You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘book talk’ category.
I’ve recently read a great book about books for the Project Gutenberg Project: an adventure story set aboard a book caravan – the Parnassus – at the beginning of the 20th century.
Go over to the PGP to read more about it, but before, take a look at this collection of modern Parnassus from all over the world, curtsy of a Flickr Group dedicated to bookmobiles. They make me want to hit the road…
She made me work for the honor by asking for a favorite book – just one! The question every bookworm fears The other two choices involved a book that changed my world and a book that deserves a wider audience.
Please visit Reading Matters to know my answers. Thanks again for the opportunity Kim!
I wish I’d made a similar list when I was in my early teens and twenties just to notice the evolution. I see some patterns in this collection of men: not a lot of Alphas or Bad Boys, there’s a surprising number of soldiers (although their soldering doesn’t defines them), only two of them lived in the 20th century and steadfastness seems a general quality.
I suspect that my past self would include more gloomy types, but intellect and the possibility of an interesting conversation is taking over. Mr. Darcy would have definitely be included in a previous list, but now I’m switching my Austen favorite from the brooding gentleman to the social adventurer. I’ve also noticed they aren’t very original choices, but for that I blame the amazing authors that created them.
10. Jaime Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire series)
“I think it passing odd that I am loved by one for a kindness I never did, and reviled by so many for my finest act.” (A Clash of Kings)
I struggle da bit about including Jamie because of the whole, you know, pushing a child out of the window thing. But the fact remains that as the series progresses, Martin’s genius is making him more and more interesting and layered.
He stats off with a ruthless reputation, but then on book three he becomes a POV character and we suddenly see the other side of the story. It’s also around that time that Jaime’s life stops being a succession of victories and the first cracks start to show. Although he has a twisted relationship with his sister, there’s true affection between him and Tyrion, always a good sign.
I’ll probably regret this choice in the future because, Martin being Martin, Jaime might be killing baby seals in the next book, but for now, his chapters are the ones I’m most looking forward to.
9. William Dobbin (Vanity Fair)
She admired Dobbin; she bore him no rancour for the part he had taken against her. It was an open move in the game, and played fairly. “Ah!” she thought, “if I could have had such a husband as that—a man with a heart and brains too! I would not have minded his large feet.” (Becky Sharp on William Dobbie)
Becky Sharp saying such a thing about a man should already be an indication of how great Dobbin is. He’s described as shy, ugly, awkward, the complete opposite of his best friend George, who marries the girl Dobbie loves and everyone thinks a hero, but is in fact the scum of the earth. I don’t usually go for the meek characters, but Dobbin is the underdog who sticks around when there’s trouble and one of the noblest literary men I’ve ever read about.
Everyone seems to underestimate him, but Dobbin goes from the son of a grocer to become a Captain, then a Major, and finally a Colonel. He also has a smart sense of humor, although it rarely makes an appearance. In one of the book’s last scenes, after years of constant affection, Dobbin finally stands up for himself after being unfairly mistreated by his beloved Amelia. Although it’s sad, it’s also the poignant scene that sealed the deal and made him enter this list.
It also didn’t hurt to see Philip Glenister play him in the adaptation.
8. Ron Weasley (Harry Potter series)
“Hermione screamed again from overhead, and they could hear Bellatrix screaming too, but her words were inaudible, for Ron shouted again, ‘HERMIONE! HERMIONE!’” (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Ron is the real romantic hero of the Harry Potter series and I’m not alone in thinking so. He starts of as The Chosen One’s wingman, the one without any special gifts or abilities and ends up getting the (amazing) girl. Ron coughs up slugs and breaks wands, but he also offers himself up to Bellatrix in Hermione’s stead and, in one of the most amazing scenes of the whole serie, he faces his fears and insecurities and destroys the Locket.
AND he smells of freshly mown grass, new parchment and toothpaste…
7. Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables series)
“Gilbert Blythe was trying to make Anne Shirley look at him and failing utterly… she should look at him, that redhaired Shirley girl with the pointed chin and the big eyes that weren’t like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school.” (Anne of Green Gables)
He’s not afraid to apologize or to stand his ground and challenge Anne. He loves her but is ready to wait until she’s ready… and it also doesn’t hurt he’s easy on the eye.
All of their scenes together make me all mushy inside: calling her Carrot, the The Lady of Shalott debacle, his proposal(s) and basically the whole of Anne of the Island.
