Wednesday, December 9, 2009

“To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.” - Andre Gide

READ

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer - such a beautiful, quaint little book. The synopsis from the Random House website (www.randomhouse.com) reads:

"January 1946: writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name."

The book is made up of letters between Juliet and the Society as well as her publisher and best friend. The language is fantastic and very much in context of the time. You begin to feel like you know all of these people which is fantastic as you cannot always gleam a lot from letters. There is a lot of talk about reading, obviously, but the main storyline is that of the German Invasion of the island of Guernsey, the subsequent liberation and the struggles of returning the island to normal life.
It's funny, heart wrenching and educational. Fantastic book.

"
At the Gates of Darkness" by Raymond E Feist - another fantastic book by REF. However, I am starting to miss the humor and characterisation of his earlier books. The newer books just don't seem as "real". Plus, I wish I had re-read "Rides a Dread Legion" first - I spent most of the book trying to catch up. Looking forward to the discussions on the mailing list once it's released in America.

"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain - loved this! The writing style takes a little getting used to - it's written in vernacular of the South. (Dean read over my shoulder at one stage and said he couldn't understand a word :P) But once you get into the rhythm of the writing it's a fantastic story. Another classic that I don't know why it's taken so long to read.

"Life of Pi" by Yann Martel - fantastic book!

"Tokyo Cancelled" by Rana
Dasgupta

"A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams

"Casino Royale" by Ian Fleming

"Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote

"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" by John Boyne

"A Series of Unfortunate Events" (The 1st 3 books) by Lemony Snicket/

STILL TO READ

"The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying" by
Sogyal Rinpoche
"Einstein" by Walter Isaacson
"The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
"War & Peace" by Leo Tolstoy
"A Confession" by Leo Tolstoy
"Monet & The Impressionists" by George T M Shackelford & Terence Maloon
"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins
"The Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain De Botton
"The Beatles and Philosophy" - am halfway through. Great so far
"Derrida: writing and difference"
"A Catcher in the Rye" by J.D Salinger
"Twitterature"
"The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" by Arthur Conan Doyle

STILL TO BUY

"The Princess Bride" by William Goldman
"Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffengger
"The Slap" by Christos Tsiolkas
"Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson
"Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss
"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand
"The Wild Things" by David Eggers
"The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold
"Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts
"The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hossein
"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain
"The Restaurant at the End of the Universe", "Life, the Universe and Everything", "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish" & "Mostly Harmless" by Douglas Adams
"And Another Thing" by Eoin Colfer
The Bonds Series by Ian Fleming

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Don't just read the easy stuff. You may be entertained by it, but you will never grow from it." Rohn, Jim

READ

"1984" by George Orwell
"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult
"The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
"Bones to Ashes" by Kathy Reichs
"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy
"Cloudstreet" by Tim Winton
"Rides a Dread Legion" by Raymond E Feist
"Catch 22" by Joseph Heller
"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
"Dune" by Frank Herbert
"Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit" by Sean Hepburn Ferrer
"The City of Falling Angels" by John Berendt
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Lucky Man" & "Always Looking Up" by Michael J Fox
"The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet" by Benjamin Hoff
"The Time Traveller's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger
"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
"Breath" by Tim Winton - "Breath" by Tim Winton is a (fictional) first-hand story narrated by Bruce Pike. Bruce is a paramedic who attends the apparent suicide of a teenage boy. However, everything is not as it seems.
This job sends Pike down memory lane; to his childhood in a small country town in WA, when he was friends with the wild Loony. We learn the story of how he began to surf, under the tutelage of the enigmatic Sando, who bestows upon him the nickname "Pikelet". We follow his crazy summers of dangerous big wave surfing and a perilous romantic liason.
I found the writing style much easier to follow than Winton's previous book "Cloudstreet"; it is more clear cut but still very emotive. I have no knowledge or experience of surfing but found that I could understand every feeling, every rush, every fear that Pikelet felt, simply through the power of Winton's writing. Although, he still seems to have an aversion to quotation marks. I didn't feel that this detracted from the story. However, I have heard of others that felt this way.
My only complaint is that last quarter of the book felt rushed; the last 2 chapters span over 30 years of Pikelets life. I can understand that the story is centered on his childhood, however the ending felt as if it was almost written in bullet point.
I remember feeling that "Cloudstreet" contained a million events, even when I was only half way through. This didn't make it seem too long but rather like a "complete" book. "Breath", however, gave the impression that Winton had a page limit to adhere to and ran out of room.
Nonetheless, even with this minor complaint, I found "Breath" to be a fantastic book and Winton is fast becoming one of my favourite writers.
Whilst popular thought seems to be that this is Winton's best book, I would still rate "Cloudstreet" higher.

