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24 Hour Read-a-thonFifteen minutes is not enough to start a new book in the 24 hour Readathon. So I’m taking a sneak preview on the End of the Event Meme questions by copying those of last April! The weather is unusually great here so as soon as the readathon finishes at 1400 hrs, I want to go outside and enjoy it! Exercise!

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
    Hour 15 (5am in the morning here). I threw in the towel and went to sleep for a few hours. I could have read on but decided not to make myself go grumpy ;)
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
    Haven’t read it this readathon, but I’d like to recommend Trespass by Valerie Martin.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
    Nope.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
    Everything went particularly well, didn’t it? For me, I’m glad I made it easy for myself this time by picking books in my native language.
  5. How many books did you read?
    Four. Or actually 3 and my complete backlog of entries in the Pillow Book read-along.
  6. What were the names of the books you read?
    The Following Story by Cees Nooteboom (buddy-read), The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon, Adèle and the Beast & Monsters All! from the series Les Avontures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec by Tardi.
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?
    The Following Story by Cees Nooteboom. I hadn’t expected to like this much! And I feel really accomplished by having caught up in the Pillow Book, since we’re only a few weeks from the end of the read-along. But most of all, I’m *so* happy that the readathon helped me out of my reading slump of the last weeks! Yay!
  8. Which did you enjoy least?
    Nothing really; I really enjoyed everything I’ve read!
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
    I wasn’t a cheerleader but I’m very grateful to those who were! Kudos to all, not just the cheerleaders but everyone behind the scenes!
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
    This was my 3rd 24 hour read-a-thon, can’t you tell I’m addicted? ;) So yes, I would like to participate again in April, although I’ve noticed the spring RaT is harder than the one in fall! Even though the days are longer then…

I’ve spent 8 hours and 40 minutes actually reading (counting really strictly). Double that for the time I could be found in the bloggosphere and on twitter — all readathon related!

So, have you all enjoyed it as much as I did? What did you like best?

Have a nice Sunday!

Read from Readathon Stack Fall 2010

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

Bookmark Japanese servantYawn. It’s 4am and I just finished reading my entries for The Pillow Book Friday. I’m all caught up — I’m feeling *so* accomplished! :) The end of the read-along is near (not to be confused with the readathon), and it will be great to finish together with the rest of the readers. The book is also part of my personal challenge for 2007… which turned into a 2007-2010 challenge ;) The bookmark I’m using is that of a Japanese servant; a reproduction of an old print from around 1795. Not as old as the book though, which was written circa 990.

Appropriate quote from the book:

THINGS THAT MAKE ONE HAPPY
Getting hold of a lot of stories none of which one has read before.
Or finding Vol.2 of a story one is in a great state of excitement about, but was previously only able to secure the first volume.

I’m really tired now and of my fellow Dutch readathonners only Iris from Irisonbooks is still awake — right, Iris??? *twitterspace keeping really quiet* Sigh. I guess I might go take a nap then too. But I won’t guarantee that I’ll be able to get up again after a few hours! Also, I hate to bother Mr Gnoe by setting an alarm clock… Hm. How am I going to tackle this? The most obvious answer is of course NOT to go to sleep. LOL

But first things first: let’s check what upcoming mini-challenges I need to be around for!

Status report

24 Hour Read-a-thonTime period: 1.20 – 4.30

Currently reading: can pick a new one of the pile!

Total of time read: 7 hrs 15 mins & lots of time blogging, tweeting, cheering etc. ;)
Total amount of pages read: 154 pages

Books finished: 2 books (The Following Story by Cees Nooteboom & finally caught up with Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book read-along)
Mini-challenges participated in: 7 (none since last progress report)

Pet Pics, Prized Pages and Pachyderm Prose

So, it’s Sunday morning here, 20 minutes past 1 AM. Yes, I’m hanging in there! Doing well with the support of da kittehs — remember I didn’t even think Juno was going to make it until today? This afternoon she came to sit with me on the balcony! My cutie :)

 

But she’s not the only one keeping me company: our Shy Guy Ringo also spent some time on my lap. As you might deduce from his nickname, that is quite unusual. So I’m having a ball!

