Literary Mumblings

A few words about the books I’ve read…

Read-A-Thon: Hour 10

Posted by Amanda on April 18, 2009

Well, I do believe it is time for me to leave for a bit. I have a meeting planned with some friends and I have to get ready and then go out for dinner. The nice thing is that I have an audio book to listen to as I prepare and drive there so I won’t be completely out of it – just sort of.

Title of book(s) read since last update: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Number of books read since you started: The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick, plus my current read
Pages read since last update: 40
Running total of pages read since you started: 425
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 30 minutes
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 6 hr 15

See you guys after dinner and good luck to you all!

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Read-A-Thon: Hour 9

Posted by Amanda on April 18, 2009

Title of book(s) read since last update: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Number of books read since you started: The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick and my current read
Pages read since last update: 38
Running total of pages read since you started: 385
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 30 minutes
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 5 hr 45 m

Also, the mini-challenge at the moment is from The Curious Reader who is asking about the local libraries:

1. What is the name of your local library? What city is it located in?
The one here is called the Columbia Station Public Library, I think. It is in Columbia Station so I figure that is probably what it is called…
2. How often do you go to the library? If you’re a regular, do the staff know you?
Well, I used to go to the library more often before I moved, but I just moved here not to long ago and so I got my library card yesterday. Which means the staff has seen me only a few times. Half of those times were with my grandmother, who they do know by name.
3. Do you browse while you’re there or just pick up items you have placed on reserve?
I am one who browses and tries to find something I might like. When I’m in the book store, I usually have a list of potential books but the library – I just browse through until I find something.
4. What is your favorite thing about your local library?
Ummm… like I said, I am new there so I haven’t been there a lot. They seem to be very good at getting things through the library loan system (my grandmother uses it a lot) so we will go with that.

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Read-A-Thon: Hour 7

Posted by Amanda on April 18, 2009

So this has been a great hour! I just finished my first book and found out that I won a prize! Yay! Now, I figure some food would be good and I may even try to leave a few comments.

Title of book(s) read since last update: The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick
Number of books read since you started: Just the one, but I think that Fahrenheit 451 is next.
Pages read since last update: 49
Running total of pages read since you started: 347
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 50 minutes
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 5 hr 15 m

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Read-A-Thon: Hour 6

Posted by Amanda on April 18, 2009

Well, I am nearly done with my first book but I figured since I had been interrupted by a phone call, this would be a good time to pause and update all of you. And on to the finale!

Title of book(s) read since last update: The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick
Number of books read since you started: Still on number one but I should be finished with that one soon.
Pages read since last update: 198
Running total of pages read since you started: 298
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 3 hr
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 4 hr 25 m

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Read-A-Thon: Hour 3

Posted by Amanda on April 18, 2009

Well, I am taking a very short break for a moment, just to update things. Reading has been going well so I don’t want to stay away for long.

Title of book(s) read since last update: The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick
Number of books read since you started: Still working on the first one.
Pages read since last update: 100
Running total of pages read since you started: 100
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 1 hr 25 m
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 1 hr 25 m

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Read-A-Thon: It begins!

Posted by Amanda on April 18, 2009

deweys-readathonbuttonWell, here we are at the beginning of the Read-A-Thon and since I was able to make it to the library after work yesterday, I have two extra books from which to choose. At the moment, my pile consists of: The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick – It is a Christian romance which means extra fluffy and something easy to read so I will probably start with that. Sleeping Arrangements by Madeline Wickham – Wickham is a pseudonym for Sophia Kinsella, author of Remember Me? and The Undomestic Goddess, both of which I enjoyed. It is chick-lit, so more fluff, which is perfect when you are hoping to read for approximately 24 hours… Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – One of those classics that also happens to be fairly short. A Tale of a Tub by Jonathon Swift – Another short classic. I get to read something quickly and still feel a sense of accomplishment for having read it. Score! Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers – The third of the Lord Peter Whimsy mysteries. They are quite wonderful and rather short (can you see a theme emerging?) and I have been trying to slowly read all of them. Well, there are five books, which I am sure is more than I will accomplish, especially considering I will have to disappear in the middle for a dinner with some friends. If I find that none of them are working for me, I will pull something else from my TBR pile but this is what I am planning on at the moment.