STILL TO READ

"The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche
"Tokyo Cancelled" by Rana Dasgupta
"Einstein" by Walter Isaacson
"The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
"War & Peace" by Leo Tolstoy
"A Confession" by Leo Tolstoy
"Monet & The Impressionists" by George T M Shackelford & Terence Maloon
"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins
"The Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain De Botton
"The Guernsey Literacy and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer
"The Beatles and Philosophy" - am halfway through. Great so far!
"Derrida: writing and difference"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.





I may not agree with why you are doing what you do, but I will always admire your courage and never begrudge you the honour you deserve.



~~ Lest we forget ~~

Monday, November 2, 2009

"A great book should leave you with many experiences & slightly exhausted at the end. You should live several lives while reading it" Styron, William

READ

"1984" by George Orwell
"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult
"The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
"Bones to Ashes" by Kathy Reichs
"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy
"Cloudstreet" by Tim Winton
"Rides a Dread Legion" by Raymond E Feist
"Catch 22" by Joseph Heller
"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
"Dune" by Frank Herbert
"Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit" by Sean Hepburn Ferrer
"The City of Falling Angels" by John Berendt
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Lucky Man" & "Always Looking Up" by Michael J Fox
"The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet" by Benjamin Hoff
"The Time Traveller's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger
"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak - Loved this. Really, really well written and such an interesting premise. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I sobbed through the last 50 or so pages.
When I've explained the story to a few people they have mostly looked at me like "err... what?!" Yup, that's what happens when you tell people you are reading a story that's narrated by Death.
Death tells the story of a young girl - Liesel - who he sees on his travels through Germany during World War II. The girl and her brother are sent to live with a foster family in Munich. However, on the train her brother dies in his sleep. At the funeral Liesel finds a book in the snow - "The Gravedigger's Handbook" and takes it -even though she can't read she is fascinated by this book. Her new foster Papa finds the book one day and decides he will teach her to read. This starts her love-affair with books and words and she then goes on to steal more books as she can't afford to buy them. During this time her family also begins to hide a Jew in their basement and deal with the problems of being sympathetic for the Jews in a world where even the tiniest amount of pro-semitic feelings can get you severely punished.
Zusak's writing style is truly fantastic. Various interruptions from Death are included - e.g in the opening passage "Here is a small fact - you are going to die". Colour plays an important part in the imagery - Death describes every soul he collects in terms of the colours he sees; the red of the sky after a bombing, the pure white of snow. Red, white & black are possibly the most used colours; symbolising the colours of the swastika. Like Liesel (the Book Thief) you learn to love words, simply due to Zusak's talent with them.
I've read a few other reviews online and a lot say that they found the first 50 pages or so difficult to "get in to" and then after that they were hooked. They felt that these pages should have been "re-worked" so that they worked better. But I don't feel this is the case. I think it takes these pages to get used to the style - it's something totally different to what most people would usually read. The style of those pages is exactly the same as the rest of the book but once people are hooked on the story, the difficulties with the style disappear.
Even though you know that people died in this war, even though Death drops massive hints the whole way through the book (including some of who dies, but not how they die in entirety), the ending still managed to shock and obviously affect me. I had difficulty reading through my tears but had to keep reading because I
needed to know what happened.
I'm sure I would nominate most of the books I have read on this list as a "must-read" but this one is a definite. I would also love to see it as a HSC study book.

STILL TO READ

"The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche
"Tokyo Cancelled" by Rana Dasgupta
"Einstein" by Walter Isaacson
"The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
"War & Peace" by Leo Tolstoy
"A Confession" by Leo Tolstoy
"Monet & The Impressionists" by George T M Shackelford & Terence Maloon
"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins
"The Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain De Botton
"The Guernsey Literacy and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer
"The Beatles and Philosophy"
"Derrida: writing and difference"
"Breath" by Tim Winton

Monday, October 26, 2009

"In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." Adler, Mortimer J.

