Friday, December 31, 2010

Best of 2010

2010 wasn't a great reading year for me. I read only 60 books as compared to last year's 64. I had hoped to read more this year but real life got in the way. In fact I had trouble completing my top ten list so I've just listed nine of the best books I've read in 2010. I did reread some fantastic books such as Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller, My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood however I only included one reread in my list which is The Sun Also Rises. I included it because I didn't appreciate it at all the first time I read it when I was eighteen. Reading it again has been a wonderful experience and I have a new respect for Hemingway. It's a beautiful novel and one that has made my list of all-time favourites. So here is my final list in no particular order:


The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
I think this book is extraordinary not just for its adjective-free writing style, vivid descriptions and its depiction of the lost generation but for all the undercurrents and nuances of unrequited love. It's in essence a love story written by a man and told from a man's point of view and it involves a promiscuous and beautiful woman, Brett Ashley, who falls in love with just about every man she meets. Brett wreaks emotional havoc on the principal characters and most especially on Jake, our storyteller, who loves her with a passion but is ultimately unable to give her what she needs.



One Day by David Nicholls
 This is the kind of book where you think you know how it will all end but you don't care. It's the journey that matters. Dex and Em. Em and Dex. They meet on the night of their college graduation in 1988. They're made for each other but they don't know it yet. Life calls them to different places and different things. But their obvious connection to one another stays and for the next twenty years we get a snapshot of their lives on the same day every year, July 15th. A book that will make you laugh out loud and cry too.


The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
I thought this was such a wonderful, wonderful book from start to finish. It had some sad parts but its still a happy novel at heart. A life-affirming book filled with beautiful passages and precious moments. Though it will be difficult to choose one favourite among all the Auster novels I've read, this is certainly one of them. It's brilliant and definitely a keeper.






The House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier
This is a strange story but completely engrossing. It's a time travel story about Dick Young, who's staying at the home of his scientist friend, Magnus.However, there's one catch - Dick is only a witness and is unable to be seen, heard or touched by the people he observes which include a steward called Roger and a captivating lady known as Isolda Carminowe. As Dick quickly becomes fascinated by their lives, he starts to withdraw from the modern world and his family and retreats more and more into the past. His time travel visits soon become an addiction that begin to affect not only his sanity but his physical condition.





Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Brooklyn is elegantly and beautifully written. From page one, I was riveted by Eilis' quite ordinary life and her everyday trials and tribulations. I loved Toibin's writing...so clean, crisp yet also compelling. Not a sentence wasted. It takes a brilliant writer to turn a simple story of a young immigrant where nothing much happens into a suspenseful read.






The Easter Parade by Richard Yates
This novel offers a microscopic view of two average sisters and their search for their little piece of happiness in this world. It's also the story of their own relationship with each other which is one of love, rivalry and jealousy. Each one believes the other to have the more wonderful life. It's ultimately sad to realise that actually neither of them had it.  I'm amazed at how quickly I finished the novel. The pages just flew by and before I'd known it, I'd reached the end of this quiet masterpiece. Yates doesn't mince words. His prose is simple, his sentences are basic and uncomplicated. I loved the gritty realism of this story, the descriptions and the dialogue.



To Bed With Grand Music   by Marghanita Laski
I found this book compulsively readable but I completely disliked the main character of Deborah. Usually, it's hard for me to read a book with a character that's so unlikable but surprisingly enough I still found the book very engaging and I credit it all to Laski's brilliant writing. I had no idea there was this whole sub-culture of women left behind during the second world war who indulged in wanton philandering. I guess Laski wanted to convey how war affected everyone. War can destroy not just the men who fight the battles but the women left behind.


The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
A new Sarah Waters novel is always something to look forward to. I loved her novel Fingersmith. The Little Stranger is very different. It's not set in the Victorian era nor is it filled with shocking plot twists. It's a book where the build-up of suspense is quite slow but that doesn't make it any less gripping. This made an excellent book club read too.







The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help is a great read. It's set in 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi. A young white woman, Skeeter, decides to write a book about the working lives of domestic helpers. Two African-American maids, Aibileen and Minny agree to participate in the risky project. The story is told from the points of view of the three women. Their various accounts are touching, harrowing and also funny. The Help is riveting and compulsively readable.




