Sunday, April 18, 2004

Preparing a list of books I want to read in the new few months for Sona's book club; thought I'd post it here too. Warning: I know not many people like non-fiction. I gratefully accept any attempts to broaden my mind. (Though I am rather narrow-minded in my distrust of bestsellers and romance novels. That's just me. A stupid lout.)

That's more than a few months of reading. I had no idea I wanted to read so many books. That's not even including the must-read lists given to me by friends. No, this is my most urgent list...though I approve any Jane Austen or Henry James that can be inserted there. Well, I am open to new things too, so suggest away!

Now awaiting for your lists, darlings.

Monday, March 08, 2004

I wanted to write something but Blogger seems a little ill today. I like the sounds of that book! Especially the "sinister" part.

Sorry there hasn't been much action here. I had to return the Mandela autobiography as it is a "high demand book." But I should be able to borrow it again this week, if I go to another branch.

I've already decided what my next choice will be too - hope you don't mind serpents.

I was at a bookstore tonight drooling over other books...I can't wait til my third choice!

This might be a good next choice. A woman in my kickboxing class is reading it for her MFA program in creative writing at the University of Maryland. She started it this morning and was three quarters of the way through it before our class at 6:30, so it should be a pretty quick read.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Picked from the Book Thing yesterday:

Frommers Germany 91
Dollarwise Guide to Germany (88-89)
APA Publication Manual, 5th ed
90210 Paperback series: Which Way to the Beach?
Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896 (Mary Baker Eddy)
Potomac Review (Winter 2000-01)

Dropped off:
Nobody's Fool (Richard Russo)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Jen, that is amazing. I am finally past page 200. A little busy during the last two weeks.

I've actually not read Silent Spring either, though my ex-boyfriend had a copy of it in Japan. It's probably 286 on my list.

It's agreed, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is next! Yay! And I promise never to pick a book over 300 pages again. I'm really looking forward to something easier next time. ;)

Re: Gene Wilder. I think men with curly hair are condemned to be unappealing. I don't know how the Greeks pulled it off. Perhaps something polluted the curly-haired-men genepool.

If you ever have a hankering for prison accounts, try Life and Death in Shanghai.

Also, Yolanda came up with an idea today. Since we are the slow ones - Yolanda has an excuse, she works two jobs, has a baby and a husband, and a demanding best friend - we've given ourselves a deadline at the end of this month for finishing Mandela's autobiography. We both definitely want to finish it now that we've committed ourselves to it.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

I've got about 100 pages left to read. Maybe I am used to the modern American prison system, but I am struck by how relatively unbrutal Mandela's experience was. He mentions a prisoner here and there in another block getting viciously beaten, but nothing happens to the political prisoners except for isolation. Of course, I suppose nothing much happens to Mandela because he is a lawyer (if there's one thing I've learned reading this book, it's to know your rights). Maybe it's his prose style, his diction, but I don't really get a feel for how awful life on Robben island was. In fact, sometimes it wasn't, sometimes it was according to whoever was the appointed warden at the time. He also doesn't translate to the reader (at least to me) how lonely and devastating it is not to see your family for years on end, with only one letter every six months, although his mother's death did move me. It's also hard for me to put thirty years in prison into perspective. It's so hard to realize, to have lived three lives (pre-prison, prison, after prison), when I was only lived one life thus far (pre-life-defining event).

Thursday, February 05, 2004

All right, I'm thinking next time we should chose a shorter book, so I'm going to withdraw my nomination for The Castle at this point and instead suggest Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I've seen the movie several times (did Gene Wilder EVER have any sex appeal?) but never read the book. What say, girls?

Friday, January 30, 2004

All right, I've had to renew the book (due the 21st of Feb now). I'm still half through it. I promise I'll set down the ghost book this weekend and start reading Mandela again.

I didn't find any used books to my liking at the library this weekend, although my girlfriend did purchase Silent Spring. I was surprised, because she is the scientist, that she hadn't read it. Now it's four or five deep in her "to read" list. She just started her semester again (MBA classes at Hopkins; I know, smarty pants), so I don't have any expectations that she'll get to it before 2005.

They did have a copy of the The Corrections, which I almost picked up except I thought it would depress me that I am not published yet. They also had a picture book on kickboxing. We don't actually fight in our kickboxing class. I'm considering asking our instructor if he will create an off-shoot class that does spar, but maybe I don't want to get all bruised up and have to think fast. Maybe I like the beauty and zen of rote, for instance, twenty snap kicks or roundhouses in a row.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Haven't read Heremakanon, will have to look it up. :)

"Meeting a great person and discovering they voted for Bush." I don't know if I could reconcile the two.

I didn't understand the difference between "coloureds" and "Africans" either. I also wish he was more forthcoming as to how the government judged colour. He mentioned how sometimes people in the same family were rated at different degrees of "coloured." They obviously weren't going by genetics alone; individual civil servants must have made a subjective judgment on the skin colour of various people within a family. Considering how you can get two people to agree on what is sky blue and turquoise, did they have some colour chart they held up to people's skin to measure their darkness?

The other thing I noticed is that there are no surprises. The foreshadowing is very obvious (i.e. "he was soon to be a great friend of mine"). Maybe it's better he's clear in his writing, since he is a politician. Though I am getting worried now that the National Party (circa page 115) introduced torture. So there's some foreshadowing for me.

