Damn

You’ll be happy to know that my lack of posting for a couple weeks means I have finally finished Gone With the Wind.


And Damn it Scarlett, what a waste of time.

Mitchell could give Tolkien a run for his money in the pointless descriptive prose stakes. So much about what things look like, that have no bearing on the actual plot. These though were easy parts to skim. Didn’t miss out on any important detail. 

But the worst parts were the dialect. It always bugs me when to understand something I have to read it out loud. That’s why I only read Dickens when forced. Unluckily for me Mammy’s parts pretty much explain every critical moment, so skimming had to be done here with caution. I may have missed a few insightful comments but I think I got the gist.

My skimming did almost cost me one pivotal, or at least movie worthy, moment – 

Frankly my dear…

All in all I’m pretty sorry I read it. I suppose it may have been amazing for its time, or perhaps holds interest for people actually into American Civil War history.

Scarlett herself is an engaging character, as is Rhett. But they are both as bad as each other. That is, not very nice and careless about other people. I don’t think I’ve ever met two more self obsessed characters on any text I’ve ever read. 

But frankly, I don’t give a damn.

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Tick Tock, It’s Alternative Universe Time

For the category of A book that has a protagonist who is the opposite gender to you I read the first book in Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series, Mister Monday.

Mister Monday follows a boy, Arthur on his adventure in an alternate universe. He is suddenly thrust their after being heralded as the heir to The Will and after a deadly plague breaks our in his own reality. Neither of these universes are our own, however, Arthur’s home world is very similar to ours.

It was an interesting read. Interesting in terms of weird and I wasn’t really sure of what was going on.

I really really really wanted to like it.

Garth Nix is one of my favourite authors of all time and I hadn’t read this of his before and there are seven in the series so I was super excited that I may have found my next seven reads. I didn’t. I won’t be reading that others.

I just really didn’t like Arthur, or particularly care about what was going on with him. This book shoves you right in the action and I don’t think I got to know Arthur well enough to begin with in order for me to want to read more about him. I did love Suzy Blue, his girl side kick, but I’m not sure how much she is in the other novels.

What I find funny about fulfilling this category is that despite the fact that I have read over forty books so far this year, only four of them have male protagonists. That is partly due to the fact that I have read a lot of non fiction, though I think it mostly comes down to the fact that I read a lot of realistic YA fiction and these are mostly about girls. I don’t often read books with boys at the forefront because I don’t think like them. I often don’t get them. And even more often, i don’t care about them.

That’s why I love this challenge. It pushes you to read outside what you normally would. And sometimes you find things that you love.

Unfortunately in this case it was more of a case of discovering I came too late to this series and am now too old for it.

It’s not bad, it’s just not for me.

Good Enough to Eat

So I think I might be becoming vegetarian.

Or at least a two night a week, maybe lunches too, vegetarian.

I just read the most amazing book.

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And don’t tell me you can’t read a cookbook. You can. Especially this one. Each recipe is introduced by the author, with some helpful do’s and don’ts and some ideas about when to eat it and what to substitute in for ingredients that may not be seasonal. What I love most about these recipes is that they don’t seem to be vegetarian. They just all don’t have meat in them. And they don’t all have a hundred ingredients per recipe, nor do they include weird and rare ingredients that you would have to trek to the Himalayas for. It’s just easy food; easy on the eye, easy on the waist, and easy on the environment (Yes, that is an Oxford comma, I like them).

I’ve only actually made one recipe out of the book so far

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Vegetable filled soda bread. But I’ve made two of them. The first (and smaller piece) is exactly how the book says to do it; spelt flour, carrots, and what not. The second is my Mrs Cropley version because I ran out of carrots and pumpkin seeds. So it’s a carrot, sweet potato and sunflower seed version. Still awesome.

I’m planning of cooking most of next week’s meals out of this thing. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

#readharder

The plan was to read a book every day of January. I didn’t quite get there. Hence why a plan is called a plan. I did end up reading twenty books, which I feel pretty chuffed about.

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These are the books I read for January. I still haven’t put them into the categories for the #readharder challenge I do at work because I just wanted to read for fun. A lot of the time last year I felt I was just reading to tick a box and I kept reading things I didn’t like because they fit in a spot that was hard to fill. It meant I didn’t feel like I was actually reading for me. So I started this year just reading things that I didn’t get to, or things that I bought over the holiday break, or were given to me as Christmas presents. Of course, the list is always in the back of my mind, I just don’t want to be a slave to it.

