Group Reading Log: November 2008
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Well, I thought I may as well kick this one along a bit. :)
Still going on Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow but the end is nigh. Really curious to see where this is going (jubby, from your previous comments: it's all one big twist to me, *nothing* is going anywhere I'd expect, so I'm very curious about the ending now you've mentioned a big unexpected twist :).
And still going on Don't Move, and Mr Bear & I are still enjoying Despereaux, even if the last chapter we read was a bit late at night and filled with Big Concepts (betrayal by one's father, but you'd think he'd know all about that given his Star Wars addiction). Miss Boo is still addicted to One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish but she did sneak Red Rockets and Rainbow Jelly into her bed the other night. :)
I am currently reading VODKA DOESN'T FREEZE by Leah Giarratano - Police proceduaral set in Sydney looking at child abuse and paedophiles. Is a torrid read.
Will be moving on to light and fluffy reads soon as we are heading off to South Australia for the Andre Rieu concert - then 2 1/2 weeks in the surrounding wine regions.
Just realised with a shock that yes, it is November... where have I been?
... Under a stack of HSC marking papers, that's where - creative writing section. I'm getting some pretty torrid reads there too, I must say :) On a lighter note, did you know that if you climb Uluru you can see the Sydney Centrepoint tower? Well, neither did I, until I marked this extremely informative story yesterday :D
In terms of real literature I'm just wrapping up Suite Francaise. Are you up to it yet, crimson-tide? As wookiebender said, it's the astounding veracity of it that just knocks my little socks off. Nemirovsky is so utterly perceptive and utterly unsentimental - I'm in awe at the vividness of the reality she creates, especially the double-bind of characters like Lucille Angellier who are equally alienated from their own people and from the Germans.
Next up is a re-read of Rebecca, which I've just flipped through & is perfect not just for a re-read but for my Extension kids doing modern gothic. I really should be good & going on to reading Pale Fire, but I just can't see it as a bedtime book & lack the cafe time just at the moment.
beaten to the punch, thanks wookiebender :)
I haven't read much over the past few days, partly because I bought a PlayStation 3 for my kids (and me!) yesterday and it took aaages to set up - and partly because Shadow of the Jaguar is incredibly boring and I've just decided not to finish it. Reading bad TV-spin-off books serves to remind me just how good most Doctor Who novels are in comparison :) I'm not giving up on the "Primeval" books just yet though, as a couple of already announced forthcoming books are by authors I'm familiar with who are usually reliable.
I'm still reading The Tale of Despereaux to my family, truth be told we've only read it two nights since we started a month ago as it has been a very bad month for having everyone home and fed in time to read before bed :(
I'm not sure what I'll be reading next - I owe several books so I think it'll come down to what I manage to unearth (or more accurately un-crate) tomorrow...
Miss-Owl, it's been years since I've read Rebecca! *ponders* Actually, probably not since High School. The curse of being a book one was assigned in class, it hardly ever gets re-read. (Emma was the only one I can remember re-reading...)
I haven't finished Miss Smillla's Feeling for Snow yet, but it should be done tonight. Still completely lost as to what is happening, but am very curious to find out why. Literary whodunnits can be quite intriguing. :)
And, next will be picked up "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal", as newk is horrified that it's been on my Mt TBR for *mumble* years and is urging me to read it for my Set It Yourself challenge. And I could do with an amusing read. (It's been unread for this long, because I'm worried I may not get the jokes, being entirely lacking in religious education. But I didn't want to release it without trying it at first...)
Actually, wookiebender, I accidentally left Rebecca at work so ended up starting Pale Fire anyway - it was better than anything else the doctor's surgery had on offer. (Incidentally, it is *really* difficult to read Vladimir Nabokov against a background of Kylie Minogue.) So far, it's a read I'm enjoying with my head more than my heart.
Anyway, I know what you mean about the curse of the schoolbook... I don't think I've reread any either, except to teach them to my own students - Playing Beatie Bow, To Kill a Mockingbird, Othello - thus perpetuating the vicious cycle :)
By the way, does anyone know of a Sydney bookcrosser who drives a blue Holden station wagon? 'Cause it made my day this afternoon to see a big Ballycumber sign in their rear windscreen!
Miss-Owl, I loathed Lolita so am not at all keen to try anything else by Nabokov. (Apparently it was supposed to be funny. Go figure.) Can't image reading anything worthy with a background of Kylie. :) And I'm certainly not driving a big blue station wagon around Sydney, I don't know who that could be!
