Sunday, March 27, 2011

The 2011 book quest: Book 10.

The 10th book in my quest was Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn. Like I wrote in my previous post it was a recommendation from a good friend and here it is in the read-pile:

It took a long time to finish, mainly because I really did not like it. I felt sort of bad when my friend asked if I had finished it and I had to say that I was struggling because I found it uninteresting. I mean it is his favorite book, but he said something that made a lot of sense: "Maybe you need to have a strong relationship with god and religion to enjoy it".
Now that would make sense, I am not religious, my parents are atheists and so they raised us without religion. Not in the "religious people are fools" way, just in the "believe in whatever you like" way. My friend on the other hand, is religious, and so maybe the book caught him and made sense took him on a whole other level.

If we look past the strong religious message in the book, there were some things that I found annoying. First and foremost the language. I know it was meant to set the scene in East London, but for someone not of English origin it made the story halt to a stop quite often, as I had to piece together strings of half-words with missing letters and expressions I had never before encountered.

Next was the relationship between Anna and Fynn, it seemed weird and creepy and I could never really get past the nagging feeling, that in a couple of pages, something very disturbing was going to happen.

All in all it was not a book I enjoyed, but this quest is not just about reading books I know from the start I will like. It is a journey of discovery, a quest to see new and exiting worlds unfold in the pages of books I just happen to stumble upon.

And with that my quest continues, and it does so with a book I have been told was published after Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, as it was meant to ride on the sudden wave of interest for historic mystery novels that sprung from that. I borrowed it, along with a slew of others, from my mom's bookshelves and her review was less than favorable, but let us see what happens.

Book 11 will be The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The 2011 book quest: Books 8 & 9.

The last week has been very busy, and so I only just finished book 8 yesterday. More on the business later, now on to the book. The Other Hand by Chris Cleave, here it is in the read-pile:

I shall try not to spoil anything that happens in it, just as the back cover asks not to. I did enjoy the book, though I found the story to be a little slow. The language however was very impressive, how it changed with the different characters was amazing. The author managed to give each character his or her unique speech pattern and so the reader is never in doubt of who is talking.
The story is very real in the global community we inhabit, and the reality hits you and gnaws at you until you accept it as true.

I was supposed to post this yesterday, and I had started writing it, but something got in the way. That something being the realization that it was St. Patrick's Day. Now I am not Irish, and all my Irish friends live in Copenhagen so it was not the "Kiss me I'm Irish" part of St. Patrick's that was calling, it was more the "oh beer" part.
So instead of finishing what I started, I instead went to the bar, had a few beers and a couple of games of pool and then went home slightly buzzed.
I am in no way dissatisfied with my decision.

The thing is, when I went to bed, I could not sleep. So I naturally picked up the nearest book. It turned out to be an old one of my own, which means I have read it before, but not for a long time.
I have done the Google-thing and as I suspected it is not translated to English, but the version I have is called "Hævnens Time" which basically means "The Hour of Revenge" and it is also published under the title "This is how War is made". It is by Flemming Jarlskov and is written for a teenage audience.

However it has a very adult theme even though all the main characters are 12 to 14 years old. It is not a manual for how to start a war, but it describes how a group of schoolboys take on the older boys in school and savagely start a war that they cannot control or even understand the full consequences of before it is too late. And why do they start this war? Because of a tarmac football field in the schoolyard.

At one point in the book, the protagonist compares their battle against the older boys to the Palestinian fight to have their land back. He watches a documentary about how their land was taken and how they use any means to get it back, and he realizes that what he and his friends are doing is exactly the same, just on a smaller scale.

The whole book is written as an essay from the protagonist to his teacher, to explain why they did what they did, and especially to explain to the teacher that the grown-up rules do not always apply to the children's world. The book has many of the same themes as book 7: The Evil, there is a secret world that adolescents live in that adults do not understand, and cannot be bothered to understand.

The next book will be a recommendation from a good friend of mine, he says he has read it quite a few times and always cries, so let us see if I can make it through without having my heart broken.

