26 December 2010


'Tully' by Paullina Simons
December 22 - 25, 592 pages

I've had this book sitting by my bed waiting for me to read it for months. It wasn't that I didn't want to read it, but that it is so thick that I needed to wait for a week when i wasn't so busy so I'd have time. And then I sped through it in four days! I couldn't put it down. It's very good. Simons is such a talented writer (I also read 'The Bronze Horseman' this year).

The novel is pretty sad. It definitely pulls you in and makes you feel for the characters. Throughout the whole book, I didn't know how I wanted it to end, let alone how I thought it would end. Part of the fun, I guess.

I'm very glad I read this. It definitely made me think, and feel. Very good.

I know it's week fifty-two, but I'm making this a fifty-three week year, because it's not over until Friday. One more week to go!


A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
December 17 - 18, 324 pages

A friend saw this book and asked me what it was about. I assured her that it was very funny, and then explained the storyline. She was a bit disappointed, it didn't sound very funny. But it is. It is so bizarre. But very good. It is a great read. So easy to just gobble it up in a few sittings.

It's quirky and so different. I want to read some more novels by Lewycka. They all have great covers, too.

Oh, and it's not actually a short history of tractors in Ukrainian. But it does briefly touch on their history. It's surprisingly interesting. Nothing on the novel's characters and their crazy relationships with each other, though.

19 December 2010


'A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings' by Charles Dickens
December 6 - 11, 264 pages

I love Dickens. You know I love Dickens. And you can't love Dickens and not read 'A Christmas Carol'. That I knew the storyline back to fron and seen many knock-offs is irrelevant: I need to read the real thing. It's very Christmassy. And jolly. I didn't actually enjoy it as much as his other novels. It wasn't funny and sarcastic. The characters don't have much depth. And the moral is served to you on a silver platter. No work required. But it is a nice little story. I enjoyed it for that.

The other 'Christmas writings' are quite nice, too. Nothing too special but definitely helped me get in the festive spirit! Christmas is so soon!

'... while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour.'


'Angela's Ashes' by Frank McCourt
November 29 - December 3, 426 pages

This is a great book. It opened my eyes. I know very little about Ireland and its history so reading McCourt's story was like discovering a new world. His anecdotes of what he had to face in everyday life in a poverty-stricken family are eye-opening. Your heart opens to him and his struggles. It is also beautifully told. McCourt is a wonderful writer. I will definitely be reading more of hiss books. This one tells the story of his childhood, I want to know what happens next!

'The Restaurant at the End of the Universe' by Douglas Adams
December 3 - 5, ~150 pages

Just like its prequel, this novel is hilarious. I am constantly amazed by the perfect way in which Adams constructs his sentences. How is he so funny?!


'Wicked' by Gregory Maguire
November 22-25, 406 pages

I feel like I'm just about the only person who hasn't seen the musical of 'Wicked' so I decided to do the next best thing: read the book.

It is far more complex than I anticipated. Some sections of the novel I really got into, and some left me confused; there is a lot going on. It was nice, though. Especially since I haven't read 'The Wizard of Oz' recently and so I rediscovered parts of that story as well. There are some quite funny one-liners, but not much humour apart from them. It's a really interesting and inspired take on a classic story. I was particularly intrigued by the debates on 'evil' - what, where, how and why? Fascinating.

22 November 2010


'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' by F. Scott Fitzgerald
November 17, 52 pages

I feel like this 'book' is a bit of a cop-out for a week's worth of reading. It's just a story.

But it's a great little story. I do enjoy the way F. Scott FItzgerald writes. It is quaint. He is a brilliant storyteller. 

It's an interesting idea. And really quite sad; it shows that being different in a world that is the same is tough. Even at the end of the story no one appreciates Benjamin Button's uniqueness: he dies alone.

I've heard people say that life would be better lived backwards like this. And maybe it would, as long as everybody else lived the same way.

I should really see the movie. I think I would enjoy it.

14 November 2010


'Stuff White People Like' by Christian Lander
November 10 - 13, 203 pages

Well, I haven't read a book like this yet this year. It has pictures! It's a list of one hundred and fifty things that 'white people' like. It's pretty funny.

It's even funnier when you realise that some of the points describe you completely. Also a little bit concerning.

This is a great read if you feel like laughing but not concentrating very much. You can read it cover-to-cover (like I did) or just open it up at random pages for a giggle.

