Lucky by Alice Sebold

Lucky by Alice Sebold

This book was released at Singapore OBCZ (Official Bookcrossing Zone) Moonriver Cafe.

So instead of reading Lovely Bones first, I read this book by Alice Sebold. I feel compelled to read Lovely Bones because everybody’s reading it (will do soon). Lucky caught my interest because it’s a true story of the author. I’m a sucker for true survival story, so I grabbed the $5 book.

From the back cover:
In a memoir hailed for its searing candour and wit, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was utterly transformed when, as an 18-year-old college freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus.

I struggled a little bit here and there to continue, finding the details of the story at times hard to swallow. I had problem especially remembering the side characters and their names, and following the overall timeline. The start was a bit slow too, going into details of Sebold’s family: an intellect distant father, an alcoholic depressed mother, and an introvert moody sister, who, despite their flaws, tried their best to fit in into their roles.

You know how one book can be good for one time but not so much for another time? How it really depends on when you read it at which point of your life? That’s how I felt with the book. I wasn’t really into a depressing surviving rape story at that time, so I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I thought I would. I feel a bit guilty for treating it as just that, story. Because it’s not just that. It’s a true and honest insight into Sebold’s chronicle to recovery. The details of how the law worked also introduced new things for me. From affidavit, court, to how the law sometimes works in a funny way for trying to be just and fair to all parties.

Looking back, I would say that Sebold is a fine author, and a mighty survivor. I found it interesting that she ended the book before she met her current husband. I guess I half expected that someone would “save” her at the end. So this sentence in the book could not be more profound: “You save yourself or you remain unsaved.”

Ratings: 3.5 out 5
It’s worth reading for one who’s into the subject or the author, but not exactly enjoyable nor does it stand out as a memoir/biography. Still a huge respect for Sebold for being so bold.

Memorable Quotes

“Memory could save, that it had power, that it was often the only recourse of the powerless, the oppressed, or the brutalized.” ~ pg114

Book Awards Challenge

Book Awards Challenge

[Update 16/05/08] I added books that I just found out were nominees of awards. Not what I had in mind initially, but I need some encouragement. So!

[Update 30/03/08] Updating the list from 8 to 17. Will have to pick 12 out of this list. Just read only 2 so far. I may just extend this challenge personally for myself until the end of the year. I may also shorten the book list to 8. We’ll see :)

What else do I need? Yes of course! Another reading challenge!

Organizer and Lists: bookawardschallenge.blogspot.com

Rules: Read any 12 award-winning books from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008.

I’m quite late into the challenge, but oh why not, it will still a while before it ends.

I have trouble coming up with a list, because there are so many books and so many awards I don’t know which falls into which. So I will keep updating this later. For now my tentative list is:

1) The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
1994 Pulitzer Prize, 1993 National Book Award

2) The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
1988 Pen/Hemingway Award

3) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
1982 Nobel Prize

4) Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – 10th
2000 Pulitzer Prize, 1999 PEN/Hemingway Award

5) The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
2006 Booker Prize, 2006 NBCC Award

6) To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
1961 Pulitzer Prize

7) Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
2006 World Fantasy Award

8) Atonement by Ian McEwan – 3rd
2002 NBCC Award, 2002 Booker Prize (nominee), 2001 Whitbread Prize (nominee), 2001 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction (nominee)

9) The Road by Cormac McCarthy – 4th
2007 Pulitzer Prize

10) The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
2000 Booker Prize

11) Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
2002 PEN/Faulkner, 2002 Orange Prize

12) Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
1989 Booker Prize

13) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon – 9th
2003 Whitbread Book of the Year, 2004 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book

14) An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
1986 Whitbread Book of the Year

15) The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
1995 Pulitzer Prize

16) March by Geraldine Brooks
2006 Pulitzer Prize

17) Waiting by Ha Jin
1999 National Book Award for Fiction

18) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – 1st
2003 Bram Stoker (Best First Novel) – how did this book get an award for excellence in horror writing?

19) When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro – 2nd
2000 Booker Prize (nominee), 2000 Whitbread Prize (nominee)

20) On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan – 5th
2007 Booker Prize (nominee)

21) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – 6th
2005 Booker Prize (nominee), 2005 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction (nominee), 2006 Arthur C. Clarke Award (nominee)

22) A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo – 7th
2007 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction (nominee)

23) The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood – 8th
2006 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature (nominee)

The ones in GREEN are READ.

Okay that’s it for now. It’s pretty pathetic I know. And before this challenge I think I’ve only read Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2002 Man Booker Prize). What have I been reading all this time? I need this challenge! (I’ve read a lot of biographies/memoirs and Asian theme books, that’s why. Not a lot of them have won awards.)

Fall Into Reading 2007

This was moved from the original post. I will update this one from now on.

