Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Story of the Night - Colm Toibin

This book is set in Argentina in the 1980's and follows the life of a homosexual Argentinian man. He has grown up with an overbearing British mother (who passes awat when he was 20ish) and his father died when he was young. He has no other family and lives alone teaching English at an institute. The book changes pace about 1/3 in and becomes more interesting after he meets a couple of Americans who are there to promote democracy after the Falkland War. It is an interesting take on how the world sees America. We also see the beginning of the AIDS crisis and how it effects the lives of the people around this young Argentinian man.

I enjoyed this book. I usually do not read fictional accounts of people with HIV/AIDS because I find it too emotional. I can read non-fiction books on HIV, and do read plenty of it, but fictional books always get to me. When I started I was unaware of the books topic but I am glad I read it. I didn't like it as much as Blackwater Light Ship and didnt hate it as much as The Master. I would give it 3 1/2 stars.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Complete Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby

So I pretty much loved this book. It was exactly what I needed to read to get me back into the reading groove. This is a collection of articles/essays that Nick Hornby wrote over a couple of years for a magazine.It is all about the books he has bought and read each month. Usually he buys more books then he reads each month and I envy him for that. I love that he loves books so much and has no problem abandoning a book that he does not like or doesn't feel like reading. I force myself to read all books I start...which sometimes stops me from reading because I would rather do anything, anything at all rather than read that book. I have learned from Nick Hornby that I do not have to read every book I start and that there is no "list" of books that I NEED to read. Nothing bad will happen to me if I don't read the classics. I usually feel a little bad when I am reading "trashy" books and I feel that I have to redeem myself by reading something more literary afterwards. This does not have to be the way I read.

This book taught me that I need to read more books that I know I won't be able to put down, books that I can't stop thinking about long after I have put them down. This doesn't mean that I abandon my lists of books that I am interested in and don't know anything about or that I stop trying to read the classics. It just means I can let my books be more fun and now worry about it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hunger - Elise Blackwell

This book was interesting. I was only 133 pages but was not an easy read. I have been trying to pick shorter novels lately because I really want to finish my 100 Book Challenge, but this one turned out to be more than I bargined for. Hunger is set in Leningrad in 1941 when the Nazi's surrounded the city, literally leaving hundreds of thousands of people to die of starvation. The novel is narrated by an elderly man who now survived the seige and now lives in America. He worked as a botanist and ended up eating small bits of the seeds that he was supposed to be preserving. We see what people will do (and what they won't do) to survive.

I felt this novel had a lot to do with his relationship with his wife and how after 50 years he was still feeling guilt about his affairs and how he would have given it all up for one more hour with her. It was interesting, and sad and hard to read sometimes. I am lucky that I never had to experience hunger and do not know what I would do to survive. It was a powerful book and I am glad I read it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Harvesting The Heart - Jodi Picoult

I don't know why I continue to read her books when I know they are just going to make me angry. I have read a few of her other books (Mercy, 19 Minutes) and everytime I finish them I am angry at humanity. This book was no exception. This book centers around a young girl named Paige who runs away from home to spare her father the humiliation after she has an abortion, she meets a young med student Nicholas, marries him (way to young in my opinion) and begins the life she never seems to want. She gets pregnant and has to try and raise this child scared that she will be a bad mother because she has never had a role model (her mother left when she was very young). Her husband is selfish, egotistical, self-righteous and pretty much an annoying character. I found myself so mad when I read this book because he was such a bad guy and the wife is just drowning in her life. Paige leaves her family for 3 months to find her mother. Obviously this causes problems - but she comes back a better person.

I pretty much hated this book. I think I hate her books because they pretty much describe real life and how shitty people can be. Its depressing. I like reading sad books, not depressing ones. Its not badly written, just not my thing. I think I will leave her other novels on the shelf for a little while.

I don't even know if I should give it any stars...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Still Life With Woodpecker - Tom Robbins

I had read this book when I was 16 or 17 and remembered loving it. It was weird and funny and hard to explain. I am terrible at summarizing things ( so my book reviews are never very good) and this book is harder then any other book that I have had to try and explain in words. Pretty much I am going to have to say read it for yourself. If you like princesses, pyramids, red heads and bombs - then you will love this book. If you don't - read it anyway, you might start liking them!!

