Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Diversity in Reading

I saw this meme over at Iliana's and was curious to see how I'd do. I tend to think that I'm quite good at reading a variety of authors, but let's see!

1. Name the last book by a female author that you’ve read.
I read mostly female authors so the answer to this is The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, which I finished this week. And actually, looking at my list of books read this year, the balance between male and female authors isn't as bad as I thought!

2. Name the last book by an African or African-American author that you’ve read.
I know that this is terrible to admit but Africa is last on my list of regions that interest me. I just don't connect with it and I only have natural curiosity for it, but no passion. Asia, especially the Far East, is the region that I'm drawn to most, for some reason. Strange, eh? Having said that, I have several books by African authors on my TBR shelf, because I do want to find out more about this continent... so I am trying to branch out! The last book I read in this category was in December - Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

Do you connect with certain regions more than with others?

3. Name one from a Latino/a author.
I read The Witch of Portobello by Paolo Coelho earlier this year. I keep meaning to read more Latino/a authors, especially those of magical realism. Any suggestions?

4. How about one from an Asian country or Asian-American?
The Good Women of China by Xinran - fantastic book.

5. What about a GLBT writer?
Hmmm... this might be where my weakness is. I read Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson last year... I'm not always aware if the authors I read are or are not GLBT, to be perfectly honest.

6. Why not name an Israeli/Arab/Turk/Persian writer, if you’re feeling lucky?
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi was one my first graphic novels and I now love the genre and the author.

7. Any other “marginalized” authors you’ve read lately?
I suppose that Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky would count, since the author was a Jew during WWII, so definitely marginalised.

I didn't do too badly! Go on, fill this in yourselves, you know you want to! And make sure you let me know in the comments so I can check out your answers! :-)

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Goose Girl

Author Shannon Hale and in particular her book The Goose Girl is one of my first blogging finds. I don't think I would have ever heard of her if I hadn't started blogging. This is one of the aspects I really appreciate about our community!

So I've been wanting to read this for over a year, I think, and it's been sittting on my shelf for about 6 months. I picked it up now for Carl's Once Upon a Time challenge.

I'm disappointed that I didn't love it. I liked it but there were so many fantastic reviews that I so wanted to love it! I wanted it to be one of those books that engrossed me completely, I wanted to read it and forget our world and become part of the story. For whatever reason - and it may well be that I have some big stuff distracting me at the moment - this didn't happen. Well, maybe until the last third of the book - I didn't really want to put it down then.

I guess I should be happy that I really liked it, rather than upset that I didn't love it, but hey, that's what happens when you have too many expectations!

The Goose Girl is a fairy tale about Princess Ani who has led a sheltered life and is forced to grow up very quickly when certain events come to be. She has to learn to be independent, she has to deal with her friends betraying her and she has to learn who she really is, aside from her background and her title. And it's not like she fits in where she ends up - she looks different than the others, has serious secrets and can communicate with animals... it's certainly not easy but she gets through it and comes out a winner.

The tone of the book is completely magical. I'd start reading and feel all warm inside. The characters are great and the story has some nice twists that keep it interesting. Most interesting is Ani's coming-of-age journey of self-discovery. She does it so well too - she has the perfect balance of confidence and strength and self-doubt. I think her thinking process is beautifully captured.

I'll definitely try another Shannon Hale book, her writing is superb - any thoughts on which one I should get next?

Challenges: 999 Challenge, Countdown Challenge, New Authors, Once Upon A Time, What's in a Name?, Young Adult Challenge, YA Romance

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A challenge completed and a challenge failed...

I completed the Jewish Literature Challenge! It was hosted by Callista and ran from 21 December 2008 until 27 April 2009 - I finished my last book just in time! My original post had many options, as usual, but here's what I ended up reading in the end:

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
Night by Elie Wiesel
Nothing's Sacred by Lewis Black
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

I'm glad that not everything I read was about World War II, but I regret not reading anything that would tell me more about Jewish culture and customs. Next time, eh Callista? :-)

My favorite book was Night - it's one that I think everyone should read!


And I failed the Latin American Reading Challenge, hosted by Katrina at Katrina Reads. As you can see from my sign-up post, I had lots of great books planned, but I only managed to read one (The Witch of Portobello by Paolo Coelho) and this one was only mediocre... challenge or no challenge, I hope to get to some of the other books on my list later this year.

