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Sunday Salon: the High Gear Post

March 7, 2010

The Sunday Salon.comMy reading has really taken off in the last week! I’ve actually read 14 books since my last Sunday Salon. I know that this uber-reading won’t last; it’s just a phase, but it sure is nice after last month’s on-and-off feel. Don’t worry; I won’t be trying to talk about all the books today! Two I’ve already reviewed (The Fellowship of the Ring and The Age of Homespun by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, two I’ve read for ‘tours’ (Classics Circuit and Spotlight Tours), and one I already know I’ll be devoting a post to. That leaves nine, and just to warn you now, while I’ve been reading a lot, they haven’t all been gush-worthy. It breaks down to about half and half!

I finished my first Art History Challenge read: The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick. This is a nonfiction book, mainly about one detective with Scotland Yard and the various art crimes he’s helped solved, with the book centering on the 1994 theft of The Scream. I found parts of this book quite interesting, especially how museums tend to be a bit lax with security and insurance, and the short stories of different heists sprinkled throughout. Also, there were colour plates in the middle with many of the paintings Dolnick discusses, which was nice. However, there was a serious case of hero-worship going on! The way that Dolnick discusses the detective, Charley, you’d think a little boy was telling you about his favourite superhero. I’m not a fan of super-adulatory biographies, and in many cases it seems like Dolnick just takes Charley’s word as absolute fact. Even though it seems like Charley’s the kind of guy who would embellish just about any story. Reading this often felt like when you’ve been cornered in a cafe or at a bar, by some guy who’s a bit full of himself, and keeps telling you all these things about himself that you don’t really believe, but you’re stuck there, so rather than roll your eyes you just look around for an exit. Unless I’m the only one that that’s happened to?* I’m sure there must be better books on art crime than this, although I couldn’t tell you what they are.

I was originally supposed to read The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man by James Weldon Johnson for the Classics Circuit’s Harlem Renaissance tour (which pretty much added something to my TBR list with each post!) as well as the Black Classics Challenge. I’m sad that my illness made me miss my date, because this book was so good! It’s a novel, but it’s told in the style of a memoir, and it’s so convincing that I had to pause and check on the internet to confirm that it really was fiction. Johnson’s writing style is incredibly readable; I could have swallowed this in one sitting if I wasn’t trying to stretch it out. I know some people get nervous by the idea of a classic, but honestly this felt like it could have been written last year. Instead, it was first published in 1912, and it was apparently the first novel that used a first-person black narrator. Our narrator has a really neat life, from his earliest years in the South to his schoolboy years in Connecticut to rolling cigars in Florida to being a musician in the heart of Harlem (at ‘The Club,’ which sounds like the Cotton Club) to going on a tour of Europe, every page was packed with interest. While ultimately, the narrator must decide whether to embrace his black heritage or pass as white, the race issues central to the book are more subtle and psychological that I expected.* All of this is my way of telling you that I loved reading this book, I think you all would too, and I really want to find out more about Johnson!

Then I picked up The God who Begat a Jackal by Nega Mezlekia for the Reading the World Challenge. Oh readers. I was so excited about this one. I adored Mezlekia’s memoir (Notes From a Hyena’s Belly), and it was written in such a literary style, I was sure his hand at fiction would be excellent as well. And when I found it was historical fiction in Ethiopia, I probably squealed out loud. But, um, let’s just say that Mezlekia needs a bit more practice at fiction. I could see what he was trying to achieve, and often it felt like he was going for a Shalimar the Clown* kind of feel, but it just didn’t. quite. work. It started out strong, with this daughter of Duke and her mystical ways (when she’s five, she walks through a wall, because no one’s told her that humans can’t do that)…but then it just went downhill. And I kept reading, thinking it had to get better, but it got even more convoluted. It’s almost like Mezlekia decided to cram as much into his book as possible, and his editor was too afraid to tell him: “You’re not that good at juggling yet. Let’s remove a few of those balls.” Are y’all sick of metaphors yet? I really wish I could tell you this book was amazing, but I can’t. Go read his memoir instead, and let’s cross our fingers that in his next book he learns from his mistakes!

