• Books

    Through the Children’s Gate by Adam Gopnik

    Paris to the Moon is one of my favourite memoirs about a place so I was quite excited to read this book on New York before my trip.

    I found this book difficult to get into. I really like Gopnik when he is being very personal about himself and family. The first two chapters did not have much about them. The personal stories intertwined with life and observations about New York are the best ones.

    This book covered September 11th, 2011 as well, and it probably has a lot about the early aftermath mood of the city. As always Gopnik offers a lot of history of the place, but also observations about life. After witnessing a proposal at Rockfeller Plaza:

    I love you forever really means Just trust me for now, which is all it ever means, and we just hope to keep renewing the ‘now,’ year after year. – p. 154

    I am glad I read it mostly after my trip. I always feel more connected to a setting in books when I am in those locations or just after. Even though this book was written more than ten years ago, a lot of the work still applies and it’s funny to read about the fads and trends of children a decade ago.

    There were a couple of chapters that I did not feel engaged with, but overall, I thought it was a nice personal memoirs and one about New York.

    Read July 8-28, 2013.

  • Books

    Sunday Salon: Return to Routine

    Sunday Salon

    Hello, world! It’s good to be back and blogging.

    It’s a rainy Sunday which is great for a day at home reading, writing and relaxing. I’ve been very busy since I got back from my holiday in NY. I still haven’t gone through all my 1000 photos. I forgot how daunting it is to go through so many photos.

    I am still reading Adam Gopnik’s Through the Children’s Gate. It’s going much more slowly than I thought. I hope to finish it today and move onto something else tomorrow.

    This past week, I have been recovering and shopping too much. July has been a shopping month for me. I tend to be a binge shopper so hopefully August will have a bit of a reprieve. I am drafting up blog posts for the future, but not so much about books, more so about stationary.

    I was reading a lot before my trip and now I’ve lost some momentum in the last two weeks. I hope I can balance my responsibilities, social life, and the hobbies again. Does coming back from a trip do that to you too?

    July has been a good month, and I’m optimistic for the end of the summer. I hope to run again soon and read even more.

    Have a great week!

  • Books

    Booking Through Thursday – Moving

    What kind of moving experiences have you had with your books? (Or, just in general if you’ve got good Moving Day stories–and who doesn’t?) Did having to pack and move your books cause any changes in your book-collecting habits? Make you wish you had everything on an e-reader? Feel free to discuss! (grin) – BTT

    Since I’ve had to move internationally a couple times, I can say that moving with books is not easy. The first time I move back to Canada from abroad, I actually saved some of my things with a friend including about 5-10 books. In the end, I only brought back one of the books and it was the heaviest: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I was taught a good lesson with that as I am still sad that I had to give up those books which I hadn’t even read yet. The second time I lived abroad, I was lucky to have access to two subscription libraries so I only bought a couple of books and gave them away.

    All of this moving did teach me that A) Books are heavy, B) Books are difficult to give up, and C) I should get an e-reader which is what I did after the second move. I really like my Kindle a lot. I don’t use it very much because I’ve been able to stay in one place for the last couple of years and use a library. Worse, I’ve actually accumulated more books than I could possibly imagine. I think I have a hundred books now, and it’s going to be a headache when I inevitably move again. I’ll cross that bridge later.

    Hey, everyone! I am back from my holiday but I’ve been very busy. I have not been reading. I didn’t do so on my trip either. Furthermore, the trip was tiring and I have to go through my hundreds of photos. I did some bookish things though and I’ll try to read at least one book this weekend so I can blog more regularly again.

    Have a great weekend!

  • Books

    The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux

    I enjoyed Theroux’s Dark Star Safari some years ago. Whenever I encounter his travel writing, I do like it. I don’t always necessarily share all his political views on Africa, but he does have some valid concerns with foreign aid. I really like his writing because he is a traveler and has an exploratory spirit.

    He was 70 when he did this tour which is probably his last travel of Africa. This last travelogue has him travelling through South Africa, Namibia, a bit of Botswana, and finishing it Angola. He writes about how Africa has changed in the fifty years since he first stepped on the continent.

    The book has a fascinating anthropological bent especially when discussing the Bushmen of Namibia. Africa is not always a happy or light topic. Theroux is an honest and candid author this way, but this book was a bit dispiriting at times. After he reached the almost inhospitable Angola, Theorux would ask himself “What am I doing here?” Not a question any traveller should ask themselves often when travelling really.

