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Group Reading Log: January 2009

BookCrossing Australia!

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Dec 31, 2008, 9:39am Top

Happy New Year To All! :o)

I'm kicking this year off with T. Coraghessan Boyle's The Road To Wellville, of which I saw a movie adaptation several years ago, long before I'd heard of the author.

Dec 31, 2008, 3:59pm Top

Happy New Year to everyone from me too!

freelunch, I started The Road to Wellville once, but only got a few pages into it before I got distracted. I shall get back to it one day (I know which shelf it's on!), but in the meantime I'm curious to see what you think.

I'm still reading The Lion in the Valley, still supposedly reading Walden for VeganMedusa for last month's Southern Cross (but might just send it unread, it's not grabbing me much), and every now and then Mr Bear & I do pop back into The Tale of Despereaux but he got some spoilers from school friends who've seen bootlegged copies of the movie and he's less interested now. (Damned bootlegs and gossipy children.)

Dec 31, 2008, 11:03pm Top

I've not yet read a TC Boyle book I didn't like, so my expectations are high. I'm off to a good start, though I'll be happier if I can stop visualising Matthew Broderick in the part he played in the film adaptation.

Also today I'll start reading Wetworld (a new series Doctor Who novel) aloud to my youngest (5.6 years) - last year my attempts to read aloud to all my kids suffered due to their diversifying schedules as they grow up. As the older two are good readers I've decided to concentrate this year on reading to the youngest daily. I asked him if he'd prefer to start with Doctor Who or Harry Potter (who he knows from the movies) and he chose The Doctor.

Jan 1, 2009, 4:41am Top

And a very happy and safe New Year to all from me also!

December was an exceptionally bad reading month for me, I'm afraid. I did finally finish Behind the Scenes at the Museum but took far too long about it. This had nothing at all to do with the book however; I thought it was a brilliant read. To start off the new year I'm reading Darkly Dreaming Dexter.

Yesterday I received a copy of Netochka Nezvanova from freelunch as a result of his "nominate a book for another BookCrosser and we'll all keep mum about who the mystery BookCrosser is" draw. ;) So now I longer have a Dostoyevsky (or Dostoevsky) free library! I figure my mystery benefactor is very likely someone from this group, so thanks very much to you mystery person. And thanks freelunch.

Jan 1, 2009, 6:13am Top

Happy New Year everyone.

Good luck with The road to wellville too Freelunch. I read 70% of it as a bookring a while back, but just couldn't last the slog. Still feeling rather guilty about that.

Now, if been rather busy with family/social events, but still have another 100 pages of The Welsh girl to go.

I admire the shared readings with your children too TQD and Freelunch. We had a rousing read-a-long of Dear zoo yesterday - but I think the adults were the ones who were enjoying it!

I hope you enjoy the Dexter books too Crimson-tide. My husband adores this series. I saw half of the tv series by being in the same room while he insisted on watching them. Too scary for me.

The enchantress of Florence is demanding attention. But, so is Everything bad is good for you, which is my book VeganMedussa last month (oh dear!), and The time we have taken is all lined up on my bedside table too.

I can't wait for everyone to go back to work so I'll have some reading time!

Happy reading everyone.

Edited: Jan 3, 2009, 9:57pm Top

Happy new Year everyone.

I have finished my first book of the year - Enough Rope by Andrew Denton - Is a library book not a bookcrossing book. I have put my review up on my blog and on librarything - but not sure how to do a link to it in this posting like you guys all do am playing with the bracket thingies (touchstones?)

Edited: Jan 2, 2009, 6:47am Top

ok bracketing 'enough rope' didn't take it to the correct author - hmmm - may have to look into this more

Jan 2, 2009, 8:35pm Top

Happy new year! I've started the year with two books - a daytime one and a nighttime one. The daytime one is The Inheritance of Loss, which I sent out on a bookring two Christmases ago and has returned just in time to be read! It's had mixed reviews from the bookringers but I'm really enjoying it. The nighttime one is Dracula, and, unlike The Castle of Otranto and Vathek, is a gothic novel that is actually creepy. The other two were just funny.

> 5: Hey, jubby, what did you mean by "Everything bad is good for you, which is my book VeganMedussa last month (oh dear!)" - I'm curious because I've been wanting to read Everything bad is good for you... is it, ahem, any good? :)

Jan 3, 2009, 6:02am Top

Thankfully I'm off to a better start this month in the reading stakes, having finished Darkly Dreaming Dexter this morning. I found it an utterly compelling read, despite all its gruesome bits and creepiness. So what does that say about me then I wonder . . . ;D

> 8: Miss-Owl, what jubby meant was that VeganMedusa was the December recipient for the 2008 "Southern Cross Exchange" run via the BookObsessed web site, and jubby was planning to send Everything Bad is Good for You to her last month - but as yet she hasn't actually read it . . . (oh dear!)

Next up for me will be either The Quiet American or Postcards from Surfers by Helen Garner, or perhaps both.

Jan 3, 2009, 11:08am Top

I'm finding The Road To Wellville a little bit of a slog (its the earliest Boyle I've read) but not enough to give up on it just yet.

I am, however, giving up on reading Wetworld aloud - I've read a number of Doctor Who novels to my family in the past and they've been well-received, but I don't think Mr 5.6 is understanding enough of the story to make them worth reading to him alone. Instead I'm going to read The Enchanted Wood.

Jan 3, 2009, 8:22pm Top

Jubby, I'm also behind on VeganMedusa's book for the Southern Cross! I shall give it one more commuting day, and then (if it's not grabbing me) send it unread. Life's too short at the mo... (Life's too short to even correctly type out "moment"!)

I finished Amelia Peabody #4 (The Lion in the Valley) last night - another enjoyable romp with Amelia and her trusty parasol - and it was a bit too early to just go to sleep (well, that's my excuse) so I picked up Fingersmith because it's due back at the library this coming Saturday. Only a handful of pages into it, but it's reading like a great romp so far. I think it's a 1001 book too, but I'm not sure.

sally906, when you use a touchstone and the wrong book shows up: to the right of the Touchstone there will be a link '(others)'. Click on that link, and you'll get the full list of books that apply to the touchstone. Just chose the most appropriate and click on it, and then that'll be the one that shows. (Just beware, if you go back to edit, it resets every touchstone back to the default one, which can be a pain.)

And I'm feeling less enthusiastic about The Road to Wellville now...

Jan 4, 2009, 2:07am Top

Freelunch you take me back, I have such fond memories of The Enchanted Wood and so many other Enid Blytons. That is the book I caught my non-book reading daughter reading in bed the other night. Much to my despair, she has never much cared for reading, and I keep living in hope, after trying just about everything. My two older sons enjoy a good book and always have. I always thought that being surrounded by books, being read to every night and the rest of us enjoying reading that she would follow suite, not so far, unfortunately.
Anyway, I've digressed.
Now reading Fugitive Pieces another worthy 1001 listed book. Also finished McEwans Saturday, one that was removed from the 2008 edition of the "1001 list". I'm really looking forward to reading Atonement soon.
if there is enough interest, I'll be starting bookrings or rays for these books, feel free to join :-)

Wookiebender, just checked Fingersmith was on the earlier edition of the 1001 list. I'll have to keep my eye out for it.
I figure that most of the books that have been on the list are still worth a read. Apart from Adjunct, I cant ever imagine being very interested in reading it. Maybe a quick peak would be enough one day.

Jan 5, 2009, 4:46am Top

Have finished two more books The Trap by Sarah Wray - a new for me reader is a review book - and Aussie Actually - an autobiography.

Next up is Baby Shark and The Year of living biblically

Back to work now - so will bite into my reading time :)

Edited: Jan 6, 2009, 11:38am Top

I've just finished The Road To Wellville - it took a while to get going but was ultimately a worthwhile read. I'm not sure what liberties the author took with the character of John Harvey Kellogg, but if the real man was anything like the one portrayed in the book he was a right nutter (in more ways than one.) This book felt like it strayed further from historical events than Boyle's The Inner Circle, about the work of Alfred Kinsey.

If you've never read T.C. Boyle I wouldn't suggest The Road To Wellville as a starting point - Drop City or Talk Talk might be better choices.

next up for me: A Dog Called Demolition

Jan 6, 2009, 11:53pm Top

#14> freelunch, I did give up on Drop City only a few chapters in. It just didn't grab me. I might just pass The Road to Wellville on as well, it might turn up in the Oz VBB one day soon...

Still reading and *loving* Fingersmith. I'd say it's the best book I've read all year, but it's far too early to say that. :) Although it's going to be hard work to find a better book!

And I picked up Pere Goriot from my mum today, and I have to start it fairly soon, as it's the readalong for the Group Reads: Literature group for January!

Jan 7, 2009, 12:34am Top

crimson-tide - I loved Darkly Dreaming Dexter. I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

I haven't gotten around to reviewing it yet (as I've been offline for a while) but I have finished reading Lady Chatterley's Lover. I found it to be bleak, depressing and pessimistic. If that was truly the author's view of life and love, I feel very sorry for him. I read the 'Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics' edition but I just read the actual story, skipping all the notes, timelines etc.

