Monday, December 21, 2009
I became aware of this play with the rest of the world, when Daniel Radcliffe played Aaron on Broadway. And yes, of course I saw the pics of him and will never look at Harry Potter the same way again.
Equus is a play about a young man who idolized horses to the extreme and ended up blinding six of them with a metal spike. He was subsequently institutionalized. His sessions with his therapist attempt to uncover the reasons why he would do such a thing.
Like reading any play, I'd love to see it to get the whole experience. I'm not too wild about it, but the characters are very interesting. One of my college professors mentioned that this play doesn't age well, that it made much more sense in context of the times than it does now. I can see how the jingles sung at the beginning are pretty meaningless now; I didn't even know what half of the products were. But I think that the idea of passionately connecting with an ideal and destroying that passion is still relevant.
My inner teen girl cringed the whole time; I was so worried about the horses. Not a thing to read if you are looking for something uplifting, but worth a look for sure. Also, I love the cover of my edition. Old paperbacks are where it's at.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I really want to see this movie and picked up this book even though I'm sure I've got all of Keats' poems in another book somewhere.
I am hopelessly smitten by love letters. I wish that we could read the letters Fanny wrote to Keats, but I also love that he was buried with them. They were young and in love, yet because Keats was so poor and ill they were unable to get married.
This book contains the letters that Keats wrote to Fanny and his love poems. The poems are beautiful, as expected, and the letters are very sweet. This is a good book to have just to pick up every now and then and read a letter or poem and then put down again. Especially if you're reading something a little dense.
"Who now, with greedy looks, eats up my feast?
What stare outfaces now my silver moon?
Ah! keep that hand unravished at the least;
Let, let, the amorous burn-
But, prithee, do not turn
The current of your heart from me so soon.
O save, in charity,
The quickest pulse for me!"
~from "To Fanny"
Thursday, December 17, 2009
This little book was on the new in fiction shelf at my local library. I have never read Philip Roth before, but he's one of those authors that I look at in bookstores and think that I should probably read someday.
The Humbling is about an older actor who suddenly loses his ability to act. Simon Axler was an amazing performer and is devastated when, for no reason he can see, he is unable to act at all. His wife leaves him and he mopes around his farmhouse before checking himself into a mental institution before starting a new relationship with a woman from his past.
This is a short book but it is pretty dense and some of it was hard to read. The lady that he meets at the mental institution has such a heartbreaking story. And Roth is pretty graphic while describing Axler's sexual relationship.
I thought this book was interesting, but I don't think I would read it again or tell anyone else they have to read it. Maybe this just isn't the best Roth book to start out with. The man can write, that's for sure, I might have to see which of his is the best to read next.
Friday, December 11, 2009
We had our big employee shopping day at work last weekend and I grabbed a lot of good things. Most of them were Christmas gifts for my family, but I had to buy some things for me. I got Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett, This is Not a Book by Keri Smith (click for her awesome blog), and the next two volumes of Y:the Last Man.
After reading the first two Discworld books, The Color of Magic and the Light Fantastic, I knew I'd pick up the rest sooner or later. Equal Rites is about a dying wizard trying to pass on his powers to an eighth son of an eighth son, who turns out to be a woman. Since there has never been a woman wizard before, she has a pretty hard time.
I thought this book was very well done. It was funny, interesting and smart. Esk and Granny Weatherwax were great characters to read about. Esk is so confidant and fearless that it's very easy to root for her. Simon is another character I liked and I hope he and Esk pop up in another one of Pratchett's books. Esk's wizard staff acts a great deal like Twoflower's luggage from the first two books, causing trouble for anyone who's got it out for its owner.
"She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don't apply to you."
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
How could you not pick this book up?
I bought this book without realizing that I'd actually already read a short story by Miranda July. I knew nothing about her but grabbed the book and read the first few pages in the bookstore. The first short story "The Shared Patio" is at once interesting and relatable.
I felt that this collection of short stories had a really great flow. There weren't any that I wished hadn't been included. When I started "Something That Needs Nothing" I had the feeling that I had heard the story before and realized I had read it in the New Yorker while sitting in my college library. I loved the story then and still do.
While I would recommend this book to anyone, I do think that it would appeal more to women than men. I think it is just easy to relate to July's voice as a woman.
"I wondered if I would spend the rest of my life inventing complicated ways to depress myself, now that I had finished my book and gone to meet the man who said I had promise a year ago but wasn't home today." - from "Making Love in 2003"
"Some people need a red carpet rolled out for them in order to walk forward into friendship. They can't see the tiny outstretched hands all around them, everywhere, like leaves on trees." - from "Ten True Things"
Also, I checked out Miranda July's website and it is pretty snazzy. Check it out! www.mirandajuly.com
Monday, December 7, 2009
After reading and loving the Hunger Games, I quickly checked out Catching Fire from work and tore through it. We continue following Katniss during the aftermath of the Hunger Games and see the repercussions of her act against the Capital. Most of the book takes place in District 13, but we do get to see the next year's Hunger Games, although it is a great deal shorter than the last book. We do get more political activism in this book I think, at least from Katniss's part.
I could not put this book down. I cannot wait for the third one, which supposedly is coming out next summer. I am really not sure how Collins is going to end everything with just one more book though. Highly, highly suggest these books to anyone.
"I really can't think about kissing when I've got a rebellion to incite."
