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Some of you may have noticed, others may not.. Again there was no Sunday Salon on Graasland yesterday. But I’ve got a great excuse: I was at an Emma marathon viewing with some Loekgrrls: we watched all four episodes of the 2009 BBC television series in a row.

I’ve read the 1815 Victorian Romantic novel a few years ago. Being a real Boekgrrl I couldn’t resist: it is Jane Austen’s most famous book. According to Wikipedia it seems to be pre-Victorian though… I will try to find out why at another time. I’m writing this post during my lunch break ;)
[Edited to add: thanks to Claire and Anna I now completely understand why it was stupid to call Emma a Victorian novel! (see comments)]

Even though it seemed a bit burlesque at times, I did like the tv-serial with Romola Garai as our ‘heroine’. At first I wondered where I had seen her before, but thankfully one of the grrls checked the Internet Movie Database on her iPhone. [Note to self: need iPhone badly] Of course: the actress also played Briony in the movie adaptation of one of my all-time favourites, Ian McEwan’s Atonement!

The pace was quite slow — as expected, so it didn’t bother me. Strangely enough at other times I got the feeling it could have been a musical as well… I guess it was the way they moved, combined with the affected style of acting. Don’t worry, they didn’t sing, and hardly danced ;) And Sir Michael Gambon was, of course, adorable as the over-anxious Mr Woodhouse, Emma’s father.

Here’s a photo set on Flickr about filming Emma.

But you might want to hear about my actual reading… Progress in I Am a Cat is slow but steady: I now have less than a 100 pages to go. Once I’ve finished I will really start The Pillow Book, next to Haruki Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman; which I am looking forward to even though I am not too fond of short stories.

The Pillow Book

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Like last week (when I ran into a ‘caolybag’ book relating to The Pillow Book) I had a chance discovery of something cool: a one-off theatre play of The Pillow Book on March 21st in Amsterdam. Honest, I wasn’t looking for anything pillowbooky! Serendipity rules :)

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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Book Bloggers Holiday Swap buttonHow exciting, I’m going to be a secret Santa! I’ve dropped my name in Santa’s bag for the Book Bloggers Holiday Swap. Want to join as well? Be quick: subscription ends November 12th!

Good thing the holiday swap perked me up because my attempt at the Bookcrossing Spooky Booky 24 hour readathon was an absolute #FAIL. I knew I was on a tight schedule last week, but I had hoped to at least beat last month’s result of 15 hours and 8 minutes. Well… I didn’t even come close! [starts whispering] I scrambled together a meagre total of 7 hours, 10 minutes :-o

So the ‘spooky’ book I’m reading is still the same as last Sunday: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It’s pretty grim! It shows the real thing to fear are our fellow humans; not those Halloween ghosts, vampires or zombies. Capote absolutely has me by the throat!

A more relaxing bookish event that took place at my home yesterday was that some Boekgrrls came over to watch Revolutionary Road, the movie adaptation of Richard Yates’ novel. The overall opinion? Director Sam Mendes did a great job (even though the book is still way better). I’m just not sure whether I would have liked the film as much had I not read the book beforehand.

April & Frank Wheeler

Another minor detail: I kept seeing Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet instead of Frank and April Wheeler… But still, I’m glad to have seen it: I enjoyed it much, much more than, in example, the adaptations of Atonement and Enduring Love (other books I really like). Although ‘enjoy’ might not be the right word for a story like Revolutionary Road…

Well, I’ve only got another 100 pages left of In Cold Blood, so coming week I hope to start in The Old Capital, by Yasunari Kawabata for my Japanese Literature Book Group. I’m embarrassed to say I had never heard of this Nobel Prize winner before, but since I know we’re going to read his book I have heard other novelists mention him as an example for their own writings. So, I’ll talk to you next week in The Sunday Salon!

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 ;)

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?! ;)

Booking Through Thursday dares us this week to organize our books in a different way, using titles as a guideline.

