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As expected I did not reach the goal of reading 24 hours in a week, but I did accomplish my own target of 12! ‘Half-a-readathon’, as another Bookcrosser put it. I even surpassed it a little, with an end total of 15 hours and 8 minutes. And it has been fun! So I will probably join in again, maybe even in the Spooky Booky October Readathon. If I have any reading energy left after the full time 24 hour read-a-thon in the weekend of October 24th, that is…
Anyway, it is a GREAT surprise that I have won the monthly readathon prize! I’ll keep an anxious eye on my mailbox to see what wishlist book chucklethescot has sent me!
What I liked best about the readathon is that I used any free minute to try and read. I started fresh with Revolutionary Road and finished it in only a few days! After that I picked up a book fitting Banned Books Week (The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck) and I got 1/5th read of it already. Sometimes it takes me a while to get into a book because I read too little, but I had no problem with that now ;) Both books by Steinbeck and Yates are part of this years Classics Challenge (among others), so the readathon also gave me quite a push ahead at that!
On the other hand… what I liked less about the readathon is that I didn’t get to do other stuff, like review books (or take enough time to think them over) or make bento’s for lunch. That gave me a feeling of being behind… But it was only for a week and I’ll be able to catch up now! But it is something to consider next time I join in.
With only one more day to go in the Bookcrossing September Readathon, I have read for 13 hours and 37 minutes. No way I am going to reach the target of 24 hours, but I was going to be proud at myself if I would make 12 hours — and I’ve gotten that far one and a half hours back! :))
More good news is that I (started and) finished a book during the readathon: Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates. And it was a great read!!! You’ll have to wait a while for a review because first I’ve got to try my hand at To Kill a Mockingbird.
Now I have started reading another classic: The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. I picked this one because it is part of my personal and Classics challenge and this week it is Banned Book Week in which Americans celebrate the freedom to read. They have been doing so since 1982, in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Steinbeck is #3 on the list of banned and challenged classics. #1 (The Great Gatsby) I read in 2006, #2 (The Catcher in the Rye) I have tried sometime and put away again. The Grapes of Wrath was burned (!) in its year of publishing by the East St. Louis, III Public Library and as late as 1993 it was challenged in the Union City Tenn. High School classes (read more?). Well, it is too early for me to have any opinion on the book but I am against censorship no matter what.
Let’s see what my end total will be tomorrow!
It is Monday night, bedtime and we’re more dan halfway the September readathon at Bookcrossing. So how am I doing? I have read for 8 hours and 7 minutes. Well, I knew I probably wasn’t going to make it, so I am not getting stressed about it! I guess I’ll be proud if I manage 12 hours :) And the good part is: I am flying through my book, Revolutionary Road. Maybe next update I will be able to tell you I have finished it?!
Off to bed now, with some more 45 minutes of reading to do before I close my eyes. Update: with another 43 minutes of reading my total arrived at a neat 8:50.
Meanwhile, this readathon thing is preventing me from making any bento’s… Well, it is just for one week!
On the left you see my first attempt at a (personal) logo for the Bookcrossing 24 hours readathon taking place at the end of each month. My participation in September’s readathon is a first attempt as well — and it is not going great :( So I guess I shouldn’t doodle any more time away ;) I had another image in mind for this logo but it will have to wait until I have more time on my hands. I’ve got to read! LOL
I’d better confess how I am doing up until now… I’ve read for 3:56 hours; reaching page 104/337 of Richard Yates‘ Revolutionary Road. In two and a half days that’s about a one day target :-o Let’s see if I can catch up in the remaining time! Just 1204 more minutes of reading to do…
BTW for those pen-pushers among you wondering why I sometimes write read-a-thon and readathon another time: I try to use spelling chosen by the organizing party. Myself, I prefer read-a-thon. Just so you know ;)
I am mentally preparing myself for the 24 hour read-a-thon that will take place in the weekend of 24-25 October. Not only am I contemplating my pile of books and what snacks to hoard, but last Friday I also joined this month’s Bookcrossing read-a-thon for which I need to read 24 hours in one week. I am having quite a busy schedule so I’m not at all sure if I will make it, but a grrl can try. I’ll write a seperate post of my progress in Richard Yates‘ Revolutionary Road! I had finished Het pauperparadijs the day before the challenge started.