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Also, I am super excited because B&N's employee appreciation week starts this Friday. Normally we get 30% off of books but this week it is upped to 40%. I am pretty pumped. I am trying to buy mostly holiday gifts, but I know I'm going to end up with a lot just for myself. Anything you think I must buy?
Monday, November 30, 2009
I have loved distopian fiction ever since my dad stuck 1984 in my hands when I was twelve. I've heard things about the Hunger Games for a long time, but for whatever reason did not feel compelled to pick it up. However, after hearing for numerous people how great the sequel, Catching Fire, was, I check this one out from B&N.
The Hunger Games takes place in a futuristic country that was once America, where the land is divided into districts. These districts work for the Capital and are pretty destitute. Katniss is our main character and narrator, a young girl who breaks the law hunting to feed herself and her mother and sister. Every year two children (between the ages of 12-18) are chosen to compete in the Hunger Games, where they fight all of the other kids to the death. The winner is the only one to live and gets extra food for their district. Katniss takes her sister's place in the hunger games along with a boy named Peeta from district 12.
We follow Katniss from her district to the Capital where she is pampered and prepped before the games. The tributes are paraded in front of everyone in order to secure support from people donating. The tributes also have to sit through interviews and events that make the whole situation comparable to our current reality tv show "stars."
This book is amazing. I have been talking it up at work and all but shoved it into my brother's hands. I think that this book and The Book Thief are two of the best young adult fiction books I have read in a very, very long time. The book is smart, funny at times and heartbreaking at others. It seems like I'm one of the last people to jump on this book, but if you haven't read it then I would highly suggest it. This is a chilling look at what we currently think of entertainment and how easily that could progress, or regress, to a entertainment system that resembles Rome's hay-day.
"I realize, for the first time, how very lonely I've been in the arena. How comforting the presence of another human being can be."
"You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope."
Monday, November 16, 2009
Just wanted to recap my recent book finds.
I picked up Y: The Last Man the other day and blogged about it here. While I was there I picked up No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. I'm digging short stories and this book cover demands to be picked up. Peter & Max by Bill Willingham I got as an advanced copy from work. Willingham is the guy behind Fables, the great graphic novel series. I usually never get advanced copies and was super excited to get one that I was planning on buying anyway.
Today I went and picked up number 2 of Y: The Last Man since I had a coupon at Borders. While I was there I picked up two more books, The Book of Lost Things for myself and a secret Christmas gift. Then my brother and I went over to Barnes and Nobles where I picked up American Nerd and Bright Star. I'm really excited to read all of them.
I'm dealing with a bit of family drama right now so I've been spending a lot of time reading to escape. Hopefully that will equate to lots of blogging to come! Right now I'm about halfway through of The Great Hunt, the second Wheel of Time book by Robert Jordan and I've gotten back into The Complete Sherlock Holmes part I.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Alamut, by Vladimir Bartol, is a book that I doubt I would have read had someone not put it in my hands. But I'm pretty glad someone did. This is a work of fiction, although it is bases on actual events and people.
Alamut is about a man named Hasan, who runs a fortress in Iran named Alamut. He is claimed to be a prophet who has been giving a key to Paradise by Allah. He trains young men as fedayeen to become religious martyrs to support his vendetta against the sultan.
I really enjoyed how the book begins by switching between a young man and young woman who both come to Alamut around the same time. The boy has a very strict and structured time, while the girl pretty much romps around in gardens. Both youngsters face very serious harsh realities soon though.
Hasan is a man trying to deal with some very deep spiritual issues. He does some horrible things to those in his care and when no god strikes him down he sees this as proof that either there is no god or that god does not care about what happens here on Earth. Even thought Hasan seems to be the bad guy in the story, one can't help but relate to his crisis of faith.
This book is very different from most of the books I've been reading lately. I haven't read a lot about the middle east and it was very enticing. The characters and descriptions were compelling. I would suggest this book to anyone, especially those interested in books that tackle spirituality.
"It's true, some wishes have miraculous power. They function as though they had substance, as though they were a hammer made of actual steel." - 371
Friday, November 13, 2009
I've been checking out the graphic novel section of the bookstores more and more lately. I picked this one up the other day after reading some good reviews on amazon.
What would happen if all the males in the world died, all in an instant? All except for Yorrick and his pet monkey, Ampersand. That is the basic premise of this series.
Yorrick's mother is a congresswomen and his girlfriend is currently in Australia. Though he desperately wants to go find his gf, what's left of the American government wants to keep him on US soil. Yorrick and a guard woman, known only as 355, hit the trail to find a certain scientist that has been doing work with cloning to try and figure out what happened and why Yorrick is the only man left.
Typically when I think of comic books I think of superheroes, but the only thing out of the ordinary here is the fact that all the men are dead.
I really, really enjoyed this graphic novel. I can't wait to pick up the second one today. Highly recommend.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
As I'm sure many of you are aware, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series just released a new book, the first after Jordan's death. One of my brothers is very into this series and would not stop talking about how great it was and how I should read them. I am not a huge fantasy reader. I like fantasy stories though; I grew up listening to my dad read The Lord of the Rings books to me before falling asleep.
Ryan finally got me to read the first one of Jordan's, The Eye of the World. This is an adventure story, full of magic and beasts, and the battle between the Light and the Dark. Magic in this world is used by tapping into the One Power, something that only women are able to do. Men who do so go crazy and have to be destroyed. A group of three boys from the backwoods, along with two young women from their town are caught up in the fate of the world when an Aes Sedai woman and her Warder rescue them from Trollocs (nasty critters half-human/half-whatever animal seemd handy).