I also finished A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. I read this in spits and spurts but I found it extremely interesting and, for the most part, understandable. This book is science for the non-scientific and I recommend it.

I finished both of those in December, and I am now on my third book for the New Year. The first book I read was Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson. This book is certainly imaginative, but it is not my cup of tea. I found it extremely difficult to follow. While there were some interesting philosophies expressed throughout, I do not have the patience to untangle all the knots.

The book I have just finished reading is Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. What an absolutely wonderful book! The author has captured the essence of food and the importance it plays in many cultures, while gracing us with a hugely sensual and romantic novel. Like Water for Chocolate is a feast for the eyes, the mind and the palate, using the unique format of a cookbook to demonstrate the daily life and frustrations for women in civil war era Mexico. I would love to try out some of the recipes, if I could figure out what many of the ingredients are! I highly recommend this book.

The two books I am currently reading are Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause and Breath by Tim Winton.

Jan 7, 2009, 12:38am Top

A Dog Called Demolition is too silly

I shall instead read The Beach Road

Jan 7, 2009, 12:46am Top

fairy-whispers: I actually didn't finish reading Lady Chatterley's Lover as it got to a stage where Connie and her gamekeeper seemed to be fairly happy (well, relatively happy), and you just KNEW it was going to end badly. And I thought I'd rather just finish it there at a point of hopefulness, rather than continue on and reveal all the trauma. And I always skip the notes, they distract from the flow of the text and are often stating the bleedingly obvious. (Why on earth can't they do them as footnotes, instead of putting them at the back of the book?)

Edited: Jan 7, 2009, 4:46am Top

Ticked a couple more off my 1001 list.
Finished Fugitive Pieces very poetic about a subject that has no poetry in it whatsoever. An excellent book.
Read Embers very compelling writing.
Now having a break from the list with The Well should finish it tonight.

I have to say I loved Lady Chatterley's Lover not sure what edition it was, I read it over 25 years ago as a teenager and I think I was partly inthralled by it having been banned. Maybe now I would interpret it differently.

Fairy-whispers, glad that you enjoyed Like water for Chocolate, when I read it I thought, just have to share this, left me with a warm glow :-)

Jan 7, 2009, 8:37pm Top

and now I'm giving up on The Beach Road. I don't know where I heard about it to add it to my wishlist, but I'm sure at the time I didn't know it was the story of a teenage rape victim whose world I don't want to spend any time in.

next up for me will be The Scarlet Empress

Edited: Jan 8, 2009, 8:27am Top

Finished The Quiet American and thought it was a great read. Excellent book all round. Now I'm into Half of a Yellow Sun which is a 1001 bookring (from the updated list). Going by the first two chapters it should be a winner.

Edited to add that the second touchstone is not working atm. Here is the link if anyone wants it: http://www.librarything.com/work/856564/book/40185028

Jan 8, 2009, 5:24pm Top

I finished my gothic victorian lesbian romance, aka Fingersmith, last night. I just couldn't put it down. An absolute corker. One of those ones where I have to stop every now and then and give Mr TQD a catch-up on what's happening, it was so much fun. (And he's completely unlikely to read it, being a fairly pure reader of sci-fi/fantasy.)

Haven't picked up my next book yet, but it'll be a choice between tackling Walden properly or starting Pere Goriot. I brought both of them to work with me so I can make the choice on the bus on the way home. :) Both are also 1001 books (Walden from the new list, Pere Goriot is on both, I think).

And I must dig up Anna Karenina for the Set It Yourself challenge! I think I know which TBR mountain range it's in...

Jan 8, 2009, 5:30pm Top

crimson-tide, I'm glad you liked The Quiet American! My parents can't find their copy anywhere (I was with Mum when she bought it last summer, so I *know* they have a copy) so I lent Dad The Power and the Glory as that was the only Greene I had to hand that I had read (I'm hanging onto Travels with my Aunt until I've read it first!). I've been talking up Greene so much to them that Dad's decided he has to read one or two now!

I've got a copy *somewhere* of Half a Yellow Sun, and I've heard nothing but great praise. I must find it too...

Argh! So many books!!

Jan 8, 2009, 10:11pm Top

Hey wookiebender, did you see the adaptation of Fingersmith on ABC TV as a miniseries a few years back? That was great too. I haven't read the book yet so can't say how they compare. They also did one of Tipping the Velvet, but imho Fingersmith was much better.

You can have my copy of The Quiet American if you want to give it to your folks.

Jan 9, 2009, 4:19am Top

crimson-tide, I did manage to miss both Sarah Waters adaptations. I hadn't read any of her books at that stage, and didn't know what I was missing out on!! And with the kids, my TV watching has been drastically cut back as my limited spare time is spent on books (or librarything, or bookcrossing...). There are a few MUST SEE shows (Heroes, Doctor Who, Party Animals, Dexter at the moment), but mostly if I miss it, I miss it. (Unless it's The Simpsons, which I also love, which will be repeated at some stage ad infinitum on Channel Teen!)

And I'm sure my parents can eventually dig up The Quiet American or I shall have to go over with a skip and help them throw things out, as threatened on many occasions. (Depression era children, they have problems with letting go of stuff that might be useful later - as do I, I have to admit!) You know how we all laugh about Mt TBR? They have Mt TBR between the comfy chairs in the family room, and it's become an *isthmus* stretching the width of the room almost up to the TV. I kid you not.

And, yes, I am a child of my parents. I found Anna Karenina tonight in an offshoot of Mt TBR that has developed *under* the bedside table without my apparent knowledge. Yeesh. Must bookcross a whole heap of "1001" books and send them on rings or *something* to control the insanity...

I didn't start either of Walden or Pere Goriot today, because I ended up having a lift home with Mr TQD and the kids. But lying in bed, waiting for Miss Boo to fall asleep, I picked up The Clothes on Their Backs which is a Booker Prize shortlisted book from 2008 (and my contribution to fleebo's amazing Booker reading challenge). Only a few chapters in: nothing particularly new under the sun (older woman grieving for her husband and writing about her parents, refugees from Yugoslavia to London in 1938). But well written, so I shall continue with this one for the time being.

Jan 9, 2009, 6:22pm Top

I finished two books this week:

First was a mystery Baby Shark by Robert Fate - loathed it, too hard boiled for me

The second was a Children's horror Coraline by Neil Gaiman - loved it.

Am about to start another mystery - one of my review books The man in the window by K O Dahl

Jan 10, 2009, 2:55am Top

sally906, I loved Coraline too! The mice! I've got his latest one, The Graveyard Book and am hoping to find time to read it.

In my absence-of-movie-viewing-time (well, we got out to see Bolt in 3D today, which was a great kids' flick, but not my personal choice of movie to see; and, my, hasn't 3D come a long way since my last 3D flick - The Creature From The Black Lagoon!), I picked up The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at the bookshop the other day (in return for me spending $40 on Lego for Mr Bear, he had to visit the bookshop with me; let it never be said that I was above bribing my children). I started reading it today, and it's got a great start. I've read some Fitzgerald before (most notably The Great Gatsby for the HSC), but this is the first time I've tried any of his short stories.

And, yes, I will be seeing the movie first chance I get. Don't hold your breath, however.

Jan 10, 2009, 11:18am Top

I just finished The Scarlet Empress, one of the better Doctor Who novels I've read (Paul Magrs is pretty reliable in genre and non-genre fiction alike) though there were a couple of sections of the book written in first-person from The Doctor's perspective which I didn't think worked all that well. One for the fans :)

next up for me will be Robert Goddard's Beyond Recall

Jan 11, 2009, 9:54pm Top

Oh dear, my reading is in a mess - that's why I haven't checked in as often as I usually do. Too many holidays/housesittings/catsittings in different places & books left in wrong bags... I've only managed to finish The Luxe which is a very very fluffy Twilight meets The Age of Innocence (minus the vampires) concoction. Very very much like a marshmallow.

I thought I'd share with you a website my sister just sent me. Maybe some of you know it already, but for me personally it was by far and large the most evil website I have seen of late - and by evil I mean most injurious to my wallet and personal space (or lack thereof). Visit at your own peril:


What does it do? It *compares* book prices on a whole bunch of different sites. I typed in a book I was looking for, Reading Like a Writer, and it saved me $24... just like that. Oh dear...

Edited: Jan 11, 2009, 11:28pm Top

I haven't read Anna Karenina yet but I'll get to it one day.

I have now finished Blood and Chocolate. I actually thought it was quite good. A great book about embracing your differences (in this case being a werewolf) rather than trying to be someone you're not (human). Not a hard read and worth the little bit of time.

Breath is an enjoyable coming-of-age novel written in a refreshingly light style that is easy to read. Tim Winton captures the feel of small-time Australia well, and the characters could be anyone from our own childhood. Despite its simplicity, Pikelet's story is filled with hidden sinkholes and rips, reminiscent of the ocean that plays such an important role in his life. This is a simple but memorable read and I highly recommend it, especially for lovers of Aussie Lit.

I have also read Hamlet: a novel by John Marsden. I began this with great trepidation, but I was pleasantly surprised. I loved how Marsden added a bit of background to some of characters (Horatio is a good example of this). I also liked how he left the time ambiguous. Hamlet could be any teenager in any time going through a very trying experience.