I never would have known about The Journal of Madam Knight by Sarah Kemble Knight if it weren’t for my Decades Challenge emphasis on the eighteenth century. It’s a journal from 1704, kept by American colonialist Madame Knight of her trip from Boston to New Haven to New York City and back. It’s quite slim, and for the first few pages I felt disoriented, but once I’d gotten into rhythm with Madam Knight, I was delighted. Even though it’s from three hundred years ago, Knight’s focus reminded me of some of the modern-day travelogues I’ve read…the establishments she has to stay at, the sometimes bad food, the character of each town she pauses in, her fellow travellers. She sometimes writes poems, too, which cracked me up. I wasn’t thinking and returned the book to the library without copying one of them out. My favourite came from one night, when some men staying in her inn were being drunk and rowdy. So she wrote a poem to gin, asking it to please help the men fall asleep soon. lol! She’s also strong-minded; her original destination was just New Haven, but when her male relatives fobbed her off (she was trying to settle some business stuff) she went on to New York with them. So for all of these reasons, the book was fascinating. And yet, there was one major problem for me…Knight is incredibly, shockingly racist. When she runs across Native or African-Americans (which, thankfully, doesn’t happen too frequently) she actually discusses them as if they were animals. She uses the phrase ‘black hoof’ at one point, which will always be burned into my memory. I understand that at that time, most white people were horribly racist. But that didn’t make it less upsetting to read…the first instance of it comes about one-third of the way through the book, and after that it was much harder for me to appreciate her humour and strength. So I’m glad that I read this, but I don’t want a copy for my own shelves, you know?

After that, I finished my reread of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I listened to the audio version, read by Gaiman himself, this time. Hearing Gaiman read his own work was as much a treat as always! I didn’t review it the first time I read it (which was the week it was released!), and now that I’ve reread it, I don’t have much else to say except my inner monologue, which was something like:

OMG, this is so good! It’s dramatic and true and bittersweet and exquisite! This is why Gaiman is one of my very favourite authors!

Not that helpful, right? I do think that this would be a great starting point for those new to Gaiman…I usually recommend either this or Anansi Boys depending on the person’s mood. And while it won a Newbery, it’s really a book for all ages…it doesn’t feel ‘childlike’ at all. So just go read it already! I told Aarti to, and she loved it. So you should listen to me.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin wasn’t what I expected. The writing was more straight-forward, less lush, and if it weren’t for the setting, I wouldn’t have thought it was written in 1899. I thought it was set in the Midwest, when it’s set in New Orleans among the Creole. And I thought there was going to be a torrid love affair with, dare I say it, some s-e-x. But really, the awakening Edna goes through isn’t one of sexual discovery so much as realising that she’s a person, who needs to follow her own passions to be fulfilled. The beginning of the book really grabbed me, and I was all excited. Then in the middle, I felt more ‘meh’ and Edna quite annoyed me (it’s one thing to not much enjoy being a wife and mother yourself; it’s another to look condescendingly on anyone who does enjoy that). I began to sympathise less and less with her. Then, the last few chapters perked things back up. Once I finished it, I wasn’t sure what I felt about it. I’m certainly glad that I read it, and I loved certain aspects of the book. But I didn’t love the book as a whole, and I didn’t identify much with Edna. So for me, the book felt more like an academic exercise than a marvelous reading experience.

The Autumn of the Patriarch (for the Reading the Seasons Challenge) was my fifth Gabriel Garcia Marquez book. I’ve loved the other four, and I went into this one expecting to love it too. To put it lightly, that did not happen. To put it more truthfully, almost every page of this book was excruciating, and I dreaded picking it back up, bribing myself to get through it. It started out well enough, with awesome imagery and a dead general-dictator, and the whole first chapter was about this guy who happened to look just like the general, and how his life had been serving as the official double. That immediately caught my imagination, and so I could overlook the problems. But after that first chapter, things just got worse, and the rest of the characters failed to hold my interest. Occasionally, a beautiful image or idea would flare up from the page, and I’d be all “There’s the Marquez I know and love!” But then I’d get dragged back down in the morass. The number one issue with the book is the lack of full stops. Sentences regularly go on for a page and a half. Some writers can pull this off, and since I love Woolf, I’d say that I’m a pretty adventurous reader. It’s not like I’m going to automatically be annoyed at a nontraditional approach. But I don’t know if it was the translation (which wasn’t by Edith Grossman) or if Marquez was just too ambitious for his talents, but the lack of any rest points for the reader made me read faster and faster, skimming half the time, because it was too exhausting to focus. I don’t think the lack of punctuation did anything good either, it just ruined the book. Then, there’s the fact that the General has a lot of ‘non-consensual’ sex. That in and of itself wouldn’t bother me a ton, since I’m sure dictators the world over regularly rape, or to put it more genteelly ‘coerce,’ partners. And the General does a lot of evil stuff, so I’d assume it was just Marquez making him awful. But. At one point, he’s raping a woman, and she suddenly starts pitying him and pitying all men. WTF?!?! That just pissed me off. And I was already pissed off because of the run-on sentences (that regularly change from third to first person in the middle of a phrase). It’s a good thing I’ve read so many other Marquez books, because if I had started with this one, I’d never have picked him up again.

