2 May 2008

book blogging in my pyjamas

I have read me some books.

But it's 10.18pm, the fire is dying down and lately there have been far too many 1.00am bedtimes and I'm ready for bed so this is going to be quick and dirty.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I've spoken about this several times recently, but can report that I finally finished. Verdict: Far too long, in need of a bloody good edit, waffly, inconsistent, irritating and dated. As previously reported, I read this back in the day and was impressed and inspired but now I'm old and cynical and I just cringed at a lot of it. (Sorry Stephanie).

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I think I wrote about this too; I'm getting repetitive aren't I? Mr Soup is now reading this as I saw him perusing the bookshelves and thrust it into his hands, assuring him he'll love it. He is. Fast, interesting, characters you engage with, colourful. Also the cover is pretty.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. My god, I loved this book. I finished it last night and I'm feeling completely and utterly bereft. It would make a great play, or an opera as Ann Patchett said herself in an interview. The story is gripping and I became totally enamoured of the characters as they lurched toward the-ending-that-couldn't-be-helped. (Although the epilogue was surprising). I've been listening to this on audio tape during my commute to work and as it came to the final tape I was filled with the dread of the knowledge that it would end and my companions of the last week or so would be gone, either dead or devastated by the events of the four and a half months that the book covers, and also that I couldn't somehow prolong it. Which is exactly what you're meant to feel. It's beautiful, elegant writing too. Just wonderful. I've put it on the bookgroup list for later in the year.

Now in the car I'm listening to The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan but I am still grieving for the Bel Canto folk and can't quite get hooked into Amy Tan's characters just yet. I feel like an adulterer; it's too soon. It is read by Tan herself though, which is a bonus. I remember thoroughly enjoying The Joy Luck Club and also The Kitchen God's Wife but Tan's books are getting a little repetitive now. Ah well, it was the only decent story tape on the library shelves last night and my tape of Black Swan Green by David Mitchell hasn't yet arrived. (His Cloud Atlas was one of the best things I read last year).

Last bookgroup book was Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. I read the first three pages and returned it to the library. Life's too short.

Next up for bookgroup is the imaginatively titled Heroic Australian Women in War by Susanna de Vries, nominated by our group's resident nonfiction reader. The sorts of books this member of the group recommends never ever appeal to me, but I've dutifully borrowed it from the library and it looks interesting really. The last nonfiction book she recommended also didn't appeal but it turned out to be a little ripper - Into the Blue by Tony Horwitz who happens to be married to Geraldine Brooks. And has a connection with one of our bookgroup members which I suspect was why it was chosen. Anyway, it's good having members of the group who push you to read things out of your comfort zone. Heck, out of any of my zones.

A friend is lending me her Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book which I've been dying to read but when I put it on hold at the library I was 97th in the queue, which means I'll get it roughly in 2011. I'm trying to cut down on my book buying, even though most of the books I purchase are from Savers and cost between $1.00 and $3.00 We just don't have the space despite a study with a whole wall of built in bookshelves, two floor to ceiling bookshelves in the dining room and another in one of the bedrooms. Oops, well that's why I just bought one of these, only ours is a 16 cube version and it's not on wheels. I built it all by myself the other night with only the aid of an allen key and I'm proud to say it is not the least bit wobbly. It's still empty but I look forward to a big book rearrange this weekend. It's totally made the family room, which is a room I've never found particularly attractive or welcoming. (Our lounge room, on the other hand, is purdy).

Ok, well that wasn't quite so quick or dirty and now it's definitely time for book and bed. Right now I'm reading Saturday by Ian McEwan, whose books I haven't readily enjoyed thus far. Was bored by Atonement (but loved the film) but liked Enduring Love very much (but hated the film). I'm only on the first chapter so we'll see. Time to take a cup of tea to bed and try chapter two.

Nighty night.

P.S. Can I just say, half the books listed here were recommended to me by the inimitable BabelBabe. Without BB I never would have discovered all these wonderful authors, and on her recommendation I've put more Patchett books and one by Allegra Goodman also on my holds list at the library. Thanks BB, you are my literary guru, y'know lovey.

18 comments:

cosymakes said...

bel canto is one of my favorite books of all time. i saw patchett speak several months ago and it was sooo wonderful. i highly recommend the magician's assistant next.

Laura said...

Your recent reads look very much like mine. Is the Allegra Goodman book Intuition? (As a ex-lab worker, I really enjoyed that one.)

Lesley said...