The beautiful language of Shakespeare is absent, of course, though Marsden has made an effort to use some of the original lines. At least part of Ophelia's mad soliloquy is intact (I haven't compared it to my copy of Hamlet yet, but I recognised some of the lines) and the more famous lines ('To be or not to be' & 'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark' for example) are included. This book is definitely worth reading, and is a great way to introduce tweens to wonderful world of Shakespeare.

I am now about halfway through Debrett's Etiquette for Girls by Fleur Britten.

Jan 12, 2009, 9:44am Top

I just finished Beyond Recall, another cracking good mystery from Robert Goddard :)

next up for me is a bookray'd copy of: The Wasp Factory

Jan 12, 2009, 7:08pm Top

Finally finished a book! - The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. I'm sending it out on another ring, so if anyone's interested, PM me... it's on that wicked little 1001 list :)

Tutoring a kid this afternoon on Waiting for Godot, so I expect my next reads to be suitably academic, absurdist or simply opaque!

Edited: Jan 14, 2009, 5:13am Top

And like some sad little Booker/1001 junkie, I'm now on the ring for The Inheritance of Loss. Hello, my name is tqd/wookiebender, and I have a Problem. ;)

In absolutely no hurry to get it, of course. I hyperventilate sometimes at the size of Mt TBR!!

But one fewer book on it now: Despereaux was finished this evening. A rather charming book, if a bit black at times for a small boy of Mr Bear's tender years. (It also changes from one group of characters to another quite a LOT, which does confuse him still.) He's not interested in seeing the movie any more, due to Spoilers from schoolmates who saw illegal copies already. Harrumph. I think I promised him The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as our next book. Definitely easier to read a book to him that I already know, so I can answer the constant "so what happens next?" questions. ("We'll read and find out" doesn't work with small boys!)

ETA: And I'm finally making some headway with Walden! I got through the introductory bit which was all about economics and poverty and we're now into the actual building-a-house-by-a-lake-and-being-self-sufficient, which is much more interesting. Although not helped by the VERY noisy chatterers who sat behind me on my buses today. At least the blokes this morning were talking about going bush and being self-sufficient, so it was quite in character with the book. The teenage bimbos just made me want to tear my hair out (or their hair, which would have been a lot more satisfactory). Not even my iPod turned up to 11 on the "loud" playlist drowned out their braying laughter and squeals of "LOOK AT ME!!!".

Ahem. Rant is over. I'll be good now.

Jan 14, 2009, 6:25am Top

Hehee, wookiebender, rant away... makes me all the happier that I'm on school holidays, although I'm sure I'll want to go bush too by the time 27th Jan comes around...

I loved The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when I was young. How old is Mr Bear again? He sounds as gorgeous as ever.

In the end, I decided that I didn't need to reread Waiting for Godot. I skim-raided Sydney Uni library instead for some pertinent articles & let the tutoring kid do his own reading. Currently I'm also on the Booker/1001 trail with The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch (1978) which is admittedly much more interesting. Don't worry, wookiebender - I don't own this book, so it won't end up on your Mount Toobie, if you haven't already read it :)

Jan 14, 2009, 6:07pm Top

Miss-Owl, The Sea, The Sea is *already* on Mt TBR!! I picked up a second hand copy at a wonderful bookshop last year. The only Iris Murdoch I've read so far is The Bell which is one of those books that does linger in your memory. In a good way. :)

Dawn Treader is one of my favourite Narnia books too! Okay, well, they are ALL my favourites, although Prince Caspian is a bit slim on re-reading. (And I did NOT like The Last Battle, and Mr Bear is with me in not understanding why Susan will never get to go to Narnia again. They're not perfect!)

Mr Bear just turned six. And Miss Boo (3 and a half) comes into bed with us as well to listen and ask repeatedly "where are the pictures??" I read to Mr Bear on our bed (more room! a reading lamp!) and Miss Boo is (supposedly) asleep in the next room but I think she just is quiet until she hears me reading aloud and then pops out and joins us as well. It's all going COMPLETELY over her head, she's just there for the later bedtime and the snuggles.

Walden is proving to be an interesting read: I'm not always getting what he's saying (and I've sat on it for too long to attempt a thorough re-reading of difficult passages!), but when I do, half the time I'm in agreement and the other half I'm scoffing at him. I like his general ideas of living simply, but I just can't see it working *without* the society infrastructure we have in place and that he is against. So, it's not something that'll work for the entire human race: if we all went and lived in a house on the edge of a lake and caught fish and planted potatoes and beans, who would be grinding flour and making furniture and clothes and the other essentials that he still needs?

I guess I like my philosophy to be applied to the whole world, not just one nineteenth century nutjob from Massachusetts. :)

Jan 15, 2009, 3:04am Top

I finished The Wasp Factory, and what a twisted little tale it turned out to be - my first Iain Banks and definitely not my last.

I have no idea what I want to read next - it has to be something suitable for release via my office bookcrossing zone afterwards, and none of the most likely candidates are calling to me...

Jan 15, 2009, 6:12am Top

I seem to be on a bit of a 1001 books kick right now too! I finished Half of a Yellow Sun yesterday and what a wonderful read it was. Set in the sixties, it follows five main characters through the lead up to and during the Biafran War (Nigerian Civil War). Very well written, illuminating, tragic, hopeful, vivid. A story of ordinary people caught up in such terrible circumstances of ethnic cleansing and mass starvation. I'd certainly recommend it - hop on the bookring (FreePages) if you don't have a copy of your own.

Next will be Candide as it's been chosen from the 1001+ books VBB, followed by Ethan Frome (1001 books bookray). So Postcards from Surfers will just have to wait it seems.

Jan 15, 2009, 6:43am Top

I've selected The Deluge for my next read, with local weather conditions being what they are it'll make an amusing addition to my bookcrossing basket at work next week :)

Jan 16, 2009, 2:09am Top

I enjoyed The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe remains my favourite, followed closely by The Magician's Nephew.

I am still reading Debrett's Etiquette for Girls, but in the meantime, I have also read The Ghost of Flight 401 by John G. Fuller. This was recommended to me by my mother, but I wouldn't recommend it. The author spent far more time talking about how and why he went about researching this topic, than he did actually talking about the topic.

Jan 16, 2009, 8:48am Top

Ooh, fairy-whispers, I love The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and The Magician's Nephew as well... especially the wood between the worlds and the awakening of Jadis in the latter. That was truly creepy stuff that has stayed with me since I was seven - so many memories. I think I love them all, except for The Last Battle as wookiebender said.

I've had a terrible dinner at a friend's place... terrible in that, as an actress advising a teacher, she has loaded me up with six plays to be read post-haste, so that I can decide what to teach this year. Any recommendations? - I have a top Year 10 class which happens, bizarrely for a co-ed school, to consist of thirty girls.

So far my friend has given me Equus, The Crucible, Lord of the Flies, Victory: Choices in Reaction, Hedda Gabler and A Doll's House. At the moment the one I'm leaning toward is the only one I've read: The Crucible (although I have seen A Doll's House on stage).

>35 wookiebender: - wookiebender, it's funny - The Bell is on *my* TBR! I always read & love Murdoch but, for some reason, like the Atwoods I've read (with the exception of The Handmaid's Tale I can never remotely remember the storyline, just how I felt while reading it. Good luck with Walden - loved your description of Thoreau, by the way - you're sure he's not being satirical sometimes, like Thomas Moore was in Utopia?

Okay, enough rambling... time for bed. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Jan 16, 2009, 7:00pm Top

#40> Miss-Owl, yes, Thoreau is definitely being tongue-in-cheek at times! But sometimes it's hard to tell, because he writes like I do (with lots of asides - pauses & digressions that go all over the place - dropping into other topics; it really can be hard to read, can't it?) so when I get to the end of one of his sentences I'm not always sure it's the same sentence I started... I do love his idealism, however, and it's a bloody good message. I've already bought a second copy for my Big Issue seller (we discuss philosophy and all sorts of stuff every fortnight, and he hasn't read Thoreau before). And if I end up with a spare copy, I shall send it on a bookring (it's on the newer 1001 list).

Can't help much on the plays, I find plays difficult to read (like poetry, it just doesn't sink in). I'd be leaning towards Ibsen though, I liked his stuff when I used to go to see the NIDA plays as a youth (I think I saw A Doll's House way back when, but I missed Hedda Gabbler with Our Cate Blanchett last year, bum poo wee). I don't know any of the others in any detail however! (Isn't Lord of the Flies a book?)

Still reading (and enjoying!) The Clothes on Their Backs, Benjamin Button, and we're one chapter into Dawn Treader. At bookdrinks this week I picked up Touch Me, I'm Sick which is a very amusing book about the creepiest love songs ever, and was dipping into it at times too, but Mr TQD has snaffled it off me and keeps on reading out the funniest bits. Just as good as reading it myself! :)

Edited: Jan 17, 2009, 6:18pm Top

Miss-Owl >>> The only one of those plays I've read is The Crucible, so I can't be of much help, Although I do think this is a great play to study (as is another of his plays, Death of a Salesman).