6. Captain Wentworth (Persuasion)
“A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman! He ought not; he does not”
His devotion to Anne, after all those years, after she broke her heart is impossible to resist. For me he has the added value of being the only Austenesque self-made hero and a sailor who’s seen the world to top. It’s a great combination.
He’s also one of the only people in the world who recognizes Anne for the sensible, intelligent and resourceful woman she is: no one puts Anne in a corner!
5. Robbie Turner (Atonement)
“Finally he spoke the three simple words that no amount of bad art or bad faith can every quite cheapen.”
Years of desiring Cecilia from afar and a few stolen minutes in the library sustain Robbie Turner throughout the horrors of WW2. Don’t know exactly why I like Robbie so much, but it’s probably because he carries an undeserved burden with courage, and strength, and always with Cecilia on his mind.
Robbie wears his heart of his sleeve and somehow there’s hope in him, even after Briony’s accusation and all that followed. We can’t help but, be like the narrator, wholeheartedly root for him to come back.
4. Stephen Maturin (Aubrey/Maturin series)
“There is a systematic flocci-nauci-nihili-pilification of all other aspects of existence that angers me.” (Master and Commander)
This is my most recent literary crush: he’s bright, funny and such a geek! Stephen might not be good looking, but he can tell you all about the Galápagos giant tortoise and how to do brain surgery in a stinking boat in six languages.
Actually, scratch that about him not being good looking, don’t care how O’Brian describes him, he’ll always look like Paul Bettany to me. It’s also attractive that he’s part of one of the best bromances around.
3. Rhett Butler (Gone with the Wind)
“There was a cool recklessness in his face and a cynical humor in his mouth as he smiled at her, and Scarlett caught her breath.”
A cliché, I know, but the millions of fans can’t all be wrong, right? Rhett Butler had me almost at hello, when he stands in a group of righteous Southern men hungry for war and says “Napoleon – perhaps you’ve hear of him? – remarked once, ‘God is on the side of the strongest battalion’“.
Just like Scarlett he’s an anti-hero, or at least a hero trying too hard not to be one (was there ever a more frustrating relationship?). He’s sharp, ambitious, worldly, cynical, confident and just devilish enough to keep any woman on her toes.
Mitchell never wrote a sex scene, but the pages are full to the brim with sexual tension whenever he’s around.
2. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)
“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
His attraction are his Southern Gentleman ways and his determination to do what’s right. He also kills rabid dogs and is raising two great and open-minded kids alone. I’m only surprised about how he never feels like a Mary Sue, preachy or self-righteous. I wonder what type of people his wife and his parents were, they must also have been extraordinary.
1. Faramir (The Lord of the Rings)
“I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” (The Two Towers)
“He was gentle in bearing, and a lover of lore and of music, and therefore by many in those days his courage was judged less than his brother’s. But it was not so, except that he did not seek glory in danger without a purpose.” (The Return of the King)
“Here was one with an air of high nobility such as Aragorn at times revealed, less high perhaps, yet also less incalculable and remote: one of the Kings of Men born into a later time, but touched with the wisdom and sadness of the Elder Race. [...] He was a captain that men would follow, [...] even under the shadow of the black wings.” (The Two Towers)
Faramir only makes his appearance in The Two Towers, but he got my attention immediately and became my biggest literary crush. Yep, I liked him even before he fell in love with Éowyn, the only 3D female character in the whole book.
That’s just the cherry on top: Faramir’s a soldier, but his father calls him “a wizard’s pupil” because Gandalf himself taught him the lore of Middle-earth. He’s noble, but human, and his need to please his father, who preferred his brother Boromir, broke my heart. He also resisted the Ring, letting Frodo and Sam go, even though he could be killed for it (“You know the laws of our country, the laws of your father. If you let them go, your life will be forfeit.”)
I’m always secretly happy when I see Aragorn or Legolas in literary crushes lists, because it means that Faramir, the scholarly soldier, is still one of the best kept open-secrets in literature ;)
So, who did I miss?
I’m a bit lazy today, so I’ll just post a few photos of a recent night visit to the Royal Library of Belgium.
The garden by night (the Library is the building on the left).
Each locker is dedicated to a Belgian author.
Exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the publicaiton of Les Misérables. A Belgian first edition in 10 volumes.
The Librarium, a permanent exhibition space on the history of books, writing and libraries.
