Tag Archives: book

Some More Books I Really Don’t Need But Will Soon Own Anyway

This week I bought a bunch of books online. Only, of course, after committing to not doing so a couple of weeks back. So much for that. Well, anyway, I thought I’d share with you all my newest additions to the already double shelved bookcases. This would also be a good time to recommend a website called The Book Depository for all you international folks out there. An angel sent to Earth in the form of a bookstore salesperson told me about it a couple of years ago, and life’s never been the same. So when the lovely second hand book stores fail you, go ahead. They sell brand new, very reasonably priced books with FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING. Yep. You heard correctly. No more of that $12.99 Amazon bullshit.

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Reading War & Peace #7: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

As Bon Jovi once said “OHHHHHHHH WE’RE HALF WAY THERE OH-OHH”. I admit I wasn’t around when Jon said it, but I have this feeling deep inside somewhere that he was talking about hitting page 541. Just a hunch.

“Better stand tall when they’re calling you out”, Emperor Alexander wrote, with slight rephrasing of my own, in his message to the Russian people. “Don’t bend, don’t break, baby, don’t back down”, they all shouted back. It’s 1812. Time for war. Except this time everyone seems to have switched places.

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The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

  • Title: The Neverending Story
  • Author: Michael Ende
  • # of Pages: 445

SPOILER ALERT: mentions main characters and touches on major events, includes quotes without names or direct comments about the plot but that may give away points to attentive readers


Bastian Balthazar Bux is shy, awkward, and certainly not heroic. His onlThe Neverending Storyy escape is reading books. When Bastian happens upon an old book called The Neverending Story, he’s swept into the magical world of Fantastica—so much that he finds he has actually become a character in the story! And when he realizes that this mysteriously enchanted world is in great danger, he also discovers that he has been the one chosen to save it. Can Bastian overcome the barrier between reality and his imagination in order to save Fantastica?


I recently read Momo, also by Michael Ende. A quick Google investigation led me to the conclusion that my review of it was going to be the only non-five-star review on planet Earth, which reminded me – I never liked The Neverending Story, when I read it as a kid, either. I also didn’t like the movie. (Fun fact: Michael Ende didn’t think so either. he asked the production to stop, or at least change the name, because in his opinion it was too different from the original book. He sued and lost.) I thought the book really was neverending. As with Momo, I seem to be the only person who thinks this way. So naturally I decided to read it again and attempt to solve this mystery once and for all.

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Reading War & Peace #5: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude (for page # references)

So this week, instead of war and peace between countries, we had some war and peace between hearts. Lots of proposals, engagements, disapproving parents. In a world with issues of class, hierarchy, and not much gender equality love can become a very unpleasant game. But let’s start at the beginning.

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Momo by Michael Ende

  • Title: Momo
  • momoAuthor: Michael Ende
  • # of Pages: 227

 

Momo has a wonderful life. She has no parents and her home is the ruins of an old amphitheatre, but she has wonderful friends of all shapes and sizes who take care of her, play with her and keep her company. There’s Beppo Roadwsweeper, old and wise, who loves her and cares for her like a father, Guido Guide, the storyteller who loves to make up local history for tourists, and the children of the city who love to play with Momo and find that no game is really much fun without her.

One day something weird starts happening to the people in the world. It starts with the old barber, who gets a visit from a very odd, very gray man who tells him he can start saving time in the Timesaving Bank and then, when he’s older, he’ll have enough time saved up to fulfill all of his dreams. The man agrees. In order to save up time he has to start giving up some small things – a daily hour with his old mother, a weekly visit to his lover, his habit of sitting around and contemplating life every evening. He’s not the only one. One by one, people start saving time. As they strive to become more efficient, they drop hobbies, family and friends. Very soon society turns into a sort of machine – there’s no point wasting a second on anything that isn’t neccessary. 

Momo and her friends start noticing the change around them. They soon find out it has to do with men in gray plaguing the citizens, convincing them to save time and then evaporating from their memories as soon as they’ve gone. They try telling people the truth, but when the men in gray find out, they find themselves in grave danger. As the world keeps changing, it’s up to Momo to save everyone.