Thanks to both hosts for helping me discover new books! :-)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Battle of the Prizes

Lezlie of Books 'n Border Collies brought another great-sounding challenge to my attention: the Battle of the Prizes. This is hosted by Rose City Reader and basically puts the Pulitzer against the National Book Award. The challenge post explains all the details, but basically we're asked to read one book that won the Pulitzer, one book that won the National and one book that won both. Then we'll be able to judge and compare the two awards.

The challenge lasts from May 1 to September 7 2009.

I really, really shouldn't be signing up to more challenges, but how great does this sound? ;-)

Completed: 0/3 as of 1 May 2009

Pulitzer options:
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (1932)
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1937)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1940)
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1981)
Ironweed by William Kennedy (1984)
The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (1995)
American Pastoral by Philip Roth (1998)
The Hours by Michael Cunningham (1999)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (2001)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (2003)
March by Geraldine Brooks (2006)

National Book Award options:
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1997)
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (2001)

Double-dipper: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Through the Looking Glass

When I read Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland earlier this year, I already knew that I wanted to read Through the Looking Glass as well. So when I saw that it was on The Literature Network and could be read online, I went for it.

Through the Looking Glass was just as charming as the first Alice book. In this one, Alice ends up in the world on the other side of the glass in the mirror - a world where nursery rhyme characters exist, where chess pieces are real people and where everything is done backwards or in the wrong order. Alice's adventures and the people she met in this world were great. Simply great.

I am once again amazed by Lewis Carroll's imagination. Seriously, how can you come up with stuff like this??

Some of my favorite quotes:
However, this was anything but a regular bee: in fact it was an elephant.
Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said: 'one CAN'T believe impossible things.'
'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
'I didn't say there was nothing BETTER,' the King replied. 'I said there was nothing LIKE it.'

Ha ha. If you need some cheering up, these are the books for you! :-)

Challenges: 2nds Challenge, 999 Challenge, Decades Challenge

The Eco Reading Challenge

Chris from Book-a-rama came up with this interesting idea for a challenge. The Eco Reading Challenge requires participants to read 5 books about green/environmental issues between May and September. Chris tells us to be very creative with our choices, there are plenty of fiction books that have environmental factors in their stories as well!

I think this sounds interesting - and although I've already signed up for every challenge known to man, three books on Chris' examples list are already planned in my reading for the next few months so I think I can probably make it. Or at least be close.

Ah who am I kidding, I just can't resist a good reading challenge!

Completed: 1/5 as of 5 June 2009

The Omnivore's Dilemna by Michael Pollan
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Watership Down by Richard Adams

A is for Alibi

I've been wanting to read Sue Grafton's alphabet series, but the first book, A is for Alibi, has been checked out from the library for ages! I finally got my hands on it and it made for some very pleasant on-the-bus reading.

The books in the series center around private investigator Kinsey Millhone - she's 32, she's divorced, now single and she lives her job. I liked the way the character was set up - you can tell that she has loads of personal issues that can be fleshed out and hopefully worked through as the series progresses. She's a likeable character and I enjoyed the way she went about solving her case. I'm one of those people who never tries to solve the mystery before I finish reading so the ending was a nice and neat conclusion for me.

I'll definitely continue with B is for Burglar . Any other mystery series like this one that I should consider?

Challenges: 1st in a series, Celebrate the Author, New Authors, Support Your Local Library, Suspense and Thriller Challenge

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Suite Francaise

Suite Francaise is an account of France during the Second World War, written by Irene Nemirovsky. It is truly incredible that we even have the opportunity to read this book. Irene Nemirovsky was of Jewish descent and was deported to Auschwitz in 1942. She died there a couple of months after her arrival. Her husband spent several months trying to locate her and get her back, not understanding what deportation meant in the Nazi-occupied world. He drew too much attention to himself and was also deported to and died in Auschwitz, not long after his wife. Their two daughters were hidden by friends of the family for the remainder of the war - they were often moved from place to place and it is very fortunate for use that they took their mother's manuscripts with them every time, as something to remember their mother by.