But I like how the story is fast-paced. We're only into his mid-twenties and just a 100 pages into his autobiography. I guess the bulk of it will be set during his imprisonment.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Oh yeah: Book Thing

Yeah, I noticed some missing details as well. Like his assumption that the reader would understand the ethnic makeup of the different groups, eg, how are "couloureds" different from "Africans"? Are they mulattos? Are they the product of mixed tribes?

I was surprised at his intense resistance toward uniting with the communists and the Indians. He seems so pleasant and generous in his descriptions of people and things in retrospect it's hard for me to imagine him having strong, out-of-character opinions. It's like meeting a great person and discovering they voted for Bush.

I am actually interested in reading about the history of the South African gold mines as a result of this. And yeah, I didn't realize that apartheid was the work of the Nationalist party. I guess it's good that we're reading this book then!

It's amazing to see how your life gets twisted and turned on seemingly small turns. I mean, here's a man who was destined for an easy, comfortable blind life, like so many people have, and there was no indication in his makeup that he would lead nothing other than this life. And yet he doesn't. Amazing.

Regarding political struggles, have you ever read Maryse Conde's Heremakanon?
It's one of my favorite books.

The Book Thing - runs it out of his basement? Wow.

I can't bear to part with my books, but you might also like to try Bookcrossing. I found a Bookcrossing book at my local sports centre but I left it alone, since it wasn't anything I would be reading.

Kafka, eh?

Well, as long as it is, this Mandela autobiography probably beats it in terms of bulk.

Gosh, I am getting bogged down on the African names - and, like most living people, he knows so many other people. But I do like it too. Quite surprising when Apartheid officially started. I thought Mandela was born during Apartheid, not before it started. Isn't it funny how it happened immediately after WWII? With the Holocaust so fresh in memory, one would think people wouldn't have voted in the Nationalist Party.

I think he writes very well and very clearly. There are a few more details I would have liked. I suppose this is an autobiography and not a high literary work.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

I'm about 100 pages into the Mandela autobiography. I must admit, I really like it! I didn't think I would at all. There's something about his prose, very clear and simple, along with his modest accounting of his life, that's very appealing. I thought I would get bogged down on the African names and places, but he makes everything, from the small village of his birth to the "metropolis" that was Joannesburg in the 1950s, seem so vibrant and alive. You know that author has done his or her job as storyteller when you have a desire to wrinkle time and visit, to be alive and experience the same things the author has experienced. If I can be half of that as a writer, then I'll be happy.

I can't tell you my best find at the library's sale rack---I'll have to think about it. There's a free book place in Baltimore called the Book Thing--some guy runs it out of his basement on 27th street. Usually I drop books off and pick up a few, so it's almost like a library. I'll have to think about my best find there also. It might have been a 1960s etiquette book for the "modern" woman that I eventually wound up giving to a friend. The most nostaglic find was a course catalog from St. Mary's College of MD (where I got my BA) from one of the years I had attended (92-93). My most recent pick was a paperback of Goodbye Columbus. I was ashamed I'd never read anything by Philip Roth and feared it would come back to haunt me during some irrelevant dinner or party conversation.

I would actually like to read The Castle by Kafka. There's a newer version out done by a different translator that's supposed to make more sense than the original translation (having read neither, I couldn't tell you). Anyway, it might be a bit long. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Also, you two should decide what book you want to read next, considering how I bullied the two of you into reading my choice. That's the part I am really excited about - what bizarre thing I'll read next that I never would have thought of reading on my own! Very much looking forward to your choices. Now it is too late to read any more. But tomorrow I have a very quiet Friday night building my reserves of energy for an eventful Saturday...so I imagine I shall get quite a bit of reading done.

I made a few changes to the template as those "Link Here" things were bugging me. What do you think of the changes? Also, let me know if you don't want to be linked to this site.

Not completely happy with the placement of the "Join Here" button. Ideas? Also, I want to change the colours here, as my boss, Lisa, has done on her blog. Unless you object to that. Well, not that I can get far considering my absolute lack of computer knowledge. My dad's friend tonight warned me "to not break the computer before your father gets back." So I will restrain myself from experimenting too much.

Jen, you're in luck. Yolanda is a librarian. Her tales of librarian antics makes me want to run out and sign up for a Master's in Librarian Studies! I really like the part about librarians having their own action figures, as well as all those hand wax treatments and the ceremonial handing out of the Large Blue Underwear.

Tuesday night I went through a whole frenzy of reading Mandela's autobiography. I am nearly at page one hundred. Seeing as I didn't have any chances to read it today, I may force myself to stay up just a bit later tonight.

There are a few points I want to bring up. I don't have the book beside me. But that part after the circumcision, where he says that...wait, I'll quote from the book tomorrow (when I have the book in my hands) before I say anything unbecoming now.

Well, off to squeeze in a bit more time with the book.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Checked out the book Saturday--yay! (And I must say I was impressed with the library's CD collection; they've made significant improvements in their purchases since my last visit---Sleater Kinney's One Beat, Wilco's I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (on DVD), Pavement, Kraftwerk, among others). Unfortunately, I've only read a few pages--boo.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Nelson Mandela is #11 on a local paper's list of most stylish men of the year.

On the cover of my copy he doesn't have a colourful shirt.

Now I will definitely be checking him out.

PS Nakata is also on the list.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Just got my hands on the book and am going to start it now. Yolanda

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

544 pages. I am on the fourth page.


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