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Sunday Salon: the Post-Vacation Post

April 5, 2009

The Sunday Salon.comSorry for the longer-than-expected break guys! We extended our vacation for a few days, and as soon as I got home, I managed to eat some sketchy raw spinach and, well, if you don’t know the possible consequences of that, your ignorance is definitely bliss. So I haven’t really felt like blogging until today.

Moving right along (sorry for the overshare, random Sunday Saloners), while most of my vacation was spent savouring my sister and niece’s company, I did get a fair amount of time to sunbathe and read (my sister’s kind of allergic to the sun, and my niece’s skin is so white you can trace all of her veins, so when my poor Colorado self needed some Texas warmth, I had to be alone. Don’t worry-I always use really high sunscreen, and I’m one of those people who tan instead of burning.). And I’ve read a few more since I’ve been home (library deadlines are such great motivators! hehe). So here we go…

comfortofstrangersMy mom and I listened to Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangerson CD while we were driving down to Texas. I’m a huge fan of McEwan, so I’m slowly working my way through his books (very slowly-I’m awful about reading more of my favourite authors for some reason). I have to say that this is my least favourite so far; while I think I know what McEwan was trying to accomplish, I don’t think he delivered. In the book, a British couple on holiday in Venice bump into a local man and befriend him. Unfortunately for them, this is a suspense book, so their newfound friend has dark intentions. My mom said the book reminded her of a Hitchcock film, and I can definitely see that. My major problem with the story was that the British couple are so, well, daft, I couldn’t really believe it. The guy starts being pretty creepy early on, so why would they continue their relationship with him? I could have overlooked that, if McEwan had delivered a really satisfying ending. But instead the ending didn’t quite ring true to all of the foreshadowing (almost as if McEwan drew back and decided he didn’t really want to go there), so I was left frustrated. As I was listening to the story, I couldn’t help wondering if this was his first book; he seems to do a lot of experimenting with different focuses and voices that makes the book feel a bit piecemeal (according to Wikipedia, it’s his second). That being said, McEwan’s writing is still wonderful, so we were definitely entertained (although, um, there was a lot of sex in it at one point which was mildly awkward in the car, lol). Recommended for McEwan fans, but first-timers should choose one of his other books. I’m curious about the movie adaptation, because this is one of those times I might actually prefer it!

americangirls Throughout my vacation, I read stories from the collection American Girls About Town, an anthology of contemporary American female chick lit authors. I very rarely read chick lit, and most of these stories reminded me why; the genre and I simply don’t mesh well. Most of the stories were pretty forgettable to me, but there were a few that stood out. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my favourites were two that followed women travelling: “The Bamboo Confessions” by Lauren Weisberger and “Andromeda on the Street of Ducklings” by Judi Hendricks. You’ll hear more about those two tomorrow for Short Story Monday! My other two favourites were “Forty Days” by Jill Smolinski, in which the protagonist spends the 40 days before her fortieth birthday during new things (this one was awesome actually, and I totally want to make this a birthday tradition starting next year) reviewed by the lovely Darcie hereand “Leaving a Light On” by Claire LaZebnik which seems to be a one-night stand story, but it has a fun twist and (more importantly to me) the writing style is strong. Even though I can’t say I enjoyed the anthology, I’m not going to give up on the genre yet. If any one of you have a favourite ‘chick lit’ book, please share!

dreamersofthedayAs another part of my Women’s History Month project, I read Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History by Lauren Ulrich. Ulrich is the historian who originally coined that phrase, and in this book she explores the idea through women in various times and places. I loved it, and I’m going to do a more in-depth review soon! I also picked up Mary Doria Russell’s Dreamers of the Day. I was so excited about this one, since I thought The Sparrow as such an interesting book, and I love the 1920s and the Middle East. But I have to be honest: Dreamers didn’t impress me at all. The first part is a makeover a la Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and while 1920s fashion is always fun, it didn’t connect all that well to the rest of the book. Many of the characters were real people (Lawrence of Arabia, Gertrude Stein), but I don’t think that’s an excuse for one-dimensionality. Even Agnes herself (the protagonist) didn’t feel real; Russell beats the reader over the head that Agnes is trying to push off her control-freak, Edwardian mother’s influence and stop being a spinster. That was the real problem with the book: rather than showing us, Russell rushes in to tell everything. Why? Because Agnes is narrating the book from ‘beyond the grave,’ which I think was a poor style choice. Also, in the end, Agnes talks about the afterlife and the random people she meets and it just made me roll my eyes over and over again. *sigh* I expected to love this one, but honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. If you’re interested in the history Russell discusses, there are better books for that. And if you’re all about 1920s flappers, there are better books for that too. If only Russell had changed the narrative voice, I think this could have been a really good book. As it was, it got worse and worse as it progressed.

