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Everything posted by Baarb

  1. Thanks for the thoughts/encouring words everyone! I am going towards London, yes, but I can normally get a set on the way, if not on the way back. I don't mind what I read really, as long as I don't miss my stop. Thanks for the ideas to download books - I have never tried that before. It feels a bit like cheating but I do like the idea and by spine will thank me for not toting huge hardbacks around. I'm impressed with people reading on the bus - I get nauseous if I try that.
  2. I would agree with some of the contributors here that the book is generally preferable to the film. Sometimes I've avoided a film for years in order to read the book first. I really hate it when they change the book beyond all recognition. One of my guilty pleasure reads was Bridget Jones, the Edge of Reason. They managed to entirely mangle the book and lost all nuance about the alpha female Rebecca, who they randomly decided was in love with Bridget. The book was a more intelligent comment on women's expectations of themselves and their relationships and the film was just stupid. Confessions of a Shopaholic -though not massively high brow, I interepreted as a funny and wry look at consumer-obsessed Becky. The film, however, was just a vacuous celebration of shopping. As a child I went to see The Witches (and we were the only ones there and my Dad said the other seats were occupied by invisible witches, but that is another story) and was outraged at the tacked on smaltzy happy ending. In the book, the fact the boy does not get changed back into a boy (from a mouse) is good, because he doesn't want to outlive his Grandma. Honestly, we can take a less than perfect happy ending, Hollywood!
  3. I read this for a book group. I campaign around asylum and refugee rights and it is a subject that is very dear to my heart. Seeing the hyped reviews I wondered if this might be the novel about asylum and human rights that I myself would love to write. It wasn't. I really did not enjoy it. Though some of the scenes were poignant, on the whole I thought the standard of writing was generally bad, in a way that detracted from the issues at hand. The dialogue in particular was sometimes painfully clunky. The sex scene was just terrible and was soundly mocked by my book group friends. They also felt that the cutesy way in which the child spoke felt a bit cloying and though trying to be funny, was just annoying. In terms of the asylum system it was factually incorrect in places, which lets it down as a work of social conscience, which I think he may have been aiming for. The relationship between the English couple seemed overly simplistic. I quite liked Little Bee's character, but it was not enough to save the book.
  4. Fiction A Fraction of the Whole - Steve Toltz 3.5/5 Diet and Exercise The Adventures of Dietgirl - Shawna Reid (Re-read) 4/5 The Primal Blueprint - Mark Sissions 4/5 New Rules of Lifting for Women - Lou Schuler 4/5
  5. This is the only book I have managed to finish this year and I am glad to find a discussion about it because it was such an odd book. I kept telling my partner about it and he said it sounded crazy. Some of the plotsline could have been lost without much changing the book or the story. I really got the impression that the father and son were meant to sound the same because as the father kept insisting, they were the same person. I did genuinely find it funny, and actually laughed out loud a couple of times. But it definitely needed to be edited further - it felt quite self-indulgent in places and although I enjoyed most of it, it became a goal just to end it.
  6. Hello all, I am due to start a new job in 10 days time and I will be travelling by train for about 3.5 hours a day. Having worked from home for many years I am quite daunted by this prospect and the only thing making it seems bearable is the fact that I will be able to read a lot more. My question (which is really just a pondering and not too serious) is how many books can you get through with a commute like this? I was wondering whether to challenge myself to reading a book a week. I have been studying forever and rarely read a book a month. I relish the chance to re-connect with fiction! I know it depends on the book and the reader - but who here commutes and how do you find it?
  7. I really enjoyed this book. I was surprised as I had heard much about the BBC adaptation and thought it sounded a bit frothy. It is not though. I have read Affinity, The Night Watch and Fingersmith and I think this is the best by far, though I enjoyed the others too. For me the story made more sense, was more complete. The character were well drawn. I particularly like the political elements of the story, towards the end.
  8. I read this about 9 years ago and I remember really enjoying it. It stands out as one of the first contemporary adult fiction books I read. I went on to read a lot more Atwood, and read this novel again about 7 years ago. I was never sure if she was guilty. I suppose I decided not, but that might just be typical of me. I'd like to read it again actually. Perhaps I was just impressed at the time. I haven't been very impressed with Margaret Atwood since I tried to read Onyx and Crake and the Handmaiden's Tale - I know the latter is very highly regarded but I couldn't get on with it. Megustaleer - I think you are right in saying she doesn't put a strong case for Grace's innocence. It was highly ambiguous, but I think that is one of the reasons I enjoyed the novel so much.