I have finally finished reading Debrett's Etiquette for Girls. It was certainly interesting, though many of the rules are probably a little difficult to implement, and it does slant towards a British market. My favourite paragraph in the book was:

"It seems unjust that gossip is taboo. It's actually very important for information exchange, status marking and bonding. It is an efficient means of defining what is (and isn't) socially acceptable and is also fairly enjoyable. Likewise, bitching gets frowned upon. Moralists claim that you should never utter words that you wouldn't say to someone's face. This attitude, however, could result in great rudeness. It denies the true rationale of bitching: the ability to offload onto a ready ear."

I'm not sure what I think about this, but it struck me as a rather bold opinion to express.

I have just begun reading Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World's Most Seductive Sweet by Carol Off. So far, so good.

Jan 17, 2009, 7:51pm Top

#42> fairy-whispers: I don't see how anything involving bitter chocolate can *not* be good :) Debrett's Etiquette for Girls sounds fascinating. It'd be interesting reading for my top Year 10 girls. After critiquing Dead Poet's Society last year and creating their own private school prospectus, as well an advice guide for housewives in the fifties, I think they'd love to take a critical reading to Debrett's. I was surprised to see the word "bitching" in it, though! How did it compare to The Princess Bitchface Syndrome?

#41> wookiebender: I also missed Hedda Gabler with Our Cate, but I did get tickets to A Streetcar Named Desire. That would have been my play of choice had I had any chance of scoring tickets for the class. Apparently there are only scattered seats for sale now, mostly in matinee performances. (But even those could be gone by now!) Any treats to share from Touch Me, I'm Sick?

Jan 18, 2009, 5:10am Top

Miss-Owl>>> Both were interesting reads. I probably found The Princess Bitchface Syndrome more helpful though, simply because I have a daughter beginning Adolescence, so the stories and advice are more relevant to my life at the moment. Debrett's would be good to have sitting on the shelf to consult on a regular basis, though.

Edited: Jan 18, 2009, 10:21am Top

I finished The Deluge tonight, a gruesome slice of apocalypse-horror which made for a fast-paced, enjoyable read, but the ending left me with too many unanswered questions to be entirely satisfying.

Then I read Batman: The Killing Joke. I 'm always hesitant to sit down and read "classic" comics for the first time. I enjoy comics (when I make time for them) but I'm often blind to the brilliance others see in particular books - this one being a prime example. It was entertaining, but it failed to live up to the hype for me at least.

(note to self: make time to read Watchmen before the movie opens)

Tonight I unearthed Finding Serenity, a collection of essays written by fans, critics, and members of the caast and crew of Joss Whedon's Firefly from my TBR-pit. We're currently re-watching the series so I'll work my way slowly through the book - an essay every day or three over next few weeks should do it.

...and the "proper" book I'm starting is Man And Wife, the sequel to Man And Boy which my wife and I read and enjoyed a couple of years ago.

for the first time in forever I have no bookrings, bookrays, or books from VBBs or relays waiting to be read, and it feels great :D

Edited: Jan 18, 2009, 3:25pm Top


I have finished a few books this week:

The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs
Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Dewey: the Small-Town Library Cat who touched the world by Vicki Myron

All in all a satisfying week. Am reading Moon Called right now

Hoo Roo


Edited: Jan 18, 2009, 5:54pm Top

freelunch, Mr TQD & I have recently become addicted to a short-lived US TV series called "The Middleman". Kinda like Men in Black, but funny. (Yes, I know MiB was supposedly a comedy.) The dialogue is almost Whedonesque in its banter. Awfully good fun, if you're a downloader, check it out. (I'm not, due to antiquated computer, but I tend to lean on people to source things for me every now and then. :) Unfortunately, only 12 episodes because only one season (phooey!) and that was during the writers' strike.

Back to books... I finished The Clothes on Their Backs last night. For a Booker shortlisted book, it was phenomenally readable. ;) The ending wasn't as great as the rest - it wasn't bad, it just seemed somehow slightly unsatisfying. I might have to re-read it a bit to make sure it wasn't just another late night (and early start, *yawn*) affecting my reading pleasure.

Tonight, I shall start: Anna Karenina! It *WILL* happen!! Locke Lamora will not tempt me away from this classic! Well, not for a few days as yet...

ETA: And back to tv... went to a six-year-old's birthday party yesterday, and she got an animated Doctor Who DVD, voiced by David Tennant and Ms Freeman (can never spell her first name). It's G rated, so I was going to source a copy for Mr Bear and try and get him into some sci-fi that I can enjoy. (I've seen enough Jar-Jar Binks to last me a lifetime several times over.) freelunch, have you heard of this before?

Jan 18, 2009, 8:33pm Top

I have done the TV downloading thing in the past (Season Three of Doctor Who to be specific) but I think it lessened my enjoyment of the series when I sat down to watch it "properly" on TV, so I'm not doing it any longer.

I will keep an eye out for The Middleman (which is based on a comic book series I've heard of but never seen)

The animated Doctor Who adventure The Infinite Quest was originally serialized as part of a BBC kids series called Totally Doctor Who! - it has been released on DVD in Australia but I haven't seen it in stores local to me, and like all local Who DVDs it is probably expensive - I ordered the UK release from either CDWOW.com or Amazon UK when it was released in '07

Jan 18, 2009, 10:23pm Top

>#47, #48 - you might be interested in a book I bought my brother-in-law for Christmas: Dalek I loved you.

>#45 - I'm not sure I want to see Watchmen! Reading it was intense enough for me!

>#47 - Good on you, wookiebender! Anna is part of my Set It Yourself challenge this quarter as well, but Fingersmith has just lobbed up and I need to get it out of the house first. For some reason I seem to have chosen absolutely massive reads this quarter. Just finished Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea which was a really strange, twisted read - an oddly compelling portrait of a neurotic megalomaniac and his warped views on love. I don't know how they pick those Bookers sometimes!

Does anyone know how to make new touchstones? I can't stand that Iris Murdoch is not an author touchstone!

Jan 18, 2009, 11:33pm Top

Damn, having computer issues at work (where, yes, I should be working, not chatting with you all!) and my last message got eaten. Buggerit. I think I was just planning a trip to the local comic book depository to find a copy of The Middleman...

#49> I'm looking forward to The Watchmen! If only to be a fangirl, and bitch about how they got it all wrong. ;) Hung out with one of Mr TQD's fanboy friends for a day over Xmas and we got into quite a heated discussion about Star Trek X. Ah, the joys of adult conversation. ;) For the record: I'm looking forward to it.

And I've had no luck with touchstones and authors. I don't even bother with them any more.

Edited: Jan 20, 2009, 3:18pm Top

Greetings everyone.

Now, would you believe that I actually check in here every second day or two, but always when I am feeding the baby - so my hands are full. But this evening, he's off in his cot, and I finally got a chance to get near the computer. Yay!

Freelunch, I am most impressed that you have cleared all the bookrings/rays/VBB reads out of the house. I've got a few days up my sleeve before I go back to work, and I am hoping to knock my brain out of neutral and get some serious reading done. (It is not looking to good though - I nearly typed Brian there instead of brain).

I have been a little lax in my journalling too. But, I have finished reading The enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie. It was nothing like what I was expecting. I've not read anything of his before, and really didn't think he'd be so playful and fabulous. Traipsing between the Indian Mughal court and Florence in the 15th and 16th centuries it was a rollicking read. How true factually or historically it is, I can't tell you, but I enjoyed it all the same. And the bibliography in the back was amazing!

I also read ... oh dear... I've forgotten... checking bookshelf...yup! Completely forgotten.

I did start Everything bad is good for you by Steven Johnson, but didn't get past page 70. A very easy and entertaining read, but I just didn't have the stamina for it. So, I finally posted it off to VeganMedusa.

I also started reading Death in Venice by Thomas Mann but have put it down. I need a few cups of good coffee and sleep to knock that one over. And, then there is Diary of a nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith that I've started (up to page 60) but have put down again. TQD this is a ring too, and you're up next.

Then there are the two Booker challengers sitting on my beside table: Northern Clemency and Gift of rain. Argh!!!
At least it is a nice hot day tomorrow. Perfect for laying on the lounge and reading.

Dah! I just remembered what I've just finished reading: Greg Malouf and Lucy Malouf's Saha, a big fancy travel memoir with recipes. I even cooked one of the recipes for dinner tonight - lamb dumplings in yoghurt soup. It was delicious.

Damn. I have to get off the computer again... until next time...

Jan 20, 2009, 5:58pm Top

Hi Jubby! Oh dear, sounds like the bookrings are about to pile up at Chez Wookiebender soon! Just as I cleared some space for Anna Karenina too! Oh well, send it along, I have been looking forward to Diary of a Nobody for a while. (And The White Tiger arrived yesterday, and I'm doing some creative accounting so I'll be reading that next, along with The Memory Room because both are promised to fleebo next...)

With the Southern Cross book for VeganMedusa: I gave up ever finishing Walden in a timely fashion and have bought another copy for her. My original copy will be going to my Big Issue seller, next time I see him. Hopefully I'll have a chance to finish it before then!! But considering I just started Pere Goriot (another 1001 book, and it's January's book over at Group Reads: Literature) it might be going on unfinished...