Fall Into Reading 2007

As I have so many books on hand right now, I’m joining callapidderdays’s challenge, because it has cute image to come with it ;). The deadline is 21st of December (starting 23rd of September). So my list is:

1 book for thereadinglounge.com
Out by Natsuo Kirino done 09/10/07
The Discussion
NLB Book of the Month Nov 2005

1 book from a friend
The Girl Who Married a Lion by Alexander McCall Smith done 30/11/07

1 book for Wild/OBCZ release
Lucky by Alice Sebold done 21/10/07

1 book from RABCK to ray forward
When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro done 19/12/07

1 book from local OBCZ
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold done 12/11/07

1 2 3 book from Bookcrossing Bookring/ray
Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd done 17/10/07
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards done 01/11/07
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger done 26/11/07

1 book from my cheapo stack
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (started)

Plus other books that I may get from bookring/ray and sudden interest in certain book. I really think I could manage this list.

I will post the reviews once I get them done. Go here for reviews from the others.

Update 19 Dec 07

I know it’s still 2 days until the deadline, but I think I’m just gonna wrap things up. I’m really quite happy with what I achieved. I added 2 books into my list and managed to finish all of the books I initially had (with the exception of 1, which I went through halfway, but that’s just because I started another book which I went through halfway too). So in total I finished 8 books in 3 months time. Not a bad record at all. For me especially, considering that’s the amount of books I read for the whole year for the past few years. Will start making a new list for the next 3 months :)

So Here I am

Finally having a full blown book blog. I reckon I need to do that, since I like my reading to be more organized. I’ve also found various book blogs, which I envy, because they can post only about books. The readers of my other blogs don’t seem to fancy books that much. Knowing that, I kinda held on a bit. Seriously, there aren’t that many of us that can’t live without books out there! That’s what I love about Bookcrossing community. Only there I can find people with minds alike. The ones, you know, who understand the need to bring book with you ANYWHERE ANYTIME, who understand the needs to talk about books, who are passionate about books.

For those of you who know me a bit before this blog, you’d know that I have my book reviews here and here. Yea, pretty much all over the place. I wouldn’t copy them here, because it’d be a waste of time. So I’ll just start with whatever book I have next. See you then! :D

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

This book is my first bookring that I got. It had 10 journalers and 26 journals before I got it. A well traveled book :). You can see it here and join the ring if you want. I’m sending this book to the next person in Australia.

Got it from: followdream, US (bookring)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (boy do I became harsher these days..)

“The tale of one motherless daughter’s discovery of what family really means- and of the strange and wondrous places we find love.” ~ The Washington Post (back cover)

It’s a sweet short book. Like strawberry short cake. Like eating fairy floss alone in the middle of beautiful park. There’s just the right balance of sadness and happiness. Sure there were moments a bit too corny for me, but the main character is 14 years old girl, what do you expect ;). I admit though there were many moments too that brought me to the verge of tears. It was both funny and melancholy book I’d say :).

A few elements felt very close to home. Including the “We can’t be together now, but one day, after I’ve gone away and become somebody, I’m gonna find you, and we’ll be together then” promise, complete with dogtag exchanging hands. Seriously, I’m asking you, does this kind of thing happen to everybody? Now I feel that it does happen to all teenagers around the world LOL.

Do you know what’s the key to writing a good fiction? Pick a few key points that can stick on readers’ mind. Anything that’s outlandish, or even ordinary but with a bit of twist. Like from this book, I could easily remember the kneeling on grits, pink house, wailing wall, and the black Madonna (Mary). (You gotta read the book to understand what they are :)

So see, even maybe after I forget about the how the girl found her mother, I would probably still remember the one that had the world’s burden and sadness like it was her own and her wailing wall where she stored all her griefs away.

Memorable Quotes

“Every little thing wants to be loved.” ~ August, pg 92

“The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters.” ~ August, pg 147

“It’s something everybody wants- for someone to see the hurt done to them and set it down like it matters.” ~ Lily, pg 185

“When it’s time to die, go ahead and die, and when it’s time to live, live. Don’t sort-of-maybe live, but live like you’re going all out, like you’re not afraid.” ~ May and August, pg 211

“People, in general, would rather die than forgive. It’s that hard.” ~ Lily, pg 277

“In a weird way I must have loved my little collection of hurts and wounds. They provided me with some real nice sympathy, with the feeling I was exceptional.” ~ Lily, pg 278

“[Love] is the only purpose grand enough for a human life. Not just to love- but to persist in love.” ~ August, pg 289

“If you need something from somebody, always give that person a way to hand it to you.” ~ August, pg 298

Awards
Longlisted for 2002 Orange Prize for Fiction

Out by Natsuo Kirino

This book is now on a ray. Look at it go! It’ll travel to India and Iran among many! Greece, France, Netherland, and Canada too. What a lucky book! =P

Got it from: Popular Singapore, with voucher from NLB, which I got from a selected book review I submitted to their site
Rating: 4 out of 5

It’s a thriller/mystery book. Not the type I normally would read. But I was just intrigued by the good reviews from Amazon, and the mere fact that it’s authored by, again, Japanese, my recent obsession :). From the front cover, it’s Winner of Japan’s Grand Prix for Crime Fiction and Edgar Award Finalist.