I liked this book, although I did find myself comparing the whole thing to the Lord of the Rings. Some times it seemed like Jordan picked what he liked from Tolkien and just tweaked it a little bit and threw it in his books. My brother did not feel the same way and said I was being unfair.
Aes Sedai is a group of women who can wield the One Power and they are the most interesting part of the story to me. I would be inclined to read the rest of the series just to learn more about them.
The story starts off a little slow, but to be fair Jordan is setting up an epic story here. The whole thing is going to be something like thirteen books long. At the end of the book I was interested in the characters and the various plots. Luckily, Ryan left book two waiting for me.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I'm a big lover of Russian Literature. Right now I'm trying to work my way through a bunch of Russian books that I've been collection over the years. Doctor Zhivago is one of those books that has been sitting on my shelf for awhile and I keep meaning to read.
I really enjoyed the writing style. I wrote down a lot of favorite quotes and was generally impressed with Pasternak's ability to turn what seems a filler paragraph into something very special with just a few words. The love between Yurii and Laura was beautifully written.
However I did have some problems with this book. I feel like a history lesson on the Russian Revolution would have made things a lot clearer. Or perhaps if I had an edition with better footnotes. My other big problem was that there were just too many coincidences. There are just so many ways that Laura and Yurii's lives dovetail that instead of coming across as "fate" it just seems like I'm being bashed over the head with the whole idea that the two of them were meant to be together. And maybe this is a generational or cultural thing, I'm not sure.
I'm also not sure if this novel stood up to all the hype I've heard about it. I have never seen the movie and I think that I always just thought this was a sad love story. I didn't really know that it had so much to do with the aftermath of the revolution. My expectations were just a little off.
That aside, I was glad to read a Russian novel that is post-revolution. Most of what I have read is set prior to the revolution and I want to branch out more. Despite my problems, I did enjoy this book, but I don't think it's in the same class as Anna Karenina.
"Freedom! Real freedom, not just talk about it, freedom, dropped out of the sky, freedom beyond our expectations, freedom by accident, through a misunderstanding." 146
"How well she does everything! She reads not as if reading were the highest activity, but as if it were the simplest possible thing, a thing that even animals could do. As if she were carrying water from a well, or peeling potatoes." 291
Friday, October 30, 2009
After picking up I Saw You... I had to check out Julia Wertz's website and soon bought both volumes of the Fart Party. This collection of comics is all about Julia's life as a twenty-something gal in San Fransisco. She drinks, she swears, she serves tables and has adventures with her boyfriend Oliver.
I was really able to connect with the book since I feel like I'm in a similar point in my life. I too love reading (and drinking) in the bathtub and swearing at my mom in an endearing way.
Here's a sample page from her book:
Wertz's website is here. What I like about this book is that you can open it to about any page and just read a few and enjoy them or you can read start to finish. The art isn't the same as Fables, but it works with the whole feel of the book. Some of the humor is a little crude but at least it's honest. I highly suggest at least checking out her site where she posts a lot of her comics.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I jumped right into Fables Animal Farm. Basically all of the fable creatures that can't pass for humans in New York City live at a farm upstate to keep out of sight from the normal people. Snow White goes up there to double check on things. Goldilocks and the little pigs happen to be planning a revolution and things take an ugly turn. Snow White has to fight to put down the rebellion and get out of the farm with her life.
This one was better than the first one in my opinion. The story, character development and art is just wonderful. Although the thought of Goldilocks and Baby Bear sharing a bed makes me cringe a little. I can't wait to get my hands on part three.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Fables is more of what I think of an actual comic book than the previous two entries. I borrowed these from a friend and was very excited to read them because I love to read retellings of classic tales.
In Legends in Exile we find that all of the characters from classic tales are alive and have come to live in our world because the "adversary" has driven them out of their lands. Rose Red has been murdered and the Big Bad Wolf and Snow White are on the case. Beauty and the Beast, the three little pigs, King Cole and Prince Charming all make appearances along with a slew of other characters.
The murder mystery was well done - I did not see the end coming. I really liked this comic and rushed to read the second one. Reading this has made me want to check out what other comic I've been missing. Anyone have any suggestions?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The art is beautiful and the story flows easily. It's painful to read at some points, but the whole thing just feels so truthful that it's hard to put down. I would highly recommend this book. Who can't connect with that first real love that you think is going to last forever? And as someone who went to a Jesus Camp, I can really relate to his experiences there.
I've got some more graphic novel reviews for this week but I quickly want to say that I read Hunger Games yesterday and was blown away! I'll try to put up more thoughts on that soon.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I have been reading a lot of graphic novels and comicy things so this week I am going to do a post every day on them. I really enjoy both reading and drawing so this type of book really works for me.
I Saw You... is a collection of short comics inspired by those missed connection posts on craigslist.com. At my old desk job I used to check the missed connections all the time. Some of them can be really funny. I Saw You... takes different entries from craigslist and the authors put their spin on them. Some of them are funny, some are sad and some are just a little weird.
This was a fun read because it gives you a little taste of a lot of different comic styles out there right now. And all of their websites are listed in the back pages. The book was put together by Julia Wertz who does Fart Party, which is hilarious.
I left this book sitting around the house and my mom read some of it and thought it was good. She was kind of shocked I had a book named the Fart Party though. Parents just don't understand.
