Friday, May 28, 2010

Japanese writers rock!

So I know... I'm still very slack with my reading but I have sooooooo much to do! I wish i had more time to read but at the moment my reading time is limited to my commute to uni 3 days a week which means about 2 hours of reading per week (that is pleasurable reading, not uni reading)...

So I have thought about authors and books I really liked and the Murakamis came to mind... so I browsed the Uni library for more Japanese authors and discovered: Kenzaburō Ōe!

(some might say wow a bit late for that... seeing that he has been writing for 50 years and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994... I know I am late... but then again I was 11 in 1994...)

Holy mother! I love it! well i only read one book half way through but what I have read is great! His depth in description and imagination is just amazing... every character. no matter how small his role, is sketched so completely not just in appearance but behavior and psyche as well...

Here are some of my favorite paragraphs so far:

"Four weeks later Bird had revived from an agonizing seven-hundred-hour drunk to discover in himself, wretchedly sober, the desolation of a city ravaged by the fires of war."

"From every window on the second floor and even from the balcony, just out of bed most likely, their fresh washed faces gleaming whitely in the morning sun, pregnant women were peering down at Bird. All of them wore flimsy nylon nightgowns, either red or shades of blue, and those on the balcony in particular, with the nightgowns billowing about their ankles, were like a host of angels dancing on the air. Bird read anxiety in their faces, and expectation, even glee; he lowered his eyes. The siren began to wail, and the ambulance lurched forward. Bird planted his feet on the floor to keep from slipping off the bench and thought: That siren! Until now, a siren had always been a moving object: it approached from a distance, hurtled by, moved away. Now a siren was attached to Bird like a disease he carried in his body: the siren would never recede."

Just magical...

Oh and the book by the way is "A personal matter"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

sloppy sloppy sloppy

I know!
I actually tried to give me this challenge so i would write more about what i read but then life always gets in the way :)

anyways here is a short update of what I have read this year so far:

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
The Pigeon
Questionnaires in Second Language acquisition
Qualitative research in applied linguistics
The Shadow of the wind

I know... it is not a lot and I also didn't tell you what I thought but at least I wanted to show I am still committed but marking 50 million undergrad essays is just not so much fun and robs my energy....

hopefully I'll find some more time soon...

OH and edit:

I forgot that I listened to the Twilight Saga audio books at the gym while I was getting ready to fit into that white dress ;)

so books "listened to"

New Moon
Breaking Dawn

I know that doesn't really help the tally.... ;)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

last two weeks in books....

Wrapping up the past two weeks in my literary adventures...

Ryu Murakami Almost Transparent Blue
started reading: december 12 2009
finished reading:
december 12 2009

I only picked that one up from the council library because it was stacked next to the Haruki Murakami's (see below) and since it looked interesting enough I thought "might as well give it a try."

and Woah... That is one sick and twisted book! Full on, blasted writing which never really seems to stop to actually assess the situations it reports... Just in the moment a constant stream of consciousness or rather unconsciousness... This is book is definitely not easy on the reader... But it is magic how beautifully it captures the frenzy and chaos of a drug-crazed generation lost, drowning in music and (il)legal substances... The protagonist all know what they want and it hurts to read how desperately they are using all the wrong means to achieve their goals...
The harsh realities of brutal portrayals are interspersed with intricate and subtle moments of eery beauty... this is an unforgettable journey juxtaposing disgusting chaos with saddening beauty as frenetic writing and long-drawn (not boring!) descriptions alternate

"At the edge of the wide grounds was a pool, and around it flowers were planted. Like eruptions on a rotting corpse, like a serum with multiplying cancer cells, the flowers were blooming. Against the background of a wall that rippled like white cloth, they scattered on the ground or suddenly danced up in the wind."


Okay now... please don't hold anything against me... but I love love love romantic movies and one of my absolute favorites is "The Notebook" (makes me teary just watching the trailer...) adapted from the novel by Nicholas Sparks. Well when it comes to movie adaptions I have a rule: read the book first and then watch the movie. I know that this rule leads to a lot of disappointment when the movie doesn't turn out anything like the little movie running in my head while reading the novel (best current example: "The Time Traveler's Wife"). So anyways when I first stumbled across the Trailer for "Dear John" I knew I had to read the novel before making one of my girlfriends embark on a tissue fest at the movies.

Nicholas Sparks Dear John
started reading: december 17 2009
finished reading:
december 17 2009

Well... I liked it... But I thought the ending was a bit far-fetched though... I know it had to be tear-jerking and a proper happy ending would have been sort of a let down too but did Mr. Sparks have to pull the cancer (and miraculous recovery) card ? Really? I understand the premise of letting your love go for the sake of their happiness but the ending just didn't sit right with me...
I also have to admit I cried a little... but not so much at the ending which was supposed to get your tear glands going into overtime... But I had to cry at the little, subtle moments that John spends with his Dad... I don't know... maybe it just stems from the fact that I have not seen my parents in about 18 months due to 20000 km between Europe and Australia. But I found the relationship between John and his father much more intriguing and real than his relationship with Miss Prude (no offense)....
Yeah... you read right... prude: I also thought the entire book to be just a little bit too clean, too "I have to save myself for marriage" and too "I will go to hell if I commit adultery". I am not saying that cheating is good thing in reality... But it can be in novels... That is what love is about for me... cast aside convention and just go and get the one you love... just like in The Notebook... Maybe now that Mr. Sparks has a multi-million readership (as the cover of Dear John proclaimed) he has to be clean to get even more people to read his books...

Still I enjoyed it much better than the next Sparks novel I borrowed from the council library in a bout of acute chick lit addiction...