Lander also has a blog, which I just checked out - pretty good, and some other books. Oh, and for the record, I am 20% white according to this book.

10 November 2010


'Olive Kitteridge' by Elizabeth Strout
November 4 - 6, 270 pages

What a real book. It is told through stories which eventually overlap. In each new chapter we meet new characters who are facing their own challenges. But mainly it's about Olive Kitteridge, a retired maths teacher. A complex portrait of her emerges as you read.

It's about pain and family and growing old - ugly, but beautiful. It's about not being perfect. I really enjoyed this. Definitely deserved the Pulitzer Prize. A real tapestry. Honest and thought-provoking.

'They did not know that lumpy, aged, and wrinkled bodies were as needy as their own young firm ones, that love was not to be tossed away carelessly'

06 November 2010


'Notes from Underground' by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
October 27 - 31, 118 pages

It was high time I read some Dostoyevsky. This book had been sitting around waiting to be read for quite a while. I was looking forward to it for three main reasons: its excellent reputation, I love Russian literature, and I also love the cover (despite the spelling mistake: 'unatractive')

It took a while for me to get into this novel. It's quite abstract - packed full of ideas rather than events. Once I found my feet (missing some key ideas on the way I'm sure) I found myself enjoying it. It's funny. It's also quite concerning. And it's very clever.

 I think it would improve being read again. But after I've read some other Dostoyevsky novels.

25 October 2010


'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding
October 20-22, 225 pages

The good thing about this venture, sorry, one of the many good things, is that I get to read books that I really should have read but never have. 'Lord of the Flies' is one of these.

I am glad I eventually read it. It's very good. A real modern classic. So much symbolism.

This novel is quite confronting. It is concerning how the boys' sense of order and morals quickly collapse. Shows what human nature can make you do.

I really enjoyed this. Definitely (hopefully) will read it again.

Except I haven't been able to get the hymn, 'Lord of the Dance' out of my head all week!

19 October 2010


'The Finkler Question' by Howard Jacobson
October 13 - 17, 307 pages

A special week needs a special book and, as it's the week of my birthday, I certainly needed to find a good book to read. Luckily, the Man Booker Prize for 2010 was announced on Tuesday. I always enjoy the winning novel, and so I rushed out to buy 'The Finkler Question' an hour after it was announced as the winner.

It didn't disappoint. It's the first comedy to win the prize and it definitely is funny. But it isn't shallow. It's profound and quite dark. It poses some interesting questions and really explores what it means to be Jewish, subject matter I haven't really encountered before.

Very good. now I must work my way through the shortlist.

'At a certain age men began to shrink, and yet it was precisely at that age that their trousers became too short for them. Explain that.'

10 October 2010


'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' by Ken Kesey
October 6 - 8, 281 pages

This is a very good book. Excellent, even.

It says a lot. And is confronting and concerning and really begs the question: should we choose security over freedom? This book made me think about things, and I'm still thinking. It's one of those novels that should be read more than once, I think. It has lots of great characters, too. A compelling and startling commentary on institutions. 
'He hadn't let what he looked like run his life one way or the other'

A very powerful novel. Read it.

03 October 2010


'The Raw Shark Texts' by Steven Hall
September 29 - October 2, 430 pages

This book is crazy. Just plain crazy. It's just... like nothing I've ever read before; less like a story and more like an experience.

I spent large periods of time having no clue what was going on. Still don't really. But, somehow, somewhere in all this confusion, this novel grabs you. Perhaps it's just you hoping that everything suddenly makes sense. Nope. Does not happen.

But really, it was great. I especially loved the images made of fragmented test. Oh, and there's a cat called Ian. Very good. A conceptual shark or two, as well.

This is one book I can definitely see as a blockbuster movie. I'd go see it.

28 September 2010


'Oliver Twist' by Charles Dickens
September 20-26, 511 pages

I love Dickens. He is definitely one of my favourite authors. His characters are amazing. I love the way that all of their stories overlap and culminate at the end. And their names. The names are great.

I also love a happy ending. I know, I'm such a sop. But I do like knowing that, despite any misfortunes, in the good characters will be rewarded and bad ones will be punished.

And, of course, there are some hilarious lines. None that I have room for here unfortunately.

This is really just a great story, told by a great storyteller.

