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Books etc.

pretty much all kind of books, stories, whatever

Booker Longlist

Just bookmarking for myself. I don't think I'll read all of them, most probably I'll just wait for the shorlist and read those before the announcement.

A spectrum of Iliad

The Iliad - Homer, Barry B. Powell The Iliad - Homer, Bernard Knox, Robert Fagles

If reading Iliad once is not enough, here's a review of different translations. I've read Robert Fagles' but somehow I'm tempted to try reading the others. I'm especially tempted to search for Barry B. Powell which was reviewed here

I’ve just had a fruitful visit to library so time to do a show post. I’ve actually had half of them for a while so I’d need to return them this weekend:
- Beginning runner book - I’m in 4th week and feeling good.
- Hidden poem book - totally neglected, sometimes it just happen that way
- Seduction & betrayal - great essays book on women and literature, I want to re-read the last chapter before returning
- Lifetime Reading Plan - i just wanted to check if it’s a book I’d want to buy, maybe not


Last night’s haul:
- Laluba - short stories compilation from my favorite indonesian writer
- Rilke - I have his german poetry collection but this one have english translation next to each poem so would be good
- A tour of senses - halfway work related, need to understand more about human perception
- Mad world - was looking for graham greene’s bio but found his contemporary Evelyn Waugh instead. Brideshead has some golden moment for me so should be intetesting

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

sometimes it takes just the smallest thing to turn me off from reading a book. I'm sure it's really silly & stupid of me and I probably missed a lot of good stories just because of this tick. But who cares, I refuse to read a book w/ characters called Aristotle and Dante.

A is for Alibi

A is for Alibi - Sue Grafton two stars

pretty much standard, guessed who the killer was long before though only through stereotypicality

The Folk of the Faraway Tree

The Folk of the Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton the walk down memory lane worked better with this one. though of course it's a sticky sweet story, it's blyton after all.

Wishing-chair Again

Wishing-chair Again - Enid Blyton a childhood book re-read just because i'm home for the weekend. not a very successful one either, am really too old for it even w/ a big dollop of nostalgia. maybe i should read faraway tree instead.

two stars

The Iliad

The Iliad - Homer, Bernard Knox, Robert Fagles A really worthy four stars story.

I'm not really sure how I wound up reading this book and loving it. Epic battle story with gory details of spears going through the gaps between your armour or straight through it. Sons going down in battle leaving fathers grieving back home. How a large portion of them earned their name and background mentioned by the fact that they're losing their life. Not my usual cup of tea? You bet. But it also support the fact that sometimes books just surprised you, taking you through a road you didn't know you wanted to take.

So what is it really that enchanted me?

Maybe because the story was told majestically, grandious words worthy of Gods and giant-like-mortals?

Maybe because it's not only a war but also God's war; meddling petty quarrelsome Gods but they were the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega; and no mortals can doubt it. How does it feel, to have this giant enormous shadow of Gods existance hovering above you, constantly sending messages you have to follow, forever getting under your skin moving you like a puppet.

Maybe because I was half in love with Achilles? For most of the story anyway, the part where most people probably despise him. The part where he balked from going to the battle. Is it ironic that in his anger with Agamemmon, I found him having the clearest thought on the futility of war and conquest. This, of course, is a modern mind reading of the situation. We're supposed to see Achilles as betraying his life purpose and his friends. But I couldn't help loving it when he rejected the reconciliatory offer. Eat your gold and go away, I wanted to say. The sin of pride was talking. Then of course a bigger thing than pride came along, grief; and the anger that comes with grief is thousand times more frightening. This is where the half of my love for Achilles just fall apart and crumble.

Maybe because there are so many contrasting things in the story that demanded some figurative chewing and brooding. Mortal and immortal of course, and also how bodies are treated. Those of worthy men's are treated with care, defended even with other life on the stake, fetched away by Gods to be given honour and proper burial. While all around them, bodies bodies and bodies that nobody cares about.

Maybe because I was reading it on holiday, with the sun shining, the sea glittering, and hours of freed mind needed something of this scale to ponder.

Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature

Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature - Elizabeth Hardwick, Joan Didion the last chapter by itself deserves four stars

the rest of the book is a wonderful study on women in relation to literature. writer, characters and writer spouses. Hardwick posed the question on what it meant to be a woman, how they are portrayed in literature by author (men/women), how even when the women has not written the story themselves the live they shared with the authors influenced the literary characters, how being a woman hindered or supported the struggle of being a writer. Highly recommended.

How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide

How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide - John Sutherland the pedestrian three stars rating for this book.

it's rather confusing who this book is aimed to. not people who just started getting interested in reading novel, it's not really novel reading for dummies. perhaps for novel reader veteran who has already clocked hundreds of novel? just for them to have a bit a laugh down the memory lane? it did amuse me, though i wouldn't say that it helped me to finally navigate myself better in the middle of publishing onslaugh that we're living now. (which sutherland rather insinuate i'll be able to do after reading his book)

for one thing, sutherland likes to negate all his own advices. would you trust book reviewer? well, those people aren't so cool anyway. how about best seller list? it's good if you want to swim with million other people.

which actually lead me to the second point, do you need to read novel wisely? would it matter if during my whole lifetime i'd miss some unbelievable master piece of world literature? i doubt anyone will award me honorary distinction for a well read life. so i think my current combination of picking book blindly from whatever i have or library and spare-time review trolling is good enough for me.

in fact, the reason i read this book now is just because it's the only one that capture my attention long enough to finish reading it. i'm in the middle of this hateful phase where i can't settle down long enough to finish anything. i've started many books these few weeks just to throw it away again, interestingly, they're all non-fiction; i can't even start reading fiction. whatever causing this phase i hope it'd go away soon.

so it's worth reading, if only to have a smirk or two from his writing. some of his hints are helpful, like i can get background from publishing history (not that i'll start to google before reading all novel); but it's still useful.

some stuff i can do without: i wished he'd stop nagging at e-reading; the whole technology barrier he talked about has been more or less solved. the whole talk made the book feel really old and i wonder if he's actually jumped into the e-reading bandwagon now.

another theme he won't let go is the 2005 man booker prize winner The Sea from john banville. sutherland was one of the jury and i had this feeling he's taking out the past judging discussion and bringing it to the book. well, i like following man booker prize, i have better discoveries from it than from say, pulitzer. i haven't read the sea, but it's 2014 now, and reading him gnawing at this bone made me want to say, just let go...

Norman Foster: A Life In Architecture

Norman Foster: A Life In Architecture - Deyan Sudjic three stars

It turned out, when one's life is full of emotion and one's hormones were doing revolution, what one need to read is a dry impassionate description of architecture. It calmed down the heat and distract the mind to think of calming thing such as spaces and forms. Writing description of architecture and conveying the ideas and intention behind it, that's something tricky and actually a situation where "dry" is advantageous. Can somebody imagine a space only through text description? Maybe there's somebody who can. I, myself, confess of cheating and googling my way through Foster's buildings.

A Change Of Climate

A Change Of Climate - Hilary Mantel read an interesting review about it on open letters monthly.

Writing Home

Writing Home - Alan Bennett three stars? four stars?

Sometimes I do this. Instead of reading biograpy or memoir of someone I know(in the broadest sense), I read those of complete stranger to me. I've read one book by Bennett before reading this and I have no idea whatsoever who he is or what he does.

Regardless, Bennett is a writer I can really enjoy. I especially loved the part about the woman living on his garden and his diary entries. Some of his review and essay rather plodding for me to follow. Maybe it's because I was only interested in reading the gossips he had strewn around his diary.

The Sonnet Lover

The Sonnet Lover - Carol Goodman only two stars

The Sea, the Sea

The Sea, the Sea - Iris Murdoch, Mary Kinzie four, definitely four stars. how could i not read iris murdoch earlier?

Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology

Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology - Caroline Paul, Wendy MacNaughton Quote via brain pickings:

6. You can never know your cat. In fact, you can never know anyone as completely as you want.

7. But that’s okay, love is better.