As for the Introduction meme:

Where are you reading from today? I am mostly reading in my room where I live with my grandmother. If the weather is nice like it was yesterday, I may end up migrating outside for a while but we will wait until later for that one.

3 facts about me… 1) I am 23 years old. 2) I was once a student pilot for hot air balloons but I never took the time to study. 3) I majored in International Relations in college.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? As I said above, I have about five books that are on my short list but I can also add any of the books from my regular TBR pile… I do also have an audio book for when I have to do something – it is a copy of The Kite Runner.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? I think I would be happy if I read at least 3 books, but really I am just happy to be participating again. I would also like to see how long I can stay up but considering I never even pulled a full all-nighter in college, I am not holding out much hope.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time? Have fun! Make sure you are enjoying this as it is not supposed to be some lesser form of torture. Also, stay hydrated – water! Too much coffee will just make you jittery.

Now, on to the reading!

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Sign me up!

Posted by Amanda on April 15, 2009

deweys-readathonbuttonSo if you listen to the book blogging world at all, you have probably heard of the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon that a very cool lady by the name of Dewey came up with. During my previous blogging attempt, I actually participated in one of her Read-A-Thons (hereafter referred to as the RAT) and some awesome people have decided to keep the RAT alive in honor of Dewey. This Saturday, April 18th, at 1 GMT, or 8 am for me, the book blogging community will be courting sleep deprivation and lots and lots of books. So, I am signing up. I don’t expect to actually stay awake the whole time. I will be realistic and I don’t have the ability to do that – I didn’t even do that in college. Further, I will actually have to leave at one point for a previous engagement in the evening but other than that, I will be keeping my nose in the books all day with a bunch of other book blogging people and having a great time doing it.

As far as a reading list goes, anything in my TBR pile is fair game and I will also see if I can get a membership in the local library in time. I just moved here and so I still have to find the time when I am not at work and the library is actually open in order to get any books from there. Either way, I have no idea what I am going to read but we will come to that on Saturday.

I will also have to drop by the grocery store and grab some small snacks for me to munch on while I am reading. Hmmm… Lots to do but I am totally looking forward to it! See you then!

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Posted by Amanda on April 13, 2009

ivan

My grandmother has this one used book store that she have been going to for the last couple decades. She goes there regularly and she has brought me there a few times. Each time, I find myself in the classics section because there are so many books there that I can never find in a normal bookstore. I found The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe there and nearly started jumping up and down. I also found some of Solzhenitsyn’s work, which I have been interested in ever since one of my early college classes. At that point, I gave in and selected One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch.

One Day is exactly that: one day in the life of a man in the Soviet Gulag, from the early hours of the morning, through the day at the job, till the final lights out. The reader sees Ivan Denisovitch’s life and how the men there struggled with their circumstances and their fellow men to survive.

I have to say, this book was amazing in it’s simplicity. It was rather short but you saw so much. Solzhenitsyn presents this day as a normal day for Ivan Denisovitch but that normalcy is rather devastating to think about. I suppose the proper word is stark, however overused that term may be.

This was one of the books I really just consumed. I read it very quickly and though I don’t think it is quite right to say that I enjoyed a book about a man’s life in the gulag, I think you will understand me if that is the term I use. I also enjoyed this book for it’s historical messages and for the idea of what could happen when the circumstances found in Soviet Russia are set in motion. Simply, a powerful book and one that I think people should read.

2009-14

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Blindness by Jose Saramago

Posted by Amanda on April 6, 2009

blindness1Wow. I am not sure what else you can really say to this book. I had heard a few people talk about Blindness, a book by Jose Saramago, and then it was on the Guardian list. Finally, I found a copy and found out that it also won the Nobel Prize for Literature so I was really looking forward to this book, even though the general idea behind the story is rather frightening.