Skipping over a couple reads brings me to Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber. This is another book that defied my expectations, but in a good way this time! I went in thinking it would be a pretty straightforward thriller; a lab tech on the trail of a mysterious baby killer. But, while the investigation is completely central to the book, it takes backseat to Lena (the lab tech)’s personal issues. The girl is a bit unbalanced and completely socially awkward. If I just told you about her, you’d probably scoff and decide not to read the book. But here’s the thing…Abu-Jaber is so good at characterisation, that I went along with Lena. She certainly never behaves like myself, but I’ve known some people in my life who were a bit ‘off,’ and Lena is so consistent in her own universe, that it works. I guessed the killer pretty early on, but I almost always do that (for some reason, I’m just good at foreseeing twists), and the case itself was handled quite well. The escalating tension was perfect, and at a few points my heart was definitely thumping. The setting is pretty much another character in the book; it’s in Syracuse during the winter, and the cold is a constant factor. I’ve never lived in so cold of a place*, but Abu-Jaber brought it alive, to the point that I liked to drinking something warm while reading the book. :) Origin isn’t a traditional thriller by any means, although I wouldn’t exactly call it literary either. Really, it’s just its own book, and it rather defies categorisation. I definitely want to read more of Abu!-Jaber in the future

Down to the last book! A Journey of One’s Own by Thalia Zepatos is aimed at women who want to travel independently. It’s full of marvelous advice, both for travelling solo and travelling as a partner, and there are also wonderful stories both from Zepatos’ own travels and from other women that she interviewed. I love this; it was inspiring and informative and everything I could have asked for. The section on sexual harassment and how to deal with it was especially helpful, since I’ve found that in the travel advice books written by men, this tends to be downplayed. Not only does she encourage everyone to ‘get off the beaten track,’ she suggests a number of concrete ways to actually do so. All of the suggestions made sense and many of them were new to me! Zepatos also references different travel authors throughout, and I want to look up a lot of these women now, to follow their footsteps. :) In a sense, Zepatos was preaching to the choir with me reading this book; one of my major life goals is to go on an 18-24 month around the world backpacking trip. But even if I hadn’t already felt that way, I think this book would have convinced me! I want a copy for my own shelves, and if you’re at all interested in travelling, I highly suggest picking this up.

Whew! As you can tell, this week has had its ups and downs. I wonder sometimes if it’d be better to always go into books without any expectations; most of my pre-reading impressions of the novels I’ve picked up lately were completely off. Of course, I know that I can’t actually get rid of all of those expectations, but in an ideal world it would be nice. :) How do you keep your expectations for a book in check?

-*-

Footnote One: I can’t be the only one, right? Y’all have imaginary Marine boyfriends that you have to bring up on occasion too?

Footnote Two: I hope that doesn’t come off as condescending. What I mean is, considering it was the early 20th century, I was prepared for a book that focused on lynchings and beatings and that sort of evil.

Footnote Three: My favourite Rushdie. I have the audiobook, and it’s like a billion CDs long, and I’ve still listened to it at least six times. Lurve it!

Footnote Four: Although the Midwest can get cold in the winter when it feels like it! My senior year of college, we had a super-cold winter…one day, schools were cancelled despite there being so snow, because it was so cold they didn’t want the kids outside waiting for the buses. Of course, my college still had class.

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75 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2010 11:13 am

    I have been doing a lot of reading too. With my laptop being out of commission for awhile, I actually got some reading done.

