It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

The meme that we use to share what we read this past week and what our plans are for the upcoming week. Now hosted by The Book Date.

Last Week

Yay, I finally managed to finish some books! I’m feeling much more acomplished as a result 😀 My fiction read was Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, such an intriguing book so I’m glad there’s a sequel. Then I also finished one of my audiobooks, the short but powerful Citizen by Claudia Rankine.

On the blog, I stuck to my three posts a week schedule and I think it’s working out well for me. How often do you blog? And often do you like to see new posts? Last week I posted IMWAYR of course, but also a review of Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair and for the first time joined Non-Fiction Friday and posted about three works that examine the body through a  cultural history lens.

In other news, last week I baked more vegan cupcakes for a friend’s birthday party and finally discovered a great vegan quiche recipe. Sadly no photos cause my non-vegan family eats everything!

Currently

The embarrassing juggling of too many books is still ongoing, but there’s a few new ones at least. My current audiobooks are still Issa Rae’s memoir and for the Reading Africa challenge I started We Need New Names. I’m also still reading the two non-fiction books about Monsanto and Dinosaurs in political anthropology. Because obviously that is not enough I started two other books. I think that makes four non-fiction reads currently, yikes! I’ll soon be graduating but it looks like this only exacerbates my interest in non-fiction reading.

With chronic illness you find that lots of doctors aren’t always as much help as you’d expect, this is doubly true for gastroenterology which has now finally taken notice of the gut, prebiotics and bacteria that natural healers have emphasized for ages. Thought I’d learn and laugh at the same time, thus Enders’ book which was a huge success in Germany.

And then posting about non-fiction works about the body reminded me that I really enjoyed two of Gilman’s books and also love the Oxford UP biography of illnesses series. Which is why I started Obesity, which is a quick first overview of the history of obesity as a concept and the different attitudes towards it. At least I’m halfway through both of these.

Soon

I have neglected my Once Upon a Time reading and so I plan to turn to these books soon:

Are you doing this challenge, too. What’s on your reading list?

How have you all been? What have you been reading? Let me know in the comments!

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo- READALONG Part 1

girl with the dragon tattoo readalong

Excuse my tardiness, I’ve been sick and around the doctor caroussell, which usually ends with some lame diagnosis of stress. So that’s been a bit frustrating, but I finally managed to get my readalong post up.

Deepika, Lucia and I are currently doing a ‘We’re the last ones to read it’- readalong of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and you’re  welcome to join in! So, here are my impressions on the first 7 chapters, which kinda include spoilers, but I’m going to assume everyone’s already read it 😀

Larsson starts his book of with an intriguing prologue of two old dudes talking about the yearly gift of a flower one has received.Which is apparently related to an unsolved case, so dum dum dum.

Unfortunately, the next bit was not really for me. I don’t get economic intrigue and white somewhat rich dudes tripping each other up in their clever spider’s nests is BORING. That time is better spent reading critiques of capitalism. But maybe the boring details will tie into the rest of the story in a satisfying way. Who knows? Okay probably everyone but the three of us. I laughed at the nickname Kalle Blomkvist though and felt all proud I didn’t need the reference explained, because I grew up with Astrid Lindgren’s children’s literature.

Mikael Blomkvist doesn’t leave much of an impression on me, I have to admit. He blew the whistle, turns out he was tricked, he gets to pay a huge libel fine and maybe spend a couple months in prison. Apparently he’s a good guy, with a complicated non-manogamous  off-again on-again relationship with Erika, the co-partner of their magazine.

Oh and we finally get to meet our heroine, Lisbeth Salander, who is very young, broken somehow and extremely smart and capable. Of course she is attractive apparantly despite the everything-but- her- skin black she rocks. Hopefully the other women characters get more showtime soon, they are intoduced and I want to know more about the feminist lawyer sister etc, but, as of yet, Salander looks like the typical ‘only female and therefore superawesome’ character. Hope it doesn’t turn out this way though. Also, her boss’ thoughts of her are just plain creepy, but at least it looks like it took an okay turn with his protective angle. But so far Salander is interesting, I love her concern for others and her skills and I’m half-afraid of finding out all the shit that probably happened to her.

And then Blomqvist gets offered a job with Vanger, to solve the mystery of Harriet’s disappearance. So, the mystery part can begin and I’m curious about it. I want to see much more of Salander and hopefully there won’t be too much of the business intrigue stuff.

What’s most interesting to me is that the work’s original title is “Men Who Hate Women,” did that make the  US/UK publishers panic? There’s two quotes of statistics about violence against women and domestic violence against women in Sweden written on the part 1 and part 2 title pages. So now of course I want to see more of how Larsson handles this, is he successful in his ambitions?

On to the second part! What did you think, Deepika? Lu? Everyone else, did you enjoy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when you read it (probably ages ago)?

Readalong: Frenchman’s Creek

I got my reading mojo back (I gave it tea and cookies I was so happy!) thanks to P.G. Wodehouse. Stole Borrowed my dad’s kindle and downloaded the first book in the Blandings Castle series Something Fresh/New (which one is the correct title? I don’t really get why there’s any need to change it around).

Luckily, since I’ll probably finish it today and I don’t want to rush through the series, Jo of Bibliojunkie together with Bibliophile by the Sea is doing a readalong of Daphne DuMaurier’s Frenchman’s Creek. So I know what I’ll be reading the next couple of days.

Readalong starts September 1st and reviews will be posted on the 18th. So head over to Jo’s and /or Diane’s blog and let them know if you would like to join them!