In this book, a man is driving home one day when he is struck by a sudden blindness: he sees only a milky whiteness. His wife takes him to the ophthalmologist, who is not sure what is wrong with him.   That night, the doctor and several of the other patients who were in the waiting room also go blind and so the government reacts swiftly in an attempt to quarantine the afflicted, trying to protect the rest of society.  When the doctor is taken to an old mental asylum, where they are to be quarantined, the doctor’s wife pretends to be blind so that she can stay with her husband and we see the book through her eyes. What follows in the story of how those quarantined in the asylum react and deal with the circumstances they have found themselves in.

A small element that initially concerned me was Saramago’s writing style. Saramago doesn’t seem to like short sentences. In fact, he has the huge long sentences everywhere and no quotation marks, which can make it difficult to figure out who is speaking. For example:

Once inside the building, the blind man said, Many thanks, I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused you, I can manage on my own now, No need to apologise, I’ll come up with you, I wouldn’t be easy in my mind if I were to leave you here. They got into the narrow elevator with some difficulty, What floor do you live on, On the third, you cannot imagine how grateful I am, Don’t thank me, today it’s you, Yes, you’re right, tomorrow it might be you.

These are actually some of the shorter sentences but as you can see, it isn’t your typical writing style. I thought it would bother me, but I suppose one gets used to the sytle one is reading after a while and I had very few problems, though I did have a hard time figuring out who was speaking in some of the conversations.

I feel that I should also warn you that parts of this story are truly horrifying, even more so because Saramago paints a very realistic portrait of the darker side of humanity. Lost in blindness, what would happen when you bunch everyone together? Lost in fear for a disease that takes your sight without the least of warnings, how would humanity react? How will those who can exert power use that power? The answers that Saramago presents are very easy to believe and terrible in that reality. Bad things happen to good people and bad people alike and Saramago makes you think.

Part of me would like to recommend this book because it is great writing and truly thought-provoking – it is a story that reveals one view of humanity and brings up all the emotions that Saramago seems to have been seeking. Much of this book was very touching. Still, the picture he paints is not one that everyone can deal with and I nearly set the book down for good at several points. My point: beware and think carefully before you pick this book up. It has many things to recommend it but whether those outweigh the terrors – that is up to you.

Other (better-written) reviews:
Shelf Love
Gaskella
Book-a-holic
Hey Lady!
books i done read

2009-19

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The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh

Posted by Amanda on April 3, 2009

thelovedoneWaugh is one of those classic authors I have heard quite a bit about, even before the recent remake of his most famous book, Brideshead Revisited. I have heard many people say he was a great author, though I can’t seem to remember who any of them were. Anyway, many of his books are also on the Guardian list and so when I saw The Loved One in the used book store my grandmother loves so much, I figured ‘why not?’

The Loved One… Well, I find it difficult to say what this book is about. I suppose the plot mainly revolves around Dennis Barlow, a young Brit who aspires to be a poet but has not been able to write since he arrived in Hollywood. Now, he has taken a job at the Happy Hunting Grounds, a place where you can have your dearly departed pet buried in proper fashion, with a coffin and a minister and all the trappings. When Dennis’s friend commits suicide after losing his job at a production studio, Dennis finds himself at Whispering Glades, a funeral parlour catering to the wealthy, and meets Aimee, a cosmetician he becomes interested in.

I am not really sure how to approach this book. It was well-written and darkly humerous but rather odd. Whispering Glades is practically a monument to death and several of the people who work there seem to be fascinated with the place, far beyond the normal feelings toward a job. I couldn’t really identify with a couple of the characters. Further, there were abrupt jolts in time – for several chapters, we are closely following Dennis as he prepares for the funeral of his friend and suddenly, we are six weeks past the funeral. I suppose part of my hesitation regarding this book is the manner in which it ends. It is rather like going on a journey and when you get to the end, you look back at where you’ve been and wonder how you got there and what the point was. Not exactly like that but I just have the sense of “wait – what just happened here?”

I hope you don’t take this to mean that I disliked the book. I am just unsure of what to think about it, which I suppose is okay. Then again, this has been happening a lot lately and so I wonder if I am looking too deeply into books for something that is not there to find in the first place. Either way, this was a decent classic – not the best I have ever read, but then have my partialities – and I will probably read more of Waugh before making any serious judgment regarding his work.

2009-17

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