The problem I have found with this approach, though, is that if a book is not particularly memorable I may forget what it was about and, therefore, which category it might fit into. I think what I will do is categorise at the end of the month. So they will still be somewhere in my brain, but I don’t need to worry as I go.

I’ve already started my reading for February too. As I’ve returned to work I think a book a day, even twenty in the month is going to be a little ambitious, so I’m thinking I’ll set the goal at ten. For February this is still a push, but for the other months it will be quite achievable. Reading this month so far has consisted of:

both finished on the same day, yesterday.

I re-read Frankenstein because I had to. It has it’s own category on the reading challenge, number 50. I think it’s because it’s like 200 years since it was first published or something like that. I didn’t love it the first time I read it (for school) and it certainly hasn’t grown on me in the interim. I used it as my going to bed book because the print is so tiny and the plot just drags on. Put me to sleep every time. I must say the ending of this novel is probably the most anti-climactic I have ever read. I get it’s supposed to be moralistic and all, but

go into the northern Arctic and think about what you’ve done you naughty monster

just doesn’t really cut it.

I also finished Grace Beside Me by Sue McPherson this month too. I wanted to read it because it has been turned into a TV show for the NITV network. It was a different kind of novel. The way it is narrated is odd, but also oddly works. And there is this really good idea in it about “sit a while”. So when you have a problem, go into nature and connect with it and mull over what you need to do. And after you will see what to do and feel better. I love this idea of “sit a while”. I know I get too caught up in the stress and worry of life and to just let it mull and know that everything will be ok is such good advice. The other concept I love out of this book is that described in the title “grace beside me”, and that is the calm you get from connecting with the natural world around you and the peace you feel when you come to terms with your problems. Both are used like mantras in this novel and I am totally going to adopt them as well.

Bargain Buy

So I’ve had my first book fail of the year. Though I don’t really think of it as a fail because my mantra is to not finish books you don’t enjoy. The only downside to that is the impact it has on my reading challenge. I hate wasting my limited reading time.

In my book buying spree earlier this month I bought a seven dollar book.

This book.

It had a good premise. Writers writing mean things about other writers. But it is super labourious. Mostly because it starts with ancient authors and works it way to the ‘present day’. And while I consider myself well read, I don’t really care about the beefs in Ancient Greece or the Elizabethan era. Their language is so dense and soporific, I’ve only just made it to the Romantic era and I’ve been reading since the beginning of the month.

The other problem is you only get the nasty bits. Snippets of essays and letters without context. There are a billion footnotes explaining things, but who has time for footnotes? I don’t feel like I am really learning anything and are often more confused than not.

It’s not a bad book for reading before bed though. If I read a novel then I dream the novel and have an unfitful sleep. If I red this it puts me to sleep, and no dreams. That’s a win.

The Flipside

Then there is the not so great fantasy.

  
I just don’t think I can do high fantasy anymore. And this isn’t even it in its most purest form because there are portals from the fantasy land to the world as we know it.

I must have like the first story in this series though, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, because I did by this sequel. Though it has been sitting in my shelf for about a year I think. And I won’t be buying the third in the trilogy to see how it all ends because I just don’t care.

Some of the concepts in this series are good. I like the resurrecting, and the mysterious far off land they introduced in this book, but overall there is just too much gore. And not enough explaining. I don’t get why the two different peoples are fighting so much, I don’t get why they want to take over earth, I don’t really see where it could be headed, there doesn’t seem to be a solution to the problem the author has posed. Or at least not one I want to read about.

What is good about these books though is that the love story is not the focus as it is in so much fantasy. It’s important, but more important are the ideas of hope and peace. But that is also one of the problems with the series. I don’t really care about the peace because I haven’t been given enough information/back story to care and so without romance, there is nothing tying me to the characters. I guess it’s just really hard to empathise with them. Perhaps because they are not human.

And that’s another problem with high fantasy, it’s mostly just doom and gloom and nobody gets what they want. Including the reader.

The Flipside

Then there is the not so great fantasy.

  
I just don’t think I can do high fantasy anymore. And this isn’t even it in its most purest form because there are portals from the fantasy land to the world as we know it.

I must have like the first story in this series though, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, because I did by this sequel. Though it has been sitting in my shelf for about a year I think. And I won’t be buying the third in the trilogy to see how it all ends because I just don’t care.

