* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude (for page # references)
War is a big thing where I live. It happens way too often (2014, 2012, 2008, 2006, to name a few) and involves way too many people we all personally know (since Israel has mandatory conscription: three years for men, two for women). The obsession with the Holocaust, and its occurrence being the main reason for founding a Jewish state, has formed a violent, angry, and quite terrified society, that lashes out at everyone and anything without distinction, room for constructive criticism or rational thought. The religious concept of “the chosen people” has not helped much either.
There’s a big agreement here that every war that takes place is necessary, framed by a phrase that would roughly translate into “no choice war”. It’s never a choice. It’s never our fault. I had a friend who once said to me, “the problem is that between one ‘no choice war’ and another, there’s never any attempt to prevent the next one.” Hopefully, one day, that will change. Hopefully, one day, people will realize that in the end everyone just wants to live their life, and that dying is not the only way to achieve that.
I will never know what Tolstoy thinks of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but this week, in between tales of the rich and the famous, and philosophical musings on individuality and human will, someone finally stopped to consider for a moment what this is all for.
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.
I’ve been wondering how to address the news in Charlottesville for the past few days, how exactly do I put my thoughts into words. After all, this is a just book blog. I’m not even American. But I think that at this point neither of those matter anymore, because something needs to be said. It does not matter that this is a just book blog and it does not matter that I am not even American, because there are neo-Nazis walking down the streets in broad daylight, with assault rifles and swastika flags. It does not matter that this is a just book blog and it does not matter that I am not even American, because the president of one of the strongest countries in the world would like to “know all the facts” before he denounces the KKK. It does not matter that this is a just book blog and it does not matter that I am not even American, because we have a problem. All of us. And it did not start on Saturday, and it was not invented by America.
There are not “many sides” to this story. There are never “many sides” to this kind of story, no matter where or when it’s taking place. There is one. It’s very easy to spot, because by the time we’re all listening they’re not even running away anymore. There’s no where to run to. They always notice it first, yell, shout, try to make us see. But we humans like to look the other way, until the last possible point, when we can’t anymore, because eventually there isn’t anywhere else to look.
Random-point-in-life-crises usually happen at night. Not saying just “mid-life” because this shit usually happens much earlier than that. Unless your life is halfway up by the time you’ve hit puberty. Or finished high school. Or finished college or got fired or really just had any terrible night at an age where you could form coherent thoughts. They usually happen after watching some indie film, or just anything in a foreign language, while making yourself feel guilty for not doing the things you’re actually supposed to be doing.
All of a sudden from master procrastinator and quite possibly soda addict you’ve gone into full philosopher mode. Everything becomes so profound you’re not even sure anymore whether you seriously feel like you’re drowning or if at this point you’re just mocking yourself. Plato, Aristotle, Kant – they’ve got nothing on you. If your questions and queries become any more questioningly inquiring the universe just might fall apart. No, not the universe. Reality. Anything outside of your own mind is unsure, the external world cannot be known, and might not even exist. You realize you’re quoting the Wikipedia article on solipsism and then you’re fucking proud of yourself for reading philosophy articles on the internet.
At this point you’ve grown hungry, possible even starving, because really who knows or understands anything at all. Desires cannot be measured. Nothing makes sense. Everything is a lie. You go search for food, possibly stopping to impart some information to your cat, if you’ve got one.
You’re not really sure what to do now. In some faraway part of your brain you realize the wise decision would be to go to sleep. You organize your computer files and scroll through endless Buzzfeed posts instead. Eventually the panic of going to sleep once it’s light outside settles in. There’s something unsettling about going to sleep when the entire sky is shouting at you that you’ve missed the opportunity to rest. It’s like being yelled at by your mother, but on a whole other scale. Also, the sky is blue. You crawl into bed, promising yourself you’ll shower first thing tomorrow morning. Well, it’s not exactly tomorrow – technically speaking it’s already tomorrow now. That’s supposedly unimportant stuff but at this time, in this state of mind, it’s actually vital you take a moment to recognize this technicality.
The antidote to over thinking, over analyzing, and life crisis-ing is not-night-time. Once it’s properly day again you realize how stupid you are and how unproductive it is to waste away the night, thus ruining the following day as well. You’ve literally achieved nothing. In fact, you’ve even regressed because now you’re very tired, you’ve eaten way more than you ever planned on eating and you have a brand new stock of terrible poetry saved in various states of completeness all over your computer.
