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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!

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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 YatesRevolutionary 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 ;)

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 ;)

I am mentally preparing myself for the 24 hour read-a-thon that will take place in the weekend of 24-25 October. Cover Revolutionary RoadNot 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 YatesRevolutionary Road! I had finished Het pauperparadijs the day before the challenge started.

Cover Het Boek DahliaAnother 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?

buyafriendabook.comLast 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!

    Yellow Brick Road Bento #79

  • 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! :)

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 ;)

HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY! (Yes, I should really try to get my hands on a Ren & Stimpy dvd! ;)

Having blogged about Rei Kimura’s Butterfly in the Wind I officially accomplished my Japanese Literature Challenge for this year! But like I said in my post I will not stop at just one book.

I am also very glad I finally reviewed The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas. It was a Random Act of Bookcrossing Kindness and I read it months ago… Now the book is on its way to new readers.

More good news is that I finished To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee today. I feel really good about that, not only because it is a GREAT book and I am happy to have read it, but also because I can cross it off my personal and classics challenges. Of course I do still need to review it, especially since it is a Bookcrossing bookring. I liked To Kill a Mockingbird so much I am going to look for a nice copy to keep! There are many, many editions out there… Oops, what did I write this week about not getting any more books?? :\

Cover Het pauperparadijsThe book I picked up from Mt. TBR to read next is Dutch again: Het pauperparadijs, by Suzanna Jansen. In October we’ll be having a company outing to a museum in the area that the story describes; the Gevangenismuseum (Jail Museum) is actually the last remaining building of the work-house where poor people were sometimes sent to in the 1800’s. It will be so much more fun (ahem) going there having read the book!

But for now, I am looking forward to the Book Blogger Appreciation Week, starting at midnight!

What were your bookish things this week?

Right now I am reading To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee: a Bookcrossing bookray. I like it so much I am going to look for a nice copy of my own! Oops, what did I write this week about not getting any more books?? :\

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?

Cover The End of Mr. YIn 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?! ;)

Today’s Booking Through Thursday question is soooo easy I can’t resist replying shortly during my lunch break.

What’s the biggest book you’ve read recently?

We just talked about that while having a Bookcrossing OBCZ maintenance meeting during dinner on Monday (that’s what happens when booklovers meet ;)

  • Think ‘volume’: With No One as Witness, by Elizabeth George (774 pages; it took me 2 weeks).
  • Think ‘fame’: Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh (post upcoming), followed shortly by The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro (post also upcoming).
  • Think ‘size’: Falling Angels, by Tracey Chevalier (352 pages of hardback; not extraordinarily huge).
  • Think ‘biggest hype’: books by Haruki Murakami — I recently read Dance dance dance and South of the Border, West of the Sun.

Let me guess: next week’s question will be What’s the smallest book you’ve read recently?! Where can I place my bets?

After I went on a biking trip to Austerlitz Pyramid I started reading Martin Bril’s book The Little Emperor (De kleine keizer in Dutch). Its subtitle is Account of a Passion, describing the author’s quest in search of Napoleon Bonaparte. That means I am participating in the What’s in a Name reading challenge with another non-fiction book (category: profession)!

The monument in Austerlitz was built in 1804 by the army of general Marmont, to celebrate the French ruling of Holland. Inspired by his adventures with Napoleon in Egypt, he let his soldiers make a pyramid… At first it was called Mount Marmont but soon Louis Napoleon of Holland renamed the structure, commemorating the victory of his brother in Austrian Austerlitz. To be honest this folly isn’t really impressive in real life…

But my trip to this historic site was (of course) not the main reason for wanting to read Martin Bril’s book about Napoleon. My interest was triggered by the first paragraph (in Dutch but I’ll paraphrase afterwards):

“De kist staat open. Op het eerste gezicht zit er niets in, anders dan wat proppen wit, zacht ritselend papier. Eén voor één haalt Mark van Hattem, conservator van het Legermuseum in Delft, ze eruit. Bijna eerbiedig legt hij ze terzijde.
Hij wordt op de vingers gekeken door een jonge, stille Fransman in dienst van het Musée de l’Armée in Parijs – waar de kist vandaan komt. [..] De sfeer is bijna plechtig, hoewel elders in de zaal wordt geboord en gezaagd. De voorbereidingen voor de tentoonstelling ‘Voor Napoleon. Hollanders in oorlogstijd, 1792-1815‘ zijn in volle gang.
Als bijna alle proppen uit de kist zijn verwijderd, blijft er een groot, wit pakket over. Aan de vorm is te zien wat erin zit, zo beroemd (of berucht) is die vorm: een steek, Napoleons hoofddeksel. Van Hattem aarzelt, mag hij het pakket uit de kist tillen? Hij kijkt naar de vertegenwoordiger van het Musée de l’Armée, die glimlacht.”