From the back cover:
This mesmerizing novel tells the story of a brutal murder in the staid Tokyo suburbs, as a young mother who works the night shift making boxed lunches strangles her abusive husband and then seeks the help of her coworkers to dispose of the body and cover up her crime. The coolly intelligent Masako emerges as the plot’s ringleader but quickly discovers that this killing is merely the beginning, as it leads to a terrifying foray into the violent underbelly of Japanese society. At once a masterpiece of literary suspense and pitch-black comedy of gender warfare. Out is also a moving evocation of the pressures and prejudices that drive women to extreme deeds, and the friendships that bolster the in the aftermath.

Meh, I’m not sure about that ‘friendship’ in that last sentence. Every action in this book is done out of desperation more than anything, IMO. If I had to summarize it in one word, that’s the central theme of the book. Desperation. All characters are desperate in some ways, to get OUT of their sticky situation. Is that probably where the title comes from?

The gender prejudice and inequality are especially thick in this book. Work especially well with Japan setting and four women as the central characters. (Well, this reminds me of Desperate Housewives out of the blue. But rest assure, it’s nothing like it. Doesn’t mean I don’t like Desperate Housewives :)

Some parts can be too gross to read. I did read every single word with some effort. I thought I couldn’t go on but I could.

It’s totally a page-turner however. I finished the book fairly quickly, finishing the last 2 chapters in 1 night (ie a few hours), because I just had to know what happened next!

Recommended if you’re looking for that engaging book you cannot put down.

Discussion on the book at TheReadingLounge.com

Memorable Quotes

“The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience…” ~ Flannery O’Connor (front page)

“.. fate is what happens to you in spite of all your plans.” ~ Satake, pg 192

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I’m running bookrings for this book.
1 copy in Singapore
1 copy goes around the world (currently traveling to Europe)
If you’re in Singapore I will gladly lend you my copy (I can easily send it by mail). If you’re somewhere else, you can join the ring :)

Got this from: Borders Singapore
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

From the back cover:
“Toru Okada’s cat has disappeared and his wife is growing more distant every day. Then there are the increasingly explicit telephone calls he has started receiving. As this compelling story unfolds, the tidy suburban realities of Okada’s vague and blameless life are turned inside out, and he embarks on a bizarre journey, guided by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell.”

In my own words (halfway through the book):
Main character is a guy in suburban Japan, living with his wife, and cat which disappeared at the beginning of the book. At first looking for the cat, he starts to meet all kinds of weird characters with their own quirky stories and personalities. At several parts of the book I found myself like the King in 1001 Arabian Nights when his wife stops telling her story in the middle of exciting part, “Nooo, don’t stop here. Please continue!” Which is exactly what the guy does when all these weird people he meets suddenly decides to stop their tales for whatever reason. Love this book :). I found myself reading like a little kid, all wide-eyed and open-jawed throughout the book.

After I finished the book:
Not exactly sure if I like the second half of the book (I totally love the first half!). The book is a trilogy. The third part gets much weirder. A lot of things are left unanswered at the end, which left me a bit unsatisfied. But my friend said that’s what makes a book great, like what makes a movie art house, that you leave things for the audiences to figure out (I’m not totally convinced though. He’s British =P). Still at the end this is a book I would highly recommend for anyone to read. It’s also one of the 1001 books you must read before you die :).

It’s definitely a page turner and it’s a very thick book. This is the third Murakami’s book that I read. I plan to read ALL of his books (that’ll take me a while. He got about 10 books or so). He’s the second author whose books I want to read all. First was Amy Tan.

Memorable Quotes

“Curiosity can bring guts out of hiding at times, maybe even get them going. But curiosity evaporates. Guts have to go for the long haul. Curiosity’s like an amusing friend you can’t really trust. It turns you on and then it leaves you to make it on your own- with whatever guts you can muster.” ~ pg 65

“When you get used to that kind of life- of never having anything you want- then you stop knowing what it is you want.” ~ pg 72

“The passage of time will usually extract the venom from most things and render them harmless.” ~ pg 79

“You’ve got to spend your money on the things that money can buy, not worry about profit or loss. Save your energy for the things that money can’t buy.” ~ pg 115

“Memories and thoughts age, just as people do. But certain thoughts can never age, and certain memories can never fade.” ~ pg 207

“There is nothing so cruel in this world as the desolation of having nothing to hope for.” ~ pg 346

“Hell has no true bottom.” ~ pg 547

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