Although I wouldn’t actually dream of doing this IRL on my book shelves, it was sure fun being challenged to think about it! So I’ve got 3 title stories to share with you (saving the best for last).

It was hard getting all titles readable in the picture, so I got a little help with the first one ;)

After the quake
The unconsoled
Black dogs
Dance with death
Through the green valley


In the country of men
The romantic
Servant of the bones
Steps
In cold blood
Through the green valley

My favourite:

After dark
Everything is illuminated

BAFAB book: La petite fille de Monsieur Linh

Books I’ve read this year… (2008)
Een plaats voor wilde bessen (Jagodnye mesta / Wild Berries), Jevgeni Jevtoesjenko (ring)
The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing (challenge book) reading along with online experiment!
De jacht op het verloren schaap (Hitsuji o meguru bōken / A Wild Sheep Chase), Haruki Murakami
Obasan, Joy Kogawa
Isaac Israels in het ziekenhuis, Merel van den Nieuwenhof
Meneer Pip (Mister Pip), Lloyd Jones (ring)
Let Them Call It Jazz, Jean Rhys
Het kleine meisje van meneer Linh (La petite fille de monsieur Linh), Philippe Claudel
The Teahouse Fire, Ellis Avery
De liefde tussen mens en kat, W.F. Hermans
Na de aardbeving (Kami no kodomotachi wa mina odoru / After the Quake), Haruki Murakami (re-reading)
Ik heet Karmozijn (Benim adim kirmizi / My name is red), Orhan Pamuk
Met de kat naar bed (Travels with my cat), Mike Resnick
Jennie, Paul Gallico
Anna Boom, Judith Koelemeijer
Possession, A.S. Byatt (challenge book)
The gathering, Anne Enright
The amazing adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (challenge book)
Het vergeten seizoen, Peter Delpeut
Kermis van koophandel: de Amsterdamse wereldtentoonstelling van 1883, Ileen Montijn (non-fiction)
I haven’t dreamed of flying for a while, Taichi Yamada
The truth about food, Jill Fullerton-Smith (non-fiction)
Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov (challenge book)
New York Trilogy, Paul Auster (challenge book)
Migraine voor Dummies (non-fiction)
The bone vault, Linda Fairstein
In Patagonië, Bruce Chatwin (challenge book)
De thuiskomst, Anna Enquist
Dagboek van een poes, Remco Campert
On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan

I sent one of this year’s favourites to my dear friend Loes for BAFAB week = Buy A Friend A Book. It’s Phillippe Claudel’s Het kleine meisje van meneer Linh (La petite fille de monsieur Linh), shown in the picture above. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to — now!

Personal challenges for 2008
ETA: prolonged into 2009, 2010
Read 12 books of 13 of the longlist of the Dutch election for Best Foreign Book that were already on my wishlist:

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
✔ The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon
Possession by A.S. Byatt
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
✔ New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
The Sea, the sea by Iris Murdoch
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
✔ Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Chosen by Chaim Potok

With 6 books read in 2008 I’m right on track :)

I also had my own Bookcrossing museum challenge: I visiting 6 exhibits in 2008/2009 and releasing appropriate books. Those exhibitions were not random but followed a lecture course I took. I posted about them in Gnoe’s Museumlog (sorry, it’s in Dutch).

Special rings and challenges I participated in this year…
Special rings & rays
De Aziatische boekendoos

Challenges
The SIY (Set It Yourself) Challenge, 3rd edition. Ibis3 made us a nice challenge page on which you can see that I completed my mission in time!
The SIY (Set It Yourself) Challenge, 6th edition. The challenge page will tell you that I succeeded again!

Bookcrossing Four Seasons Release Challenge with a total of 14 books:

  • 3 books in spring
  • 3 books in summer
  • 2 books in autumn
  • 6 books in winter

Last but not least…

Find my releases on Gnoe’s Bookcrossing Releases map!

