Banjo's 12/12--Around the World in 80 Books.

DiskuteraThe 12 in 12 Category Challenge

Bara medlemmar i LibraryThing kan skriva.

Banjo's 12/12--Around the World in 80 Books.

Denna diskussion är för närvarande "vilande"—det sista inlägget är mer än 90 dagar gammalt. Du kan återstarta det genom att svara på inlägget.

1banjo123
Redigerat: jun 3, 2012, 4:27pm

Hello Everyone! I am excited to start my first challenge. Reading over everyone else's threads is fun.
I am not too structured, but love to read. My plan is to read books from 12 different countries. Originally I planned on 2-3 per country, but then I had this clever idea for a title for the challenge, so that brings me to 6 or 7 a month. This seems pretty high for me--I probably will have to fill in with some quick reads and YA fiction.
I haven't settled on the 12 countries yet. I thought I would start with Canada, because then i can read Oryx and Crake for the group read and have it count. Plus there is a lot of good Canadian literature that doesn't get promoted much in the US. I will have to do France, obviously, and Jules Verne. I have been wanting to re-read Les Miserables, so this will be a good excuse.
Other countiries high on the list are India, South Africa, England and the US, Mexico.

2DeltaQueen50
dec 17, 2011, 10:38pm

Hi Banjo, and welcome to the challenge. It'll be fun to follow you around the world whereever your reading takes you.

3soffitta1
dec 18, 2011, 4:41am

Sounds like a great idea! I have got two more general catgories, Asia and the Spanish Speaking World, it is a fun way to expand your reading and get some of those scary books of Mount TBR.
See you in January for the Oryx and Crake readalong.

4mamzel
dec 18, 2011, 2:41pm

I created a bookmark for my library called Around the World in 80 Books to highlight books that took place in different countries. It was hard but I was able to find 80 fiction titles that took place in different countries. Have fun!

5lkernagh
dec 18, 2011, 4:46pm

Welcome to the challenge! Looking forward to following your reading and the various countries the books pertain to!

6japaul22
dec 20, 2011, 9:18am

Just wanted to let you know that I put up an inquiry on the Group reads thread to see if anyone is interested in a year-long group read of Don Quixote. Please chime in over there if you're interested! Thanks!

7banjo123
Redigerat: dec 21, 2011, 1:24am

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

8banjo123
dec 21, 2011, 1:23am

I was going to wait to start until January, but couldn't resist starting Around the World in 80 Days, and a couple of other books that will fit into my categories. I need to get down to serious reading, though. I like to have 2 or 3 books going at a time, but now I am up to 5 or 6--really more than I can handle.

9banjo123
Redigerat: sep 1, 2012, 1:44pm

1-- Destination: Europe

1. Jules Verne, Around the World in 80 Days
2. A Giant of the French Revolution: Danton, A Life by David Lawday 264 pages
3. Night by Elie Wiesel
4. Don Quixote--Volume 1
5. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
6. A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen
7. Don Quixote, volume 2

COMPLETED

11banjo123
Redigerat: jul 24, 2012, 9:04pm

3---Destination: England

1. Of Human Bondage
2. Tale of Two Cities
3. 1984 by George Orwell (326 pages)
4. Gillespie and I
5. Macbeth
6. As You Like It
7. Romeo and Juliet

COMPLETED

12banjo123
Redigerat: sep 1, 2012, 1:44pm

13banjo123
Redigerat: sep 16, 2012, 10:37pm

14banjo123
Redigerat: sep 1, 2012, 1:44pm

6. Destination: South Africa

1. God Has a Dream by D. Tutu
2. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
3, Disgrace by J.M. Coetsee
4. The Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer
5. Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

6. Boyhood by Coetzee
7. the Country of My skull by Anjie Krog

COMPLETED

15banjo123
Redigerat: sep 1, 2012, 1:45pm

7. Destination: Japan

1. 1q84 by Murakami 925 pages
2. The Makioka Sisters by Jun'ichiro Taizaki 530 pages.
3. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
4. Kokoro by Natume Soseki 234 pages
5. Naomi by Jun'ichiro Taizaki
6. THe Lake by Banana Yoshimoto
7. Eat, Sleep, Sit by Kaoru Nonmura

COMPLETED

16banjo123
Redigerat: nov 23, 2012, 7:20pm

17banjo123
Redigerat: sep 16, 2012, 10:40pm

19banjo123
Redigerat: nov 28, 2012, 11:02pm

20banjo123
Redigerat: sep 3, 2012, 4:41pm

12. Destination: Nigeria

1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
2. Morning Yet on Creation Day by Chinua Achebe
3 . Half a Yellow Sun bu Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4. Destination Biafra by Buch Emecheta
5. Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka
6. the famished road by Ben Okri
7.Ake by Wole Soyinka

COMPLETED:

21mamzel
dec 22, 2011, 2:15pm

Close your eyes, spin a globe, and stab it to a stop with your finger. Voila, a destination!

Maybe you could have a category for bodies of water - the means to get from one destination to another?

Good luck and happy reading!

22banjo123
dec 26, 2011, 1:53pm

Bodies of water...hmmm.. That could be fun.
I finished Around the World in 80 days yesterday. A quick read, with some dated parts that made me cringe, and some parts that were fun.
I was counting this in my French category, but am a little concerned that it was mostly about the British Empire, and not at all about France. However, I determined that it was a French take on the British, and am now working on Tale of Two Cities for a British view of the French. I read Tale of Two Cities} in high school, but my memories are mostly of the knitting and the guillotine (sp).

23Her_Royal_Orangeness
dec 26, 2011, 3:03pm

"I read Tale of Two Cities in high school, but my memories are mostly of the knitting and the guillotine."

This made me chuckle. :)

24banjo123
jan 2, 2012, 2:23pm

I am about half way through Tale of Two Cities and really enjoying it. There is more in it than knitting and guillotines.
I am quite struck by how Dickens focusses on the discrepency between the very rich and the rest of France. It feels very contemporary, like Defarge should make "I am the 99%" signs.

25banjo123
jan 2, 2012, 2:36pm

Finished Timothy Taylor's The Blue Light Project and enjoyed it. I found it impressive that a book could combine terrorism, Parkour, that sport with cross country skiing and target shooting, and reality television.
I picked up The Blue Light Project because I had previously read Taylor's Stanley Park liked it a lot. Taylor has a voice that's fresh, and seems very familiar to me. A little reminiscent of Douglas Coupland. I think that there is a Pacific Northwest sensibility that works for me, since I live in Oregon.
I wasn't totally crazy about the Blue Light Project, though. The character's were a little flat. And although, Eva was a strong woman lead; she is pretty much the only woman character in the book. Something I might not have noticed, if I hadn't recently read about the Bechdel test on another thread.

26-Eva-
jan 2, 2012, 2:41pm

"There is more in it than knitting and guillotines."
Good to know! :) I haven't yet gotten around to Tale of Two Cities, but it's obviously on Mt. TBR - looking forward to hearing how readable it is.

27casvelyn
jan 2, 2012, 2:45pm

I loved Tale of Two Cities when I read it in high school. I think it may be time for a reread.

28lkernagh
jan 2, 2012, 3:53pm

I have seen both of Taylor's works - The Blue Light Project and Stanley Park - at my local library. Sounds like Taylor writes with a bit of a quirky, offbeat, unique point of view for his stories. I think I need to check out his books and see if it is something I might enjoy reading.

29christina_reads
jan 2, 2012, 10:32pm

"There is more in it than knitting and guillotines."

Haha, that just made me smile. Glad you enjoyed the book!

30banjo123
jan 4, 2012, 11:24pm

I finished Tale of Two Cities today at the gym. I was sobbing on the elliptical. What a great plot! It would have been super romantic, as well, if Lucie hadn't been such a golden-haired doll. Dicken's female heroes are all so sweet and good that its hard to identify with them.

31owltype
jan 4, 2012, 11:28pm

I like this idea a lot! I hope your reading journey is a swell one.

32banjo123
jan 7, 2012, 2:15pm

I finished Oryx and Crake last night -- it is well-written and intriguing.

33banjo123
jan 11, 2012, 11:00pm

I finished Larry's Party, which I thought was good,but not great. I think that the main character was just too nice most of the time -- it would have been a stronger book if we had seen more of his dark side. In the beginning of the book he inadvertently stole someone else's really nice tweed jacket from a coffee shop, and decided not to return it. I think it would have been a stronger book if we had seen more of that Larry.

34banjo123
jan 11, 2012, 11:03pm

Now working on the Golden Spruce by John Vaillant and Orwell's 1984. I have been reading dystopian novels a bunch lately, and thought it was time to re-read the grand-daddy of dystopia. It's been so long since I read 1984--I was surprised to remember how cold-war-ish it feels.

35banjo123
jan 18, 2012, 12:08pm

The Golden Spruce; a true story of myth, madness and greed by John Valliant

I found this book fascinating and thought provoking. It discusses logging practices in the Pacific Northwest by focusing on Grant Hadwin and the Golden Spruce; a mutant Sitka with great spiritual significance for the Haida people in the Queen Charlotte Islands. Grant struggled with schizophrenia, and with how he could integrate his connection with the old growth forests with his logging past.
This book give a lot of insight into the logging industry; the connection between culture and the environment and the connection between mental illness and spirituality. It’s been compared to Krakeur’s Into the Wild, but I found that Krakeur focuses mostly on the personal, Valliant more on the political and economic.

36fmgee
jan 18, 2012, 2:48pm

Great to read your thread. The Golden Spruce is a great read, better than his second I think. There are plenty of great books set in India and all of them are thick! You could consider Shantaram and A Fine Balance I loved both of these books.

Canada has many amazing books. I look forward to following what you choose.

37banjo123
jan 18, 2012, 3:44pm

I have A Fine Balance on my bedside table - it's sort of balanced -- teetering on a huge pile I recently got out of the library. I will have to give it a try. Shataram also sounds intriguing--my wish list is growing faster than my time available for reading, I am afraid.

