I really should. 4 months ago
People doing thisSee everyone
A couple of girls at work started a book club…and I joined. We have chosen our first book and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in and reading again!
I loved reading as a child and losing myself in a book, I miss that. I also think it’ll help encourage and improve my own writing… 4 months ago
You can learn everything you need to know about the intended tone of this novel from its title, which is based on a joke – ‘the one about the dyslexic atheist’. Its premise is that God is actually a teenage boy called Bob, who acts like a typical teenage boy. What he did to Lot’s wife was essentially his idea of banter. This is used to explain all that is weird, cruel and incomprehensible about life on earth. All that is orderly and miraculous is put down to Bob’s long-suffering bureaucrat of an assistant, Mr. B.
However, the humour of this novel didn’t work for me. Maybe it’s funnier if you’re Christian, or maybe it’s because a lot of the humour is supposed to be based on the Almighty’s whining, and the thing is, I just don’t find adolescent whining fun or funny. I find it just tragic, really.
The main plot involves Bob becoming smitten with a young woman called Lucy and the chaos that ensues. This sort of thing happening is used to explain women’s mystical experiences throughout the centuries and is even tied to the myth of Leda and the swan. However, there are lots of plot threads, including one involving Bob’s hard-drinking, gambling mother and an alien life-form called Eck. These threads come together satisfyingly at the end but never truly gel during. I think I could have done with more time for each one to develop really.
And development is somewhat lacking in this novel. No-one really grows as a person. There is a point where you think that maybe Bob is learning – when he finally faces his responsibilities and struggles to cope – but by the end, he’s back to his normal self-obsessed self.
But, the novel comes alive, as in Meg Rosoff’s other novels, at such moments, when sincerely describing emotional realities – the heady emotions of young love, or God’s inability to cope when the true knowledge of his responsibilities crashes in on him.
All this is not to say that I don’t reckon much to Rosoff as a satirist: her second novel, ‘Just In Case’ satirises well humanity’s sometimes delusional belief in their own significance and agency. All I can call this novel really is a nice bit of well-written fluff – not my cup of tea, but good if you want something fun, but not deep. The best point of comparison I can come up with is ‘All My Friends Are Superheroes’ by Andrew Kaufman, as both use a very simple style and are based upon a single humorous premise, but, whereas Kaufman’s prose is evocative of hidden depths of humour and meaning, despite Rosoff’s attempt at mocking ‘life, the universe and everything’, ‘There Is No Dog’ is much more shallow. 5 months ago
I think once I figure out how the library hold system works here, it just might be a problem. :D 5 months ago
I went to the library and it was a great experience. It’s much larger than the neighborhood one, so there’s that advantage. And since it’s right next to where I have my weekly meeting, I have found another source for my addiction. Borrowed my first ever book from this particular system today and I’m already enjoying it. I suppose it’s good, because I had been looking for an alternative to Amazon. It’s not exactly the same, of course, but I can stick to buying books more cheaply on Bookoutlet.com and getting others here, especially as I’m not working right now. There are some books that aren’t available in either place, but I’ll just have to manage or buy from Barnes and Noble or soemthing. 5 months ago
...I have time to look things up and be creative. I realized I actually go to a weekly meeting near the main library in my city. Which means I can easily access books from the city’s system. Before I wasn’t too inclined to visit my neighborhood’s library (had a very bad experience with an employee/volunteer there) but since this is a different library…I might be in trouble. Free books, and I’ll be nearby anyway. Oh dear. :) 5 months ago
Reading helps keep me calm and centered, productive and happy. When I deny myself the time to read I deny myself all of the wonderful voices and images I want to reflect upon. 5 months ago
I recently read The Long Road Home by Danielle Steele. I enjoy reading Danielle Steele because her books are usually nice, light reads. Although predictable, they are enjoyable. However, I would have to say this book was not predictable. Actually, it was pretty wild and unpredictable. Lol. It is about an abused girl and all the crazy disappointments in her life. The story takes some pretty drastic turns, which is what kept my attention and kept me wanting more. Overall, I would say I really enjoyed this one. 5 months ago
Although reading is great, sometimes I go overboard and continually buy books even though there’s a pile that waits to be read. It has/hasn’t (not sure) helped that I’ve discovered sites that sell remainder/publisher returns. New books, never read, maybe never even opened! But cheaper since they often have a remainder mark and sometimes are scuffed up.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve divided books into categories such as buy at full price because I want to support the author/it’s part of a series I’m reading or buy at discount because I want to read it but don’t want to pay full price or buy as cheaply as possible because it’s something I’m interested in, but it’s so expensive (not discounted on Amazon or Barnes and Noble for whatever reason).