The 42 books I’ve read in 2007

  • Rosalie Niemand, Elisabeth Marain (stopped reading)
  • The Geographer’s Library *ring*, Jon Fasman
  • Poppy Shakespeare, Clare Allen
  • Max Havelaar, Multatuli
  • Publieke werken, Thomas Rosenboom
  • Dance with death, Barbara Nadel
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  • Arthur & George, Julian Barnes
  • Narziss en Goldmund (en andere verhalen) *slow ray*, Hermann Hesse (stopped reading)
  • Het huis van de moskee, Kader Abdolah
  • Het Bureau (deel 1): Meneer Beerta, J.J. Voskuil
  • The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
  • De brug, Geert Mak
  • De ontdekking van de hemel, Harry Mulisch
  • En dan zou jij zeggen, Elisabeth Keesing
  • Never let me go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The shape of snakes, Minette Walters
  • Greenwich Killing Time, Kinky Friedman
  • Het zijn net mensen, Joris Luyendijk
  • De lijfarts, Maria Stahlie
  • A cool million, Nathanael West
  • Het geheim van de krokodil, Alexander McCall Smith
  • De grote bocht, Peter Delpeut
  • Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
  • De uitvreter, Nescio
  • The inheritance of loss, Kiran Desai
  • Nooit meer slapen, W.F. Hermans
  • Helpless, Barbara Gowdy
  • Heden mosselen, morgen gij (kort verhaal), Hans Vervoort
  • Gods ingewanden (Métaphysique des tubes), Amélie Nothomb
  • Een heel huis vol, Boudewijn Büch
  • Everyman, Philip Roth
  • Bougainville, F. Springer (thank you for this RABCK to Linniepinnie!)
  • Black dogs, Ian McEwan
  • Een stoomfluit midden in de nacht (Yonaka no kiteki ni tsuite), Haruki Murakami (with special thanks to maupi!!!)
  • De Donkere Kamer van Damokles, W.F. Hermans
  • Met angst en beven (Stupeur et tremblements, ring), Amélie Nothomb
  • A place of hiding, Elizabeth George
  • Death in holy order, P.D. James
  • Asta’s book, Barbara Vine
  • In the country of men, Hisham Matar
  • In search of the distant voice, Taichi Yamada

Personal challenge for 2007
YES! On the 3rd of December I’ve accomplished my personal challenge to read all books of the Best Dutch Book shortlist that I hadn’t already read!

(Look at this earlier post to view bookcovers :)

Het huis van de moskee, Kader Abdolah PC
De Donkere Kamer van Damocles, W.F. Hermans PC of Maaike
Nooit Meer Slapen, W.F. Hermans PC of BX-er wolfram-nl
De ontdekking van de hemel, Harry Mulisch BX-copy
Max Havelaar, Multatuli PC
De uitvreter, Nescio PC of BX-er nokawa
Publieke werken, Thomas Rosenboom PC of Maaike
Het Bureau, J.J. Voskuil PC of BX-er wolfram-nl

Books on the shortlist that I had already read before this challenge started:
Hersenschimmen, J. Bernlef
Titaantjes/Dichtertje, Nescio
De avonden, Gerard Reve

With this challenge I was participating in The SIY (Set It Yourself) Challenge. Ibis3 has made us a nice challenge page. I am not sure if I would have been able to accomplish my goals for 2007 without participating in the challenge!

Special rings and challenges I have participated in…
Special Bookcrossing rings & rays
De Bookcrossing theedoos
Het Nederlandse BookCrossers Kattenjournaal

Bookcrossing challenges
Breng wat kleur in de wereld in januari!
De Nederlandse Release Challenge
Movie Books Release Challenge
Four Seasons Release Challenge
2007 History Challenge
‘Words to Release By’ Challenge
The SIY (Set It Yourself) Challenge, 1st and 2nd edition. You can also find them at Ibis3’s readalong blog.
Hiroshima Anniversary Peace Challenge.

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