Middle of the Week Post

I missed Sunday Salon and missed pretty much writing about anything, because I COULD NOT LOG IN TO MY BLOG! It’s just sooo frustrating! I upgraded to the latest version, it prompted me to log in again, and BAM! It never stops prompting me to log in again. Please log in again. Please log in again. I tried everything. I went to the forum, I emailed them. Nobody knows why. I tried deleting the old files, replacing them with the new ones, even hacking into the sql database. I felt like tearing my hair out and bang my head against the wall! #^!&@^!&^!%!&$! So finally a minute ago, I tried logging in from IE and I can… So I CAN log in from IE but NOT FIREFOX. I always use Firefox and I have no idea why this time it fails me so. I don’t know who to blame. WordPress or Firefox.

Anyhoo, moving on from the frustration…

I just read Who Moved My Cheese yesterday. Read it in the bathroom in the morning, during short commutes, and at night. Very short. It probably took me less than 2 hours in total. I like it. My review to come soon. I soon read this book after watching Randy Pausch‘s Time Management lecture (who passed away a couple of days ago). In that lecture he recommended 2 books: One Minute Manager by Spencer Johnson (the same author with Who Moved My Cheese) and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I’d like to read both books. Who Moved My Cheese was given by a friend.

For those of you who have not seen it, I highly recommend his Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. Go see at youtube or google video. It’s everywhere. I do wish I could be in Carnegie Mellon and attended one of his lectures (Well I do have a lot of wishes in life).

The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.

I do need to be reminded of this from time to time. I mean I know of this fact, but it’s really hard to remember it when your head is bleeding from bumping into the brick walls too many times.

On the other hand, I’m entering week 3 of Wuthering Heights. I can actually finish it this week, but I’d like to keep my pace in synch with my readalong group, so I’m gonna slow down a bit. We’re probably gonna finish it next week. It’s kinda weird, but I get to like the old English after about half a book. I still need to concentrate more than reading contemporary fiction though. So I found out that I read this book the fastest in the morning, when my mind is still fresh and awake.

I’m so glad I could post something again. Phew..

Sunday Salon Week #8

The Sunday Salon.com

I’ve been reading Wuthering Heights since last Saturday. Slowly. I’m on page 122 now (of 323 pages), chapter XII. I agree that characterization in this book is very strong, but the old English surely slows me down a lot, hence deter me a bit from fully enjoying this piece of literature. I’m reading along with some BC members and that helps.

On the other hand, my grandma (of 84 years old) and my auntie are visiting for the weekend, so I spent practically my entire weekend with them, cooking and going around. My auntie loves Daisho (the $2 Japanese shop) and Ikea. She could spend hours at each place and bought quite a lot of stuff too.

Needless to say, not much reading was done this weekend.

Japanese Literature Challenge 2

Update 30 Jan 2009

My wrap-up post here.


Dolce Bellezza is running the second Japanese Literature challenge. Yay! I’ve been waiting for this one, since I missed the first one.

The rule is to read 3 Japanese Literature between 30 July 2008 and 30 January 2009.

Bellezza has some books to recommend on her site. A few look pretty good. I’m not sure what I’m gonna read yet. I think I’m gonna keep it open and add them as I go. I know I’m gonna read another couple of Murakami’s, but I also want to expand a little and read authors whose books I haven’t read yet.

Apart from that, I’m interested in the Japanese lits in the 1001 Books list. So I can sort of go through them at the same time =P. I stroke the ones I already read. The ones in blue are the ones I read for the challenge.

The original 1001 Books (2006)

28) Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami [review] 3/5
64) After the Quake – Haruki Murakami
78) Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
125) The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
362) The Sea of Fertility – Yukio Mishima
744) Kokoro – Natsume Soseki

The additional Japanese lits from the 2008 version of 1001 Book

0003 : The Tale of Genji . Murasaki Shikibu
0258 : Rashomon . Akutagawa Ryunosuke
0480 : A Thousand Cranes . Yasunari Kawabata
0498 : The Sound of Waves . Yukio Mishima
0602 : Silence . Shusaku Endo
0666 : The Twilight Years . Sawako Ariyoshi
0700 : Almost Transparent Blue . Ryu Murakami
0819 : Kitchen . Banana Yoshimoto [review] 3/5
0897 : Deep River . Shusaku Endo

Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto

The books is titled 蜥蜴 (とかげ, tokage) in Japanese, literally means lizard.

This is the second collection of short stories that I read. First was Interpreter of Maladies. Again, I’m still not sure if I like short stories. With Lizard, I didn’t keep looking to see how many pages I had left, like I did with Maladies. But I felt the stories were shallower and had little substance.

Yoshimoto explores the Yuppies life in these 6 short stories. Twenty-something people trying to find the meaning of life and their past. I can imagine to like it more if I were at that point of life, searching and exploring, not really knowing what you want and where you want to go, wondering why you’re on earth, why you’re doing certain stuff, bitching about and questioning the past…

But I’m not so much at that stage anymore, so it fell a bit flat for me. Moreover, the characters all felt a bit similar. Confused young women or men who ramble a lot in melancholy setting. I kept forgetting which character I read about.

The 6 stories are: Newlywed, Lizard, Helix, Dreaming of Kimchee, Blood and Water, and A Strange Tale from Down by the River. Newlywed was first serialized on posters aboard Tokyo’s Higashi Nippon Japan Railway commuter trains from January to March 1991.

Pages: 180 (but with super big letters)
Rating: 3 out of 5 [Okay]

Book Awards Challenge II

Since the first Book Awards Challenge has passed, 3M is starting the second one! I’m definitely in again, since I have lots of them on my mountain of TBR books. And this time I’m aiming for the finish line!

