Month: April 2008

It has been a few years since I read a Shakespeare play. While I have reread one since high school, I have not taken time to read one on my own. I actually miss being taught Shakespeare especially the tragedies where there is so much going on. Othello has high drama, and at first, I liked the Othello character because he seemed innocent, honest, and devoted, but since this is a Shakespearean tragedy, he also has to be in some way foolish and/or mad. He believes too easily that Desdemona is cheating on him; he has some self-hatred and doubt about his love for her as well. The play is rather chaotic with its deceptive machinations by Iago and uncontrolled end, not to mention the narrative’s time issues. Once Othello stops loving Desdemona and thinking the worse of her, it really is the climax and all order seems to go out the door in the scenes that follow:

Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul,
But I do love thee! and when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again.
–Othello, III.iii

Everyone seems to be contradictory or double-sided. Iago is obviously not honest. Othello has integrity and strength in public life or batle, but can not control his jealous and violent rage. Emilia is oblivious to Iago’s nature, but seems to be aware of gender relations and disparities. Desdemona is both faithful and submissive, but at times, independent and lively. Iago is annoying. He’s manipulative, calculating, and is a bit of a loon really. He does all this because he is jealous of Othello; jealousy drives many of the characters in this play. I feel sorry for all those caught in Iago’s web of lies: Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, and even poor stupid Roderigo. Why does he even listen to Iago in the first place? The end left me dissatisfied. Even more than other Shakespeare tragedies I’ve read. Maybe it’s because we do not even see Iago die, but he does not repent or even any suffer weakness. I doubt I will reread this play as much as Hamlet or even King Lear, but I think it would be fantastic to see as a play form. The play is wonderfully dramatic with its jealous and violent characters.

A memoir of Barbara Kingsolver and her family’s attempt of eat food produced by themselves or in their own Virgina neighborhood for a year. This is my first book of Kingsolver’s, and she is intelligible, funny, and educational in this book. I learned quite a lot about gardening, industrial and rural farming, and turkey sex among other things. Self-sufficiency in food has always interested me, so the idea of raising animals for one’s own consumption, making cheese, or having a fertile garden greatly appeals to me. I would highly recommend the book for people interested in changing their lifestyle and food choices to one that is more local and organic. The book has recipes, but it is not a diet book, nor is it preachy. They do provide information about the food industry and the world markets as result which can make you a better consumer in regards to food. This is a food memoir of a family, and there details of family dynamics, travels, and experiences in their new farm life. I particularly enjoyed Kingsolver’s attempts at turkey raising and her daughter’s Lily’s entrepreneurial venture into the egg business. Another enjoyable nonfiction book on food.

I am back to reading again, though the recovery from such a busy two months has not been easy to transition. I’ve been watching more movies lately than reading as a result. I am a bit restless, but I have gotten back to it. I have four books going right now. I’m not usually a book polygamist, but circumstances have let it happened.

I haven’t really read Othello in weeks, and I’m taking a break from Count of Monte Cristo because I had to return the library book. I started Gilead by Marilynne Robinson last Sunday when I was on the road home, but I’m actively reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year in Food Life this weekend.

Food books and memoirs are not foreign to my literary diet, but this is actually my first Kingsolver book. I bought The Poisonwood Bible last November during a book sale, but like many books I own, I have yet to read it. I like her style, though her fiction may be slightly different than her nonfiction. I do enjoy the idea of gardening and having the abilities to produce one’s own food. I share a secret dream of owning chickens for eggs and meat, and of course, a large, varied garden.

I will probably finish the book tomorrow if all goes according to plan, and I want to finish Gilead and Othello before next Sunday as well. When I started Gilead, I was in a vulnerable state, and it very well written. I was easily affected by the prose; it’s interesting how our emotional and literary lives converge. I am not in that same state now, and the words are less impactive as they were when I started. I’ll see how it is when I return to it in a couple of days.

Tina tagged me for this meme:

The rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to Ganns’s blog (he’s the one who tagged me) once you’ve posted your three sentences.

I am using Gilead:

And he looks me right in the face, as though he wants me to know he knows it is a performance and he’s amused by it. I suppose an attempt is a performance, in some sense. But what else can I do?

Feel free to be tagged.

Off I go to read more Kingsolver and maybe take a late afternoon walked. It rained yesterday evening, and while people seek the sun, too many dry April days worried me. Until next week, fellow Salonists.