    Overall, I would recommend Theroux’s writing to someone who really wants to read about contemporary Africa. It may not be an easy read, but his experiences on the road says a lot about the continent world. It definitely speaks more than the news (or lack there of) we get about it.

    Read July 6-7 2013.

  • Books,  Food

    Cooked by Michael Pollan

    I was excited for this book because I was a big fan of Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Pollan and I have a similar view and philosophy regarding food. In this book, he explores the history that humans have with four processes of cooking: roasting meat (fire), boiling/braising (water), baking bread (air), and fermentation (earth).

    I loved this book at its introduction:

  • Books

    Sunday Salon: Holiday Prep

    Sunday Salon

    Hello, everyone!

    This week, I posted my review for Son by Lois Lowry and read Cooked by Michael Pollan (review up tomorrow). I started Paul Theroux’s The Last Train to Zona Verde yesterday and will finish it up today so I can start Adam Gopnik’s Through the Children’s Gate.

    It’s been hot and humid these last couple of days. I’m not working these days which is not ideal, but I have free time. I am also going to on holiday to New York City later this week. The blog will be a bit slow in for the next two weeks. I doubt I will be reading much on holiday.

    I’ll be taking a lot of photos. I also bought the NY City Pass which means hitting up to 4 museums on my fiveish days in the city. I’ll be catching up with an old friend in the hot NY summer. I don’t think I’ll be eating or sleeping very much. I also have to be careful because of the urges to shop.

    This holiday is necessary. I have not traveled on my own in three years.

    Will you be going anywhere this summer?

  • Books

    Son by Lois Lowry

    I studied The Giver in school. I really liked it, and have since read the sequels, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and now, Son. I was not as impressed with the sequels as I was with The Giver. I still think that is one of the best Young Adult books from the late twentieth century. I fondly remember the moment when Jonas the learns about the colour red.

    I’d forgotten a lot of the previous two books when I started Son, and I liked that this last instalment of the series goes back to the original community. I liked the protagonist Claire, and the moments of maternal love were very moving. Lois Lowry lost her own son, and this yearning for him comes through Claire. I like Lowry’s style which is simple, but still expressive. She is a story teller.

    I am not completely in love with this Quartet though, and it’s become increasingly supernatural with most of the characters displaying powers. This is fine except it it’s hard to balance with the focus on dystopian culture. I understand why there is an element of Good vs. Evil, but at the same time, I wish the books were more analytical about the nature of human authority. In any case, this is a rather minor quibble since I was satisfied with the ending.

    This is a good end to the Quartet overall, but I do think that it is not necessary to read the sequels as The Giver is in itself, a great stand alone novel.

    Read July 1, 2013.

  • Books

    Classics Club July 2013 Meme

    What classic book has changed your view on life, social mores, political views, or religion? The Classics Club

    This is a difficult question to answer. I am definitely moved and affected by books. I am not sure if it necessary changes my view on things as in they give me epiphanies. They certainly make me appreciate life much more.

    There is one classic that does come to mind:

    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: I am not sure if it was just the time, but when I read this at 14, something changed in the way I saw literature. It felt that I had reached a turning point in my reading life and this novel marked it. I fell in love with Russian Literature with this book, and for a few years, I had a dream of learning Russian just to read it. I had been moved before this book, but it felt like I was growing up when I read this book.

    There are more books out there, and more authors who have affected me just as much, but this post would be a bit too long if that were the case.

    Have a good week!

  • Books,  Movies

    On the Road by Jack Kerouac

    This is one of those novels that seemed almost like nonfiction. It is based on Kerouac’s actual journeys across America so a lot of it was probably real. The inconsistency and wildness seemed too strange to be fiction at times. I don’t know what is fact and what is fiction.

    I liked Kerouac’s style early on. Sal the protagonist is observant, perceptive and largely optimistic about life. The novel is set in a time just right after the war and even with all the drug use, sex, and madness, there is a certain innocence of America in that time. It was before the Cold War became central, the 1960s, Vietnam and the turbulent decades for America’s loss of innocence.

    It took me longer than read this book. I was a bit stuck one third and half way through the book because while many things do happen in the book, there isn’t a formal plot per se. It meanders with vignettes which did not make me likely to pick it up.

    The use of stream of consciousness increased in the book as well. There were times when I felt things were getting worse as the book wore on. There were the same adventures over and over. Sometimes, it felt sadder by the chapter.

    The end with Mexico was interesting though, and in general, I liked Kerouac’s writing. I would read his works again.

    Read June 23-30 2013.

    On the Road (2012)