38banjo123
jan 22, 2012, 6:43pm

I went cross-country skiing yesterday -- it was fun, the snow was lovely, and today I am feeling sore, old, and cranky. A good mood for reading.
Finished 1984, which was better-written than I remembered, especially the first half. The second half dragged a bit, and I found the character of Julia wholly unbelievable. But definitely worth reading and still thought provoking.
I am also about halfway done with the Year of the Flood, which is not nearly as compelling for me as Oryx and Crake.

39banjo123
Redigerat: jan 28, 2012, 2:14pm

The role of war in 1984 was interesting to me. Here is a part that made me think:

The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed….

In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up an surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population. In practice the needs of the population are always underestimated, with the result that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities of life, but this is looked on as an advantage. It is deliberate policy to keep even the favoured groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another.

40banjo123
jan 28, 2012, 2:21pm

I finished The Year of the Flood, which I ended up liking, though not as well as Oryx and Crake.
I also read Generation A by Douglas Coupland. I like Coupland, and though this isn't my favorite of his, I did enjoy it--it made me laugh and think.
Now working on Mercy among the children by David Adams Richards and loving it. I think that this will be my favorite Canadian book this year.

41lkernagh
jan 28, 2012, 10:28pm

Mercy Among Children, now that is a book that stays with you after finishing it! Looking forward to hearing what you think when you finish it!

42banjo123
jan 31, 2012, 4:05pm

Mercy Among The Children was a wonderful read. I stayed up way past bed-time, and gulped down the last 100 pages. Now I want to take the time to read those pages slowly, to savor the writing and to make sure that I understand all of the plot twists.
This is a story of the Henderson family who live in rural poverty in New Brunswick. Sydney Henderson is a very intelligent and very moral man. But as the book begins, his destiny seems to be relentless suffering. His story is reminiscent of the Book of Job. His childhood was miserable, and in adulthood he becomes the scapegoat for the community.
Sydney accepts persecution without attempts at revenge, and without any apparent anger. He is very admirable, but his saint-like qualities are hard on his family, especially his oldest son, Lyle. The story is told by Lyle, whose relationship with his father is very ambivalent.
The book is full of marvelously twisted characters; people who do evil and yet are so heartbreakingly human that you can’t hate them, entirely. The book starts slowly, but the plot twists and bends so that I was on edge waiting to see what was going to happen next. The book is about social justice, but in this story justice has a frightening, biblical aspect.

43fmgee
jan 31, 2012, 5:43pm

I am about 100 pages into Mercy Among Children and stuck there. I think I need to pull it back from the bottom of the pile by my bed and keep going.

44banjo123
feb 5, 2012, 7:56pm

JANUARY RECAP:
Library Thing has really motivated me to read more. I ended up reading 9 books in January, finishing the Canada section of my 12 in 12 journey, plus adding two books from England. Now 80 books in 2012 seems do-able.
All of the books I read were good. Mercy Among the Children was a clear favorite, though. I am anxious to read more by David Adams Richards. Also, after reading Mercy Among the Children, I am wanting to read the Book of Job, and also Tolstoy's The Forged Coupon. So I have added Israel and Russia as destinations--any ideas for books from these countries are most welcome.

45banjo123
feb 5, 2012, 8:05pm

February Plans:

I am working on A Giant of the French Revolution, Danton on recommendation of Japaul22. I am enjoying it-- Danton was quite a character. I was curious to read more about the French Revolution, after Tale of Two Cities. Also planning to read The Forged Coupon and The Book of Job as mentioned above. Still working on Don Quixote, as well.
My next plan was to work on books from and about Japan. I have a stack from the library. I really want to read 1Q84 as I down-loaded the sample on my kindle, and was fascinated. But I am hoping to wait it out until I get the hold from the library--feeling too cheap to buy another new book this month.

46Her_Royal_Orangeness
feb 5, 2012, 8:59pm

Wandering Star by J.M.G. le Clezio is partly set in Israel, though it is written by a French author. The first part is about a group of people who journey from France to Israel during World War Two after their village is occupied by Italian forces; the second part is about a group of people in a refugee camp in Israel. Two girls from these narratives eventually meet which ties the story together. It's quite good, and the author won the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature.

David Grossman is a very popular Israeli author, but I haven't read any of his books to recommend them. Beaufort by Ron Leshem is well-known and was made into a movie. And then there's Exodus by Leon Uris which is about the founding of the state of Israel.

47bookwormjules
feb 7, 2012, 7:07am

I need to read Mercy on the Children. I've read the trilogy the author wrote, and found him to be a great writer, but the story in the trilogy was average. From what I hear, this book is suppose to be fantastic, glad to see it was you're favourite, might have to hunt down a copy for my self.

48banjo123
feb 8, 2012, 10:57pm

46 - Thanks for the ideas. They sound great. I think I had wanted to read David Grossman.

49lkernagh
feb 11, 2012, 11:27am

Just getting caught up here. Looks like you had a good reading month in January had have February nicely planned.

50banjo123
feb 11, 2012, 3:48pm

I did finish The Forged Coupon by Tolstoy. Not too excited by this---I found it too preachy for me. I plan to give Anna Karenina a try later this year. I haven't read any Tolstoy since High School.

I am very excited, however, about The Makioka Sisters which I am finding a wonderful read.

51fmgee
feb 11, 2012, 4:13pm

I read Anna Karenina earlier this year and really enjoyed it! My wife just started it and I know she is also enjoy it greatly

52christina_reads
feb 11, 2012, 5:01pm

@ 50 -- I'm planning to read The Makioka Sisters this year as well -- glad you're enjoying it!

53banjo123
feb 18, 2012, 7:33pm

I finished the Makioka Sisters, which I loved. It made me happy that I am doing this challenge, as it's a book I probably would never have read, otherwise. Now I am busy trying to get everyone I know to read it.
The four Makioka sisters live in Japan, just pre WWII. The sisters are trying to cling to an aristocratic way of life, while the world changes around them.
The two older sisters are married, the younger two still single. A great deal of the book revolves around attempts to find a husband for the third sister. Somehow, nothing ever goes right in the matchmaking for Yukiko. The youngest sister, of course, can't marry until her older sister does.
The book reminded me a good deal of Pride and Prejudice. Tanizaki's writing is light and tongue-in-cheek. The focus on relationships between sisters and the focus on social class are also reminiscent of Jane Austen.

54banjo123
feb 25, 2012, 1:57pm

I finished Of Human Bondage. I had it on my kindle, and read it off an on over about three months. It was well-written, but not one of my favorites. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more when I was younger and more in the mood for bildungsromans.
I found the female characters universally unrealistic and annoying. Mildred's character made no sense to me, and Sally seemed to be an idealized female figure put in there at the last minute for a happy ending.
I suspect that this is in part because Maugham didn't/couldn't write about his real life as a gay man, and so the romantic issues had to be changed, making them less realistic.
One part of the book that I did find compelling was the death of the uncle.

55banjo123
feb 29, 2012, 4:16pm

My daughter was reading Night for school, and I decided to read it along with her as I hadn't read it before. A compelling, frightening read. Elie Wiesel was brave to put his story out for the world in this manner. I was really struck by how sweet his father was, and how one of the most awful things about the holocaust was the way it destroyed families.

56banjo123
feb 29, 2012, 4:19pm

I also read Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. It kept me up late last night, first reading and then thinking about it.
I am planning to read 1Q84 next. I was waiting for a library copy, but now have given up and have my own copy.

57banjo123
mar 4, 2012, 5:07pm

February Recap
Five books read. Two in Japanese category, One Russian, One English, and one Hungarian. My intent is to concentrate on one country at a time, but that didn't seem to happen last month. I am afraid that I am easily sidetracked.
I really liked both The Marioko Sisters and Norwegian Wood and plan more reading from both of those authors as I round out my Japan section.
For my favorite book of the month, it will have to be Night by Elie Wiesel. He really describes so well the heartbreak of feeling his humanity slipping away from him, as well as the loss of his belief in God.

58banjo123
mar 4, 2012, 5:21pm

Two books completed so far in March.
I read The Book of Job, thinking it would help me understand Mercy Among the Children. It was also good to read along with Night.
I always thing of Job patiently accepting what God dishes out, but actually the book is really about Job railing against the senseless suffering. A more sophisticated version of religion than I expected from the 5 centurey BCE.
Although, really, theology would have been sophisticated back then, since they didn't have much in the way of science or psychology to help explain things.

Also read The Giant of the French Revolution: Danton in order to better understant the French Revolution and Tale of Two Ciities.} A pretty good book, and helped me with an overview. I still don't have as much background as I'd like and may try Schama's Citizens later.
The thing that was frsutrating for me about Lawday's book was that he did a lot of speculating about Danton's thoughts, feelings, etc. Apparently Danton left a very scanty written record. So it was a bit hard to know how accurate of a picture he drew of Danton.

59banjo123
mar 4, 2012, 5:25pm

And for the rest of March, I'd really like to complete the Japanese section of my challenge. That would be 5 more books. I have 1q84 yet to read, though, and it is quite long.
Also, I have both Destiny of the Republic and Unbroken out of the library, and want to read them if I can complete them before they are due back.

60banjo123
mar 12, 2012, 1:05am

Kokoro was published in 1914 and, according to the introduction to my edition, is considered “one of Japan’s great modern novels.” In a testimony to the strength of Natsume Soseki’s writing, I found the book to be a page-turner. Oddly, not much happens in the story and all of the characters are pretty drippy. The book focuses on interpersonal relationships and the responsibilities of friendship.
Kokoro has a unusual structure. It is divided into two parts. In the first part the narrator describes his friendship with an older man who he calls “Sensei” or teacher. The narrator also chronicles his own father’s serious illness. The narrator has a distant relationship with his parents; who seem to represent a traditional, more rural Japan. Sensei is urbane, but feels empty. It seems bizarre that anyone would cultivate a teacher/student relationship with Sensei, who never does anything. The second half of the book is a letter from Sensei to the narrator. In the letter he gives the back-story and explains his passivity.
I read this book right after reading Norwegian Wood and was struck by many similar themes. On the back of the book, (translation by Meredith McKinney). Murakami is quoted as saying “Soseki is the representative modern Japanese novelist, a figure of truly national stature.”
Definitely a book that made me think. I would highly recommend it.