Literary Links:

The Telegraph’s 50 Best Cult Books

Life changing books from 17 scientists

Frequently asked questions about poetry

100 Best Lines from Novels

Hable con ella (Talk to her) My third Pedro Almodóvar film, and if I haven’t said it before: I really like this guy’s work. Auteurs are interesting and getting rarer. First off, the silent erotic movie scene is one of the weirdest things I have ever watched; it’s pretty great how he put that in the film. As usual, it’s well shot, well written, good soundtrack, and nice performances all around. Javier Cámara plays Beningo with such a soft intensity and even as creepy as he can be, it’s hard not feel sorry for the guy which the performance should take credit for. Now, a big reason I enjoyed the film is because I really adored the Marco character played by Darío Grandinetti. I’m not surprised he’s a Piscean like I am because he cries beautifully and convincingly on screen. He shed tears during so many scenes, and it was not cliched or old at any point. Maybe I just like a man who is can cry because of beauty or memories. I think I developed a small crush on Marco as a result and Grandinetti has this soft intensity about him. It’s too bad he hasn’t worked with Almodóvar again.

More and more, I appreciate Almodóvar’s writing and themes of relationship, women, love, desire, and his eclectic story telling. I really appreciate how slow yet well paced his movies. He takes time to elaborate on extras, secondary characters, and the little moments. For example, he does not cut directly from Marco going to see Beningo at a critical point in the movie, but there are various interactions with secondary characters, seemingly pointless, but wonderfully normal. I have liked all three of his movies I have seen so far, they are all different yet the same. His style is pervasive in them or at least the directorial, acting, and writing quality is high in all. Since I have unintentionally being going backwards in his filmography, my next Almodóvar should be All About my Mother followed by Live Flesh.

Do your reading habits change in the Spring? Do you read gardening books? Even if you don’t have a garden? More light fiction than during the Winter? Less? Travel books? Light paperbacks you can stick in a knapsack?

Or do you pretty much read the same kinds of things in the Spring as you do the rest of the year? – BTT

Generally my reading habits are the same in the sense that the books that are read are usually the same the rest of the year. I do read more once the warm weather starts showing up. Maybe sub-consciously I read more travel books or light paperbacks. Though most of my TBR books are planned months in advance these days. I always read more in the spring and summer than I do in the winter/fall though.

From May to November 2008. Make a list of 10 books you love/like and then pick three to read from the lists of other participants. In making a recommended book list, I avoided books that others have not already suggested. I also tried to go for variety. These are just 10 books I really like, and by no means are definitive.

  1. The Leopard by Giuseppe de Lampedussa
  2. The Complete Maus by Art Spielgman
  3. Howards End by E. M. Forster
  4. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
  5. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  6. The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson
  7. Blindness by Jose Saramago
  8. The Griffin & Sabine Trilogy: Griffin & Sabine/ Sabine’s Notebook/ The Golden Mean by Nick Bantock
  9. Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik
  10. The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Here are some of the books I may read (this list will change as participants come onto the challenge). I listed more than three because y’know how my reading habits are. A few of these have been cross posted from my other challenges too.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (kinda cheating as I’m reading this now)
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Death In Venice by Thomas Mann
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder
March by Geraldine Brooks
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
Random Harvest by James Hilton
Mort by Terry Pratchett

I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word? – BTT

Nowadays, I either look it up or I forget about it. It depends on my mood, how engrossed I am, and how near a computer/dictionary I am. I read at my desk a lot so I end up just looking it up on my Mac’s dictionary program. I like learning new words, but I usually forget to look them up. Sometimes, I can glean their meaning in the text so I don’t really need to look it up. 

Even though I said I was going to be back to regularly scheduled reading this week, I have not been. My honours thesis is behind schedule. I am almost nearly done. So not much reading today. I may read some Othello later this evening. I did read Haruki Murakami’s On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning this morning. I’ve never read any of Murakami’s novels, but I am more interested now.

The week has gone by very quickly mostly because I have a been working, stressed, and productive. It will be good once things start slowing down this week. I have been overloaded for the past month that the transition is going to be a bit odd. I will clean, read some books this week, see friends, maybe watch a couple of films, and knit. Hopefully. I may not be doing the Salon next week because I will be out of town visiting a friend. I am hoping I can at least email a small post to update on my reading.