I’ve decided to use the readathon to give Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book one more try. And it’s working! I’ve almost caught up with the Pillow Book Friday read-along at In Spring it is the Dawn (I do not own any shares of that great site, really I don’t ;) Since last status update I’ve read entries 109-142 and now I have only 7 more to go and I’m done for the week. Yay! That’ll count as 1 book for the readathon, don’t you think? :)


To answer the question of Pet Pics, Prized Pages and Pachyderm Prose, one of my favourite animal books is The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy. The main character is Mud, an elephant. So here’s my ‘emmy’ sentence: Mad Mud makes millions marvel. In contrast I’d like to share a picture of our third and last critter, who is minding her own business, Yoshitoshi. The smallest pet in the house has the grandest name ;)

Yoshitoshi having her own activities

Mid-event Meme

  1. What are you reading right now?
    Wrote about that just above!
  2. How many books have you read so far?
    Erm.. 1!
  3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
    Probably The China Lover by Ian Buruma.
  4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
    Yep, had to prepare Mr Gnoe and make sure I had my snacks ready and house sort-a cleaned up, which I would have done on Saturday otherwise.
  5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
    Ha, most interruptions come from the web (twitter, cheering, blogging, mini-challenges etc.), cuddling the cats and eating. Oh and then there’s the trouble with our kitchen plumbing… But I’m just hitting the ‘ignore’ button on that ;)
  6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
    Although it’s LATE and I’m tired, I’m not really getting depressed yet!
  7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
    Nope, it’s a ball!
  8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
    Nothing.
  9. Are you getting tired yet?
    Yep! Had to change my contacts for glasses and I’m looking kind of grey ;)
  10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
    No. If I think of something later on I’ll add it!

Typical Dutch afternoon snack

Status report

24 Hour Read-a-thonTime period: 21:45 – 1.20

Currently reading: The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon

Total of time read: 6 hrs 20 mins
Total amount of pages read: 130 pages

Books finished: 1 books (The Follwing Story by Cees Nooteboom)
Mini-challenges participated in: 7 (Since last update: Pet Pics, Prized Pages and Pachyderm Prose, Mid-event Meme)

My pile of books for the 24 hour readathon in October 2010

These are the books I’ll be picking from next Saturday, when I’m participating in the fall 24 Hour Read-a-thon (starting at 14:00 local time).

As you may notice it is an a-typical pile in that they’re mainly Dutch titles! The bulk of my yearly reads is in English but I decided to make it easy for myself since I haven’t been reading much lately and I may be easily distracted the coming weekend as well. Juno, one of my kittehs, is very ill and last Sunday we didn’t even think she’d make it till readathon weekend. But this tough old gal is still fighting to get better! So instead of her keeping me company in my reading chair and bed (like previous RaTs), I might go sit with her on a pillow in a corner of the room. Less comfy, but darn well cosy and I’d be so much enjoying her presence! Of course if worse comes to worst I might drop out of the challenge to read for 24 hours. But let’s not think about that yet!

Now, which books are you looking at in that picture (clockwise)?

  • Dromen van China (The China Lover), Ian Buruma
  • Nocturnes, Kazuo Ishiguro (short stories)
  • Het volgende verhaal (The Following Story), Cees Nooteboom (novella)
  • Isabelle en het monster and Allemaal monsters! (Adèle and the Beast / Adèle et le bête & Monsters All! / Tous des monstres!) from the series Les Avontures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec, Jacques Tardi (graphic novels)
  • Sneeuwlandschap / Snow Country (雪国, Yukiguni), Yasunari Kawabata
  • Het hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon (The Pillow Book), Sei Shōnagon (short autobiographical entries)
  • Modelvliegen (‘Model Flying‘), Marcel Möring (audiobook)

24 Hour RaT buttonI feel like starting these books RIGHT NOW — all at the same time! LOL But I guess I’m most excited about The Following Story because it was recommended by David Mitchell and I will be buddy reading it with tanabata from In Spring it is the Dawn. That’ll be so much fun! It’s a story about Herman Mussert (a former teacher of Latin and Greek), who falls asleep in Amsterdam one evening only to wake up in a hotel room in Lisbon with the fear that he is dead.