61banjo123
mar 12, 2012, 1:17am

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard is a fascinating book. I learned a lot about Garfield (The president, not the cat.)
James Garfield was born in modest circumstance, lost his father at an early age and was raised by a strong mother. He was bright, articulate, well-educated and committed to civil rights.
The book is not a biography, though,but an exploration of the events that surrounded Garfields assasination. There were many memorable characters. ( I was especially interested in Alexander Graham Bell, and would like to read more about him later. ) The book describes the dismal state of American medicine, which ultimately killed Garfield.
The book takes place in an United States where public life was very different than it is today. Garfield had virtually no security, and was very assessible to the public. The book describes a public unity after his shooting and death that is hard to imagine happening today.

62paruline
Redigerat: mar 12, 2012, 10:13am

Soseki's Kusamakura has been a favorite of mine for many years. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to read more of his books. Your review is putting Kokoro higher the TBR pile.

63banjo123
mar 14, 2012, 10:46pm

Naomi is about a 30 - something engineer, who develops a passion for a 15 year-old girl, who works in a shop, and sets up house with her. It's kind of Lolita like, with a dash of Pygmallion. As my own daughter is 15; I found this fairly creepy, and really did not like the book.
Still, Tanizaki is a good writer with a wonderful sense of humor.

64banjo123
mar 31, 2012, 1:22pm

Spent the last wek on vacation, in Arizona. Had a great time--sun, cactus, baseball. For that time, I was limited to reading books on the kindle. I find that limiting---there are fewer books available on kindle than I had thought, when I got it. Finished 2 books in my Japan category-- The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto and Eat, Sleep, Sit by Kaoru Nonomura.
I chose the Yoshimoto book because I wanted to read at least one book by a woman writer in each category. I really liked Yoshimoto's writing and plan to try more of her books in the future. Eat, Sleep, Sit was chosen because I wanted a non-fiction book written by a Japanese author--hard to find on the Kindle. It was about a year spent in a rigourous Zen temple. The topic seemed like it should be interesting, but for me the book really dragged.
I will write fuller reviews later.
Still working on 1Q84, which will be the last book in my Japanese category. I was really liking it, but had to leave it on home for vacation, and now am having trouble getting back into it.

65banjo123
Redigerat: mar 31, 2012, 5:00pm

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto is a sweet little book. The narrator is a relentlessly upbeat, charming young woman. Very soon, it’s clear that her optimism covers a lot of pain. She was an illegitimate child in a small town, daughter of a prominent businessman and the hostess of a popular night club. She is still reeling from her mother’s death; when she meets and becomes attached to a young man, Nakajima, who has been broken by a mysterious past. Our narrator, Chihiro, is clearly a talented artist, but she undervalues her own talents and portrays her success and merely a matter of luck.
The book depicts how Chihiro deflects from her own difficult past by focusing on someone else, seemingly more fragile than herself. I have run into many people like this, and sometimes even have a bit of Chihiro in me.
My main criticism of the book is that it is too short. I would especially like to have seen a deeper exploration of Nakajima’s past.

66banjo123
mar 31, 2012, 5:21pm

Eat, Sleep, Sit: My Year at Japan’s most rigorous zen temple describes the writer’s time as trainee monk at Eiheiji, the main temple of Sōtō Zen Buddhism. As an American, I think of Zen as calm and gentle. I knew from past reading that our Western version of Buddism is very different than Eastern Buddhism—this book really reinforced that. Life at Eiheiji is harsh, mean, and based on an obsessive-compulsive system of living, set out by Dogen, who founded the Soto school of Zen in 1200.
The trainee monks are berated, struck, and knocked down the stairs when they don’t follow the intricate rules correctly. They are also basically starved, and many become sick. The author describes in great detail the rules of the monastery. There is a whole chapter devoted to how to use the lavatory. I ended up getting bored, and skipping through many of these details.
The author states that “by allowing no latitude for personal feelings whatever, but forcing us to fit ourselves body and spirit into an unforgiving, constricting mold, the experience obliged us to give up all attachments. “ He sees this as mostly positive, but to me it seems very cult-like.
The thought provoking part of the book for me was the fact that the author clearly gained a lot from this experience. He describes that I have become capable of tears. Once I told someone “A man who can cry is a lucky man”. I never could, before. I used to think what a relief it must be to let yourself go and cry, but I just couldn’t. Now I can cry in great gulping sobs. “

67banjo123
apr 1, 2012, 2:42pm

March Recap:
Seven books read, so on target for my goal of 80 books in 2012.
4 for Japan: Eat, Sleep, Sit, the Lake, Naomi and Kokoro.
For the US; Destiny of the Republic
For France: A Giant of the French REvolution: Danton
and for Israel The Book of Job

Favorite books of the month: Kokoro and Destiny of the Republic.

Also am about 2/3 done with 1Q84 and making progress on Don Quixote.

68banjo123
apr 1, 2012, 2:55pm

Planning for April:

I want to finish 1Q84, which will conclude the Japanese leg of my journey. There are lots of other intriguing books from Japan, but they will have to wait for next year.
I want to concentrate more on Don Quixote this month, as I am currently enjoying it.
I have Unbroken from the library again, on a one week kindle loan. So I will try to get it read. It was highly recommended by a friend. I am also thinking of reading Divergent, a book set in a post-apolyptic Chicago. THe book is currently keeping my 15 year old spell-bound, so I thought I would give it a try.
Then I am thinking of starting on either South Africa or India. I have Zoo City on my Kindle, and have read a number of intriguing reviews, so South Africa is leading.
I am also thinking of joining the group read for Things Fall Apart. I haven't read it since high school, and I think I have a copy, somewhere.
I may adjust my categories, and put all of Western Europe together, in order to give myself more opportunities to read non-western literature. I think I have to do so, in order to get to Australia and South America.

69DeltaQueen50
apr 1, 2012, 7:26pm

I've enjoyed your travel destinations so far, you've added a few to my wishlist. Looking forward to your planned April reading, I have both Unbroken and Divergent on my horizon, just not sure when I will be able to fit them in.

70mathgirl40
apr 1, 2012, 8:26pm

I enjoyed your reviews of the Japanese books. The Lake sounds good. I liked Kitchen very much when I read it last year.

71banjo123
apr 10, 2012, 12:37pm

70-- I am going to try to read Kitchen in the future. Sadly, I had a copy sitting on my shelves for years, and gave it away without reading it. I think I had started it, and didn't give it enough of a chance.
69-- Just finished Unbroken and it was an amazing story. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I will write a review later.

I also finished 1Q84. I have mixed feelings about the book. THere were parts I really liked, but I think that there were too many different story lines. For me, they never ended up coming together.

I have started Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom. So far, very interesting and readable.

72banjo123
apr 15, 2012, 6:56pm

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand is a non-fiction page-turner. It is a combination war-story, history lesson, survival story, and inspiration recovery story. Oh and also sports story. The first bit dragged a little for me—I think I have trouble following war strategy and Louis Zamperini’s semi-juvenile delinquent youth didn’t pull me in. But once the plane crashed and they were adrift in the Pacific; attacked by sharks and Japanese bombers, the book had me enthralled.
Along the way, I learned a lot about the war in the Pacific, and also about the resiliency of the human spirit. I highly recommend this book.

73banjo123
apr 15, 2012, 7:26pm

Divergent is a young adult novel set in a post apocolyptic Chicago. My daughter devoured it, and I wanted something easy to read last week when I was sick. I maybe should have left it for the intended audience. The story seemed too simplistic and the writing was nothing special. But...there was enough there to pull me through the book.

74VictoriaPL
apr 15, 2012, 9:15pm

Catching up on threads. I've been curious about Divergent but seeing your review I might skip it.

75banjo123
apr 16, 2012, 10:08pm

I think Divergent is probably better than average for YA dystopian. So if you love that genre, you could give it a try.

76banjo123
apr 21, 2012, 8:09pm

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes was rated highly by several people on this site. I wasn’t that fond of it. I think that the gritty crime-novel style is not really my thing. I had trouble following the action and characters, and didn’t really care. I would have preferred more exploration of Zinzi’s criminality and her relationship with her family.
Still, there’s a lot to like about the book. The premise is fun, if a bit too reminiscent of The Golden Compass . In Zoo Land, people who have committed certain crimes are given an animal, a sort of familiar. The ‘animalled’ are socially ostracized, but also envied for special powers that their animals bring them.

77banjo123
apr 21, 2012, 8:11pm

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
I can see why Coetzee is an award-winning novelist. His writing is like butter; deceptively simple and rich. In Disgrace he covers themes of sexual politics and sexual violence, post-colonialism; race; the urban/rural divide; animal rights and father-daughter relations. And he does it in just over 200 pages, without seeming rushed.
The butter’s a little rancid (I mean that in a good way) and the book is difficult to read at times. The protagonist, David Lurie is a creepy English professor who has a sexual relationship with a student, and loses his job as a result. The book describes how Lurie deals with the sequelae of that event.
I was particularly struck by the way Coetzee shows similarities between how women and animals are viewed. Neither is accorded the power to control their own body. In the beginning of the book, Melanie, the student, is trying to resist Lurie. He tells her “a woman’s beauty does not belong to her alone. It is part of the bounty she brings into the world. She has a duty to share it.” Later, Lurie is irritated by the way an African farmer is treating sheep. He notes “Sheep do not own themselves, do not own their lives. They exist to be used, every last ounce of them…..”
I finished this book a few days ago, and have been thinking about it since. I am thinking of re-reading Zadie Smith On Beauty for a different take on some of the same themes.

