Friday, October 30, 2009

World War Z

Anbo, I read this book a long time ago, but it was featured in one of your shared items. I REALLY liked this book. It was written as reports to the government from different people all over the world after the zombie outbreak has been, for the most part, contained. One thing I thought was really interesting: it told of the rebuilding of civilization and people like construction workers, electricians and plumbers were directing workers that might have included CEOs of major companies. Their skill sets were more valuable than corporate know-how when it came to starting over. I remember there was lots of swearing, but overall, my all time favorite zombie book. I'm looking forward to the movie they're making of it. Kind of. They always ruin books when they make a movie.

Quite Beautiful

These Penguin Classics designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith are so lovely. Ten of them recently became available in the U.S. and yesterday I acquired my first one. I now own the gorgeous looking  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. As funds permit, I intend to buy all of them. I think books that are works of art on the outside, as well as the inside, are hard to resist.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

I loved this book with all of my heart. And I love A.S. Byatt for creating such a fantastic, marvelous, riveting journey for her readers. I really have no words to describe the amazing experience I consider this book to be, but I will try to impart some of my thoughts on it.
The book opens in the 1890's and centers around a middle class family called the Wellwoods. Humphry is a banker and Olive is a famous writer of children's books. As the book begins, Olive is visiting Major Cain, an employee of the Victoria & Albert Museum and has brought her son Tom along. Tom and Cain's son Julian discover a boy, Philip, who has been living in the basement of the museum, drawing its contents and dreaming of becoming a potter. The Wellwoods take Philip home and set him up with a famous potter of their acquaintance and we are now introduced to all of the families who inhabit this novel. 
The subsequent plot is a luscious exploration of the myriad characters, how they develop over the years and how the changes in society affect them and how they live. It doesn't sound very engaging, and there are many readers who hated this novel for its meandering storyline, but I loved the minutiae and the discussion of societal and cultural influences in England at this time in history. One of my favorite aspects of this novel was its focus on fairy tales and German puppetry, but there were so many other things that stirred my senses, piqued my curiosity, and delighted my soul. 
Byatt's writing is not for everyone. You have to have patience and a love of detail to really enjoy her novels. As much as I loved this book, there were times when I was exhaused reading about the history of various socialist organizations operating in England and Germany at the time. However, the payoff is worth the effort it takes to read her. The Children's Book is one of the best books I've read this year and I am so glad I took the time to do it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Still Victorianing

I'm still on my Victorian kick, reading Middlemarch and The Children's Book. I am currently stuck in the section of Middlemarch that describes Dr. Lydgate and his character and views on medicine. It is slow going. I'm finding The Children's Book to be fascinating and lovely, though it is definitely not a novel to be read haphazardly - it must be savored. So, I'm not sure when I will have a book to post about, but be assured that I AM reading. No reading funk is happening here!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New List

While surfing the Internet today, I discovered this list of "Sarah Waters's Top 10 Victorian Novels", published in the Guardian back in 2002. Since you all know that Sarah Waters is one of my favorite authors does it surprise you that I feel I must read all of the novels she has suggested here? Of course, I've already read Jane Eyre,The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dracula, and The Woman in White, but it never hurts to read them again. The others will be new to me. I am currently reading Middlemarch, a Victorian novel not on her list, so once I finish that I will start with Jane Eyre, which I just happen to have sitting on my couch as we speak. I got a hankering for Jane the other evening and read the first chapter, which then led me to decide to finally read Middlemarch. I am definitely a Victorifan!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Dad got me this for my birthday and gave it to me early so they wouldn't have to wait for Thanksgiving before they could give it to me. It was very silly. A lot of the book is straight Pride and Prejudice, but some parts were altered to make it more zombie friendly. Charlotte Lucas was bitten by a zombie and slowly turned and had to have her head chopped off by Mr. Collins, who then hanged himself. Lady Catherine was foremost in the country for zombie slaying and when she comes to deny her consent to the marriage, she and Elizabeth have a duel. Mr. Darcy cripples Mr. Wickham and Lydia has to spend the rest of her life changing his soiled pants, etc. Overall, an interesting read. If you love Pride and Prejudice and have no care for zombies, don't read this. You will be very sad to see Jane's book mangled so. But if you can handle a little poking fun, even at Jane Austen, and the frequent mention of vomit, you might enjoy this book.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

She Didn't Win

The amazing Sarah Waters did not win the Man Booker Prize for The Little Stranger. The prize went to Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I have the winning book on hold and am eager to read it, but how can it be better than The Little Stranger? I am also reading The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt, which was also nominated for the prize. Set during  the Victorian and Edwardian eras, my favorite periods to read about, it is dense and full of details that bring these eras vividly to life. I will write more about it when I finish.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

From the Ultimate Teen Bookshelf list
It seems everyone is familiar with this story, either from reading the book or seeing the movie. Up to this point in my life I had done neither, though I knew the basic premise - four teens after a night partying in the mountains, strike and kill a young boy riding his bicycle on a dark country road. They make a pact with each other that night to never tell anyone what happened. A year later they all begin receiving notes and cards that leads them to believe that someone knows their secret. After one of the group is shot they realize that this person is serious about punishing them for what happened and the violence escalates until he is caught.
I thought this novel was okay. It was published in the early '70s and was definitely dated in its language usage, concepts of relationships and treatment of women. I don't think teens today would enjoy it fully since it is almost a historical novel. Knowing a movie was made from the book might draw some teens to it, but I can't see it being a huge hit, although the reviews on Barnes & Noble are pretty good. So, perhaps teens would still like it? Well, they can, but I didn't.