Another bookish thing that happened to me this week is that I received a review copy The Book of Dahlia by Elisa Albert, in Dutch translation. I have never before received a review copy and did not request it… It was sent to me as a prize in a little spring quiz. Now what do I do? I guess I shouldn’t feel obliged to review the book. But I am not even sure if I would like to read it :-o The blurb suggests some kind of chicklit — which I am no fan of. Anyone out there who knows if that’s true? Even better: can anyone convince me to read, or not to read this book?
Last but not least I am very excited that BAFAB week is coming up! “BAFAB?” Yes! Buy A Friend A Book in the first week of October :) Because of my huge Mt. TBR and overcrowded reading programm for the rest of 2009 I am not allowed to get myself any new books. But I can surprise someone else, can’t I? :)) Now how am I going to tackle this: choose a book first and then a beneficiary, or the other way round?
Oh my, and I almost forgot: I also started another round of the 2009 History Challenge at Bookcrossing! I’ll have to release 12 books at historic sites before the end of this year; that makes 3 a month. Having done 4 already I’m ahead of schedule. Read all about my releases in my forum post. I did a first round of 12 from January until May.
Well, you will probably understand that I am keeping my salon post short this week — I need to read! Actually I should be writing a review of To Kill a Mockingbird (that I finished two weeks ago), but that’ll have to wait just a bit longer…
In preparation of the 24 hour read-a-thon that will take place in one day (!) on October 24th, I have joined the September read-a-thon at Bookcrossing, where you have to read 24 hours in one week. To be honest I don’t know what I find more difficult… Especially since I am having a busy schedule this week, and there’s the Dutch Film Festival going on as well… Lets see how far I will get.
I started fresh in a new book this morning: Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates. I’ve read 25 pages while commuting for 48 minutes. Yes, when you have to tick off 24 hours = 1440 minutes, almost every second counts! Revolutionary Road is not an easy read to start the day with — getting me a little depressed! Good thing it’ll be weekend soon :)
Now I’m at work (there’s other stuff to do here LOL), but the autumn weather is quite nice so I might go outside during my lunchbreak and get some reading done!
- Slice of spinach pizza
- ‘Birchner’ baked potato with caraway seeds and sea salt
- Almond cake (Pan de Orejón)
- Half of a boiled egg
- Yoghurt coated apricots
- Indian curry with cauliflower, orange paprika, paneer
- Corn cob
- Basil & tomato
Todays bento is a bit heavy on yellow ingredients and it made me think of the nostalgic Elton John song Yellow Brick Road. More music to share with you this Monday!
Listening to this song takes me back to last year when a group of Bookcrossers was playing a virtual version of Monopoly and one of our participants, Yellow-Star, died of cancer on the age of 19. I made her a music cd with ‘yellow’ and ‘star’ songs when she was in hospital — of course Elton John was on it. Plans for a 2-nd round of Bookcrossing Monopoly are being made, and all this resulted in my melancholic Monday bento on the first day of autumn. Whadoyaknow. But no, it’s not just the blues… it also reminds me of the golden glow of September that I love so much! :)
As I told you on Sunday, I was showered with books last weekend.
To begin with I was very happy to find a Dutch copy of The Pillowbook by Sei Shonagon in my mailbox: Het hoofdkussenboek. This book fits almost all my current reading challenges! It has been on the list of my personal challenge of ‘Best Foreign Translations’ since 2008 and because of that I also entered it in the Classics challenge of 2009. I figured I could also add it to my JapLit challenge, even though I already accomplished the mission of just 1 book. Why stop? It seems like I will be reading The Pillowbook together with another participant: velvet from vvb32 reads, so that’s FUN!