So there you have it...my final list. Did any of them make your top ten? I'd love to know. I really hope to read more books next year and more wonderful ones. Looking forward to a new year filled with marvelous books. Happy New Year to you all! 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Books Read in 2010

This has not been a great reading year for me. I'm actually having trouble filling up my top ten list of the year which I'll be posting soon. For now, here's the exact list of books read in 2010:

1. The Glass of Time by Michael Cox
2. Captivated, the Du Mauriers and J.M. Barrie and the dark side of Neverland by Piers Dudgeon
3. The Inn at Lake Devine  by Elinor Lipman
4. Invisible  by Paul Auster
5. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
6. 84 Charing Cross Road  by Helene Hanff
7. A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell
8. Miss Buncle's Book  by D.E. Stevenson
9. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
10. Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski
11. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
12. Easter Parade by Richard Yates
13. My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman
14.The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark
15. Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
16. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
17. The Making of a Marchioness - Frances Hodgson Burnett
18. Raven Black - Ann Cleaves
19. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
20. High Wages by Dorothy Whipple
21. Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
22. The Basic Eight - Daniel Handler
23. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
24. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
25. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (reread)
26. Bonjour Tristesse - Francoise Sagan (reread)
27. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
28. To Bed With Grand Music by Marghanita Laski
29. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
30. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (reread)
31. The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
32. Talking it Over by Julian Barnes
33. The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
34. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery (reread)
35. Little Bee by Chris Cleaves
36. Man in the Dark by Paul Auster
37. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
38. Looking for Alaska by John Green
39. Real World by Natsuo Kirino
40. I'm the King of the Castle by Susan Hill

41. Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby
42. Blankets by Craig Thompson
43. Howl's Moving Castle - Diane Wynne Jones
44. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
45. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
46. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
47. Leviathan by Paul Auster (reread)
48. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
49. The Closed Door and Other Stories by Dorothy Whipple
50. Breakfast at Tiffany's (and other stories) by Truman Capote
51. One Day by David Nicholls
52. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (reread)
53. The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak
54. Don't Look Now by Daphne du Maurier
55. The Exception by Christian Jungerson
56. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
57. Stoner by John Williams
58. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
59. Faithful Place by Tana French
60. Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller (reread)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Persephone Secret Santa



It's the Persephone Secret Santa reveal day today so it's time to reveal my gift and who my Secret Santa is. I almost didn't participate this year, what with being seven months pregnant and just feeling a bit under the weather I thought I'd just wait till next year. I know I've been a bad book blogger of late as my last post was last month! Blame it on my pregnancy and the busy Christmas season. I finally have a very good excuse to post today and actually I'm so glad I joined the Persephone Secret Santa event as I got the most wonderful present plus I discovered a fabulous book blog too. My gift was The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens, one of the brand new Persephones released recently and my Santa is Colleen of Col Reads . When I read the card I didn't know who Col was as I've never been to her blog but it's truly a lovely one and I'm happy to now have it on my blog list. Col - thanks so much! You made a perfect choice as I loved Mariana by Monica Dickens and I've been wanting to read more from her.

My giftee hasn't received her book yet so I do hope she gets it soon. 

A big thank you to Claire at Paperback Reader for hosting this wonderful event. I'm eager to see what everyone else has received so I'm off to check out her blog right now. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Reading List

I'm having one of those book slumps again. I wonder why I've had so many of them this year? I want to read a classic but I can't seem to choose the right one. Today, I saw this reading list at Thomas at My Porch's blog  . The BBC believe most people would have read 6 of these. I've read 44. No wonder I can't choose my next classic. I've put the ones I've read in red and the ones I've partially read in italics. I've enjoyed many of them but I've added an asterisk next to the ones I really loved. 

So how many have you read? Based on the list, if you've got recommendations for me, please do drop me a comment below. Plus, while we're at it, can you tell me what's the best book you've read so far this year? I'm starting to think of my top ten list for 2010 and it somehow isn't as great as my 2009 list. I need to read a good book before the New Year!
 
