girlunderglass wrapped up in books (pt. IV)
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★ - hated it (lousy)
★★ - it was OK, I suppose (mediocre)
★★★ - enjoyed it (good)
★★★★ - loved it! (very good)
★★★★★ - all-time favorite (amazing)
BOOKS READ SO FAR IN 2009: 75
75. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz-Zafon ★★★1/2
74. La Oveja Negra y Demas Fabulas by Antonio Monterroso ★★★1/2
73. The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt ★★★★1/2
72. All Tomorrow's Parties by William Gibson ★★★
71. Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat ★★★
70. After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell ★★★★
69. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes ★★★★
68. Plain Pleasures and Other Stories by Jane Bowles ★★★1/2
67. The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow ★★★★
66. Oroonoko by Aphra Behn ★★★
65. Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon ★★★
64. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle ★★★★
63. Libra by Don DeLillo ★★★★
62. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving ★★★
61. The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells ★★★1/2
60. Endgame by Samuel Beckett ★★★
59. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov ★★★1/2
58. Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe (re-read) ★★★1/2
57. Cele Mai Frumoase Poezii by Vasile Alecsandri ★★★1/2
56. How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom ★★★
55. Dracula by Bram Stoker ★★★1/2 ? ★★★★ ?
54. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood ★★★★
53. To Poiitiko Topio Toy Ellinikou 19ou kai 20ou Aiona by Vaggelis Athanasopoulos ★★★1/2
52. 1700: Scenes From London Life by Maureen Waller ★★★★
51. Learning and Teaching by Michalis Kassotakis ★★
50. Dawn of the Dumb: Dispatches from the Idiotic Frontline by Charlie Brooker ★★★★
49. My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok ★★★★
48. Night by Elie Wiesel ★★★1/2
47. Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart ★★★★
46. The Cow Who Fell In the Canal by Phyllis Krasilovsky ★★★
45. 500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide by Gene Kannenberg ★★★★1/2
44. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket ★★★
43. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket ★★★1/2
42. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare ★★★★
41. V V (Viva) by E.E. Cummings ★★★
40. Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom by Tricia Hedge ★★1/2
39. As You Like It by William Shakespeare ★★★
38. Othello by William Shakespeare ★★★1/2
37. Mourning Becomes Electra by Eugene O'Neill ★1/2
36. Our Town by Thornton Wilder ★★★★
35. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell ★★★1/2
34. The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories by Michel Faber ★★★★
33. Watchmen by Alan Moore ★★★★★ (here)
32. Tender Is the Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald ★★★ (here)
31. Quicksand by Nella Larsen ★★★★ (here)
30. Nostalgia by Mircea Cartarescu ★★★★ (here)
29. Federico García Lorca Para Niños by F.G. Lorca ★★★
28. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber ★★★★1/2
27. Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers ★★★
26. The Way Men Act by Elinor Lipman ★★★1/2
25. Virtual Light by William Gibson ★★1/2
24. Idoru by William Gibson ★★★★
23. El Clavo Y Otros Relatos by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón ★★1/2
22. Retal by Fernando Fernán Gómez ★★★1/2
March (my Month of the Firsts)
21. Jazz by Toni Morrison ★★★1/2 (here)
20. Emma by Jane Austen ★★★★
19. Haiku by Basho Matsuo ★★★1/2
18. Enter Jeeves: 15 Early Stories by P.G. Wodehouse ★★★
17. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin ★★★★1/2
16. Over to You: Ten Stories of Flyers and Flying by Roald Dahl ★★★
15. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon ★★★1/2
14. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells ★★★
13. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer ★★1/2
12. I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb ★★★★★
11. The Theatre of the Absurd by Martin Esslin ★★★1/2
10. The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories by Rudyard Kipling ★★
9. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende ★★★★
8. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler ★★★
7. Pinter in Play by Susan Hollis Merritt ★★★
6. Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg ★★★1/2
5. Book Lust by Nancy Pearl ★★★★
4. Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille ★★★
3. The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi ★★★1/2
2. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling ★★★★
1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt ★★★★
I'm still waiting for those photos...
3: thanks! and thanks for the thumbs-up whoever gave them to me :)
4: Soon. Very very very soon.
I've been reading a LOT of 4star books lately. I seem to be stuck on that rating, which is not a bad thing at all since it means I'm loving everything I've been reading lately. But it makes my ratings monotonous and I don't like that. I need a crappy book, damn it! For a balance :P
*clouds parting, roiling seas calming, beautiful rays of sunlight streaming onto Eliza's thread*
...and Eliza, you'll be regretting that crappy book wish if you're not careful! ;)
I know the feeling. So I've stopped giving books stars. Made me feel much better about liking so many lol.
Also waiting for the last book store reveal...you're really keeping us in suspense with this one! :)
8, 9, 10 etc: the thing is, part of the book-finding has been sheer luck but the rest is HUGELY due to LT and LT members. Being a new member of LT when I started the challenge,at first I didn't know whether to trust the recommendations or not. SO I read random stuff that sure, sounded good, but no one said it actually was. And many of the times it wasn't. Gradually though, after having read great reviews of a book five times in a row by different members I would give it a try - and, surprise, surprise, it was really good! It has made such a difference in my reading! This was the case with Alias Grace for example, which I'd seen praised many times on LT (I remember Cait86's review in particular, but others as well) and decided to give it a go. Finished it yesterday and - no s**t - it was great.
Here's a link to my photo album, they start at about number 47. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=33947&id=653623494&l=c7f93f8f58
And here is a link that tells the story behind the day - http://www.spanishpropertyworld.com/la_diada_de_sant_jordi_lovers_day_barcelona_...
edit: typo change month to April!!