Also, funny story, I once wrote a craigslist missed connection after some cute guy held the door open for me at a bookstore. To my shock, I actually got a response from the actual guy and we had coffee together. It was nice and all, but that's about it. I was just amazed people actually answered those things.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I took this with my iphone so the quality is kind of crummy, but frankly so is the art so I think it works out. Anyhow, I bought a copy of Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. I'm really excited to read this one, but I've got to work my way through a couple more first. Dr. Zhivago is getting pretty interesting right now.
I also thought I'd comment on the new Barnes and Noble Nook. I think that the lending capabilities are a good thing, however you can only lend a book once which is a little silly. I'm sticking with my guns on the whole e-reader issue: I don't like them. Yes, it's wonderful if more people read stories this way, but in my mind it's not the same thing. I've got no desire for one. If you feel like reading my blog on the Kindle 2.0, which goes in to more detail on my e-reader thoughts, click here.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This book caught my eye while I was working at B&N the other day. One of the great things about working and B&N is that you can check out hardcover books for free. This is so we can talk about the books to customers or something crazy like that. So I checked this one out.
I'm a big fan of Klosterman, but this book fell a little short. The chapters are surrounded by interview excerpts, but these interviews aren't labeled and I didn't know who any of these interviews were actually with. Give me a footnote or something. Jeesh.
While I enjoyed his chapters on time travel and ABBA, this book just wasn't what I hoped for. I even stuck it out during the chapter on football and chuckled a few times, but still. Meh.
Side note: I sometimes am really surprised when I read about things that are happening right now. I'm so used to reading literature from forever ago that's it's weird to see the word Twitter in an actual book.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I started this book in June and finished it this afternoon. This is one of those books that would catch my eye continually at work and when a friend recommended it to me I got my hands on a copy from another friend, who seems to have every book I want to read but haven't bought yet.
I'm not going to lie to you, this book was difficult at times. Bolano often goes for pages without a line break and chapters are hundreds of pages long. Character names tripped me up a lot. And I'm still not sure if I got the book. But the writing is beautiful. We get pieces of personal histories from almost every character we meet and all of them are written in a way that you care about what the man with glasses who saves Hans from drowning thought about human nature. No character seems to be a throw-away.
This book is broken up into five parts: The Part About the Critics, The Part About Amalfitano, The Part About Fate, The Part About the Crimes, and The Part About Archimboldi. The parts are all connected with the town of Saint Theresa in Mexico, where hundreds of women are being murdered.
I really enjoyed the Part about the Critics because I felt that I could really connect to the character of Liz Norton. She is described best as not being "what one would ordinarily call a woman of great drive, which is to say that she didn't draw up long-term or medium-term plans and throw herself wholeheartedly into their execution. She had none of the attributes of the ambitious" (page 8). She and three other scholars all are experts on Benno von Archimboldi, a German novelist.
The Part About Amalfitano wasn't quite as good as the first part. I think I tried too hard to connect what was going on between the different parts and was a little annoyed that the connections seemed so tenuous. This section was still wonderfully written though.
The Part About Fate focuses on a reporter, last name Fate, who comes to Saint Theresa to cover a boxing match but ends up trying to write a piece on the murders. He also becomes tangled in the fate of Amalfitano's daughter.
The Part About the Crimes really dragged me down. This is also the longest section of the book and it chronicles the murders that have occur ed in and around Saint Theresa. We get a history on most of the girls and the police that are trying to solve the crimes. The end of this section really picked up for me, but I'm still unsure if I got the point of most of this section.
The Part About Archimboldi was my favorite. Here we learn about the mysterious author Benno von Archimboldi and are taken to Poland, Germany and Russia during World War II. I wish that this had been the longest section. I had no idea how everything was going to come together, and really there are a lot of things left open, but the last hundred pages just does it's job.
It took me a long time to read this book. Mostly because during parts three and four I would set it down and wasn't excited about reading it. Now that I finished I wish I had read the whole thing in a shorter time span, that way I would be able to view this as a whole work more. I read part five in something like two days and as I reached the end I found myself reading slower and slower. I didn't want it to end.
All of the quotes that I loved tended to be huge paragraphs and chunks of text that would be too much to take out and place here.
I would be really interested to read another book from Roberto Bolano, especially since this book wasn't technically finished when he died.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I find myself loving Neil Gaiman more and more.
This book is about a man named Shadow who is just getting released from prison. On his way home he is seated next to a man called Mr. Wednesday who changed Shadow's world in incredible ways. Shadow ends up working for Wednesday as they prepare for a storm of clashing gods.
There are just so many gods in this book that have their own distinct personalities and powers. One thing I really like about this book is that Gaiman doesn't come out and say "well this is this god and he does this and this one is this guy and he does this." Sometimes we get no explanation about a character's motives or background but they are so lovingly described that I have no doubt I could research them and discover that Gaiman captured their essence.
This book is just enjoyable to read. Shadow spends a lot of time in the Midwest, which I always like. The writing is beautiful and the plot is complex. While reading this book I also had a lot of people come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed it. One of my coworkers at Barnes even went and grabbed a used copy of Gaiman's Fragile Things for me.
I highly suggest checking out Gaiman's personal blog.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
When I was in college, some boy gave this book to me in exchange for my extra copy of Fight Club. I put it on a shelf and never thought about it until now. But lately I've been reading and scoping out a lot of science fiction so it was only a matter of time before this one came along. Neil Gaiman does the introduction to this volume of all six hitchhiker's stories.