* 1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
 2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
* 3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
*4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling  
 5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
 7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
 8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell 
 9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
 10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
* 11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
 *12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
 13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 The Complete Works of Shakespeare
 *15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
 16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
 17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
 *18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
 19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
 20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
 21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
 22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
 24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
 25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
 27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
 28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 
 29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 
 30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
 31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
 32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens 
 33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis 
 34 Emma -Jane Austen
 35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
 36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis 
 37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
 38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
 39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
 40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
 41 Animal Farm - George Orwell 
 42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
 43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
 44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
 *45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins 
 46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
 47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
 48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood 
 49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
 *50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
 51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
 52 Dune - Frank Herbert
 53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons 
 54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen 
 55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
 56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon  
 57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
 58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
 59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
 60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
 61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
 62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
 63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
 64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold 
 65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
 66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
 67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
 68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
 69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie 
 70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville 
 71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
 72 Dracula - Bram Stoker 
 73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
 74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
 75 Ulysses - James Joyce 
 76 The Inferno - Dante  
 77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
 78 Germinal - Emile Zola
 79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
 80 Possession - AS Byatt
 81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
 82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
 83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
* 84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
 85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
 86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
 87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
 88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
 89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
 90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
 91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
 92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery 
 93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
 94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
 95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
 96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
 97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas 
 98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
 99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 
 100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And The Winners Are....


Honey and I met yesterday and chose the winners for our NYRB Reading Week event. We took some time discussing all the reviews because honestly, there were so many excellent ones written by many of the participants that it wasn't an easy decision to come up with the best two. But in the end, we had to choose so here are the winners:

For my favorite review, I chose: Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham as reviewed by  Sasha and the Silverfish. Sasha's review was one of the many that made me decide I want to read this book NOW! However, it isn't available in the Philippines so I have to order it online. Sasha's descriptions of it being "beautiful, delicious and monstrous mayhem," had me hooked. She also said it was one of the best books she's ever read. I thought it was a brilliant review so Sasha, congratulations! You've just won The Summer Book by Tove Jansson.

Honey chose Evening All Afternoon  for her review of Wish Her Safe At Home by Stephen Benatar. This was a very unique review. You can read Honey's thoughts on it at her blog, Coffeespoons.She won Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. Congratulations Evening All Afternoon!

For best photograph of NYRB Classics, we chose  Gathering Books'  photo below. We thought it was very creative. Gathering Books also wrote several fantastic reviews in their blog mostly for the NYRB Children's Collection so please check out their blog. Gathering Books won the book No Tomorrow by Vivant Denon.




And finally for the raffle draw, the winners are:
Lyn of  I Prefer Reading   and Ingrid Norton
Lyn won Soul of Wood by Jakov Lind and Ingrid won The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih.


Thank you to all those who participated. We've so enjoyed reading your reviews and have only added more books to our wish lists. Congratulations to the winners and please email us your mailing details. Thank you again to our sponsors Fully Booked and Random House, Inc for providing the prizes and supporting us in this event. We've loved hosting and hope to do it again next year!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NYRB Reading Week - The Final Round-Up



Yesterday was the last day of NYRB Reading Week and what a fantastic week its been.We've had so many participants and we now have many wonderful reviews to read. I'm going to spend my Sunday rereading the reviews and getting to the ones I haven't read yet. Honey and I will be meeting tomorrow to choose winners. We'll be announcing the results on Tuesday, November 16.

Reviews submitted that were written prior to NYRB Reading Week will not be eligible for the prizes. Also, if you've reviewed more than one book this week, then you'll be entered more times in the raffle draw. Thank you so much to our sponsors Fully Booked and Random House, Inc for providing the prizes.

This has been a excellent event and already many of you have asked when we can do it again. I hope this can be an annual event. I'd love to co-host this again. Good luck and happy reading!

Here's the list of NYRB reviews from Nov. 7 to 13.