The paragraph describes Bril’s visit to the Dutch Army Museum in Delft, where he was allowed to witness the unpacking of Napoleon’s cocked hat in preparation of an exhibtion about the emperor’s time in Holland. And… I was working at the museum at that time! When the curator and the French supervisor weren’t paying attention for a minute, Bril managed to secretly touch this relic of Napoleon for a minute! Sssshhht! ;)

Cover De kleine keizerIn The Little Emperor Martin Bril reports of his Napoleon craze: for a long time he read everything about the man and he went on a pilgrimage to several historically important sites to get a feeling of ‘the events’. He paints a vivid image of Napoleon Bonaparte as a person — and also of himself as an author. His enthusiasm is contagious, his short chapters are easily readable and most times arresting.

A few days before he died in april this year, Martin Bril was awarded the Bob den Uyl Prize for The Little Emperor. The annual award is given to the author of the best literary and/or journalistic travelogue of the previous year. I’m afraid the book hasn’t been translated into other languages (yet). But there are a lot of Napoleon aficionados around the globe that might be waiting for another prize-winning book about the emperor? So you never know what happens next.

It would be cool to bookcross my copy of The Little Emperor at the Pyramid of Austerlitz… But nah, I’ll just keep it as a memento! ;)

This week all book geeks should catch up on their book reviews. If they’re following Weekly Geeks, that is ;) This specific recurring question is how I came to know of Weekly Geeks so I can’t refuse, can I?

Now before I go on, MY QUESTION TO YOU is: which one would you like me to write about? And what question(s) about the book should I answer in my post?

So, here are some of the books that I still need to review…

ammaniti 9789048800452

Crossroads (Zo God het wil / Come Dio Comanda) by Niccolò Ammaniti (2006)

I bought this book because of a very positive review in Simon Mayo’s Book Panel. Great podcast to listen to btw! Crossroads was compared to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (but said to have more humor), and to movies by the Coen Brothers… I finished it recently during my holiday on Madeira. I’m waiting for Mr Gnoe to read it because I would really like to discuss whether this is a good book or if it will be thought another The Shadow of the Wind in a while…

akkerman 9789046805428

The Native (De inboorling) by Stevo Akkerman (2009)

In 1883 a Colonial Exhibition was held in Amsterdam, and real people from the Dutch colonies were part of it. De inboorling is a novel about a black Dutchman who, at a time when the Rijksmuseum is planning an exhibition in remembrance of the centennial of this event, discovers his great grandfather was one of the people exhibited. An interesting ethical subject for a museum employee like me! I bought this book at Teylers Museum, where an exhibition about exploitation of humans in exhibitions and art fairs just closed (De exotische mens).
scarlett thomas

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (2006)

I am really embarrassed that I haven’t reviewed The End of Mr. Y yet, because it was given to my as a RABCK by Rapturina: a Random Act of Bookcrossing Kindness. And I have a personal rule that I always review bookcrossing books that are sent to me, either as book ring, ray or rabck. Also I can’t send this book on the road again until I’ve made a journal entry about it! This novel about books and time traveling was an appropriate read when I had the flu ;)

tenzuidenvdgrens_w

South of the Border, West of the Sun (Ten zuiden van de grens, ten westen van de zon / Kokkyo no minami, Taiyo no nishi) by Haruki Murakami (1998)

Haruki Murakami is one of my few favourite authors. Some fans read all his books in one continuous flow, others (like me) like to take it slow and read a book every once in a while. Savour it, so to say :) South of the Border is my 9th book of this author since I started with The Wind-up Bird Chronicles in 2004 and I read it together with Elsje, who’s a Murakami addict of the other type ;)

BTW Did you know there’s a new Murakami novel coming soon? It’s called 1Q84 and has been for sale in Japan since the end of May. It’s a great succes already. Ha! Another 1000 pages to enjoy soon ;) Erm, soon? It will be published in Holland in 2011…

Anyway, here’s a bonus for all Murakami lovers in suspense of the new novel: 1984 by the Eurythmics on YouTube. Why? Q = kyū= 9 > 1984!

ETA: in the end I reviewed The End of Mr. Y based on your questions!

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