Posts Tagged ‘reading 2008’

Still on last year’s books…

Friday, 5 February 2010

Of course, by this date in 2008 I was nearly up to this number already, and here in February 2010 that’s the book number from 2009 I’m up to discussing. Just to confuse things nicely…

58. Hooked for Life: Adventures of a Crochet Zealot by Mary Beth Temple

I’d wanted to get this book since Mary Beth started talking about it on Getting Loopy, and especially since I started hearing good things about it from other crocheters online. I didn’t see my way to getting it until mid-August however, when I came across it in a bookshop while on honeymoon. It was perfect for the short attention spans of honeymoon travelling, as the essays and anecdotes are short, funny, and very true (as a crocheter). It’s a nice quality paperback, too, of a good size for fitting in to hand luggage. Not that that’s among my usual book criteria, but it helped at the time! I read it cover to cover at the time, and likely will again, but it’s also fun to dip into.

59. Fuzzy Bones by William Tuning

This was an alternative end to the Fuzzies trilogy (which I read in total before this one), when it was still thought H. Beam Piper’s original third novel would never be found after his death. It takes quite a different tack from Piper’s, introducing several new characters with outside views of the Fuzzies and what should happen to them from Piper’s Zarathustra humans. Tuning admits far more of the seedier side of life (one of the new characters is introduced in the very first line as a “whore”, although while no-one denies what that means, it isn’t explicitly gone into either) than Piper does, as well as extending his one book over a year or more, where for Piper the whole trilogy takes place over 3-6 months. It definitely works, but I do prefer Piper’s own book.

Stories overlapping and intertwining

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

I’ve just started reading Trinity: a novel of Ireland by Leon Uris, as I finished The Professor and the Madman this morning, and this was one my DH expressed an interest in my opinion of. I’ve seen novels by Uris before, but not read any of them. At the moment this is sharing the opening set-piece of Dubliners: the wake of an old man, respected in the community (if not by all), as viewed by a young boy connected to his family. I haven’t got far enough in it to say more than that as yet. Already, though, it’s got my DH and I discussing Irish history again, which is never a bad thing.

Still, if I’m to get to even having read a quarter of last year’s total books (320), I do need to get a move on, as I’m at precisely a fifth (64) today. Not that anyone besides me does or should care about that…

37. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling

I believe I was given one copy of this and offered two or three more. Not sure if this says more about me or the book (I was being offered once read copies, where the purchaser thought it unlikely they’d reread the book). It is perhaps more of a book of children’s fairy tales than might be expected from Hermione’s fascination with it in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but for those who enjoyed the Harry Potter series in its totality it’s certainly worth reading once, and for more than the sake of completeness.

38. Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

After 2008′s reading of the original American version, this was me going back through the series as I knew it originally. As I pointed out then, they are only fractionally different. I still love the story and the writing in this series, but on this reread I was getting disturbed by the huge amount of violence (sexual and non) within the books, so it may be awhile till I go back to them, presuming I do. I haven’t even got hold of or read An Echo in the Bone (the newest book, which came out this September just gone) because of this.

39. What Diantha Did by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I listened to this back to back with Mr Hogarth’s Will, as described two days ago, and since they have some overlapping themes I thought I was going to get them thoroughly mixed up, but I think I have them more distinct now than I did at the time!

Unlike Mr Hogarth’s nieces, who are educated to provide for themselves, and then turfed out to do so, Diantha has to do a lot of persuading of her family that she be allowed to try so to do (so far so like Agnes Grey), especially since she has a young man desperate to marry and look after her (so not like any book I’ve come across before the current generation). This is a clever, practical, principled young woman with her own plan of action, to benefit many women young and old, who will not be deterred from her path, especially by those she loves.

40. Posing for Portrait Photography: a head-to-toe guide by Jeff Smith

One of those random books I read for work, but I like to think it has and will help in my snapping, even though it’s decidedly written for those in or going into professional portrait photography. (I did some ‘proper photography’ courses in school, after learning a lot from my father, but these day I use an automatic digital camera mostly to record my crochet here and on Ravelry, and otherwise to snap pics of friends, family, and touristy stuff.)

Oh, and while I’m discussing improving photography skills, I just came across a really interesting photography blog. It is aimed towards proper photography, but those of us trying to get beyond ‘just snaps’ (again) can learn and be inspired too.

Between two lists

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Well, I’ve the first book of 2009 to report on, and I still haven’t finished the ones from 2008.

1. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon

It’s a bit of a cheat, since the first of 2009 is actually a reread of one from 2008 (last March, so not that recent), which I can’t do better than explain as I did on the Outlander board over at Ravelry:

I just reread Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (we were going to go to Coram’s Fields and the Foundling Museum, and I thought I’d share the bit about Dr Rigby’s Foundling Hospital – thankfully I skimmed it first and didn’t, as that is not a chapter to read out of context – suffice it (for those who’ve read the book) to say that that’s the chapter directly after the one entitled “Finally”, but anyhow I then reread the whole book) and noticed even more sly references to modern culture. There’s the obvious “She ain’t heavy, she’s his sister”, but has anyone else felt shades of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride from the last scene in the regimental offices?

Oh well, I definitely was going to reread stuff from last year (I’m just impressed at how this whole thing stopped me – mostly – from rereading stuff within 2008), so I might as well be upfront about it from the beginning.

And now to confuse you, let’s skip back and do some more of the last of 2008:

314. Transfused With Hope by B. Berger

This genre within Jewish non-fiction of inspirational biographies of families dealing with severe medical issues seems to be increasingly popular, but thankfully also increasingly well-written. It certainly inspired me to go back to my platelets donation (I’d only missed one month, but still!) even from the beginning (I finished the book during my session).

315. In the Dark by Deborah Guttentag

Another newly published book from the Orthodox Jewish publishers, but this is different from any I’ve read before, and very good. It kept me guessing right till near the end (some of my early guesses turned out to be right, but I couldn’t tell that for sure for a long time). The plot doesn’t always move along as fast as one might expect, but in many ways that adds to the realistic feeling.

316. Elephants on Acid by Alex Boese

I picked this up as a Chanuka present for my brother on the way to meet up with him, dipping into several chapters in the shop, and then sneakily going back to the beginning and reading it cover to cover very carefully indeed so I could still give it to him in pristine condition a few days later! It’s both amusing and thought-provoking (which I prefer to ‘educational’, as that could mean almost anything), and includes the classic horrific psychological experiments that went wrong, like the Stanford Prison experiment, as well as plenty of bizarre scientific experiments I never had. (All of the experiments included were written up as peer-reviewed studies.) People’s curiosity does lead them some strange places…

317. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I picked this one up at the same time as the Elephants above, after reading the comments of several school librarians on how popular they are with teenage girls, and discussions on the series’ actual merits. The nature of these discussions left me remarkably unspoilered, so I basically only knew it was a teen romance involving vampires, that apparently suggests sex should only take place within marriage.

Anyway, it was far better than I expected from that introduction, and I went straight out and got the other three in the series (so nice to come to a complete series, and not have to wait!). They’re not high literature, but I did find them thought provoking, and a step up in my reading mood from wallowing in classic children’s books I’ve read dozens of times before. You’ll see do I read them again anytime soon, however…

318. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Probably my least liked of the series, because depression is not a fun read, and it takes up a lot of the book.

319. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Hm, I liked New Moon least, but I can’t really remember what happened in Eclipse… (I lent the books on, so can’t remind myself.)

320. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

So no sex before marriage, then, but once marriage takes place, why think of anything else unless it’s life-threatening?

300!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Well, I’ve made it, and any more books I add to the list are now bonuses. Maybe we can aim for 365 (not a leap year) in 2009. Or perhaps I should just do a bit more work on the masters instead…

I haven’t even told you that Reginald and Holzmichel (the latest Travelling Teddies) have been here a week already, because I can’t show them to you. I’d be less frustrated by this if there were actually something wrong with the camera, and it wasn’t that I’ve still not found the charging cable…

Anyway, this is about the books:

296. Into the Fire by Miriam Walfish

In World War I East End London, a group of Orthodox Jewish boys about to be conscripted decide to join up together as a group of Pals, who could thus stay together and support each other religiously through their training and service. We are reminded that these are just boys by the other plot about an orphaned child in Salonika, who despite the war wants to make his way to England where his only surviving relatives live.

297. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

I was actually disappointed by this classic. One of my main childhood memories of the long car journies to and from my grandparents during the December school holidays is always stopping in the same village, and going to the same craft shop, where they always had a video of Disney’s film of Pinocchio playing, over and over again. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it from start to finish, but I must have seen all of the scenes many times. So, I thought it would be good to read the original now. (To be fair, the original is in Italian, and this edition doesn’t even say who their translator was, so it’s possible the adaptation is responsible for some of the faults I’m about to describe. If I’d enjoyed it more, I might try reading one of the English translations on Project Gutenberg, but I amn’t inspired enough to do that now.)