I’m also looking forward to The China Lover, of which The Independent writes:

Reading Ian Buruma’s novel is like your first visit to a sushi shop with a knowledgeable friend. Everything is unfamiliar, some of it unpalatable, but your companion ensures you finish sated, delighted and feeling that bit more knowledgeable yourself. [..]

The story traces the real-life career of a Manchurian-born Japanese movie star, known variously as Ri Koran, Shirley Yamaguchi and Yoshiko Yamaguchi. Her three incarnations act before very different backdrops: the colonial experiment of “New Asia” in the 1930s and 1940s, the post-war MacArthur administration, culminating in the student protests of 1960; and the armed resistance of the Japanese Red Army in Palestine in the 1970s.

But Yamaguchi merely guest-stars in her own biopic, for each section is narrated by a different man: a China-loving mentor, a restless American expat, and a pornographer-turned-terrorist.

This year’s graphic novels are from Tardi’s series about Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec. I’ll be rereading these because part of the adventures take place in Paris (France) and Mr Gnoe and I have been photographing the very same places when we were there a month ago. Our plan is to make a thematic Google map! Having graphic novels at hand for a change of palate is one of the great tips I got when I first joined the readathon. Although I was completely wrong in thinking that reading comics takes less time… It rather doubles it: reading the story and looking at the pictures!

Something special about this year’s readathon is that I actually know 2 other Dutch participants: Leeswammes and JannyAn. I hope this will make me feel less lonely in the dark hours of the night, when it’s still daytime at the other side of the globe. Although I do not plan to go completely without sleep, because I tend to get depressed if I do so ;) These grrls even live in the same state as I do (Utrecht province), so maybe next year we’ll be holding a pyjama party during the readathon?! ;)

Juno keeping me company during 24 Hour RaT in September 2009

Cow postcard sent to Germany NL-112622 (copyright unknown)

Okay, now it’s official: sometimes I’m just a stupid Dutch cow. *
(Cows are cute though! ;)

I thought that the Friday Book Blogger Hop only happened on… Fridays. I even laughed at Novroz for doing it on the wrong day! Silly me ;) Jennifer’s Book Blogger Hop at Crazy for Books is a party that goes on for the whole weekend.

This week I was triggered by Lori enquiring:

Do you listen to music when you read? If so, what are your favorite reading tunes?

Book Blogger Hop logoMy answer to this question is that it really depends on the book I’m reading, the music I’m listening to, loudness & language. If I’m reading a book in English the lyrics of a dito song can be distracting if it is being played too loud. On the other hand I love to create a cosy atmosphere with some candles and soft classical music, or melancholic Turkish songs by Sezen Aksu. So there’s no definite yes or no to this question!

Album cover Hot Day In Waco (Dogbowl & Kramer)Without a doubt books and music can become an integrated experience. Right after I had finished my studies in Museology I lay in bed for three whole days and read. Noooo, I wasn’t ill! Just tired and very happy with my time off. Mr Gnoe (who was still only Gnoe’s BF at the time ;) had recently bought a cd by Dogbowl & Kramer, called A Hot Day in Waco. He played it all the time, while I was immersed in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy… It is more than 10 years ago but whenever I hear a song from that album, Frodo, Gollum & Gandalf appear before my mind’s eye and I’m back in Middle-Earth!

The Lord of the Rings / In de Ban van de ring

Mr Gnoe’s taste in music has evolved and Kramer can only very rarely be heard at our place these days. But today I’ll share When te Sun Goes Down with you (4:19 mins)!

I would like to add that this was the first and only time I have read books in the Fantasy genre. I loved wandering about in that magic world, but once was quite enough. And up until today I have refused to watch the movie adaptation: I do not want a director to replace my personal images of The Lord of the Rings. I really don’t care what people think of that — I already admitted that I’m sometimes plain stupid ;)

* Mr Gnoe is Not Amused that I’m calling myself a cow in this post. Don’t you love that? :))

Other bookish things

I’m currently reading The Accidental by Ali Smith. Haven’t gotten really far yet so I can’t tell you anything about it. I finished Sarah Waters’ Affinity the previous weekend when I was staying with family in the Hautes Fagnes (Belgium). It was a fun read and I hope to share my thoughts with you in a few days.