Really, your entire life is one big crisis. You can feel the clock ticking, the time passing by. You still haven’t discovered the meaning of life. You’ve probably just gained a few pounds, lost a couple of inches from sleep deprivation, and ruled out a future in creative writing.
Well, considering the fact that you’re a fully formed human who still has no clue what that even means and you’re hopelessly confused about practically everything, and you’re going to die anyway and probably be forgotten the minute it happens, that’s actually a considerable achievement for one night, don’t you think?
The year is nearly over, and with it end a whole list of challenges and begin a whole bunch of other ones. This year, as always, I didn’t reach many of my goals. What usually happens is that I get off to a very good start, and then life gets in the way and by the time the year is over I’ve achieved so much, but not in the categories I planned on succeeding in. This year I read more than one book that was over 500 pages, but I also quit two midway. I planned on completing both 2012 and 2013 Eclectic Reader’s Challenges but finished only one. However, on the way I discovered a hidden love for memoirs, which is really the main idea behind those challenges. I also read two more books from the BBC 100 Book List. I barely passed the halfway mark on my goal of 50 books for the year, but on the other hand I read five books in one week and finally started using my Kindle, after owning one for at least a year and a half prior to use. I’m a to-do list kind of person, but I usually get sidetracked or discover new things and forget old plans, and I always end up somewhere far away from where I thought I’d be in the beginning. I make New Years resolutions, complete barely any, but do so many other things I never dreamed I’d do. All in all, I guess I make up for my failures with unplanned triumphs.
I’ve decided to lower my expectations for 2014. I am now in junior year, which is the hardest year of school, and along with Israel’s mandatory army service I’ve got a busy year of exams, hard work and planning for the future. Instead of taking on too much, I’ll plan for a bit and then see how I proceed.
As I did this year, I still want to retry the 2013 challenge, along with 2014. However, thanks to the Kindle and Goodreads I can now find books I want to read that fit the categories, and not force things in. My 50 books goal seemed achievable around June, but by the start of the school year I knew it was doomed. For 2014 I’ll set it to 35-40, and see how that works. I also want to try and read more Hebrew. This year I read two books in Hebrew, after originally thinking I’d alternate every other book. That expectation was insane, it’s impossible to go from reading almost no Hebrew to something so intense such as that. Instead, I’ll try and read at least 5-10 this year, and see how that goes.
In terms of blogging, I’d consider this year a success. I started this reading blog without ever having written so much as a book review. I was scared it would fail, that no one would care. I turned out to be wrong. I wrote seven reviews this year, including one I used for a book report that got me a perfect 100. I even reviewed a Douglas Adams book, which I thought I would never be able to do proper justice to. I now have 112 followers (along with a writing blog that has nearly 40) and views from over twenty countries including Pakistan, Egypt, Bermuda, South Africa and more. I’ve had highs and lows this year, with a break during the fall, but my record breaking 29 views on April 16th. All in all, I think it’s gone well for my first year and I’m definitely sticking around. I’d like to do more reviews this year, maybe even come up with memes and post ideas of my own. Again, we’ll see what happens.
“That’s a wrap,” as they say. 2013 was an interesting year. I shared my poetry and short stories in front of a crowd for the first time, had my work showcased in two zines, had a writer write a poem about my work after hearing it and being inspired. I started two short story collection ideas.
My first book for the new year is going to be The Reader by Bernhard Shclink, except I’ll be reading it in Hebrew. In fact, most, if not all of the books I read for January and February will be in Hebrew.
I think I’ll finish this off with a marvelous quote by Zig Zigler that says ““it’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” I hope you’ve all had a great year, and that the coming one is even greater.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
This is the last post for my End of Year Survey series, the idea that originated from Jamie @ Perpetual Page Turner. Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 can be found here. To avoid unneccessary repetition, I might not expand on each book because I tend to have similar answers for many questions. Also, removed questions about 2013 debuts because I HAVEN’T READ ANY. I really need to work on that for next year. And one question whose answer has appeared a million times and I keep using the same books for everything so, ya know, unneccesary question.
- Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)?
World Cup Wishes (משאלה אחת ימינה) by Eshkol Nevo – best guy friendship I’ve ever read about. I tend to read more… books that include mainly female frienships. Not many people write GOOD “bromances” and this book does that so beautifully it makes your heart hurt.
- Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Going Bovine, which I read last year, was great but this was a WHOLE other level.
- Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else?
World Cup Wishes (משאלה אחת ימינה) by Eshkol Nevo. Not going to elaborate, too much repetition. It’s brilliant.
- Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
I think Young Adult. Makes sense.
- Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Hm. Maybe Todd from Tom Perrotta’s Little Children. I really like young father characters, and his personality is really good. I like how he acts with Sarah, and the fact that he’s a stay at home dad is awesome.
- Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
Room by Emma Donoghue. Reading such an intense book over such a short period of time is insane. It’s one of the worst cases of returning-to-real-life that I’ve ever had. Not sure if it’s really vivid world, but it was definitely an extreme, very vivid mental state.
- Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
This is too hard so instead of choosing a book I’ve already used in a million other questions I’ll go with Orange is the New Black: My Year In a Woman’s Prison by Piper Kerman because there was the extra joy that came with knowing that once I finish I can start watching the TV show. In fact, I was going to watch it, discovered there was a book, downloaded it and read it in three days, and then marathoned the entire show in less than 72 hours. I’m also kind of proud of the fact that I can say I read it BEFORE I watched it.
- Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
Room by Emma Donoghue. Read all of my other posts. I’ll save ya’ll the lovey dovey word vomit on this one.
- Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
Kind of hard to answer considering I am not aware of many books until I discover them msyelf. This question is kind of weird, don’tcha think?
I think these three posts can be summed up as Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, World Cup Wishes (משאלה אחת ימינה) by Eshkol Nevo, Room by Emma Donoghue. I guess when a book is relevant to so many “Best Book About _______” questions, it must really be incredible. The moral of the story, kids, is go read ’em!
Do the survey yourself! It’s fun to go over your reading for the year and remember so many great (or not so great) moments. Is there anything you plan on rereading? What was your favorite? Answer the survey and link below! I’d love to hear what you all loved, and get some new recommendations myself!
Part two of my 3 part survey series! (sounds fancy when you put it that way). Credit, of course, to the wonderful lady at Perpetual Page Turner and her post, which can be found at – 4th Annual End of Year Book Survey.
- Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
- Little Children by Tom Perrotta
- Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
- Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman
- Most memorable character in 2013?
Not too sure about this one. Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gentley is definitely a memorable guy, but I’m going to go with Ram Mohammad Thomas from Q & A by Vikas Swarup. It’s usually easier to connect to the character telling the story, and Ram’s is told beautifully – due to both content and writing.
- Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
Room by Emma Donoghue. The entire story is written from the point of view of a five year old boy. It’s a chilling, calmingly scary story and the POV makes it both creepier and more beautiful. The idea to tell a story through a character that doesn’t understand what’s going on most of the time is absolutely brilliant, and the writing is fantastic. World Cup Wishes (משאלה אחת ימינה) by Eshkol Nevo is pretty close though, maybe even just as great.
- Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
Room by Emma Donoghue. The story was so intense it was hard to break out of the mood for a couple of days at least, if not more. I read the entire book in around twenty four hours and I was so into it that when I finished returning to the world felt like I’d fallen out of the sky and landed head first on the ground. Unfortunately, I also realized just how… how not-so-outta-this-world kidnapping is, which was not a very great conclusion to reach around the same time the news was filled with stories about the Castro kidnapper.
I feel like it’s also neccesary to mention David Levithan’s How We Met & Other Stories because one of the stories in it inspired my very first proper short story, that was followed by another four over the course of the year. It’s the short story I read at a talent show in New Hampshire this summer, that led to a fellow writer telling me I inspired her and writing a poem about me. It really affected me, and has immense impact on my writing and on my feelings about being a writer in general.
- Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
I don’t think I have an answer for this one. I guess 1984 could qualify, but on the other hand I’m very glad I read it at this certain point in my life, so it doesn’t really answer the question.
- Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
- “Yes, expenses were, well, expensive in the Bahamas, Mrs. Sauskind, it is in the nature of expenses to be so. Hence the name.” – Terry Jones, Starship Titanic
- The Electric Monk’s day was going tremendously well and he broke into an excited gallop. That is to say that, excitedly, he spurred his horse to a gallop and, unexcitedly, his horse broke into it. – Terry Jones, Starship Titanic
- “Well, yes. But it takes a village to raise a child, as they say in Africa… If you’ve got a village. But if you don’t, then maybe it just takes two people.” – Room, Emma Donoghue
- “You’re afraid of monsters, aren’t you?””It depends on the monster, if it’s a real one or not and if it’s where I am.” – Room, Emma Donoghue
- “I don’t know,” says Ma. “How could he not? If he’s the least bit human…” I thought humans were or weren’t, I didn’t know someone could be a bit human. Then what are his other bits? – Room, Emma Donoghue
- Lucy had a good brain even though she had lived all her life in LA. Despite the continual exposure to carbon monoxide and people from the film industry, she had remained smart. – Terry Jones, Starship Titanic
- Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. So short yet so good. Shut Your Eyes Tight by John Verdon. Took me three months (minus 3 days, longest time I’ve every spent on on book in all of my almost 17 years on this planet.
*I’ve decided to cut this at seven questions because of length considerations, expect the remaining ten in the last part!
I thought I’d write up a post letting you all know what I’ve got planned for the remainder of the month, seeing as I really like listing things and I tend to follow through with things once I’ve commited to them in front of a lot of people (reading challenges excluded).
So, I’ll be doing the remaining Top Ten Tuesday posts and I still have to post Part 2 and 3 of the Annual Book Survey. As for reviews, I’ll only be reviewing the horror book I choose to read because it’s a bit late with Shut Your Eyes Tight. I’ve been reading it for so long I feel like I can’t review it properly anymore. Also, I might join in on some of the posting ideas provided at BA’s 2013 End of Year Countdown.
Basically, it’s going to be mostly reflection and future planning ideas for what’s left of the year. I never put up my 100 FOLLOWERS post, so I might get around to that, or just wait till the next milestone. I actually reached 100 the day of my accounts’ one year anniversary, which is also the day I returned from my nearly two months break. Today I stand at nearly 110, if I’m not mistaken.
That’s the plan. Thank you all so much, and have a happy holiday!
On Sunday Perpetual Page Turner posted her 4th Annual End of Year Book Survey and reading her post made me want to write up my own, and by doing so finally returning to blogging. The year isn’t over yet but since I’ve given up on completing both Eclectic Reader’s Challenges and I’m so busy I’ve decided to only finish the 2012 one which requires finishing my current – Shut Your Eyes Tight by John Verdon, and reading a horror book – most likely Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs. If I decide to include either of those in the post I’ll edit it. For now, this is it.
(I’m going to be splitting the post into THREE parts, each answering NINE questions..)
- Best Book You Read In 2013?
Oh god. What’s with all of the “favorite” questions?! You guys know I can never answer these! I’m terrible at choosing just one. Let’s try narrowing it to… Top 5 *not in any particular order.
- World Cup Wishes (משאלה אחת ימינה) – Eshkol Nevo
- Beauty Queens – Libba Bray
- Room – Emma Donoghue
- 84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff
- Q & A – Vikas Swarup
- 2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. It was my second attempt at horror, following last year’s Cell by Stephen King which I didn’t even finish out of boredom. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much better. I just wasn’t… scared. It’s part of the Hannibal Lecter series and it was supposed to be terrifying and it wasn’t. Definitely disappointing.
- Most surprising (in agood way!) book of 2013?
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.The book is an epistolary novel and I haven’t read many of those because I somewhere early on developed a dislike for them. My mom recommended this one to me and since it was short I gave it a try and fell in love. It’s a wonderful book and manages to deliver a very powerful story in so few words.
- Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
I guess this would be a tie between two – Eshkol Nevo’s World Cup Wishes (משאלה אחת ימינה) and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. I ended up buying both books, on seperate occasions, as birthday gifts. Or was it both of them for one person? Not sure. Anyway, both absolutely wonderful and both highly recommended by me to any living creature with reading abilities.
- Best series you discovered in 2013?
The only two books I read that are part of a series are Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon (1/4 Hannibal Lecter franchise) and Dirk Gentley’s Hollistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (one of two Dirk Gentley novels). Both were pretty disappointing compared with my expectations. Douglas Adams did live up to his God of all Writers status I have in my brain so in that sense he was the best, but neither were fantastic.
- Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
Definitely Eshkol Nevo. I rarely read Hebrew and I will definitely be reading more of his books now.
- Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
1984 by George Orwell. First dystopian novel! I think it’ll take a while before I get used to the kind of book endings that go with this genre. That kind of simultaniously satisfying and unsatisfying and ugh I wanna hug the writer but also kill him kind of thing.
- Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
Room by Emma Donoghue. Read it in two days. I have no words to describe my love for this pile of paper, or in this case electronic text cause I read it on my Kindle during my book craze week in June.
- Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Hm. This is a tough one. I’m gonna go with 1984 by George Orwell just because it seems like the kind of book that needs to be read more than once. I didn’t care much for the plot and the characters but the whole political and social aspect is what got my attention.
It’s cool to go over my reading log for the year and see what different things I’ve read this year and look at them through these questions. Twenty seven questions in one post is definitely too much so rather than bombard y’all with a ton of info all at once I’ll make a three part series for the survey instead. That way I can answer more at length and you guys have more patience to read it all.
If anyone else wants to do the survey or has already done it be sure to credit Jamie @ Perpetual Page Turner and please comment with a link to your own post so we can all see your choices too!
Hey y’all! I know today is Banned Books Week but I also happened to spend three days at a fantasy/sci-fi convention this week and seeing as you’re all probably SWAMPED with Banned Book posts, I’mma choose to discuss the later here for today’s post.
On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I spent my days at the wonderful world known as CONVENTIONS aka Days That Feel Like Magic And Then They’re Over and Real Life Seems Horrible. I met new people, went to panels and lectures about different aspects of sci-fi and fantasy, books, movies and tv shows. It was fascinating, but that’s not what I want to discuss.
This post is mainly about my desire to return to my good ol’ sci-fi/fantasy days. I developed my tendancy to shy away from long or complicated books sometime in the past few years. I used to love reading never-ending, million paged books, whereas today I run away from anything that’s thicker than a pizza crust. This year I’ve been trying to fix that, and I’m currently about 100 pages into a 580 page book. One of the things I’ve lost due to this habit is my love for the two genres mentioned above. I now read mostly mainstream young adult novels, which in my defense are easiest to aquire when looking for English book in a non-English speaking country.
I think my main drive for returning to my old ways is… well… fandom. Yes, it sounds silly but it’s true. I love the feeling of community, and that’s an extremely strong feature for these two genre fans. Harry Potter, Star Trek, Doctor Who… the list goes on and on. I like merchandise, I like conventions, I like stimulating discussions about fictional characters and ideas and situations. The convention this week has inspired me to start catching up, both film and literature wise. I have a whole new list of authors, books, movies and tv shows to watch. Unfortunately, I don’t have any more free time than I did before so the journey shall be a long one, but hopefully it will be worth it.
My book schedule for the remainder of 2013 is a tight one, due to my attempt at completing TWO ERCs, so major advances in MY NEW CONQUEST TO FALL BACK IN LOVE WITH SCI-FI AND FANTASY will only take place in January. Does anyone want to join? We can do it together. Sort of like a no-commitment, sort-of-book-club-ish-thing? We could decide together on reading material and/or viewing material and discuss it together. This idea is still in its early stages – in fact, I’ve only thought of it just now when I wrote that – but it could work. There are nearly one hundred of you here now (!!!) and if we have participants we can develop it together! Maybe I should provide you all with some of my TBR/TBW(atched) plans:
- TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (on season two), Agents of Shield (watched pilot yesterday) Firefly, Star Trek, Dollhouse, Game of Thrones
- FIlm: Serenity, Back to the Future, Star Wars, Matrix Trilogy, The Congress
- Books: Doctor Who novels, I Robot (reread), Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, American Gods, Brave New World, Farenheit 451, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, Asimov’s Robot Series, The Caves of Steel, Pandemonium (Daryl Gregory), Blindsight, Tea From an Empty Cup, Neuromancer, The futurological Congress
So, what do you guys think? Wanna join me? Lemme know in the comments. I’m actually kind of excited about this idea! Expect a follow-up post going into more detail, maybe plans of an all-genre-every-book-ever book club sometime in the future? We’ll see. For now I leave you all with this post and this list. It’s very… demanding, and it’ll take time, but I’m good at listing and planning is always a good start! This post has kind of gone off track and is very different from my original post idea but I think it’s wound up okay.
So, that’s a wrap. Book club? Maybe. Sci-fi/fantasy comeback? Definitely.