We should be thankful, as Suite Francaise is a beautiful book. Nemirovsky completed two parts of the book, the rest only exists as notes and outlines. The first part is about Parisians fleeing the city before the Nazi invasion. The second is about a small French village under German occupation.

In both, the characters are vivid and real. They are central, as the book is definitely about the human side of war. About the rich trying to save their porcelain rather than helping other people, about trying to survive any way you can, about normal human feelings of loss and anger and love.

In the second part especially, this human aspect shines through as the French people in a small village try to live side-by-side with the Germans who are occupying the area. The German soldiers live in their houses and are part of their everyday life. They are not mean or horrible, they are just soldiers following orders. Some of them are liekable. Some of them are possible to fall in love with. I thought these issues were very interestingly portrayed, very thought-provoking.

This wasn't a page-turner and I found some sections difficult to get through. But it's a book worth reading because it shows part of history and it does so in a beautiful and human way.

Challenges: 1% Well-Read Challenge, 999 Challenge, A-Z Challenge, Banned Book Challenge, Countdown Challenge, Jewish Literature, Orbis Terrarum, War through the Generations

Monday, April 20, 2009


This is completely off the topic of books and readind but I don't care. I absolutely had to post the link to Susan Boyle singing I Dreamed a Dream on Britain's Got Talent, in case there any of you have missed it. I wouldn't want you to be deprived of the pleasure of watching this video.

Susan stunned the judges and audience with her song - it's so incredible to see a regular person do so well and realise her dream. I am absolutely thrilled for her.

While you're at it, watch this video as well - it's of Paul Potts singing opera on this same show, just in a previous season. Absolutely amazing.

Seriously - both their performances are thrilling. And it's an extra treat to see the change the attitudes of both the stuck-up beautiful judges and of most of the audience.

These brought tears to me eyes and somehow made me feel hopeful about the world.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Printz Project

Here's another reading project that I'd like to join - this one is to read the winners and possibly the honor books of the Printz Award. I like reading projects because they have no time limit, less pressure. I've enjoyed the Printz books that I've already read and many are on my TBR list anyway, so I'm in.

The project is co-hosted by Suey from It's All About Books and Jessica from The Bluestocking Society and has its own blog with all the lists, but I'm pasting the list in here as well, so I can link to reviews and keep track.

Michael L. Printz Award - Winners & Honor Books

Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves, by M.T. Anderson
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart
Nation, by Terry Pratchett
Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan

The White Darkness, by Geraldine McCaughrean
Dreamquake: Book Two of the Dreamhunter Duet, by Elizabeth Knox
One Whole and Perfect Day, by Judith Clarke
Repossessed, by A.M. Jenkins
Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath, by Stephanie Hemphill

American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; Volume I: The Pox Party, by M.T. Anderson
An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
Surrender, by Sonya Hartnett
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Black Juice, by Margo Lanagan
I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth, a Photographic Biography, by Elizabeth Partridge
A Wreath for Emmett Till, by Marilyn Nelson

how i live now, by Meg Rosoff
Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel
Chanda’s Secrets, by Allan Stratton
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, by Gary D. Schmidt

The First Part Last, by Angela Johnson
A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly
Keesha’s House, by Helen Frost
Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler

Postcards from No Man’s Land, by Aidan Chambers
The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer
My Heartbeat, by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Hole in My Life, by Jack Gantos

A Step From Heaven, by An Na
The Ropemaker, by Peter Dickinson
Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art, by Jan Greenberg
Abrams Freewill, by Chris Lynch
True Believer, by Virginia Euwer Wolff

Kit’s Wilderness, by David Almond
Many Stones, by Carolyn Coman
The Body of Christopher Creed, by Carol Plum-Ucci
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, by Louise Rennison
Stuck in Neutral, by Terry Trueman

Monster, by Walter Dean Myers
Skellig, by David Almond
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Hard Love, by Ellen Wittlinger

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Project: Fill in the Gaps

Although I read a lot and consider myself fairly well-read, there are still many books that I never got to and I wish I had. In fact, there are still books that I'm slightly embarassed about not reading. I know that sounds silly but there you have it. So, this 'Fill in the Gaps' project really appealed to me.