'There is a drowsy state, between sleeping and waking, when you dream more in five minutes with your eyes half open, and yourself half conscious of everything that is passing around you, than you would in five nights with your eyes fast closed, and your senses wrapt in perfect unconsciousness. At such times, a mortal knows just enough of what his mind is doing, to form some glimmering conception of its mighty powers, its bounding from earth and spurning time and space, when freed from the restraint of its corporeal associate.'  

After exclaiming several times that the robbery was 'so unexpected! In the silence of night, too!' 'Dear, dear':
'The doctor seemed especially troubled by the fact of the robbery having been unexpected, and attempted in the nighttime; as if it were the established custom of gentlemen in the housebreaking way to transact business at noon, and to make an appointment, by post, a day or two previous'

21 September 2010


'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde
September 13 - 17, 374 pages

I enjoyed this. It's hard to go wrong with a book about books. And dodos. Most importantly dodos. I like dodos.

Yes this novel is very good. It has a mix of everything: love, crime, action, mystery and humour. I really liked how surreal the setting is. And how much everyone cared about literature. I did not, however, appreciate the questioning of the authorship of Shakespeare's plays. I am a staunch believer in them being his. But that's my only complaint. In fact I was pleased to hear him (and Dickens, too) mentioned.

I can't decide whether it is good or bad that I hadn't rad 'Jane Eyre' before. Made it more surprising for sure.

14 September 2010


'A Confederacy of Dunces' by John Kennedy Toole
September 8 - 12, 338 pages

Just quickly, that cover was a pleasure to draw. I'm glad I decided to pay a bit extra for this edition.

And now to what's inside the awesome cover. This book is very funny. Ignatius, the central character, is just in a class of his own. You can't help but root for him, despite being a selfish, deluded, yet very intelligent, obese slob who still lives with his poor mother. In fact, all of Toole's characters are great. In a way this novel is quite Dickens-esque: the many overlapping characters and sub-plots are as complex as the are hilarious, and culminate wonderfully at the end. This is a really good read. I learned so many new words!

Toole actually didn't live to see this book published. He committed suicide after he could not find a publisher, and his mother pushed to get it published after he died. The foreword in this book is by the man who accepted it. Good thing he did; it's a great book and it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981.

07 September 2010


'The Dark Room' by Rachel Seiffert
September 1 - 3, 278 pages

This is a really good book. It's made up of three completely separate stories; one set just before and during World War Two, one just after it has finished, and the last 52 years later. All are in Germany. All incite different emotions.

At first I didn't like the way I had to just leave the characters and say hello to new ones, but then I saw that this meant that I could see this terrible war from more perspectives: the book hosted a microcosm of society.

I think that books like these are important to read. And this one I struggled to put down. I especially enjoyed the photography in it, shame I had to leave it at the first story.

30 August 2010


'Twelfth Night' by William Shakespeare
August 25 - 27, 90 pages

Yep, I'm back to Shakespeare. It's been a few weeks. It was time to return.

This was the first time I read a Shakespeare without notes on the page to translate into modern English. I was a bit nervous about this but it turned out fine. Admittedly the play is a fairly simple one, but still I found it easy to follow. Pat on the back for me.

I really enjoyed the play. It's funny, had some good lines. It was exciting to think how many other stories have been inspired by this most famous one. Pretty cool. 

This is my favourite quote from the play (especially as a vegetarian):
'I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit.'

22 August 2010


'Blind Faith' by Ben Elton
August 18 - 20, 320 pages

I enjoy novels about dystopias, and utopias for that matter. Although the two seem to overlap. Maybe there's some appeal in seeing society (with all good intentions) go to the extremes only to realise that life just isn't very nice and is much better the way it is for us now. Mass self-assurance, perhaps. Whatever the reason, I really like books like this and 'Blind Faith' was no exception. It was completely different to what I expected. For starters, it was funny. I enjoyed reading it. I also really like how 'current' it was; so relevant to everyday life. And, I don;t want to spoil it but I just have to say, I like how it ends with his faith in humankind to realise the error of their ways and put things right. Eventually.

17 August 2010


'The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams
August 11 - 13, 159 pages

This is a very funny book. I really enjoyed it. I don't usually have much time for science fiction but this novel definitely made up for this by being so hilarious. I just don't know what else to say. A great length, too; short enough to be funny the whole way through without becoming tiresome.

'Tinkers' by Paul Harding
August 13 - 15, 191 pages

A beautiful book. I love the way it's written; like a tapestry. I like how it cited other works and wove its way back through time by following the lives of each son's father. Quite brilliant.
'Such a crooked and flimsy device could only keep the fantastic hours of unruly ghosts.'