Review: The Penelopiad

The Penelopiad has been on my tbr list for quite some time and I wanted to read it for our Read a Myth challenge. Luckily Bellezza and Col hosted a readalong, and I finally moved this book to the top of my list. I’m a bit late with posting the review, but better late than never I guess.

Now, first up a confession: I have not read The Odyssey. However unforgivable that might be, I like to think that I know enough of the stories to ‘get’ The Penelopiad. This is the fourth book by Atwood that I’ve read, the others are The Handmaid’s Tale, The Blind Assassin and Oryx & Crake. And they are all absolutely amazing.

The Penelopiad is Atwood playing around with the character of Penelope, Odysseus’ long-suffering wife. Atwood gives a voice to virtuous and constant Penelope and imagines her side of the story. We learn about Penelope’s life before her marriage, about her thoughts on her husband’s adventures (the cyclops here becomes a tavern owner and their fight about an unpaid bill, and Circe’s island a whorehouse) and her relationship with her cousin Helen. Poor Penelope, her husband is off fighting and sleeping around, Helen can be relied on to make a mess of things and her son grows up to be one annoying teenager. Still, somehow she manages to run a household and more official affairs.

Penelope’s narrative is interrupted by the chorus of the twelve maids, who seem to have been on Atwood’s mind a lot. No wonder, considering they were raped, slaughtered and hanged! While Penelope’s status in a patriarchal society is quite low, she is still a princess and much better off than her maids. Their rape is nothing unusual apparently but not asking their master’s permission is unacceptable. The maids are female slaves and as such their murder is all about property.

I enjoyed Atwood’s retelling and her emphasis on class and gender issues, but The Penelopiad is actually also a very funny novella and the last chapter is more than a little ironic. I hope I’m not alone in that opinion but since I also find American Psycho funny, my sense of humor might be considered a bit weird by some people.

Other thoughts:

Bibliojunkie

Dolce Bellezza

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!

Read-along: Midnight’s Children- Book 1

Yay, back to blogging! Perhaps I really need deadlines to get things (blogging) done, because telling myself to get it together didn’t really work. Guess that means I should not be a boxing coach (one job to cross off the list 😉 ). But Jo from Bibliojunkie is hosting a read-along of Midnight Children, and it looks like this was the kick I needed to finally read some Rushdie and post something. So thank you, Jo! 🙂

I read Book 1 of Midnight’s Children today and now I’m wondering, why was I so intimidated and reluctant to pick it up? Rushdie’s works come with a lot of history and reputation, but most of all, they are thick books. I know a lot of you read chunksters regularly, but I’m more of a 300-400 page book reader. After finishing a particularly great book I always wish it had been longer of course, but a chunkster is more of a commitment, one that I shy away from, even if it is a “small” chunkster. But today, carrying this one around with me from home to the train to uni and back, I remembered the comfort of thick, well-worn books (paperbacks, I’m not a masochist). I just wish I could always be sure I’d love a chunkster before starting reading (mainly because I’m still bad with not finishing books, even ones I don’t enjoy).

And now for Midnight’s Children (finally, I know), I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s about Saleem Sinai, our likeable if unreliable narrator, born on the stroke of midnight, exactly as India gains its independence. As such, Saleem’s (hi)story and that of his country are irretrievably intertwined. His narrative is not a linear one, it is made up of fragments, representing the fragments in Saleem’s personal history and that of his family, as well as the fragmentation of India. Saleem’s identity is as diverse as that of his country, and in his narrative, he brings together the many faces of India. He tells of the colonization, the conflicts over religion and caste, the partition and independence, and manages to imbue his narrative with myth and magic as well as science and skepticism. I’m curious whether Rushdie will show that there is a place for both tradition and modernism, or if he will take the more realistic or pessimistic stand and have modernism wipe out “the old ways”. This ties in with the theme of east versus west and the problems of belonging (which are no doubt quite autobiographical) which are manifold. But I want to talk about these aspects next week.

I also enjoyed Rushdie’s use of an unreliable narrator (and with the topics that the novel concerns itself with, I am wondering whether a reliable narrator would be at all feasible. What do you think?), and the way he comments on storytelling. Saleem interrupts his narrative many times to foreshadow events, provide running commentary to his own narrative, or warn us that he will soon “take over” his story. Interestingly, he has a more immediate audience for his story than us readers, namely his companion Padma. Through Padma, Saleem (and Rushdie) anticipates readers’ reactions, such as impatience at the non-linearity of his narrative and irritation at interruptions when Saleem (the narrator as opposed to the character) makes an appearance:

Padma has started getting irritated whenever my narration becomes self-conscious, whenever, like an incompetent puppeteer, I reveal the hands holding the strings; but I simply must register a protest.” (70)

(I adore Rushdie for that semicolon!)

Padma also expresses the feeling of betrayal that readers often experience when the narrator turns out to be unreliable. This is most often the case with autobiographies (most memorably with Frey, A Million Little Pieces and Oprah), and we have to remember that in this context, Padma believes she is listening to Saleem’s autobiography. This fictional audience’s reaction to the narrative is one of the most interesting aspects of Midnight’s Children; Padma serves as an intermediary between narrator and reader, and I found myself constantly comparing her reactions and my own.

This is my first read-along in blogland, and I have to say it’s more difficult than usual to discuss a book without giving things away. I can’t really talk about Book 1 specifically without using spoilers, but the topics and themes from this first part are of course not limited to it. So I thought I would try to talk about one or two topics or themes in each post. This one would be narration and storytelling, I guess, and the next posts will probably focus on the binary of east and west and belonging, and (post-)colonialism and racism. Does that make sense? Is that something you’d like to read?

 

Also, you can still join the read-along, just pop over to Bibliojunkie and sign up!