Bloody hell, how do I get into these buried-under-mt-tbr messes???

Jan 21, 2009, 2:26am Top

We've been having lots of fun & games around the district since Friday due to a couple of large bushfires near town. Some moron is running about with a box of matches; the initial fire having started on a day when it was 42C! We were without power for over 24 hours on the weekend and our town was put on alert Monday afternoon. All appears under control now, thank goodness, but needless to say not much reading was done while we were preparing the property and ourselves for whatever may have eventuated.

However I can report that I've read and thoroughly enjoyed Candide and am now into Ethan Frome.

Jan 21, 2009, 5:39am Top

Oh dear, crimson-tide, I always worry about fire when I look around at my walls full of books. Sending you lots of good vibes, for what it's worth.

Jubby, your lamb dumplings in yoghurt soup all but made me drool on the keyboard.

And as for you, wookiebender - tackling Anna Karenina and Pere Goriot in one go just sounds like unmitigated masochism. Good luck!

Jan 21, 2009, 9:52am Top

Man and Wife was "OK". I liked Harry Silver in Man and Boy but in the sequel he comes across as a self-centered git, blind to all the good things in his life. Still a readable book but not as enjoyable as the first, and I'll not be adding it to my wife's TBRs as I had planned.

next up for me will be Carnival Of Souls, the first Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel I've been commitment-free enough to read in ages :)

Jan 21, 2009, 5:55pm Top

crimson-tide: best of luck with the fires. NSW hasn't been as badly affected as in some previous years, but there are days when I can smell the smoke in the heart of the city. (I still remember when ash fell in the city though. Like snow, only freaky.) My Big Issue seller has recommended Candide to me, so I must check that out one day! (He's also recommended Shantaram along with zillions of other people - well, my sister, but her opinion counts as zillions! - so that one's already contributing to Mt TBR at the mo.)

Miss-Owl: Anna Karenina and Pere Goriot are actually both remarkably readable. I have been assured elsewhere that PG will tackle despair (but it can't possibly get as depressing as Germinal did!), and I know AK comes to a sticky end, but at the moment, I am *looking forward* to reading both of them. With AK I've got bookmarks in the front of the book (for the character names, as Russian aristocracy have far too many names and no translator has ever thought to just give them the one name for the sake of us poor English societies!) and a bookmark in the back because (for a change) the Penguin edition has excellent notes. The only problem is it's a brick (800 pages) so holding it up in bed is proving awkward!

freelunch: My opinion prezactly on Man and Wife/Man and Boy. I reckon he changed the character just to generate some conflict and a plot. I wasn't terribly happy, because Harry was a great guy (who made one awful mistake) in the first book.

Jan 21, 2009, 7:08pm Top

I think I remember that year of the NSW bushfires too, wookiebender. We were supposed to go on a family holiday up or down the coast somewhere but when the bits of burnt leaves started arriving in our front yard we thought we'd better stay put. And yes, our home was also near the city.

Good on you, wookiebender, for your hard-core reading :) I'll definitely use that tip for the Russian characters, when I get to AK.

A bout of insomnia last night coincided with a jaw-dropping twist in Fingersmith - for those who have read it, you'll probably remember, it comes at the end of Sue's narrative in the first part of the book. I don't think I slept very well after about 150 pages of plots, conspiracies and madhouses!

Edited: Jan 21, 2009, 7:46pm Top

>54 Miss-Owl:&56: Thanks Miss-Owl & wookiebender - they've managed to contain everything and all the roads are open again. It certainly did put the wind up (!) people in the community and knocked many out of their complacency. Four houses were lost in the next town down the highway, but thankfully nothing here.

I'd certainly recommend Candide wookiebender. It's a small book which should have been a quick read. Basically a farcical satire full of mishaps and mayhem, with the reading being pushed along by the fact that every chapter is one long paragraph!

>55 freelunch:&56: I've read Man and Boy and was wondering about whether to bother with Man and Wife... now my question has been answered, so thanks for saving me the effort. :D

Jan 21, 2009, 10:42pm Top

Miss-Owl, I loved Fingersmith too, that twist was *completely* unexpected (I wasn't expecting any twists) but it explained some things that I thought were verging on naff in the first part of the book. It's a great read, I can't believe it's been removed from the 2008 edition of "1001" books! What were they thinking! AND they also removed Tipping The Velvet, another wonderful Sarah Waters book. They're obviously not thinking!!

*ahem* Mostly I accept the revised edition, but I can't believe they took out TWO of her books, both of which I have enjoyed IMMENSELY.

crimson-tide, I did read a description of a book somewhere as "one big paragraph". That scares me rather, I need the occasional breather in my books... (Can't remember what the book was now, dagnabbit!) But I shall keep Candide in my mind next time I wander past (into) a bookshop...

Edited: Jan 22, 2009, 12:41am Top

I don't expect much from TV spin-off fiction, but I found enough poor grammar and out-of-character-dialogue in Carnival of Souls to put me off it pretty quickly. Hopefully my daughter will enjoy it (or at least be able to finish it)

from one TV spin-off to another, I'm instead reading Revenge of the Judoon

Jan 22, 2009, 3:46am Top

that didn't take long :)

Revenge of the Judoon is a "Quick Read" book, one of many short, large-font novellas published in the UK as part of a scheme to encourage non-readers to pick up a book. It was a fun, quick read.

next up for me: Who's Afraid Of Beowulf?

Jan 22, 2009, 6:18am Top

I'm glad to hear that the danger has passed crimson-tide. Jan 18 was the anniversary of the 2003 fires in Canberra that destroyed over 500 homes and took out the pine plantations and all the bush in the Brindabella mountains. Our view west towards the mountains was like something out of the Apocalypse. We stayed put in our home in the middle of the suburb but the fire was only 2km away on the hill behind the next suburb when the wind changed back on it that evening. The firestorms were still going that night in the Brindabellas. One storm looked like a whirlwind on fire possibly 500metres high on top of the ranges. We didnt loose power (just had the odd flicker) but the water pressure was down to a trickle. We were able to fill the bath and buckets before then (In retrospect, what water we had wouldnt have been much use). We watched the invasion of Iraq that night on TV and thought, this is ridiculous why wage war and cause more destruction when nature can throw far more at you then that.
Anyway, I must have had to get that off my chest ;-)

Books I've finished off recently
The Road Home: A Novel - 2008 orange prize winner
The Bonesetter's Daughter
The Poisonwood Bible -I know it is only Jan but this might be my favourite read of 2009!
A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian

I'm still reading from the 1001 list and I'm participating in the "Girlybook Group" Orange January Group Read - for Orange Prize winners and long-listed books.
All above have at least been short-listed for the Orange Prize and 2 are also on the 1001 list :-)

Jan 22, 2009, 11:51pm Top

Wow, KimB, if that was as harrowing to experience as it was riveting to read, then... wow.

I'm also working my way through the 1001 list (2008 & 2006, because, why not...) and have just finished Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I really loved the way it evoked different worlds and made them *real* - the Borough den of thieves; the icy ceremony of Briar (especially that finger on the floor!) and the claustrophia of the madhouse. Thanks for not spoiling anything for me, wookiebender :) I just wonder if it was taken from the list because it wasn't "literary" enough - ie., it was too easy to read ;)

For me, the book I can't believe they removed was Middlesex.

A Clockwork Orange is next up on the pile.

Edited: Jan 23, 2009, 1:00am Top

Good luck with A clockwork Orange Miss-Owl.
I had a copy of the book, and thought I would send it out as a bookring, and read it when it returned home. The book is MIA, but recently the film was on television, and we turned the television on part way through. I saw a rather violent home invasion scene and asked my husband 'What's this? Turn it off!' - it was too much for me. So, I think I will avoid that book for a while longer yet.

I never read Fingersmith, but pushed it onto several other people. I did read Affinity, which I thought was brilliant. And also The night watch, which I expected more from.

KimB, I remember the Canberra fires. I was in Vietnam at the time, and I saw it on CNN while in a hotel foyer. I thought it was some sort of mistake. 'How can Canberra be on fire? We should be so lucky!'. I had images of over-weight bureaucrats in pinstripe suits walloping the burning lawn at Parliament House. But then I saw the footage... and I didn't think it was so funny or unthinkable anymore...

Middlesex as an incredible book. I picked it up and read it several years ago knowing nothing about it (I didn't even read the blurb on the back). I still think about Cal. I later read The virgin suicides, but again, like The night watch it didn't meet my expectations. I tried watching the film of The virgin suicides recently, but found that knowing the story already and the slow nature of the film, I couldn't bear it.

But, like Middlesex I just read a book today having heard of it (it's a film also, and on the 1001 list), but not actually knowing anything about it: The postman always rings twice. Short (120 pages) and un-put-downable. Sure, there were no gender-challenged characters, or suburban , middle-American angst, but I say 'like' in that it had such an unexpected turn in the story, and just had me going.

I am about to start Northern Clemency now. You may not hear from me for several weeks now... I'm thinking this perhaps should have been sold as a trilogy rather then one book!

And lastly (but far from least), I am most pleased to hear that you are safe and well Crimson-tide. I have Candide to read for the 1001 VBB on www.bookobsessed.com, and will move it up the pile after your comments.

