Saturday, 31 March 2012

seventeen.

Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami (1988)

 “Dance," said the Sheep Man. "Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays. Yougota dance. Don'teventhinkwhy. Starttothink, yourfeetstop. Yourfeetstop,wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, gottakeepthestep. Yougottalimberup. Yougottaloosenwhatyoubolteddown. Yougottauseallyougot. Weknowyou'retired, tiredandscared. Happensoeveryone, okay? Justdon'tletyourfeetstop....Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays.”

 A man is trying to find out the truth about his ex-lover and he goes back to the hotel in Sapporo where they had stayed previously. Only the hotel isn't the same. Instead of the run down small hotel, there is an enormous shiny new hotel. And the staff isn't pleased when he asks about the other hotel.

But one of the receptionists is nice to him, and they become friendly. She also asks him for a favour when he leaves; could he look after a 13 year old girl on the way back to Tokyo? This girl, abandoned by her famous parents, and the man become friends, a friendship that will take them to Hawaii. And as their friendship evolves, the man is still looking for clues about his ex-lover.

Another great book from Murakami! I don't know why I haven't read more Murakami, there are three unread ones in my shelf, but I guess it's good to save some for later. I don't think I really got the end right, but it doesn't matter as the journey there was such a delight to read. 

It is definitely the characters that made this book. He described them so well that they came alive in my head. And yes, the Sheep Man scared the hell out of me.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

sixteen.

the Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo (1831)

 Quasimodo looks more like a monster than a man. After his mother's death he was taken in by the priest of Notre-Dame where he eventually ended up working as the bell ringer, a job which made him deaf. He spends most of his time in the tower, watching down on the streets and people of Paris. He is especially interested in a beautiful young gypsy, la Esmeralda. But his saviour, the priest Claude Frollo, is also in love with the gypsy and he orders Quasimodo to kidnap her. 

This book was a real struggle. It shifts from a very exciting story to long descriptions of architecture, philosophy and so on. Most of these parts I skimmed as I just wanted to finish the book. It is set in the late 1400s, and I wonder why. I also really dislike the way the authors used interrupt the story to address the reader with either a short summary or something off-topic.

I'm sure that I would have loved this story if it had been straight-forward. I kept looking at the progress bar wondering when the story would really get off and I think finally it did after I had read about 60%. And I remember the first 30% were especially terrible. And what worries me more, is that I never connected with the characters, none of them won me over and that's probably one more reason why I didn't like the book.

And I'm also disappointed because I really enjoyed les Miserables when I read that one a couple of years ago.

But at least I can finally cross out another big classic on my 1001 books challenge! If you want to read what others thought of the book, check out Line's 1001 books challenge (in Norwegian).

Sunday, 25 March 2012

week 12.

I didn't read a single page until Friday which is very unusual, and since then I have tried to finish the Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo. But then this weekend turned out a lot more social with sleepovers here and there, so I'm not done.

Tomorrow.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

week 11

It started so well. Finished the Perks of Being a Wallflower on Monday. And then not a single word read since. Why? A hard week with lots of work and still ill. Oh well, better luck next week.

Books I bought
(or not exactly bought as it was the first book in my yearly subscription to & Other Stories)












Next week's plan
Another month's almost gone which means that the Hunchback of Notre-Dame should be read by Sunday for Line's 1001 books reading challenge. So that's the first priority. And then Dance Dance Dance by Murakami. I also want to read some non-fiction so either We Bought a Zoo because the film is out or Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee as we have been working with the American Revolution this week.

Monday, 12 March 2012

fifteen.

the Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999)

"Charlie" has just started high school when he starts writing letters to an unknown person. He is bothered by his mood swings and he is one of the unpopular kids at school and is called a freak by most of his classmates. Then he befriends some older kids and the rest of the school year is a series of high school drama, sex, drugs and rock 'n 'roll. 

Charlie is a bright boy who loves asking questions. His English literature teaches gives him extra books to read and assignments to write and these books influence Charlie a lot. He is also discovering music and films through his new crowd. But Charlie still has his problems with connecting with people and reality and he is trying the best he can to be out there and participate.

I first read this book ten years ago, and I had vague memories about what it was like. And I didn't remember the book 100% correctly, so it was nice to reread it. It inspired me a lot the first time I read it; I bought This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald and really tried to understand it. And this book got me into the Smiths. In retrospect it's fun to discover how many of the other books mentioned I have read and that my friends are as into Rocky Horror Picture Show as Charlie and his friends! But it's still as heartbreaking and tough to read as it was ten years ago.