Yep. A good week's reading. Although it did frustrate my slightly that on this copy of 'The Hitch Hiker's Guide' the title is spelled different on the cover and on the spine. The cover says 'The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy' while the spine says 'The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy'. Oh well, I'm sure I'll eventually get over it.

Some quotes from 'Tinkers':

'He grabbed for his hat because the mule had eaten it off his head once before, leaving the beast ill and gassy and he behind it with teary eyes and a sunburned nose.'

'My goodness, I am made from planets and wood, diamonds and orange peels, now and then, here and there; the iron in my blood was the blade of a Roman plow; peel back my scalp and you will see my cranium covered in the scrimshaw carved by an ancient sailor who never suspected he was whittling at my skull...'

09 August 2010


'A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare' by James Shapiro
August 2 - 8, 333 pages

I love reading about Shakespeare just as much as I love reading his plays. I think that part of what makes him so interesting for me is not just his genius, but how we know so little about him. Still, today, even what the Bard from Avon looks like is speculation.

But moving right along. I was very impressed by the depth of research gone into this book. And not only that but how much that research told us about Shakespeare's sources and inspiration. I also was very interested to learn more of the world in which Shakespeare lived. A good read; heavy at times.

And imagine a year when he wrote Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It and Hamlet. What a year!

01 August 2010


'The Secret Life of Bees' by Sue Monk Kidd
July 26 - 27, 374 pages

I really liked this book. It was great. Quite refreshing. And very different from what one would expect from a book set in the south of America in 1964. It was sad, but had some funny lines: "You put his brain in a bird, and the bird would fly backward" and 'Sometimes you want to fall on your knees and thank God in heaven for all the poor news reporting that goes on in the world.'
And didn't I learn a lot about bees!

'Dirt Music' by Tim Winton
July 29 - 31, 461 pages

It was good. I do like Winton. He's honest and comfortable at the same time. I still prefer 'Cloudstreet' though. But a good book, and I like the way Winton creates characters with so much complexity. He sold Broome to me as well, I really want to go!

Okay I'll admit it: part of the fun in reading 'The Secret Life of Bees' was imagining them all speaking in their South Carolinian accents.

25 July 2010


'The Bronze Horseman' by Paullina Simons
July 20 - 25, 637 pages

I love reading about Russia. It fascinates me. I think I just find it so interesting that it is so different from the rest of the world. This novel most definitely confirmed that for me. Set in World War Two, I cannot imagine living the way those people did.

I enjoyed this book. Mostly its 'Russian-ness' I guess. And feeling like I was deep in the Soviet Union. It was a love story though. Which was nice. I did get over having to read about Tatiana and Alexander sleeping together for about 200 pages non-stop. I avoided reading it in public.

But it was good. Very interesting. I really want to go to Russia now. But maybe not in winter.

18 July 2010


'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' by JK Rowling
July 13 - 14, 607 pages

I just felt like a bad person. I had read all of the Harry Potter books except the last. I needed to read this one. I like the books; they make for fun reading. And I always knew Snape was good. I just knew it. I can't believe I've finally finished the series!

'The Five People You Meet in Heaven' by Mitch Albom
 July 15, 208 pages

This was a really good read. I powered through it. I quite liked Albom's style and will definitely read the more famous 'Tuesdays with Morrie'. Yes, this is a lovely book, sad at times.

'As I Lay Dying' by William Faulkner
July 17 - 18, 208 pages

I really liked the multiple points of view by didn't like the 9-day-old dead body: I could practically smell it! 

My first three-book week! Wowee. 

Some of my favourite quotes from 'The Five People You Meet in Heaven':

"Adam's first night on earth? When he lays down to sleep? He thinks it's all over, right? He doesn't know what sleep is. His eyes are closing and he thinks he's leaving this world right?
"Only he isn't. He wakes up the next morning and he has a fresh new world to work with, but he has something else, too. He has yesterday."

"Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else."

And from 'As I Lay Dying':

'When He aims for something to be always a-moving, He makes it long ways, like a road or a horse or a wagon, but when He aims for something to stay put, He makes it up-and-down ways, like a tree or a man ... Because if He'd a aimed for man to be always a-moving and going somewheres else, wouldn't He put him longways on his belly, like a snake?'

'... when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind ...'