The project is hosted by Moonrat at Editorial Ass and it has its own blog. The point is to make a list of 100 books that you want to read in order to fill some sort of reading gap and read 75% of them in the next five years. Check it the dediacted blog to see other people's lists, they're interesting.

My list is below. It includes mostly classics - books that a book lover like me should at least try to read. I know that some of them will be boring but I need to try.

Completed: 0/100 as of 17 April 2009

1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
3. Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz
4. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
5. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
6. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
7. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
8. The Plague by Albert Camus
9. Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert
10. Lolita by Vladimir Nabukov
11. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
12. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
13. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
14. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
15. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
16. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
17. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
18. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
19. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
20. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
21. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (re-read)
22. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
23. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
24. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
25. 1984 by George Orwell
26. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
27. Middlemarch by George Elliot (re-read)
28. The Mill on the Floss by George Elliot
29. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
30. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
31. Dracula by Bram Stoker
32. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
33. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
34. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
35. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
36. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
37. The Divine Comedy by Dante
38. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
39. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
40. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
41. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
42. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (re-read)
43. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
44. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
45. Dune by Frank Herbert
46. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
49. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
50. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
51. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
52. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
53. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (re-read)
54. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
55. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
56. Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
57. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
58. Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
59. something by de Balzac
60. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
61. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
62. Nana by Émile Zola
63. The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
64. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
65. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
66. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
67. A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
68. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
69. The Trial by Franz Kafka
70. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
71. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
72. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
73. Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann
74. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
75. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
76. The Iliad by Homer
77. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
78. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
79. The Republic by Plato
80. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
81. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
82. Poems by Emily Dickinson
83. something by Iris Murdoch
84. Unaccustomed Earch by Jhumpa Lahiri
85. Unless by Carol Shields
86. The Hobbit by Tolkien
87. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
88. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
89. Candide by Voltaire
90. Collected Stories by Anton Chekhov
91. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
92. The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
93. Generation X by Douglas Coupland
94. The Stranger by Albert Camus
95. tbd
96. tbd
97. tbd
98. tbd
99. tbd
100. tbd

Friday, April 17, 2009

Slaughterhouse 5

I've always wondered what the title of Kurt Vonnegut's anti-war novella referred to, now I know that it's the address of where American prisoners-of-war were kept in Dresden towards the end of WWII. The book is in fact about Vonnegut's experience of the bombing of Dresden, although it doesn't really come up that often.

Slaughterhouse 5 reminded me of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller to which it's been compared many times. When I read Catch-22 last year, I thought it could have been shorter. Vonnegut got the length right, I think. Anyway, the main similarity is of course the topic of the absurdity of war - the story is about Billy, who (yes) is present at the bombing of Dresden, but who also time-travels, gets kidnapped by aliens and displayed in a zoo and is an optometrist by trade. The whole thing is absurd, but with very engaging language making it exceptionally witty.

There are a few things in particular that stayed with me. This passage:
She upset Billy simply by being his mother. She made him feel embarassed and ungrateful and weak because she had gone to so much trouble to give him life, and to keep that life going, and Billy didn't really like life at all.
Also, I enjoyed the way that the aliens that kidnapped Billy looked at life and death. Basically, when you died it was only in that moment and since time was not consecutive but happened all at the same time, there were still millions of moments in which you were alive. I liked all the talk of a fourth dimension too - that's where the vampires live, for example. :-)

And - a saying that went around by email thousand of times that I really like seems to have originated in this book. Although it could be taken from somewhere too, I guess:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference.

This is very pertinent to my current life situation so really struck a chord.

Definitely a book that deserves to be read. I wonder what else of Vonnegut's is interesting!

Challenges: A-Z Challenge, Numbers Challenge, 1% Well-read Challenge, 999 Challenge, Support your Local Library, War through the Generations

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes... But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes

These two books were written by Anita Loos, the first was published in 1925 and the second in 1927. They are both diaries written by Lorelei Lee, a pretty flapper living it up in the 1920s. The subtitle of the first book is 'Diary of a Professional Lady', so I'm sure you get the idea.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is Lorelei's diary about her day-to-day life, her relationships with various men, her trip to Europe and her getting married. She is hilarious - she is striving for intellectual knowledge and loves to learn things. She thinks she is educated and fairly high-class, which makes her social gaffes even funnier. She is very likable. I enjoyed listening to her adventures and her interpretation of how the world works and what men are for.