Edited: Jan 24, 2009, 1:39am Top

Jubby, I think I was lucky: I read The Night Watch first and enjoyed it, but can see why people would be disappointed coming from the richness and cheekiness of her Victorian novels. It's a very good book, but it's not the same. And with Eugenides, I read The Virgin Suicides before I read Middlesex so I got his slow paced contemplative novel out of the way (and I found it intriguing) before getting to my (preferred style) novel with dense stories and fascinating details.

Reading Pere Goriot on the bus yesterday, there was a mention of Talleyrand, so I looked him up on my mobile phone browser (no, not an iPhone) and got completely distracted reading about the Pirate Wars between France & America in 1798-1800. Now *that's* what I like out of books, incidental information and education! Oh, and Talleyrand was fascinating too.

I seem to have picked up The Middleman completed graphic novels. (I am completely addicted to all things Middleman. I'll be over it soon, but before that happens I shall be proudly wearing a Jolly Fats Wehawkin Employment Agency t-shirt. And needing to explain the geeky reference to everyone, I'm sure.) The first story was obviously just adapted straight from the page to the pilot episode, but it's fun seeing the other differences as they tweaked the concept here and there.

And Anna Karenina continues. She and Vronsky have met, and the sparks are flying. There's no Lizzie Bennett/Darcy love-hate thing going, this is pure lust and attraction and it's quite phwoar really. (Well, for its time.) I'm glad I've finally picked this one up, it's a great story. Well, 100 or so pages in, it's great, there's still another 700 to go. :)

Jan 24, 2009, 3:52am Top

Who's Afraid Of Beowulf? (my first Tom Holt) tells the story of a band of vikings awakened in contemporary Great Britain after 1200 years of enchanted sleep to do battle with an evil sorcerer who has not been sleeping and now heads up a multinational corporation. it wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as I'd hoped, but is was entertaining and amusing in places.

next up for me: Beneath The Skin

Jan 24, 2009, 9:30am Top

Ethan Frome is a decent read, but would have been a mite easier if the print had been a tad larger and there were some line spaces between paragraphs. Sheesh! It's almost as if the publishers are trying to see how few pages they can fit it into! Yes I know, I'm showing my age here. ;-)

Now after a run of four 1001 books, I'm going for something lighter, Tithe by Holly Black.

Jan 24, 2009, 8:57pm Top

crimson-tide, I do tend to have a "whoohoo!" moment when I see nice large print and decent whitespace in my books too. ;)

I finished The Middleman omnibus. Not really recommended unless you're a sci-fi/comics nerd of some persuasion. I enjoyed it, but it's not one of those that I'm pushing onto friends (except those that I've already pushed the TV series onto).

I also finished part 1 of Anna Karenina! And then picked up All The Pretty Horses as I'm sending it to the latest Happy Smile Day RABCK Sweepstake (or whatever it's called) winner, and I couldn't bear to have it go in the post unread first. I'm not sure what to make of it so far - Cormac McCarthy again is avoiding all quotation marks, and it's a *western*. But I think once I get into the mindset it'll be fine. Pardners.

Jan 25, 2009, 3:13am Top

Freelunch>>> Who's Afraid of Beowulf sounds like it could be interesting.

I have finished Bitter Chocolate. It was actually quite good. It is a very good history of chocolate, starting with the Olmec Empire and working it's way all the way up to the present. It was definitely an eye-opener and not in the least boring. I'm kind of a bit iffy about eating chocolate now, though. Knowing most of it was produced by child slaves does put a dampener on the enjoyment.

I've tried reading Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult but I just couldn't get into it, so I've moved on to He'll Be OK: Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men by Celia Lashlie.

Jan 25, 2009, 7:46am Top

I'm afraid I'm being a bit of a bookfloozy this month... started Enduring Love, then inadvertently dumped it in a house I was sitting, in the Blue Mountains; toyed with A Clockwork Orange, got a bit impatient with the language and then was warned off by Jubby... now I've just picked up The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco and we'll see if it can get past the nightstand test :)

Congrats, wookiebender, on your AK achievement! I think I'll save the month of March for her. Looking forward to your thoughts - I'm enjoying the preview :)

Hey, fairy-whispers, is there a particular reason why you're reading all these books on raising kids? Just wondering - I think it's great!

Jan 25, 2009, 4:56pm Top

Miss-Owl, I have to agree with jubby's assessment of the movie: one of the most disturbing (in a non-good way) movies I've ever seen. Uber-violence, ick. But the book is still towards the top of my TBR mountain. (Only the kittens recently knocked it flying...) Of course, it has been there for many, many years, but it's not like other books that spend a while on Mt TBR and then get moved on elsewhere via bookcrossing/bookmooch.

Omigod, Harvey Fierstein is singing "Everything's coming up noses" on Sesame Street...

Jan 25, 2009, 6:25pm Top

Happy Australia Day everyone.

I've had a couple of enjoyable reads this weekend.
Friday received The Kite Runner and finished it sometime in the wee hours of Saturday. Once I pick them up I just cant seem to put down Khaled Hosseini's books. I'm making it a bookray soon, after my Uncle and Aunty have a chance to read it. My Uncle did the hippie trip to Kabul in the 1970s so I'm interested to see what he thinks.
Went to the Darwin exhibition at the National Museum on Saturday picked up "Charles Darwin: An Australian Selection" and found it very enjoyable for a museum publication. It includes a section of Darwin's diary for the short couple of months he was in Australia in 1836 and 3 interesting essays, one by Robin Williams from the Science program on ABC radio.
Now I'm back to the 1001 list with Perfume, I'm reserving judgement on that one until I'm a bit further along.
One day I plan to tackle AK to, but I might get a few more of the shorter 1001 books read first ;-)

Jan 26, 2009, 5:36am Top

Happy Australia Day!

--> wookiebender & Jubby - I'm pretty much in agreement, I'm not great with ick either. The bookmark halfway through American Psycho is going to stay there, I think - so don't know my chances with A Clockwork Orange! (It's down for my SIY challenge, wookiebender!)

--> KimB - sounds like another good reason to visit Canberra! I'd love to see the Degas exhibition as well :)

Looks like The Name of the Rose made the cut - despite being archaic, latinate and dense, it *is* really interesting and my attention is attracted by chapter subtitles like "In which Adso admires the door of the church"... O-kay, then, Adso... whatever floats your boat!

Anyway, that's the one I'm going with! Has anyone read it at all?

Jan 26, 2009, 7:00am Top

finished Beneath The Skin, a fast-paced serial-killer tale from Nicci French, told in first person narratives by each successive victim. I don't read a lot of thrillers so I don't know if this is a common method of writing, but I think it was very successful in this book.

next up for me: The White Earth

Jan 26, 2009, 7:45am Top

Happy Australia Day! . . . Thought I'd just sneak that in before the pumpkin hour for those of you on the east coast. I think that's most of you bar sally and myself?

>73 Miss-Owl:: I'll agree with all of you re the violence in A Clockwork Orange. I saw the movie in the seventies and was quite unprepared for for the level of violence. And it was senseless gratuitous violence too - gratuitous on the part of the characters that is, not the movie makers, as it is definitely in the book too.

I've read The Name of the Rose Miss-Owl, but we're talking what . . . about 15 years ago I think. Very long, very dense, a bit precious in parts (like not translating any of the Latin), took me an age to read, but in the end worth the effort. I can only remember bits of it now of course.

It comes up as number 69 in the popularity list here on LT, so I guess that means heaps of people like it. Not sure exactly how they work it out, but I imagine there is some clever equation combining the number of members listing copies with the ratings given. Although that in itself may not be a good recommendation, as the dreaded DaVC has claimed eighth place! And all the spots above that happen to be stories about a certain boy wizard. ;-)

Jan 26, 2009, 5:17pm Top

He he he. You make me laugh Crimson-tide.

The boy wizard was in my thoughts recently when I was reading Miss-Owl's choice of plays for her year 10 girls (which did you choice in the end Miss-Owl?). Not that I saw it, but Daniel Radcliffe (sp?) starred in the most recent stage version of Equus. There were lots of gags in the press at the time regarding the nude scenes and 'magic wands'. I am sure that your girls would love that Miss-Owl.

And I guess I could put my hand up for attempting to read In the name of the Rose too. Only at the time (nearly 15 years ago - cripes!) I used to board with a retired lecturer, who was fluent in German, Greek and Latin. The bookshelves were full of books in these languages, so one Christmas break I had this great idea that I would teach myself German by read this book in German, (with the help of a duel language dictionary). The results were none to good, and what little I did learn, I quickly forgot.

I did read though Beneath the skin when it came out.
My first job after graduating was at a high school, and I was always a bit nervous about buying thrillers, so I read this one before adding to the collection (actually, I can't remember if I did). I remember that it wasn't anything too difficult and a quick read, but nothing really has 'stuck' in my memory.

But, when you said you were reading it next, it was Under the skin bu Michel Faber that came to mind. I have a copy of this book (yet to read) and it is one of the '1001 books'. I think that Wookiebender has read it, and said that it is 'creepy'. Hmm. I might dig that one out when I have a free afternoon...