That was all I read during my actual vacation, but once I got home I kicked it up a notch. I quickly went through two nonfiction books: Internet Dating is Not Like Ordering a Pizzaby Cherie Burbach, which is a book tour book that far surpassed its title and cover, and Dark Banquetby Bill Schutt. The latter was a science book about blood-sucking animals, and several of you noticed it during my Library Loot. I’m here to say it was a lot of fun, and while I’ll be doing a full review, if you were thinking about reading it, I definitely enjoyed it! Corny puns abounded, as I’ve come to expect in the genre, but they actually made me chuckle a bit this time. And the printing is gorgeous: there are sketches throughout, and little crimson silhouettes of the various creatures between section breaks. It’s a high-quality book.

pathwaystoblissI also read Pathways to Bliss, a posthumous collection of Joseph Campbell lectures and essays. I began it on vacation, and finished it up when I got home as my Dewey Decimal Challenge March selection. I’m a big fan of Campbell, but I don’t think this book had the best editing. I was attracted to it in large part because of the subtitle: Mythology and Personal Transformation. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of psychology in this book, and I’m not a huge Freud fan (to put it lightly), and most of the other stuff (the Hero’s Journey, the difference in experiences in the East and the West, etc.) has been addressed by other Campbell books in a better way. That being said, I really liked two chapters, which formed about fifty pages in the middle: “Myth and the Self” and “Personal Myth.” For me, this made the book worth reading, but I think the books Campbell actually wrote and/or published himself are a better bet.

amercyI finally got Toni Morrison’s A Mercy from the library, and when I had mentally geared up for it (slavery is something I have to prepare for in my reading), I broke it open. It was much shorter than I expected, and although I loved it, I don’t think it’s a book for everyone. It barely has a plot and a very open ending, and the story told is all mixed up chronologically. If those things drive you crazy, you probably won’t like the book. But it has wonderful characterizations, in a wide variety of narrative voices, and since it’s Morrison she explores difficult moral choices (there’s an echo of Beloved‘s look at the dark side of mother love here) and how a society built on slavery has horrible effects on all of its members. I didn’t know anything about the characters going into the book, and I think that’s the best way to go about it: Morrison can reveal things in the order and style she intended. I loved this one, and if you read like me, I bet that you will too (the book kind of reminded me of Woolf’s style, with its focus on the internal lives of the characters to the exclusion of almost everything else).

worldasstage I was really on a short book kick when I got back, as I soon finished Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: the World as Stage. I’ve never read any of Bryson’s travelogues (they sound good, just haven’t gotten around to them), and I’ve never read a biography of Shakespeare, so I went into this with a clean slate. It was my first read for Emily’s Getting to Know You Challenge, for which I’m also going to read at least three of the Bard’s plays (one history, one comedy, one tragedy). I really loved the book: Bryson says at the beginning that we don’t actually know many facts about Shakespeare, so while he touches on the conjectures, most of the book is about Shakespeare’s place and time. I think that’s a great way to approach it, as I could imagine Shakespeare wandering about Elizabethan London and I learned lots of interesting facts. He also looks at Shakespeare’s stunning impact on English literature, and while the book doesn’t have intense literary criticism, Bryson’s admiration for his subject really comes through. I’d highly recommend this book, for people who want more context for Shakespeare’s life or who are just curious about Elizabethan London and want a taste of what life would have been like back then. Bryson has a strong and wonderful voice, and I’ll definitely be reading more of his books in the future! (Speaking of Shakespeare, does anyone have a favourite history play to recommend? I’m fairly well acquainted with the comedies and tragedies but know nothing about the histories.)

noodlemakerI also finished up The Noodle Makerby Ma Jian, my first Orbis Terrarum stop. It took me to early 90s China, and while the writing style was strong, and the narrative structure really neat (a professional writer and a professional blood donor who are old friends are having dinner-but most of the book is taken up with stories the writer would publish if he didn’t live in a totalitarian state), the utter misogynist tone got old really fast. I don’t know if the author feels that way about women, or if it’s just an attribute he gave the writer/narrator, but it destroyed all of the enjoyment I would have felt about the book. It’s still a very interesting book; it rather reminded me of if Kundera was Chinese and more overt with his opinions regarding women. But especially in the middle of my Women’s History Month reading, it left a sour taste in my mouth. I’ll definitely try out another of the author’s books, since his writing is great (it immediately evokes a sense of place and time and his characters are unforgettable), but if it has an anti-women vibe to it as well, that’ll be that.