I finished Miss Smilla the other night, and have to say that the twist at the ending almost made me throw the book across the room in disgust. Was terribly unimpressed, it made no sense whatsoever. (Watching Charles Firth on SBS last night and they mentioned the "refrigerator moment" where after enjoying a movie, you're then at home, getting a midnight snack from the fridge and suddenly go "hang on a minute, Woody Allen would *never* be able to pull Scarlet Johannson!" This was a 'fridge moment right from the first word.) I do have to say that Miss Smilla is one of the world's greatest literary detectives though, in case anyone thought the whole book was a write-off (no pun intended). And I do love a bit of maths in my literature, I'm a maths nerd from waaaaaaay back.
And I have started Lamb and am enjoying it immensely. The angel in it is reminding me of Aziraphale from Good Omens and I love how he's TV obsessed and wants to be Spider-Man. And the throwaway line about "everyone has a cell phone" in Hell was pure Gaiman/Pratchett. A good recommendation from newk!
wookiebender, I really enjoyed Lamb. You don't have to *get* all the bible based jokes to appreciate it, but even "being entirely lacking in religious education", I reckon you'll get most of them as it's amazing how much of that 'stuff' has permeated into our everyday knowledge via various routes. The angel Raziel also features in The Stupidest Angel, which is one crazy book. It's basically a zombie book when all is said and done. You'd enjoy that one too, I'm sure. ;)
I'm finding The Broken Shore a great read; very Australian and refreshingly different from most cop based murder stories. I gather that many people from the US have had trouble with it in terms of the aussie vernacular and the degree of swearing that occurs (in particular the f word), but in the context of the community and characters in the novel it is entirely appropriate if you want the dialogue to be 'real'.
I've finished listening to Unless by Carol Shields as an audiobook and found it rather odd. It took me a long time with a few false starts and gaps, so obviously didn't grab me that much. It is on the 1001 list, and I think that perhaps I would have enjoyed reading it rather more than listening to it. It's very introspective and doesn't have much of a plot as such, not that a book needs a plot for me to appreciate it of course!
Currently on audiobook I'm listening to House of Sand and Fog. My only comment so far is that the author Andre Dubus III should stick to writing and not try to read his own books. His wife reads the other POV, so at least you don't have to figure out who is talking at any time. More on that one later.
Pale Fire is still sitting on the coffee table and will be coming up again soonish, but I'm afraid Suite Francaise may have to wait a while yet, Miss-Owl.
I'm quite enjoying Pale Fire, in its own quirky little ivory tower self-satirical way, but haven't completely made up my mind about it yet. Only about a fifth of the way through.
As for Unless, I read it a while back and found it rather underwhelming - exactly as you mentioned, crimson-tide, not very cohesive. I liked the chapter headings but as a whole it didn't do much for me. Yes, it is on the 1001 list, but it's fallen off the 2008 version - deservedly, I think.
Oh yes, wookiebender - totally agree with you about Kylie. In the round Kylie vs Nabokov, Kylie scored a K.O. :)
Me again. Just wondering if anyone's read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, and if so, whether it qualifies for modern Romanticism? (I'm still gathering recommendations for my extension kids.)
It's many moons (no, make that decades) ago that I read Siddhartha, but I'd vote no wrt to it being modern Romanticism. I'd say very much more of a spiritual, mysticism emphasis than Romantic.
But then again, what do I know? I'm truly hopeless with those sorts of labels and categories. ;)
Quoth Miss-Owl: "I liked the chapter headings but as a whole it didn't do much for me."
*snort* Now I have to read it because of the chapter headings! :) I've got a copy somewhere...
Haven't read Siddhartha, although I was up for a ring for it, but it was offered to me at a bad time (ie, sometime in the last six months!). I can't seem to see an end to the bookrings at the moment.
I read The House of Sand And Fog a few years back and thought it was rather moving. A slow book, but a builder.
crimson-tide, I shall definitely check out The Stupidest Angel as well. "A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror" is giving me the giggles already!
re #14 - argh, don't quote me, wookiebender! I knew it sounded stupid as soon as I'd pressed "submit"!
Anyway... if you just the read the chapter headings it's a pretty quick read!
Thanks, crimson-tide, for the run-down on Siddhartha. Spiritual/mystic can still come under Romanticism - you're not the only one who struggles with categories (and I have to teach them! Yelp!)... I'll investigate further.
Yay... no HSC marking tonight!
>14 wookiebender: Sorry, Miss-Owl. :)
Went to the library today, and highlights were (for Miss Boo): Everybody Poos; a whole heap of Star Wars "encyclopaedias" for Mr Bear; and I got The End of the Affair, T is for Trespass, and The Trial. Oh, and re-snaffled Amelia Peabody's Egypt which I'd sadly put in the return chute on my way in after maxing out the number of renewals. (Is that bad, to grab it from the sorting shelves?)