5 Stars!!!

So re-reading this book has got me thinking about all the other books that I have read years ago and would love to re-read. I want to read "East of Eden" again, and all the Harry Potter books, and as I talked about a couple posts back "Native Son". I also want to re-read "Fall On Your Knees" because I remember having this wonderful feeling when I finished it. I can't remember books well, but I can certainly remember feels that I get!

James and I changed Library Fridays to Library Thursdays so we will be heading there tonight to pick up so more books. I hope they have Number 3 in the Series of Unfortunate Events!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2 - Lemony Snicket

The Reptile Room is the second book in this series and tells the tale of the Baudelaire children, who are sent to live with their distant relative Uncle Monty. The Baudelaire's have had some tough luck, their parents die in a fire, they are sent to live with evil Count Olaf who only wants to steal their fortune by any means necessary. Now they think they have found a lovely home - but they should still be weary of Count Olaf!

I like this book - its dark and funny and a good kids book. I hopefully will be getting my hands on the rest of the series very very soon. It is one of those series of books I want my children to read.

I give 5 stars for a wonderful kids book.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Arcadia - Jim Crace

Arcadia is a novel about an aging millionarie named Victor, who wants to rebuild an area of town which sells fruits and vegetables called "The Soap Market", an area that he lived as a child with his homeless mother and aunt. In the novel he recounts his life and we see why he has grown up to be the man he is today. Another part of the story involves Rook, his crooked assistant and how their lives and the lives of the people who work (or live in) the Soap Market intertwine.

I had a hard time getting into this book but when I sat down and really gave it a go, I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of Charles Dickens (maybe it was the orphan in a city part) without it being as wordy. I had read another of his novels, "Quarentine" for bookclub in Korea a few years back and enjoyed it as well but this one was so very different.

I would recommend this book and give it **** stars.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sickness is still loving me this week. I felt better for a day and then last night I felt terrible again and slept for like 13 hours. This is so cutting in to my reading time. I am about half-way through "Arcadia" and now I am really enjoying it. I have decided that when I start reading books and dont't get into them right away, I need to sit down, with a clock, and read for an hour straight. Thats what I need to do sometimes to get into a book. I find that sometimes I am not focussed enough to read novels that have a lot of detail....I find my mind skips around a lot and then I end up just wanted to get through the book rather than enoying it. No more of this! I need to, if not enjoy a novel, then to at least get something out of it. Hopefully I will finishing "Arcadia" in 2 more sittings. I only have 56 days left to read 34 books. Its time to get moving!!

I think I may go out and buy some books this weekend if I feel better. I am feeling this need to buy some. It has been only about 6 or 7 weeks since I bought anything new but I feel that I am doing so much reading now a days that I need to be able to pick up a few things that I am REALLY wanting. My TBR list is sooooooo long. I enjoy going to the library here but the books are either a bit dated or only international bestsellers. I need some comedy or some chick-lit to make me laugh. I will be on the hunt this weekend.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The last couple of days I have had an awful cold. Sometimes when I am sick I get tons of reading done; other times not so much. This weekend was a bit of both.

Sunday morning I woke up early to finish "Jazz" by Toni Morrison. This wasn't one of the most accessable books by her that I have ever read and when I was about half-way through I had to read back because I was a little confused about what was going on. But the end tied it all up for me. I had one of those "Ahhhhh!!!! Now I see" moments when I was almost finished the book. I like it when I have one of those. The story is about a women named Violet and her husband Joe who live in Harlem during the
1930s. In the very first page we learn that Joe has murdered his teenage girlfriend Dorcas. The novel goes back and forth between what is happening since her death and the pasts of Joe and Violet and how the entertwine. An interesting part of this novel is that Joe never gets in trouble for killing Dorcas because no one saw him shoot her and the police are not interested in black on black crime. This goes with the feeling of the novel that things just happen and sometimes no one is at fault. I liked this novel.

During my sick Sunday I also started and finished "The Saffron Kitchen" by Yasmin Crowther. I really enjoyed this novel about an Iranian-British family living in London. At first you think the story will be about the daughter Sara but then it goes back and forth between her and her mother Maryam. Maryam goes back to her home village in Iran, a place she hasn't been in 25 years and recounts all of the things that has happened to her before the Revolution. It is really interesting and I like how the characters make real choices that sometimes hurt the people they love but they must make them to move on with their lives. I have read few fiction books about Iran and recommend this.

Right now I am reading "Arcadia" by Jim Crace and am slow at starting it. I need to spend a few hours reading to try and get into it.