ludinthemist1Two other books that I started on vacation and finished after I got home were Lud-in-the-Mistby Hope Mirrlees and The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby. I read the Mirrlees for the Neil Gaiman challenge (he wrote the foreword to the new publication), but also because none of my Once Upon a Time choices are available for pick-up at the library yet and I needed a fantasy fix! Lud-in-the-Mist is a small English village on the border with faerie, that tries to studiously ignore anything faerie-related. But when illegal fairy fruit starts surfacing, and the youth of town begin eating it and disappearing over the hills into faerie land, two of the town elders decide to take on the mysterious forces. I thought parts of the book were charming: the style is very provincial British, and the ‘curses’ of the townspeople are hilarious (“Toasted cheese!” was by far my favourite). I enjoyed watching Master Nat work out the mystery and go after those responsible. But I thought it rather odd that he was so much more concerned with his son than his daughter (they both disappear, but he seems to care only about his son), and the book didn’t have that special extra sparkle to make it five stars. So fun, and a good fantasy fix, but not a book I want to read over and over again.

murasakiThe Tale of Murasaki is historical fiction, set in Medieval Japan, that is the imagined memoirs of the author of The Tales of Genji. It’s one of my choices for the 9 for ’09 challenge (free-since I bookmooched it). While Dalby is American, she has a lot of both personal and academic experience with Japanese culture, and she completely immersed me in the world. I loved hearing all of the little details of life and Dalby mixes in many of the real woman’s poems. While I don’t pretend to understand Japanese poetry, it did add something special to the book. Murasaki herself is the only fully developed character, which makes sense in a fictional memoir, and although there isn’t much of a plot (this is my life), I really loved having a window into such a different world. I drew the reading out as long as I could, and I definitely plan to read more of Dalby in the future. Highly recommended to pretty much anyone.

a-well-timed-enchantmentThe final book I’m going to talk about today (I know! this makes ten! I’m exhausted, lol) is Vivian Vande Velde’s A Well-Timed Enchantment. This was an impulse buy at my library sale last year; I love time travel and the Middle Ages, so this book about a teenage girl (Deanna) who goes back to medieval France seemed like fun. And it was fun, but unfortunately it was one of those children’s books without a lot of depth. Velde introduces these random elves, who are the reason for the time travel and give Deanna the ability to understand and communicate in Medieval French…it felt like too much of a device to me. And the people Deanna encounters are all pretty one-dimensional. The best part is Oliver, a cat that the elves turn into a person to help her in her quest (she has to get back a Mickey Mouse watch she accidentally dropped into a well that crosses time). Velde’s portrayal of how a cat might act as a person is quite amusing. All in all, I think I would have enjoyed this when I was maybe seven or eight, but it left me feeling a bit flat as an adult. But I still love the author’s name. :D And it’s one of my choices for the Themed Reading Challenge (I picked Middle Ages as my theme).

Whew! I did finish one other book last night: The Book of Night Women by Marlon James, but for now I’ll just say that it was moving and powerful and I stayed up way too late to finish it. ;)

I can’t wait to get back into the blogging groove, and although I doubt I’ll ever actually catch up on reviews (lol), it’s always fun to try!

38 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2009 5:58 pm

    I read The Tale of Murasaki a few years ago and thought it was really well done. I’m glad to see someone else pick it up to read! I’d like to read the Bryson book as well.

  2. April 5, 2009 6:42 pm

    We sure missed you, especially on Library Loot day. Glad you got away though. That post would take me a week to create and and another week to rest up from. I was hoping Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers would be good. I may still try it, I’ve liked everything of his so far, even those that others didn’t. The Book of Night Women interests me. I need someone to write a guest review of A Mercy for me, does that interest you at all Eva? I am always looking for guest reviewers of literary fiction. Well, don’t overdo it now that you’re home but it is nice to see you posting again. Take care.

  3. April 5, 2009 6:43 pm

    Holy cow, that was a lot of reading and reviewing!

    I also was very disappointed with Dreamers of the Day. If you check the Library Thing Early Reviewers discussion on it, there was almost universal hate of the last chapter!