November 7
The Bear That Wasn't by Frank Tashlin reviewed at Gathering Books
Poison Penmanship: the gentle art of muckraking by Jessica Mitford reviewed at I Prefer Reading
Asleep in the Sun by Adolfo Boy Casares reviewed at Kyusi Reader
The Unknown Masterpiece by Honore de Balzac  litstuff
The Rider on the White Horse by Theodor Storm reviewed at   Lizzy's Literary Life

November 8 
Stoner by John Williams reviewed by William Rycroft  (written prior to NYRB Reading Week)
Witch Grass by  Raymond Queneau reviewed at Letters and Sodas
The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems reviewed by Soliony
The Book of Ebenezer le Page by GB Edwards reviewed by William Rycroft (written prior to NYRB Reading Week)
After Claude by Iris Owens reviewed by Nicole
Unknown Masterpieces: Writers Rediscover Literature's Hidden Classics reviewed by Nathalie Foy
The Man Who Lost His Head by Robert McCloskey reviewed at Gathering Books

November 9 
Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner reviewed by Carol Wallace
An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden reviewed at Gathering Books
We Think The World Of You by J.R. Ackerley reviewed by Ingrid Norton
Skylark by Dezso Kosztolanyi reviewed at My Porch
Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham reviewed at Sasha and the Silverfish
The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford reviewed by William Rycroft
Skylark by Dezso Kosztolanyi reviewed by Nicole
Don't Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier reviewed at The Literary Stew
Skylark by Dezso Kosztolanyi reviewed at Coffeespoons
Don't Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier reviewed at Kyusi Reader

November 10 
Great Granny Webster by Caroline Blackwood reviewed by Carol Wallace
Poem Strip by Dino Buzzati reviewed by Fleur Fisher
Victorine by Dezso Kosztolanyi reviewed at Magnificent Octopus
A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr reviewed at Nonsuch Book
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy reviewed at My Porch
The Summer Book by Tove Janssons reviewed at Gathering Books
The Stalin Front by Gert Ledig reviewed at in lieu of a field guide
The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Boy Casares reviewed by William Rycroft (written prior to NYRB Reading Week)
Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupassant reviewed by Carol Wallace (written prior to NYRB Reading Week)
The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton reviewed at Sasha and the Silverfish

November 11 
Jenny Goes to Sea by Esther Averill reviewed at Gathering Books
Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes reviewed by Nicole
Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupassant reviewed at Club Balzac
Stoner by John Williams reviewed at Mental Multivitamin

November 12 
The Engagement by Georges Simenon reviewed at Magnificent Octopus
Three Bedrooms in Manhattan by Georges Simenon reviewed at William Rycroft (written prior to NYRB week)
Mistress Masham's Repose by T.H.White reviewed by Nathalie Foy
Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker reviewed by Ara Jane
The Chyrsalids by John Wyndham reviewed at The Finch and Pea
Rock Crystal by Adalbert Stifter reviewed at Magnificent Octopus
Randall Jarell's Book of Stories reviewed by Nicole
The Company They Kept: Writers on their Unforgettable Friendships Gathering Books
Manservant and Maidservant by Ivy Compton-Burnett reviewed at The Reading Life

November 13 
Niki: The Story of a Dog by Tibor Dery reviewed by Fleur Fisher
The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig reviewed at A Work in Progress (posted prior to NYRB week)
The Wonderful O by James Thurber reviewed at Gathering Books
The 13 Clocks by James Thurber reviewed at Gathering Books
Red Lights by Georges Simenon reviewed by Lizzy Sidal
The Snows of Yesteryear by Gregor von Rezzori reviewed by Lizzy Sidal (posted prior to NYRB Week)
The Queue by Vladimir Sorokin by William Rycroft (posted prior to NYRB Week)
The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay reviewed at Gathering Books
Indian Summer by William Dean Howell reviewed at Carol Wallace
Wish Her Safe At Home by Stephen Benatar reviewed at Evening All Afternoon
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes reviewed at Coffeespoons
Wish Her Safe At Home by Stephen Benatar reviewed at Book Snob
School For Love by Olivia Manning reviewed at My Porch
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes reviewed at New Century Reading
Wish Her Safe At Home by Stephen Benatar reviewed at cobblestonesea
After Claude by Iris Owens reviewed at Shelf Love

*Please check out Honey's post today at her blog  Coffeespoons to see the entries for our photography competition.

Other Interesting Posts:
*Check out Thomas at My Porch's blog for interesting posts on NYRB covers and his favorite NYRB books so far.

*Damin Searls works for NYRB Classics as an editor, translator, introducer and back cover writer. Besides all that, he loves NYRB Classics and has listed his top ten favorites here.

*For my own list of favorite NYRB Classics so far, you can read my post here.

