Month: June 2013

Sunday Salon

Happy weekend, everyone! Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians for tomorrow!

This week, I have not been reading much. I’m still working on On the Road. It has taken me awhile; I like the style, but the lack of cohesive plot or direction has made me unlikely to pick it up. I’ve been stuck at the halfway point for a few days now. I hope to finish it today maybe?

In other news, I went strawberry picking this week, but I don’t think I will be able to make much jam this summer. 🙁

Lots of reading ahead though!

The topic of abandoning books has come up on GoodReads a bit the last week.
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Is a book a classic when no one has heard of it? I looked on Goodreads and reportedly only about 55 people have rated/read it on that website. A classic should not defined by notoriety, but by its relevance over time. Does this book warrant that title?

I added this book to my Classics Club selection and my Spin List. I had bought it at least four or five years ago at a used book fair. It was only $1 and it was a well made little book that came with a dust jacket. The book was originally published in 1919, authored by someone I had never heard of, but I really bought because the binding was so lovely. It didn’t look like anyone had read more than once if at all.

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Sunday Salon

Hello, everyone!

It’s been a tiring week for me, but I managed to read a couple of books: Stoner by John Williams, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell, and William – An Englishman by Cicely Hamilton (review up tomorrow).

Yesterday, I also started Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. If I manage to finish that, I want to start J. K. Rowling’s Casual Vacancy.

The weather has been fairly nice this week up until rain yesterday, but I was tired and sluggish most of the week so I haven’t run since Wednesday. Hopefully, I can do my usual 7km today and then have a nice long sleep before my last week of this job. I’m excited as I bought my ticket to New York this week as well.

In other bookish news, all the books I bought last week are in a giant pile by my library books. I have these piles on the floor by my desk because I lack space. I’ve had to put some of my read novels in my clothing closet since I have no book shelf space for them anymore.

What happens when you run out of space for books? Do they pile out around you?

If you like books and bookstores, you should read this. It’s funny.

Ok, a more proper review then: As someone who has worked in retail or customer service, none of this stuff surprises me. People often live in their own bubbles which can show how ignorant and sadly entitled they are. Both the “Parents” and “Customers Behaving Badly” section of this book shows that. There is something depressing stuff about society in here. All we can do is better customers ourselves, and laugh about these unique moments in time:
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Nick Hornby wrote that this was one of the best novels he had read in the last few years. Originally published in 1965 and reissued in 2006, this novel is the story of a man who becomes a Professor of English at the University of Missouri. It recounts his whole life.

I understand why Hornby loves this book. For readers who liked Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, this is very similar. Both are about undistinguishable men from the midwest with simple lives and backgrounds. Both novels are quiet and filled with instropection. They are both very well written.

The prose is strangely dense. It’s a small novel, but it does not seem anything is wasted. It’s a simple story of an ordinary man told well. It’s not a particularly happy story either, but it’s not a roller coaster of events. I found it engrossing in its way.

Most of the book is actually a bit sad from today’s modern perspective. Professor William Stoner is not close to his family, marries a woman who does not love him, and has a career which is stunted by personal politics. When the novel reaches its most passionate and sensual point, it is lovely:

“That the person one loves first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another.” (p. 194)

Still, this not an exciting or particularly vibrant novel in the conventional sense. There is definitely a dignity about the protagonist. I really liked the prose.

I would not say I love this book as much as Gilead though. While realistic, the conflict in the English Department felt a bit contrived. It seemed by that point in the novel, not a lot was going well for the Professor.

All in all, a lovely novel that should be more widely read especially by those of us who like literary fiction.

Read June 15-16, 2013.

Sophie Kinsella is one of my favourite chick lit authors. That’s not a large niche because I don’t read that much chick lit. Still, I’ve enjoyed most of her novels even though her characters embarass themselves a lot mostly through lying.