    Your comments on The Noodle Maker were so interesting, because I often wonder also how an author could make a repulsive character unless the author really thought those things! So it’s either a sign of a good (and not-ego-istically involved) author, or someone with questionable characteristics that writes well! When I got to hear Josh Bazell (Beat the Reaper) I asked how much in common he had with his protagonist. He thought that was very funny, since the main character was a hired killer, but the protagonist sounded so authentic! It’s a mystery….

  4. April 5, 2009 7:56 pm

    Oh no! I hope you are feeling better, Eva. Your the second person who I have visited today who mentioned something about food poisoning.

    It sounds like you had a great time on your vacation. Anytime you get to read a lot is good! :-) I enjoyed the one McEwan book I read. I keep meaning to pick something else up that he’s written. I’m sorry The Comfort of Strangers didn’t quite live up to the others you’ve read by him. I’ve been wondering about A Mercy. I’ve heard mixed reviews about it. My coworker wasn’t too thrilled when she read it. From your description, I probably will give it a try. I may just like it.

    I hope you have a great week, Eva. It’s good to have you back.

  5. April 5, 2009 8:14 pm

    It’s so good to hear from you Eva!! I was getting worried about you! And it sounds like have reason to with you getting sick from tainted spinach and all ;) Glad to hear you’re feeling better now.

    Ok, you just added SO much to my wishlist in one damn post! Why must you do this? lol. I still haven’t read any McEwan, but I have two of his books here now…so I’ll start one soon. I’m thinking of starting with Amsterdam…is that a good one?

    And it’s funny that you read a book of short stories all written by women, because I finished one today that was written all by guys called “Every Man for Himself”. Very good book by the way.

    And now I’m going to add The Comfort of Strangers, The Bill Bryson book, The Noodle Maker, and The Tale of Murasaki to my wishlist…and I would’ve added Lud-in-the-Mist if I didn’t already own it ;)

  6. April 5, 2009 9:22 pm

    It’s wonderful to see you back again. Sympathy about that spinach thing.

  7. April 5, 2009 9:43 pm

    I have The Tale of Murasaki waiting for me on my shelves – thanks for reminding me!! Ever since travelling to Japan for the first time a few years ago I love reading anything from that country and culture.
    I absolutely love Toni Morrison’s writing but sometimes her books overwhelm me (which I guess they are meant to do). Beloved was a really tough read for me so I’m not sure if I can pick up her new one right now even though part of me really, really wants to!

  8. April 6, 2009 12:45 am

    It’s so nice to see you back, Eva. You were sorely missed. :D

    Re: Ma Jian, I haven’t read him, and although there are many Chinese authors who are kinder about women, misogynistic themes will always be apparent in Chinese writing because it has never left Chinese culture, even in these very modern times. So while it’s quite distasteful to read about, for some, that is actually true to who they are as a people, being how most traditional Chinese men are. I don’t mean to generalize, and I apologize if I offend anyone, but I’m talking about those who grew up in very traditional Chinese households and not the Westernized ones. :D

  9. April 6, 2009 2:48 am

    I had been wondering if I should read Bryson’s book on Shakespeare. I’ll take this as a yes :P

    PS: Welcome back!

  10. April 6, 2009 4:00 am

    Wow, it looks like you had a good vacation. Reading-wise at least.

    Glad to have you back!

  11. Carey permalink
    April 6, 2009 5:04 am

    I don’t usually comment, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to recommend my favorite Shakespeare play. Henry IV, Part 1 is great and I highly recommend it for your history.

  12. April 6, 2009 5:31 am

    I’m glad you enjoyed Shakespeare by Bill Bryson. I feel a re-read coming on! If you are interested in reading more about the great man, I would highly recommend 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro, full of fascinating little facts as well as a thoroughly entertaining read.

    As for a great history, I’ve always been rather partial to Henry V, but then I have not read either part of Henry IV. Enjoy!

  13. stacybuckeye permalink
    April 6, 2009 6:23 am

    Glad you had a good vacation :) And sorry about your spinach troubles :(

    Too bad you didn’t like Dramers of the Day. My only complaint was that I found it a bit boring, and although I didn’t love the last chapter I didn’t hate it either.

  14. April 6, 2009 8:04 am

    So many books!

    Like you, I’m working my way through McEwan’s books. His earlier stuff can be spotty. For instance, I’m halfway through The Innocent and love it, but keep waiting for somethign bad and weird to happen because The Cement Garden turned out so bad and weird.

    I’ve been putting off The Comfort of Strangers because I saw the movie and it creeped me out to no end. That was Christoffer Walkin at his super creepiest (before he became a comic actor) and Rupert Everett as the male leader — totally unbelievable. But I’ll get to is someday.