*Lizzy Sidal is holding her own NYRB competition. All you have to do is pick your favorite NYRB cover. Check out her blog here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Favorite NYRB Classics So Far

Taking a cue from Thomas at My Porch  and Damion Searls (NYRB editor, translator, introducer and back cover writer),  I decided to do a post on my favorite NYRBs so far. I actually haven't read a lot of them but already five have become firm favorites.

I read The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig before I started blogging and its haunted me ever since. I noticed that not many bloggers have written about it and I think that's a shame because this book deserves to be widely read and Stefan Zweig is such a brilliant writer. I would never have heard of him if it weren't for NYRB Classics.

The Post-Office Girl is both exhilarating and devastating and if a book can conjure those emotions in a reader then isn't that amazing? Christine, a poor, young postal worker in post World War I Vienna is whisked away by her wealthy aunt and uncle to a luxurious Swiss mountain resort. Here she gets to spend a few days as Cinderella. This is a fairy-tale story without the happy ending.

The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley has probably one of the most famous opening lines in literature: "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." I read this years ago in a non-NYRB edition and it has a permanent place in my list of all-time favorite books. It's the summer of 1900 and 12-year-old Leo spends the summer at the country estate of one of his friends from school. While there, he falls in love with his friend's older sister, Marian and naively helps her deliver secret letters to her farmer lover and vice-versa thus becoming the go-between of the title. This is quite an emotional novel heightened by the fact that it's narrated by Leo, now in his 60s as he looks back on a time of innocence lost and coming of age in a tragic way.


The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin is a lovely, sweet and well-written novel. Her descriptions make you feel like you are actually holidaying with the characters in Italy. You can almost smell the flowers. Four unhappy women who are strangers to each other answer an ad to rent a villa in Italy together for a month. Once there, they begin to change and find happiness within themselves.






The Chrysalids by John Wyndham was written in the 50s and is set in the future after a nuclear disaster. Young David lives in a tight-knit community of religious and genetic fundamentalists. Any forms of deviation from the norm in terms of strange plants,crops, animals or humans are either eliminated or banished into the Fringes, a barbaric land bordering their community. Read my full review here.





Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford. I'm been fascinated by the Mitford family for years so if given the chance I'll definitely pick out any book by them or about them. Hons and Rebels is Jessica Mitford's own autobiographical account of growing up in a very unconventional family, her marriage to her first husband and running away together to join the Spanish Civil War. This is definitely a must-read if you're a fan of the fabulous Mitfords.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NYRB Reading Week - Update



It's Wednesday and we're smack in the middle of the NYRB Reading Week! Thank you all to have participated. Honey and I have consolidated the reviews we have so far. The list is below. Please let us know if we've missed your review and leave a link in the comment section.


Here's the list of NYRB reviews from Nov. 7 to 10:

November 7
The Bear That Wasn't by Frank Tashlin reviewed at Gathering Books
Poison Penmanship: the gentle art of muckraking by Jessica Mitford reviewed at I Prefer Reading
Asleep in the Sun by Adolfo Boy Casares reviewed at Kyusi Reader
The Unknown Masterpiece by Honore de Balzac  litstuff
The Rider on the White Horse by Theodor Storm reviewed at   Lizzy's Literary Life

November 8 
Stoner by John Williams reviewed by William Rycroft  (written prior to NYRB Reading Week)
Witch Grass by  Raymond Queneau reviewed at Letters and Sodas
The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems reviewed by Soliony
The Book of Ebenezer le Page by GB Edwards reviewed by William Rycroft (written prior to NYRB Reading Week)
After Claude by Iris Owens reviewed by Nicole
Unknown Masterpieces: Writers Rediscover Literature's Hidden Classics reviewed by Nathalie Foy
The Man Who Lost His Head by Robert McCloskey reviewed at Gathering Books


November 9 
Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner reviewed by Carol Wallace
An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden reviewed at Gathering Books
We Think The World Of You by J.R. Ackerley reviewed by Ingrid Norton
Skylark by Dezso Kosztolanyi reviewed at My Porch
Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham reviewed at Sasha and the Silverfish
The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford reviewed by William Rycroft
Skylark by Dezso Kosztolanyi reviewed by Nicole
Don't Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier reviewed at The Literary Stew
Skylark by Dezso Kosztolanyi reviewed at Coffeespoons


November 10 
Great Granny Webster by Caroline Blackwood reviewed by Carol Wallace
Poem Strip by Dino Buzzati reviewed by Fleur Fisher
Victorine by Maude Hutchins reviewed at Magnificent Octopus
A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr reviewed at Nonsuch Book
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy reviewed at My Porch
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson reviewed at Gathering Books
The Stalin Front by Gert Ledig reviewed at in lieu of a field guide
The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Boy Casares reviewed by William Rycroft (written prior to NYRB Reading Week)

*Also, please check out Thomas at My Porch's blog for interesting posts on NYRB covers and his favorite NYRB books so far.