I'm also curious about the film which will soon be released.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

week 10.

You'd think that a week spent on the couch sick would lead to a lot of reading, but no. Alas, I must have been really sick. Birthday week is also an excuse to add some too many books to my collection.

Books I finished
Annabel by Kathleen Winter - a brilliant coming-of-age book about a hermaphrodite.

Currently reading
Dance dance dance by Haruki Murakami - Yes!!
the Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo - No! After having struggled through the first chapter I fear that this will be another 1001 book that will be a fight until the very end.
the Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - rereading and reliving my teenage angst.

Books I bought (in alphabetical order)
Atwood, Margaret - Surfacing
Chiew-Siah Tei - Little Hut of Leaping Fishes
Cummings, E.E - the Enormous Room (from Project Gutenberg)
Dai Sijie - Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
El Saadawi, Nawal - Woman at Point Zero
Enger, Leif: Peace Like a River
Frazier, Charles: Thirteen Moons
Frazier, Charles: Cold Mountain
Grahame, Kenneth - the Wind in the Willows (from Project Gutenberg)
Kaarstøl, Jette A - Din nestes hus
Kipling, Rudyard - Kim (from Project Gutenberg)
Mason, Richard - History of a Pleasure Seeker
du Maupassant, Guy - Bel Ami (from Project Gutenberg)
McCleen, Grace - the Land of Decoration
McEwan, Ian - the Innocent
McEwan, Ian - the Cement Garden
Oksanen, Sofi - Baby Jane
Rhys, Jean: Wide Sargasso Sea
Sagan, Francoise - Bonjour Tristesse
Sagan, Francoise - A Certain Smile
Sedaris, David - Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
Smart, Elizabeth - By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
Smith, Dodie - I Capture the Castle
Stridsberg, Sara - Drømmefakultetet
Sæterbakken, Stig - Ikke forlat meg
Williams, Kate - the Pleasures of Men

Next week's plan
Fight with Victor Hugo. Make love to Murakami. I also have the urge to reread all the saddest books I know, but hopefully I'll snap out of it soon. Not buy any books! 

Monday, 5 March 2012

fourteen.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter (2010)

"Wayne Blake was born at the beginning of March, during the first signs of spring breakup of the ice - a time of great importance to Labradorians who hunted duck for food - and he was born, like most children in that place in 1968, surrounded by women his mother had known all married life: Joan Martin, Eliza Goudie and Thomasina Baikie. Women who knew how to ice-fish and sew caribou hide moccasins and stack wood in a pile that would not fall down when their husbands walked the traplines. Women who would know, during any normal birth, what was required."

Wayne is not like any other newborn babies, he has a testicle, a penis, a vagina and labia. When they have to choose, his father decides that they should make him into a boy and he raises Wayne as a boy. But Thomasina, who was present at the birth, after the loss of her husband and daughter, calls Wayne for Annabel, her dead daughter's name, when no one is around. 

Wayne's father is a man who knows everything about surviving in the wild, but he is not good at communicating with the people around him. He watches his son in fear that he turns too girly, while his mother wants Wayne to know the truth. She helps him buying and hiding a swimsuit when he falls in love with synchronised swimming. 

I really enjoyed this book, mainly because the way it connects people and nature. Although sometimes the ramblings about the Labrador wilderness interfere too much with the main story, there was one part in the book where I thought get to the bloody point. But luckily it was just in one place in the book. And of course the fact that it is about hermaphrodites, something I have only come across once before in books, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. And I'm glad that I didn't see any similarity between them. Both are amazing in their own way. (Note to self: another book I need to reread.)

And there was one point in the book where everything seemed so dark for poor Wayne and I had no possible idea how it all would turn out. And I think that was my favourite part.  

Sunday, 4 March 2012

week 9.

Status quo. I haven't finished any books or started any new this week. I'm loving Annabel by Kathleen Winter, I have about 100 pages left and I really hope the book won't end with a suicide. I haven't bought any books either, but the shopping carts at both Amazon and BetterWorldBooks are full, just waiting for pay day.

Next on my list to read is the Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo. And Dance, dance, dance by Haruki Murakami.

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