Another book that I can add to the Japanese Literature Challenge is Be With You by Takuji Ichikawa. I read about it on Chick With Books’ blog (another JLC participant) and it reminded me of Taichi Yamada’s book Strangers, a much loved story! I could not help myself and ran directly to Bookdepository.com to order Be With You… And being in a bookshop (although online) I couldn’t resist buying something else: Trespass, by Valerie Martin. I liked her Orange Prize winning novel Property (2003) but I am not sure about her Mary Reilly, so now that she’s got a new book out I decided I should try some of this author’s other books. The story seems to be somehow compatible to Amy Bloom’s Away, which I recently read: that book being about an immigrant to the US from Eastern Europe a century ago, Trespass at the beginning of this century.
So, Mt. TBR has grown again… With lots of reading challenges to finish I hope I’ll be able to keep myself from hoarding anymore until the new year?!
Would you read a cursed book, if you had one? [p. 54]
Well, Ariel Manto, a lonely PhD student on the outlandish Victorian scientist Thomas Lumas and heroine of The End of Mr. Y (by Scarlett Thomas), does. Guess what the title of the cursed book is?
In 2008 the novel was nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction — one of the reasons why I wanted to read it. But which book addict would NOT put a page turner about a mysterious publication on his or her reading list? I read The End of Mr. Y while recovering from the flu and quite loved it. At times it has a really feverish plot! I’m just not sure about the ending… Intellectually I would have liked it to end differently, but sick & sentimental me sort of felt good about it.
The End of Mr. Y is a thought experiment wrapped in a contemporary adventure story that asks questions about thought, language, destiny, and the very limits of being and time. I didn’t think of that myself, I just copied Wikipedia ;) What does the book itself say on the topic?
[though experiments] are experiments that, for whatever reason, cannot be physically carried out, but must instead be conducted internally, via logic and reasoning, in the mind. There have been ethical and philosophical thought experiments for hundreds, if not thousands, of years but it was when people began using the experiments in a scientific context that they were first given the title ‘thought experiment’, a literal translation of gedankenexperiment, although Lumas had always referred to them as ‘experiments of the mind’. [..] Edgar Allan Poe used the principles of the thought experiment to solve the Olbers Paradox, and, some people believe, to more or less invent the Big Bang theory a good hundred years before anyone else [..] somthing close to the way he described infinity, as the “thought of a thought”.[p.95]
So not only is The End of Mr. Y a book-in-a-book, but also a thought experiment about thought experiments… Well, although I did write down the quote, I didn’t think about these things while reading. I was way too much carried away by the story!
Another quote, about quantum physics, brought two other books to mind: One, by Richard Bach (today I wouldn’t be caught dead reading it LOL), and Child in Time, by the well-respected author Ian McEwan.
There’s the many-worlds interpretation. In a nutshell, while the Copenhagen interpretation suggests that all probabilities collapse into one definite reality on observation, the many-worlds interpretation suggests that all the possibilities exist at once, but that each one has its own universe to go with it.
I hope I am not putting anyone off by these ‘scientific’ quotes. Just look at some of the excerpts on the book’s homepage to get a real taste of it!
Scarlett Thomas obviously likes to play with words. The name of the book’s protagonist, Ariel Manto, is an anagram of I am not real. And the Victorian writer Thomas Lumas has part of his name in common with the author herself. It made me contemplate about the name of Mr. Y, but I couldn’t come up with any nice theories. I’ll be glad to hear yours! I’ve thought about:
- Mr. Why
- Mr. Y being the opposite of, or familiair to the more well-known Mr. X
- (maybe my best guess) x and y being opposites in a coordinate system, creating dimensions; this book being about other dimensions, you could think of the x-axis (horizontal) being our ‘ordinary’ world and ‘y’ going away from that. I hope I am not sounding too foolish? :\
I considered releasing The End of Mr. Y as part of the Utopian/Dystopian Sunday Sunset Release of February 1st (yes, that long ago), since the novel is definitely dystopian (about a society in which conditions of life are miserable). But because this book was a Random Act of Bookcrossing Kindness by rapturina, I figured I couldn’t just leave it somewhere out there in the cold, cold world. Now I am happy to have found it a new destiny: sterestherster, and Gondaaa after her; tweeps that have joined some other twitter people in a real life book group — and their next read is The End of Mr. Y. I hope they’ll write a (short) journal entry when they have finished it, because it is always nice to know what other readers think. The social web provides a great new dimension to our lives!