I spend a good fifteen minutes reading reviews online before I set out to write this one. I screened through pages and pages of four and five star reviews, each one praising Ende more than the last, trying to figure out what went wrong for me.

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Reading War & Peace #4: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude (for page # references)

Well, hello everyone. We’ve officially finished Volume One. Good job folks. Only two more to go!

We’ve tackled tips, we’ve discussed philosphy, and now it’s time for the little humans roaming around Europe. When thinking of War & Peace one tends to imagine thousands of pages describing terrible battles, people in medieval style clothing (because anything before World War 1 is basically the Middle Ages) and lots of descriptions of noble men on horses in indecipherable English. In reality, Tolstoy actually puts a serious emphasis on the humanness of his characters – their relationships with others, their own personal thoughts, humor, sarcasm, joy and sadness. It’s still a bit weird for me. I never expected to find myself laughing. Wanting to hug these people. Or just give ’em a high-five.

“The universal experience of ages, showing that children do grow imperceptibly from the cradle to manhood, did not exist for the countess. Her son’s growth towards manhood at each of its stages had seemed as extraordinary to her as if there had never existed the millions of human beings who grew up in the same way.” (pg. 181), Tolstoy says of Nicholas Rostov and his mother. Something in the way this was phrased made me grin from ear to ear, and Rostov, a 19th century way-too-patriotic-for-my-taste soldier, who seemed so far from anything I could ever understand, became just a kid. A twenty year old kid who comes home to his worried mother.

He’s also just a kid who takes the car on the weekend, and sometimes gambles away all the money his parents gave him. “And suddenly, in the most casual tone, which made him feel ashamed of himself, he said, as if merely asking his father to let him have the carriage to drive to town: […] ‘I need some money.’ ‘Dear me!’ said his father […]” (pg. 267). 43,000 rubles of it. He then tells himself he’ll start saving up 80% of his salary every year to pay it back. Yeah right, man. Let’s be real.

On one evening, Rostov finds himself relaying his battle story to other men he seeks to impress. “He began his story meaning to tell everything just as it happened, but imperceptibly, involuntarily, and inevitably he lapsed into falsehood. […] He could not tell them simply that everyone went at a trot, and that he fell off his horse and sprained his arm and then ran as hard as he could from a Frenchman into the wood. Besides, to tell everything as it really happened it would have been necessary to make an effort of will to tell only what happened. It is very difficult to tell the truth, and young people are rarely capable of it.” (pg. 186). Without even noticing I find myself there, in that room with him, feeling his almost childish desire to be a hero, embellishing reality. During the beginning of his service Nicholas’s bubble is burst, as he discovers that war is not at all what he expected. It’s bloody and messy and painful, and sometimes when you finally find yourself facing the enemy you accidentally fall. It’s not always marvelous or magnificent, and Lieutenant Count Rostov is just a kid who wants his friends to think he’s cool. And all of a sudden we’re not in 1805, Olmutz, Moravia (now Olomouc, Czech Republic), visiting friends from the Ismaylovsky Regiment, discussing the war. We’re in 20th century high school or middle school or elementary school, telling everyone about the crazy, incredible things we did on summer vacation, hoping we’ll finally become the popular kid this year.

Hadas.

And now for a question. As I write, I wonder what brings you guys back (since I’ve noticed it’s the same few every time – thanks, by the way). Are you reading the book as well? Have you already read it? Are you planning to? Should I be avoiding spoilers? (Character-wise of course, because history, well… it’s already sort of spoiled itself.) Feel free to say hello, share your own experiences, questions, thoughts. I’m always here. (Not much you can do with a broken ankle.)


previous entry here

Reading War & Peace #3: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

Another week! I think I’m going to stick to this sort-of-Tuesday-technically-Wednesday routine. It’s consistent, yet still allows me to cover enough ground to provide some interesting content here for you all. Let me know what you think. More frequently? Less? Random, short little musings in between?