    I didn’t care for Dreamers of the Day either — and it had such potential! Here is my review to explain just why I didn’t care for it.

  15. April 6, 2009 9:11 am

    Welcome back!

    I recently read Will in the World which is a literary biography of Shakespeare. Like you said about Bryson’s book, we don’t know a lot about Shakespeare but in the Greenblatt biography, he approaches the Bard through his plays: what do the plays tell us about the man? It’s quite fascinating. I look forward to revisiting it once I’ve read more of the plays.

    I also don’t know know much about the history plays. Sorry I don’t have one to recommend.

  16. April 6, 2009 9:54 am

    Welcome back! I completely agree with you re A Mercy. Though it did not make me weep as Beloved did, it was wonderful (and yes, Woolfian in its way): beautiful and harrowing at the same time.

    The Bryson Shakespeare book was already on the list, but I’m going to add The Tale of Murasaki (someday I’ll have to read The Tale of Genji–so far behind!). As for the History plays: Henry V, Henry IV part 1 (for Falstaff, if nothing else), and then Richard III, if only because he is the only one of Shakespeare’s abusers of power that WS does not even attempt to make sympathetic (not that he does anything to deserve our sympathy; but even Macbeth has his humanity. Not sure about Titus A…though).

  17. April 6, 2009 11:02 am

    Sorry you’ve been under the weather. I’m sorry to see that The Noodle Maker doesn’t live up to it’s potential.

  18. April 6, 2009 1:03 pm

    Glad to have you back! I’m bummed about the Russell book, though–like you, I loved The Sparrow & its sequel and have been looking forward to her next book.

  19. April 6, 2009 1:18 pm

    ahh, spinach. So good for you, yet oddly so dangerous too!

    Looks like it gave you a lot of reader time though! Thank YOU spinach!

  20. April 6, 2009 2:00 pm

    That’s a lot of reading! I have that Shakespeare book, it’s the only Bill Bryson I have NOT read! I think A Walk in the Woods is my favorite, but it’s been a while.

  21. April 6, 2009 2:13 pm

    Welcome back! Reading and sunbathing… ah, I can’t WAIT for summer!

  22. adevotedreader permalink
    April 6, 2009 3:01 pm

    Welcome back Eva!

    Re the chick lit, it’s not my favourite genre either but of what I’ve readwould reccomend Marian Keyes, Marisa De Los Santos and of course Helen Fielding’s bridget Jones books.

    I have Bryson’s Shakespeare book in my TBR pile, I’ve enjoyed a few of his travelogues (even his Australian one) so hope to enjoy it when I get to it. My favourites of the history plays are Richard III and the tfirst part of Henry IV.

    I have to gear up for reading abou slavery, especailly in the sometimes hard to follow novels of Toni Morrison. I do want to read A Mercy one of these days.

  23. April 6, 2009 6:15 pm

    Glad you are back and way sorry about the food-born thing:( I am adding Dark Banquet to my to be read list.

  24. April 6, 2009 7:22 pm

    I’m totally envious of all the reading you’ve been getting done (but not the spinach thing! Yuck.)… I recently read A Mercy, as well, and I really loved it. I never stopped to think that the somewhat roundabout/backwards way of telling the story might be confusing to some people, as I really found this book so rewarding. You were probably wise to give it a caveat, though!

  25. April 6, 2009 9:16 pm

    Wow! That’s a lot of books! The Book of Night Women kept me up late too when I read it. It’s a very intense book. I understand about having to gear up to read slave stories because I’m that way too.

  26. April 6, 2009 10:59 pm

    Danielle, you’re the one who recommended The Tale of Murasaki to me. :D

    Sandra, I don’t think I could write a more coherent review of A Mercy than I wrote in this post! ;) Thanks for the offer, though. As to The Comfort of Strangers…it wasn’t horrendous, it just wasn’t nearly as good as his other books.

    Rhapsody, you have to wonder where her editor was with the last chapter! And it’s definitely difficult to know how to react to an author whose characters have unsavoury traits. It wasn’t just the protagonist who was a mysogonist…the way the women characters are treated just really bothered me.

    LF, food poisoning is evil! I’ll be curious to know if you enjoy A Mercy. :)

    Chris, I haven’t read Amsterdam yet-I want to read it next! I’ll have to check out Every Man for Himself-sounds interesting. And lol @ adding to your wishlist: you buy more books than anyone else I know!