Massolit Books & Cafe
Some bookshops have the selections, other have the prices, others have the friendly & interesting shop-owners, others have the great coffee: this has it all. But above all, the one thing this place has is Atmosphere. Newspapers & magazines that you can peruse at your heart's content, big rooms full of beautiful shelves, wooden chairs and tables, lovely little decorations you discover all over the place, old suitcases filled with books, vintage-y wallpaper, dusty mirrors and dim lamps. There's also bagels, carrot cakes and lemon tarts, tea, muffins and organic juices. Coffee you can drink while sitting in what you know would have been your favourite spot to sit in if you were lucky enough to live here, in beautiful Krakow. And, just to enhance the atmosphere, there's CocoRosie playing softly from the speakers. What more can one ask for?
Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig, Story of O by Pauline Reage, The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan.
I didn't get many books here, not because the selection and prices weren't great but because I was too busy sipping my tea, humming along and all the while grinning happily at no one in particular.
P.S. For those curious to know what being inside the bookshop sounded like, here's a song for your listening pleasure. (Right click on the link and "save as" to save it on your computer.)
Your photos are great and an even better advert than the ones on the website, I think!
My husband and I actually watched the movie version of Kiss of the Spiderwoman a few weekends ago, not really knowing anything about it going in, and about 15 or 20 minutes into it, I commented to that this would make a great book and that I'd probably like it but that I wasn't so sure about the movie. The hubby then pointed out that it's based on a novel...shows how much I know! Anyway, I'd love to read your review of it whenever you get around to reading it, the movie made me really curious!
54. Dracula by Bram Stoker (I'm between ★★★1/2 and ★★★★)
Tags: 1890s, Ireland, fiction, horror, Gothic
If we're going to thoroughly analyze this, we have to mention that, though it doesn't matter much in the end, yes, there are many flaws with Dracula. My personal pet peeve is the underdeveloped characters. First, there is no difference between the voices of the male characters - five different persons sound, feel, think, act as one and the same, to the degree that you have to keep checking whose narrative you are following. Stoker tries to differentiate his characters through superficial features such as nationality: Van Helsing speaks with what is supposedly a Dutch accent - though this is not consistently sustained throughout the whole book - and the American always speaks "laconically". That dreadful word was used so much in relation to Quincey it was getting ridiculous. "Count me in, Professor", said Quincey Morris laconically. "Me too", said Quincey Morris laconically. "What shall we do exactly?" asked Quincey Morris laconically. You can see the very beginning of a character sketch (Quincey: doesn't speak much, always ready for action; Van Helsing: the leader, has all the answers etc.) but then the author just stops, seemingly content with those very basic descriptions. He makes no effort to give depth to his characters and provide them with individual personalities. They were all "gentle, noble, true, kind, brave, manly" etc. Next, when it comes to Mina, the female protagonist, Stoker starts out well enough: he bestows on her a degree of intelligence, independence and resourcefulness unusual for the era he was living in and quite daring. (though, of course, he acknowledges this is not typical of the weaker sex: "her great brain which is trained like man's brain but is of sweet woman".) As the story progresses, however, she too ends up as a stereotype. Soon enough she assumes the typical role of the Angel - the embodiment of goodness, with no character flaws allowed in her. She represents for each and every one of the five men the Ideal Woman that they must protect at any cost: pure, honest, bashful, gentle, loving, vulnerable. The only character exempt from the boredom of being completely good or completely evil - and more interesting for that reason - was Renfield, who kept switching from barking mad, to extremely intelligent and "cured", to an evil man with a plan, to a mere victim of circumstances.
But let's forget about the characters for a second. The bad guys/good guys format is kept throughout the novel, and though it leaves no room for ambiguity, the truth is it enhances the action just fine. The greatest thing about Dracula is that, even knowing as you do what is going to happen - from countless movies and parodies - the sense of suspense is surprisingly maintained until the very end. Stoker never has to resort to gory details, which today's audience supposedly "needs", to make his story interesting. The format and writing style are great aids in this accomplishment, of course, but the author also had other ways of jolting his readers. Let's not forget that this is the Victorian era we're talking about, which means that the mere fact that women were presented as lustful, cruel and sexual (when under the influence of vampires) was shocking to many readers of the time. ("Lucy Westerna, but yet how changed. The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness.") The writing flows very well and, excluding some less than fascinating moments in the middle of the book (letters between Lucy and Mina) the reader is kept happily in suspense for the whole duration of the story. Another plus: there's a contemporary feel to Dracula which could be attributed I think to the format it employs (it is written in diary and letter form) and the often mention and use of the technological advances of the time. (phonographs, telegrams) The protagonists keep mentioning how "in this scientific era" it is very hard to believe in supernatural things - a statement the modern reader can easily identify with. I don't think I'm exaggerating in saying this is the ultimate Gothic novel. At least not since Wuthering Heights have I read a book so exemplary of Gothic literature, with its typical blend of romance and horror elements. And while the repeated compliments, declarations of love and vows of loyalty between the six characters did get a bit tiring, the horror parts on the other hand were done to perfection. This might be because they weren't so much horrifying or scary as extremely suspenseful and exciting: the book felt a lot like a very atmospheric detective story.
The biggest compliment I think I can give the book is this: horror is possibly my least favourite genre, when it comes to both books and movies, closely followed by romance. Considering that this book combines my two least favourite genres, it's a testament to the novel's power and timelessness that I enjoyed it as I did.
edited for spelling
The bookshop looks and sounds absolutely divine - I think it is worth a trip to Krakow just for that. You are so right about the important elements to a bookshop - how could you ever get that atmosphere in a world of e-books and internet shopping?
I can't wait to reread it!
38: My most revered Sir Bram, you are absolutely perfectly wondrously right. I shouldn't trouble my pretty little head with all this. I'll leave it to you of the brained sex to figure it all out.