READ

"1984" by George Orwell
"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult
"The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
"Bones to Ashes" by Kathy Reichs
"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy
"Cloudstreet" by Tim Winton
"Rides a Dread Legion" by Raymond E Feist
"Catch 22" by Joseph Heller
"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
"Dune" by Frank Herbert
"Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit" by Sean Hepburn Ferrer
"The City of Falling Angels" by John Berendt
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Lucky Man" & "Always Looking Up" by Michael J Fox
"The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet" by Benjamin Hoff - such a cute book. Passages of Tao writings are shown side-by-side with passages of "Winnie-the-Pooh" and "The House at Pooh Corner". Even more interesting is that the author (who writes in first-person) is often interrupted by Pooh and friends, with songs and sarcastic comments about his writing. The humor is fun and engaging but I found the overall content to be a little.... well boring. It took me forever to finish this - mostly because I was too tired to concentrate. I also don't feel I left the book learning much. So whilst it was fun, it was also boring. Oh well.
"The Time Traveller's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger - Amazing. I bought this book Saturday. I sat down to read it at about lunch time on Sunday. I finished it at 1am Sunday night. Stuff the dishes, stuff the washing. Stuff sleeping. I had to finish this book. I had heard a lot of good things about this book and that there was a movie coming out but wasn't sure if I was really wanting to jump on board the bandwagon. But I succumbed to the peer pressure and bought it.
In case you have been living under a literary rock "The Time Traveler's Wife" tells the story of Henry DeTamble - a man with a rare genetic disorder which causes him to jump backwards and forwards in time (within his own timeline) with no control. Upon arriving in this different period he is naked and disorientated and often has to steal to find clothes. During one of these time travels he meets 6-year old Claire and continues to "visit" her various times up until her 18th birthday. They don't meet again for 2 years until Claire runs in to Henry at his work, but he does not know who she is - he is yet to travel in time to meet her. The story then goes on to detail their life together and the difficulties Claire experiences with a disappearing husband and also their problems with having children. (loved the reason - don't want to spoil it but it makes for a very interesting image.)
Confusing? Yes it can be. But if you try not to analyse it too much and just go with the flow it seems to work it self out in the end. The writing is fantastic and touching, the characters extremely well-rounded and themes are thought-provoking. The story may sound like science fiction but reads more like fact and is more of a romance.
Fascinating book but not sure if I want to see the movie when it's released. Who know's what they've done to it?

STILL TO READ

"The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche
"Tokyo Cancelled" by Rana Dasgupta
"Einstein" by Walter Isaacson
"The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
"War & Peace" by Leo Tolstoy
"A Confession" by Leo Tolstoy
"Monet & The Impressionists" by George T M Shackelford & Terence Maloon
"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins
"The Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain De Botton
"The Guernsey Literacy and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer
"The Beatles and Philosophy"
"Derrida: writing and difference"
"Breath" by Tim Winton
"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends." - Dawn Adams

READ

"1984" by George Orwell
"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult
"The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
"Bones to Ashes" by Kathy Reichs
"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy
"Cloudstreet" by Tim Winton
"Rides a Dread Legion" by Raymond E Feist
"Catch 22" by Joseph Heller
"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
"Dune" by Frank Herbert
"Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit" by Sean Hepburn Ferrer
"The City of Falling Angels" by John Berendt
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Lucky Man" & "Always Looking Up" by Michael J Fox - I've always been a massive fan of MJF and the Back to the Future triology are some of my favourite movies.
When waiting for Dean to finish uni I wandered into Dymocks and picked up "Always Looking Up" and started reading. 40 something pages later I decided I had to buy both books and devour them straight away. So I did.
If he wasn't an actor he'd be a writer. His style is so clear and engaging, and so personal. "Lucky Man" takes you from his childhood up until his decision to announce globally that he has Parkinson's. You feel like you know this crazy, talented little boy, as if he is someone you went to school with, or lived down the road from.
But what got me most was the beginning chapter of "ALU" - he simply describes what he must to every morning to get out of bed. It's fascinating, heartbreaking and inspiring - and it's simply an explanation of such a rudimentary part of life; get out of bed, brush teeth, have a shower, put on clothes. But it brings to light the struggles and tribulations of the sufferers of Parkinson's like nothing else.
"ALU" goes quite deeply in to the issue of Stem Cell Research and MJF's efforts to campaign for greater funding in America. I'm glad I read this. Stem Cell Research was not something I've known a lot about - except that it had the potential to cure a lot of terrible diseases and that most people who were against it were because of the abortion links and the risks of cloning. But having learnt that the embryo's used are actually discarded embryo's from IVF it has made me even more for the issue. Why discard something that could create so much good? Of course, "ALU" is quite biased to the fact that MJF is pro- Stem Cell Research but he also looks at the other side as well and seems quite accepting of their views.

They are both fascinating reads and by the end you don't feel sad and sympathetic for MJF (something that he never wanted) but you feel inspired that someone could do so much, with such a terrible disease. Lucky man, indeed.

STILL TO READ

"The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche
"Tokyo Cancelled" by Rana Dasgupta
"Einstein" by Walter Isaacson
"The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
"War & Peace" by Leo Tolstoy
"A Confession" by Leo Tolstoy
"Monet & The Impressionists" by George T M Shackelford & Terence Maloon
"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins
"The Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain De
Botton
"The Guernsey Literacy and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer
"The Beatles and Philosophy"
"The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet" by Benjamin Hoff
"Derrida: writing and difference"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Books are the carriers of civilization…They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print."