These books are bizarre. Sometimes I can figure out if the writing is funny because it is lazy or because it is genius. People can fly, mice are not all they appear to be, there is a restaurant where you can watch the end of the universe, all sorts of crazy things are going on here. The ending of the whole thing didn't quite do it for me, but other than that I had a good time reading these stories.
Arthur Dent is your average British citizen who goes on adventures in space with his friend Ford Prefect after Vogons destroy the Earth to but in a new galatic freeway. They join up with Trillian, a woman from Earth, Zaphod, a guy with two heads who is president of the galaxy and gets into all kinds of trouble, and Marvin, a very depressed robot. Zaphod reminds me a lot of Zap Branigan from Futurama, which I'm sure is supposed to be the other way around.
Ford works for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a travel book for tourists on the cheap. Throughout the series we get experts from the Guide on different peoples and planets. Ford and Arthur travel through time, go a little crazy, and attended the longest-lasting party which happens to fly around in the sky.
While I find these stories really amusing, I don't know that I'm as crazy about them as most people who talk about them are, especially that guy from college. I love humor, but I wanted more depth. Still worth a read.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Egger's short stories range in length, some of them clocking in at less than two pages long. They aren't connected like A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing; each story can be read and enjoyed on their own. They vary in voice, some from a man's point of view and some from a woman's and they are all very distinct.
"Up the Mountain Coming down Slowly" was one of my favorites. It chronicles Rita as she climbs Mount Kilimanjaro. Eggers did a great job of describing the journey up the mountain and capturing the sad determination of Rita.
My other favorite was "The Only Meaning of the Oil-Wet Water" which a girl named Pilar visits her friend Hand down in Costa Rica. The two have a romantic encounter and surf. This story has the thoughts of the horses, clouds and shadows as well, which is a little of what I expected from Eggers.
"HORSES: It's never like we planned.
HORSES SHADOWS ON DIRT ROAD: I wish I could do more.
HORSES: We want violence, so we can kick and tear the world into thirds."
Some of these stories I wish had been longer, so I'm looking forward to reading one of Egger's novels. I own A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, so maybe that will move up on my to-read pile.
In other breaking news, I'm still in the process of reading 2666, but yesterday I finished part 4 so I only have one more section! This book is really interesting, but at the same time I feel like I can't read it for hours like I can with other books.
I've also kind of stalled out of The Complete Sherlock Holmes. I was really disappointed with the first story in it. Holmes catches the bad guy, but we never find out why he killed someone or even how Holmes figured everything out. Hopefully the rest are better.
Some people I know are rereading Hunger by Knut Hamson so I've started working on that as well. I read this book for a course in college and had a very interesting time with it. I would get so frustrated with the protagonist that I wanted to throw the book at the wall, and yet the book is so fascinating to me.
Friday, September 25, 2009
I picked this up from my local library the other day. I've read two of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's books before, Love in the Time of Cholera and Love and Other Demons, and adored them both.
This short work is the recollections of a ninety year old man who wants to celebrate his birthday by having a night with a young virgin. We follow him for a year as he falls in love with this girl who he only sees sleeping night after night.
I liked this book, sort of. I enjoy the way that Marquez tells a story, but I feel like this could have been better. I got confused at some points as to who the old man was talking about and I don't feel that he really talked about the rest of his life satisfactorily. The secondary characters were more interesting to me than the narrator, especially Rosa Cabarcas. I just couldn't get into this story the way I could with his other works. I wouldn't classify this one as a "must read" but I would still give the rest of Marquez's books a read.
I've got a stack of books on my desk I need to blog about. Unemployment means I have lots of time to read. I've also been having a lot of trouble sleeping and have been staying up very late reading. I finished the rest of the Charlaine Harris vampire books, Dave Eggers How We Are Hungry, and am almost done with Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Also almost done with the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Still slogging my way through 2666, though I'm stuck in a slow part right now.
Lately it seems that everyone is lending me books to read. My dad lent me Sharon Kay Penmans When Christ and His Saints Slept, my friend Liz gave me the first three books in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series and my brother Ryan keeps harping at me to read Robert Jordan's the Eye of the World. I'm not sure which of these I'm going to start first, but I want to finish a couple of the one's I'm currently reading before I start anything else.
Also one more note, as I said earlier I got this book from the library. I went and got my first library card in years the other day. I don't think I've had one since I left for college since during college we just used our student ids. The library out here is pretty small, smaller than the one I grew up with, but it is well laid out and seems to have a good selection. I might go hang out there before work today.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I make no secret that I am a big fan of Russian lit. I have a hard time not buying books by Russian authors whenever I see them and so I have a big stack of Russian books yet to be read.
I read the Queen of Spades and Other Stories for one of my Russian Lit classes in college and really enjoyed Pushkin. Puskin is best known for Euguine Onegin and for being the father of Russian literature.
This novella is a short collection of tales from the travels of Belkin. These short tales rang in scope from love story, revenge and horror. "The Snowstorm" and "Ladymaid" may be my favorites. It's a hard call though. Pushkin manages to tell stories that seem both familiar and new.
This is a very short little book, part of the art of the novella series published by Melville House Publishing. I highly recommend this book.
"Young men, who consider bravery the height of human accomplishment, and an excuse for every shortcoming, rarely forgive a lack of courage." page 25
"Maria Gabrielovna had been raised on French novels; it should therefore go without saying that she was in love." page 39
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I had the need to go to the bookstore the other day and thought I'd share what I got.