Gah. I can't say no to books! (Although I *completely* forgot about the free book box on my way out due to Miss Boo being a Tad Difficult so I missed a brilliant bookcrossing sourcing opportunity! If anyone's near Glebe Library in the next week or so, they've got some decent looking stuff in there...)
Finished The Broken Shore this morning and highly recommend it. Very real and believable (unfortunately) with an interesting main protagonist. I'll need to start on the next one for book club soon, Love on the Dole and then get back to Pale Fire, although I'll need to start it again. Will try to slip in some 'light relief' along the way as well. :)
Hey, wookiebender, do you know there's a readalong for The Trial in the Group Reads: Literature group?
I'm planning to take part as I keep saying things are Kafka-esque when I've never actually read any Kafka. Also, it's a nice short book & lately they've been reading real monsters like Kristin Lavransdatter. The other group read is Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man but I've already read that, and Mr Nabokov is still demanding some attention.
Crimson-tide, when you get around to Pale Fire I'd love to know what you think of it!
Ooh, I've never done a readalong. I wonder if I'd like it?? I might just pop over to that group... Thanks Miss-Owl!
I did start The Trial on the weekend - just the first few pages. Very very interesting so far. But decided I'd better finish something first before starting it in earnest. :}
I've got a copy of Portrait of the Artist as well, but I really should NOT start another book... *sounds of a wookiebender's arm being twisted*... I've only ever tried Ulysses by Joyce before. Rather amazing language, but I didn't get very far into it. The size is a bit daunting. Yay for thin books. ;)
Just poking my head n to day that I'm here. I've not ventured into LT for ages, but c-t reminded me, and well . . .
Both The Trial and Portrait of an Artist are books I read when I was a student, so I have no recollection of them what so ever. (Write an exam about a topic, and, woosh, it's gone out of my head. I do have them both, so One Day I might read them again.)
My current reading has surprised me. A friend (who teaches creative literature and who is a writer himself) recommended Stephen King's Bag of Bones to me as being and example of a well structured novel. It was compelling, (and appalling) and I didn't see how the structure is so great. I actually HATE that genre anyway. That's what I finished (with relief) yesterday. I read "Brick Lane" last week, and I was really captivated by that.
What else? I've just started "Suite Francaise" and 'The White Earth". I think I'm going to enjoy the former, but not a lot is thrilling me about the latter. Having said that, I've not read very far.
What I find worrying (on a personal note) is that I've not yet unpacked/found the books I have as bookrings. I do so hate moving, even if it's only because I lose track of books . . .
That's enough from me.
Hi livrecache! I'm no fan of horror either, I don't particularly like knowing what people can think up in terms of degradation of their main characters. Having said that, I have read a number of the classics and enjoyed them (Dracula, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Frankenstein), and have read a rather embarrassingly large number of the new genre of "supernatural romance" (think hot sexy vampires instead of Mr Tall Dark and Handsome). A very flimsy genre, and not one that I'm proud of reading; but Sunshine was actually very good, and Undead and Unwed and its first sequel were very very very silly good fun (the rest were appallingly badly written, I gave up at #4). And in the last few years I did venture into literary horror with Dead Europe and into cult horror with World War Z and into Stephen King-esque horror with Heart Shaped Box (by his son). All of which I really enjoyed as books (some minor quibbles about Heart Shaped Box).
But I tend to sleep with the lights on now, just in case something creepy took up residence in the hallway while I was snoring... Damn you, Joe Hill.
I finished a book!
(damn those video games and everything they stand for!!)
Top Dog was excellent - a ruthless Wall Street businessman finds himself in the body of a dog, and in a fantasy world facing an imminent ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL. Both sides believe our hero is their fast ticket to victory and he must decide which side will best serve his own desire to return to the real world.
next up for me is Gun, with Occasional Music
Finished Love Without Hope last night, and it was a beautiful, if sad, story. A Miles Franklin shortlist read, set in the 1980s about an old lady living on a farm by herself and raising her beloved horses, and nothing is really quite as it seems. One of those "pondering" books.
I'm close to finishing Lamb and I'm not sure if I want to read about the crucifixion. Josh is too nice a guy for me to be happy about him being nailed to a cross. I shall finish it (it's still funny in the lead up to it all!), probably tonight.
And then I can get started *properly* on The Trial for the readalong...
Finished Lamb on the bus home last night and managed to not blubber or anything. Sad ending (natch), but it wasn't too gruesome given what he could have written about.