Well, we’ve finally hit some battle. I remember being very confused during my previous attempt at what the heck was going on in these kinds of scenes. The positioning was hard to understand and the military terms were waaaay beyond my league. I decided to take my own advice and not gloss over this time. Needless to say, my phone Chrome tabs are all open on various definitions of military terms and weapons and I’m sure my Internet history makes me out to be either an extreme history geek or just sort of crazy. It definitely slowed me down, but gosh, it’s so much nicer to actually understand what I’m reading!

So, a bit of information before I touch on my main point for this week. My copy includes a two-part introduction: 1) Historical Background to W&P and 2) The Genesis and Composition of W&P, both written by Henry Claridge (University of Kent at Canterbury). (The introduction also comes with an introduction recommending reading the background first and leaving the critical point of view till after finishing the book. Unlike my usual self, I decided to ignore the instructions and read everything beforehand.) Most of it was confusing and just freaked me out about this whole project even more (and should probably be re-read now that I feel on stable ground), but one piece stuck:

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Reading War & Peace #2: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

Due to unexpected… issues I fell back on my tentative reading plans and decided to just post my next War & Peace entry a week after the first. Twenty five minutes ago I realized that even though in my mind today is definitely a Tuesday, it is actually 2:17 AM on Wednesday. Not going to sleep does not mean the day goes on forever.

So. Unexpected issues. I had to go through surgery. I spent Wednesday night in a hospital with a nice metal add-on now permanently (?) attached to my leg. I took the book with me, expecting to have plenty of time. Turns out general anesthesia is quite a shocker to the system. I could barely keep my eyes open, let alone read. A one thousand page book. About 19th century Russian society. In French.

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How Katie Got a Voice (and a Cool New Nickname)

  • Author – Pat Mervine
  • # of Pages – 26
  • *includes illustrations

How Katie Got a Voice (and a Cool New Nickname) is a story told by a fourth grade classmate of Katie, the new girl in school. Everyone in the school has a nickname related to individual interests and personalities. When Katie comes into the class, the students are eager to involve her in their activities and to learn what is special about her. This proves to be quite a challenge. Katie has significant physical disabilities. How can Katie fit in with her classmates when she can’t even talk? When Katie is introduced to assistive technology, she is finally able to communicate with her new friends. As a result, the students are delighted to see her as a person with many interests and abilities, just like them. Katie knows she is a valued member of the school when she is given her own special nickname.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me (December 24th)

Hey everyone! It seems like everything on the Internet these days has to do with Christmas, including this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I do not celebrate Christmas, so I guess this is more of a

Books I Wouldn’t Mind People Bringing Me

  1. Maus, Art Spiegelman – this is one of the books I’m planning to read for the ERC challenges. Unfortunately, I highly doubt I’m going to aquire this in any way other than ordering it from Amazon and waiting for someone to bring it to me, or pay the crazy shipping rates. So yes, Santa would be nice. No international shipping fees, thank you very much.
  2. Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton – I really want to get this for my birthday. The photographs are beautiful, but it’s the captions that made me fall in love with the man and the concept. And the book looks amazing.
  3. The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves – seems like an interesting choice for ERC 2013 LGBT category. I want to get into reading more non-fiction.
  4. The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks – a book I wanna hold in my hands, not read on a Kindle.
  5. Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories
  6. Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs from Writers Famous & Obscure
  7. I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets–Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure
  8. Tweeting the Universe: Tiny Explanations of Very Big Ideas
  9. Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir, Amanda Knox
  10. The Woman Who Can’t Forget: The Extraordinary Story of Living with the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science – A Memoir, Jill Price

Wow, seems like I really do have a bunch of non-fiction books here, compared to my usual fiction to non-fiction reading ratio. I got into memoirs because of the ERC challenges, and then read maybe two or three last year and am planning to cover at least four or five this coming year. A bunch of these aren’t exactly “reading books,” such as Six-Word works, but they’re books I’d like to have available on my shelf for whenever I feel like browsing through some short pieces. The choices this week are actually a lot different from my usual choices during these Top Ten Tuesdays. Have to admit I’m pretty pleased.

Any of you share the same books as me? Different? Let us all know in the comments below!

EDIT: Yes, I’m the type of person who writes up a post four days in advance and then doesn’t post on time.