    Bybee, thanks. :)

    Karen, I think you’ll love it if you love Japanese culture!! I don’t think A Mercy was *nearly* as intense as Beloved, fyi. I didn’t cry, I wasn’t horribly creeped out, there isn’t all of the tension that Beloved has. And there isn’t really a lot of violence either.

    Claire, you’re so sweet. :) I couldn’t help wondering if Chinese culture had something to do with The Noodle Maker, so I’m glad that you said that. No one seems to have taken offense; it’s so sad about many world cultures are anti-women. :/

    Nymeth, I think you’d definitely enjoy it!

    Nik, thanks! I didn’t read all of those books on vacation. ;)

    Carey, thanks for the rec!

    Mariel, thanks for the recs-the Shapiro book sounds very interesting, and it’s good to have options with the histories.

    Stacy, I’m glad you liked Dreamers more than me, for Russell’s sake. ;)

    Rose City Reader, I loved The Innocent completely, so I don’t think there’s anything weird that happens. ;) I was wondering about Cement Garden-now I think I’ll read some of his other books first! I totally want to see the movie now, fyi. It sounds more believable with Everett as the Italian guy. I love Everett.

    Rebecca, I think literary biographies are interesting, but whenever I try to read them, I can’t turn off the skeptic in my head saying “really?!” :/

    DS, I agree-A Mercy wasn’t as poweful as Beloved, but it’s a great book. I’m not sure if I’ll ever read The Tale of Genji, lol…I think Japanese culture is so different from mine, I need some kind of interpreter to really get a lot out of it. And thanks for the recs on the history plays. :) I hated Titus A *shudder*

    BermudaOnion, it’s a really, really well written book. If you can look past the mysogonistic aspects, it evokes a Communist China wonderfully. So I think it lived up to its potential, it just made me sad with all of the anti-women stuff.

    Ali, yeah-if Dreamers was the first Russell I’d read, I probably wouldn’t read another. :/

    Jessica, you always make me laugh! :)

    Lisa, I definitely want to read some of his travelogues one of these days. :)

    Care, I know-this weekend it SNOWED here. South Texas is so much better, lol.

    A Devoted Reader, thanks for some suggestions with chick lit and Shakespeare! A Mercy is definitely a lot harder to follow structurally-wise, but I think it’s an easier read events-wise than Beloved.

    Gavin, I hope you enjoy Dark Banquet! :)

    Steph, yeah well,being unemployed, homebound…it does have a few perks. ;)

    Alyce, isn’t it intense?! Especially the last hundred or so pages: I refused to go to sleep without knowing what happened!!

  27. April 7, 2009 4:05 am

    As usual, the amount and the variety of what you read in such a short time boggles my mind…and as usual, you’re wreaking havoc with my wish list…and as usual, I’m sure you’re not in the slightest bit sorry. :) Welcome home, home…I’ve missed you!

  28. April 7, 2009 10:32 am

    I felt much the same about Dreamers of the Day. I really think it could have been a good book, but…

  29. April 8, 2009 2:21 am

    I didn’t realise there was a movie adaptation of Comfort of Strangers. I read the book recently and it definately wasn’t my favourite of his either. It wasn’t his first novel, I’ve just read The Cement Garden which was his first (after two books of short stories, I believe) Hope you feel better soon!

  30. Jenny permalink
    April 9, 2009 9:07 am

    Have you read Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book? That’s a book about time-travel to the Middle Ages that I try to recommend to everyone. It’s AMAZING. Definitely put it on your list!!!

  31. April 10, 2009 9:14 am

    I have had The Tale of Murasaki on my shelves for ages! I think this is the first blog review I’ve seen of it. I should really get to it one of these days.

  32. April 10, 2009 1:18 pm

    I was impressed with Bryson when I listened to it on CD. I like how he dealt with the authorship debate. Very logical without taking it too seriously.

  33. April 11, 2009 8:03 pm

    I love Bill Bryson. I’ve read A Walk in the Woods, about hiking the Appalachian Trail; Down Under, about Australia; and Notes from a Small Island, about England. They’re all very funny and insightful.

  34. April 14, 2009 11:25 pm

    Eva, hehe: thanks! And I’m not at all sorry about your wish list. :p

    3M, I’m glad you agree with me!

    Michelle, how did you feel about The Cemebt Garden?

    Jenny, I haven’t: thanks for the rec!

    Tara, it’s a really neat book, and it’s one that you can put down and pick back up easily.

    Petunia, I liked that chapter too!

    Esther, wow!

  35. Jillian permalink
    January 16, 2011 8:21 pm

    I’m excited to read Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare!


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