  9. Volvican, You're not alone in not being sure about it. I was about half way through and abandoned it. It hadn't grabbed me at that stage, though I might try again. I am interested to see so many of you enjoyed it. I felt the characterisation was very weak. The main character in particular seems cliched. Her love affair and language about it seems a bit 'tacked on' to her 'eccentric' poverty struck student persona. Her neighbour comes across as underdeveloped. The philosophy and science sections were interesting, but felt a bit shoe-horned in. Perhaps because I am a phd student I felt particularly annoyed by this character and book. It didn't seem to ring true and wasn't well written enough to over look what seemed like clunky scientific, philosophy and tecnological references (i.e. to ipods). Also, what student wouldn't just whip out a credit card to refuel their car and buy food?! I also thought it was a man for a while, but I'm not sure what made me think that.
  10. I have recently finished this book and really enjoyed it. The qualms I had about the appearance of certain real life characters were later resolved very satisfactorily - and I felt that later explanations made a lot of sense (I don't want to give too much away!). I have not read this author before, but would do so again.
  11. True, except I finished Quincunx this year, quite a lot was read over Christmas.
  12. Cootisms - I try not to read explanatory notes until after for this reason, although sometimes it helps. I finished it last night. I think it will stay with me for a while. My Friend Jack - I was describing the book to my partner and said something like 'and they listen to TV or music/radio all the time and never have a moment's peace!' and he said 'ah, like you and your ipod', which made me pause for thought...
  13. What a great thread. This year (those I can recall): 1. 'Affinity' - Sarah Waters 4/5 2. 'Then We Came to the End' - Joshua Ferris 2/5 3. 'The Devil Wears Prada' - Lauren Weisberger 3/5 4. 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell' - Susanna Clarke 5/5 5. 'Remember Me? - Sophie Kinsella 4/5 6. 'Hollywood Wives' - Jackie Collins 3/5 - My partner's grandpa lent me this and I thought I'd HATE it, but was gripped despite myself. 7. 'My Booky Wook - Russell Brand 3/5 8. 'The Night Watch' - Sarah Waters 4/5 9. 'The Quincunx' - Charles Palliser 5/5 10. 'Fahrenheit 451' - Ray Bradbury 4/5 11. 'My Fat Mad Teenage Diary' - Rae Earl 3/5 12. 'Engleby' - Sebastian Faulks 4/5 13. 'Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell 4.5/5 14. 'Drop Dead Gorgeous' - Jackie Collins 2/5 Got that out of my system now, hopefully. 15. 'Addition' - Toni Jordan - 3.5/5 16. 'The Pirate's Daughter' - Margaret Cezair Thompson 4/5 That can't be it, what have I been doing with myself?! Bad memory...
  14. Apparently 451F is 232.78 celsius. Pretty hot. Interesting that he also writes in the horrow genre. I wouldn't have guessed that from this novel, at least not at this stage. I suppose The Hound is quite 'horror', though. I will definately read more by this author. My tutor also recommended 'The Illustrated Man'.
  15. This novel, written in 1953, is set in America in the future, though the year is unspecified. It is a world of pleasure, where people are expected to have fun all the time, and not worry themselves with philosophy, religion, politics or the ever constant wars that are being waged. In order to ensure people aren't troubled by conflicting ideas, or made miserable by poetry, books are banned. The job of 'Firemen', like the central character Guy Montag, is to burn houses that contain books. He becomes curious, however, about life and the way the country is run when he meets a teenage girl in the street that makes him question things for the first time. So far I am really enjoying this book, even though I would never chose it for myself (it is for a book group). It is perhaps a little clunky in expression - I think he spells out his points a bit too much. More could be left for the reader to infer. Interestingly it seems dated and futuristic at the same time - some details, such as the 'wives' not working dates the novel, as can be expected. This is not a criticism, however, it adds some depth. I think some aspects of what he imagined as the future - wall to wall all encomapssing TV and difficult to ignore advertising in public places - are uncomfortably close (though exaggerated) versions of our own reality. Has anyone else read this thought provoking book?