78banjo123
apr 27, 2012, 4:03pm

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo is about life in a Mumbai Slum. Children who should be in school support their families by sorting garbage, suicide is common, and justice in non-existent. The book reads like fiction, which is my main problem with it. The story follows different slum residents, narrating their feelings, hopes and dreams. I could not help wondering how accurate these portrayals were, and how the different residents felt about their portrayal in the book.
Boo is a journalist from the US, married to an Indian man, and she spent two years, doing interviews with a translator and researching through the courts, etc. I did feel better about the accuracy of the book after reading the afterward.
The book is depressing, not so much because of the poverty, but because of the rampant corruption. In one chapter they describe how funds for women’s small-scale businesses are diverted. When the foreign donors come to check on the program, Asha, one of the books most interesting characters, gathers local women to her home to smile and look grateful.
It’s clear that there is no way that aid money will help the situation. I think it would take grassroots political action, and it’s hard to see that happening. The slum residents are focused on their own survival, rather than on any kind of political change. Global poverty is a difficult, but important topic. I appreciate that Boo makes this information very accessible to the reader

79Dejah_Thoris
apr 27, 2012, 5:19pm

*delurking to wave hello*

80japaul22
apr 27, 2012, 5:41pm

>78 banjo123: I had the same thought you did - that the book read so much like fiction that it made it less believable. The horrors in the book were easier to digest because it felt like fiction, but I'm not sure that's a good thing. Nevertheless, it was an interesting book.

81banjo123
apr 29, 2012, 1:10pm

I read Things Fall Apart and have started a category for Nigeria. There is a lot of interesting Nigerian literature, so I am looking forward to it.
I had read Things Fall Apart in high school, and liked it, but it turns out I had completely forgotten the plot. So it was a new read for me, and a good one. I am going to post my thought in the Group Reads thread.

82banjo123
apr 30, 2012, 10:50pm

April Wrap-Up
seven books completed:
One Japanese, to wrap up that segment of my journey. (Though I have a couple of other books in this category that I may not be able to resist!)
Two US books,
Two South African
One Indian and
One Nigerian.

Favorites for the month: Unbroken and Disgrace. Though I keep thinking about Behind the Beautiful Forevers, so maybe it should be on the list as well.

83mathgirl40
maj 5, 2012, 6:55am

Your tour around the world seems to be going well! I also liked Disgrace very much.

84mamzel
maj 6, 2012, 1:00pm

I just finished Disgrace. Like you, I think I'll be going over it in my head for a while.

85banjo123
maj 9, 2012, 4:29pm

83 & 84--Thanks! I am on track with my reading, and am enjoying the trip.
I revised my categories a little, to lump Europe together (except for England and Russia) so that I can get to South America and Australia.
Finished 2 more books in my South African category--Desmond Tutu's God has a Dream and Gordimer's The Burger's Daughter. I will have to review these later.

86banjo123
maj 13, 2012, 4:04pm

The Burger's Daughter was, I think, a good book, but not a great book. The story was interesting--Rosa is a white Afrikkaner and the daughter of two commuist, anti-apartheid, martyrs. The book describes her coming to terms with this legacy and her own place in the world and in South Africa.
Gordimer's writing style is not easy for me to ready. The narrative voice constantly shifts. I think this is because we see Rosa through the eyes of different people, and never really through her own eyes. This makes a statement about the perils of a life lived as a public figure. Also Gordimer doesn't use quotation marks for conversation. This makes it feel as if the whole story takes place in someone's head. Again, interesting, but not as readable as I would like.

87banjo123
Redigerat: maj 13, 2012, 4:18pm

Tutu's book was not really the best book for me. I picked it up because Tutu is brilliant and heroic, I am interested in restorative justice, and it was available at my library.
There is lots of talk about God--which is not really my thing. Of course---duh--I should have figured that out beforehand, since the title of the book is GOD has a dream and it's written by ARCHBISHOP Desmond Tutu. It's a selection of interconnected sermons, pretty easy to read, and would be a good choice for someone who wanted to read about radical Christianity. Tutu has a very clever, and deceptively simple way of interpreting the bible.
For example, (and this is the part of the book that sticks with me), he describes how man was created in God's image, with the ability to choose between good and evil. He goes on to explain that "It is this fact that we were created to be free that is the reason that all oppression must ultimately fail. Our freedom does not come from any human being--our freedom comes from God. "

88christina_reads
maj 13, 2012, 6:10pm

Interesting comments on the Gordimer. I have July's People on deck (for July -- when else?), so I'm curious to experience her style for myself. I don't tend to like authors who neglect punctuation, but I'll try to keep an open mind! :) Also, I love the quote from the Tutu book!

89banjo123
maj 20, 2012, 5:52pm

I finished Gillespie and I, which I did not really like. I can't quite put my finger on what didn't work for me, and lots of others loved this book.
Also finished Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, a very inspiring book. I especially liked the prison sections of the book, and loved how he took the experience of a 27 year imprisonment, and made it work for him instead of for his oppressors.
I've also finished the first volume of Don Quixote. I think I will count DQ as 2 books, since it is 2 volumes, after all.

90lkernagh
maj 26, 2012, 8:35pm

I am always intrigued when someone's view of a book differs from the majority. I haven't read Gillespie and I yet but do plan to get around to reading it at some point. If you do figure out what it is that didn't work for you, I would love to know!

91banjo123
maj 27, 2012, 2:53pm

90 - I think I mainly had a lack of interest in the characters. The major character is quite unpleasant, which works for when I feel that the unpleasantness in the book is a mirror on things that are unpleasant in the author's own character, or in mine. In this book, I felt that the unpleasantness was more of a clever plot device.

92banjo123
maj 28, 2012, 10:00pm

I read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down which is an excellent non-fiction book written by Anne Fadiman. The book explores a culture clash between Hmong refugees and traditional Western medicine in Merced California in the early 80's. Fadiman alternates chapters between the story of Lia Lee and her family with background about the Hmong in Indo-China and the US.
Fadiman has great sympathy both for the Hmong family, and for the Western doctors, all of whom are trying to do their best for this little girl, but coming from different world views. It's a tragic story with no villians and no path to a good outcome.

93banjo123
maj 30, 2012, 11:49pm

Love in the time of Cholera was a great read for me. It's meandering--but after all, life is meandering, and especially so in hot climates.
This is the story of a marriage, and it's satisfactions and frustrations, along with the story of a love affair full of highs and lows. Also, it's a story of aging and sexuality.
The writing is lush and beautiful. I read the Edith Grossman translation, which is excellent. Here is a sample.
"She could not avoid a profound feeling of rancor toward her husband for having left her alone in the middle of the ocean. Everything of his made her cry; his pajamas under the pillow, his slippers that had always looked to her like an invalid's, the memory of his image in the back of the mirror as he undressed while she combed her hair before bed, the odor of his skin, which was to linger on hers for a long time after his death. She would stop in the middle of whatever she was doing and slap herself on the forehead because she suddenly remembered something she had forgotten to tell him."

94lkernagh
maj 31, 2012, 9:48pm

Glad to see you enjoyed Love in the Time of Cholera more than I did. It is well written and has convinced me to read more of Marquez's works.

95banjo123
maj 31, 2012, 10:35pm

I like Latin American fiction in general, so that helps.

96banjo123
maj 31, 2012, 10:45pm

May Wrap Up--

Completed 7 books (counting the first volume of Don Quixote as one book.) 3 from South Africa, One US, One England, One Columbia and One from Europe. So I am pleased with my progress.

I am more interested in non-fiction lately. My favorite book of the month was The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

97banjo123
maj 31, 2012, 10:51pm

June Goals:

I want to finish my South African section, and am reading Coetzee's Boyhood and The Country of my Skull, a non-fiction book about the truth and reconciliation committee in South Africa.

I will be going on an Alaskan cruise at the end of June, so would like to do some reading on Alaska. Planned reads are The Quiet World and If you lived here I'd know your name I am super excited--my first cruise and first visit to Alaska.

I am planning to go the Oregon Shakespeare Festival at the end of July. I am thinking it will help to read some of the plays ahead of time; and would like to start in June.

And also--I would like to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's biography.

98banjo123
Redigerat: jun 3, 2012, 4:42pm

99banjo123
jun 7, 2012, 3:36pm

Another 2 books finished.

Boyhood, scenes from a Provincial Life by J.M. Coetzee, for another South African Entry and If You Lived Here, I'd know your name for the US.

100banjo123
jun 7, 2012, 3:37pm

Boyhood, scenes from a Provincial Life by J.M. Coetzee,

Memoirs about childhood have a tendency to be overly precocious and self involved. Coetzee doesn’t completely dodge this tendency; but is saved by the beauty of his writing and the insightfulness of his observations. Coetzee shows himself as a child within a troubled family situation and a troubled country.
His family is quite dysfunctional, and Coetzee shows the dynamics from a child’s perspective. As a parent, it’s a good reminder about how children pick up on their parent’s inconsistencies and hypocrisies. His descriptions of racism in South Africa from the perspective of a white child are interesting. He is uncomfortable with racism, but doesn’t know how to deal with his discomfort.
In one event, he is eating pastries with friends in a sweets shop. Some colored children come by and are looking in the window. This spoils his appetite, and makes him angry and unhappy. He could shoo the children away—as a white he has that power---but even if he does so, his appetite will still be spoiled.

101banjo123
jun 7, 2012, 3:38pm

If you lived here, I'd know your name by Heather Lende
This is a series of essays about life in small town Alaska. Of course, there are many stories of neighbors banding together to help each other out; spaghetti feeds, canning salmon, etc. It could be way too cutesy—but it isn’t. Lende is honest, and self-reflective. I was going to rate this 3 or 3 ½ stars, based on the writing, but in the end, I enjoyed reading the book so much I am moving it up to 4 stars.
I was intrigued by this description of a way of life so different than mine. I love the outdoors—but at heart I am a city girl. Haines is a town of 2400 in a remote location in the inner passage. Drop-dead gorgeous-- and with lots of perils. One of the most harrowing parts of the book is a description of a 5-6 hour drive to Whitehorse, through a snowstorm, with Lende’s son who had acute appendicitis. (They made it in the nick of time.)
From reading this book, life in Haines is super-dangerous. Maybe it’s because Lende is an obituary writer, but there is death after death, many of them deaths of young people engaged in outdoor pursuits. Yet Lende still allowed her own daughters to work in a fishing boat, because she wanted them to be a part of the place. I admire Lende for this, but I don’t understand it.
Another strong part of the book is her description of living in a small town, where everyone is like family, and you have to get along, despite strong differences of opinion. This is so different than my life—I live in an especially liberal part of Portland, Oregon, so seldom encounter any non-tree-huggers. In one chapter, Lende describes trying, unsuccessfully, to put together an anti-homophobia workshop after a bullying incident at the local high school. Lende was frustrated, but I was heartened by her brave attempts to engage her conservative neighbors in this fight.