I think the main thing that annoyed me is the lack of continuity. The first example of this I noted (and one of the slightest) is that near the beginning we’re told Pinocchio doesn’t have ears; a few pages later his smile is so wide it reaches his ears, and then a few chapters later he’s being pulled along by his ears. The timeframes mentioned don’t match up either. I suppose a lot of this has to do with Collodi having (according to the Wikipedia link about him above) originally published this as a newspaper serial, and honestly, it reads like an oral saga, where the individual tales all concern the same characters, and interrelate, but were never really meant to all be told together, or be held to each other’s details.

But this may be a rare case of the film being better than the original book, and I don’t plan on seeing the film to check does it live up to my memories!

298. The Midnight Fox by Betsy Byars

This book, about the quiet indoor son of two very outdoorsy parents, who is sent to stay on his aunt and uncle’s farm while his parents go on a cycling holiday, and hates it until he comes across a rare black fox, made me think of another childhood memory, but this time a book I read over and over. A Family of Foxes, by Eilís Dillon, first taught me that foxes come in colours other than red and tells of some far more hardy island boys from a place where the phrase “cute as a fox” is only negative (meaning “cunning”, not “sweet”!). In both books the boys attempt to protect the unusual foxes from adult detection and thus slaughter, and have to overcome moral quandaries to do so. I think I still prefer my childhood read, but this one is good too.

299. A World of a Difference by Elisheva Mintzburg

This is a really well-written autobiography (although I believe the names have been changed for privacy), and a very interesting tale. The author describes her life, and how she came to convert to Judaism, with the steps along the way. She explains the steps and qualms along the way, and how this was right for her, with the help and the hindrances she received.

300. King of the Cloud Forests by Michael Morpurgo

And number 300. I had always thought of Morpurgo as a writer of realist fiction, but here he verges onto the fantastic, and perhaps because it isn’t what I had expected from him, I wasn’t as convinced as I might have been. The beginning made me expect one set of issues, but then that really wasn’t what the book ended up being about at all. So not my favourite of his canon, but it won’t put me off reading others.

Just Because…

Friday, 4 January 2008

It’s my first week blogging, so I thought I’d keep up having at least one post per day. Still no sign of my new power cable.

I didn’t finish another book yesterday, either (and doubt I will today), but I am resolved that at least one book out of every five should be a Jewish book of some kind (this might or might not include those I read specifically for work, which will, though, make the list), and that I’m going to try harder to commit to reading only (okay mostly) those on Shabbos.

I did get further with Selected Poems by James Fenton while walking to the shops yesterday, however, and he’s inspired me to find some time to learn about Cambodia. That won’t be now! I hadn’t really heard of him before I picked up the book in the airport Borders on Monday, but I really enjoyed the poem on the random page I opened, so it went onto the book token! I have gone through poetry anthologies cover to cover before, but it isn’t what I usually do. (Things like Ffangs The Vampire Bat and the Kiss of Truth aren’t anthologies, after all.)

The coursework isn’t going so well, unfortunately.

Good Shabbos!

Spending my days too lazily

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

I’ve got ahead of the days in my housemate’s Chanuka present to me, and made a sample clothcrocheted cotton cloth from ten of the first twelve days in 365 Crochet Stitches A Year Perpetual Calendar by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss. This has also used up 1.5 of the 3.5 balls of white Debbie Bliss cotton DK I had.

Last night I spent working and reading, more than today, and I’ve taken pictures of some bookpiles for you:

  • some of my December readsDecember reads
  • current reads (that do lie by my pillow all night, yes)bedtime reading
  • books from my mother that I expect to readtbr
  • gift books that are unlikely to be read cover to cover, and thus probably won’t make it onto the reading 2008 listbooks for consulting

The first book of 2008

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

And it’s

  1. The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney,

which is a nice little children’s book, and one of four new acquisitions yesterday, from the book tokens my mother sent for my birthday a few weeks ago. (I also got Elizabeth Gaskell‘s Cranfordrecovered from the recent television series, which I saw a little, although not all of – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and the Selected Poems of James Fenton.)

Anyway, Humphrey is a nice little hamster, and a class pet who goes home with different pupils each weekend, solving family problems along the way. In all but one case he does this by methods that a not-so-sentient animal might do by chance, and in that case he isn’t really suspected, so all works out well. I believe there are some sequels already published or on the way, and I might seek them out, from the library at least.

The book is recommended for readers of 7 and up, and I would personally say any child who has or wants a hamster either at home would enjoy it. (Perhaps parents who don’t want to encourage the desire might think again, however!) The responsabilities involved are clearly laid out, but not in an onerous fashion.


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