My sincere apologies,
The one thing that stood out in your review is when you said, "The bad guys/good guys format is kept throughout the novel, and though it leaves no room for ambiguity..." I don't think it's necessarily as clear-cut as it seems, although I'm basing that argument/opinion on a reading directed by what will hopefully develop into my dissertation one day (which focuses on sexual and reproductive ambiguities and the purposeful ways in which Stoker distorts and reinvents vampire mythology to meet and/or negate certain Victorian principles).
I believe Dracula is fascinating for several reasons. First and foremost, because it has come to define the modern perception of vampires, and yet in terms of Victorian/Gothic fiction it comes to the party very late. Stoker builds on a tradition of gothic lit and the earlier introduction of the vampire figure (which is itself a bit new in 19th-century England), and so the ways in which he changes traditional motifs allows for a wide range of criticism and analysis.
I quite like a little horror, though tend to stick with it at the YA level.
The 75 challenge group is hot today, as you join the ranks of
girlunderglass for her review of Dracula
cameling for the review of Widow for One Year
cyberry for her review of The Doll People
tututhefirst for her review of South of Broad
47: I was pretty impressed myself. YA is another genre I haven't read much of - though I can't say I don't like it as such, it just hasn't crossed my bookpath.
48: Frankenstein - I haven't gotten to that one yet...have to track it down someday.
49: woohoo for 75ers! :D
Thanks Linda for making us feel a little bit proud of this lovely crowd !
I have read a couple of JC Oates books, and she just doesn't do anything for me - which is a bit disturbing considering she is loved by very erudite readers!
I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who found two J.C. Oates books enough of a sample that I could happily move on to other authors! I could recognize the merits of of her novels but couldn't conceive of a reason why I should torture myself to read any more of them. What I found disturbing were her books! :-)
Okay--my shield is up--you can fling stones now! :-D
And as for JC Oates, I respect her ability to completely involve her readers in the story, but she takes us places I don't want to go...
I'm definitely going to try and buy Frankenstein though - it's just one of those classics. Even if you don't plan to read it now, chances are you're gonna hear it mentioned so many times that one day you're going to go for it.
Also, I have pending reviews for:
♠ The Dawn of the Dumb: Dispatches from the Idiotic Frontline by C. Brooker
♠ Alias Grace by M. Atwood
♠ 1700: Scenes From London Life by M. Waller
♠ The most beautiful Poems by V. Alecsandri
"And as for JC Oates, I respect her ability to completely involve her readers in the story, but she takes us places I don't want to go..."
That is so well put, Jim. I wish I had said it! :-)
On the other hand, I will highly recommend Frankenstein! The first time I read it I was sure I was going to hate it--forget the movies, the book is really good 19th century gothic.
Elize, I'll be looking for your review of the Master and Margarita. I remember reading quite a bit about it last year and I was considering reading it but I never got around to finding it. In November I will be ready to look for some good reads because my challenges will be done! Free choice! What a concept! :-)
Which translation do you recommend.
My local library doesn't have the book but the I can get it from the ValleyCat system. They have two different translators--but I don't know if I can request the one I would want.
The two translators available from the library are Mirra Ginsberg and Michael Glenny.
Here is a link that briefly discusses the issue. http://cr.middlebury.edu/public/russian/bulgakov/public_html//Engeditions.html
Thanks for the link. I guess I'd better "bite the bullet" and plan to buy a good translation!
Great pics!! So sorry I've been behind but I'm hoping to stay current through year-end :)
50. Dawn of the Dumb by Charlie Brooker
Tags: 2000s, non-fiction, journalism, satire, U.K.
Oh, Charlie, Charlie, Charlie. If there was a reality show featuring you doing nothing but hurl insults at a wall all day long, I would watch it. I would watch it first of all because, judging from this book, chances are I'm gonna agree with those insults. The stupid wall deserves it. But also because again, judging from this book, you have 3859478563490 words stored in an area of your brain designed specifically for the purpose of Innovative Dissing. Us mortals don't have this area, or if we do, it's embarrassingly underdeveloped. I mean why can you take a subject as boring as human hair and make it funny? ("What's hair's beef, anyway? What's it trying to prove? It sprouts with enthusiastic urgency, sometimes in the most unexpected places, and then merely hangs around getting in the way. Think your job's pointless? At least you don't dangle off a scalp for a living.") How is this fair for the rest of us, who sometimes take some of the funniest, most hilarious s**t ever - like Aronofski's The Fountain, for example - and all we can think to say about it is "that movie was, like, SO bad."? Life is obnoxiously unfair.
A caveat or two: this book is not a Book in the real, novelish, plot-and-characters sort of way. It's a collection of newspaper articles and, as such, needs to be savoured in small doses for full effect. Also, if you're one of those people that get offended at jokes about God, celebrities, politicians, and life in general, don't read it. If you think Big Brother's too common and "lowbrow" a topic, don't read it. If you do not find "I hate children" T-shirts in the least humorous, don't read it (Some people have tagged this book as "misanthropic" - which is baffling, because a) surely, if there is one group of people you can call annoying without offending anyone that group is Children: "dot-eyed shouting machines hell-bent on sabotaging whatever scraps of tranquility remain in this pitiful world" and b) have you read his piece about Americans? He seems to adore them.). Last test: what is your reaction to the mention of Dr. Screw and sonic dildos? If you are - possibility no.1 - insulted and a little bit disgusted: not for you. If you are - possibility no. 2 - intrigued and a little bit amused: then GO GET YOUR HANDS ON THE DAMNED BOOK STRAIGHT AWAY!
Congratulations on another great review.
Thanks for the thumbs up kiwi&whisper!
Oh, and "literary cynic" - I'd like that as a profession, please!
Just read the article screen burn through your link - he is a very funny guy.
51. 1700: Scenes from London Life by Maureen Waller
Tags: history, non-fiction, U.K., 2000s
One of those books that makes you wish you majored in history. Interesting, easy to read, full of fascinating trivia. Contains the sort of information that you later find yourself quoting to your friends with the preface "did you know that...?" Its only fault: too many details.
53. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Tags: Canada, historical fiction, 1990s
You pick it up, you start reading, you can't put it down, you're done with it some hours later. Not sure I learned anything from it but it was a damn gripping read. Atwood has done her research well - not for one moment do you doubt the historical accuracy of the events. (Though you probably should, but the book is just too fast-paced for that!) Good characters, too.
55. How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom
Tags: books about books, non-fiction, literary theory, U.S.A., 2000s
Nothing earthshaking here, but enjoyable enough.
56. Cele Mai Frumoase Poezii (The Most Beautiful Poems of) Vasile Alecsandri
Tags: poetry, Romania, 1850s
Some of the poems were merely okay, but some of them were amazing. None of those assessments is probably objective. The first has to do with the fact that I dislike romantic poetry, so the ones that had too much of the nasty R in them did not appeal to me. The second assessment is based on sheer nostalgia: there were poems in this collection that I had studied during elementary school in Romania when I was about, oh, 7-8, so they created the warm, sweet, melancholy feeling of something long-forgotten that I knew I'd heard before. Those poems talked of linden trees and cuckoos, golden fields and snowed forests, deer and foxes, willows and dandelions, the changing of seasons, rivers I knew by name and rivers I'd swam in, places I'd seen and places that sounded like places I'd seen - in short, all the things that I remember from my childhood. How could I not love them?
57. Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Tags: horror, mystery & crime, short stories, poetry, U.S.A.
Like most books that brag of collecting all the works of a particular author, this one is uneven in quality. But because this is Poe we're talking about, the works range from likable enough to amazing. They are never what you'd call "bad".
I like the look of the history book - sounds fun. Perhaps a big mistake with non-fiction writers, is that they don't know when to leave out detail. Can make things a slog.
I got put off reading Harold Bloom a bit when people were discussing what a grump he was. I have that book but only dip in and out of it.
And as you are Romanian - just to mention the Nobel Prize winner, Herta Mueller. Have you read her? I understand she fled the government in the 1970s.
#81: Waller has another book on London out called London 1945. If she did as good a job on it as she did on the 1700 book, you might want to give it a read as well. I hope to find a copy of it one of these centuries!
Alias Grace is already firmly planted on Planet TBR so I do not need to add that one, thank goodness for small miracles!
AND he loves The Wire. Enough said, methinks.
In the bonus features on the season 2 or 3 dvds, there's something called The Lost Book Club, where they talk about the books that get featured on Lost. One of the ones they mention is Stephen King's The Stand. Juliet's book club is reading it when we first meet them and apparently, there are parts of it that inspired the idea behind Lost. So, there's that. It's just really, really long.
Going by the movies, I think I'd recommend The Body. I absolutely loved Stand By Me, which was based on it.
I'm a nerd about it because I'm attempting to accumulate all of the works mentioned in the series.
Here's a link to a websight that may be helpful to you. http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Literary_works
There is also a group on LT that discusses LOST although it does not seem to be too well organized. Here ya go, just in case you're interested. http://www.librarything.com/groups/lost
I'm glad you enjoyed the book Eliza :) It is one of my favourites for this year.
Speaking of you Losties out there, have you seen this?
I think they are possibly going to use it as a way to answer questions that they will not have time to address during the last season, to tie together ALL loose ends for the more fanatic ones who don't only care about the main big issues but the details too.
88, 90: I really did enjoy the book a lot, and intended to write a full review of it but I found it was one of those books I didn't have many things to say about it other than "it was really good". (I didn't want to resummarize the plot since there are many reviews doing that) I think it showcases the strengths of the historical fiction genre. Cait, I did know it was based on real events and appreciated the fact that Atwood explained at the end of the book which parts of the story were real and which parts she made up herself. Also, I liked how she said that she tried not to create the most wild or the most suspenseful story but the most believable one - what she thought was the logical and more probable way things had happened. I think her decision in this regard was what made the book so real.
59. Endgame by Samuel Beckett ★★★
Absurdist, surreal, existentialist - all words thrown in together by literature students and aspiring actors trying to explain this play. Beckett hated all of them. Sure, use the terms as an attempt at genre classification if that's what you need to do. But to say the play is absurdist in the real Oxford dictionary definition of the word is, surely, missing the point. Beckett did not believe or try to prove in his plays that life is devoid of meaning and sense. The whole burden of Hamm and Clov's existence is that they have no idea whether this is all just a game, or whether there's a purpose for all of this, for every single word they utter. And maybe - just maybe - the more absurdly they behave, the more preposterous their interactions, maybe someone will finally take notice and start paying attention! Hamm and Clov might act like they have given up hope in a meaningful world, but in reality they never do. They are still there waiting for another Godot to interrupt this silly play and shout "Stop that nonsense! There is a real world outside of here! Waiting for you to do something!". This Godot again, of course, never arrives during the play. But this doesn't prove that he won't do so later. The reason, you see, that Endgame is so painful is that the characters are NOT resigned to life's absurdity. They are merely unsure of it. They doubt. They fear. They sometimes dare to hope. They question. They wonder. But they don't know. Hamm is never sure whether Clov's threats to abandon his master are serious. And Clov never knows whether he will have the courage to leave. And not only that, but at the end of the play, we have no idea whether Clov left or not. This could be just another ritual, part of their monotonous lives. If Clov had left, he would have found out whether life outside this room is worth living, or - what he fears - just another absurd world only more dangerous than this one. But he never does find out. The neverending perpetuation of its doubt, its fear of the unknown, its unanswered questions, its "if"s and "maybe"s is what makes the play powerful. And although Beckett was not fond of this interpretation either, it must be mentioned that post WWII ideology is rearing its ugly disconsolate head throughout Endgame again and again. Some even say that this was just another attempt by another playwright to find meaning in a world full of so much suffering. But that's not all there is to it, and that's probably why Beckett rejected this perspective.