Know what you mean about Avalon, bless it, but I have a very soft spot for it: I read it towards the end of my last pregnancy, and through most of the labour, which had a false start and was long and slow, not painful at all, and we went through it at home before walking back to hospital to give birth a couple of hours later. Will's now 18! So I have to keep that copy, even though I'll never wade through it again.

tut-tut said...

I'll have to look out for the Geraldine Brooks one; didn't realize her husband was also a writer.

Am reading The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell, which I'm liking very much.

bluemountainsmary said...

Am about to start Boy in the Striped Pyjamas thanks to Jodie, have just bought Tim Winton's latest, and can now see that I will be getting Bel Canto.

Love a good book list for inspiration.

M said...

Cripes, I haven't read any of those books. Except People of the Book. I thought it was excellent and in a case of writing Deja Vu one of the locations in that book was repeated in the next book I read - Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell - in an eerily similar way.

Oh and I agree with you on the buying books thing. My personal library is obscene and I just end up supporting my friends' reading habits.

Frogdancer said...

Suse, of course 'The Mists of Avalon' is dated. It is set many many years ago......

(Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

tamara said...

Totally agree re: Mists of Avalon and Foucault's Pendulum. I didn't want to re-read Mists now as I suspected there would be a cringe factor.

...and now I'm going to be ninety-something-th in line for the others on your list! Love me a good book list. Thanks!

Ali said...

I liked Saturday, but loved On Chesil Beach even more. And I sold 2 copies of Bel Canto today - must check it out myself.

Isabelle said...

Oh, the book problem. I can't bear to get rid of any I like and might read again - indeed want to read again - but I'm going to have to live till I'm 200 to get through them all and that's only if people stop writing more.

pretty essential said...

I too have just finished Bel Canto and am missing it!! I can also highly recommend 'Run" by Ann Patchett, just as absorbing.

h&b said...

I couldn't believe they made Atonement into a movie, so boring was the book....

katiecrackernuts said...

I'd be happy to send you People of the Book. I can't bear that you'll have to wait that long to be on the list. Send me a message on my blog or an email with an address so I can pop it in the post.

Miss Eagle said...

Suze, was so interested in the list and your comments. You see I read predominantly in the realm of non-fiction. In fact, it was only after reading Annie Prioulx's "Shipping News" that I decided I was a fiction reader but there were not enough good story tellers. That's because I had a similar feeling with News to yours about bel canto. I was so interested in the characters that I wanted to know what happened to them. Not to mention the fact that the landscape itself was a character.

Wait till I tell my daughter you didn't think much of "Atonement". I didn't either. I think it was OK but not brilliant. I keep telling Herself to read Gallico's "The Snow Goose" for the Dunkirk stuff. She tells me I just don't get it.

I did read Eco's "Focauld's Pendulum" from go to whoa. Was it all those obscure words that aren't even in the Concise Oxford Dictionary that was the turn-off for you? I've found that stumps people - but, strange as it may seem, that only happens for the first 100 pages. I got to the end of the 600 pages and asked myself what it was all about. I think - though I could be wrong - that it is a satire on esoteric religious/psuedo-religious/spiritual beliefs. And a little while ago I read an article by Eco which seemed to hint at the satire bit.

I can tell you that I read "Holy Blood Holy Grail" in the 1980s and read Pendulum back in the early 90s. If you have read those, there is DEFINITELY no need to read the Da Vinci Code. In fact, I think that if the general public had been literate enough to pick up both aforesaid reads when they were published there never would have been a big deal made out of the fictional Da Vinci Code stuff. It would have been seen simply for what it was - a page-turning yarn.

Blessings and bliss

MildlyCrafty said...

I've tried to read Foucault's Pendulum twice and haven't managed it. Such heavy going! I bought it at a garage sale and still have it (just looked over my shoulder and yep, I can see it on the shelves) so perhaps I'll have another go one day.

Ceels said...

I was so glad to read what you wrote about Atonement. I have been limping along with it for weeks, feeling guilty that I was mainly only using it as an aid for sleep. So many friends have raved about it, I could barely raise a 'meh'.

I shall return it to the library (half read) in good conscience.

woof nanny said...

Ooh, thanks so much for this. Did you know I have a book blog too? It's funny, I absolutely hated Water for Elephants. It seems for that one, you either love it or leave it. My favorite read lately was The Thirteenth Tale.

woof nanny said...

I just finished Bel Canto. I thought the book was amazing, though I wish it had ended a few pages earlier--perhaps when they were cavorting on the grass. I would have rather imagined my own future for the characters I came to know.