Raved-About Reads Challenge

Raved-About Reads Challenge

Another challenge that I need! Honest, I was also thinking of starting this, when someone else did. That’s great so I can just tag along ;)

Rules: Read books you’ve always heard people rave about and thought you should read yourself… but always put off reading “until later”.

Starting: 30 June 2008
It’s perpetual challenge so it has no time limit. Although I have no idea why you would have a starting date if you don’t have an end date. Doesn’t make sense. Anyway, I’ll set an end date for myself, which is the end of the year: 31 December 2008.

Update

I obviously didn’t make it by 31 December 2008, so perpetual it is now!

My list is:

1) Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
2) Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
3) The Thirteen Tale by Diane Setterfield
4) The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
5) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (04/09)
6) The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory

newly added
7) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
8) The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (03/09)
9) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

All sitting on my shelf except for three, so I don’t even need to bother looking. Just read them already!

ps: I like the girl in the image

The Wind-up Book Chronicle Challenge

the wind-up book chronicle

I was totally thinking about a challenge like this, when it came up! Great minds think alike :)

Rules: You must read books that you’ve read more than 50 pages before May 1, but never finished.

Duration: 15 May 2008 to 15 November 2008

Official site

There are definitely some books that I’d like to finish since a long time ago, but never did. So here they are:

1) Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (last time it got too depressing)
2) Geisha by Mineko Iwasaki (I read this standing up at a bookshop waiting for a friend, then just never got a chance to continue. This book is especially hard to get since it’s always checked out from the library. It reminds me, I read another book standing up and didn’t finish: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. That’s for another time though.)
3) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (I couldn’t stand the feeling that I missed a lot of the jokes, so I gave up)
4) Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez (just many other good books at that time)
5) Lord of the Flies by William Golding (the start wasn’t as interesting as I thought it would be)

Now that they’re on the list, I have more push to actually finish them.

Update

No I didn’t finish them on time. They were probably unfinished for a reason before.

Sunday Salon Week #3: Top Books 2007

I know I should’ve done my list of top books in 2007 ages ago, but here I go (since I just realized that I didn’t do it somewhere at the beginning of the year).

I read 20 books in 2007. So I’m gonna pick only my top 5.

1) Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
2) The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
3) Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood
4) Out by Natsuo Kirino
5) French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

A weird combination. The 3 fictions are by Japanese, 2 books by Murakami (obviously he was becoming one of my favorite authors), “Out” was a nice surprise. And the other 2 are non-fictions. “Leaving Microsoft” left a lasting impression on me, and “French Women” changed the way I see food and pleasure (also helped me to lose weight :).

The disappointment of the year was:
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
I despised the book. She’s blacklisted from my reading world forever.

Meanwhile I’m starting the 4th of Harry Potter book. I admit, the thickness of the book kinda put me off a bit. And the 5th one is even thicker. At the back of my mind I feel a bit cheated by an author so popular she didn’t get herself an editor. She must’ve rambled a lot.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


“For you, a thousand times over.”

Thought it’s about time for me to read this book, since everybody, and I mean everybody, has read it.

Great start. I was already teary on the first dozen of pages or so. Although after going further, I found myself sometimes on the brink of worry that the book would be too soap-opera like. It just seemed to be at the tip of being sad in a nice heartbreaking way, or cliche and cheesy. It could easily go one way or the other. But at the end though, I think I would give the book a break and forget about being too critical. I enjoyed it. It’s nice. It’s nice story about unfamiliar culture, family saga, in a land far far away. And it’s sad. It’s sad because you grow attached to the characters and care for them. When calamity happens, you feel for them.

I especially found the relationships between the men (and boys) in the story interesting. Father and son, master and servant, family, friends, brothers.. There’s certain intimacy that I thought doesn’t really exist among a lot of other cultures. They also seemed to be more comfortable at crying and showing affections between males. (and some people go to sickening extreme…)

What’s with all these sudden books about Kabul and Afganishtan? I’m halfway through Kabul Beauty School and I have Bookseller of Kabul on my shelf. I guess it’s because of the Taliban and all. I’m also definitely looking forward to read Hosseini’s next book: A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Pages: 324
Rating: 4 out of 5 [Very Good]
Interesting book, interesting characters, interesting setting and cultures, interesting subject matter.

First line

I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.

Last line

I ran.

Suggested Further Reading by Bloomsbury

Fiction
Amber by Stephan Collishaw
By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah
The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
The fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Orchard on Fire by Shena Mackay
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif

Non-fiction
West of Kabul, East of New York by Tamim Ansary
The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

Sunday Salon Week #2: Bookish Weekend

Friday night

Went to library near my house. Spent a couple of hours checking out the fiction shelves, resisting not to borrow any books, since I still have very high piles everywhere at home. At the end I couldn’t resist to borrow A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo. Thought it’s just a funny light book I’ll read in between other books.

I also browsed through the real 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die book. Since it’s freakishly heavy, I decided to just read it there a bit instead of taking it home. Got a couple of ideas for the 10 out 100 out of 1001 Books YMRBYD Challenge that I’m doing. Decided to read #40 Platform – Michael Houellebecq for group [31-40] and #51 An Obedient Father – Akhil Sharma for group [51-60]. As I remember, Platform is a translated from French book about a sad guy and Thai prostitute, An Obedient Father is about a woman who was raped by her father as a child. What grim books. I feel depressed already. I might change my mind later. Just that among the other ones, there wasn’t really any that jumped out at me.

