Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two Boys.

At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O'Neill is the first novel I've read, I think, where the romantic story at the center is about two boys. It takes place in 1915-1916 in Ireland, a time period where you'd think they would be faced with a lot of negativity about their choices. They do, but that's not really at the center of the story at all. Also woven in is the Easter Rising, which both characters play a role in.

This is a really well written, sad and interesting book. Not necessarily something I would have chosen on my own, but I'm glad I read it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Books 51-60

I can't believe that after I read 2 more books, I will be 5% done with this project. That is amazing to me!

Here are the next 10 books on the list, 51 through 60.

51. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien (1939)
52. Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001)
53. The Atrocity Exhibition by J. G. Ballard (1970)
54. August is a Wicked Month by Edna O'Brien (1965)
55. Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald (2001)
56. Auto da Fe by Elias Canetti (1935)
57. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein (1933)
58. Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1975)
59. The Awakening by Kate Chopin (1899)
60. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis (1922)

And we're into the B's! :)

Grateful for my safe life.

Slavenka Draculic's book As If I am Not There is also titled S., which made it a little confusing to find. This book was really difficult to read, but absolutely amazing. I like a lot of these books, but often they don't rivet me to my seat or have me thinking about them throughout the day. This one was a real page turner. I couldn't put it down. It really made me grateful for my life.

The story is really tough to get through, it's about a woman in a camp in the Balkans in 1992, so it is really upsetting and sad. The message at the end is hopeful though. Even till the last few pages, I really doubted it would turn out the way it did. (This was also a book I was so afraid of what was going to happen at the end, that I flipped and read the last page when I was only about 100 pages in. I needed to make sure that it wasn't going to turn out the way I feared. Embarrassing to admit, but true!)

While I was reading this, it really had an impact on me. Little things I complain about (Peanut, please don't throw your cars on the floor!) all of a sudden seemed so much less important. I wanted to give my husband and little girl a big hug. (Thankfully for me, my little girl is really into hugs right now too. Give Mama big hug!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Extra spinach in postwar Japan.

I really enjoyed Kazuo Ishiguro's An Artist of the Floating World. I liked the portrayal of postwar Japan and the look at arranged marriages. I also could identify with Ono and his attempts to do the right thing, what he believed in, and his later regrets about doing so when the political tide turned against him.

Ichiro, his grandson, stole the show for me though. I loved the discussions between them and how he was so very 8. Extra spinach on the Junior Lunch, please!

I never would have found this on my own and I'm glad I read it!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's a hard стучать life.

What struck me about The Artamonov Business by Maxim Gorky is how difficult life in Russia was. Where Anna Karenina portrayed life among upper class Russian society, The Artamonov Business follows the life of a recently freed serf mill founder and his children as they build their mill and become involved in town life, and ultimately wind up on the wrong side of the revolution.

The book is a really good, if sad, story, but yikes. Life is tough. There are many dead children. People seem so unhappy. I can see why many people thought that the revolution would make a difference - because life was so difficult before, how could it get anything other than better?

I had not read anything by Gorky before and I'm definitely glad I read this book.

Oh, and Google Translation helped me with the Russian in the title. I actually studied Russian in school but years of disuse have made me incredibly rusty!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Babywearing and Nigerian culture.

Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe Is one of those amazing books that I had no idea existed before I started this project. I had read Things Fall Apart in college and really enjoyed that but had no clue that Achebe had written other books. I'm really glad I read this. There are a lot of themes here that I hadn't really thought about.

I liked the story of the intersection of the traditional religion and Christianity. Even more, I liked learning about the culture of the people from Umuaro. I liked the glimpses of family life and childcare. They carried babies on their backs! (I'm convinced that is one of the most comfortable ways for me to carry a baby!) Interesting how the colonizers were convinced they were introducing the people to new and better ways of doing things, but now looking back, many of the older ideas and traditions (baby wearing!) are actually becoming more popular again. The new ways aren't necessarily better.

I really enjoyed this book. I was kind of sad it ended where it did.