Rules

1. Read 10 award winners from August 1, 2008 through June 1, 2009. (The first challenge was 12)
2. You must have at least FIVE different awards in your ten titles.

I brought over the books I didn’t have chance to read the first time around:

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

2) The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
2000 Booker Prize

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

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

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

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

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

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

9) Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami
2007 Kiriyama Prize for Fiction

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

Alternatives:

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

12) The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
1995 Pulitzer Prize

13) March by Geraldine Brooks
2006 Pulitzer Prize

14) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
1997 Booker Prize

Ended up reading the following:

1) A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah reviewed 25/09/08 [review] 4.5/5
2008 Alex Award

2) Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi reviewed 12/10/08 [review] 5/5
2004 Alex Award

3) Bone by Jeff Smith reviewed 25/11/08 [review] 4/5
1995 Best Comic Book from the National Cartoonist Society, 2002 YALSA/American Library Association Book Choice, and more

4) Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami reviewed 23/01/09 [review] 3/5
2006 World Fantasy Award

5) The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot reviewed 21/02/09 [review] 4/5
1996 Eisner Award for best Graphic Album Reprint, 1999 Haxtur Award for Best Long Comic Strip

6) The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly reviewed 03/03/09 [review] 4/5
2007 Alex Award

7) The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman reviewed 21/03/09 [review] 5/5
1992 Pulitzer Prize Special Awards and Citations – Letters, 1992 Eisner Award Best Graphic Album: Reprint (Maus II), 1992 Harvey Award – Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work (Maus II)

8) Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham reviewed 26/03/09 [review] 4.5/5
2007 Will Eisner Award for Best Anthology etc

9) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman reviewed 29/03/09 [review] 4/5
2009 Newbery Medal

10) Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata reviewed 01/04/09 [review] 3/5
1968 Nobel Prize for Literature (for the author)

11) The Color Purple by Alice Walker reviewed 04/04/09 [review] 4.5/5
1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and National Book Award

12) Fables Vol 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham reviewed 12/04/09 [review] 4/5
2003 Eisner Award for Best New Series and Best Serialized Story

13) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini reviewed 14/04/09 [review] 4/5
2008 Richard&Judy Best Read of the Year

14) Ethel & Ernest by Raymond Briggs reviewed 05/05/09 [review] 4/5
1999 The Illustrated Book of the Year from Galaxy British Book Awards

Sunday Salon Week #7: April-June Wrap-Up

I set myself a goal for at the end of March for the months of April to June.

To quote myself:
Since I’m in Harry Potter’s frenzy *grin*, I’ll let myself read 3 of the Potter’s books!
On top of that I’ll read another 2 award-winning or 1001 books, and maybe 1-2 more books from bookcrosser or for fun.

In these 3 months I read 15 books! 3 Harry Potter books, 7 award-winning books, 2 1001 books, and 3 books from other Bookcrossers (a few overlapped).

7) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (3.5/5)
8) I Choose to Live by Sabine Dardenne (4/5)
9) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (4.5/5)
10) The Key by Junichiro Tanizaki [BC] (4/5)
11) On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (4/5)
12) Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith (4/5)
13) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (4/5)
14) The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood [BC] (3.5/5)
15) A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo (3/5)
16) Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini [BC] (4/5)
17) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (5/5)
18) Dreaming Water by Gail Tsukiyama [BC] (2.5/5)
19) Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri [BC] (3.5/5)
20) The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy by Tim Burton (4/5)
21) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon [BC] (4/5)

So I totally surpassed my own goal and expectation. Yay! :D
That averages almost 4 per month, 1 per week. Awesomeness!

I’m not gonna set myself a goal for the next 3 months, because I have a few of challenges going on and they should keep me on track. I’ll probably do a wrap-up post again at the end of September and see how I go. For me monthly wrap-up is a bit too short. Three months is a good span.

Great reading months!

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader tells a story about Michael Berg, who is helped by Hanna Schmitz when he falls ill on his way home from school. That time he’s 15 and she’s 36. In time they become lovers.

The book is divided into 3 parts. First, the time Michael and Hanna spend together before Hanna goes missing. Second, many years ahead, when Michael sees Hanna again, in court on trial. Third, the time after the trial. The relationship between the two entangles with the Holocaust, covers more than half of the book. (Come to think again, is there any literature with German setting that is not about the Holocaust?)

I found the translation a bit awkward at times. Luckily the book is pretty short and straightforward. Any longer would be too long. All in all, I like the book. It’s different, it’s sad, and it has profound characters, though I thought the ending was a bit of a cop-out and felt myself wanting more.

Before I read the book, I thought the Reader would be about someone who liked to read. Apparently it’s about someone who reads aloud. I’m wondering what’s the meaning of that bunch of flowers on top of a book as the cover. I keep seeing it as shadow puppet from a distance.

I kept thinking that Nicole Kidman would be great as Hanna if there was ever a movie on it. Did a quick search and apparently there will be at the end of this year! And from Wiki, I found out that indeed Nicole Kidman was supposed to play Hanna, but she dropped out, and Kate Winslet replaced her. Kate Winslet would be great too. Actually, she’s closer physically to the Hanna I had in mind when I read the book.

Another random fact, Michael Berg (I’m guessing the old one) is played by Ralph Fiennes, who played Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies. I’m reading Harry Potter books right now. What a weird connection.

Pages: 218
Rating: 4 out of 5 [Very Good]

First line
When I was fifteen, I got hepatitis.

Last line
It was the first and only time I stood there.

Quote

“Sometimes the memory of happiness cannot stay true because it ended unhappily.” ~ p37

Also reviewed by
Arukiyomi

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