Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Status Report

What are YOU reading? Any good?

I'm two-thirds of the way through Neil Gaiman's American Gods (enjoyable lunchtime reading and I'm spinning it out) for my book club; nearly finished On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (a free review copy which I successfully willed into my life after dipping into Rhoda Byrnes The Secret). Am reading the McEwan very slowly to appreciate fine craftsmanship.

The World's Shortest Stories edited by Steve Moss, and an impulse buy at Kinokuniya, is perfect bedtime reading as I usually fall asleep after a page or two and these stories are only 55 words long! (The full title of the book is 27 words!)

I'm also reading A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah (impulse buy in Times*) since it explores the same territory as Uzodinma Iweala' s Beasts of No Nation which I'm currently reviewing. I have Antares' Tanah Tujuh to finish and Salleh Ben Jonad's collection of poems Adam's Dream (both available from Silverfish).

Books book everywhere, and never a thought to think! (Who was it said that?)

Will no doubt be blogging about these titles in more detail later.

*Am an equal opportunity bookaholic.


KayKay said...

Can't imagine you reading The Secret, my dear. That's one of those life-affirming, "if you want it, visualise it and the universe magically rearranges itself to carve out a path for your success" kinda books, isn't it? The sort of stuff Paulo Coelho talked about in The Alchemist and I recall you hated that!
Must admit, am finding American Gods to be a bit of a plod. Hope it picks up and delivers some fire and thunderbolt. No point casting Odin, Thor and the goddess Kali in your book otherwise, I say:-)

Anonymous said...

i want to tell you a very strange story, one that involves strange coincidences. it happened just last weekend.

i was in Kino, picking up some books. browsing, i came across this book by Ken Grimwood called REPLAY. i read the synopsis, and my hair immediately stood on end. i felt so incredibly feverish, i thot i would collapse right there.

the plot involves a guy who dies and is mysteriously transported back to his college days. he gets to relive his life, and right his mistakes, change things, rearrange his life's path.

now why this particular story got me so worked up is becos i had exactly the same story idea that's been sitting around in my head for some years now. mine also involves a guy who, at the moment of his death, suddenly jumps back in time to his teenage years. he relives his life, changes its course, but still finds some things just cannot be changed.

now that would have been fine, if it was all about similar story ideas, becos it happens to the best of us. we think we have a great idea, only to wake up the next day and find that someone else had already done it.

the weird thing here is that my story also involves how the guy is able, with his knowledge of the future, to steal other ppl's ideas and make money, and get rich.

i bought the book immediately, and am reading it right now. every page i turn, i find my plot devices and ideas jumping out at me. it is essentially the same story.

Grimwood died in 2003. could it be possible that he had gone back in time to steal my idea? perhaps in an alternate future, i was meant to write that book?

this is like a weird scifi/fantasy story come to life.


Jenn said...

Just finished Life of Pi (finally!) and starting on my book club's The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty. Reading lots of American literature now. Finished Plainsong by Ken Haruf and The Time Traveler's Wife before that. What do you think are key differences in the way English and American authors write?

animah said...

1.American Gods. KK, it picks up once you hit the Egyptian Gods (about 200 pages in).
2.Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett -I read it aloud to get a sense of rhythm much to Sara's amusement. Of course she doesn't understand it. Neither do I.
3.Lots of Oil and Gas contracts but those keep me awake.

Viz, perhaps you had tunned into Grimwood's thought waves....

Sharon reading the Secret? Now you know we're going to lambast you next Monday! KK you coming right?

KayKay said...

Ok Animah will persevere with Gods.
Yes, coming on Mon.Is it still at your place? If so, can you pls post address and if possible some directions on the F&F forum?

mel said...

Am in the middle of 'Bella Tuscany' by Frances Mayes. She picks her words very well. Makes me wonder why oh why I'm not living in Tuscany, planting tomatoes & zucchini & lemons which taste like liquid sunshine, & I always end up hungry after 2 pages.

sumitra said...

hi sharon, stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago, and what a pleasure this find has been. you've reignited my love for both books and writing, that I've sadly neglected over the last 2 years due to a multitude of unimpressive excuses. today, i started up my very own blog, and when I get home from work this evening I'm going to stand in front of my bookshelves and reacquaint myself with a few old friends... cheers!

lil ms d said...

i am reading... erm, the secret (blush).

still reading very slowly we wish to inform yout that tomorrow we will be killed with our families. when that is done, will read what is the what.

are we meeting sunday?