According to my 2011 end-year statistics, 40% of the books I’ve read are audiobooks, but I only remember reviewing them as such twice. This happens because I haven’t figured out the best way to do it. Saying things like “She has good diction” or “Hearing his sharp intakes of breath really distracted me from the story” sounds too personal, like commenting on a person’s hairstyle. Would love some advice from experienced audiobook reviewers. Is there a “Reviewing Audiobooks for Dummies” post somewhere?
Yesterday I discovered an event that looks perfect to get me out of the closet as a huge audiobook fan: The Armchair Audies. It’s organized by Jennifer (The Literate Housewife) and Bob (The Guilded Earlobe) and invites bloggers to celebrate the Audies, the audiobook industry’s Awards. The nomination list is daunting, comprising 28 categories, each with 5 nominates, so Jennifer and Bob suggest that participants chose one or more categories and just listen to all the books in it.
The winners will be announced in June and Armchair Audies participants should be able to publish their closing post (maybe with some predictions?) shortly before. Jennifer is reviewing Literary Fiction and Bob will ambitiously tackle three categories: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal.
I’ll go for History. Although all the books in this category sound interesting, and some were already under my radar, the topics seems a bit limited: two about WW2 events, three on American History (or from an American perspective) and two of these about the 19th century. Only one written by a woman and only that one narrated by one. Four written by American writers, but even Mukherjee, although Indian, lives and works in NY. As a reader I’d prefer more variety.
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Tantor Media)
Read by Stephen Hoye
Already had it in the TBL, so I’m happy it’s nominated. It’s a history of cancer, from the first documented cases thousands of years ago to the 20th century attempts at better understand it and finding a cure. Heard great things about it.x
1812: The Navy’s War
by George C. Daughan (Audible, Inc.)
Read by Marc Vietor
It’s about the American Navy but it’ll still be a nice compliment to my recently Navy interest, brought about by the Aubrey/Maturin series. The blurb says it “is the first complete account in more than a century of how the U.S. Navy rescued the fledgling nation and secured America’s future.“
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
Hannah Arendt (Tantor Media)
Read by Wanda McCaddon
This is the one I’m more curious about, but Audible doesn’t let me buy it because of my Belgian credit card! Hopefully, the copy-right issue is solved before June. Arendt (a Jew who fled Germany during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power), reported on Eichmann’s trial for The New Yorker. While covering the technical aspects of the trial, she also explored the nature of justice, the behavior of the Jewish leadership during the Nazi Regime, and, most controversially, the nature of Evil itself.
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin
by Erik Larson (Random House Audio)
Read by Stephen Hoye
Really liked The Devil in the White City, so this one was already on the wish-list. It’s the story of William E. Dodd, America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany, and his attempts to report to the outside world the rising horrors happening there.
1861: The Civil War Awakening
by Adam Goodheart (Audible, Inc./ Brilliance Audio)
Read by Jonathan Davis
Most books about the Civil War are about the fighting years, so this account of the years that led up to it should be interesting.
Monday has become a day of firsts chez The Sleepless Reader. Last week we’ve had the first joint review and now the first guest post. Patricia is a fellow member of the Brontë Brussels Group and one of the most avid readers I’ve met since moving here. She is also the only Maltese I know!
When we talked about a guest post I asked her to write about why she loves romance novels so much and also to give me some recommendations, since it’s one of the genres I know less about.
If you have any other recommendations, please let me know!
When Alex asked me to contribute a blog to her website my first reaction was ‘but the type of books I like reading are different from the ones she reviews’. So it got me thinking ‘why do I enjoy romance novels?’ Judging by the number of romance novels published and sold every year and the large amount of websites and blogs devoted to this genre I am not the only person to enjoy these types of books. There are various subgenres; historical romance, suspense, paranormal, chick-lit, contemporary, futuristic, the list is endless with most readers preferring one or the other. I do not have a real preference, it generally depends on my mood.
I have been a bookworm from a young age. One of my earliest memories is walking to the library with my sisters during school holidays. This was long before DVDs and computers were invented so books were our main means of recreation. Our local library was an old building lined with old musty books from the 14th and 15th century which were just to be admired from the distance. But on the bottom shelves there were books by Enid Blyton and the Nancy Drew adventures. Then for my 9th birthday I received a copy of Jane Eyre. I was immediately transported into a world of young heroines who have to make their own way in the world fighting against evil relatives and poverty but end up finding true love. At school we studied Dickens, Hardy and Austen but in the weekends to relax my sisters and I read ‘Mills and Boons’ novels borrowed from our aunts. From there we moved on to the historical romances of Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer before discovering the blockbusters of Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins.