But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes is in Lorelei's voice once again, but tells the story of her friend. I thought this was much, much weaker... kind of more of the same.

Apparently, Anita Loos got the idea to write these books when she noticed that all the men around her were falling over the blonde in the room and paying no attention to her, a brunette, even though she was pretty and intelligent. I liked that bit of information, I like knowing where an author is coming from.

These books are the pre-cursors of chick-lit - all about men and going out and getting jewellery - entertaining and fluffy.

Challenges: A-Z Challenge, Audiobook Challenge, Classics Challenge, Decades Challenge

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Riders of the Purple Sage

After saying yesterday that it would be a while before I finished reading anything, here I am with an unfinished book. I'm ready to blog about it though, I really don't feel like finishing it.

I wanted to read Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey for the Genre Challenge, for which I needed a Western. This books is apparently the best-known Western classic so when I saw it on The Literature Network, I thought I'd give it a shot. I made it through about 120 pages of about 300 and I started finding excuses not to read it so I think it's time to give up.

Why didn't I like it? I didn't like the writing, for a start. I found it choppy and that distracted me, I couldn't quite get into it. I didn't like the characters either. I mean, I liked them because they are strong and good characters, but I didn't have any sort of personal connection to them. I didn't care about what they wouold do next. Since none of this got better after 9 chapters, I figured that was that.

I did enjoy reading about what life must have been like in the Wild West - the open spaces, the danger, the crime, the conflicts. So I enjoyed it from an anthropological perspective, but that's pretty much it. I don't think I'll try another book in this genre either...

Oh well. You can't like them all!

Challenges: Genre Challenge, A-Z Challenge, 999 Challenge, Classics Challenge, My Year of Reading Dangerously

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Slow reading month...

And I thought moving month was slow! Now that we're in the house arranging, unpacking, decorating, etc. I'm getting hardly any reading time at all... If I wait until I actually finish a book before I post again I'll lose all my blogging friends, so I thought I'd post about what I'm reading instead.

I'm on the second section of Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky... A great book, especially knowing that she lived what she wrote about. I love that the focus is on regular people and the regular things that they worry about. As in, young girls still think about love... It's so hard to get my head around it all though - I can't imagine having to live through anything like that and yet it could happen and we'd all have to just go on. It's a strange thought that makes me want to try and stop worrying and just be happy. Too bad worrying is such a big part of me and so unshakable. :-)

I couldn't get myself to read Suite Francaise in the evenings before going to bed because it made me too sad and pensive, so I started The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. I'm still at the beginning but I'm really, really enjoying it. It's nice to read something with such a magical tone.

On a completely different note, we discovered a very cool tv show that we're now adddicted to. Heroes - does anyone else watch it? We're only at the beginning of season 1 and already it's amazing. It reminds of the David Mitchell books, where everything is connected...

Have a good day everyone!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Arthurian Challenge

I don't know anything at all about King Arthur and knights and round tables. Which is why I didn't join Becky's Arthurian Challenge the last time around - I had no idea where to start.

Well, yesterday I went over to see what Trish was up to and low and behold, not only is she joining this challenge, she has (with Nymeth's help) come up with a list of basic books that should be read! I can't not steal this list and read from it as well. I simply can't.

So here it is, I'm officially joining the Arthurian Challenge, which runs from April 2009 to March 2010 and I can read as few or as many books as I wish. :-)

Completed: 0 as of 8 April 2009

King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table - Roger Lancelyn Green
The Age of Chivalry - Thomas Bulfinch
The Once and Future King - TH White
The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley

Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Books and the Proximidade Award

Since I tend to buy books second hand or on sale, I often miss out on new releases. In fact, at the end of last year I realised that I hadn't read a single book published in 2008! I decided to rectify this and joined the Countdown Challenge and the Pub Challenge in order to have some goals. And here we are in April and I am still very, very behind. So what did I do on my lunch break today> I visited Waterstone's and bought three books, two of which were published in 2008. The 2009 ones are still either only hardcover and/or too expensive so I'll wait a few months. Here's what I got:

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

So, which one should I read first? :-)


Trish presented me with the Proximidade Award:

"This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award."

