The Hobbit is one of literatures most funniest openings.
I've been reading that book for months now! I think it's the longest time I've spent on one book, ever. It's actually a really interesting and funny book, but that is usually my approach with NF books, nice and slow... :)
Hopefully work doesn't stay busy for too long so yo can get back to what is important, reading good books. ;)
You are right, Valerie, gotta have my priorities straighten out :) it will happen soon, I think.
You are making me feel guilty for not having read the Hobbit! A friend of mine is reading is as she is in the tourism business and feels she needs to have read it for the sake of being able to discuss it with travellers in her line of work. But she is stuck half way! I said--- just wait for the movie ;)
You were a choir boy Carsten? hehe, cute!
Wait for the movie - a somewhat contradictory advice by a LT-fan :) - It's a trilogy so it will take a few years to get through in movie-time. But I'm sure it will be great. I prefer Jackson over Tolkien when it comes to LOTR.
Yes, a choir-boy, I'm still singing. Under the shower!
Just stopping by to say hello Carsten. I've got The Hobbit on my books to read next shortlist as a reread.
Hope things at work ease up so you can get more reading done.
Hi Heather - Thanks for stopping by :) I'm a bit bogged down at the moment with my job and other stuff to worry about. Can't pick up a book at the moment....Well, I mostly listen to books which seems to work ok. I really hope things will ease up soon. The Hobbit is definitely worth a reread - I so much look forward to the movie version - although I'm a bit worried that they have stretched it to three movies....after all - it's not "one ring to bind them all" this time but "only" a treasure-hunt with some dwarves :)
It has been a very slow autumn and now winter - both reading and visiting LT - have not really been able to sit down with a book the last few weeks - fortunately listening to audiobooks seemed to work ok. I hope to get back on track in the new year - or hopefully already this coming holiday. I miss my chair in the corner and a stack of books beside me.....
Well, here's what I've managed since september:
Book 43: Defending Jacob by William Landay (2012) Rating: 4/5
A scary and intens psychological drama about a boy trialed for a murder on a fellow student. Was he innocent or is there darker sides to his character that the parents are not aware of? You are constantly in doubt as to the outcome, very unpredictable legal thriller.
Book 44: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1817) Rating: 4/5
Nothing can bring comfort like a Jane Austen novel, and it was the right choice when I was looking for something to relax with. I read it last year when we had the Austenathon - and reading at least one Austen-novel a year is a must :) - reviewed it last year - so let me just say it hasn't lost it charm. And Juliet Stevenson does a fine work on this audio-edition.
Book 45: The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde (1888) 3/5
These few fairy tales are not your normal happy-ending-stories - they have a sting - some quite sad, some funny, most of them evolving around the theme of loss, suffering and self-sacrifice and friendship. I found them very refreshing to read.
Book 46: De profundis by Oscar Wilde (1897) 4/5
De Profundis (latin “from the depths”) is taken from the first line of Psalm 130 of the Bible. This short work is an epistle written during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol, to Lord Alfred Douglas.
A very sad, insightful and profound work of literature. His account of prison life and the way his dignity is stripped and his world is shattered is deeply moving. He accepts his own role in his misery "in my perversity I turned the good things of my life to evil". And he tries to accept suffering . The last part of the epistle was confusing and I couldn't really follow him - his identification with Jesus - and the way he talks about him as an artist or romantic figure.
I used to live entirely for pleasure. I shunned suffering and sorrow of every kind. I hated both. I resolved to ignore them as far as possible: to treat them, that is to say, as modes of imperfection. They were not part of my scheme of life. They had no place in my philosophy.
There are times when sorrow seems to me to be the only truth. Other things may be illusions of the eye or the appetite, made to blind the one and cloy the other, but out of sorrow have the worlds been built, and at the birth of a child or a star there is pain.