In between my previous Sunday Salon and Waters I also read Shusaku Endo’s Silence for the Japanese Book Group and The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch for my personal 2008-2010 challenge and this year’s What’s in a name challenge, category ‘body of water’. Aw, lots of reviews to write up!

Cover The Accidental, by Ali SmithCover Silence, by Shusaku EndoCover The Sea, The Sea (Iris Murdoch)

The Pillow Book

Reading along with the ‘Pillow Book Friday‘ on In Spring It Is The Dawn
Arrived at entry: 111/180
Entries read since last time: 26
Edition: 1986 Dutch translation of Ivan Morris’ Penguin edition: Het hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon (transl. from English by Paul Heijman)

Last month I went out to dinner with two of my friends and they were really strict with me, telling me to quit (!) reading The Pillow Book. Why? Because I hardly took up a book at all and reading the plotless musings of Sei Shōnagon had become a huge chore. Honest, it was a BIG relief to hear them say that! So I stopped, but never got round to pulling the cover off my blog page. Today I wanted to do so, but not without telling you about it! Maybe I shouldn’t have… While checking the page number where I had ended my Pillow Book project, I noticed I have only about 75 entries more entries to go — less than a hundred pages! What to do???

Cover Geketende Democratie (Japan), Hans van der LugtOther Japan-related nonfiction I’m reading is a book by Hans van der Lugt, a Dutch reporter having stayed on the Japanese islands for over 10 years: Geketende democratie, Japan achter de schermen. It hasn’t been published in English but if I’d have a go at translating the title it would be something like: Democracy in Chains; Behind the Scenes in Japan. The author’s revealing accounts are quite interesting, but the book doesn’t really call out to me to come read. And that is what I need these days! I guess I could ‘do’ a chapter every once in a while — maybe after I have finished reading The Pillow Book? ;)

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

Logo Monday: What are you reading?Yesterday I was so busy getting my buddy review of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman online with Elsje that I missed out on the Sunday Salon. Same thing happened last week, so today I decided to join in Sheila’s weekly meme on Book Journey: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? to bring you up-to-date.

Cover Silence, by Shusaku EndoI finshed reading Shusaku Endo’s book Silence for the Japanese Literature Book Group and Japanese Literature Challenge #4 on June 10th. I hope I’ll manage to review the book before the discussion starts on June 28th! Because it is set in Japan just after the country has been closed to foreigners (except Dutch), it was quite appropriate to read after The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (which I hope to review soon too) and it also brought to mind The Bridge of San Luis Rey and one of my all-time favourite movies The Mission.

Cover Geketende Democratie (Japan), Hans van der LugtAfter Silence I picked up some Dutch nonfiction about Japan: Geketende democratie, Japan achter de schermen by Hans van der Lugt. It hasn’t been translated into English (yet) but literally the title means ‘Democracy in Chains: Behind the Scenes in Japan’. Hans van der Lugt has been a correspondent in Japan for one our national newspapers (NRC Handelsblad) from 1995-2006. It’s an interesting book but I feel like reading a novel as well so I’ll be starting The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch in the next few days. We’re going on a short trip to one of the Wadden Islands in the North Sea so a book with such a title seems appropriate. It is also part of my personal challenge and the What’s in a Name challenge — I’ll be happy to finally cross it off my wishlist!

I’m still keeping up with the Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book read-along. I’ve read all my entries for this week (#110 in the Morris edition) but I just don’t have anymore time to tell you all about it. That’ll have to wait to another Sunday Salon — or It’s Monday! What Are You reading? :)

Cover The Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet (David Mitchell, 2010)May has almost ended and I have read just 1 book this month (next to the The Pillow Book read-along, that is). But it was FABULOUS! I’ve been reading the long expected new novel by David Mitchell: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de ZoetCover Blind Willow, Sleeping WomanI already told you a little about it in a Sunday Salon earlier this month and you can find a quote in my post about new bento goodies. I’m working on a review but it’s not the only blogpost that needs to be written and I don’t seem to have enough time on my hands. It’s #3 on my todo list: first I need to focus on a buddy-review of Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman with Elsje and next is somethingIcan’ttalkaboutyet ;)