'She looks at us. Only her eyes seem to move. It's like they touch us, not with sight or sense, but like the stream from a hose touches you, the stream at the instant of impact as dissociated from the nozzle as though it had never been there.'

'He is a big tub of guts and I am a little tub of guts and if there is not any room for anything else important in a big tub of guts, how can it be room in a little tub of guts.'

And my favourite chapter of the book consists of only five words: 'My mother is a fish.'

10 July 2010


'Breath' by Tim Winton
July 7 - 8, 247 pages

I like Winton. I like the way that he writes. I like the intensity, the power but also how casual it is.

I thought it was brought together well ,this novel, but I still much prefer 'Cloudstreet'. The passion was still there, though. I could really feel the way that the narrator loved, needed to surf: 'we'd left the ordinary in our wake.'

Yes. I think I enjoyed this. It got a little strange at times but had some excellent passages. In particular: '... more than a rebellion against the monotony of drawing breath ... breath upon breath upon breath in an endless capitulation to biological routine.' 

I just love it when you find a passage with a clever link to the title in a novel. It reminded me of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' or 'The Catcher in the Rye'

06 July 2010


'A Fortunate Life' by AB Facey
June 28 - July 2, 323 pages

I've mentioned before that I love reading Australian books. This was no exception.

It's a pretty amazing story. This guy has endless talent. It seemed as though everything he had a go at, he succeeded at. A very inspiring story.

I also found it very interesting. I have has little experience with farming, especially in the early twentieth century. It sounds like hard work, but very important to the national economy. It was an insightful read.

I recommend this book. I can definitely see why 'A million Australians already love the story of Bert Facey - an ordinary bloke.'


'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Brontë
June 24 - 27, 245 pages

I did it. I finally did it. Over the past two and a half years I have had three failed attempts at reading this book. I just could not get into it and eventually tossed it aside each time.

But I couldn't let it beat me.

I did start to get interested in the plot after one hundred or so pages but in no way was I hooked. I guess it just came down to the fact that deep down I didn't really care what happened to the characters. I didn't like any of them. Except maybe Nelly.

I am glad I read it, though. I can see why it's a classic. It is well-written and insightful. Complex and thorough.

I might have to take a break before embarking on more Brontë sisters' books though.

And at week twenty-six I am halfway through the year without missing a week yet!


'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest' by Stieg Larsson
June 14 - 17, 599 pages

I finished the Millennium trilogy! I really enjoyed this last book - it tied together all the loose ends from the previous book. It was frustrating at times, though. I just wanted everyone to work it out already!

I loved the scene where Gianni annihilates Teleborian in court. So funny. Yes. The series ended very well.

'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' by John Boyne
June 19, 216 pages

The first book this year that I read in just one day.

This is a lovely book. It is powerful in its innocence. It lingers in your mind. The ending is very sad. It's awful to think that those things happened.

14 June 2010


'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel
June 7 - 11, 401 pages

I enjoyed this book. It's just a great story that is told very well. It was interesting - I learnt lots of fascinating things about animals. Like 'prusten,' the sound a tiger makes 'to express friendliness and harmless intentions.'

The only parts of this novel that I struggled to pay much attention to were those about religion, but that's just me. It redeemed itself with some excellent ideas: 'To be a castaway is to be caught in a harrowing ballet of circles.' And Richard Parker is a brilliant name for a tiger.

'Henry IV, Part One' by William Shakespeare
June 12 - 13, 116 pages

Another diverting Shakespeare

Yes, I did like 'Life of Pi'. It reminded me of 'Robinson Crusoe' and, as with that novel, I was most impressed with Pi's survival techniques.

'Henry IV, Part One' was good. It took me a little while to get into it and really want to know how what was going to happen. But I did eventually get into it. I should read Part Two.

06 June 2010


'The Girl Who Played with Fire' by Stieg Larsson
June 2 - 5, 569 pages

This is the second book in the Millennium trilogy that I started a few weeks ago.

The second is just as gripping as the first. As it got close to the end where everything would be reveled I needed to stop myself; I was not actually reading, but instead skimming the pages in search of new revelations. I don't often read crime novels like this but when I do they absorb me completely, I swallowed this up because I just needed to know what happened. 

This novel features the same main characters while introducing many more. I liked the way the web got so tangled as more information was discovered. Can't wait for the third. 

I actually felt that at times this book moved slower than the first. Perhaps it was just me being too greedy for answers, but  in the middle of the book I was frustrated that it was moving slowly. Still an excellent read.