Some updates:
For our photo contest, please sign up at Honey's blog, Coffeespoons and leave a link to your photograph. The winner of the photography contest will get a chance to win the book No Tomorrow by Vivant Denon. As we mentioned before, we'll also be giving out prizes for the best reviewers as chosen by Honey and I. The rest will get a chance to win either:
The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih or
Soul of Wood by Jakov Lind.

If you already own either of these books then please leave a comment below saying which book you'd rather win. If we don't hear from you, we'll assume you're ok with winning either one. You can click on the titles to get a synopsis of each book at our sponsor's website, Fully Booked. The list of winners will be announced on Tuesday, November 16.

And if you've just heard about NYRB Reading Week, it's still not too late to join. Just grab an NYRB book, read it by the 13th of November and write a review.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Don't Look Now


Here's my first review for the NYRB Reading Week: Don't Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier. As readers of my blog know, I'm a big, big fan of Daphne but I'm not a fan of short stories and that's probably why I've been avoiding her short story collections. However, I must say that I'm quickly being converted. Don't Look Now is probably the first short story collection that I've read straight through. This is an excellent book of just nine stories dealing with the creepy, the sinister and the macabre.

I was already familiar with the first and title story, Don't Look Now, having seen the spine-tingling film from the 70s starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. A couple getting over the death of their daughter are on holiday in Venice and encounter two elderly women with psychic powers. This was my favorite story from the entire book and it makes me want to see the film again which was, in hindsight actually very true to the story and excellently done. This story is a masterpiece that will haunt you for a long time.

My next favorite was Monte Verita, an atmospheric and  very long short story about two men in love with a woman who escapes to a monastery that seems more otherworldly than real.

The Blue Lenses was a creepy and at times darkly humorous story about a woman who undergoes an eye operation only to wake up seeing the humans around her with animal heads. The animals depict the true natures of the persons they inhabit. A snake head for example for a sneaky and two-faced nurse who's having an affair with the patient's husband.

The Birds was made into a Hitchcock film in the 60s but this story is completely different from the movie. It's darker and completely chilling.

La Sainte-Verge is about a sailor's wife who loves her husband blindly and so obsessively that as she kneels in church and prays for her loved one's safe return she literally sees what she believes.

There are four other stories in this book that are worth reading. Each one is a page-turner and so different from the last. This is a  great collection that's worth having on your shelf because you'll definitely be rereading your favorites through the years. As usual, Du Maurier's writing is perfect. Her stories are original and well-crafted as well as vividly atmospheric. Plus to top it off, this wonderful NYRB edition includes an insightful introduction by the writer Patrick McGrath. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NYRB Reading Week - Welcome



Welcome to the NYRB Reading Week! I'll be hosting this event together with Honey of Coffeespoons. We're both looking forward to reading your reviews and spending a week reading some NYRB books.

There are no real rules for this event. This is just a relaxed and informal reading week. Simply read one or more NYRB books during this week and blog about it. If you don't have a blog, then just leave us a link to your review.

During the week, Honey and I will collate your posts and blog about them to make it easy for everyone to read all the reviews. Please post a link to your post in this welcome section or in any of the other NYRB posts in my blog or Honey's. Do this and you'll get a chance to win some prizes. We're giving out prizes for two of our favourite reviews. My favorite reviewer will get a chance to win The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. While Honey's favorite reviewer will win Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.

Fully Booked and Random House, Inc. have kindly given us five books to give away. We've also decided to give a prize to the best photo you can come up with of  NYRB books. We were inspired by Thomas at My Porch's recent photographs of his collection. See below.