Hey there Carsten, great to see you back and reading your usual large and interesting variety of books! Defending Jacob sounds very interesting - you may have sent me a " book bullet " with that one! I think I have either Agnes Grey or NorthAnger Abbey on the shelf. Hmm. I think it's Agnes Grey. I'll have to have a look!
And then you read such wonderful classics and profound books, such as De Profundis by Oscar Wild. Great review too!
I hope that you are feeling a little better and less busy - but really , at this time of year, who is feeling less busy....
I had a friend stop by this evening and bring 4 Christian books for Christmas/ Birthday. That was lovely!
I too am kind of looking for brighter, more comforting reads at this time of year. The book I am most looking forward too in the New Year is the release of Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley. You might remember that I discovered the author last November/ December and read through all of his 3 books on after another! Well, I just can't wait for another of his books to come out - date expected - Jan 29 2013. Like Denmark, we have short dark days, and most of the days it is overcast and raining. It wears on me after a while!
hugs to you, my Danish friend!
Thanks for stopping by my thread Carsten! I too am hoping to be around LT more next year. Sometimes life just gets in the way. :) I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy a few more good books this year.
Good to have you visiting again, Deb. Oh, yes now I remember the Flavia-books. I guess I should give one of them a try next year.
Yesterday I went to see and listen to Händels Messiah - it has become a tradition, and now I can safely say Christmas has arrived - Händel can really lift ones spirit - and the last giftshopping was today, so I feel pretty relaxed actually :) - here it's bitterly cold and windy. No weather for man or beast!!
Last week I went to see the first of the Hobbit-movies - it was entertaining - but didn't have the magic of LOTR - and yes, it seems way to much to make 3 movies three hours each.
At the moment I'm listening to the actor Jim Broadbent reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage... and it's a pleasure. What a strange man (I mean Harold Fry).
I'm slowly contemplating what I should concentrate on for next years 75....
I never get tired of it. Some years we say: well we could also see another Christmas Concert - but we always return to The Messiah :)
What a lovely tradition! Our Colorado Symphony has done The Messiah for years, but the last few years they've done it at a beautiful old (old for Denver, anyway) stone church by candlelight. I haven't been able to see it there, but I've heard it's lovely. They also do a gospel/jazzy version called Too Hot to Handel, which is great fun, too.
Now that it's the Christmas season, I hope you can relax and enjoy!
Oh so lovely , Carsten - Handel's Messiah! A wonderful tradition. Yes, I suppose Harold Fry is an unusual man , but I really enjoyed the story. I hope you do too!
Merry Christmas to you!
Anne - Sounds fantastic - Händel by candlelight - and it could be nice to hear it in another more rhythmic version. Great title - Too Hot to Handel. LOL. I do relax now :) inside.... it's a snowstorm here on one of the biggest day of travelling in Denmark - many are driving home to families all over the country - it will be chaos for a lot.
Deb - I'm enjoying Harold Fry's journey also - it has an understated wry humour that I like - not sure if I should laugh or cry - probably both. Sometimes I'm reminded of the ever walking - ever hungry - Futh. Jim Broadbent is a fantastic narrator - I checked audible, but alas - only some short stories by him. No novels besides the Fry-book.
Carsten - nice to see our favourite Viking (well geographically closeish) back and busy on the threads. Have a great weekend and a wonderful Christmas. I am sure it will be pretty cold over there and will spare you a thought whilst i am by the pool.
Paul - I can hear life is tough out there...by the pool :) Well, a wonderful Christmas to you too and your family.
Hi Carsten! Merry Christmas to you, and best wishes for a safe and happy new year :)
Take care of yourself.
Hi Carsten, I can't catch up on posts, but I'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year!!
213: Marie - And a Merry Christmas to you. Hope things will settle down at your place and you can enjoy some peaceful holidays.
Anne, Megan and Nathalie - I also wish you a joyful Christmas - and thanks for all the "conversations" during this book-year. Looking forward to next year :)
Carsten - a very happy new year to you and I hope to see a bit more of you in 2013.
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