This novel had more characters than the typical Kinsella book, and the two women narrate the story. It’s interesting because it gives perspectives on some intimate relationships. It is the theme for all the characters that they have to be reminded by others about taking things too far. It’s a story about seeing yourself objectively.

I realized during this book that here is a lack of women of colour in Kinsella’s novels. I am not sure why it took almost ten of her books for me to realize, but perhaps those other ones distracted me long enough to realize it.

This book did drag for me a bit. I thought the slapstick antics were too much even if I did laugh during the couples quiz. While I found the female characters the same as her other books, foolish but still relatable, it got a bit too much for me. I just thought it could have been cut down by about fifty pages.

I like the fact there was more than one ending because of the larger cast of characters. I hope Kinsella does that again, but I also felt the men were short-changed as a result. Kinsella can write some amusing leading men, but not enough of them here though.

I’ll read Kinsella again, but I do not think this was one of her better novels.

Read June 15 2013.

Sunday Salon

Hello, everyone!

It’s been a bookish week for me. I read finished four books this week: Unnatural Creatures stories selected by Neil Gaiman, Soulless vol. 2 by Gail Carriger and REM, Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger, and Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella (review up tomorrow). I also bought some books.

It’s used book sale season! Even though I made a resolution to not buy any more books with one exception, I still had to hit my favourite used book sale yesterday and one last thursday. I went looking for the exception: food and cookbooks. In addition to seemingly collect yarn, pens, and paper, I’ve been building a big cookbook collection the last two years. As well as cookbooks, I was looking for any travel books.

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I’m still not quite sure if I really like the works of Audrey Niffenegger. I read The Time Traveler’s Wife as many others did which I found fine. I read Three Incestuous Sisters as a result and found myself more indifferent to her work. I do appreciate the use of art and writing together.

This is basically an adult picture book except not inappropriate or gratuitous. It’s still strange because it features a man and a raven whom fall in love and their resulting daughter. I actual don’t mind this oddity, rather like this strangeness and the art that goes with it. The ending felt a bit abrupt though. I did like it overall better than the last Niffenegger graphic book, but not a classic by any means.

Read June 14, 2013.

This steampunk and urban fantasy series is great in manga form. So fun and in many ways, even more hilarious and better than the books since it’s done in this style. I hope this series is popular in Japan too because it definitely would have a market there.

The exaggerated expressions and face sweats are typical manga form, but there is also a restraint it in because this is still an action series. I’m enjoying this manga more than I thought. I think people who have not read the books would like them as well as it misses very few details. It even adds many not shown in the book for comic effect.

Fun manga and graphic novel series.

Read June 12-13, 2013.

Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors alive today. He writes stories and has an imagination that touches and enthralls me. He also has excellent taste in short stories.

In this collection, he curates some wonderful supernatural stories. He wrote one of them, but this collection of stories includes authors from the modern day and the early twentieth century. I liked that variety.

I liked almost every one of the sixteen stories featured. I think I was only indifferent or very bored with a couple of them, but that’s a high number for me. It’s difficult to get this much quality. Some of them are quite clever. Several are pure escapism.

I really enjoyed this collection.

Read June 9-11th 2013.

I am going through my Sedaris kick especially his audiobooks. It’s rather difficult to review his books and essays as you either get his sense of humour or you don’t. This one is even more family oriented than the others of his I have read. I’m actually less partial to his family stories, but they are still amusing and elicit some gems.

I do laugh while listening to his essays. He is a great reader. One of my favourites was “Six to Eight Black Men” which Sedaris performed live. I always like listening to live things and it feels you’re laughing along to others. I just think I like listening to other people’s laughs.

Sedaris is a strange man who has an interesting mind. He writes things which most people would not ever put to words or speaking, but I often suspect we all have strange tendencies. It’s a quirky way of looking at people and the innate humour of life.

Listened to on audiobook June 5-9, 2013.

This is my new favourite show of the past TV year.

Ten reasons why I love it, in no particular order (no major spoilers):
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