Have read the first couple of chapters of The Trial, but have also picked up Complete Short Fiction by Oscar Wilde for part of the Set It Yourself Reading Challenge (I said I'd read six books from my TBR pile that I'd had for more than one year; this one clocks in as gathering dust for four years on my shelves, *gulp*). It was fun to revisit the fairy tales that I read on fairly high rotation as a child (I must say, I must've been a particular macabre child), and now I'm up to the new (to me) stuff.
About halfway through The Trial and I can see why the world needs the word "Kafkaesque" now. Fascinating stuff, if completely confusing at times. (But I think that's the point...)
Have finished what I think of as the "Victorian" fairy tale/parable/moral tales section of Oscar Wilde's Complete Short Fiction and while I loved them, I am a bit over beautiful people dying beautifully and insanely tragically. (It's almost gothic, but definitely not grotesque.)
And I finished Secret Lives of Great Authors which was an amusing read. It's an American book, so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that the great Che Guevara was described as "murderous" at one stage (!!! obviously they'd never read The Motorcycle Diaries). And not a single mention of a single Mitford sister... L. Ron Hubbard would have been a juicy chapter, only the Church of Scientology would probably sue, and he's hardly a great author anyhow...
I have my life back!! Marking is finally finished!!
Now I can start *real* reading again :)
Managed to polish off the last few pages of Pale Fire at last, so can report in to the SIY Challenge site guilt-free. It's a very quirky read, crimson-tide, when you get through it. Rather reminded me of my kids' reactions when we were studying If on a Winter's Night a Traveller earlier this year - very much written on Barthes' principle that to know true pleasure, it must be interrupted. Hence, there are all sorts of fascinating little vignettes about the Zemblan king, only to get rudely interrupted by inane passages about butterflies and whatnot. And as for creating those unsettling, seedy, megalomaniacal protagonists, wookiebender (a la Lolita), Nabokov absolutely excels.
Thanks for bringing up Oscar Wilde, wookiebender. One of my Extension 2 students is doing a folktale writing project. She wants to combine it with elements of postmodernism (gulp). I've recommended Angela Carter but Oscar Wilde is a great one too.
What shall I read next? So many exciting possibilities (she says, departing to go & stare vaguely at her bookshelves before probably deciding she is too brain dead to read anything...)
Miss-Owl, congratulations on finishing the marking! Thinking of folktales with elements of post-modernism (is Extension 2 like the old 3 Unit we used to be offered way back in the dark ages?), I just keep on coming back to Possession with all that Victorian/William Morris style poetry. You probably didn't want to hear that. ;) Did Jeanette Winterson write anything that would suit? I'm thinking The Passion in particular, but I'm not quite sure if it would fit: in my memory it has the feel of a fairy tale. Definitely Oscar Wilde's fairy tales though, they're beautifully written.
I have to pack for a long weekend away (I shall do that tomorrow night however, tonight I had to make two dozen cupcakes for Mr Bear's birthday tomorrow for him to hand out to his classmates; thank all the deities for Betty Crocker's chocolate frosting!) and instead of thinking of the practical things (sunscreen, underwear, sneakers, etc) I keep on making shortlists of books to take with me...
it could be argued that with the right shortlist of books the "practical things" become irrelevant...
Welcome back to earth, Miss-Owl.
I finished Love on the Dole today just in time for book club. Forced myself to read it and boy, was it grim. I'm sure it was exceedingly realistic: life was grim and depressing in a mill town in the North Midlands in 1933. Interesting from a sociological perspective though. Oh, did I say it was depressing? ;) The writing was not my cup of tea unfortunately, very 'overwrought'.
Nearly through House of Sand and Fog on audio. It is all spiraling down to total disaster very quickly now. Trouble is I can't really feel much for any of the characters.
Next is another start for Pale Fire along with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, a nice little 1001 book I owe via the 1001 Books VBB.
Enjoy your long weekend away, wookiebender.
freelunch, I like your thinking. :)
And I just realised that I'll be flying into your home town this Friday evening!! Unfortunately, I'll be there just long enough for us to be put on a bus to Port Douglas. Same on the way home.
I'm not sure if I'll get any reading of Kafka done while I'm away. I'm not sure if it's the sort of thing that gets read on tropical holidays...
On the contrary, freelunch, the right shortlist of books *is* the most practical thing! :)
Like a good little English teacher, I trotted off to my bookshelf last night to pick up The Castle of Otranto, a pioneering gothic novel I've been meaning to read. And I'm loving it! It's kind of like Hitchcock's Psycho, or The Birds - so outdated now that its terror is actually comic.