Saturday

Dropped by my local library in the morning to return 2 books: Never Let Me Go and Kabul Beauty School. The latter I haven’t finished. Will continue again later. Then went to gym. After lunch, went to my favorite used bookstore at Bras Basah. Bought The Gathering – Anne Enright for a buck. I don’t really want to read the book, but it’s still in good condition. So what the heck, if I don’t read it at the end, I could give it to someone who would, or wild-release it.

Dropped by the National Library. It’s always creepy full in the weekend. I guess it’s a good thing. Showing how much interest people have in books. I think The National Library is fuller these days because they’ve closed down the library@Orchard. They really should have more libraries in city areas. Seriously, the whole floor is so full you have to walk carefully otherwise you’d step on all these people sitting on the sofas, on the grounds, between the shelves, etc etc.

I suddenly had a strong urge to check out Japanese authors. So I was torn between Junichiro Tanizaki, Yasuri Kawabata, Banana Yoshimoto, and Natsume Soseki. The latter 3 I’ve never read their books. Decided on Tanizaki’s Naomi. I’m worried with the older translated books since I read Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe. It was dry and it wasn’t pleasant. I’m guessing that the more recent translations should be better. So the books that look too old put me off a bit.

Dropped by Kinokuniya after that. The biggest Japanese bookstore in Singapore, full of variety of English, Chinese, and Japanese books. I always find it interesting that the books put on the front shelves in Kino are vastly different than those of Borders. The interesting one is this memoir about a cult society in central of USA, where they did the most ridiculous things like polygamy and marrying underage girls. You’d think that’s something that happened in uncivilized society in a jungle far far away, but nooo. I’ve read articles on it before, but never got around to read any book on it. I wanna read it! It’s Escape by Carolyn Jessop.

I was also reminded by Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which according to my dad the second most-read book in the whole world after Bible. I don’t know where he got the fact, but I’ve been told the stories since I was small, playing various games on it, and so on. I reckon I need to read them one day. It’s three very thick books though, so I don’t know when I will have the extra energy to start it. Maybe I should ask around if people want to read along.

Sunday

What a bookish weekend. I spent my Sunday morning reading The Kite Runner. I’m third through the book. Already teary on the first dozen of pages or so.

The weather is extremely hot these days. It’s hard for me to read in the afternoon because it can get really hot. I wish rainy season will come again soon.

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood


Penelopiad is one book from Canongate’s the Myths series, in which ancient myths are rewritten by contemporary authors. Here is the story of Odysseus and Penelope. Only instead of Odysseus, it’s taking the view from Penelope’s side, including the 12 maids, who are minor characters in the story.

Odysseus is one of the guys who went for Trojan War against Troy to get Helen back. The war was going on for 10 years before Troy fell. Then it took him 10 years to sail back home (as I remember, he did something bad to upset Poseidon – God of the Sea, that’s why he made it very difficult for Odysseus to go back home), during which he went through all the adventures with his ship crews, facing all kinds of creatures, and goddesses that forced him into bed (Oh, sure). Whereas Penelope is the faithful wife, waiting for him for 20 years, and had problems of her own.

I’m not sure if you could really enjoy the story if you’re not familiar with the original story, the main or side characters, etc. There are quite a few mentions about the other gods, goddesses, and creatures of the mythology, without a lot of explaining. For myself, I was a total fan of Greek mythology. I used to read a bunch of them all the time back when I was in primary school and mid school. Coincidentally, I also just watched the movie of Odysseus and Penelope, so the story was still very fresh on my mind.

The book started strong for me. I thought, great, this is exactly my kind of book! Mythology (fairy tale, or folktale) with a twist, or variation of it. After a while though, I got a bit bored. Penelope in the book is just exactly what I imagined her to be, so are most of the other characters, so I didn’t experience any new revelations or surprises. I thought the most interesting parts are Penelope’s private thoughts and musings, and her relations to Helen.

I totally didn’t get the chapter on Anthropology lecture. Please explain if you do.

Page: 196

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 [Good]
Nice take on a well-known myth. Stays true to origin.

First line

Now that I’m dead I know everything.

Last line

The Maids sprout feathers, and fly away as owls.

Quotes

“To have a child was to set loose a force in the world.” ~ Penelope, pg 24

“Nothing helps gluttony along so well as eating food you don’t have to pay for yourself.” ~ Penelope, pg 40

10 out 100 out of 1001 Books YMRBYD Challenge Reviews

Update 16 May 2008

Just found out that Mr. Linky is not so friendly anymore. It can only display one at a time now. I have to upgrade to enable more than 1, which I’m not going to do. So until I could code “Mr. Linky” myself, just disregard this page. Please update your progress on your own page that you signed up on my main post.


Gosh my post title is LONG.

This page is where you could add your reviews of books for the challenge.

Use Mr. Linky to add your reviews in the following manner: nickname (book title)

Remember to add the link to your specific post (not the homepage). I will have to delete the wrong ones to keep it tidy.

Some of you may alter the rules of the challenge. I don’t mind at all. But I would like to keep the list of reviews here for books 1-100 in the 1001 list. It will be good to see which books people choose to read and perhaps get some ideas about which ones to read next for this challenge :)

Below is the list of reviews that you read for the challenge

Since it’s beneficial to have list of reviews for the first 100 books, we have another Mr. Linky for books that you read prior to the challenge. Feel free to add links to your reviews here.

Below is the list of reviews that you read before the challenge

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