Literary Links:

110 best books: the perfect library

The New York Books Canon

  • Pick up the nearest book. (I’m sure you must have one nearby.)
  • Turn to page 123.
  • What is the first sentence on the page?
  • The last sentence on the page?
  • Now . . . connect them together….
    (And no, you may not transcribe the entire page of the book–that’s cheating!) – BTT

The closest books to me are my school books, so I reached one inch farther (I have piles and piles of books every) to get my fun reading:

“If my dear love were but the child were state, which die for goodness, who have lived for crime.”

William Shakespeare’s sonnet #124.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Project 24/365 - Groundhog

1. Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times.

No such movie exists. I don’t rewatch movies all that much, and there are a few that I do, but more or less the same amount.

2. Name a movie that you’ve seen multiple times in the theater.

I saw Harry Potter and the Philsopher’s Stone twice because I went with different people. Wasn’t worth it; I don’t want to watch a movie in theatres multiple times again.

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.

There are many, but I still weigh it against the likihood of a bad or boring movie. For dead people, I’ll watch anything Audrey Hepburn. For current ones, I’m inclined to Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Ioan Gruffudd, Daniel Craig, basically half the British actors in the world, and a few others.

4. Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.

Also many: Sienna Miller, Lindsay Lohan, Adam Sandler, Robin Williams (all his new stuff), Nicholas Cage, and to some degree, Keira Knightly though she is unavoidable and picks some good movies.

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.

A friend and I quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail a bit. Otherwise, The Princess Bride.

6. Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.

None. I know a lot of songs, but not all the lyrics to all the songs.

7. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with.

Singin’ in the Rain, Sound of Music, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (well not really), Moulin Rouge (kinda)

8. Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see.

Any movie by Hayao Miyazaki.

9. Name a movie that you own.

Roman Holiday.

Continue reading →

Alas, almost one month of Sundays of me not reading. Though, I will be back on the horse next week. No updates really. I still have been reading Count of Monte Cristo for six weeks in email installments, and I have not touched Othello for two weeks. I know it ruins the purpose of a Sunday Salon wherein I don’t actually read, but I do like blogging and the wonderful visitors I get through the Salon.

Since the discussion last week worked so well, I encountered another topic I would like to pose the Salonists. Recently, I stumbled upon message board postings about visualization. To my surprise some people don’t visualize books or at least not the degree that others do. I think for the most part people do, but this got to me thinking about how each of us visualize the words we read. If the author is not very descriptive, do you fill in the blanks about the characters’ physical looks, locations, etc.? Even if the writer describes something, does your image of the location change? To what degree? Do film or tv adaptations change the way you read books if you’ve seen the movie/know who has been casted? This of course can lead into questions about adaptations and the visuals from your mind: are they usually more or less the same or drastically different than you would have thought/if you made the adaptation?

For my part, I visualize and do feel in blanks. When reading books that have not been adapted or I have not idea of their adaptations, the characters end up looking like no one I know. I rarely put actors in this movie either so many of my characters end up “generic” looking unless they are described as extraordinarily attractive. It does end up like a movie in my head much like the way I dream. I fill the landscape better than I do clothing or style. The fact that I do watch so many films and remember my dreams contribute to easy and vivid visualization of books.

On another topic of books, my friend L and I decided to have a mini book club this summer between the two of us. She is one of the few friends of mine that is an avid reader. As a Classics and Latin student, she’s more advanced than me in classic and ancient works, but I’ve read more contemporary works than she has. Though, we both share similar authors and tastes. In any case, we wanted to read and discuss some books neither of us had read/finished. Yes, as if I don’t have enough books to read with all the challenges going on. Though, most of these books can be cross posted, in one of my challenges, and one of the reasons we selected some of them is because we own most of them. There is no way we are going to go through the list, but I am posting it here for fun.

  • Don Quixote by Cervantes
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report and other stories
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
  • Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
  • Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls
  • Thomas Mann: Death in Venice, The Magic Mountain, other stuff
  • Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  • The Kretuzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Literary Links:

How to Dry a Wet Book

Guys Read – This relates to my post about finding a mate who reads, but this is a site that encourages and support guys reading by giving them suggestions. It’s good if you have little boys who aren’t too keen on reading either.