Things I’m looking forward to this week

JLC4 logo gicleeOn Tuesday a new Japanese Literature Challenge is setting of! I’ve been looking forward to it very much since I finished the 3rd edition in January :) Er.. I am a bit embarrassed to admit I still haven’t written 2 of my reviews, nor a wrap-up post :\

I hope to finish Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book during those 6 months of JLC4 (150 of 342 pages left) and I also plan to read the next 5 books:

  • 'Pinball, 1973' has arrived!Silence by Shusaku Endo (Japanese Book Group Read for June 28th) – 306 pages
  • The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (JLit Read-along from July – September) – 530 pages of small print
  • Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata (a gift of velvet) – 142 pages
  • Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami – 130 pages
  • Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami (acquired this week through a bookswap with tanabata from In Spring It Is The Dawn, one of my favourite weblogs) – 179 pages

This means I need to read a book a month (amounting to 1437 pages in total)… Gotta speed up!
ETA: the challenge will run from June 1st – January 30th 2011 so that gives me 2 months extra ;)

If you’d like to join the challenge as well (you actually only need to read one book by a Japanese author!) I can recommend Be With You (Takuji Ichikawa), one of my 2 favourite reads of 2009: The Old Capital (Yasunari Kawabata), The Housekeeper and the Professor (Yoko Ogawa) and any book by Haruki Murakami or Kazuo Ishiguro.

Program guide & tickets opera WakeThe other MAJOR EVENT I’m looking forward to is a trip to Teylers Museum in Haarlem next Saturday, where I’ll be listening to David Mitchell talking about his inspiration for Dr. Marinus in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

Of course I’ll also have my copy signed, together with our program guide of the opera Wake for which Mitchell wrote the libretto. I hope I won’t be tongue-tied this time… As a non-smoker I need to ask him not to draw a joint — he did that twice before when we got our books signed LOL.

The Pillow Book

Arrived at entry: 85/86
Entries read since last time: 25
Edition: 1986 Dutch translation of Ivan Morris’ Penguin edition: Het hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon (transl. from English by Paul Heijman)

I’m enjoying Sei Shōnagon’s book more than before. Although I’m really more of a plot-reader I like to learn about the culture & court life of 10th century Japan. I was surprised to find out that Shōnagon was not just writing her journal out of her own initiative but that ‘people’ were expecting her to write everything down and not leave anything out… (entry #67). Also, there are more ladies called Shōnagon among the courtesans: Gen Shōnagon and Shin Shōnagon. Does the name mean something special relating to court? Do the women get a new name (pseudonym) once they enter the Empress’s circle? I hope to find out someway! Maybe you can tell me?

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

Cover The Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet (David Mitchell, 2010)It has been pouring outside ever since I woke up, and what better way to start a Sunrainday than with a good book?

My current read is David Mitchell’s newest: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I love it! It seems strangely familiar, but that might be because I have read about the isolated Dutch trading post on the artificial island of Deshima (Dejima) at the Nagasaki shore before. Or is it the sound of Mitchell’s voice that I came to know so well in his previous books?

David Mitchell is an acclaimed novelist, but there are still a few critics saying he’s not that special. One of the opinions held is that he doesn’t have a voice of his own. Well, I disagree! A sentence like:

The snow is scabby and ruckled underfoot. [p.254]

.. I immediately recognize as Mitchell’s! Of course I’ve heard him read in public twice, so I can hear his actual voice pronouncing the words — carefully, so as not to provoke his stammer ;)

And then there’s his choice of characters. Dare we anticipate meeting an acquaintance from one of his other stories? I cannot (and should not) say. Yes, I love ‘his master’s universe’ ;)

It’s may 2nd: one third of 2010 has already passed — can you believe it? I started the year wonderfully with several great books in row: Tresspass (Valerie Martin), The Best of Mutts (Patrick McDonnell), The Housekeeper and the Professor (Yoko Ogawa), The Rapture (Liz Jensen), In the Shadow of No Towers (Art Spiegelman) and Careless in Red (Elizabeth George).