Thanks Trish, I am really touched!

I pass this lovely award on to:

Lezlie from Books 'n Border Collies
Nymeth from Things Mean A Lot
Kailana from The Written World
raidergirl3 from An Adventure in Reading
Joy from Thoughts of Joy
Iliana from Bookgirl's Nightstand

And if I could give it back to Trish too, I would, but that would be just plain silly!

It's a wonderful feeling to have friends like you out there in the world.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I can make you thin

Isn't that a great book title? It sure caught my attention and I couldn't not buy it! I Can Make You Thin is by Paul McKenna, who seems to have loads of other similar books out about other issues. By similar I mean employing self-hypnosis-like techniques - I have a book by him about confidence as well.

It's very, very short and is based on some very, very simple principles. Basically, he says that thin people don't obsess about food as much as overweight people, they just eat when they're hungry. Paul McKenna tries to change the reader's brain programming to think more like a naturally thin person and develop a healthier attitude to food.

I liked reading it and I've already been putting some of the principles into practice and doing some of the excercises and the weight is starting to come off. I've been struggling with my weight since I quit smoking two years ago now. I just can't seem to shift it... the simplicity of this book makes sense to me so hopefully I'll continue on this track.

The book comes with a CD too, but I haven't had the courage to listen to it yet. It says that you shouldn't listen to it while driving or operating machinery so I suppose it's proper self-hypnosis. Has anyone tried anything like this?

Challenges: 999 Challenge, A-Z Challenge, Dewey Decimal Challenge (613.25019)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Book Awards II challenge completed

I thought I would never finish this challenge, but after looking over my 'books read' list, it turned out I'd already completed it! How's that for a nice surprise? :-) I originally wanted each book to have won a separate type of prize, but clearly I was thinking crazy.

The challenge was hosted by 3M and ran from 1 August 2008 to 1 June 2009. We had to read 10 books which won at least 5 different awards.

Here are the ten I ended up reading - and what I planned to read all those months ago.

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi - won the Alex Award in 2004. Alex Awards are given to adult books that appeal to young adults. I think I'll have to explore their lists of winners!

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood - won the Man Booker Prize in 2000.

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee - won the Man Booker Prize in 1999.

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan - won the Man Booker Prize in 1998.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy - won the Man Booker Prize in 1997.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - won the Hugo Award in 1986.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry - won the Newbery Award in 1990.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle - won the Newbery Award in 1963.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith - won the Orange Prize in 2006.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami - won the World Fantasy Award on 2006.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed most of these. I guess they won awards for a reason!

Thanks to 3M for hosting - I hope you do it again! :-)

Monday, April 6, 2009

I'm back... and a couple quick reviews

I'm back! With internet access and everything! My life stuff is going smoothly so far, let's hope it continues like this. Thanks for your comments, they were so sweet and much appreciated!

As I said, I wasn't doing that much reading in March, but I did want to finish two last books and I managed so I'm happy.

For the Every Month is a Holiday challenge, I read Seek the Fair Land by Walter Macken. It's a book about Ireland in the 1600s and I thought it would be appropraite since St. Patrick's Day was in March. The book is the first in a trilogy that is standard reading for Irish pre-teens, from what I've been told. It does indeed read like a 'classic' school-assigned kind of book. It deals with the English occupation of Ireland and how people coped with the horrors of it. Very depressing. I enjoyed the historical aspect of it, but I didn't care for the characters much. I thought they were slightly two-dimensional... I definitely preferred Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea and would recommend it over this one in a second.

Challenges: Every Month is a Holiday, 999 Challenge, 1st in a series, Orbis Terrarum

The other book I wanted to finish in March was The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, which I was reading for the Celebrate the Author challenge, since the author's birthday was on March 8. It was a cute book about a group of animals who become friends and help each other through tough times. I liked all the characters and really liked how 'human' they were. The writing was very English - dry and witty. I enjoyed it, but I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more if I'd known it in childhood?

Challenges: 999 Challenge, A-Z Challenge, Celebrate the Author, Decades 2009

Sorry for the very short reviews (if you can even call them that) but this is what happens when you play catch-up and I want to finish March, finally!!