I can't say that this is one of my favourite plays, on a level of sheer enjoyment. But I found it thought-provoking and strangely moving and I suppose that says something about its writer's intentions. Lastly, another matter worthy of mention is the death of a character in the play and the way this is portrayed. The interesting thing about this particular death is that it might be in fact the only happy event of the play, because it is the only event that provides some sort of resolution. You can see the remaining characters mourning, but you can also see that they are almost jealous of the dead one. The dead at least know now whether this whole Existence thing had some sort of higher meaning, or whether it was just an absurd game of chess, one silly move after another.
I'm taking a course in Beckett's theatre this year so I'll be studying at least 6-7 of his plays. (I'll post reviews here, of course :P)
>87 Carmenere: & 89 Spacepotatoes, I also read/heard somewhere that aspects of LOST were influenced by King's works including The Stand and The Dark Tower series. I just read the first book in the Dark Tower series, Gunslinger and there were themes and character lines that reminded me of LOST. The Dark Tower series is completely different than King's other books, at least the first one is, and from what I have heard the following books are too.
Lostpedia and abc's Lost site both have links to the books that are mentioned or related to LOST
58. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov ★★★1/2
Tags: 1960s, Russia, fiction, satire
There's nothing can say about this book that others haven't said before me. It's daring, it's witty, it's cynical, it's unique and it's never boring. It's a satire, it's a love story, it's an absurdist play, it's a Bildungsroman, it's a postmodern take on Faust, it's a protest against censorship. Or, as the book's Wiki page informs you, "part of its literary brilliance lies in the different levels on which it can be read, as hilarious slapstick, deep philosophical allegory, and biting socio-political satire critical of not just the Soviet system but also the superficiality and vanity of modern life in general" And because of this characteristic, "The Master and Margarita" is one of those books that you can't just digest in one read. At first I had mixed feelings about it - it was always intriguing, exciting, yes, but not lovable enough, I thought. Its light and talkative tone didn't seem, to me, to capture the agony and pain of people's lives in Stalinist Moscow. Moreover, with the possible exception of Behemoth, the vodka-drinking, chess-playing, pistol-toting cat, the book had no characters that one truly cares for. Or that's what I felt as I was reading it. You can see why, then, it surprises me that weeks after finishing the novel I find its colourful cast of characters - Woland, Azazello, Behemoth, the Master, Margarita, Ivan Ponyrov, and Pontius Pilate - frequently popping into my head and putting a smile on my face. It probably won't go down as one of my favourite books, but it is certainly memorable, unique, and unlike anything I've ever read.
On another note, I just ordered from The Book Depository and got:
• Give It Up: And Other Short Stories a graphic novel illustrated by Peter Kuper with Franz Kafka's short stories
• Flowers for Algernon sci-fi by Daniel Keyes
• The View From Castle Rock by Alice Munro (yay! I will now have another Munro for whenever the mood strikes)
• Bring the Jubilee classic alternate history by Ward Moore
• Ghost World by Daniel Clowes - graphic novel
• Why Not Catch-21?: The Stories Behind the Titles by Gary Dexter (non-fiction)
• Howl's Moving Castle an early Christmas present for my best friend because I'll be away for Christmas
• The Wednesday Wars - praised to the sky by Whisper and other LTers so I couldn't resist :)
I also just saw that The B-Depository are sending their books through Royal Mail and know that they (RM) are having big strikes in England so I'm kind of frightened it will take forever for my order to get to me. Anyone in England that knows more about the situation or that has received anything through Royal Mail lately? Please let me know if there are huge delays! Thanks.
Thanks for welcoming me to the 75 book challenge. I've got you starred now. You've got some great books here.
We read the short story version of Flowers for Algernon at school and I absolutely loved it, I've always wondered whether the fully fleshed out book version would have the same impact (yet another one that's been on my TBR pile for years. I hope you enjoy it!
(note to self, really must restart The Master and Margarita again one of these days...)
Also, that Lost University link you posted? Awesome :)
111: the fact that it's partly true and based on her own family history makes it even more interesting - I'm pretty sure I will enjoy it :) Glad you had a good time exploring the Lost University site!
I'm currently reading Don DeLillo's Libra for an amazing amazing course I took this year. It's called "Political and cultural clashes in 1960s America" and it's SO interesting, particularly since I've never had a chance to study any American history at all. It's also very comforting to focus on a particular period rather than those highschool history books that try to teach you everything from the middle ages onwards and in the end you remember nothing. We're going to read and study Libra , The Book of Daniel , The Things They Carried and The Crying of Lot 49. I'm very excited!
Also rather annoyed to see back in >86 spacepotatoes:/87 that I actually missed what sounds like an interesting DVD extra, having literally this evening returned the box set of Season 3 of Lost to its owner, with the 'Book Club' feature unwatched. Doh.
If you can't wait for the postal strikes for Why not Catch-21?, Gary Dexter's bloghas an awful lot of stuff on it... not sure what the overlap with the book is. Needless to say I haven't got around to reading it even though the book itself is on my wishlist...
Some thoughts on 3 books I haven't said anything about (that I read in October):
60. The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
Tags: 1890s, sci-fi, fiction, U.K.
Enjoyed this one much more than War of the Worlds , which I also read this year. You can see that H.G. Wells's strength is his ideas. That is apparent in both of these books. But where WOTW was content on exposing ideas and commenting on the human race while dragging on and on and failing to get you interested in the particular characters or their fate, The Island of Dr Moreau was also suspenseful, exciting, nerve-racking, thought-provoking, unputdownable. The scientific aspects of the book also made for some very interesting reading - albeit with a healthy dose of skepticism from the modern reader. Recommended.
61. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Tags: 1820s, horror, folklore, fiction, U.S.A.
Initially I was going to describe this as a typical horror folktale: the myth of a scary headless horseman in a small American town has been done many times, after all in both literature and film. However, there are two things that set this story apart, as far as I'm concerned. First, the playfulness and wit of Irving's language which elicits many smiles from the reader. And secondly, the unusual (within the genre), humorous, realistic ending which turns the whole story around and gives the tale a modern twist.
62. Libra by Don DeLillo
Tags: fiction, historical fiction, 1980s, U.S.A.
I could write so much about this book. A wonderful creation once you get accustomed to DeLillo's prose and start making sense of the three interconnected stories (not all of which occur during the same time period), this novel deals with the JFK assassination. It is 1) a part-real, part-fictional biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK's murderer 2) a fictional yet possibly real conspiracy concerning the JFK murder by various characters (some real, some not) and 3) a completely fictional description of Nicholas Branch's attempt to put together a book about the assassination - an attempt which mirrors the writer's struggle with writing the book and the reader's struggle to decipher it. I want to write a proper review of this when I get a chance to. I want to mention though that the joy of reading this book is not limited to the time it takes to actually read it but extends far beyond that. One of the best things was looking up the real characters that were part of the novel on Wikipedia and discovering how many of the facts presented in the book are true, how many of the characters REAL PEOPLE, who talked and loved and breathed and lived and smiled and did. After finishing the book I spent hours more just reading online about it and the people that inhabit its pages.
Lee Harvey Oswald:
George de Mohrenschildt:
...and many more. Though many parts of the book may be merely DeLillo's invention, there is no denying that this book is a slice of history.
I am adding Libra to the ever-expanding BlackHole. Thanks for the recommendation.
Brenzi, you didn't scare me away!! :)
And, yeah, Oswald looks like he's had a few punches in the face to say the least - I did also notice the defiant look on his face. After reading the book I immediately looked to find a picture of him and this was the first I found: he looked exactly as I expected him to after reading DeLillo's descriptions.
I read Libra several years ago, and really loved it. I no longer have a good grasp of the book, though, so it would be useless for me to try to discuss the book with you. :) I will look forward to reading a longer review if you do one.
I'd also recommend DeLillo's Underworld, which I also liked very much. I've read a few of his other books (White Noise and Falling Man), but wasn't as impressed with them. He is an important author.
Thanks for the welcome back, sp!
64. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Tags: 1960s, fiction, YA, sci-fi, U.S.A.
Okay pretty much everyone I know on LT has mentioned this book in some conversation or other so I just had to read it. I loved it, of course - first of all because it was an adorable little book but also for another reason. This book has made me realize something very specific about my book/film tastes. And the realization is this: I LOVE, am crazy about, cannot resist, (and other such exclamations!): whiz kids. Whether its literature or movies, I see now that some of my very favourite characters are child prodigies. There's the Glass family of course - my favourite fictional family - and all Salinger's other smart little boys and girls, like Esme or Teddy or Phoebe (Haulden Caulfield's sister). Then there's Klaus Baudelaire, from the Series of Unfortunate events who is, naturally, the most intelligent one of the kids, and the most avid reader to boot. His sister Violet is also an incredibly skilled inventor for her age, so let's include her as well. Then there's Matilda (and how can you not love her?), everyone's favourite little bookworm - Hermione Granger - , and Velma from Scooby-Doo, that clever investigator without whom the rest of the Mystery Inc would probably just run around and shriek a lot. And if I start mentioning movies and shows the list of characters I love that fit this stereotype is getting bigger and bigger. Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory, Margot and Richie (when they're little) from the Royal Tenenbaums, and last but not least: Stanley Spector the whiz kid from Magnolia. Was does all this mean? I have no idea. All I know is, if you have any recommendations on books featuring child prodigies, BRING THEM ON!
I hope you get a chance to read Artemis Fowl. The books are fun.
I just can't bring myself to read Eoin Colfer's Hitch-hikers book though - the very idea just seems so completely wrong - and I don't see how he can convincingly pick up the story from where it finished in the last book either...
Sounds like Artemis Fowl is worth a read though. Re writing styles, I've a feeling that I heard an interview somewhere that said they're completely different and that he hasn't tried to ape Douglas Adams. To be honest, I think that's a good thing - so many people try unsuccessfully to copy DNA's style...
65. Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon ★★★
Tags: 1960s, fiction, U.S.A.
My first acquaintance with Pynchon's work. Strange. Original. Complex. Dreamlike. Schizophrenic. Did I mention strange? This is supposed to be Pynchon's most approachable work and often hailed as a great example of postmodern fiction. I don't disagree. But at the same time I know this is not a book for everyone. It is not, I think, a book one falls head over heels with. It is a book that challenges what you thought you knew about how books are supposed to be. Their coherence, their development, their structure, their denouement. There's meaning and further implications hidden beneath every sentence. There's almost too much meaning for an 80-page long novella. As if the author was anxious not to waste (w.a.s.t.e.) a single word. Every word must be suffused with an extra layer of complications, another set of meanings and ideas. Another popular culture reference that requires you to be armed with a particular kind of knowledge in order to deal with it. Jay Gould. Fu-Manchu. Perry Mason. The Shadow. Nabokov. Remedios Varo. Jack Lemmon. The Beatles. "I want to kiss your feet.", sing the imaginary Paranoids of the book. Ha. Ha. Ha. Sometimes it feels like the book purports to maintain a certain level of intelligence and knowledge amongst its intended readers. Like Pynchon is trying to somehow "weed out" the most impatient of readers, the ones not determined enough to push through his obstacles and get to the meaning, the core of the book. And for this reason he keeps making things more difficult. A Jacobean play within the book. Surreal situations. LSD. Paranoia. A conspiracy that may or may not exist. Song lyrics. An unreliable narrator. An even more unreliable shrink who's supposed to help the narrator. (Dr Hilarius, a psychopath of a shrink, if there ever was one. ) Take that, public. See if you can deal with that. And that. And that. Can you? Like the Escher paintings mentioned in the book, you either take it all in together, or not at all. It either makes sense, or it doesn't.