102banjo123
jun 16, 2012, 2:42pm

The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch
Yuknavitch is a good, stream of consciousness-style writer. She lives outside of Portland, Oregon, which is, I think, why I decided to read the book. This is a book about the aftermath of her childhood abuse. She takes an interesting tactic--does not describe the abuse, but lots of detail about what came afterwords--lots of sex, drugs, and alcohol.

"You have to forgive women like me. We don't know any other way to do life than to throw our bodies at it."

The book was kind of too much about sex and alcohol for my tastes, but it is very well written. There is an interesting chapter about Ken Kesey.

103DorsVenabili
jun 19, 2012, 3:04pm

#100 - Nice review of Boyhood, Scenes from a Provincial Life. I'm reading 12 Coetzee's this year and may to get to it at some point. It clearly touches on the same themes found in his novels.

104banjo123
jun 19, 2012, 4:04pm

Thanks! I really like Coetzee's writing, and am hoping to read more from him next year.
I just finished The Country of my Skull: Guilt, Sorrow and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa by Antjie Krog. This completes my South African category.
Krog is a poet and journalist and this book is about her coverage of the Truth and Reconciliation hearings. It's a difficult book. The topic is difficult--one horrible human rights violation after another, and horrors on both side. Also, I would need more knowledge of South African history to truly understand this book.
However, I am glad that I did read the book, as the topic interests me. I also found the book gave me a better background for understanding the events in other South African books I read this year, especially Disgrace.

105DorsVenabili
jun 19, 2012, 4:37pm

#104 - Thank you! I just put The Country of my Skull on my wishlist. Next year I plan to read 12 Sub-Saharan African works of fiction and about 6 non-fiction (history/politics). This one might be a good addition. I have a small amount of background knowledge of Sub-Saharan African politics since the independence movements of the mid-20th century, due to some coursework back in the day, but that's about it.

106banjo123
jun 19, 2012, 8:03pm

# 105-- Great--I am looking forward to reading about your African reading next year. I have Nigeria as another category, so hope to get to some more Nigerian novels soon,. Do you have recommendations?

107DorsVenabili
jun 19, 2012, 9:38pm

I haven't read an incredibly large amount of African fiction yet, but I'm keeping a list of what I might read next year. A lot of it comes from lurking in the Reading Globally group. Here are the possibilities from Nigeria, so far:

Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe
The Fisherman's Invocation by Gabriel Okara
Labyrinths, with Path of Thunder by Christopher Okigbo
A Dance of the Forest by Wole Soyinka
On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe

I still have a bit of research to do.

108banjo123
jun 20, 2012, 1:22pm

Thanks! Half a Yellow Sun is definitely on my list, and the others also sound interesting.

109banjo123
jul 5, 2012, 3:00pm

I am just back from vacation--a cruise to Alaska and some time in Vancouver, BC. Lots of fun, but I need to catch up on reviews!

110banjo123
jul 5, 2012, 3:01pm

I read The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom 1879-1960 by Douglas Brinkley in preparation for an Alaskan vacation (which was fabulous). It turns out, however, that this book is not really about Alaska. I spoke to a bookseller in Ketchikan, who agreed. He shelves it in history.
This is the second book in Brinkley’s planned Wilderness Cycle. The first was Wilderness Warrior, which centered on Theodore Roosevelt’s role in the conservation movement in the US. I loved that book, and now drive my family crazy by giving mini-lectures about TR whenever we approach a National Park or Wilderness area.
The Quiet World continues the story of the US’s conservation history. It has dozens of fascinating side characters, but lacks a major focal character, such as Roosevelt, and isn’t as good a book as Wilderness Warrior. Still, I really enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in environmentalism,
One of Brinkley’s weaknesses as a writer is a tendency to go off on tangents. He knows a lot of fascinating facts, and can’t resist sharing them. I didn’t mind, because I was usually intrigued myself, but I’m not clear that readers of this book really needed a history of William O. Douglas’s personal life or the section on Allen Ginsberg. We are also regaled by stories of dozens of camping trips, only some of which took place in Alaska. We hear about TR’s camping at the Grand Canyon, even though TR never set foot in Alaska.
The strength of the book is it description of how many people worked hard to preserve wilderness in Alaska. I enjoyed reading about these characters: Roosevelt, Muir, Gifford Pinchot, Aldo Leopold, Robert Marshal, Mardy and Olaus Murie,William O. Douglas, etc. Mardy Murie is a new heroine for me.
The reading, combined with my Alaskan vacation, made me feel more committed to preserving the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. I support Obama, but I do wish we had a president who was more committed to the outdoors---someone like Theodore Roosevelt, who loved to camp.

111banjo123
jul 5, 2012, 3:27pm

King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel by Jonathan Kirsch
Kirsch sets up to provide a counter-point to the idea we have of David as an innocent shepherd lad, up against Goliath with a slingshot. The real David was a bloody tribal leader. Or was he? It also turns out that there is no real evidence, outside of the bible, that David existed at all. None of the other contemporary writings in the region mention him.
This book is good for a layperson who wants to know more about how the bible was written and overwritten. The different books in the bible give different accounts of David and his life. There are, I think, three different accounts of how David met Saul. Kirsch’s book gives a pretty simplified version of biblical scholarship, but for me, that’s perfect because I don’t have the patience for a lot more.
I ended up deciding that there was a real David, and that Leonard Cohen is the one who got him right in his song, Hallelujah. Not so much because of the secret chord that pleased the lord, though that seems to be true, but because it ends with a “cold and broken hallelujah.”

112banjo123
jul 5, 2012, 3:47pm

June Wrap-Up:

6 books read--three are from the US, to finish that part of my challenge. I have about a dozen US books I am anxious to read--but I will try to hold out! Also finished my South African category and one more toward Israel.
It looks like it's all non-fiction. I get tired of reading fiction, and may have overdone the fiction earlier in the year. Hopefully not, because I have fiction and drama planned for July and August.

I have also been making progress on Don Quixote. Currently am enjoying that read.

113banjo123
jul 5, 2012, 7:22pm

The first book in my Australian section; Foreign Correspondence by Geraldine Brooks.
This is a so-so book. It describes her childhood in Sydney, and her attempts to reach outside of what she perceived as a provincial childhood through a series of pen-pals. In the later part of the book, she visits with the pen-pals as grown men and women.
An interesting premise, but I didn't feel that Brooks went deep enough to be truly insightful. A book with a smaller scope and greater depth (for example about her conversion to Judaism, and how that related to her childhood in Sydney) would have been more interesting.
However, it is interesting to see how, as a child, she viewed being Australian as second-rate and provinical and how that view kept her from seeing the richness of the country around her.
Brooks is a decent writer, and I think I will try one of her fiction books and see if I like it better.

114lkernagh
jul 6, 2012, 9:19pm

Welcome back and glad to hear your vacation was a lot of fun!

115banjo123
jul 10, 2012, 4:07pm

This July I am auditing a community college class on drama. It's an on-line class, and I was sceptical about on-line learning, but so far, it is working well. At the end of the month, we go to Ashland to the ORegon Shakespeare Festival. I am really looking forward to it.
I am going to count my plays in my reading, if they fit into countries I have open.
So far I have read Oedipus Rex and Macbeth. Both are great plays. I love tragedy.

116banjo123
jul 16, 2012, 3:21pm

Read another play, Ibsen's A Doll's House, which I am lukewarm about. The language didn't move me, but I think that's partly the translation I chose. And Nora's character seemed unlikely--she went from being such a nit-wit, at the beginning of the play; to making that amazing speech when she left her husband.
However, I watched a performance on DVD (1973 with Anthony Hopkins and Claire Bloom) and Bloom did manage to make the character believable. Plus, the subject matter was groundbreaking at the time.

117banjo123
Redigerat: jul 16, 2012, 3:33pm

Morning Yet on Creation Day by Chinua Achebe is a collection of essays published in 1975. I read it for background on Half of a Yellow Sun which I intend to read soon.
This book is sometimes dated, and I found Achebe's voice pompous at times. This might be his reaction to having to continually defend the value of African-based writing to a western audience. However, I noticed the same thing earlier this year when I read Things Fall Apart. At the time, I attributed this to Achebe using a story-telling technique derived from an oral tradition. However, now I wonder if it was just his personality.
The book was probably good for background on African literature. The last essay "Chi in Igbo Cosmology' was very interesting.
I was struck by the following passage when Achebe talks about recovering oral traditions. "There is of course the 'scientific' way as well--the tape-recorded interview with old people. Unfortunately it is often more impressive than useful. The old people who have the information we seek will not often bare their hearts to any passer-by. They will give answers, and true answers to. But there is truth and there is truth."

118banjo123
jul 16, 2012, 9:33pm

I listened to His Illegal Self by Peter Carey on audio-book. Stefan Rudnicki is the reader--and a very good one.
This book is set in the 60's and is about a seven-year old boy, son of underground SDS radicals, who is basically kidnapped from is Park Avenue grandmother and taken to an Australian commune.
In my opinion, Peter Carey is an uneven writer, and this book is not one of my favorites. He did do a good job with the descriptions of Australia, commune living and with the character of the boy.
The plot, however, seemed unlikely, and the other major character was simply unbelievable. (I will forgo details in order to avoid spoilers.)

119banjo123
jul 20, 2012, 4:01pm

Half of a Yellow Sun is a wonderfully written book on a very tough subject -- Biafra.
I am posting on the group read, so will just say here that the book is well-worth reading but it's emotionally hard.