The other books up for grabs for this event are the following:

The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih
Soul of Wood by Jakov Lind
No Tomorrow by Vivant Denon

Monday, November 1, 2010

NYRB Reading Week (update)



Here's a short update for those of you participating in the NYRB Reading Week from November 7 to 13. We've received word from our main sponsor, Fully Booked, that Random House Inc.. is also supporting us in our plans and they've donated more books for us to include as prizes! This is excellent news as we now have five books to give away. Thanks so much to Fully Booked for making this happen.

Here are the books that Fully Booked and Random House will be giving out as prizes. Click on the links to get a synopsis of each book at the Fully Booked website.

1. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Link: http://www.fullybookedonline.com/productdetails.asp?id=8168
2. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
Link: http://www.fullybookedonline.com/productdetails.asp?id=8169
3. The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih
Link: http://www.fullybookedonline.com/productdetails.asp?id=8170
4. Soul of Wood by Jakov Lind
Link: http://www.fullybookedonline.com/productdetails.asp?id=8171
5. No Tomorrow by Vivant Denon
Link: http://www.fullybookedonline.com/productdetails.asp?id=8172

My co-host Honey (Coffeespoons) and I have decided to choose a favourite review each and to raffle the remaining three books among all those who'll be participating in NYRB week. It's not too late for you to join in because this will be an informal and relaxed reading challenge. There are no rules. Simply read one or more NYRB books during that week and blog about it. If you don't have a blog, then just leave us a link to your review.  

During the week, Honey and I will collate your posts and blog about them. As soon as you've posted one of your reviews, please leave a link in our comments section. Everyone who participates will get a chance to win the prizes.

For a full list of NYRB books, check out their website at: 
http://www.nybooks.com/books/browse/all/?imprint=classics

Thanks to everyone who dropped by and commented and who have plans to participate. I'm excited to read all your reviews. Thanks for spreading the word. See you all next week!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pillars of the Earth (The Mini-Series)


My husband and I are currently watching  Pillars of the Earth, the mini-series and we're absolutely riveted. It's just fabulous and I don't want it to end! It's taking us a while though to get through the eight hour movie because we want to watch it together and real life such as family, travel and work has interfered sometimes. I remember being engrossed by the almost 1,000 page book by Ken Follett when I read it in 1996. Yes, I actually recall the year I read this novel  because trust me...it's that kind of book. Now that we're watching the TV movie, I realize I don't remember much from the book so it's hard to compare but the movie is definitely good! Great casting, acting, script and beautiful costumes and locations. This is the television event of the year and you must catch it if you can. The DVD version will be released on November 23rd. Check out the trailer below.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Which Books Scared You?



Ok, so it's coming around to that time of year again....Halloween! I love reading chilling stories in October so I'd like to hear your recommendations for books that have really spooked you. A book you didn't want to read at home alone. The only relatively scary book I read this year was The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. While not really a horror novel, it did have some frightening scenes. As a child, I remember Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury scaring me so much that I've never forgotten it. I wonder what I would think of it now.

So which books do you recommend for Halloween?

The picture above is of the actress Bette Davis in the film Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

Monday, October 18, 2010

And The Winner Is...



Thanks to everyone who wished my blog a happy first birthday. I chose a winner at random this morning and it is ireneseoul! Congratulations Irene! Her comment went as follows: " Happy Anniversary! Since I've been reading your blog, I've reignited my own love of reading. Thanks to you! I look forward to being inspired by your reviews for many more years to come! P.S. I've been dying to read ONE DAY but can't find it at the bookstores in Seoul, so please put that one down in the lucky draw for me =)"

Good choice Irene and I'm surprised to learn that the book isn't available in Korea. I'll send it off to you soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Blog!



Happy birthday dear blog!  It's my first year anniversary and oh...what a year it has been!

I'd just like to say how much I have enjoyed blogging this last year. I think one of the highlights was finding out that three of my book reviews were printed in the Persephone biannually. It was such a thrill and I was on a high for a number of days (you can read about that here). I've enjoyed receiving emails from a few of you who've told me I've been one of their inspirations to start blogs of their own. I have loved visiting other blogs and adding books to my reading list. My reading life has never been richer. I've appreciated receiving comments and feedback from all of you readers. Thank you so much to all of you who've stopped by. Based on my stats on sitemeter, I know I've some fans I've yet to meet, so if you haven't already, please do comment dear silent lurkers. I would love to know who you are.