This has helped me break my “no hardcover” rule but is probably better in the long run for my wallet. :P 5 months ago
Recently I had a splurge on three titles that I really enjoyed: ‘The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’ (written by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon with art by Becky Cloonan), ‘Saga’ vol. 1 (written by Brian K. Vaughan and art by Fiona Staples) and ‘All My Friends Are Superheroes’ by Andrew Kaufman. Only two of those are actually graphic novels, but the latter definitely had a strong visual element.
The first two though, were essentially bought by mistake. How does one buy something by mistake one might ask? Well, have you ever been so excited to visit a place that you nearly pass out when you get there? That was me with Forbidden Planet, Piccadilly Circus. I got there, so desperate to buy, but with no plan of what to get. These were essentially panic buys. I was like the donkey in the proverb who couldn’t decide between hay or oats. I wanted EVERYTHING in that shop. More specifically, I wanted to see if I could get ‘Mushishi’ in tankabon, but no luck.
But, what panic buys these were! I really enjoyed them. I mean, that’s no surprise with ‘Saga’. Everyone’s been raving about that one and it was displayed prominently everywhere in the shop. For those who don’t know, it follows the story of two soldiers on opposite sides of an inter-planetary war who fall in love, get married and have a child together only to find themselves hounded by both armies. So far, I would say it really deserves the praise it gets. It is just about faultless – especially in the art. I can’t describe it, but there’s something so rich and real and magical about it that perfectly fits the scifi-fantasy tone.
‘Killjoys’, though, also had beautiful artwork – vital and colourful, just like the music that it’s linked to. The story was also a nice surprise, though, taking place ten years after the album, it follows the story of the child seen rescued in the music video for ‘Sing’ as she tries to learn who she is and how to navigate a world where morality is up for grabs. Many of the story beats and visual cues are familiar from other stuff – ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘1984’ spring to mind – but, hey, if you’re gonna rip something off, choose something good, right? My main criticism of the story is that, like Way’s ‘Umbrella Academy’ books, it ends somewhat anti-climactically and struggles to hold onto its various threads. But, it’s definitely better to fail due to over-ambition than to not try, and it’s still a fun book, walking a tightrope between extremely adolescent and surprisingly mature.
‘All My Friends Are Superheroes’ was the only title here to have been bought deliberately. My friend had money to burn in Blackwell’s so decided to buy me a book. I had a list of books I wanted, but none were available, so I browsed, and there, on a table, I saw this book. I read the synopsis and was sold: a normal man, Tom, marries the superheroine, The Perfectionist, but at their wedding party, her jealous ex, Hypno, hypnotises her to not be able to see him. Now, he has the duration of a flight from Toronto to Vancouver to convince her that he is still there or lose her forever. We are also shown excerpt from their past together, their past relationships and the lives of the other superheroes of Toronto.
I love the way that this story perfectly blends superhero fiction with fairytale with hefty scoops of romance and more post-modernism than I thought was possible to fit into 122 pages. This is the most post-modern thing I have ever read. Take that as a warning if ‘self-aware’ or a book that really requires you to think hard is not what you want right now. A perfect example of this is the very minimalist prose, saying little but implying much, or the way that many of the superheroes are not what we might think of when we think of superheroes. Sure, The Amphibian can breathe underwater and is green and Hypno can hypnotise people, but most are just extremely good at doing normal things and that is their power. Mistress Cleanasyougo is my favourite. She is physically unable to procrastinate and always does the dishes as soon as she has eaten. It leads to a hilarious and thoughtful take on what it means to be human and what it means to be super and what it means to be loved. 5 months ago
Sort of like school: I did much better when my classes all complemented or built upon one another and I could look at information from different angles. Obviously reading books isn’t exactly the same (I don’t really read multiple books on the same subject in a row anymore, unless they’re supposed to be good).
This can also be an expensive habit: buying books when they become relevant. It also makes my “to be read” pile bigger…and bigger…and bigger. :P 5 months ago
I read on airplanes but when I am home I tend to watch tv. Need to grab my book and read on the train or in the park.
I have lots of great books I haven’t gotten around to reading.
I am nearly finished with one, and read one last week. 5 months ago
Nothing is more annoying than buying a book that I’ve already read. I’ve done that twice that I can remember in the last 5 or so years, but it still gets on my nerves. :)
However, my book reading took a pause with the news of Amazon.com going to battle with Hatchette. I had been using Goodreads to track my books and now I’m conflicted. I have Amazon Prime, (which I recently renewed!!) but this isn’t cool at all.
Experimenting with a few other book tracking sites. I like Booklikes.com the best so far, but it’s not perfect either. 5 months ago
It’s a rare thing to find a book told from the perspective of a young person that simultaneously comes across as mature but also speaks to the reality of what it is like to be that age. This book is one such.