Why are romances novels so popular? Speaking from experience I find that after a long busy day I want nothing more than to curl up with a book that does not require too much thinking and which leaves me feeling good. I dislike nothing more than a book that has no clear ending or ‘horror of horrors’ a sad ending (I feel the same way about movies).
As anyone who has come to my house can attest I own a lot of books. When I find an author I like I tend to read everything they have written. My biggest collection must be Nora Roberts novels (she has over 200 in publication). Her stories are mainly contemporary with a mystery thrown in. Another favourite author is Jayne Ann Krentz, who writes under three different names. As Jayne Ann Krentz she writes contemporary suspense and/or paranormal, as Jayne Castle she writes future paranormal but my favourite are her Amanda Quick novels. These novels are historical romances, straight up romances with a hint of comedy, adventure and sometimes paranormal thrown in. Her heroines are independent women who know what they want and are equal partners with the heroes despite living in a period where woman equality is unheard of. I also enjoy the historical romances by Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Cristina Dodd and Teresa Medeiros.
I am also a big fan of Meg Cabot, of the Princess Diaries fame. She also writes books for adults and my favourite are the Heather Wells series about a former teen pop star who now works as a residence house coordinator at a New York College while trying to rebuild her life after being fired by her record label and being swindled out of all her money. Small aside, Meg Cabot has one of the better author websites, her video blogs are hilarious. It is worth checking out.
I am currently going through a paranormal romance phase. One downside of this genre is they tend come in the form of a series so once I read one book I’m hooked and have to buy and read the rest. I’m big fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward and the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh. I have just discovered the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. It is so much fun to read about these fantasy worlds where anything is possible, the heroes face insurmountable challenges and villains and yet still find time to fall in love despite sometimes being of a different species.
In case you are wondering if my sisters still share my love of books, I am happy to say that although we now live in different countries and have demanding careers and families, when we meet-up we regularly discuss and exchange the latest novels we have read, or as our children call them ‘books with half naked men on the cover’.
If you would like to know more about this genre I regularly guestblog on Patty’s book blog ‘A Tale of Three Cities‘.
Thank you Alex for allowing me to share my ramblings on your site.
Happy experiences lay ahead, fellow audacious readers! Yesterday Kinna announced the kick-off of the much-anticipated Africa Reading Challenge.
The simple rule is that all participants must read at least five books. My plan is to focus on Portuguese-speaking countries, and since there’s five of them, I’ll read a book from each. I’ve read loads of Brazilian authors, but Lusophone Africa is still a shameless desert in my literary landscape.
I’ve compiled a draft list to share with you, but I’m aware it’ll all depend very much on the books’ availability. Kinna already warned participants that classic African literature in particular can be hard to find. Let me know if you have any other recommendations.
Here’s the plan – all links go to sites in English:
- Lueji (O Nascimento de um Império) by Pepetela
- Quantas Madrugadas tem a Noite or Os da Minha Rua by Ondjaki
- Flores e espinhos by Óscar Ribas
- João Vêncio: os seus amores by José Luandino Vieira
- As Mulheres do Meu Pai (My Father’s Wives) by José Eduardo Agualusa
- O Testamento do Senhor Napumoceno da Silva Araújo (The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo) by Germano Almeida
- A Casa dos Mastros: Contos Caboverdianos by Orlanda Amarílis
- Chiquinho by Baltasar Lopes
- Vidas Vividas by Ivone Ramos
- As Orações de Mansat by Abdulai Silá (play inspired by Macbeth)
- Mistida by Abdulai Silá
- Corte Geral by Carlos Lopes
- Tiara by Filomena Embaló
- Os Olhos da Cobra Verde by Lília Momplé (short-stories)
- Terra Sonâmbula (Sleepwalking Land) or O último vôo do flamingo by Mia Couto
- Nos motamos o cao tinhoso (We Killed Mangy-Dog and Other Mozambican Stories) by Bernardo Honwana
- Niketche: Uma História de Poligamia by Paulina Chiziane
São Tomé and Príncipe
- Versos by Caetano da Costa Alegre (poetry)
It was a good reading year. Read 99 books, but didn’t realize it until it was too late to make a final push to reach the triple digit. But that’s ok, it’s a funny number!
In the future, I’ll remember 2011 as the year when…
- I started tweeting
- I started reading Patrick O’Brian
- I realized that non-fiction can be as fun as fiction
- I discovered how read-alongs can enhanced the reading experience
- My TBR imploded
I’ve had my e-reader for two years but it still not part of my reading habits. On the other hand, I can’t live without my audiobooks.