    I stalled on The Awakening. I started it and then got sidetracked by other books so I shelved it for the meantime.

    • March 8, 2010 9:36 pm

      Did you stall in the middle? I found it a bit meh. It’s funny how lack of internet access affects how many books we read! ;)

  2. March 7, 2010 11:18 am

    I loved The Awakening when I read it in tenth grade, and I’m curious to reread it to see how it holds up for me.

    • March 8, 2010 9:37 pm

      I think I would have liked this a lot more if I’d read it in high school!

  3. March 7, 2010 11:23 am

    I have lots of trouble with too high expectations. I think that’s what happened to me with Little Bee, which I reviewed today. I don’t know what I was expecting but I found mostly disappointment. Sometimes if I wait to read a book until months after the initial hype is over, I can read it with a fresh attitude. Sometimes that does work.

    Fortunately, however, my high expectations are often met, so it’s not like I’m always disappointed.

    • March 8, 2010 9:38 pm

      I tend to be turned off books that get too much hype in the blogosphere. lol My expectations usually stem from authors, or being entranced with the ‘idea’ a book is based on. Must learn to control them!

  4. March 7, 2010 11:23 am

    Yay for Gaiman! So many of us bloggers seem to be fangirls of his work. The Awakening is on my to read very very soon list, and I can very much see how it could be considered an academic exercise.

    • March 8, 2010 9:38 pm

      Yep-I’ve loved Gaiman since pre-blogging days, but it’s fun to find so many like-minded readers. :) I wonder what you’ll make of The Awakening.

  5. March 7, 2010 11:41 am

    Johnson wrote the Negro National Anthem. I read The Autiobiography of An-Excolored Man in high school. I loved it, too. Many of my relatives are or were “bright almost white.” Many could have passed so the issue of passing isn’t only cultural but familial for me.

    I love Gaiman’s voice. He turned me on to audio. I started but didn’t finished Graveyard because of a distraction. I want to finish it.

    • March 8, 2010 9:39 pm

      How interesting! I know he was very influential in the community at the time (didn’t he chair NAACP too?).

      Gaiman has a great voice for sure. :)

  6. March 7, 2010 11:50 am

    It’s tough to keep expectations in check. If a book is wildly popular, sometimes I’ll wait until things kind of settle down before I read it. I still haven’t read The Hunger Games yet!

    • March 8, 2010 9:46 pm

      Is it awful to say that I have no interest in the Hunger Games series?

  7. March 7, 2010 12:03 pm

    I try and wait- the long holds at my library certainly help!

    • March 8, 2010 9:46 pm

      My expectations don’t usually come from other bloggers’ reviews so much as my own brain! lol

  8. March 7, 2010 1:13 pm

    Re art crime, I recommend The Art of the Steal: Inside the Sotheby’s-Christie’s Auction House Scandal by Christopher Mason. About the price-fixing scandal which happened a few years back – I found it fascinating, although admittedly that might be because I work in the art world!

  9. March 7, 2010 1:38 pm

    I have got to read a Neil Gaiman! I am so glad your reading is back on track; that must feel really good.

  10. March 7, 2010 1:42 pm

    I can’t believe how many books you can read in a week! Is a week or two weeks? Either way, it’s a lot! I seem to get slower and slower. February was a sad sad reading month for me. March isn’t looking any better. I think though that other things in my life is effecting my ability to really let go and immerse myself in a story – do you ever find that?

    I’m intrigued by The God Who Begat a Jackal – but I’m taking your caution seriously and I’ll keep an eye out for Notes From a Hyena’s Belly instead.

    I wanted to recommend a book to you (you don’t need this I know but I can’t help myself!) – I read it last month and really enjoyed it. t’s a literary detective novel set in Saudi Arabia called Finding Nouf by Zoë Ferraris. Maybe you’ll need something like it for one of your challenges?! ;)

    • March 8, 2010 9:48 pm

      It was a week. I definitely have times when I can’t relax into books because of my life, though more often I start reading a ton when I’m trying to forget things. ;) I actually read Finding Nouf last year, but thanks for the rec!

  11. March 7, 2010 1:48 pm

    I loved the Graveyard book as well and I was quite sad when it was over. I’m ready for Gaiman to write another thick fiction book so it will be easier to make last!

