The true university these days is a collection of books.
-Thomas Carlyle

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I have wanted to read something by Gabriel Garcia Marquez for ages and picked up this one many times before I finally bought this second hand copy earlier this year.
Many hail this as one of their favourite books or author and so I felt there was a void in my reading repertoire that needed correcting.
The premise of the story, an exploration of the many facets of love in all of its forms, spanning generations and written in a style that many pay homage to made it irresistable, so I was looking forward to indulging myself.
Over 6 weeks and 132 pages later I finally succumbed to the idea that maybe this was not the right time to read it. It is not really the book to be honest, the writing is beautiful and there have been some luscious passages. I was quite enjoying the story and have certainly struggled through much less interesting books, but for some reason I failed to be excited whenever I thought of picking this one up. It just wasn't there!
There could be a few explanations for this...
Depending on my commitments at work or otherwise, I sometimes can only snatch 10 minutes or quarter of an hour here and there and I found that this was not a book that sat well with this, being better in longer bursts to establish the plot again. I was also a little distracted after enjoying a great holiday in Devon, and I know that sometimes you are just not in the right mind to read. So with another 69 books on the TBR pile all vying for attention and trying to catch my eye, I decided to put it down, for now. The bookmark is still in it so I hope to pick it up again, when the time feels right. I am very much of a mind that if you are not clicking with a book, then to call it a day and read another.
It was difficult getting into another one too, and I picked up and started about 3 others before settling on the Toni Morrison (see further down on my sidebar), further supporting my theory that my reading head had gone on its own holiday without me!
Hopefully my reading crisis is over, fingers crossed.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

A Meme

This meme has been on a couple of blogs and after seeing it on Caribousmom I decided to give it a go as it looked like fun. You need to answer the questions below using only titles of books that you have read during 2009. Try not to repeat a title. It can be harder than you think.
Describe yourself - The Reader (Bernard Schlink)
How do you feel - Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
Describe where you live - Vegetable Gardeners Year (Dirty Nails)
If you could go anywhere, where would you go - Amsterdam (Ian McEwan)
Favourite form of transportation - The Shipping News (Annie E Proulx) A roundabout way of saying boats!
Your best friend is - Jigs and Reels (Joanne Harris)
You and your friends are - The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
What is the weather like - The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
You fear - The Woman in Black (Susan Hill)
What is the best advice you could give - The Deeper Secret (Annemarie Postma)
Thought for the day - Its been a Year of Wonders (Geraldine Brooks)
How I'd like to die - Somewhere Towards the End (Diana Athill)
My Souls present condition - is a Secret Scripture (Sebastian Barry)
How would you answer?

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

I picked this one up, after reading good reviews in various places, at The Amorous Cat bookshop. I've read a few of Ian McEwan's novels before and have enjoyed most of them. Being less than 200 pages it was a quick read.
The novel starts at the funeral of a woman called Molly, who has died at 46 from a mysterious brain disease. At her funeral is her husband, a dull publisher, and also 3 of her former lovers. Clive is a successful composer, Vernon is a newspaper editor and Julian is a politician. All 4 are eyeing each other up, unsure of how aware some of the others are of their involvement with Molly. There is a tangible measuring of egos in the air, sly looks and back handed comments. After the funeral some contraversial photos of Julian come out of Molly's possessions, the kind that can finish his career, and Vernon recognises that they are the kind of boost he has prayed for to gain success at the newspaper. Clive however finds it a betrayal of Molly's memory.
This is a story about the kind of extreme comic situations that can ensue from the jostling egos of middle aged men over a woman they have all known. The plot lines clamber over each other reaching unpredictable consequences for all and McEwan exploits every nuance of these flawed personalities to bring, as Caroline Moore from the Sunday Telegraph says on the back, 'A psychologically brilliant study of heartlessness...'
It is a quick read as I have said, and I found the beginning funnier, around the funeral and immediately after. I did find my interest waning towards the end though. These are not likable people, and while this provides their most awkward moments at the beginning, by the end I didn't care much what they did to each other. McEwan is excellent at presenting us with insights into the personalities of his characters, and he does not disappoint here. His writing is as entertaining as ever. I just didn't care much for the characters by the end.
A decent book that McEwan fans will love, just not one of my particular favourites, but still worth reading. The moralistics of the tale may provide readers groups something to chew on, as well as McEwan's style of writing. You can get a readers group guide for Amsterdam here.
Ian McEwan's website can be found by clicking on the link.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

August Roundup

August has been an excellent month for adventures, camping in Devon, working on an Organic farm, and the Green Man Festival in South Wales. However it has been my least productive month for reading so far, but here goes...
Read - 1 and a half books
Completed -
The Vegetable Gardeners Year by Dirty Nails
Currently Reading - Still reading Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
TBR Pile - Currently at 69 (according to Good Reads) with 3 added...
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende
Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson
Challenges - Completed #6 of the 2009 mini challenges, to borrow a library book and blog about it.
Wishlist Additions -
Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas
Organic Crops in Pots by Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell
Discoveries - That the Open University has a new MA in English course.
Events - Beautiful Devon and working on the farm. Not a book event but just as inspiring.
The winds have come and autumn is on its way. You can tell by the change of light. I love this time of year.

Hay on Wye

Hay on Wye