02 June 2010


'King Lear' by William Shakespeare
May 24 - 27, 145 pages

Yes, another Shakespeare. I just can't get enough.

This play is intense. And complicated. At times I struggled to keep up with everything that was happening. But it's worth it. What I like about the Bard (well, one of the many things) is that, despite being written centuries ago, we can still take something from his plays and relate to them. 'We that are young / Shall never see so much, nor live so long.'

It was also exciting to read the line, 'I am a man / More sinned against than sinning.'

A real Shakespearean tragedy. Everyone dies.

I can't help but mention this brilliant exchange:
Oswald   What dost thou know me for?
Kent        A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats, a base proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy-worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking, whoreson glass-gazing super-serviceable finical rogue, one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch; one whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.
Oh, how perfect.


'tis a naughty night to swim in'

'Was this a face / To be opposed against the warring winds?'

'if it be man's work, I'll do 't'

'The younger rises when the old doth fall'

I'm going to see this play in the theatre next week. I am ridiculously excited.

24 May 2010


'Not Untrue & Not Unkind' by Ed O'Loughlin
May 20 - 23, 276 pages

Any book with an ampersand in its title scores automatic points with me for starters.

Punctuation aside (I do go on about it a lot, just reading the previous entry), I enjoyed this novel. It's a story that is well told. I liked how it didn't stay in one place. And it was intense when it needed to be and calm when it didn't. I felt like I was there with them - either when they were out in the field amidst the African wars, or having a smoke and telling jokes over whisky. Oh, to be a reporter.

I can't believe this is O'Loughlin's first novel. It is a fine work of fiction. A very interesting read. I want more.

This novel was written just as I imagine a reporter would write it. It was very good. I must admit that I was a bit over my head with the politics and wars in Africa, but I got the general gist.

17 May 2010


'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy
May 12 - 13, 287 pages

This book is gripping. Intense. Harrowing. Once I started I found it hard to stop, you just can't look away. I really felt for the two characters, willing them on, wishing them warmth and food. I recommend this novel. It is quite brilliant.

My only objection is the serious lack of apostrophes; it was all 'cant', 'dont' and 'wont' when it came to them. Otherwise, great. 'You forget what you want to remember and remember what you want to forget.'

'The Tempest' by William Shakespeare
May 15 - 16, 87 pages

We both know I could gush about Mr Shakespeare for years. I especially enjoyed the epilogue, asking the audience to 'release' him 'with the help of your good hands.'

Both of these books had me up reading late at night because I just had to finish them. I love it when a book can do that, but I don't appreciate it so much in the morning.

Here are some lines I enjoyed from 'The Tempest':

'A pox o' your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!' (When it comes to insults, the Bard has undoubtedly the best of them all)

'Your tale, sir, would cure deafness'

'He receives comfort like cold porridge'

'You cram these words into mine ears against / The stomach of mine sense.' 

10 May 2010


'Me Cheeta' by James Lever
May 5 - 9, 306 pages

So, get this: this is an autobiography of a monkey. Except (not altogether surprisingly) it is not actually written by the monkey, or rather chimpanzee. The chimpanzee is Cheeta, Tarzan's side-kick in the movies.

The idea is cute and the book is certainly well-researched. Sometimes I wondered how Lever could know to write things without actually speaking to a monkey. Impressive ghost-writing.

The book certainly had its moments - I liked his idea of the 'Project,' that humans are tirelessly making the world safer by killing dangerous animals - but it wasn't my favourite. A nice, light read. Funny at times. But maybe I should have researched American movie stars in the 30s before reading.

03 May 2010


'The Secret River' by Kate Grenville
April 26 - May 2, 334 pages

For some reason I have never read anything by Kate Grenville before. I have wanted to for a while and I'm glad I finally got my hands on this.

I really enjoy Australian literature. It's like I have some immediate connection to the novel because of the common ground I quite literally share with the author. This book did not disappoint. It is beautiful. I did find it quite frustrating; I just do not see how the English couldn't realise that Aborigines are the ultimate environmentalists. They live in a way that just makes sense and they really belong to the land. So why did they treat them as sub-human? As 'savages'? Grr. Not good.

'Thornhill saw that although this voyage, from Sydney to Thornhill's Point, had taken only a day, and the other voyage, from London to Sydney, had taken the best part of a year, this was the greater distance.' 