120banjo123
jul 22, 2012, 6:05pm

Over the weekend read As You Like it and Death of a Salesman for my drama class. The Shakespeare is counting in my England category. My US category is already full, so Death of a Salesman doesn't count, but an amazing play nonetheless,
I am going to read Romeo and Juliet next, in preparation for the Shakespeare festival next weekend. Oddly, I am not sure I have ever read or seen this play, so it should be fun.

121banjo123
aug 2, 2012, 12:02pm

The Confessions of Noa Weber by Gail Hareven won the Best Translated Book Award in 2010 and also the Sapir Award in Israel.
This is a beautifully written novel with an interesting and unique narrative voice. Noa Weber, reviews her life in the light of a continuing obsession with Alek, who she first met at age 17. She focuses on the contrast between her success and strength as a professional woman and her vulnerability with Alek. She sees herself turning into a marshmallow whenever he is around, and hides that side of herself from friends and family.
This book raises interesting questions about the role of women in the modern world, especially in Israel. At times I found Noa’s continued obsession with an unrequited love difficult to believe in. On the other hand, I thought that her relationship with her adult daughter was very well portrayed.

122banjo123
aug 2, 2012, 12:06pm

I also did finish Romeo and Juliet, which I had read before, but forgot. I think it's the most forgettable of Shakespeare's tragedies. The production we saw was good though, set in California during the Mexican American War.
And I read Fences for my class also. Again, the US category is full, so it doesn't count, but a good play. I haven't been that thrilled by the August Wilson plays I have seen in the past, but really liked this one.

123-Eva-
aug 2, 2012, 1:58pm

->121 banjo123:
I have Noa Weber on Mt. TBR, but I've not read anything else by Hareven before - nothing else has been translated to English it seems - so I'm getting intrigued about the writing style. Dalya Bilu is such a fantastic translator, though - I'm not surprised to hear it won the Best Translated Book Award!

124banjo123
aug 2, 2012, 3:24pm

Eva--I bet you will like Noa Weber--It is a solid good read. Hopefully more of Hareven's books will be translated in the future.

125banjo123
Redigerat: aug 2, 2012, 3:28pm

July Round Up:

England:
Macbeth
As You Like It
Romeo and Juliet

Australia:
Foreign Correspondence
His Illegal Self

Europe:
A Doll’s House
Oedipus Rex

Nigeria
Morning Yet On Creation day
Half a Yellow Sun

Israel
The Confessions of Noa Weber

And two extra books, from the US
Death of a Salesman
Fences

My best reading month yet! 12 books, 10 of which count toward my challenge. Lots of plays for my drama class, these are faster to read, but I’ve also done a fair amount of background reading and class discussion. I have completed the England leg of my challenge, and Europe will be completed when I finish the second half of Don Quixote.

My favorites for the month are Macbeth (Witches, murder and a moving Birnham wood, what’s not to love?) and Half a Yellow Sun.

126banjo123
aug 2, 2012, 3:39pm

And for August Goals:

I would like to make progress on Don Quixote--I am hoping to finish this in September.

Otherwise, my plan is to work on three countries: Nigeria, India and Israel. I would like to complete the sections on Nigeria and India in August. Currently reading Destination Biafra by Buchi Emecheta and plan to try some books by Wole Soyinka.
FOr India, I have 3 books half read; Sea of Poppies, The Beautiful and the Damned and Great Soul.
After that is done, I want to work on Israel. I have Only Yesterday on tap--it has been highly recommended.

127banjo123
aug 3, 2012, 3:42pm

Finished Destination Biafra. I read Emecheta's Joys of Motherhood years ago and really liked it.
Unfortunately, the writing in Destination Biafra is pretty clunky. I am not sure if JOM was better, or if I am more discerning now.
This was interesting to read after having read Half a Yellow Sun. I wanted to know more about the Biafran War. Emecheta spends more time explaining how the British attempts to manipulate their former colony contributed to the bloodbath that was Biafra.

128lkernagh
aug 4, 2012, 11:04am

Happy to see you positive comments about Fences. I am thinking of reading that one as it fits both my plays category AND the monthly TIOLI challenge!

129banjo123
aug 5, 2012, 1:54pm

# 128 -- Fences seemed to provoke lots of interesting discussion in our class -- I hope you like it.

I finished the last play for the class --The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl. Again, a US play, so it won't count in my categories, but I am keeping track. This is a play about humor, and I suspect it would work better viewed than read.

Last night I went to a concert at the zoo with Ladyship Black Mambazo and Johnny Clegg. That was interesting after my South African reading! Great concert.

This is one of the few hot weekends we get in Portland--over 100, which is just too hot for me.

130banjo123
aug 13, 2012, 10:16pm

Two books from my India category finished.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga is zany and dark and I really liked it.
I also liked The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India by Siddhartha Deb. I had read Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and wanted to also get a view of modern India that was more comprehensive, and that came from a writer native to India.
Boo’s book was more compelling read, but covered only a very small slice of India. Deb covers the diversity of life in India by providing five essays that cover different aspects of Indian life. He also, I think, provides a more two-dimensional portrait of his characters.

131banjo123
aug 16, 2012, 7:33pm

Completed Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. I liked this book, though I didn't love it. I plan to read the next in the series (River of Smoke) sometime next year.

Also read Amos Oz's The Same Sea I loved this. It is wonderfully written prose/poetry.

132banjo123
aug 25, 2012, 5:53pm

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar tells the story of two middle-aged women; Sera Dubash, and upper class Parsi housewife and Bhima, her servant of more than 20 years. The book explores loyalties to gender and class. I enjoyed the book, but thought it was a bit predictable and heavy handed in it's message at times

133banjo123
aug 25, 2012, 5:55pm

Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka was a very well-written play. I would love to see it performed.

134cammykitty
aug 25, 2012, 11:51pm

I haven't read Death and the King's Horseman but I'm with you. I'd run to any theater that was putting on one fo Wole Soyinka's plays.

135banjo123
aug 26, 2012, 2:58pm

I had not seen or read anything by Soyinka before. He's pretty incredible.

136banjo123
aug 30, 2012, 12:37am

Hooray! I finished Don Quixote in a night of insomnia. I liked the first volume better than the second, but definitely happy to have read it.
Also finished Great Soul. Very interesting -- I will put my thoughts together in a couple of days.

Right now I am reading The Famished Road and listening to an audio version of the Satanic Verses. I tried to read it, but found it hard going. The audio version is working better for me.

137christina_reads
aug 30, 2012, 1:19pm

Congrats on finishing Don Quixote!

138lkernagh
aug 30, 2012, 9:34pm

I second the congrats on completing Don Quixote!.... I will get there at some point but not anytime soon! ;-)

139banjo123
aug 30, 2012, 11:39pm

Thanks! I am proud of myself for finishing. Really, I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't an easy read.

140banjo123
aug 30, 2012, 11:40pm

Here's my review of Great Soul told in pictures.

In 1906, Mohandas Gandhi looked like this:

In 1931,he was Mahatma Gandhi and this is how he looked:


Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his Struggle with India by Joseph Lelyveld tells the story of this transformation. It’s fascinating.

141banjo123
aug 30, 2012, 11:49pm

The Famished Road by Ben Okri is urban African poverty and political corruption seen through the eyes of childhood. It's classified as magical realism, I think, because big portions of the book take place in the spirit world.
An excellent book.

142banjo123
Redigerat: sep 1, 2012, 1:39pm

August Round UP:

Europe:
Finished Don Quixote!!!

India:
White TIger
The Beautiful and the Damned
Sea of Poppies
The Space Between Us
Great Soul

Nigeria:
Destination biafra
The Famished Road

Israel:
The Same Sea

Also, another US play that doesn't count to the total: Clean House

So 10 books read, which is great for me. I have been feeling immersed in India, which is interesting.

Favorite Books of the Mondth are The Same Sea and Great Soul

143banjo123
sep 1, 2012, 1:42pm

For September: I want to finish my sections on Nigeria, India and Israel. I have one book each on Nigeria and Inda; three in Israel. Then I plan to move on to Australia.
Any recommendations for Australian books?

144mamzel
sep 1, 2012, 4:07pm

Congrats on finishing Don Quixote. I still aim at finishing it myself. According to my Kindle, I'm 40% done.

145-Eva-
sep 1, 2012, 6:06pm

Yet another congrats for Don Quixote - I got halfway once, but need to reattempt!! :)

146banjo123
sep 3, 2012, 4:09pm

Don Quixote was definitely worth it. Happy reading to everyone who is working on it.

147banjo123
sep 3, 2012, 4:22pm

Ake: the Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka completes my Nigerian reading for the year.
Its a memoir of Soyinka's first 11 years.
This isn't one of my favorite books, but did add another dimension to my Nigerian reading. Soyinka's parents were Christian, fairly affuent. His father was headmaster in a school. Soyinka was born in 1934, so this is colonial Nigeria during WWII.
His parents were strict--lots of corporal punishment, which Soyinka views as wrong-headed. His parents were also loving and interesting.
Soyinka was a lively boy, always questioning adults. One of my favorite scenes was when young Wole, age 3 1/2, decided it was time to go to school, and managed it by showing up in the classroom and taking a seat at a desk, with a collection of books taken from his father's study.

148banjo123
sep 3, 2012, 4:46pm

The Bus Driver Who wanted to be God is a book of short stories by Etgar Keret which are very strange, very Israeli.
I liked these stories, but wish I could have read them more slowly. I had to return the book to the library, so decided to power through it. The stories have an interesting, unusual flavor--something like a kumquat, where it's good, but I wouldn't want too many at once.

149cammykitty
sep 3, 2012, 7:55pm

I loved Ake!!! & Etgar Keret has been languishing on my WL for some time. Next year?

