31 January 2010


'The Time Traveler's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger
January 27 - 29, 518 pages

This isn't the type of book I would normally read. I guess I wanted to have a go at something different.

It was alright. I'm not really into romantic stuff. There was a bit too much of 'I love you, always. Time is nothing.' And sex. Far out they were always having sex.

But it wasn't too bad. It was very easy and quick to read, except that you needed to concentrate on the date and ages of the characters noted at the beginning of each chapter in order to not be completely confused. I liked jumping around in time, trying to organise a timeline in my mind while I was reading.

I like the concept. It's a pretty good book, I would have preferred it less lovey-dovey, though.

Now I'm tossing up whether or not I should see the movie...

27 January 2010


'The Catcher in the Rye' by JD Salinger
January 18 - 19, 277 pages

I was just flicking through the book trying to find a passage to quote but it was hard because each time I turned the page I just wanted to read. It makes me smile (I also want to put 'smile' in italics because Mr Salinger has made me think like that). This is an excellent book. Everyone who has read it told me so. But they also told me that I would get annoyed with Holden. I didn't. He's great. I love when he 'digresses' and when he says that he wants to 'catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff.'

I ate 'Catcher' up too quickly so I also read
'Waiting for the Barbarians' by JM Coetzee
January 21 - 22, 156 pages
This guy knows how to write. This book is so honest and powerful. It made me squirm, it me cringe, it made me think. I am really glad I read this book.

I don't really have much to add. A great week's reading. Both books were very good and very different (besides both being written by people with two initials and a last name, and the first initial being 'J').


'Mother Tongue' by Bill Bryson
January 11 - 16, 244 pages

I like words. I also quite enjoy Bill Bryson. So I was pretty sure I would enjoy this book about the English language. I did. It was fun.

I found it very interesting. I like the way that English has borrowed from other languages throughout history and the different ways in which words have been absorbed. For example, 'chef' was borrowed from French and anglicised into 'chief' but was later borrowed again, the pronunciation preserved and the meaning altered. It's such a rich language.

The book also has lots of Shakespeare, which always scores points with me.

And you know what's a useful word?
Velleity, the mild desire, a wish or urge too slight to lead to action.
Good one Bryson.

Thinking about it later, I didn't actually enjoy this book that much. I mean it was fun at times and there was some interesting stuff, but sometimes it seemed to jump around and contradict itself. Also, I have a feeling some of the facts were maybe not so reliable, although I understand that it is very hard to know what is true when it comes to the forming of a language. Still worth a read, though.


'Anna Karenin' by Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy
(translated by Rosemary Edmonds)
January 4 - 10, 853 pages

Everybody seems to gush about this book. It has even been called 'the greatest of a novels'. I was very much looking forward to reading it. And it lived up to my expectations. Fantastic. It was surprisingly easy to read (but gosh Russian names are complicated) - I expected verbose language with pages of adjectives to describe a flower. Instead, I found myself reading it quite quickly and easily. I like the way that Tolstoy doesn't ask his readers to make judgements or form opinion, he lets us watch and experience Russian life. We follow various characters who find themselves in unique situations, with unique ways of dealing with them. This book is thought-provoking, emotive, interesting, tragic, and beautiful. Oh look, I'm gushing.

I want to read more Russian literature.

For the record, Russian names are made up of the first name given by parents (which has many different forms - official, short, affectionate, rude), then the patronymic name which is the father's first name with an ending, and finally their family name. Russians use the first two names, first and patronymic, in formal situations such as respected or unfamiliar people. 

07 January 2010


So it's the Thursday of week two and I feel the need for an update.

This week's book is 'Anna Karenin' (some translations call is 'Anna Karenina' but mine does not) by Tolstoy. It's long. It will require extreme effort to get through this book in a week but I am going to have an extra day this week so I decided that it was a good time to embark on a long one. 'How am I going to manage to get eight days out of a week?' I hear you question. Well, I'm flying to America on Saturday and not only will I have the fifteen hour plane ride to read, but I will also land on the same day that I left. Another consequence of this trip is that I will not be able to update this blog until I get back. Never fear, I will be drawing the books I read and writing about them.

I won't talk too much about how I'm finding the book right now; I'll save that for when I'm done. I will say that I am really enjoying it at the moment. Very interesting.

03 January 2010


'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel
December 26 - 31, 650 pages

Very good. Reading 'A Man For All Seasons' last year helped - I would have been overwhelmed by the complexities of Tudor politics if I wasn't already familiar with the characters. They were very different, though - I like the way history can be reinterpreted through a different author's perspective. I also liked the way that Cromwell was so often just 'he', didn't need an introduction.

(Two books this week because I had already started 'Wolf Hall' so it didn't count as a whole book)

'Robinson Crusoe' by Daniel Defoe
January 1 - 2, 273 pages

My grandma gave this to me when I was about 10. I've been meaning to read it since. I loved Crusoe's ingenious ideas but disliked the killing.

I have begun. Exciting times. I really enjoyed 'Wolf Hall'. It was one of those books that I did not want to finish, but did not want to put down either! I love reading books about history, especially English history. 

'Robinson Crusoe' was also good. Like I said, I loved reading about all of Crusoe's ways to make his life more comfortable on the island. I would never have thought to do half the things he did. I was also surprised by how long he stayed there - twenty-eight years!


I've decided I'm going to read one book every week this year. I love reading and I find myself going through stages where I barely read at all. Not cool. I recently read an article about a guy who read a book a week in 2009 and I was impressed. After much thought (I would hate to embark on something and not achieve it) I decided that this would be my New Year's Resolution for 2010. I'm a bit scared.

I am a goal-setter, though. I have been drawing one picture every day since the third of April 2009 and why not take up a new challenge this year?

After each week I will draw the book I have read in my red pocket Moleskine notebook diary with a Pilot G2 0.7mm gel pen and include a reflection on the book. I think that this is really important. As Edmund Burke once said, 'To read with reflecting is like eating without digesting.'

I really hope I can do this. I think I can.