Happy long weekend, wookiebender! - and that means no, you shouldn't read Kafka, 'cause he's not a happy chappy at all :)
I dunno, Psycho and The Birds both freaked me out when I watched them for the first time. :)
The Trial did make the shortlist (as did A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and Falling Man), but the rest is pretty darned fluffy: The Thirteenth Tale, Half The Blood of Brooklyn, The Lies of Locke Lamora. I shall report back on Tuesday as to which ones were actually read.
I'm not expecting to read all of them, I just wanted to have a *choice* when I finish Oscar Wilde... And Kafka is due back at the library next Saturday.
Not a single bookring or relay book. My bad...
Okay, my reading: finished The Trial on the plane (and will make comments on the literature reads group tonight, I hope): a strange book, not an easy read. Would have been more powerful for me if K. had actually been a decent bloke or had made some sense with his behaviour. :)
Then picked up and finished by the pool, Wintersmith. Lovely to revisit Pratchett's witches (some like the night watch books best, I like the witches the best), but I think I should have read the first (two?) in the series beforehand. There was a bit of assumed knowledge about previous plots and the plot of this one jumped around a bit. But then we got to Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, and all was forgiven. :)
Then picked up and finished by the pool, The Thirteenth Tale. A great story, all about storytelling. *Highly* recommended.
(It was hot, there's only so much aircon I can take before I start freaking out about Legionnaire's Disease, so I snaffled a deck chair in the shade under the palm trees, listened to the beach crash away behind me, and had smoothies brought to me by nice young men. And the occasional dip in the pool when the smoothies, shade and ocean breeze just couldn't cut it any more.)
Started on the plane on the way home, The Lies of Locke Lamora, which is a spiffing tale of thieves in some strange fantasy world (with touches of sci-fi?). I'm enjoying this one immensely.
And only have a few pages of Complete Short Fiction by Oscar Wilde to go. I forgot to pack that one.
All my wild releases were in the hotel lobby, because I *completely* forgot every time I went into town to take any books. And I wasn't keen on leaving them in the grounds/beach because of the weather (sooooo humid!) and I didn't have any ziplock bags on me. Not a terribly exciting journey for any of them, unfortunately.
Sounds like a really hard life, wookiebender. ;)
I can't come anywhere near that on the reading front, I'm afraid. Finished A Christmas Carol finally - a tiny book that should have been read in a blink took the better part of a week as other things kept getting in the way. A true 'classic'; you know, the sort where everyone 'sort of' knows the story but very few have ever read the original.
Will get back to House of Sand and Fog audio soon too, and get that knocked off. I can see out the back window that the orchard needs mowing again.
Just dropped by and all these familiar names are in the group :-)
I hope everyone enjoys Suite Francaise (or enjoyed, by now, its getting close to December after all, as if anyone needed reminding :-)
I've broken my bookring reading block and finished off 3 this month.
A Thousand Splendid Suns - the best book I've read this year.
The Welsh Girl - part of fleebos 2007 booker challenge.
My life as a traitor - the true story of an Iranian uni student who found herself arrested for political activities. She also reveals bits about growing up in Iran and some Persian history which was also very interesting.
The Enchantress of Florence - A bookring I'm hosting for Fleebos 2008 booker list challenge. Send me a PM if you would like to join. The link to the book is here. http://bookcrossing.com/journal/6669650
Kafka on the Shore is what I'm reading at the moment.
So I've travelled the world this month, Afganistan to Wales, off to Iran, then to India and Italy now in Japan!
Life is good :-)
Edited to add I'm FreePages on Bookcrossing, just in case anyone was wondering :-)
Hey, welcome Kim - good to see you here. :)
Hope you'll become one of the "regulars".
Hi KimB! (I'm tqd on bookcrossing, btw.)
I have to get some bookrings knocked off the TBR mountain, but most of them are Booker/Miles Franklin reads, and no one seems to be in any great rush for them. :)
I'm home off work today because Miss Boo isn't well (tummy upset) and we didn't want her infecting her grandparents. So while I hung around upstairs making sure she took her nap, I managed to knock off Eleven which was donated to my Books By The Numbers challenge by freelunch (the review will be coming!). Just a day-in-the-life of a poor office schmoe in Cardiff, as seen through his inbox. But not *any* day, it is September 11, 2001. I thought it was a bit Bridget Jones for a while there (but for the blokey set), but the ending was a bit bleak. I suppose one can't overhaul one's life in an 8 hour workday...
Now I've finished that book, I can get stuck into the mountain of washing, the filthy kitchen, cook something yummy for dinner, and hopefully write a review of all the books I read over the weekend!! (Or I can go back to bed and read another book...)
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