Jade said...

Am reading "The Secret" too! (My friend insisted!)

Also reading (and finding hard to finish) "The Fit" by Philip Hensher with mixed feelings.

Revisiting Raymond Carver's "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?" with a new perspective.

Started "The Accidental Tourist" by Ann Tyler, but decided to keep it for another day.

Read 1st story of Pocket Penguin #10 Ronald Dahl's "A Taste of the Unexpected" with glee! *clap-clap. Can't wait to read the rest.

Anonymous said...

u all no need to read The Secret la. just go join the Silva Mind Method. it's the same thing.

The Goblet Of Viz

bibliobibuli said...

kaykay (and animah) - rest assured "the secret" is a FREE review copy given by an editor with a sense of humourlah! and the basic principle isn't one to scoff at ... it's just so bloody obvious you really don't need to spend RM80 to fathom it

glad you are finding "american gods" a bit of a plod. i am enjoying it but after 400 pages i've had enough.

bloody hell visitor - that's a story YOU must write. btw i was making notes for a story told by a guy with aspergerers when mark haddon's book came out. how could i write mine now?

interesting question jenn. one main difference is the blurring of distinctions between literary/popular fiction in the US.
(more than that ... still pondering how to give you a good answer and throw this question out to the rest of you)

animah - "waiting for godot" is one of the texts i had to study at college decades ago. and the point is ... pointlessness.

mel - we read one book about living liguria in one one of our meetings ... what i remember most strongly was the description of a tomato salad and have had a craving for it ever since!

hi sumitra - welcome to blogging! sure you will have fun

ms d - what is that what is the what?

ms d and jade- you also reading 'the secret" ah? we will get all the good things ... (but can you actually stay awake while reading it??)

jade - roald dahl's short stories are incomparable! love carver too ... what is your new perspective? do tell!

Azmi said...

..sigh...too many in the TBR pile to be listed. Currently attached(literally) to "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" (Phyllis A Balch/James F Balch)........I know B-o-r-i-n-g!!! But depending how you view it, it can be either non-fiction or fiction, very versatile! Trust me, this is handy to have around, in case you are struck by something, need a reference, the internet is down and all the bookshops are closed!B>P

Anonymous said...

just finished Jonathan Carroll's Voice Of Our Shadow.

currently reading Ken Grimwood's Replay, and getting goosebumps on every page.

will move on to MARK HELPRIN's WINTER'S TALE. hello, anyone else knows this book???

still reading Noel Carroll's The Philosophy Of Horror, or The Paradoxes Of The Heart.

The Curious Incident Of The Viz In The Nighttime

Dina Zaman said...

SB - what is the what is written by dave eggers, and again it is about african child soldiers. i got to stop reading these books, i get so emotionally involved i can't eat.

the secret is good. viz - silve method mahal la. book cheaper.

SB, animah - we are not meeting sunday then?! ok i can sleep away my weekend!

SecretHistory said...

What am I reading?
I am "Battle Royale" by Koushun Takami. I have gone through the deaths of 36 fifteen Japanese school teenagers. Only 6 characters left, which one(s) will be left alive. I can't wait to finish it.
By the way this is not a book for teenagers but rather a book about a dystopian world, much in the light of Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451...
Curious? There's even a movie and manga.
This book whets my appetite for Japanese translated literature... maybe I'll try Murakami next.....

Nuri said...

I just got through reading 1984 and The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Found the former partially realistic, though I detested the main character.

The latter is just my Poirot fanatism. =P

A lot of people seem to be reading The Secret, no idea why. I don't know what I'm reading next (stack of unread books = indecision) but after reading the above comments, I wanted to ask if The Life of Pi is really good? Saw it in Kino and was tempted to buy it.

Sufian said...

I've given up reading.

Anonymous said...

Neil Gaiman is overrated. terribly overrated.

the Sandman series is the most self-indulgent thing i ever read.

The Harmony Viz Factory

Megan said...

I am currently on a dystopian kick as well. I am reading Out of the Silent Plant by C.S. Lewis and enjoying it more than I could ever imagine. I am reading a critical exploration of dystopia called Scraps of the Untainted Sky. A bit heady but pointing me in some lovely directions. Also loving a book about writing called Beyond the Words. That's about it for what I am currently actively reading.
Visit me!