Not an exact science, but it seems about right: lots of fantasy, historical, “literary fiction” and classics. I’m happy with this balance, most of the time I read what I feel like reading.
The expected supremacy of fiction, although 12 non-fiction is a record. I had such a great experience with them that I’m determined to increase that figure in 2012.
Something I want to work on. If I can read in different languages, why don’t I? Laziness might have something to do with it…
So with this in mind, these are my
PLANS FOR 2012
I don’t want to be too strict because it gives me great pleasure to spend time in front of the TBR shelf and chose what to read next without any restraints. All in all, I’m very happy and motivated about these five resolutions:
Less challenges, more read-alongs
In 2011 I participated (and completed) three challenges: One, Two Theme, Graphic Novels and Steampunk - I also entered four read-alongs with other book bloggers – Villette, The Discovery of Heaven, Sense and Sensibility and Heart of Darkness. Although I had fun with the challenges, read-alongs not only added to the reading experience, but also worked better for me in bringing me closer to the community.
So far I’ve only signed up to one Challenge: The Introverted Reader’s Southern Literature Challenge. Others might still lure me, but what I’m really looking forward to is participating in read-alongs, especially if they coincide with books already on my shelfs. If you know of any interesting ones, please let me know!
Read more in different languages
At least one in Spanish, two in French and five in my native Portuguese. The plan is to read originals and not translations.
Only re-read three books in 2011, but they were some of the best. The lure of the TBR is too strong, but I want to make time for old favorites in 2012. Several that come to mind: The Mists of Avalon, Atonement, Mansfield Park and Emma, some by classic Portuguese author Júlio Dinis, some by Guy Gavriel Kay (probably Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan).
Read War & Peace
Already have the audiobook, all 61 hours of it. That’s about five hours per month. I’m taking it easy, there’s no hurry.
Celebrate Dickens & Shakespeare
I’m not a Dickens fan and it’s likely I’ll give him up after I read Our Mutual Friend, which has been waiting in the shelf for a couple of years. In 2012 the world will celebrate Dickens’ 200th birthday and it seems the perfect opportunity to pick it up, but I’m not sure I’ll have the courage. Still, I’d like to somehow pay homage to him (I’m always up for celebrating authors, even if they’re not favorites), probably by reading Clare Tomalin’s new biography.
Confession: I’ve never read anything by Shakespeare, but this is the right time to change that. After all, there’s so much happening to celebrate his work this year.
I’ll soon post something more geekish, full of statistics and analysis (the type of post only you, dear bookish friends, will understand and appreciate), so this one is just about the Best of 2011.
I gave five stars to 14 books out of 104, which is pretty good considering past years, but I’m especially happy with their variety. They include:
- Historical novels, non-fiction, classics, young adult, humor, fantasy and sci-fi
- Two were re-reads
- Two non-fiction
- Three audiobooks
- Two under 200 pages, two over 900
- Seven written by men, seven by women
- Three written in the 19th century, five in the 20th and six in the 21th
The top 10 (in no order)
I think this is the begining of a beautiful friendship. These books pushed all the right buttons.
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
If you put a gun to my head and force me to chose just one 2011 favorite, I think this would be it.
A great biography, one of the best I’ve read.
Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Amin
Thank you Claire for your review – it made me add it to the wishlist, and thank you Downton Abbey for mentioning it – it made it a priority.
Starter for Ten by David Nicholls
Such a funny book, and about quizzes, how could I not love it?
Rant by Chuck Palahniuk
Hard to describe this one. Mind-blowing and mind-boggling sounds about right.
Race of Scorpions (House of Niccolo 3) by Dorothy Dunnett
I’m only reading one book of this series a year because you only read DD for the first time once. I dread the day they will come to an end, even with re-reads to look forward to.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
IT was even better the second time around. I read it first in my 20s, now I’m in my 30s and see it in a completely different way. I wonder what I’ll make of it in a decade.
Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
Another great re-read. Close to YA perfection, in my not so humble opinion. My ultimate comfort reading.
The four runner-ups
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by L. Lockhart
Thank you book blogosphere for this recommendation, it was true to all the raving.
Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Wester
A beautiful little book, which surprised me by how modern it felt.
The Coma by Alex Garland
The best audiobook of the year, in great part due to Matthew Macfadyen’s wonderful voice.
The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
A wonderful way to end the year and one of the reasons I’m naming 2011 The Year When I Truly Discovered Non-Fiction.