(kind of like this Deaf-Mute ball towards the end of the book:)
"Back in the hotel she found the lobby full of deaf-mute delegates in party hats, copied in crepe paper after the fur Chinese communist jobs made popular during the Korean conflict. They were every one of them drunk, and a few of the men grabbed her, thinking to bring her along to a party in the grand ballroom. She tried to struggle out of the silent, gesturing swarm but was too weak. Her legs ached, her mouth tasted horrible. They swept her on into the ballroom, where she was seized about the waist by a handsome young man in a Harris tweed coat and waltzed round and round, through the rustling, shuffling hush, under a great unlit chandelier. Each couple on the floor danced whatever was in the fellow's head: tango, two-step, bossa nova, slop. But how long, Oedipa thought, could it go on before collisions became a serious hindrance? There would have to be collisions. The only alternative was some unthinkable order of music, many rhythms, all keys at once, a choreography in which each couple meshed easy, predestined. Something they all heard with an extra sense atrophied in herself. She followed her partner's lead, limp in the young mute's clasp, waiting for the collisions to begin. But none came. She was danced for half an hour before, by mysterious consensus, everybody took a break, without having felt any touch but the touch of her partner. Jesus Arrabal would have called it an anarchist miracle. Oedipa, with no name for it, was only demoralized. She curtsied and fled."
An interesting child character is Oskar in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but I can't remember if he is actually a prodigy but Ender in Ender's Game and Danny in Chaim Potok's The Chosen definitely are.
I still won't be reading his Hitchhiker's Guide book, because I haven't read the others. I'm also not a fan of these type of 'continuing in his image' publications, but can see that there is a lot of money in it for the publishers and they do attract a lot of publicity.
148: Thanks for the recs. I already like the Series of Unfortunate Events (even mentioned the Baudelaire children above) but had never heard of the Evil Genius series, I'm looking it up! I really enjoyed Potok's My Name is Asher Lev this summer and was planning to get to The Chosen at some point, now I'm bumping it up my list. As for the Hitchhiker's business, it's a bit like this: I am against what they're trying to do (continuing the series after the author has died) ideologically but at the same time I know that if it's out there I'm gonna read it. And I suppose that's what the publishers are counting on - they don't care what the public really thinks of this decision as long as they buy the books. (and make them rich)
That said, I have read The Crying of Lot 49 - probably 5 or 6 years ago and I know I enjoyed it, but I have next to no memory of it now. I vaguely remember the premise, but that's it. Now I have a pretty rubbish memory a lot of the time, but to remember so little about a book cannot be a good sign!
A Wrinkle in Time is wonderful. My primary school teacher read it to us when I was about 8 (she was great). I also loved the sequels, but I know others have not been so keen.
66. Oroonoko by Aphra Behn
Tags: 1680s, historical fiction, travel lit, U.K., slavery
While it had some interesting commentary on gender, class, aristocracy and religious beliefs at the time of its publishing, I found the story itself a bit dated. The book is not what you'd call a "page-turner". However, given the fact that many scholars consider this to be the first novel ever written in the English language (as many scholars disagree, of course) and Aphra Behn one of the first women to practice writing as a career, I'm glad I read it from a historical perspective. Behn's views on slavery and her political beliefs are also of interest. I found this illuminating passage on Wikipedia: "Todd is probably correct in saying that Aphra Behn did not set out to protest slavery, but however tepid her feelings about slavery, there is no doubt about her feelings on the subject of natural kingship. (...) A natural king could not be enslaved, and, as in the play Behn wrote while in Surinam, The Young King, no land could prosper without a king. Her fictional Surinam is a headless body. Without a true and natural leader (a king) the feeble and corrupt men of position abuse their power. What was missing was a true lord. In the absence of such leadership, a true king, Oroonoko, is misjudged, mistreated, and killed. One potential motive for the novel, or at least one political inspiration, was Behn's view that Surinam was a fruitful and potentially wealthy settlement that needed only a true noble to lead it. Like others sent to investigate the colony, she felt that Charles was not properly informed of the place's potential. When Charles gave up Surinam in 1667 with the Treaty of Breda, Behn was dismayed. This dismay is enacted in the novel in a graphic fashion: if the English, with their aristocracy, mismanaged the colony and the slaves by having an insufficiently noble ruler there, then the democratic and mercantile Dutch would be far worse. (...) Oroonoko can be seen as a royalist's demurral. "
I really like Behn's plays, so I have always been curious about this book. I wondered if it would be a slow read. Her plays are funny (satirical), but it does not sound like this book is in that vein. I will have to read this eventually. Thanks for the insight.
I'm glad you liked A Wrinkle in Time, Eliza. I loved it as a kid, and enjoyed it earlier this year too. If you are interested in more of her works, I'm not really a fan of the Wrinkle sequels, but I do love her Vicky Austin series, which is not fantasy, just normal children's lit. It starts with Meet the Austins, but the best two are A Ring of Endless Light and Troubling a Star.
Oroonoko is definitely a slow read, but like jmaloney17, I love Behn's plays, and her poetry. The Rover is my favourite play ever. Behn is buried in Westminster Abbey, and so I went and found her grave when I was in London in 2008. All the other graves of authors are crowded with tourists, but I was the only one at Behn's grave, which is sort of out-of-the-way. It was very, very cool.
Hope everything is good with you!
67. The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow
Tags: 1970s, historical fiction, U.S.A.