Now, for myself, even though I have mountains of books to read, I've gone and dug out The van by Roddy Doyle because it has been mooched from me from www.bookmooch.com, and I've not read it. The great thing about it is the spacing. I *love* books that have large print and lots of spacing.

I did try to return to Death in Venice yesterday, but I just was not in the mood, and the penguin edition that I have (thanks Crimson-tide) is over 50 years old, so the pages are starting to slip out... Off putting.

Meant to start The zookeeper's war for my online reading group soon too.

Jan 26, 2009, 5:47pm Top

Jubby, Michael Faber's "Under The Skin" was the one that sprung to mind as well, I didn't realise there was a Nicci French version as well. It was pushed on me by a friend who *loved* it (and we do have a lot of books in common, so I trust her recommendations). I found it slightly queasy, but I am unable to get it out of my head. A definitely worthy addition to the "1001" books, but not one I'd want to keep on my shelves. (I think she liked it for philosophical reasons that I won't go into here because they're spoilerish in nature, and that is one bit of personal philosophy she & I disagree on. :)

And I also did read The Name of the Rose when it came out. Dense, can't quite remember much (apart from it being foisted on me by one of my precocious babysitting charges - !!!), but I did enjoy it at the time. However, I do have to say that a lot of books I read as a teenager/young adult I wouldn't be able to read now. I seemed then to have that patience (and time!) to sit down and read for long stretches rather difficult stuff. Now, if I'm confronted with anything new and difficult and dense and long, I run off and read some vampire romance or something else unutterably twee.

I'm looking forward to retirement, and the time to finally tackle Mt TBR in a sensible fashion.

We spent about 1/2 a day in Canberra over the new year holiday, and I missed anything Degas/Darwin orientated. Did get to spend our entire time at Questacon however, which still doesn't disappoint.

And I'm concentrating on finishing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at the moment. One short story in it ("May Day") was more of a novella! They're very good little short stories, all very evocative of the time. I'm in the "middle" of too many books, I need to knock some over into the "finished" pile...

Jan 27, 2009, 3:27am Top

Jubby, I can't believe you tried to read The Name of the Rose in German! I did 3U German for the HSC - God knows why, because *I* don't! - but haven't attempted to read much more than my trilingual edition of Waiting for Godot in German... and that mainly consists of "Let's go. We can't. Why not? We're... WFG"!!

Anyway, I crossed the 100 page mark today. I need milestones with long books like that. (Thanks for explaining that the Latin passages weren't translated... I thought that was just the cheap copy I flogged off a friend's bookshelf!)

Loved Questacon as a kid! Is it still good as an adult, wookiebender? Do they still have that giant etch-a-sketch thing? I thought that was pretty cool :)

No, I haven't picked a play for the girls yet, Jubby - I'm just holding off till I meet them tomorrow and get to know them better. Plus, I'm still working on slowing down enough to read the plays (I think I read them too quickly, considering they're meant to be performed). But your invoking of nudity & magic wands has Equus moving up the pile! I thought Radcliffe was quite good in "Extras".

Oh, btw, crimson-tide (or anyone), where's the "popularity list"?

Jan 27, 2009, 4:13am Top

>78 Miss-Owl:: There isn't really a "popularity list" as such Miss-Owl. If you look at the work page for a book, "Popularity" is listed across the top along with Members, Reviews, Average Rating etc. I now see that The Name of the Rose has slipped to number 71, so it's a moving feast.

If you click on the "Zeitgeist" tab at the top right of any page http://www.librarything.com/zeitgeist it will come up with lots of lists. In the centre column is "top books", which is actually listed in order of number of copies rather than popularity. If you click on "see more" it will number them for you. Then click on any book randomly and you'll see that sometimes the popularity number matches the ranking, but often it is one or two different. Anna Karenina for example is 44 in the list but 46 in the popularity stakes.

I obviously didn't have enough to do yesterday!!

Jan 27, 2009, 4:41am Top

Now, you've got me clicking on everything to check the popularity!
My most popular reads so far this year.
Kite Runner is standing at 15 (who would have guessed)
The poisonwood bible is 79.

I'm going to stop now!

Jan 27, 2009, 5:26am Top

....Just a couple more before I stop
Popularity rating of 3 on my TBR pile

To Kill a Mocking Bird is at 13
Wicked: The life and time of the Wicked Witch of the West is 48!! Eventhough the touchstone won't load.
Great Expectations is 61
Curious and Curious-er
Not that I am a crowd follower (much) but this might be one way to bump books up the TBR pile.
Oh and for the record the thing-o-meter thought I might not like The Kite Runner but I did (I think that does make me a crowd follower) oh well :-)

Jan 27, 2009, 6:05am Top

Oooh, I can see what I'll be doing while procrastinating at work tomorrow. :)

There's also the "Will you like it" feature that I'm enjoying. Choose a particular book, scroll down a bit and then click the "will you like it" link, and it gives you an idea of whether you will like it, and an indication of how sure that rating is. Rather amusing, but I'm not using it as a wishlist source as yet. I get enough of that from all the LT groups (yourselves all included, natch)!!

Finished The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The title story was fabulous (poignant, short, endlessly fascinating), the rest were great windows onto the Jazz age, but a few of them tended towards maudlinity. (Maudlinness? Maudlinosity?) Passing it onto my Mum, if it comes back in a timely fashion I shall bookring it.

Jan 27, 2009, 6:13am Top

Dagnabbit, couldn't resist.

Current reads:

All the Pretty Horses: 666
Old Goriot: 1,503
Anna Karenina: 46 (hasn't moved yet!)
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: 212

Jan 27, 2009, 4:47pm Top

Been in Emergency all weekend with my hubby - he is finally going to be operated on today - I can't believe the slowness of decision making and the pecking order in hospitals. But enough of the gripe - nurses were wonderful just the consultants who may be good at what they do but are hopeless administrators!!!

ANYHOW - I got a lot read while waiting, waiting waiting and only having a drugged up sleeping husband to talk to :)

I have finished:

Moon Called; Blood Brothers; Fearless Fourteen and Fan Mail

Today he is having his operation so I am taking The Tales of Beedle the Bard and The City of Ember

And if I finish those - then I have my Nintendo DS and my i-pod. There is also a library there for the use of patients and relatives so may even ditch my books and see if I can find something in there. Am going to leave a few bookcrossing books in there at the very least

Jan 27, 2009, 10:02pm Top

Oh yes, sally906, hospitals are pretty dire places. I hope you don't have to spend too much longer in one! But good to see that there is a silver lining, with all that reading time.

Miss-Owl, sorry I forgot to answer before! Questacon is STILL fun, I don't remember seeing the giant etch-e-sketch (poor Miss Boo missed out, she *LOVES* etch-e-sketches at the moment!), but we didn't get a chance to see everything. There's a special smaller kids area with water splashing and climbing frames and lots of hands-on stuff. You actually have to get a ticket (free) for a particular timeslot, it's so popular. (Luckily the day we were there, Canberra was deserted 'cause of the summer nats/silly season, so we got to spend LOTS of time in there with a fair amount of elbow room too.) Once we finished there, we headed up to the top and worked our way down. That does mean we get the older exhibits (next time, I'm overruling Mr "Lazy" TQD and we're starting at the bottom up!), but we did get to do the earthquake house (used to just be a platform) which was great for Mr Bear who is still gobsmacked that I'd been in an earthquake (I felt the Newcastle earthquake while in Sydney). My mum also gets kudos for hanging out near an erupting volcano a few years back (with a bunch of science nerds, to see a solar eclipse, as you do).

Jan 28, 2009, 2:10am Top

Miss-Owl >>> No particular reason. I ordered a whole bunch of my wishlist books from the library on inter-library loan, and they just seem to have arrived in this combination. Oh, and one was a boomerang from hubby. Of course, with four kids, the different takes on parenting don't go astray :-).

wookiebender >>> I loved Questacon when I was a kid! I found it fascinating and, of course, at that age it was way more interesting than the mint, the courthouse or parliament, which we also had to visit!

freelunch >>> Beneath the Skin sounds really good. I enjoy a good thriller. I'll have to look it up.

I have finished He'll Be OK: Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men. Definitely an eye opener. It provided a real insight into how the male mind works, and how men and boys differ from girls and women.

I am now reading The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman.

Jan 28, 2009, 5:17am Top

It's quite funny (and surprising) to see where different books have ended up on the list. I'm surprised that a bunch of medieval monks in a library is that popular, for instance!

I like the "Will you like it" feature too, although it's a little puzzling. LibraryThing says I will "probably like" In the Name of the Rose with a certainty of "very high". But if it's a certainty of "very high", then shouldn't I just "like" the novel? It's doing my (sleep-deprived) head in!

sally906 - all the best with your husband & his operation. Hope he recovers well while you get some catches on those releases!

Jan 28, 2009, 7:20am Top

Yes, I hope all has gone/goes well with hubby, sally906.

>82 wookiebender:: Have you seen the movie of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button wookiebender? I was planning to, but movies sometimes don't stay long at the cinema in Bunbury and I missed it. It's interesting that they can make a very long movie out of a short story, while some full novels end up being only short films. The upside however is that Slumdog Millionaire has finally found its way down here, so planning to see that tomorrow.