    • March 8, 2010 9:48 pm

      I know! I’ve heard rumours that he’s thinking of writing a companion book to Graveyard Book aimed at adults…I think that would be awesome.

  12. March 7, 2010 2:00 pm

    My numbers are way, way up, but mostly because I’m reading children’s picture books!

    Good for you. Fourteen!

    • March 8, 2010 9:58 pm

      That’s a good way to boost numbers! :)

  13. March 7, 2010 2:03 pm

    Wow, Eva, Bravo! That is quite a list of books you’ve read!

    As to expectations, I try to go in with and open mind, which is easier with books by authors I haven’t read before, but is getting harder as my book blogging has increased and my list of book blogs I read grows longer :) especially when so many of my tbr books come from all of your awesome blogs!

    • March 8, 2010 9:58 pm

      Thanks! Yeah-I find my expectations are much lower with newbie authors than with ones I have relationships with. :)

  14. March 7, 2010 2:16 pm

    I’m happy you got a chance to read The Awakening because I was interested to hearing your thoughts on it. You know that me and the classics don’t get along too well, but I really liked it. I can’t say that I liked Edna herself, but I liked the message the book was trying to convey, and I like that it’s a feminist type classic book. :) And I totally appreciated the straightforward writing style, because I think a lot of times my issue with reading the classics is that I can never get into the writing style.

    I have a huge problem with expectations about books. Especially since so many of the book I read these days are on recommendations from other bloggers, I always come up with ideas about what I think a book will be like before I read it. Sometimes it works out, and other times I am disappointed. I don’t know what to do about it, though!

    • March 8, 2010 9:59 pm

      I agree-I can admire the book for the message, even if I didn’t really fall in love with it. That’s why I said it felt a bit like an academic exercise for me! :) She did have a nice clear writing style.

      I don’t know what to do about expectations either!

  15. Bella permalink
    March 7, 2010 2:36 pm

    What a fabulous reading week. I can’t believe I still haven’t read The Graveyard Book. Everyone is gushing over it and I know it’s going to be brilliant but you’ve reminded me that I need to move it up the stack!

    Hope next week is a great reading week too.

    • March 8, 2010 10:00 pm

      Definitely move it to the top of the stack! :D

  16. farmlanebooks permalink
    March 7, 2010 3:04 pm

    I love the sound of origin! I used to be a lab technician and always thought it would make a good job for a good novel. I think I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    • March 8, 2010 10:00 pm

      She’s definitely not your standard lab technician, lol. I can’t speak to if all the lab details were right, since I don’t know anything about it, but I did find it convincing. :)

  17. March 7, 2010 3:30 pm

    OOOOH…I’m so thrilled to hear you enjoyed Origin so much!!! I bought it a while back, because it just sounded so damn good. But I’ve been sort of afraid to actually read it, because I was afraid I’d be let down. I know, I know–how dumb is that–buy a book and then refuse to try it because it might not be disappointing.

    • March 8, 2010 10:01 pm

      I don’t think that’s dumb! I do that sometimes. :) I hope you like Origin-it’s definitely different, but I think in a good way.

  18. March 7, 2010 4:03 pm

    The kids I teach love both the print and audio versions of The Graveyard Book as do I. The Coraline audio book runs a close second though. The kids love to chant menacing mice style. Too much fun. Gaiman, like Dahl in some ways, gets kids.

    Am always moved by The Awakening as her fate seems predestined by her refusal to assume patriarchal rules (and speech). Left with no “heard” means of expression, she has no meaningful existence. Think the work seems timeless – equally meaningful for women today.

    Great reading week for you! Thanks for sharing.

    • March 8, 2010 10:02 pm

      I agree-I wish I had Gaiman books when I was a kid. I would have been in LOVE. I can totally admire The Awakening for its message about women living in a patriarchal society…I just didn’t really connect with it.

  19. March 7, 2010 4:40 pm

    Eva – You are just amazing and inspiring. I have got to get my hands on the audio version of The Graveyard Book, and I have yet to read Shalimar The Clown. It is on my TBR list. Have a great week!

  20. March 7, 2010 5:03 pm

    You read more this past week than I did in all of February!

    • March 8, 2010 10:03 pm

      I bet I had more hours to read than you did in all of February too!