The story is told from the perspective of 12-year-old Mila, who, along with her father, travels to New York State from London to find his best friend. From being little has had Sherlock-like powers of observation and the ability to read emotions, and she hopes to use these powers to find her father’s friend. When I saw that as part of the synopsis of this book, I expected it to be magical realism. But, all of Mila’s observations are grounded – sometimes she does struggle to account for how she knows a thing, but puts it down to picking up on clues subconsciously in a way that I find very believable.
This is also wrapped around a very solid central mystery, which turns out to be as much a deciphering of the mysteries of the human heart as that of finding another human being.
Meg Rosoff was already one of my favourite authors – she has a gift for taking the everyday and making it both more real and more magical and for writing about the thoughts of teens, imo. But, if you haven’t read any of her work yet, I think I would actually say that this is my favourite one of her books that I have read, and so would recommend this as a start. 6 months ago
Currently, I am studying towards a speech and drama diploma. This is partly for old times’ sake (I haven’t done one of these exams since I was 18) and partly because it might look nice on my CV and partly for fun.
Anyway, one nice side effect is that it has led to my doing a lot more reading. I’m working my way through all of Shakespeare’s histories which involve the Wars of the Roses, as many Ibsen plays as I can lay hands on and re-reading ‘Dombey and Son’. I’ve also finished re-reading ‘Lettice and Lovage’ by Peter Shaffer, and plan to re-read ‘Look Back in Anger’ and read ‘Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead’, ‘Comedians’ and ‘Pack of Lies’. Oh my goodness, I have never had so much fun studying for an exam in my life. 6 months ago
This was one which I felt like I owed to myself.
This was a book which I had barely heard of until I saw a John Green Crash Course video giving some basic details of plot and theme. And, when I heard those details, I thought, ‘Where has this book been all my life?’ The novel tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, who, as a student is drafted into the army during the Second World War, and, after being taken prisoner by the Germans, is held in Dresden in a former slaughterhouse. After the war, he spends some time in a mental institute (voluntarily), gets married and becomes a wealthy optometrist. Possibly after an accident or as a result of wartime trauma, though, Billy becomes increasingly convinced that he has been abducted by aliens, and repeatedly attempts to preach the Tralfamadorian philosophy to others. However, all of these events are revealed piecemeal throughout the narrative, as Billy seems to experience dreams and flashbacks which he believes to be time travel, and we see the events in the order he experiences them, not in the order they happen.
And, that summary is pretty much the reason why I so desperately wanted to read this book. Hearing John Green’s explanation, I was inspired to restart my own novel, because I realised that I had been lying this whole time. All I needed to do was be as honest as Kurt Vonnegut about what my experiences truly meant, rather than be too scared of shocking people or scaring them. Why does everything I write need to be smoothed-out and sexless? Human brains and human experiences just aren’t like that.
But, one thing in particular that I wanted to mention about the novel, though, is that, even at its most laconic, it effectively drives home its anti-war message. That is the way that Billy recites the Tralfamadorian mantra ‘So it goes’ every time anything dies. I just found it so effective this treatment of every single death as equal. Deaths in war and deaths by accident or illness are equal. Fictional and real deaths are equal. Animal and human deaths are equal. Even the figurative ‘death’ of an inanimate object, like flat champagne. is given this treatment. Never before have I seen a better explanation of what death is and what it does. In this novel, death is the great equalizer after all.
Can’t recommend this novel highly enough. 6 months ago
This was one I felt I owed to a friend. She had lent me the book during a dark time, saying that maybe something light would help. Anyway, the book got shelved during said dark days, but I thought, for her, I would read it.
And, it was lovely. It was such a gentle read after the evisceration which had been reading ‘The Magus’ that it was exactly what I had needed.
It’s hard for me to explain the exact appeal of this book: it tells the story of a group of teenage boys and their parents living in Birmingham in the 1970s. And, it has all of the social and cultural consciousness that one would expect from such a brief. We hear about struggling trade unions, the rise of punk, paranoid racism and those who would fight it, IRA bombings, terrible food in restaurants and NME. It’s a world which I, as a twenty-something, find impossible to truly imagine, but it’s a mark of how well-written and how gentle this novel is that its nostalgia is never overbearing and the difficult and terrible aspects of this time – which all times have – are examined just as much as the good.
And, all of this is through the perspectives of these wonderful characters – there wasn’t a single one who was not complexly portrayed and likeable, something which the multiple perspectives that the novel is written works with very nicely.
Now, my friend has asked if I want to read the sequel and I really do, but I have a massive book backlog, so I really hope I do get round to it … 6 months ago
Book 1: On the Road. Started: 11/6/14
EDIT – embarrassingly, I am STILL reading this book (26/06/14). How can I be a good writer if I don’t read much or often? 6 months ago