Anonymous said...

Neil Gaiman's American God's - I stopped reading .........somewhere about page 200, couldn't take it anymore. Will send my rep for the book meet!!


Jade said...

I loved Neil Gaiman's "Smoke & Mirrors"! And one time, posted "Marry me, Neil!" next to my name on msn.

Just bought "American Gods" to add to my TBR shelf. Is it that bad, Uma? My friend seems to think he's god. And is pestering me to read "Stardust".

bibliobibuli said...

azmi - a very versatile book! reminds me of when i was studying applied linguistics and found that there were so many ways to analyse patterns of language on a page and keep busy for hours ...

viz - interesting choices ... nothing i've heard of so ... am curious

dina - yes but child soldiers is a v. interesting topic ... but so much is being written about them

secret history - oh that japanese novel sounds fun!! will look out for it

you might also like another murakami - ryu murakami - i haven't read him but friends have recommended him and he's very popular

nuri - don't some aspects of 1984 remind of ... a place not too far from home? it is essential reading just so you can keep your eyes open!

it's hard to say what other people will make of books but i enjoyed "life of pi" and it was one of the few booker winners that seemed to also be a popular choice with readers. it's accessible, not ever literary, quite magical, somewhat philosophical ...

sufian - oh no lah! not you lah! words go round in your veins to be broken down into letters in the capillaries

megan - i enjoy dystopian novels and "out of the silent planet" is one i should have read long ago. the other reading sounds interesting too (i'm getting so tempted by other people's books). you must have read "oryx and crake" by margaret atwood?

will visit you!

uma - who was it recommended it?? anyway can't wait to hear what your "rep" has to say!

jade, american viz - will write more about "american gods' next week after we've had out book club meeting (to tear it apart?) - is it that bad? i think always it depends who you are and what you like reading. i am actually enjoying it but i think i'm reading it on behalf of a much younger self.

Yusuf/Martin said...

Still reading I am Muslim by Dina Zaman, why am I still reading it, because I am also reading Neil Gaman's Neverwhere and S.H.Alatas's The Myth of the lazy Native (on pdf).

Yusuf/Martin said...

In answer to jade - Stardust is the reason I started to read Neil Gaman, that and the fact I met him once a few years ago now, at a promotion in London, with a fellow comic enthusiast.

Jade said...

Yusuf/Martin - Oooo! You met Mr. Neil 'Sexy' Gaiman? *sigh

I also asked Dave Eggers to marry me once! *blush

animah said...

I recommended Neil Gaiman but not a particular book, Sharon you recommended American Gods as the one to read as you said it was No. 1 on Library Thing. I am frankly disappointed. Stardust is magical, Coraline creepy and excellent, Smoke and Mirrors - wow! But American Gods? Didn't feel like Neil Gaiman.
Lesson: Don't judge a book by its popularity.

Sufian said...

Ryu Murakami is an acquired taste. A very prolific writer, but most of his books aren't (or is currently being) translated. Huge in Japan, but virtually unknown outside.

I like him because Haruki is too popular now. :)

fei said...

I like Ryu Murakami, i read a few of his books a few years back,he's one of my favourite writer. One thing about being able to read chinese is that we can read a lot of literature translated from Japanese language. His book is very disturbing and charming. I like his 69 and also a novel about babies abandoned in lockers.

I'm reading Rose Tremain's The Colour now, before that I finished her The Darkness of Wallis Simpson, it's a satisfying read.

Anonymous said...

Alwasy thought Gaiman was overrated. Pratchett was good untyl recently. Still okay if you want to read it, good in places. Doesn't mean that he can't tell an okay story, but then again, _I_ can tell an okay story. The magic's mostly gone out of it. A good chapter or so is not really worth full price.

Just finished Liz Ryan's .. er.. I can't remember the title. It was okay except that there were lots of plotlines left hanging.

Greenbottle said...

currently reading non fic...

1) desperately seeking paradise -Ziaudin sardar

2) a book about pigs...the whole hog . since as a muslim i can't eat the thing the least i can do is read about it...

Nuri said...

(In reply to Sharon)

I found that 1984 reminded me of reality because some of the governmental and ruling aspects can be seen across the globe (or like you said, a place not too far from home). Admittedly, it does give one a certain sense of awareness. What I found surreal was the individuals who ran BB for sake of the ruling State rather than themselves. Human nature is much to greedy and selfish for that to happen, I reckon.