  21. March 7, 2010 6:19 pm

    Oh, I’m disappointed to hear that The God Who Begat The Jackel isn’t that great – it looked so good when you mentioned it before! I really ought to listen to the audio version of The Graveyard Book – I read it last year and thought it was okay, but didn’t necessarily warrant all the buzz and honors. However, I can see how it’s the sort of book where hearing it instead of reading it could make all the difference.

    As for keeping accurate expectations of a book, I’m not the best at that, I think in part because I just dive right into some books without properly getting the lay of the land – sometimes I don’t even bother to read the summary on the book jacket. And of course even taking the time to find out more about a book before you dive in doesn’t help when the problem is expecting too much from a highly buzzed-about book, or a book from a favorite author. I don’t think there’s really any getting around those last two types of expectations.

    • March 8, 2010 10:05 pm

      Well, I love Graveyard when I read it in paper copy too, so I don’t know if the audio will make a difference for you. I hope it does! :)

      God Who Begat the Jackal sounds so good doesn’t it?! I just hope Mezlekia keeps writing and improves his style.

      I often try to ignore the blurbs on a book before I read it, which definitely helps me keep an open mind. :)

  22. March 7, 2010 7:50 pm

    The Awakening! No one can ever believe that I haven’t read this book, but I really haven’t read it! I plan to change that. I have the version pictured in your post sitting right here on my shelves, and maybe I’ll pick it up soon when another classics mood strikes.

    I still need to finish my re-read of The Graveyard Book. I’m dragging it out because I love it so much. :)

    • March 8, 2010 10:05 pm

      I’ll be curious what you think of it!

  23. March 7, 2010 8:14 pm

    Wow, you read fourteen books in one week!? I wish I could do that. I didn’t even finish one this week… busy week with work and family. Oh well. I feel your pain on expectations leading to disappointment. I’ve come to learn that I almost enjoy books I know little to nothing about more than books I’ve seen hyped a lot.

  24. March 7, 2010 10:27 pm

    I loved The Awakening when I first read, but the last two times I’ve tried to reread it, I just couldn’t get into it. I forced myself to finish it again and I couldn’t remember why I loved it. Perhaps when I get around to it again I’ll feel differently.

    • March 8, 2010 10:06 pm

      Did you first read it when you were younger? I think if I had read this as a teen, would’ve gushed over it.

      • March 9, 2010 10:41 am

        I read it during my senior year English class and fell in love, but when I read it about two or three years ago, I just didn’t get into it. Perhaps it is just one of those books that has to be appreciated at a certain time period in your life.

      • March 10, 2010 4:14 am

        That seems to be the pattern for this one. :) I’ll probably never read Catcher in the Rye, because I feel like I missed my window for it. Even though I LOVE Salinger’s other writing.

  25. March 8, 2010 6:15 am

    I’ve wondered about Autumn of the Patriarch. I’ve looked at it in the library and the idea of the solid mass of writing for the entire book makes me want to run away! Run away! Which is sad because I’ve loved the Garcia Marquez that I’ve read so far. And that General sounds just awful. WTF is right!!! Thanks for the warning.

    • March 8, 2010 10:06 pm

      Yeah…I was very sad. I think I’m going to try to erase all memory of this book from my brain, so I can go back to loving Marquez. :)

  26. March 8, 2010 8:43 am

    Ooh, the travel journal sounds so great! I love the concept of it :-)

    Remember when you read Baby Catcher? I just got news that I won a copy of Get Me Out, which is a history of childbirth and it made me think of you! It’s kind of the book BEFORE the midwifery stuff happens. I haven’t received or read it yet, but it sounds fascinating.

    I haven’t read The Awakening in a long time. I don’t think I appreciated it when I read it in high school, but when I look back at it now, I can see that it was revolutionary. I think I remember Edna saying something about how she would die for her children but wouldn’t give her life for them or SOMETHING like that and it only hit me much later that there is a distinction between the two.

    • March 8, 2010 10:21 pm

      Oh man, that sounds SO PAINFUL. (The book on childbirth, lol.) So I shall wait and see what you have to say about it before reading it myself. :)

      Funnily enough, I think I would have liked The Awakening far more in high school when I was dead against marriage, motherhood, and all that stuff.