Re the "Popularity" thing - it's obviously very heavily influenced by the number of copies shelved in members' libraries. That's OK in a way I guess, but it doesn't necessarily mean that everyone who owns a copy likes (or will like) the book.

I've now finished Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. "Edgy, dark urban fantasy" is how it's described. Not the best fantasy I've read, but not bad. Aimed more at teens than types like me though. Not that I don't enjoy ya literature, I certainly do - there was just something about the behaviour of the kids in this one that was not setting me on fire. But it wouldn't actually stop me reading more of the same . . . which naturally there is. ;-)

btw, what is the difference between ya and teen literature? Is there a difference? One of the reviews on LT says: "I was surprised after reading this that it is considered young adult. At its lowest level it should be teen." That got me wondering...

Next up is Dearly Devoted Dexter, which I've promised to someone.

Edited: Jan 28, 2009, 6:35pm Top

Miss-Owl: the certainty rating is how confident the system is of its prediction. It says whether you will hate/like/love a book, and then says how confident it is about that prediction.

That is, it can be *sure* you'll hate/like/love a book (high certainty) or it thinks you *may* hate/like/love a book (low certainty).

I hope I've explained that clearly!! It is a tricky concept, took me a while to get my head around it too.

crimson-tide: alas and alack, I seem to have missed the Benjamin Button boat. (Didn't help that the word on the net was: wet.) I hope you like Slumdog Millionaire! Be warned, I spent a fair bit of the first half of the movie with my hands over my face. But by the end, I was practically standing on my chair, cheering on our hero.

And I agree, just because I've catalogued Da Vinci Code doesn't mean I thought it was a great book. It just means that I read it. (For the record: it was a badly written plagiarised page turner that I couldn't put down.) I do wonder if ratings are taken into account with those networking things.

Actually, the funniest bit about the networking is I catalogued my manga series of "Lone Wolf and Cub" (28 books, made into some great bloody samurai movies in the 1970s/80s as "The Babycart Bandit"), and now I have all these people who have libraries *just* like mine in my list because all they have catalogued is the "Lone Wolf and Cub" series. So I've got 100% of their libraries. :) I think maybe series should be treated as one book sometimes...

Can I say that now I'm past the first 50 pages of All The Pretty Horses, I am *hooked*. The story is compelling, the lack of punctuation (once you get used to it) seems to drag my eye faster and faster along the page, and I'm halfway through and can't wait to get back. Damned work.

ETA: Teen/YA - would teen be for a younger age?? I really don't know, it sounds like a slightly snobbish distinction from the original reviewer to me.

Jan 29, 2009, 7:03am Top

Re Teen/YA - sounds like the distinction between "Fiction" and "Literature". Somehow it disturbs me when bookshops - hello, Angus & Robertson - do that, even though I'm a total hypocrite and make that distinction in my own head!

wookiebender - you haven't missed the Ben Button boat (nice alliteration!). It's on at the Moonlight Cinema on 13th Feb. And Oscar hype will bring it back, I'm sure, even if it's off screens at the moment.

Re "popularity" - I think it should be "shelf frequency" or something equally dry and mathematical. "Popularity" is pushing it!

wookiebender, re the "like-o-meter" - I think I get the "certainty" bit, but what I don't get is the "will probably like" bit. How, for instance, can I get a "very high" with a "will probably like"? I would have thought that "will probably like" is incompatible with "high certainty" because both elements are talking about probability. Argh! Still don't understand!

Anyway, I just happened to click on Oscar and Lucinda and LT thinks there's a "high certainty" that I will "love it". Wow, that's a big call! Maybe I should put it on my next quarter's SIY challenge.

crimson-tide - I love the fact that you live in Bunbury. How very Earnest of you :)

Jan 29, 2009, 8:47am Top

>90 Miss-Owl:: Ha!! You know Miss-Owl, I've never made that connection with Bunbury before! How very quick of you. :D And very slow and dim witted of me, she mumbles...

But I don't actually live in Bunbury, that's the "big smoke" on the coast, and is where the nearest cinema complex happens to be. Due to the joys of small town country living it's a 150km round trip, so seeing a movie is usually combined with all manner of other things that need doing.

And YES wookiebender - Slumdog Millionaire is a *great* movie.

Jan 29, 2009, 7:37pm Top

Bunbury! I didn't get it either!

Moonlight Cinema is fabulous, but quite unmakeable with small children. By the time I get home, get them fed, hand them over to a babysitter, get ready and get out the door it's close to 8, and from memory, all the best spots are taken at about 7:31, just after the doors open. Still, if I could get some friends interested, and they could bags a spot for Mr TQD and I...

I loved Oscar and Lucinda! I haven't re-read it, but it's one of my Top Ten (if I ever got around to making a Top Ten that is, I'm sure it'd be in there).

I'd say the "probably" is just badly expressed. You're somewhere between "meh" and "like", so you'll "probably like", and then they're very certain that that's where you'll fall. Maybe if they said "you'll sort of like" it'd be clearer. (As mud.) :)

Crimson-tide, glad you liked Slumdog Millionaire! (Always a bit worried recommending movies, although we do seem to have similar tastes in books.)

Got a couple of bookrings in the mail from cat207 yesterday. And she filled up a 3kg satchel with "1001" books to make the weight. (!!!) Some I've already read (but many years ago or were PC copies not registered on bookcrossing, so they weren't on my bookshelf) so I'm offering up rays for The Bell by Iris Murdoch and If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, and a few others will drop into the Oz VBB when it's my round. So if you want The Grapes of Wrath or The Talented Mr. Ripley or Sense and Sensibility you know where to go. :) Mr Ripley's the only one I haven't read as such, but I have a PC copy on my shelves somewhere.

Back to the subject at hand: stayed up far too late reading All The Pretty Horses. Got to a natural break, but it was just after a cliffhanger in a Mexican prison, so I just kept on reading... Sorry I can't offer this one as a ray, but it has places to go after me.

Jan 29, 2009, 10:30pm Top

I enjoyed Tithe-A Modern Faerie Tale, as did my daughter. I always though YA and teen were just different names for the same thing?

I have finished The Complete Maus. When I ordered it from the library, I had no idea it was a graphic novel. I probably wouldn't have ordered it if I'd known. However, since it was on my shelf, anyway, I decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not normally into graphic novels (nothing against them, they're just not my cup of tea) but this one was quite riveting. I was unable to put it down and wound up reading it all in one sitting. For those jaded and desensitised to stories of the Holocaust, this story will tug at your heartstrings.

I haven't decided what to read next yet, so I'll probably just snuggle up with an old copy of Fortean Times and relax, before picking up another book.

Jan 30, 2009, 3:40am Top

fairy-whispers - an interlibrary loan! How novel :) I joined a ring for The Complete Maus myself.

wookiebender - If on a Winter's Night a Traveler? Thanks for bringing back memories of my insane attempt at teaching postmodernism last year {shiver}. The Grapes of Wrath is the only one I haven't read there, but with my current workload I don't think I can drop into the VBB just yet. I highly recommend Mr Ripley though.

crimson-tide - given that you live in a small town, Bunbury seems ideal for Bunburying!

Jan 30, 2009, 5:11am Top

"... given that you live in a small town, Bunbury seems ideal for Bunburying!" *grin*

Yep, it sure is! You can get out of all sorts of things if you play it right and have a convincing story! ;-)

Jan 30, 2009, 6:26pm Top

Miss-Owl, the copy of The Talented Mr. Ripley that turned up had great reviews. I really must dig up my copy and bump it to the top of Mt TBR!!!

Finished All The Pretty Horses this morning (Mr TQD took both kids to Mr Bear's tae kwon do lesson, so I had the house to myself for an hour or so. Bliss! A great book, highly recommended, but you do have to be able to cope with a lack of punctuation, dialogue in Spanish, and it's a *western*.

Still, it made me like horses (even if only temporarily), so the western side of it was fine. A wonderful evocation of a lost time, being lost even then. (And a violent time too, some scenes were disturbing, but not up there with The Road.) I need to find more McCarthy to read.

Jan 31, 2009, 7:26am Top

OK - last few January books coming up:
Triskellion by Will Peterson
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Not quite finished with hospitals - hubby has to go back sometime in the next few weeks - hopefully this Friday. i am travelling next week for work and fly back Friday - am taking 5 books as have no Internet connection. If hubby doesn't get 'done' this Friday then it will be the 27th as I am out out town again from 12th to 21st.

Jan 31, 2009, 8:11am Top

Dearly Devoted Dexter is Done and Dusted! Another absorbing foray into the mind of a monster. Next up is The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, another 1001 book.

Jan 31, 2009, 8:15am Top

I've just finished Andrew McGahan's excellent The White Earth, which wasn't at all the post-apocalyptic survival tale I had expected.

we need someone else to weigh in tonight to take us to 100 posts in this thread... :)

Edited: Jan 31, 2009, 9:33am Top

Looks like it will have to be me then freelunch, as everyone else is now into February . . . not that you'd know it of course from the times on the post headings.

Happy 100, Happy February and off to a new thread! :D

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