And so I shall leave you with:

Book 10: Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The 2011 book quest: Book 7.

So when I finished Robin Hood last night I knew The Evil would be a quick read. Not this quick though. I admit I am a fast reader, but I'm not usually this fast.

Book 7 was The Evil by Jan Guillou, a semi-autobiographical story of the violence in the authors childhood and teens.

Like I wrote in my previous post I find this book to be amazing. It is well written and even if Erik, the protagonist, is in fact part of the evil he tries to fight, you never once hate him. His understanding of the human psyche and the way he uses it to gain control of his opponents makes him seem emotionally distant, but at the same time his thoughts and discussions with his roommate tells the story of a boy who just wants to be in peace with his surroundings.

If I were to recommend any of the first seven books I have read during this quest, it would most certainly be this one. The unforgiving tone seems harsh at times, but it only strengthens the story and the conviction of the reader that this is just a boy who tries his best to fit in, even if it means sticking out.

I repeat my plea from the previous post, that if anyone reads this and finds it the least bit interesting, please comment. And any recommendations of books are more than welcome.

I have decided that the next book will be one that has been sitting on my shelf for about a year unread. The reason I bought it is also the reason it as remained unread; the text on the back. Instead of a short introduction, a little bit of a teaser and at least the name of the protagonist, it just says:
"We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it.
Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it so we will just say this:

This is the story of two women.
Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice.
Two years later, they meet again
- the story starts there...

Once you have read it, you'll want to tell you friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds."

Now how could I ever resist that, huh? So book 8 will be The Other Hand by Chris Cleave. This one will most likely take a little longer to read since it is in English.

Now let us not say farewell, but as the French have it; Au revoir! 

The 2011 book quest: Book 6.

Book 6 was Howard Pyle's Robin Hood and here are my thoughts on that.

It is a very simple book. The same turn of phrase is used again and again. It must be because it makes it an easy read for a child, but for an adult it's just really annoying. I had expected it to be one story and not twenty some short stories, but I'm not sure which would have worked best. All in all a decent book and a rather quick read which is what I need right now that I am a few books behind schedule.

Here is the image of the books I have read so far:

Up next is The Evil. I have actually read this before, but it is an amazing book. I will read it again and very much enjoy it, or so I predict. Well more on that later.

Oh and a side note: If anyone reads this and have a book I must read, please tell me! I have no idea what to read after The Evil. I have a few books that I have not read yet, but I am not really in the mood for any of them and I know I will have read The Evil in no time, just like the first time around.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The second obligatory Anne Frank-esque first post.

So, dear not-diary, we have had a bit of a break from each other you and I. And now I'm back for the second obligatory Anne Frank-esque post. 
This one is the "who am I" post. I realize that I have made quite a muck of this non-diary buisiness with my book quest post, but I don't do very well with rules. So even though I had imagined that this would be like an actual diary, only not, I have ready broken that rule and it is now just ... Not. But no reason to cry over spilt milk, so let's look to the horizon and vision a grand tomorrow.
All ready? Okay!

I proudly present: the second obligatory Anne Frank-esque post:

Dear not-diaryI guess I should tell you a little bit about myself. I'm a woman in my mid twenties. I live in Denmark which is a rather small country in Northern Europe, more specifically in Scandinavia. I live in a town which for the countrys size is quite large and thus I can say I live "in the city". It is the third largest city in Denmark and is called Odense.

I was born in this country and have, so far, lived all of my life in it. And even though this country, like all other countries, has it's faults I rather like it. One thing I specifically like is all the water, mostly because it's pretty because I get horribly seasick, but I like the fact that no matter where you are in this country, you are never more than 52 km. away from the ocean. It seems safe somehow.

I moved to this city to study. I started by studying history for two years, and now I am minoring in biological anthropology. Instead of doing the book quest I should be working on my bachelors degree, but reading fiction is more fun. Maybe I should have been an English lit major instead.