First up is McSweeny's Issue 13 which is pretty cheap if you buy it from the actually website: Here or if you get a discount because you work at a bookstore. I've been reading a lot of graphic novels and reading a bunch of comics online lately, so I'm excited to read this one.
Second is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I've heard a lot of good things about this one. I read Coraline (my thoughts on that here) but that's it from him. I really enjoyed Coraline so I'm looking forward to reading this one. Actually finishing this one, since I am already on chapter three. Gaiman's website is worth checking out if you haven't yet: neilgaman.com.
And, finally, Tales of Belkin by Alexander Pushkin. I've recently read an article about this series of book, the Art of the Novella Series. I unfortunately can't seem to find the article anymore which is frustrating me, although the publisher's website has several links to related articles. Aside from my infinite love for Russian Lit, I picked this book up because the design is really simple and appealing. Melville House Publishing has a variety of different stories in the Art of the Novella series, which can be found here. These just look so good and are most are from authors that have yet to disappoint me. I'm planing on reading this one on Saturday.
Not photographed was the amazing pumpkin spice latte I got. Book and coffee make me one happy girl.
I often pick up books from Anaïs Nin even though this is the first thing by her I've ever read. Reading A Spy in the House of Love was a little strange. The edition I have is only 117 pages and yet it took me forever to read it. The weird part is that I wasn't bored with this book, I found most of it to be really interesting and relateable; I just set it aside and forgot about it.
The book focuses on Sabina, an actress who is about as restless as they come. She's married and claims to love her husband Alan very much, but she can't seem to help having affairs where ever she goes. She uses her career as an actress to conduct her affairs, by telling her husband she has an performance out of town, when in reality, we hear very little about her actually acting. She seems a much more successful actress in her own life than on the stage.
Sabina has extreme anxiety due to the fact that she's making up stories and pretending to be different people all of the time. She never wants to stay in one place for very long and feels confined by everyday life. The book jumps around a lot from one affair to another, from one Sabina to another.
It's always intriguing to me to read about the minds of cheaters and liars, to see how the morally dubious justify their actions. What's interesting about Sabina is that she seems on one hand to be very concerned about her behavior and on the other hand tells herself there is no other way she could live. She mentions that her father appeared to have many extra-marital relationships but doesn't seem to spend time connecting that to her current behavior.
Anaïs Nin is pretty famous for writing erotica for a dollar a page for a friend of Henry Miller. She's also well known for her Diary, which is roughly nine-thousand volumes. Just kidding, it's only over 150.
"His airplanes were not different from her relationships, but which she sought other lands, strange faces, forgetfulness, the unfamiliar, the fantasy and the fairytale." - page 71.
"In this world they had criminals too. Gangsters in the world of art, who produced corrosive works born of hatred, who killed and poisoned with their art. You can kill with a painting or a book too." - page 110.
Friday, August 28, 2009
This is one I read awhile back but hadn't gotten around to blogging about until now. I picked this up and really enjoyed it. I know that they made a movie of it recently, but I don't really have an interest in seeing it.
The basic plot is that on graduation day, Dennis Hooverman, during his high school graduation, tells the whole school that he's been in love with Beth Cooper. He also makes some accusations about some of the other members of the student body, including outing his best friend Rich. Even though Dennis is your typical "nerd" and Beth, of course, is a cheerleader, and the two of them have never hung out, they spend the rest of the night bopping around suburban Illinois together. Also, they're trying to avoid Beth's drugged-up army ex. Along the way Dennis realized that the Beth Cooper he's built up in his head isn't really real, and gets to know the actual girl in front of him.
Parts of this book were a little much for me, going just over the top. The drugged up ex and his army buddies and the super slutty friend of Beth's, Treecee, got on my nerves sometimes. Dennis and Rich get the crap kicked them so much yet don't go to the hospital. A car drives into and back out of a wall at a party.
One thing I really enjoyed was that I grew up where this book is set. Some of my cousins went to Harper Community College (Beth's probable choice) and I know my way around the streets they were careening down. I had a very, very clear picture of where this book took place.
Another thing I enjoyed was that Doyle starts off each chapter with some quote from popular culture revolving around teen drama. I didn't recognize all of them, but it made me smile to see Lloyd Dobler and Lorraine Baines quoted.
Some of the background characters were interesting. The drug dealer who deals exclusively in prescription drugs (Claritin-D, Adderall) was pretty much on the money for someone you'd actually meet in a suburban high school. Cammy, on of Beth's homegirls, was snarky and bitchy, so you know I loved her. My favorite though was the d.j. at the big party they all go to, Zooey Bananafish. Actually there was not too much to her character, but that name is such a shout-out to Salinger that I can't help but like her.
I enjoyed this book. The writing is easy and youthful, like a high-schooler is telling you the story. The ending isn't what you'd expect from a typical high school graduation piece, and it seems like Doyle plans on continuing the story.
"There's another Beth Cooper out there," she told him. "One just for you. The world is full of Beth Coopers." page 21
"She wore her party face, not unlike her real face, but with the hue and contrast dialed up...She still smelled like Beth Cooper, only more so." page 55
Monday, August 17, 2009
Reading this story I was amazed at the similarities to Twilight. I'm actually surprised Harris hasn't sued Meyer over the whole thing. I mean, we have characters who reads minds, Sookie and Edward, except they can't read the minds of the one they fall in love with, Bill and Bella. The vampires in Dead Until Dark "glamour" people into doing what they want while in Twilight they "dazzle" people. There is even another guy in love with the main gal who changes into some kind of dog, Sam and Jacob. Also, someone is trying to kill the girl. I'm pretty sure people have sued for less.