  27. She permalink
    March 8, 2010 11:14 am

    Yay for getting out of the reading slump! I wish I could steal some of it from you ;p

    <3 The Graveyard Book!

    I really didn't like The Awakening until the end, but that really made it for me. I found her to be quite infuriating for most of the book. I think I need to go back and read it.

    • March 8, 2010 10:22 pm

      I shall send you some fairy dust. ;)

      The ending DEFINITELY redeemed Awakening for me quite a bit. Before that, I didn’t have mixed feelings about it, I just didn’t like it. lol

  28. March 8, 2010 4:44 pm

    Wow great post! I felt really differently about The Awakening, I loved it! It’s been awhile since I’ve read it and I have the worst memory though so I can’t quite remember why. I identified with her pretty strongly. And I really enjoyed the setting. I should reread it so I can remember why I liked it, because I don’t think I even have a review anywhere to look back on.
    The Journal of Madame Knight sounds wonderful, except for the racist bits. I’d like to read it.
    Your thoughts on The Autumn of the Patriach were interesting, I’ve only read Love in the Time of Cholera and a short story collection by Marquez but have been meaning to read more of his stuff. I think I won’t make The Autumn of the Patriach my next choice!
    A Journey of One’s Own sounds great, I’d like to read it. I travelled to Japan on my own in 2007, for part of the trip I was visiting relatives and the other part travelling the country alone, and it was such a wonderful, rewarding experience. It was so great to pick the whole agenda myself and spend as much or as little time as I wanted at different things. It’s a pretty safe country so there was no real sexual harassment, but that advice would be really handy for a lot of other destinations I’d like to visit in the future.

    • March 8, 2010 10:25 pm

      Thanks Dominique! Journal of Madame Knight is well worth a read, and only took me about an hour. :) I loved Love in a Time of Cholera, so I’d recommend 100 Years of Solitude next for you! Chronicle of a Death Foretold is really good too, but a diff. style from Cholera and 100 Years. I haven’t read any of his short stories yet-maybe I should read some soon to help me erase the memory of Patriarch! ;)

      The sexual harassment bit of A Journey of One’s Own was great, because she didn’t exaggerate or dismiss the issues, and she pointed out that sometimes countries where you’d least expect to have a problem are the worst and vice versa. She definitely made me feel more confident to get out there!

  29. March 8, 2010 7:01 pm

    Your thoughts on the Awakening were interesting to me because I feel the same way! I was annoyed that she criticized women who choose to get married and have kids. Isn’t the point of feminism that we should be free to choose to live how we want? Whether that means staying at home with the kids or going for the high powered career or somewhere in between, it should be about making sure women have the option to choose which path they want, and I felt like she was clearly saying one path was right.

  30. March 8, 2010 8:13 pm

    I cannot believe how many books you read in a week. I am a really fast reader but still have only read 2 books in the last 3-4 days.

    As for The Awakening – I loved it. Totally turned me into a little feminist about 9-10 years ago. And I agree with Lindsey that feminism is partially about the freedom to choose. I think, though, that Edna is criticizing the way women lived within those confines and accepted things that she feels are no longer acceptable.

    I am not a mom, but it has always been a pet peeve of mine if women criticize stay-at-home moms – as long as those women choose to stay at home. Interesting perspective, though.

    • March 8, 2010 10:26 pm

      I’m not a particularly fast reader (usually average 60-100 pages an hour), but I have a lot of time. ;)

      Perhaps if I weren’t already a feminist, I would have been impacted more by The Awakening. I’m not a mom either, but I get annoyed very quickly when people are dismissive of SAHMs. Edna just annoyed me in general, but it all started when she implied that the other women were deluding themselves/giving in/less than her for enjoying being mothers and wives.

  31. March 8, 2010 9:57 pm

    I’d love to invite you and your readers to join my poetry survey. I’m looking for your 10 favorite classic poems. Read more about it here.

  32. March 16, 2010 6:21 pm

    I’m so glad you loved Johnson’s “Autobiography.” I’m really looking forward to it. And I’m very curious about The Awakening.

  33. Mumsy permalink
    January 20, 2011 12:04 pm

    I like the sound of Origin…and oh, how I love The Graveyard Book…*must find and reread*

    I love getting so many reviews at once!

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