When I'm not reading or looking at human remains I volunteer at the local LGBT group. Even though, as I said earlier, this city, by Danish, standards is quite large, it's not large enough that a normal gay bar can turn a profit. So what I do in this group is I am part of the team that runs a small volunteer driven café.
Apart from taking care of some of the practical stuff that needs doing, I also bartend there quite often. It's a fun gig and I get to meet a lot of people, also a lot of people in the community know who I am, which is both a blessing and a curse since I am horrible with names and faces and mostly recognize people from what they order at the bar.

Well that seems to be enough that I can easily be googled, so let's leave it at that.

Goodbye not-diary.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The 2011 book quest.

Two and a half years ago, on the 24th of august, I moved to this city. 
Three days later I began studying history at the local university. Now I have always been an ... Well let's just call it an enthusiastic reader, I basically read everything I could get my hands on. And so even though the older students told us there would be so much to read that we would never be able to read it all, I tried to do just that. 

I read all the required pages and then some, I read the suggested reading and asked for more, but even though I loved reading I started to loathe reading about history, so I stopped. The thing is, I was never a very good student. I love learning, but on my own terms. So when reading about history started to bore me, I just stopped. I still made it through my classes okay, and I still to this day love history, but studying it did something to me, something horrible. It killed my joy in reading. 

I didn't stop reading, but I got really bad at it. Stopping halfway through a book too start another, telling myself I would finish the first one once I was done with this new exiting one, then stopping halfway through that to begin a new book, and so on.

I have been a very naughty reader and it needs to stop! 

Last week I thought of a way to hopefully save my love of reading from certain oblivion, and so this is my plan:

1) I shall read a book for every week in the year 2011.
2) They must all be works of fiction.
3) I do not have to read a book every week but I must have read 52 books by midnight on the 31st of December 2011.

Those are the three simple rules. Seeing as we are already in march I was already behind when I started, by 6 books nonetheless. But over the weekend I managed to finish an old one and read one aloud to my girlfriend. So by the start of this week I was only 5 behind.

The books I have read so far are:

1) Lewis Wallace: Ben Hur

2) Agatha Christie: Murder on the Nile

3) Dan Brown: The Lost Symbol

4) Rudyard Kipling: The Jungle book

5) Jostein Gaarder: Sophie's World

The only one I have read before was the Gaarder one, but that was 10 years ago. It was still the same, very heavy in the beginning and hard to get in to, but after a while i couldn't let go of it. And all that hard work of making it through the history of philosophy is rewarded in the end when you make it to the philosophic garden party with all it's sidesplitting sillyness.

The Kipling disappointed me, I had thought it to be more clever and witty, but I was left with an easy to read bedtime story for my girlfriend (Whose name I shall not mention, but let's just call her A for now cos this whole " my girlfriend" thing is just silly), which, don't get me wrong, is fine, but when you expect greatness and find *meh* disappointment is inevitable. 

The Brown was amazing, not because it was any different than the other ones in the series, but because I shelled out the double amount of money for a copy that had colour pictures, maps and all sorts of neat details. It really helped bring the story to life. Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code were easier for me to relate to, because I have been to Rome and Paris, but I have never been to Washington and so the pictures made it seem like I was getting a guided tour of the city.

The Christie was, like any Christie, well thought out. It was the only of the five books that I read in english. I love reading books in english, especially if they were originally written that way. It adds something to the voice of the book, but since I'm not exactly rich and I love owning my books, I often buy them at second hand stores and there the amount of books in english are limited. 

And lastly the Wallace, I get why it's a classic. It was well written, had action and drama. I enjoyed it quite a lot, maybe a little too much in A's opinion. She had a hard time getting me away from it for long periods of time.
So on to new books, stories and adventures.

Right now I'm reading Robin Hood. Next up on my list is A Farewell to Arms. 

I plan to read, as I've always done, a little in a lot of genres and for a long time I've wanted to read some of the old classics that I've never gotten around to. Thus the Ben Hur and Robin Hood. 

Well I'm of to read about Robert of locksley and all his merry men, toodles.