In honor of my first year, I'm giving away a book of your choice. You can choose a book from all the books I've reviewed in the past year and I'll mail it to any place in the world. The only condition is that it should be a book available in The Book Depository . So, please leave a comment below with the book of your choice and I'll pick a winner at random this Sunday. I'll announce the winner on Monday morning. This giveaway is open to anyone, regular readers and even new ones. If you don't have a blog, that's ok too.

Oh and just in case you're wondering, that's not me up there but Marilyn Monroe blowing a candle on her 30th birthday cake.


Cheers!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Uncommon Reader


The Uncommon Reader is a wonderful novella that is meant for readers and lovers of books. It's for anyone who's ever been asked the questions, 'Why do you read? When do you have the time? What do you read?' Did you notice that only people who don't read ask questions like that? How can I answer the question, 'what do I read?' To answer that question, I'd have to write an essay. Well, The Uncommon Reader  gives us witty and charming answers to all these questions from the point of view of the Queen of England, who's just discovered her love for reading at a very advanced age.

One day, while out walking, the Queen comes across a mobile library. Wishing to be polite, she borrows a book at random and though it turns out to be quite dry, she finds herself borrowing another and another after that. She soon discovers the joys of reading, becoming an opsimath or "one who learns only late in life." Her staff and advisers are dismayed and try to discourage her new hobby.

This is a charming little book filled with  wonderful quotes about the joys of reading.

“What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren’t long enough for the reading she wanted to do.”

"You don't put your life into your books, you find it there." 

"The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included."

“Can there be any greater pleasure’, she confided in her neighbour, the Canadian minister for overseas trade, than to come across an author one enjoys and then to find they have written not just one book or two, but at least a dozen?’ And all, though she did not say this, in paperback and so handbag size.”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

NYRB Reading Week (November 7 - 13)



Honey from Coffeespoons and I will be hosting the NYRB Reading Week from November 7 to 13.
We'd love for most of you to join. There are no rules. This is an informal and relaxing little challenge. Simply read one or more NYRB books during that week and blog about it. If you don't have a blog, then just leave us a link to your review. While this isn't an official event, NYRB is aware of this reading week and fully support us.

During the week, Honey and I will collate your posts and blog about them. As soon as you've posted one of your reviews, please leave a link in our comments section. Everyone who participates will get a chance to win prizes at the end of the week which of course will be NYRB books. The prizes come courtesy of
Fully Booked Philippines. Thanks so much Fully Booked! We'll be giving out a prize for the best book review to be judged by Honey and I and another prize will be chosen at random and given to one of the lucky reviewers who participated. This is open internationally.

If you're not familiar with NYRB (The New York Review of Books) then now is your chance to find out more about them. The following is a description of their books from the NYRB website:

The NYRB Classics series is designedly and determinedly exploratory and eclectic, a mix of fiction and non-fiction from different eras and times and of various sorts. The series includes nineteenth century novels and experimental novels, reportage and belles lettres, tell-all memoirs and learned studies, established classics and cult favorites, literature high, low, unsuspected, and unheard of. NYRB Classics are, to a large degree, discoveries, the kind of books that people typically run into outside of the classroom and then remember for life.

For a full list of NYRB books, check out their website at: 
http://www.nybooks.com/books/browse/all/?imprint=classics

Let us know if you'll be participating and what you plan to read. Also,  please help us get the word out.  See you in a month's time!

The logo above was created by Honey's husband.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Which Books Made You Laugh?


I thought I'd throw another bookish question out there because my Which Books Made You Cry? post got a lot of responses. One Day by David Nicholls was truly unique because it made me cry but it also made me laugh in parts. I imagine it's not easy for a writer to elicit a physical reaction from a reader and to manage to draw out both emotions is indeed an admirable feat.

I was wondering which books have made you laugh? Not just a snicker or a smile but really laugh out loud. P.G.Wodehouse always makes me laugh and so does Nick Hornby sometimes especially with his book A Long Way Down. John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, A Confederacy of Dunces almost made me laugh but not quite. Still, it was definitely amusing. So, let's have it....I'm curious to hear your responses and add some new books to my wish-list.

I love the picture above which is of Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward sharing a laugh at home.
There was an error in this gadget

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails