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Sunday Salon: the Prewritten Post

February 1, 2009

The Sunday Salon.comI wrote this Saturday night (it’s so nice to enjoy a Saturday in, watching awesome movies, after a long week), because we’re having a Super Bowl party on Sunday, and I’ll be busy making finger foods and then entertaining people. :)

This was a much more ‘productive’ reading week than last. I still didn’t feel tip-top, and I had to run quite a few errands, but I finished up quite a few books I’d been reading for awhile. So here we go with a brief run-through!

First I finished From a Whisper to a Screamby Charles de Lint, which I mentioned in last week’s TSS. Miraculously, I’ve already published my review. Next up to finish was Laurie R. King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. This was a reread, and I loved it just as much this go round as the first time. You’ll get a full review later in February. ;)

The Thorn BirdsAnd I finally got through The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough. I’d been portioning it out, so that I wouldn’t race through it too fast, but I couldn’t contain myself anymore. This one definitely deserves a full review (especially as my first ‘official’ chunkster read of the year!), but for now let me say that all of those people who told me how incredible it was were right. I felt like I was *in* Australia, right there at the sheep ranch Drogheda, and my emotions swung with the fates of each of the characters. There were times I was boiling angry with McCullough, but the ending was just what I would have wished. As a multi-generation family epic, this didn’t feel like a chunkster at all.

I also finished My Mistress’ Sparrow is Dead, a huge short story anthology edited by Jeffrey Eugenides. I’ve already written up my review (not published yet); let’s just say that there were some really incredible stories and some ‘meh’ stories. That doesn’t really surprise me, though, since it’s an anthology!

Ender's GameThen there’s Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, which I read for Carl’s Sci-Fi experience at Chris’ instigation. Everyone told me it was a fast read, and that it was. I guessed the ‘twist’ pretty early on; I’m not sure if it was supposed to be a surprise for the reader or just for the characters. And it gave me a lot of food for thought. But there was something missing…I’m not sure what…that stopped it from being a five-star read for me. (Sorry Chris! But that’s how you feel about Austen! So we’re even! :p) After I finished the actual novel, my feelings were ambivalent, so I went back and read Card’s introduction to it to see if that would help me. All it really did was alienate me, since Card talks a lot about gifted kids (I was one) and military (both my parents) in a way that didn’t ring true with my experience. Obviously, my experience isn’t the be-all and end-all, but I think generalisations in an intro (especially of the ‘look at how awesome my book is! it becomes people’s bible!’ variety) is tricky to pull off. For all I know, Card in real life is nothing like the tone of the intro, but I feel less inclined to read any more of him in the future now. Which is frustrating! I don’t know-this isn’t a very sophisticated paragraph; I guess I’m trying to say I wish this book had blown me out of the water, but it didn’t.  It still got four solid stars from me, so it was a very good book.  And don’t worry-I’ll be writing a fuller review about the good stuff! ;)

snowcountryI also decided to go ahead and read one more novel for the Japanese Lit challenge: Snow Country by Yaunari Kawabata. I have mixed feelings about this one (maybe I should retitle this the ambivalent post!). It’s set in the mountains of Japan and looks at the love between a small-town geisha and a visiting man from Tokyo. I loved the scenery of the book; the story takes place around a year, and Kawabata’s descriptions made the ‘snow country’ come to life before my eyes. That being said, I was very uncomfortable with the role of the women. They’re so powerless, it was disturbing; of course, I understand that was probably part of the point. But since the reader sees the story through the eyes of the visiting man, there’s almost a misogynistic lens to the book that kept me from really enjoying it. There’s also a disturbing scene that, as a twenty-first century, just-out-of-college, reader seemed to me date rape (a very drunk geisha turns up at the man’s apartment, and while he’s supporting her from falling down, he also puts his hand in her kimono and then leads her to the bed). Very sad.

Finally, just last night and this afternoon, I finished up The Discovery of Poetryby Francis Mayes and Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer. This are both challenge reads (Reading Dangerously and Science Book, respectively), and they’re both rich nonfiction that will be getting their own reviews. For now, let’s say I really enjoyed the Mayes and loved the Lehrer!

Well, that was my week in reading. Hopefully I’ll have some time today to check in with my fellow saloners. If not, have a wonderful day! :D

35 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2009 9:44 am

    The Thorn Birds is one I *think* I might have read oh so many years ago. Glad you enjoyed it! Go CARDS!

  2. February 1, 2009 9:55 am

    I read The Thorn Birds years ago and enjoyed it. Ender’s Game is one of my son’s favorite books.

  3. February 1, 2009 10:45 am

    I hope you are enjoying the game, Eva. We don’t watch the Super Bowl here and so it’s just a regular Sunday at my house. Not that I’m in any way complaining. I do love a lazy Sunday when I can spend my time however I want. :-)

    I’ve heard such good things about Ender’s Game. I probably will end up reading it one of these days.

    Have a great week!

  4. Olduvai permalink
    February 1, 2009 10:47 am

    The Thorn Birds and Snow Country have been on my TBR list for the longest time. Will have to bump them up now I’ve read your thoughts on them! Have a good Sunday!

  5. February 1, 2009 11:00 am

    I’ve missed Thorn Birds somehow. I think it is a book I should read.

  6. February 1, 2009 11:10 am

    Eva, thanks for the get-well-soon wishes.. I hope you’re also feeling a lot better.

    I’ve read The Thorn Birds many many years ago.. when I was an adolescent LOL! My dad bought it for my sis and me. I don’t remember much of the book but remember the feeling that I loved it then, although it must’ve been a little traumatic to be reading such heartbreaking grownup stuff while very young.

    A guy friend of mine also has been recomming Ender’s Game for ages. I’ll have to wait for your review and see if I should dip in.

    Lastly, like you, Snow Country really felt sad to me, but I loved it for the writing.

  7. February 1, 2009 11:46 am

    Sounds like it was a good thing I didn’t read the introduction by Card!!! (The version I read must not have had it, otherwise I most certainly would have.) But it sounds like it really might have taken away from my experience with the book. It was really an emotional read for me. Despite the fact that I was labeled a gifted kid, I was definitely not in that “exceptionally” gifted category that Annie is in. She’s in a totally different league. Obviously, she’s not Ender-type genius, as he was nearly one in a lifetime. But her experience in life is filled with as many “bad” things as it is “good” things due to her giftedness. (As a side note, I despise the word “gifted” to start with…it’s such a misleading word. But that’s a rant I’ll save for another day. ;-) ) Anyway, that book really brought out the maternal in me. In a way no other book ever has. I’m sorry it wasn’t wonderful for you, but I’m really glad that The Thornbirds was! :-)

  8. February 1, 2009 12:12 pm

    Like Debi, I also remember really enjoying Ender’s Game, though I also didn’t read the author intro, and I’m notoriously bad at guessing twists in books and movies. That being said, after finishing the book, I felt no desire to read any further in the series or any more by Card. For me I think it was a one off read, but an enjoyable one.

    I look forward to your review of Proust was a Neuroscientist!

  9. February 1, 2009 12:16 pm

    Eva, you had another great week of reading! I think that the book The Thornbirds sounds interesting and it will be one I have to check out. Looking forward to all of these reviews :)

  10. February 1, 2009 12:56 pm

    I’m looking forward to your review of THE THORN BIRDS. It blew me out of the water when I read it in 2004.

  11. February 1, 2009 3:19 pm

    I loved the Thornbirds! I read it as a teenager, and have read it several times since then.

    Like you, I’ve heard a lot of people rave about Ender’s Game. I will be looking forward to your review since I haven’t read this one yet.

  12. February 1, 2009 3:54 pm

    I have The Thorn Birds on my TBR pile and it’s actually in my presence in the UK, so I’m really glad to hear you liked it!

    I loved Ender’s Game; I’m looking forward to your review of that, too. It’s hard to find people who don’t love it, which makes it all even more interesting.

    (I pre-write my Sunday Salon posts all the time; I’m usually AFK every other weekend so I have to make sure they get up somehow!)

  13. February 1, 2009 4:26 pm

    I can’t wait for your review of My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead! And I have heard about The Thorbirds for years, but I actually had no idea what it’s about. Sad! Glad you enjoyed it so much.

  14. Lisa permalink
    February 1, 2009 5:09 pm

    I love The Thornbirds. I’ve read it twice and both times was swept away. It’s been years now, I wonder if I’d still love it.

  15. February 1, 2009 6:28 pm

    I’ve never read the Thorn Birds, but I want to. Ender’s Game is one of my favorite books, but after reading several of the sequels they began to feel kind of pretentious to me.

  16. February 1, 2009 6:41 pm

    I read the Thorn Birds years ago and love it so much…every time the mini-series comes on I have to watch it because it follows the book so well. I loved Ender’s Game but that is about the only Sci-Fi that I’ve enjoyed reading so far….totally understand how you feel about it!!

    Hope your Super Bowl party was fun!!

  17. February 1, 2009 8:37 pm

    I know what you mean about Ender’s Game. You’ll be shocked to hear this, but I think it’s overrated :p Mostly, I recommend it to people so that they can read Speaker for the Dead which is Amazing!

    As for Austen (:p) I really liked Persuasion, but it’s not something I’d go back to again and again. It’s funny how we can agree on so much stuff and then disagree at the same time.

    I didn’t get into Snow Country too much either. I thought it was meh. I love how “meh” has become a word now, lol.

    Fun post!

  18. February 1, 2009 11:39 pm

    Wow, you’re doing an impressive number of challenges.

    Card is kind of problematic on a number of levels, and I haven’t read those books in a long time– but I remember liking Enders Game and the subsequent books quite a bit.

  19. February 2, 2009 12:40 am

    Alas, no Sunday Salon post for me this weekend–I should have pre-written mine like you did! No, wait: I was pre-writing other posts. Ah, well. Looks like you did a lot of reading this week!

  20. February 2, 2009 1:21 am

    Oh I loved The Thorn Birds. I read it in high school and fell in love with it.. I’ve heard so many things about Ender’s Game that I really must read it one of these days!

  21. J.S. Peyton permalink
    February 2, 2009 9:16 am

    I’ve never even heard of “The Thorn Birds” but I love the idea that it’s set in Australia. I’m definitely looking into this!

    P.S. I’ve decided that my new reading goal is to read as much as Eva every week! You’re amazing. Can’t wait to read those forthcoming reviews!

  22. February 2, 2009 11:23 am

    CuriousC, I loved it!

    Bermuda Onion, I can see why people would love Ender’s Game.

    Literary Feline, love lazy Sundays! This is pretty much the only football game I watch all year. ;)

    Olduvai, definitely bump up The Thorn Birds!

    Debbie, you should. :)

    Claire, I wish I had read The Thorn Birds when I was a teen-I would’ve eaten it up! Snow Country’s writing was definitely great.

    Debi, I knew that ‘gifted-ness’ was a very important issue to you, so I can imagine how Ender’s Game would affect you. I’m sorry Annie’s experienced negative things due to being gifted as well. :( I actually just typed a really long paragraph about my experiences, but decided this wasn’t the forum. ;)

    Steph, yeah-I’m not like “oh great-there are a ton of other books in the series!” This is the third Card I’ve read, and none of his books have blown me away.

    Samantha, definitely check out The Thorn Birds!

    Memory, I loved it too! :)

    Alyce, my review definitely won’t be raving!

    Meghan, I usually pre-write all of my posts for the week except Sunday Salon! Definitely read The Thorn Birds. :)

    Andi, it’s up today! :)

    Lisa, it definitely swept me away.

    Jeane, I think pretentiousness kills books more quickly than bad writing!

    Staci, I’ll have to check out the mini-series then!

    Chris, oh I’m so glad you said that. How about I’ll read Speaker for the Dead if you read Pride & Prejudice? :) I like the mix of agreement and disagreement; it’s be kind of crazy if we felt the same way about everything!! And meh is a very helpful word. :D

    FrumiousB, thanks-I’m a bit challenge addicted. ;)

    Ali, yeah-I usually actually write new posts twice a week now adays!

    J.S., you should DEFINITELY look into The Thorn Birds. And lol @ our new goal! ;)

  23. February 2, 2009 12:33 pm

    The Thorn Birds was one of those “sink your teeth into” novels. I read it years ago and then after my girlfriends read it we rented the TV miniseries. All in all we enjoyed the novel more, although it was interesting how they translated it to TV.

  24. February 2, 2009 1:10 pm

    It’s a deal Eva! I’ll read P&P!

  25. February 2, 2009 2:58 pm

    The Thorn Birds was so cheesy (but I still read and secretly enjoyed all the drama). Ender’s Game is waaaay better. I’m with Chris on that one!

  26. February 2, 2009 8:27 pm

    I’ve never read “The Thorn Birds” but I vaguely remember it as a mini-series. I’d add it to my list but don’t think I’d ever get to it. As for “Ender’s Game” I’ve used it as a book discussion choice for middle school students and they really enjoyed it.

  27. February 3, 2009 3:56 am

    Stephanie, definitely!

    Chris, awesome!!!

    Chartroose, but well-written melodrama is better than so-so sci-fi! :p

    Gavin, I can see middle schoolers enjoying the book.

  28. February 4, 2009 7:02 pm

    I read The Thorn Birds a few years ago for book club – we all just loved it! What a great saga.

  29. February 5, 2009 3:24 pm

    I really enjoyed reading Snow Country. I have had my eye on Thorn Birds for a while now. Guess I need to get on that…

  30. February 6, 2009 3:24 am

    Tara, it’s a great book!

    Michelle, I’m glad you enjoyed reading Snow Country. :) Thorn Birds is very different! lol

  31. March 31, 2009 8:23 pm

    I just read Snow Country too and read your review. Didn’t realize that it was happening! I went back to read that part and it makes more sense now. That’s the part where Komako’s behavior toward Shimamura starts to change.


  1. Ender’s Game (thoughts) « A Striped Armchair
  2. Support Your Library Challenge Wrap Up « A Striped Armchair
  3. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata | Books of Mee
  4. Travel by Books: 2009 Wrap-Up « A Striped Armchair

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