READ

"1984" by George Orwell
"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult
"The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
"Bones to Ashes" by Kathy Reichs
"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy
"Cloudstreet" by Tim Winton
"Rides a Dread Legion" by Raymond E Feist
"Catch 22" by Joseph Heller
"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
"Dune" by Frank Herbert

"Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit" by Sean Hepburn Ferrer - read this in about an hour and cried for the last half. An amazing story about an amazing woman. Because it is written by her son you get a true feeling of what sort of person she really was. Has cemented her even more as one of my favourite people and also made me want to help UNICEF.

"The City of Falling Angels" by John Berendt - I picked this off the shelf thinking it would just be a light, fun read. Another travel/romance story set in Venice. However, upon reading I found that this definitely wasn't what it was. It's a true story, based around the fire of the Fenice Opera House in 1996. It looks at the scandal surrounding the fire, the people that were involved or witnessed it, as well as other interesting people at the time. It also brings you in to the crazy private lives of the Venetians. Fantastic read which really makes me want to travel to Venice.

The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald - wasn't sure what I expected when I started reading this but I enjoyed it. It seemed very short and I read it in only a couple of hours but it was interesting and well told (once you got past the writing style - very, very descriptive). Makes me want to go to a party in the '20's.

STILL TO READ

"The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche
"Tokyo Cancelled" by Rana Dasgupta
"Einstein" by Walter Isaacson
"The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
"War & Peace" by Leo Tolstoy
"A Confession" by Leo Tolstoy
"Monet & The Impressionists" by George T M Shackelford & Terence Maloon
"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins
"The Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain De
Botton

TO BUY

"The Guernsey Literacy and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer
"The Beatles and Philosophy"
"The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet" by Benjamin Hoff
"Derrida: writing and difference"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? ~ Henry Ward Beecher ~

READ

"1984" by George Orwell

"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult

"The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

"Bones to Ashes" by Kathy Reichs

"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy

"Cloudstreet" by Tim Winton

"Rides a Dread Legion" by Raymond E Feist

"Catch 22" by Joseph Heller

"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey

"Dune" by Frank Herbert - this was recommended on the Feistfans mailing list, and backed up Raymond E Feist himself so I thought I'd give it a go. Great read with a very original and interesting universe but I felt it lacked something. Still not sure what that thing was but it just seemed like it needed a bit more "oomph". Also, not a book that stayed with me much after reading.

STILL TO READ

"The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche

"The City of Falling Angels" by John Berendt

"Tokyo Cancelled" by Rana Dasgupta

"Einstein" by Walter Isaacson

"The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

"Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit" by Sean Hepburn Ferrer

"War & Peace" by Leo Tolstoy

"A Confession" by Leo Tolstoy

"Monet & The Impressionists" by George T M Shackelford & Terence Maloon

"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"The Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain De Botton


TO BUY

"The Guernsey Literacy and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer

"The Beatles and Philosophy"

"The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet" by Benjamin Hoff

"Derrida: writing and difference"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Only a ninja can sneak up on another ninja...

Sitting on the bus listening to Tim Minchin tonight I realised that I'm more in love with comedians than rock stars. If you were to ask me who my favourite band/musician is I'd be hard pressed to think of more than one or two. But ask me who my favourite comedian is and I'd immediately be able to rattle off a long list;
-Tim Minchin
- Ross Noble
- Carl Barron
- Adam Hills
- Wil Anderson
- Dave Hughes
- Robin Williams
- Jimoen
Etc etc etc

I would seriously consider leaving my husband if Tim Minchin told me he loved me. We'd be together until we were old & saggy. We'd have beautiful, ginger babies who'd be nerds, musically talented, geniuses, and would question everything (of course, most of that they'll get from Tim and not me... But we'd be equally responsible for the gingerness).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. ~ Mccosh ~

READ

"1984" by George Orwell

"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult

"The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

"Bones to Ashes" by Kathy Reichs

"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy

"Cloudstreet" by Tim Winton

"Rides a Dread Legion" by Raymond E Feist

"Catch 22" by Joseph Heller

"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess - wow! Great, great book. Another book with interesting writing style but that just added to it's charm. I think the part that got to me most was the fact that his music was ruined for him! Don't know if I could live without music...

STILL TO READ

"The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche

"The City of Falling Angels" by John Berendt

"Tokyo Cancelled" by Rana Dasgupta

"Einstein" by Walter Isaacson

"The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

"Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit" by Sean Hepburn Ferrer

"War & Peace" by Leo Tolstoy

"A Confession" by Leo Tolstoy

"Dune" by Frank Herbert

"Monet & The Impressionists" by George T M Shackelford & Terence Maloon

"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey

TO BUY

"The Guernsey Literacy and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer

"The Beatles and Philosophy"

"The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet" by Benjamin Hoff

"Derrida: writing and difference"