There are some more similarities, but the one big difference is that in this book there's a lot of sex.
Twilight aside, I really enjoyed this book. I've been working my way through 2666 and this was a nice lighter read. I thought that the mystery murderer element was well done; I wasn't able to tell who was going to be the bad guy ahead of time. I thought the lovey-dovey stuff was a little rushed, but apparently vampires don't have time to mess around when declaring their love.
I'm probably going to pick up the next one and may have to check out that HBO show, True Blood, which is based on this series.
Friday, July 17, 2009
The first Klosterman book I read was Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, purely because Seth Cohen was reading it on the O.C.
IV starts off with mostly interview pieces of rock starts and other famous people. Some of it is a little dated, but all of it is interesting. The middle section is more social commentary and the end is a fiction piece. I enjoyed the middle section the most. The last part was really interesting though; he has since written a fiction book called Downtown Owl: A Novel. It'd be worth checking out at least.
I like Klosterman because I can related to the things he's writ ting about. Music, drinking, relationships, the perils of buying an outfit from the Gap, and more music. He writes one piece about going into a store and buying a complete outfit that a mannequin is wearing and how that changes the perception people have of him.
He talks about the difference between a nemesis and and archenemy and why it's important to have both. He writes about eating nothing but McDonalds' chicken mcnuggets for something like a week.
A quote from the first section:
"The dumbest guy in Radiohead is still smarter (by himself) than all three members of the Beastie Boys and two-fifths of the Strokes.”
And my favorite quote from the book:
"In November 2000, the United States held a presidential election and nobody knew who won, so we just kind of made up an outcome and tried to act like that was normal. Less than a year later, airplanes flew into office buildings and everybody cried for two weeks. And then Enron went bankrupt, and then the U.S. became a rogue state, and then The Simple Life premiered, and then gasoline became unaffordable, and then our Olympic basketball team lost to Puerto Rico, and then we reelected the same unqualified president we never really elected in the first place. Later, there would be some especially devastating hurricanes and the release of a horrible movie titled Crash.
Things, as they say, have been better."
Monday, July 6, 2009
A: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
B: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
C: Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
D: Dune by Frank Herbert
E: Extremely Loud and Increidibly Close by Jonathan Saffran Foer
F: Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott
G: The Giver by Lewis Lowry
H: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
I: Island of theBlue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
J: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
K: Katherine by Anya Seton
L: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
M: Moon is Down by Stienbeck
N: Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
O: Oh! Pioneers! by Willa Cather
P: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Q: Queen of Spades and other Stories by Alexander Pushkin
R: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
S: Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello
T: Tulips and Chimneys by e e cummings
U: Utopia by Thomas More
V: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
W: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
X: The Sylnx by Tatyna Tolstaya
Y: Yertle the Turtle and other stories by Dr. Suess
Z: Zipporah: Wife of Moses a novel by Marek Halter
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker:
I think this book is really, really interesting. However it is also really long and a little dense. I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but my dad talks about this Pinker guy all the time. And I find linguistics pretty interesting. That being said I have been "reading" this book since last year. I did actually just read one of the chapters about a month ago. I'm determined to finish it. Some day.
Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach
This is another book I started last year and another that my dad gave to me. It's a knights of the round table story that I cannot enjoy for the life of me. Some passages are pretty clever but I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to finish this, even though I only have like two chapters left. For some reason I own two copies of this book.
The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 byEric Hobsbawm
I got on a little history kick lately and am actually really enjoying this book. I haven't made it too far because I keep leaving it in weird places all over my apartment. I found it the other day in my cupboard with the plates.
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 ed. Dave Eggers
I keep forgetting I'm reading this. I loved the list of hobo names.
McSweeny's Issue 18
This is my at work book for my lunch breaks since I finished IV by Closterman. I've just made it through the first piece which I liked so I hope the rest is as good.
A Spy in the House of Love by Anaïs Nin
Oooooh I like this book. I've been picking up a lot of stuff by Nin lately, even though this will be the first I've ever read. Hot stuff.
2666 by Roberto Bolaño
This was recommended to me by a couple of different people. This book is freaking huge. I'm only about 100 pages in, but I really, really am enjoying it so far. Of all the books I'm reading right now, this is the one I'm most excited to finish.
Katherine by Anya Seton
This is my book club book for the month. So far I think it's pretty good. A love story in old England with the knights and kings and horses and plagues and whatnot. Always a good time (except in Parzival). It has been awhile since I've picked up some historical fiction and this seems like a step up from Phillipa Gregory.
So I'm not sure that I'm going to finish all of these anytime soon. The last three for sure will be done soon - or at least this summer in the case of 2666.
Also, I'm looking around for a new bookshelf. Any ideas?
Friday, June 5, 2009
This book is part love story and part coming of age tale, even though Rob is in his 30s. But I think that is getting more and more typical in our society - you don't quite know what you're doing with your life until later and later.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone. Pick it up.
Few quotes, sorry no page numbers
"It's no good pretending that any relationship has a future if your record collections disagree violently or if your favorite films wouldn't even speak to each other if they met at a party." ~ how true do you think this is - I'm leaning towards agreeing completely.