I am not afraid of bringing more people in danger because even though my health was weak, I still survived The End of Mr. Y (phew!). I guess the curse has diminished! Or has it?
* * *
My remark about the social web just reminded me… several weekly geeks asked about this book when I posted ‘Help me catch up on book reviews‘. I have already implicitly answered Dreamybee‘s, Maree‘s and (most of) Jackie‘s questions above, but there are two left that I want to touch on briefly.
Bart asked what I thought of the story-in-the-story. Can I just say: hey, I like reading about books?! :) I’m not sure what you want to know exactly. It’s a bit much to really go into details of the story itself — and I must admit: a bit too long ago as well!
Also Trisha wanted to know what the book says about the unconscious mind… I feel really DUMB now, but I have no idea. It is a mishmash of philosophical and scientific theories put into a quick and believable read. You wonder how Thomas managed to make such a coherent story of it. I feel I’ve done a worse job with this blogpost… :( Can’t blame the flu anymore, can I?! ;)
I feel like I’ve been on a long (and sometimes arduous) expedition. I started reading The Mapmaker’s Wife on Quatorze Juillet, the French national holiday, and it took me more than f i v e weeks to finish those 350 pages of non-fiction by Robert Whitaker! I could have lost a lot of weight during this undertaking, but thankfully I didn’t (according to a fact on page 261):
Because women have a higher percentage of body fat, they tend to outlast men in starvation situations.
That information might come in handy ;) So, who is the mapmaker’s wife? Isabel Gramesón, a Peruvian girl who married Jean Godin (geographer in a 18th century scientific expedition at the equator), when she was thirteen years old. The title suggests the book is all about her — but it isn’t. For the most part it’s the story of the French-Spanish quest that meant to solve the Newtonian – Cartesian dispute about the shape of the earth: flattened at the poles or elongated, with a ‘waist’ at the equator. More details about this mission can be found in Monalisa(a)’s journal entry of the book — her enthusiasm made me participate in this Bookcrossing bookring (that is almost at the end of its journey).
Even though the main subject is not what you expect beforehand, The Mapmaker’s Wife is an interesting read. Scientists of the Enlightment still had lots to discover! Jean Godin and his group were the first foreigners allowed by the Spanish rulers to explore the New World in 1735. So their curiosity went way beyond their main objective: measuring a degree of latitude at the equator. Their expedition took 9 years — and even (much) longer for those members of the team that couldn’t return home immediately.
I sometimes felt that the author identified too much with the ‘scientific omnivores’ of that time. There were soooo many details holding up the story. In example: a long way into the history I really didn’t feel the need to hear extensively about Riobamba city. I wanted to learn more about the characters (some of whom I didn’t get to know very well at all). Let’s say that in his enthusiasm, Whitaker was very thorough ;)
This might also be the cause of why Isabel’s story only really starts somewhere in the second half of the book. And that is when it all gets very exciting. After having been separated from her husband for about 20 years, Isabel has to conquer the Amazon rain forest by herself to be able to join Jean in French Guyana and move to France with him. At times her journey left me in complete horror. And pretty astonished in the end! It is a moving tale, well worth reading.
Maybe I would have finished the book quicker had I read it in my native tongue (Dutch) — and maybe then I would have been less bored occasionally because of the scientific descriptions that I didn’t all ‘get’ but couldn’t find worth looking up? It did trigger associations with some favorite cinema though: Longitude, a tv-series about the 18th century quest to find the key to determining longitude, and one of my most cherished movies about a repenting slave trader in South America: The Mission. Attentive readers may notice that Jeremy Irons plays a main part in both ;) I will definitely watch The Mission again on a rainy day this autumn! I advise you to do the same :)
But for now: if you want to get a feeling of the adventures in The Mapmaker’s Wife, you can explore the book’s website where you’ll find reproductions of prints made by the expedition members, a copy of Jean Godin’s letter in which he takes 7000 words to describe his wife’s perils and, last but not least, a slide show of the author, Robert Whitaker, retracing Isabel’s steps in 2002.
Myself, I am going on another journey with a female traveler in the New World: next I will be reading Away, by Amy Bloom.