Some of the concepts in this series are good. I like the resurrecting, and the mysterious far off land they introduced in this book, but overall there is just too much gore. And not enough explaining. I don’t get why the two different peoples are fighting so much, I don’t get why they want to take over earth, I don’t really see where it could be headed, there doesn’t seem to be a solution to the problem the author has posed. Or at least not one I want to read about.

What is good about these books though is that the love story is not the focus as it is in so much fantasy. It’s important, but more important are the ideas of hope and peace. But that is also one of the problems with the series. I don’t really care about the peace because I haven’t been given enough information/back story to care and so without romance, there is nothing tying me to the characters. I guess it’s just really hard to empathise with them. Perhaps because they are not human.

And that’s another problem with high fantasy, it’s mostly just doom and gloom and nobody gets what they want. Including the reader.

Just another teen novel

18. A book published this year

While this isn’t your average teen novel, it is your average teen novel. YA fiction is so diverse these days that characters like these don’t really stand out. The setting makes a small difference, small town rural NSW, but my feeling is that change permeates all of society.

The main character is a lesbian and both her sidekicks are Asians. I don’t​ think that any of this actually matters in the scheme of things. It’s kind of like a diversity love triangle mixed bag sub plot. What actually matters in this novel is figuring out who you are without letting others aspirations for you cloud your judgement.

It is a pretty sad story. The dementia plot line is all too real, as is the one of patriarchal abandonment. Though perhaps that’s only because of my personal experiences. I cried a bit, which means it’s pretty well written, I’m not usually a crier. It also made me go

Ah, that’s so true 

In a lot of places as well.

 So maybe there is more of me in this novel than I realised.

I did have a conversation about censorship with this book at the centre. I honestly think though that adults like to cover their backs rather than offer teens the things they might need. And it’s funny how people are ready to ban things that don’t match their way of thinking. If it’s an alternative lifestyle, that is, not heterosexual, it must be going to lead someone astray. 

26. A book with multiple authors

I’m actually skipping writing about a book I read before this one firstly because this is an awesome book, and secondly because I don’t know what to write about Anthony Bourdain yet.

So this is another book about books. It’s kind of my favourite genre.

I just love reading about what other people think of books. Though not reviews, per se. I like knowing what they think about books or what it made them feel or what makes it great. I don’t want to know plot. If you can convince me it’s a good book without really talking about plot then I might read it and I don’t want any spoilers.

This book sees a whole bunch of Australian authors who mostly write for children and teens talk about books that affected them most. I didn’t read it with post its beside me this time but I should have.

It is completely fascinating to see how books imapct on people and then to consider how they may have impacted on you. I don’t know if I could pick just one book to say affected me most, and some of the authors don’t just choose one.

Jane Eyre or Northanger Abbey are my go to books for a re read but that’s mostly because I like the story. Nothing jumps to mind in terms of having a profound effect on the trajectory of my life. I do wish I had every Teen Power Inc ever written but alas I borrowed them from the library. 

I’m going to have to give it some more thought and get back to you.

15. A book that takes place on an island

And very conveniently, and homophonic, Ireland.

I did not like this book very much. At least, not as much as Kent’s first book Burial Rites which I read a few years ago.

This is another truish story about an alleged crime, inspired, as they say, by true events. I just didn’t really care about those events. Though I didn’t dislike it enough to put it down either. As you all know I never finish a book I don’t like (I’m looking at you Ian McEwan).

Set sometime before running water and electricity in rural Ireland, this book looks at the transition between pagan and church ways of thinking. It questions customs and beliefs, and tries to get the reader to understand how these can come and go out of fashion.

I think I had a hard time reading this book because I read so much fantasy. In those books fairies and magic are ‘real’ whereas in real life they are not. So I just couldn’t get my head around this as historical fiction with all the talk of the Fey. Her writing couldn’t make me believe that people really used to think this way. I wasn’t convinced, perhaps because I now have running water and electricity.

She is a good writer, don’t get me wrong. She evokes the period and tells the story in an enthralling way. It just wasn’t a topic that really drew me in.

Like her other novel the build up to the event took a long time too. Though this was written in the present tense, rather than looking back like the other one. It still had the same sense of foreboding though, that dramatic irony where you know something is going to go wrong. It just wasn’t the injustice of the other novel. It was just a bit meh for me.