In between I read the graphic version of ‘The Evenings‘ (Gerard Reve) which I found boring. That may have been an omen for the reading slump I fell in afterwards: I’ve spent ages in the last part of I Am a Cat (a classic by Natsume Sōseki; will I ever feel up to writing a review?) and couldn’t really get into pace with Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book. Thankfully all is looking well again since mid-March: I’ve enjoyed reading Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman immensely (Haruki Murakami), as Her Fearful Symmetry (Audrey Niffenegger; review pending), and now David Mitchell. Even when I’m not reading my mind still roams 18th century Japan. I guess my 2010 book list will turn out to be really good!

If it will be as successful a year relating to my challenges… An update post will have to wait till another time — there’s not much to tell anyway ;)

How’s your reading year so far?

The Pillow Book

Arrived at entry: 66/70
Entries read since last time: 25
Edition: 1986 Dutch translation of Ivan Morris’ Penguin edition (transl. from English by Paul Heijman)

I know I’m not doing a great job at this readalong of Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book. Mostly I do manage to keep up with the required entries (that actually sounds more as a chore than it is), but I cannot seem to find the time to post about it, or comment on tanabata’s weekly thoughts. I’m not even jotting down the quotes I want to keep in my notebook; so my copy is looking quite colourful with all the sticky notes sticking out. And this week I got behind schedule again — for which Mitchell is to blame! :) A grrl can’t have a better excuse than that though ;)

Mitchell uses the ancient Japanese calendar in some of the chapters of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. That’s where appendix 1 of my translation Het hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon comes in handy :) I couldn’t be bothered much with the explanation of the complex system at first, but Mitchell changed that completely! Hooray for reading synchronisity ;) I can’t handle two books at the same time too well, but things like this are definitely an advantage :)

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

Easter eggI began this Easter Sunday reading in bed. Cuddling up to Mr Gnoe with cats & coffee; can’t get any cosier than that :) Yeah well, the dwarf hamster prefers to stay in her cage ;)

I’m still enjoying Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. Only a hundred pages to go until the end of the book. So far my favourite stories are The Ice Man and The Seventh Man. The latter I read at least a week ago, but yesterday I feared the ocean I saw in Nowhere Boy because of it… :\

You might remember I was already reading ‘Blind Willow’ during my previous Sunday Salon 3 weeks ago. I don’t seem to get much reading done these days; I’m also slowly progressing in Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book (see below). Still, there’s no need to worry, because there’s a new 24 hour read-a-thon coming up next week! I had great fun in October, even though I got so over-excited I really couldn’t get much reading done… LOL Why don’t you join us this time?

Things I’ll do differently:

  • I’ll start a few hours early because 2pm is not a good time to begin the read-a-thon.
  • Butoh dancer Taketuru KudoCompensation for my early start will be taken Saturday night: I’m going to see butoh dancer Takateru Kudo perform Go-Zarashi.
  • I will not put my laptop directly beside my reading chair…
  • I will check in every two hours on the dot so I can do some cheering, join in mini challenges and get the community feeling, but won’t get too distracted. Maximum pc time allowed: 15-20 minutes.
  • Mini-challenge entries will be short (at first; I might make ‘em more fancy after the read-a-thon has ended).
  • Maybe I’ll even let Mr Gnoe guard my new iPhone because it’s such a distracting device ;) LOL
  • I’m not buying any books especially for the read-a-thon; there’s enough on my shelves to choose from.
  • I have no need for excessive snacks & sweets… Really I don’t. Cross my heart and hope to die.