  16. I was interested to see what people thought of this book. I am glad I am not the only one not to get along with it. It had a promising start, but seemed to run out of steam fast. I found the passages about Alison's childhood very upsetting and raw, but felt the description didn't really do it justice - it made it more uncomfortable that these issues were being written about in what I consider a clunky fashion. I didn't find the dialogue very convincing - particularly between Collette and her husband. I was on a long train journey and really looking forward to this, but really didn't enjoy it. It made me quite angry and I only read about 100 pages before giving up.Friends and relatives have really enjoyed 'A Place of Greater Safety' but I am put off trying this author again.
  17. Thanks very much for the info. I read up a little on him today. Very interesting to see he claimed asylum in France. I was reading a Tim Judah's Kosovo: War and Revenge today and his name came up. He wrote a letter to the Albanian delegation at the (sadly failed) Rambouillet talks urging them to sign the agreement. Apparently he is highly respected amongst Kosovars. I also see two of his books are in '1001 and one books'. I have ordered 'Three Elegues for Kosovo' and 'The Case for Kosovo' today. Thanks so much for the recommendation.
  18. I have not heard of this author. Thanks very much, I will follow this up. Any particular recommendations?
  19. Yes, there were places were I felt a bit adrift in the book, and wishing I'd paid closer attention. I am planning to re-read again in a year or so Sorry to duplicating a thread - I'm not sure how I missed this one.
  20. I really enjoyed this book too Hazel - definately laughed out loud a great deal. The quotes you chose are great. His column in the Guardian regularly makes me smile and laugh too. I think you are right - most reading him would agree anyway. I like it when he picks on makeover shows, like 'Ten Years Younger'. They totally deserve it. The emails from the US will probably be my abiding memory of this book.
  21. Sorry I've just realised I put this book in the wrong century! Can anyone move it?
  22. This book is often seen as a vast pastiche on Dickens, but I think the word 'pastiche' has negative connotations that are not deserved here. The book is written in the style of an early Victorian novel (but actually written in 1989) is about a young boy in nineteenth century England trying to piece to together the truth about his father and his inheritance. This book is long (1191 pages) and very complex. Various family trees and other documents are included which help the reader to understand who is who and why the are important. A few times I found myself getting confused, indeed I think re-reading is necessary. Part of the reason for this is that the book, though a coherent novel in its own right, also appears have one or two other themes running through it. In the author's note at the back he discussed the 'book within a book'. There are also persistent symbols in the text next to the paragraph headings (part of the quincunx of the title) which I think are somehow significant. Palliser teaches 19th and 20th Century literature and this comes across. He has obviously done a lot of research too, and there are many references to 19th century works. I detected many similarities to Dickens, though I haven't read widely from the period and I expect I missed many. My sister said when she gave it to me that it has the most enigmatic final sentence of any book ever - which I'm not sure I would have picked up on unless she had said it. I would definately recommend this book to people who enjoy a mystery and/or those who like Dickens and other authors of that era. It does kind of take over your life! Has anyone else read this amazing book?
  23. This is an interesting thread. I read this book with a book group and they all quite enjoyed it, whereas I didn't. I found it quite an uncomfortable and claustrophobic read, I felt I was too much in George's head. It was skillful, I suppose to get that sense of mania and depression across, but I didn't find that the book rewarded in other ways to make it worth going through that. I didn't like any of the characters, and I thought some of them were a bit flat. The son especially. The scissor scene remains with me, too. The biggest problem I felt was that at the end George seems to decide to pull himself together (did others see it the same way?) which I felt was not very realistic or helpful. I loved his first adult book and would try a third one, even now.
  24. Hi, I just wanted to add that I love John Irving's earlier books (though not The World According to Garp). I really liked The Cider House Rules and The Water Method Man really made me laugh. Another great one is Widow for a Year which has been made into a film which I'd quite like to see (I think it is called 'The Door in the Floor' - anyone seen it?). I got Until I Find You out of the library but didn't stick with it, perhaps as Top Cat says I should have stuck it out. Another one of his I couldn't get on with was Son of the Circus.
  25. Hi Minxminnie, Thanks for the welcome. I have had King Leopold's Ghost on my shelf for ages but not got round to reading it. I really should. I think it is probably more academic than Blood River, which is highly readable. I'd recommend it.
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