"Sentimental music has this great way of taking you back somewhere at the same time that it takes you forward, so you feel nostagic and hopeful all at the same time."
"Maybe we all live life at too high a pitch, those of us who absorb emotional things all day, and as mere consequence we can never feel merely content: we have to be unhappy, or ecstatically, head-over-heels happy, and those states are difficult to achieve within a stable, solid relationship." ~ This is another thing that is so true for a lot of people I know. All or nothing baby.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
From Booking Through Thursday
“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”
These are in no specific order - just as they came to me.
1. The Master and Margarita by Mikahil Bulgakov
2. Anna Karinina by Leo Tolstoy
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
4. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
5. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
6. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
7. Moon is Down by John Steinbeck
8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
9. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
10. The Giving Tree by Shell Silverstien
11. 1984 by George Orwell
12. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
13. Extremely Loud and Incridebly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger
I now want to reread all of these.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Voltaire does a great job commentating on the purpose of philosophy. The introduction of this edition goes into Voltaire's use of the word "but" to make this clear. The characters can go on and on about their viewpoints on human suffering, but they still have to deal with the real things going on in the world around him.
One thing that bothered me about the book (and this spoils the end) was the fate of Cunegonde. Everyone who we thinks has died come back through some miracle coincidence (save the Barron and his wife) and we catch up with Cunegonde twice during Candide's travels. The second time she is continually mentioned as being extremely ugly. They all keep harping on how horrible she looks now. Candide, ever the honorable man, does still marry her, but has to literally step back when he sees how ugly she is. I just wasn't really sure why this was necessary to the story. But I'm nitpicking here.
"If this is the best of all possible worlds, what must the others be like?" page 16
"My dear young lady,' replied Candide, 'when you are in love, and jealous, and have been flogged by the Inquisition, there's no knowing what you may do." page 22
"Private griefs are crueler even than public miseries." page 56
"The man of taste explained very clearly how a play can be of some interest but of almost no merit. He showed in few words how it was not enough to contrive one or two of those situations that are to be found in any novel and which always captivate the audience; that one needs to be original without being far-fetched, frequently sublime but always natural; to know the human heart but also how to give it a voice; to be a poet without one's characters seeming to speak like poets; and to have perfect command of the language, using it with purity and harmony, and without ever sacrificing sense to rhyme." page 64
"the honest ones admitted that the book dropped from their hands every time, but said one had to have it in one's library, as a monument of antiquity, like those rusty coins which cannot be put into circulation." page 76 in regards to Homer - who I also have and I am pretty sure I've never really read the whole thing
"Fools admire everything in an esteemed author. I read for myself alone; I only like what I have a use for." page 77
Friday, May 15, 2009
Driving with Dead People
The Vagina Monolouges
Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays
I'm have a super busy work week and have to work this weekend but I haven't forgotten about these books (at least not yet)!
The Second Trying
If I could only get hold of the whole of you,
How could I ever get hold of the whole of you,
Even more than the most beloved idols,
More than mountains quarried whole,
More than mines
Of burning coal,
Let's say mines of extinguished coal
And the breath of day like a fiery furnace.
If one could get hold of you for all the years,
How could one get hold of you from all the years,
How could on lengthen a single arm,
Like a single branch of an African river,
As one sees in a dream the Bay of Storms,
As one sees in a ship that went down,
The way one imagines a cushion of clouds,
Lily-clouds as the body's cushion,
But though you will it, they will not convey you,
Do not believe that they will convey you.
If one could get hold of all-of-the-whole-of-you,
If one could get hold of you like metal,
Say like pillars of copper,
Say like a pillar of purple copper
(That pillar I remmebered last summer) -
And the bottom of the ocean I have never seen,
And the bottom of the ocean that I can see
With its thousand heavy thickets of air,
A thousand and one laden breaths.
If one could only get hold of the-whole-of-you-now,
How could you ever be for me what I myself am?
by Dahlia Ravikovitch
Translated for the Hebrew by Chana Bock and Chana Kronfeld.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The story that Bryon tells is very interesting. A young man, Ali, is brought to England with his father, Lord Sane. He is treated pretty horribly and has several romantic run ins. The whole story ends up mirroring Lord Byron and his relationship with Ada Lovelace.
Ada's notes revel her strain with her absent father and the pain she she has to deal with from her cervical cancer.
The emails are also between a young woman and her estranged father. She emails him because he was a Lord Byron scholar. She also emails with her girlfriend back in the states.
The book is a little long, I had a hard time sticking with it at the end. I got a little confused in some of the email sections because their names aren't used, just their emails. A little hard to keep track of.
I liked this book, but not as much as I thought I would. Parts of it really held my attention and parts of it kind of bored me. The whole thing did make me more interested in Lord Byron's actual work and about Ada's life. I had no idea that she was involved in the development of the analytical engine. Her mother was pretty crazy and kept her from anything creative so Ada poured her brains into science. I'm going to have to pick up a bio of hers sometime soon.
A few quotes:
"Unbearable did it soon become to them - who were a world to each other, and yet could not shake the world from them!" page 347
"The dead we love keep on dying for us again and again, and he is one of those I love." 273
"Sticks and stones, so the children cry, may break my bones, but names shall never hurt me. Ah no. He said it himself: words are things." 314
"Happy endings are all alike, disasters may be unique." 268