I can tell just how much I love an author's writing mostly the days after I've finished reading one of his books. When I start writing an e-mail to a friend and after a couple of sentences think"wait a minute, this is not my style, where did I get this from?". When an author is that good, his way of using punctuation or syntax, his unusual metaphors or sentences or a certain attitude and tone behind the words inevitably work their way into your own writing style. Doctorow is that kind of author. His voice stuck inside your head for days and days. Using language and writing in a way that constantly undermines the reliability o language and writing. "The early morning traffic was wondering - I mean the early morning traffic was light, but not many drivers could pass them without wondering who they were and they were going" Or if you prefer: "In any event, my mother and father, standing in for them, went to their deaths for crimes they did not commit. Or maybe they did commit them. Or maybe my mother and father got away with false passports for crimes they didn’t committ. How do you spell comit?" And if you think all this is postmodern mumble-jumble and where's the plot, the story? The story, I will let you know, is wonderful. Wonderful and sad and infuriating and thought-provoking and suspenseful and everything you could wish for. This is the story of the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (renamed in the book Paul & Rochelle Isaacson) seen from the point of view of their son - Daniel in the book. Our protagonist. Trying to make sense of something that could not and should not make sense for any person calling himself/herself a human being. I could go on with this review but I find that all I want to do is not describe the book (which would be doing it an injustice) but quote passages from it. So I'll just say for me this is a must-read. And stop there.
"The difference between Socrates and Jesus is that no one has ever been put to death in Socrates’ name. And that is because Socrates’ ideas were never made law."
I agree with brenzi, that's definitely going on the Wishlist...
I think, somewhere in the diisorganized mess that I laughingly call my brain, I was supposed to send these to someone absurdly young and vibrantly pretty, which most likely means you. Was I? Did I foul this up royally? The cleaning ladies have toted the chemical-soaked remains of the books out already, but if I was supposed to send them to you and didn't, I'll scare up some copies and send them your way.
Let me know, okay?
I've been told however - I can't remember by whom right now but I'm sure it was no doubt a Very Wise Person (VWP) - that Mr. Wibberley corrupts young minds such as my own so I might have dodged a bullet there.
Come to think on it, yes, they WOULD corrupt your youthfully blank slate of a mind with the detritus of a failed policy. One that seems to be making a come-back, what with the Nobel Peace Prize winner announcing a troop build-up in a faraway place that's irrelevant to US citizens (shades of Henry Kissinger!). Maybe that's a corruption that's GOOD.
Peace, love and good will all coming your way from me. I love you and wish you the best in 2010.
big new year hug,
I'm looking forward to seeing more of you around LT in 2010!
Thank you so much to everyone who was following my thread - I am grateful for every comment you left!
These are the last books I read this year:
75. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz-Zafon ★★★1/2
Sometimes unrealistic storyline but worth the read for the wonderful descriptions of Barcelona and the love of books it inspires.
74. La Oveja Negra y Demas Fabulas by Antonio Monterroso ★★★1/2
Some truly lovely fables in this collection, and some unexceptional ones. On average a ★★★1/2.
73. The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt ★★★★1/2
One of my favourite reads this year. Ludo, age seven, child prodigy and the protagonist of The Last Samurai is one of my favourite persons in the world right now. I loved this boy with all my heart. And though usually when people say they love a kid they only mean it in a “aww he’s so cute” way, I mean it in a “aww he’s so cute and smart and interesting and brilliant and damaged and fantabulous and loveable and heartbreaking and great and can-I-please-please-please-order-one-just-like-him-somewhere?” I want to make one thing clear in case you were wondering: the title coincides with the title of a known Hollywood movie with Tom Cruise in it. Like I said, coincides. Totally accidental. The book in fact takes its title from another movie: Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The relationship between Seven Samurai and this book is not so straightforward as the back cover would have you believe. Yes, it’s true that Sibylla, Ludo’s mother is worried about her son growing up without a role model since his father is ignorant about his existence, so she decides to play the movie every day for him in order to give him not one but 8 male role models: the seven samurai and Kurosawa himself! But the truth is that the relationship between book and movie is much more complex than that. There are beliefs and ideologies embedded in the movie that have become part of who Ludo is. There are life lessons to be had from it. There are languages to be learned. There are words of wisdom to be memorized and repeated. There are fictional characters that become real friends. The complexities of the parallel that DeWitt is trying to draw between the two is mostly up to the reader to figure out. I don’t want to say anything more because the book is not so much about the plot. Suffice to say, The Last Samurai ties with I Know This Much Is True for my number one spot this year. Go read it.
72. All Tomorrow's Parties by William Gibson ★★★
Typical Gibson. The last book in his Bridge trilogy - liked it less than Idoru, but more than Virtual Light.
71. Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat ★★★
Short children's book with cute illustrations.
70. After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell ★★★★
Not the best writing you'll find but very touching and essentially unputdownable. An extremely sad book dealing with grief.
69. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes ★★★★
As good as I expected it to be. The dialogue and characters are so realistic. Everything about this graphic novel rings true.
68. Plain Pleasures and Other Stories by Jane Bowles ★★★1/2
Jane Bowles was the wife of Paul Bowles and considered by may, including Truman Capote, John Ashberry and Tennessee Williams to be one of the most underrated writers of American fiction. Her style is very unique and peculiar, but there are some stunning moments in these short stories.
- I'm very happy that I reached my goal. I will keep adding books on LT and maybe review them once in a while too (but not on a thread). If you want to keep in touch, add me to your LT friends or Interesting Libraries. I've met so many wonderful people here on LT this year that I feel very sad not coming back. But realistically speaking I know I will not have time for the challenge. This summer I'll be graduating, moving to another country where I don't know anyone AND looking for a job so I know it's going to be busy busy busy. I hope you all have a great reading year and maybe see you in 2011!
I have added you to my 'interesting libraries' list so I can keep up with your reading. Best of luck to you.
I am sorry you won't be joining us this year, but I hope to see you back in 2011!
What country are you going to?
May every bookstore you enter be picture perfect and hold every book you desire. We'll be holding a spot for you!!! :) Lynda
Anita, I'm moving to Spain :)
Happy reading everyone!