Nicholas Sparks The Lucky One
started reading: december 19 2009
finished reading:
december 20 2009

Well there isn't really much good I can say about this book... But there is one compliment that I can make Mr. Sparks.. He knows how to write so I will keep on going even though I do not like the story at all... well it had dogs... I like dogs... and I guess that's about it... and he even spoiled that in the end...
Again Mr. Sparks took the easy way out... This time killing of the personified threat to the lover's permanent happiness by letting him drown in a flood... yes...a flood... how original, right? But wait it gets better... While the 'bad guy' who is the ex-husband of the female lead drowns in the flood trying to save their son, the son is actually saved by the dog (yes the dog!) of his ex-wifes new love interest
Watch a little too much "lassie" haven't we Mr. Sparks??? Better luck next time... Or maybe... there is a time to stop writing novels... Maybe when one has accumulate tons of money or when the movie industry starts casting Miley Cyrus to star in an new adaption... (and again... no offense)


So after that disappointment I thought I finally get reconciled with one of my absolute favorite writers..

Haruki Murakami South of the Border, West of the Sun
started reading: december 13 2009
finished reading:
december 22 2009

I have to come straight and say "yes, this started out as commute literature"... which is not necessarily bad but sort of robs the novel of its full potential... since i have to share my split my attention between getting on and off of trains & escalators, squeezing in next to smelly or sleepy people who never get out at my stop so I have to get up constantly... and i only have about 20 min each way to actually read (I could get about 40 min each way but I refuse to read while walking. I like enough like a dork as it is...)

anyways.... yesterday afternoon... after christmas grocery shopping I settle in on the couch... headphones on and gave pages 80-end my full undivided attention... But it still wasn't what i had hoped for...
My history with Murakami is pretty funny... or maybe I should say "a bit backwards"... I started reading his novels a few years back as part of reading requirements for a uni course...Back then I read "Hard-boiled wonderland & The End of the world", "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" and "Kafka on the Shore" and I loved and devoured them all...

Then a year or so ago I though I should the book that made him famous (Norwegian Wood) and oh... what a mistake... nothing of the eeriness, no fantastic worlds or talking cats or people stuck at the bottom of a well... a story about love... and a rather macabre and depressing one...

So I picked up "South of the Border...'' from the council library with all the best intentions... hopeful to rekindle my previous love affair with his writing... just to discover that this again was a sad and depressing story about love...
I am consciously not calling it a "love story" cause it really is a story about love and what it can do to you when you let it slip away... It is not a love story where two people meet, overcome some obstacle and then live (presumably) happily ever after (like The Lucky One).. It is a story about hurt and ache... about lost dreams and missed opportunities... I cannot really judge this novel for what it is though... simply because that was not what I was expecting... I wanted crazy fantasy with three-part chapter headings and I got numbered chapters and a lot to think about...

Lines like "Whatever has form can disappear in an instant" or "Everyone just keeps disappearing. Some things just vanish, as if they were cut away. Others fade slowly into the mist. And all that remains is a desert." will stay with you for a long time after you finished reading....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christopher Moore - "A Dirty Job"

Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job

started reading:
december 6 2009
finished reading:
december 10 2009

Well I don't remember laughing out loud or even chuckling while reading ever as much as did with this book. (well given that I haven't read anything that could have been labelled comedy this might be a good thing.)

so here is what I thought in a nutshell:

Despite the fact that I always thought I wasn't a huge fan of comedy novels I might have to change my mind and general attitude, at least regarding this particular novel and/or writer. Well I didn't laugh out loud a lot (but once or twice) but I more or less chuckled my way through the book and smiled a lot to myself...

Even though the cover kind of gives away the "surprise twist" (as if you'd ever think a Beta Male would be Death (capital D bitches!)) I really quite enjoyed the twisted humor and crazy characters. I mean a book that delves on and subverts cliches by exaggerating things to a point beyond sheer caricature that ought to be funny and an excellent read...

I mean, just for example, who doesn't have an old Chinese lady living next doors who will eat any kind of animal that drops dead in the vicinity of her apartment? I churned through it and while it dragged a little (reason for only 4 stars) I just had to finish and am curious for more by Christopher Moore and comedy in general....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

first list...

I know I am not required to list the books I want to read... but I think why shouldn't I write down the bunch of books that have been sitting in my shelf waiting to be read for quite some time now...

yeah and I am not really picky or particularly highbrow or lowbrow with what i read... I just like to read...

so in no particular order (other than how i picked them out of shelfs from desks or drawers) here some of the books I attempt to read in 2010:

Geraldine Brooks Year of Wonders - A Novel of the Plague

Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason The Rule of Four

Isabella Allende Daughter of Fortune

Maria V Snyder Fire Study

Patrick Süskind The Pigeon

Patrick Süskind The Perfume

Lewis Carroll Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland &
Through the Looking-Glass

Chris Cleave The Other Hand

Jonathan Franzen The Corrections

Khaled Hosseini The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini A Thousand Splendid Suns

Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose

Christopher Moore A Dirty Job Reading now(dec 9)almost done

Ben Sherwood The Man who ate the 747

Franz Kafka The Trial

Roger McDonald Mr. Darwin's Shooter

so that's 16 books sitting here waiting to be read in 2010... I also have a lot of Haruki Murakami's novels to get from the local library.... (for some reason Murakami books never turn up at second hand book stores...)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

some firsts

So this is my first post. I have made a decision.... one that my boyfriend eh fiancee and soon to be hubby probably won't like...
The thing is, I like to read.... and I read a lot... and even if I'm doing something else I often would rather be reading (that of course excludes any activity related to beer)...

so next year I will start this reading challenge and blog about it.... well I will probably write about other stuff too but mainly I want to keep it about what i read...This is my first reading challenge ever... so please bear with me... and wish me luck ;)