Thanks for your opinion on the Life of Pi. I think I'll pick it up next time I'm at Kino.

Jane Sunshine said...

Wow. So much reading. I have just finished an excellent, excellent book (add as many superlatives as possible): Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimananda Adichie (sp?). Can't recommend it enough. How do such books get written?

BawangMerah said...

I'm half-way through Moby-Dick. I never expected it to be encyclopeadic in nature. I feel like I can just hop on a boat and go whaling straight away :P

enar arshad said...

am reading or trying to read the secret.

i have the constant gardener on my bed side table and the inheritance of loss in my handbag.

just finish the glass castle by jeannette is sad and funny at the same time.

jade: i just love anne tyler and am trying to collect all her books.

msiagirl said...

I am just about to start American Gods, if hubby will hurry and finish, so interesting to know what your bookclub says - i think Neil Gaiman himself has called it heavy! As opposed to Stardust which I just read which is a ripping great fairy tale, with lots of in jokes and Anansi Boys which is really a good trickster thriller. What can I say - he's a natural storyteller, there's not so many of those about - and he got that tousled sexy look down.

Mr.Viz - there's a comment on Mark Helprin and Winter's Tale under Sharon's post Promoting Local Stuff.

I'm not great at the non-fiction but also trying to read Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner because their conversation about the world is fascinating.

Got a Tom Holt out of the library to compare him to Gaiman, as he seems to be in the sarky wise cracking magic genre - and he's another ex-lawyer turned writer like a few we know. It's called Earth,Air, Fire, Custard.

SecretHistory said...

Hi fei, thanks for your little comments on the other Murakami. I thought 69 was a lewd novel but now I know it is about dead babies and lockers, I think I must have it, thus began the Meiji Revolution which I am too far behind.... anyone wants to join me? (or encourage me?)

Oh Sharon, please, if you can find time in your schedule, review it after you read, I like to know what others think of this book "Battle Royale"

Yusuf/Martin said...

msiagirl I really could not get on with Tom Holt - have you tried Eoin Colfer? Yes he writes for children but that has never stopped me reading a good story.
Artemis Fowl is the first. But Terry Pratchett was the best at the quirky nudge nudge wink wink Fantasy humour, but well time marches on........I still look forward to and read every book he produces, like watching James Bond - its a habit I am not prepared to break with.

lil ms d said...

greenbottle - i am REALLY CURIOUS to know what you have discovered about the porcine species. please tell us.

Anonymous said...

finally, someone who knows the book. it's very beautifully written.

i'm not surprised that Helprin could be right-wing. i mean, wat do u expect, the guy used to be in the Israeli Army.

Winter's Viz

fei said...

Dear Secrethistory,

69 is a bit lewd, but i think it is about youth and how do the character deal with it.

The book regarding babies in the locaker is called Coin Locker Baby, I'm aware that, there is an english translation version for this book. According to the book, there is a great number of babies abandoned in the coin locker and dead, but the book is a story about the two babies that being rescued, and how the experience become a trauma of their life and make them become what they are. It's a heartbreaking story, but as you probably know, the book also contain sex, drug,loneliness which is the main theme of most of his work. I hope you will enjoy the book.

Greenbottle said...

ms D; i'm just into the first chapter and it's such a fascinating read already... pigs ARE interesting animals...i always taught that pigs are well, like pigs...but they are fairly 'cultured' animals...they don't defecate at any old place but aways go to the same place, hidden away in some secluded area ...not like my selfish cat 'aminah' who loves to piss and crap on my bed ...and i like the way they greet each other...they rub each other's hind quarter...i think this is not a bad idea for us human to emulate , don't you think?

lil ms d said...

i seriously am beginning to wonder if we should still have that lunch mr greenbottle... dont you come smelling my hind quarter or i'll whack you with my handbag!

Greenbottle said...

ms'll be happy to know that I'm not a pig yet so don't you worry on that account...

msiagirl said...

Everyone is having such a good chat here!

Mr Viz, I think I should dig out Helprin's book about being in the israeli army to view his right wing roots - but I've been scared - it's on my shelf - Refiner's Fire. Still Winter's Tale is a gem.

Yusuf/Martin, Somehow I can tell Tom's not going to be as good as Terry P who has laugh out loud points with me - my faves though are his Wee Free Men books, instant therapy! I do like Eoin though he only makes me smile :)