An excellent read.

'Everywhere was the same but everywhere was different.'

25 April 2010


'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' by Stieg Larsson
April 19 - 21, 533 pages

I had been meaning to read this for a while, but had always been put off by how big it is and all the hype surrounding it. It took a few chapters, but once I got into it, I was really into it. I just had to know what happened! And it did not disappoint. A good, engaging read. I also enjoyed it for where the novel is set. Scandanavia fascinates me and I would love to go there. Not sure I could handle -37°C though. I will definitely be reading the next two books in the Millennium Trilogy.

'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde
April 22 - 25, 248 pages

Wilde really writes with brilliant style. The book is tense, haunting and macabre. I'm glad I read it; it is a fantasy to which anyone can relate. 

My favourite line in 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' was, 'She is a peacock in everything but beauty.' I also liked the character Lord Henry, his many theories, and the way he has one for each topic that comes up in conversation.

18 April 2010


'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak
April 12 - 16, 554 pages

I read 'The Messenger',  also by Zusak, a few years ago and really enjoyed it so I was excited to see this book in the bookstore. This novel is quite different to 'The Messenger' but is still very good. I really enjoyed the little facts and information scattered through the book. Very clever. I think in that way - with brief interludes to explain and reflect.

I also loved the section of the book which is hand-drawn and written. The illustrations are delightful. I read that part as I was walking down the street and I was beaming at the page. Embarrassing, but I could not help it.

A lovely, sad, clever read. The story is very well told. 'Max and Liesel were held together by the quiet gathering of words.'

Yes. I liked it. Quite beautiful.

10 April 2010


'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov
April 5 - 6, 352 pages

Wow. I absolutely loved this book. It is so well written. I just did not want to put it down. Well, I did sometimes, when the subject matter got a bit much. Somehow Nabokov made this story beautiful. Straight from the opening line (which I love but unfortunately don't have the space for here), this novel is lyrical even while it is distressing. 'Lolita, Lolita, Lolita, Lolita, Lolita, Lolita, Lolita, Lolita, Lolita. Repeat until page is full, printer.'

'Julius Caesar' by William Shakespeare.
April 7 - 9, 114 pages
I have always liked Shakespeare (fitting that he is my first repeat author) but partway through reading this I 'found' him. I am addicted. I want to read all of his plays. So good. 'How many ages hence / Shall this our lofty scene be acted over, / In states unborn and accents yet unknown!'

What an amazing week's reading. Both of these were brilliantly written. I couldn't get enough.

The first lines of 'Lolita' are: 
'Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
'She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing at four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she ws always Lolita.' Perfect.

Shakespeare really is incredible. Unfortunately I can't rewrite the whole play, so here are just a few more quotes that I enjoyed from 'Julius Caesar':

'And since you know you cannot see yourself
So well as by reflection, I, your glass,
Will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.'

'it was Greek to me'

'not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.'

'Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.'

'O setting sun,
As in thy red rays thou dost sink tonight,
So in his red blood Cassius' day is set.'

04 April 2010


'A Farewell to Arms' by Ernest Hemingway
March 30 - April 3, 293 pages

First of all, let's take a moment to appreciate how brilliant the name 'Ernest Hemingway' is. Good.

This was the first Hemingway I have read and it was quite different to what I expected. That's not to say it wasn't great. I really enjoyed reading it. The passages when Henry is drunk are just perfect and the conversation about luge and toboggans is particularly amazing. 'You see he has never even heard of luge-ing!' Hilarious. Also a commentary on WWI and war itself - 'War is not won by victory' - and a beautiful love story - 'I want you so much I want to be you too' -, this novel is an experience. I really enjoyed it. It was like a perfect scoop of those ice cream flavours that you never want to choose between. Did that make sense? Probably not.

I will most definitely be reading more by Hemingway.

Here are some other quotes that I enjoyed:

'We never get anything. We are born with all we have and we never learn. We never get anything new. We all start complete.' I like this because it is an interesting idea. I never even considered entertaining such a thought. I can't decide whether I agree with it. I must ponder it some more.

'Let's go to sleep at exactly the same moment.'

'I've always wanted to have a tail like that. Wouldn't it be fun if we had brushes like a fox?'
'It might be very difficult dressing.'

Yeah, the conversation in this novel is brilliant. Especially between Henry and Catherine. I just love it. I wish I hadn't read some of it just so that I could discover it for the first time again.