24 Hour Read-a-thon logoAlthough I’m free to pick anything of my liking of the shelves, I actually have a small pile of books set aside already. Last time I really benefited by the advice of some ‘old-timers’ to have a selection of different genres at hand. So my book stack contains novels and short stories, fiction next to non-fiction in both English and Dutch, plus comics and a graphic novel. I even have some audio books available for when my eyes get too tired :)

DA BOOX:

  • Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Haruki Murakami; or, if finished:
  • a choice of the following short stories: De arm (One Arm) by Yasunari Kawabata, The January Man by David Mitchell, Helen and Julia by Sarah Waters
  • Het hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon (The Pillow Book), Sei Shōnagon; just the journal entries to keep up with my read-along
  • Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger
  • Dromen van China (The China Lover), Ian Buruma
  • Geketende democratie: Japan achter de schermen (‘Democracy in Chains: Behind the Scenes of Japan‘), correspondent Hans van der Lugt: a belated birthday present — that’s what happens when you flee the country at the actual day: gifts pouring in for a while afterwards ;)
  • Mutts: Dog-eared, Patrick McDonnell
  • Waltz with Bashir: A Lebanon War Story, Ari Folman & David Polonsky

So, how do like my ‘short’ list? :) And do you have any good advice for the read-a-thon?

Bookish posts

This week’s bookish posts on Graasland:

The Pillow Book

Arrived at entry: 41/41
Entries read since last time: 10

It’s been a while since I last read in Sei Shōnagon’s Pillow Book and not much comes to mind when I try to think of something to say about it. I guess it’s not making much of an impression :( Maybe the pace is too slow for me (not really getting a feel for the narrator), or or it might have to do with my recent discovery of preferring plot-driven books. I will admit I’m looking at 7 post-its sticking out of my volume: quotes that I should copy into my own journal but that I haven’t gotten round to. Once I’ve done so, maybe I’ll have more to say.

Unfortunately I had to cancel my visit to the Sketches from the Pillow Book theater play in Amsterdam. But blogging-buddy-to-be Marion went and wrote a short post about it. Feels a bit like I’ve been there anyway ;)

Now, back to my leisurely Easter Sunday. I’m going to read some more, have a nice dinner of cannelloni and mandarin tiramisu dessert (recipe will follow later), and will finish watching the first season of Damages. What are you doing today?

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

Books I got for my birthday

Birthday Book Loot

Again, I am being a real lookgrrl this weekend. Yesterday some grrls came over to watch the 1967 movie In Cold Blood, which we read together in November (I posted my review of Capote’s book last month). I’m actually writing this Sunday Salon post on Friday, so I have no idea yet what I thought of it ;) And when my bookish things of the week go online, I’ll be making last minute preparations for a Dexter 3 marathon. Yay!

Btw I recently heard that the 2nd series and further are no real adaptations, so you can read the Dexter novels in addition to the serial. That would be fun! I guess I’ll wait until I’ve seen them all though, just to be on the safe side.

A week ago I finally finished the third volume of Natsume Sōseki’s I Am a Cat. I decided I would read on instead of composing a Sunday Salon post. Good idea, eh?

I’m not sure if I’ll write a real review this time because I feel I’ve spent enough time on it already. I’ve learnt a great lesson though: I prefer to read plot driven books! So what am I doing reading The Pillow Book? Erm… not sure ;) I think it will be my last one for a long, long time! Now I’m quite confident that I really shouldn’t read Moby Dick. I’ll just follow my instincts ;) In recent years I’ve bargained with Max Havelaar or The Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company, dragged myself along The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha — and it has been enough. Gee, that I had to become 40 to acknowledge such a thing ;)

Next to The Pillow Book I am also reading Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: a compilation of short stories by Haruki Murakami. I’m buddy reading with Else, who has started a while back so it’s good to have started catching up. I’m just a few pages in but it already seems to be another great book! :)

The Pillow Book

Arrived at entry: 31/21
Entries read since last time: 31

Ha! Not only have I finally started reading The Pillow Book (Het Hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon), I’m also completely caught up!

What do I think about it so far? I like it, but it is very patchy. Of course I expected that since it’s not just a diary but a journal containing Shōnagon’s musings and descriptions of (court) life in Heian Japan. And I appreciate reading about the beautiful clothes (although it is starting to be much of the same), seasonal traditions and festivals, but… Shōnagon and I are not befriended. I don’t like the way she seems to look down on people, even laughs at them — especially women. Could it be a competitive atmosphere between women around the Emperor and Empress? I’m in a bit of a hurry so I haven’t thought this through very well.

The Pillow Book is quit poetic and the footnotes and appendix give some interesting, sometimes necessary, explanatory information. But I do not look them all up because that would interrupt my reading too much.

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

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