150-Eva-
Redigerat: sep 5, 2012, 1:17pm

Keret is one of my all-time favorite authors, but definitely read a few stories here and there to make time for digestion. :)

151staceywebb
sep 5, 2012, 12:13pm

Detta konto har stängts av för spammande.
Detta meddelande har blivit flaggat av flera användare och visas inte längre (visa)

152banjo123
sep 17, 2012, 3:08pm

I finished Only Yesterday by S.Y. Agnon, Nobel Laureate. Only Yesterday was published in 1945 and was set in Israel during the time of the Second Aliya (1904 to 1914), when Eastern-European Zionists came to Israel to till the soil and to revive the Hebrew language. The book gives a good background into the development of modern Israel and Israeli identity.
This is the story of Isaac Kumer, a simple man from Galicia, who emigrated to Jaffa and then Israel. His intent was farming, but it was too hard to get work, and he ended up as a house-painter.
He is a simple man, maybe even sort of a schlub, who stumbles into things (Zionism, House-painting, marriage), rather than leading a self-directed life. In the last part of the book, it takes a surreal turn, with the character of the dog, Balak. Isaac, without thinking, painted the Hebrew words for “Crazy Dog” onto the stray’s back. Isaac’s action has large unintended consequences.
This is a book that made me wish I could read Hebrew. The language is interesting; lots of echoes of biblical language, a story told in many, sometimes contradictory layers. I read in Wikopedia that “Agnon's writing often used words and phrases that differed from what would become established Modern Hebrew. His distinct language is based on traditional Jewish sources, such as the Torah and the Prophets, Midrashic literature, the Mishnah, and other Rabbinic literature.” It’s interesting to think that Agnon did not write in his first language (which would have been Yiddish and wrote in a language that was still developing.
This is a good book—insightful at times, funny at times as well. It gives a perspective on how history, culture and religion create layers of meaning in the life of impressionable young man.
I read this at the same time as I was reading The Satanic Verses by Salmon Rushdie. I was interested in the contrasts and similarities between the two books. Both deal with religion, mental illness, father-son relationships. Both have a surreal element. There are also tons of differences, but one that I thought was interesting was the depiction of sexuality and male-female relations. In Only Yesterday, Isaac had not even talked to a woman, other than his sisters, before moving to Israel, and he is very fumbling in his romantic attempts. Rushdie’s book does not have gratuitous sex, but there are lots of interesting couplings and a frankness about sexual desire. I am not sure if this is because of its modernity, or if there is a cultural difference. I am inclined to attribute this, at least in part, to cultural differences.

I had wanted to read the Satanic Verses for some time, but couldn’t get into the book. I finally did an audiotape—which worked wonderfully. Overall, I really liked the book. I think that my lack of knowledge of Islam kept me from appreciating parts of it; but I loved the stories of Gibreel and Saladin. Rushdie’s use of language is wonderful. Here is one example:
"An iceberg is water striving to be land; a mountain, especially a Himalaya, especially Everest, is land’s attempt to metamorphose into sky; it is grounded flight, the earth mutated—nearly—into air , and become, in the true sense, exalted."

153banjo123
sep 17, 2012, 3:11pm

I also finished In the Name of Sorrow and Hope, Itzak Rabin's granddaughter's book about her grandfather and his legacy. A sweet book.

So I have completed my Israel and Indian sections. I am now trying to read Australian books. It's a bit dicey so far--I decided to read Patrick White's The Tree of Man and I am finding it tough going.

154banjo123
sep 23, 2012, 8:53pm

I read My Place by Sally Morgan. She is an Australian woman who fond out as a teen/young adult, that her grandmother was Aboriginal. Her family had kept that knowledge from the children, because there was so much stigma and prejudice against the Aboriginal.
She researched and found out more about the past and did oral histories with her grandmother, great-uncle and mother.
The writing is pedestrian, but the story is interesting and I enjoyed the book.

155banjo123
sep 29, 2012, 3:08pm

Have had a busy reading week and completed 3 more books for my Australian category.

The Tree of Man by Patrick White, is a good book, but not my cup of tea. I found the writing difficult and the characters hard to engage with. The end did pick up, but still, I doubt I will try anything else by White.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks was next. I had sort of the opposite problem, feeling that I didn't really have to work my brain to read this book. It's about the Sarajevo Haggadah, a fascinating story in reality. Brooks gives an imagined account of how the Haggadah came to be -- it's sort of Jewish history-lite.

Breath by Tim Winton, I loved. It's about risk-taking and surfing. Beautifully written and very sad. It's a short book that makes you think. I ended up feeling shaken, like I'd been punched in the gut.

156lkernagh
sep 29, 2012, 6:18pm

I do remember The People of the Book being an easy page-turning read with interesting historical settings and facts. Jewish history-lite is an interesting and apt way of describing it.

Breath sounds like something I would gravitate to so on the future reading list it goes.

157cammykitty
sep 29, 2012, 11:36pm

I'm curious about Breath now. Not many books can create that punched in the gut feel.

158banjo123
okt 4, 2012, 10:53pm

I did enjoy People of the Book and I have another Geraldine Brooks---something about the plague--that I look forward to reading next year.

Breath was great, though difficult. I don't want to give away too much of the story, but havet to warn you all that there are parts that made me uncomfortable.

159banjo123
okt 4, 2012, 11:00pm

SEPTEMBER WRAP UP:

Eight books read--finished my categories for India, Israel and Nigeria. Also read four books in the Australian category.

I am pleased with myself for finishing The Satanic Verses, which has been on the 'ought to read' list for a long time. I ended up really liking it. Favorite book of the month is probably Tim Winton's Breath.

OCTOBER PLANS:
I've one book left in the Australian category , then it's on to Russia. I'd like to complete the Russian category in October--but there are lots of big books, so that may be difficult.

160cammykitty
okt 4, 2012, 11:36pm

So Breath still ranked as a favorite book, even though it was a bit uncomfortable at times. Now I'm really curious.

161banjo123
okt 7, 2012, 7:44pm

I finished the Australia section with Kenneally's A Commonwealth of Thieves. I know very little about Australian history, so this was a good way to get some background. My main take-away--the British were pretty creepy at this time.
The book tells about the fleets of convicts sent to Australia from England under utterly horrid conditions. Many died on the way. The English used this method to empty prisons, which were full to bursting with people whose main crimes was being poor. The enclosure laws had created a society in which many poor people had no choice but to turn to petty crime in order to survive.

162mamzel
okt 8, 2012, 12:45pm

It must have been a really rough place to live. It probably does much to explain the Australian personality today.

163cammykitty
okt 12, 2012, 7:32am

A Commonwealth of Thieves looks interesting. Most of what I know about Australia is from my Uncle who lived there for awhile and liked telling tall tales, so it's hard to sort through which of his comments about poisonous golf-ball eating toads, random taxes and shark and roo burgers at McDonalds are true. My other source is the Irish/Scottish folk songs about transportation down to Van Diemans land. WL time!

164banjo123
okt 16, 2012, 12:00am

#163- The Scotch-Irish folksongs sound interesting.
I am enjoying telling people about this book. I think that there is a parallel between the deportation of the poor to Australia and the US in the 1700's and the high numbers of young African American men in prison today.

I just finished The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen. This was an interesting book, and well written. There are lots of reminders of how fragile democracy can be.

165cammykitty
okt 16, 2012, 12:26am

Did they talk about that pop song - title translated too "A Man Like Putin" - it was a girl band, and unlike any British or US political song, it wasn't satirical or facetious.

166banjo123
okt 17, 2012, 12:45am

# 165 -- No, but I googled it, and it's funny.
This is an anti-Putin book. One of it's strengths is that Gessen was born in Russia and has lived in the US as well; so she is bi-cultural and bi-lingual. So you do get an authentic insight into Russian culture, but written so that it's understandable for someone from the US.

167banjo123
okt 28, 2012, 1:59pm

Three books finished for the russian category:

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch is a well written portrayal of live in a soviet labor camp. I was really struck by the way the protagonists focus narrowed, to be only on survival, and food.

Selected Poetry: Joseph Brodsky I read in an attempt to read more poetry and more nobel prize winners. Somewhat of a painful effort--this kind of poetry is not really for me. Some of the poems I liked, but many seemed too academic for me. Maybe it suffered in the translation?

The Line by Olga Grushin was a slice of life in Soviet Russia; focussing on the power of art (in this case music) to transform everyday life. I found some of the charaters unbelievable, but overall a good book.

168banjo123
okt 28, 2012, 2:01pm

Currently reading the last two books for my Russian category. I am about a third way through Anna Karenina. I am finding this a bit of a slog so far, and feeling sad in advance for poor Anna. Also just started The Master and the Margarita, which so far I love.

169lkernagh
okt 28, 2012, 6:18pm

I look forward to your thoughts on both Anna Karenina and The Master and the Margarita. I found Tolstoy to be a bit of a slog for me - hence the reason I have made repeated attempts at War and Peace and never seem to get past he first 100 pages. Bulgakov I find to be a confusing but more approachable in his writing style, having read his A Theatrical Novel but all the comments around The Master and the Margarita tend to scare me from attempting it.

170banjo123
okt 28, 2012, 7:50pm

I was kind of scared of The Master and the Margarita as well, but so far it's working.

I am glad there is someone else who has trouble with Tolstoy. I feel that I should like him, but if Anna Karenina doesn't pick up, I will give W & P a miss. I did read it in high school, and all I remember is that the names were confusing.

171soffitta1
okt 30, 2012, 2:34am

I'm happy to hear good things about The Master and the Margarita - I've got it on my shelves to read soon. I'll be back to hear about what you think.

I enjoyed A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch very much, well-written and thought-provoking.

172cammykitty
okt 30, 2012, 3:59am

I've had The Master and the Margarita on my WL for awhile, so I'm also looking forward to your comments. Glad you enjoyed Putin's catchy little pop song. I can see an anti-Putin book lampooning it, but I think it got really popular in Russia - which I'm sure had more to do with the way the girls look in the video than the actual lyrics of the song.

173banjo123
Redigerat: nov 3, 2012, 4:39pm

OCTOBER ROUND-UP

Finished my Australian challenge with A Commonwealth of Thieves.

Four Russian books finished:
The Man WIthout a Face
The Line
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch
And Selected Poems by Joseph Brodsky

I liked them all, except the poetry. The Man Without a Face was my favorite for the month.

That's five for the month.

174banjo123
nov 3, 2012, 4:15pm

For November:

I anticipate completing the challenge this month I have two Russian books to complete--I am still really enjoying The Master and the Margarita. Anna Karenina is picking up for me. Right now Stepan Arkadyvitch (sp?) is having a party, and I find him a very entertaining character.

Then Colombia, my last country, is a short stop--I will only need to complete more two books in order to complete the 80 books for my goal. Then I am looking forward to some direction-less reading.

175avatiakh
nov 3, 2012, 4:28pm

I've just done a big catch up on your thread and have added The Confessions of Noa Weber to my tbr list. I've also read the Agnon and the Oz books, we probably bumped into each other on the Reading Globally thread.

Your link to The Man without a face in post #173 isn't to the correct book.

176banjo123
Redigerat: nov 3, 2012, 4:50pm

Thanks! I think I fixed the link.

And, just for fun, here's a picture of my two dudes. Banjo is on the left, Francis on the right. They are very sweet together.

They are on a diet, but I am not sure it's working, other than to make them naughtier!

177cammykitty
nov 3, 2012, 5:39pm

Diets always make pets naughtier!!! Hunger is a great motivator for creative problem solving. ;) They're terribly cute!

178ivyd
nov 3, 2012, 9:04pm

Cute kitties! I have 2 tabbies that look very much like Banjo and Francis, and a 3rd orange one.

And I've also added Noa Weber to my wishlist.

179lkernagh
nov 3, 2012, 10:57pm

Love the picture of Banjo and Francis!

180banjo123
nov 4, 2012, 1:39pm

I hope you all enjoy Noa Weber. I have to confess that I've reached the age where I like to read books with protagonists who are no longer young.

We get a lot of pleasure and amusement from our pets. I was proud of taking that photo, and proud of figuring out how to post it to LT. Maybe next week I will try for a picture of the dog.

181mamzel
nov 4, 2012, 4:52pm

Gray tiger is my favorite coloration for cats. Better still with a white bib.

182-Eva-
nov 4, 2012, 8:41pm

Beautiful kittehs!! And very well-matched to the rug - good interior choice! :)

183banjo123
nov 10, 2012, 4:41pm

Thanks Eva, we try to match our furnishings to our pets!

184banjo123
nov 10, 2012, 4:41pm

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov has an interesting history. He started work on the novel in 1928. He burned the first draft of the novel in 1930, in despair over ever being able to publish in the Soviet system Bulgakov started rewriting in 1931, completed the second draft in 1936. He continued to re-write and polish the work until his death in 1940. A censored version was first published in Moscow magazine in 1966. One of the most memorable lines in the book “Manuscripts don’t burn” is a reminder of the endurance of art in times of oppression.
The book is a combination of magical realism and political satire. There are several nesting story lines: Satan comes to Moscow, and we see the mayhem that ensues; Pontius Pilate struggles with his role in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; and, aided by Satan and his retinue, Margarita leaves her boring, but unobjectionable, husband to join the Master, with whom she is passionately in love.
The different storylines work together really well. I wish I knew more about Soviet Russia and Goethe’s Faust. Many of the satirical references went right over my head, despite the footnotes. I chose to let go of the things that I didn’t understand, and just go along for the ride. Reading Anna Karenina at the same time worked well for me; there are references to Anna Karenina in the novel, and the character of Margarita has many echoes to the character of Anna.
I loved this book. It works both as a political commentary and as a work of art. It’s carefully and beautifully written. I really felt the benefit of many re-writes. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about trying this book, to go ahead and give it a try.

185banjo123
nov 10, 2012, 4:48pm



And, in the interest of equal treatment, here is Chica.

Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend. I am now officially liking Anna Karenina. It only took me about half the book to get into it. Currently it's reminding me that the liberalization of marriage laws and acceptance of divorce really is a good thing.

186DeltaQueen50
nov 10, 2012, 6:00pm

Your cats are gorgeous, they look so soft and cuddly. But I have to admit I've just lost my heart to Chica!

187lkernagh
nov 10, 2012, 7:44pm

> 185 - Awe!!!!!!

Very happy to see you are now in a good place with Anna Karenina, even if it took half of the book to get there! ;-)

188cammykitty
nov 10, 2012, 10:21pm

Chica is such a sweetie!!! Glad to see your comments on The Master and Margarita. I've had that on my WL for quite some time.

189banjo123
nov 11, 2012, 6:08pm

Thanks! Chica really is a sweet dog--and more cuddly than either of the cats.

190banjo123
nov 23, 2012, 7:35pm

Ok--I was planning to type up some deep thoughts about Anna Karenina, but I'm not up to it mentally, plus we bought a new computer and I hate the keyboard. Anyway, I liked the book. Too much philosophizing, but the characters are great."

I also read a very short, sweet love story from Columbia: A Tale of the Dispossessed by Laura Restrepo. She starts with a Steinbeck quote that really defines the book. "Strange things happen to people who are fleeing from terror (....); some are cruel, and others are so beautiful that faith is renewed." The library copy I have is in both English and Spanish, which would be nice if my Spanish were a little bit better. Definitely will look for more by this writer.

Now working on Living to tell the Tale by Gabriel Garcia Marquez . This will be my last book for the challenge!

191lkernagh
nov 23, 2012, 9:36pm

This will be my last book for the challenge!

That is excellent! Looking forward to seeing your thoughts on the GGM book. One of these days I will venture into GGM's works.

192cammykitty
nov 24, 2012, 12:26am

WooHoo!!! The end is in sight!!! I haven't heard much about Living to tell the tale so I'll be looking forward to your comments too.

193banjo123
nov 24, 2012, 6:57pm

I understand that GGM is not to everyone's taste, but I am a huge fan. I am getting a lot fromLiving to Tell the Tale, as it gives insight into GGM's novels and writing style. Plus many entertaining stories along the way. It's a slow read, though, and I definitely wouldn't pick it if you aren't already a fan. If you are going to read one Garcia Marquez, it should be A Hundred Years of Solitude.

I am reading, on the side, Crazed by Ha Jin, for the Reading Globally group. Loving it.

194banjo123
nov 28, 2012, 10:58pm

Tah Dah! I finished Living to Tell the Tale today, so I am officially finished with my challenge!

I want to write a review of this and a challenge summary--but it will have to wait for the weekend. Looking forward to a month of random reading, and setting up my 2013 challenge,

195lkernagh
nov 29, 2012, 12:24am

Congratulations on finishing your challenge!

196avatiakh
nov 29, 2012, 12:31am

Congratulations.

197hailelib
nov 29, 2012, 5:40am

Congratulations.

198AHS-Wolfy
nov 29, 2012, 6:37am

Congrats!

199-Eva-
nov 29, 2012, 12:23pm

Congratulations!!! Have fun with your "free" reading month. :)

200ivyd
nov 29, 2012, 12:32pm

Congratulations!

201christina_reads
nov 29, 2012, 4:20pm

What an appropriate book to end your challenge on -- you really did live to tell the tale! (I know, bad joke.) Congratulations!

202cammykitty
nov 29, 2012, 11:59pm

Congrats!

203DeltaQueen50
nov 30, 2012, 7:04pm

Congatulations on completing you challenge!

204banjo123
dec 1, 2012, 5:20pm

Thanks everyone! I am very pleased with myself--I wasn't at all sure I could manage to read 80 books.

205banjo123
Redigerat: dec 1, 2012, 7:08pm

Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a memoir of the writer's first 30 years. It is a slow read. I would not recommend this book if you are not already a fan of GGM's novels, but for me, there were many great insights into the may that GGM writes and the world he lived in. For example, he describes how he almost ditched the name Buendia, from A Hundred Years of Solitude, because of the unavoidable rhyme with verbs in the imperfect. That is an attention to detail that I would never have thought of. I loved his description of the environment; full of poetry and politics. I am psyched now, to read a lot of Garcia Marquez next year.

206banjo123
dec 1, 2012, 7:17pm

207psutto
dec 3, 2012, 5:33am

belated congrats

208clfisha
dec 3, 2012, 7:05am

Congrats!

209cammykitty
dec 3, 2012, 11:09pm

205 And a caveat to any of us who have to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez in translation - no translator is going to be able to show us the infinite pains he took with the language.

210banjo123
dec 4, 2012, 1:11am

Cammykitty--so true! But Edith Grossman does a good job, I think.

211cammykitty
dec 4, 2012, 4:54pm

He always has great translators, but I'm always wondering what I'm missing! Especially after reading side-by-side translations of Neruda's poetry.

212banjo123
dec 5, 2012, 12:48am

I was lamenting my lack of Spanish as well, but, in case it makes you feel better, Gabriel Garcia Marquez doesn't know much English. So presumably he had to read a lot of his favorite books in translation, as well. (He was really influenced by Faulkner, so now I am very excited to do a group read of Faulkner next year.)

213banjo123
Redigerat: dec 31, 2012, 4:28pm

DECEMBER READING:

I am going to list the reading that I do for the rest of the year--so I will have all my 2012 reading in one place. Finished:

Change by Mo Yan -- really enjoyed
The Crazed by Ha Jin -- awesome book
Waiting by Ha Jin, also a really good book
The Blue Bear by Lynn Schooler--an Alaskan memoir--interesting.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller which I read to help my daughter with her English assignment. I don' t this I was much help, but the play is good. Would love to see it performed.
Garden of the Evening Mists--Great book--hard topic.
The Best American Essays 2011 Mostly pretty interesting essays--enjoyed the book.
The Perks of being a Wallflower--I borrowed and read this from my daughter--it's good, though I am not really into YA and all the drug and alcohol abuse was hard on me.

214cammykitty
dec 8, 2012, 12:21am

Not surprised! It's hard to be exceptional in more than one language!

215paruline
dec 10, 2012, 6:19pm

Adding my belated congratulations! Well done!

216banjo123
dec 18, 2012, 12:28am

Thanks Paruline!