Monday, March 15, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey, whose enthusiasm I must say is infectious.

I started about six different books and could not make myself continue them; Blue Afternoon, The Danish Girl, Land of Green Plums etc. Nothing suited my tired of being sick and sick of being tired mood so I gathered up every oddball slim volume I could find in the house and read those. Somewhere along the way my brain went into gear again.

Books completed this past week:

21.Against Happiness***+ by Eric.G Wilson US 2008 non fiction (166 pages)

Beyond an opportunity for the author to discuss his favourite creative melancholics and some of their work; Blake, Keats, Proust, Lincoln, etc. and a plea not to medicate everyone who likes to be off by himself meditating, there isn't much more here. It's directed toward Americans who are forever claiming to be or wanting to be happy all the time. His theory is that cutting ourselves off from the painful things in our lives robs us of valuable lessons. What so wrong with being blue, he asks? Lots of wonderful quotes and an eleven page bibliography of their sources. This book would certainly make the average melancholy person feel better about himself . A very easy read and one I would recommend to anyone who wonders if they're depressed or just a deeply contemplative soul.

22.The Arrival***** by Shaun Tan AUS 2008 graphic novel (128 pages)

I've now read my third graphic novel ( I am not a fan) and this one doesn't have a word of text! What is the world coming to? It was delightful. A book about the emigrant experience from the pencil of a Chinese Australian that can be enjoyed and appreciated by anyone from three to a hundred. Done up to look like a old but beloved photo album that someone has lovingly carried for generations. A beautiful gift idea. Highly recommended.

23.Agape Agape**** by William Gaddis US (113 pages)

An odd duck but I'm glad I stuck with it. A dying man's denunciation against the destruction of the arts by the very mechanizations that were created from it. Very interesting but expect to burn up a few gray cells on this one.


24.Grief***** by Andrew Holleran US (150 pages)

Loved it. Great writing. Finally, a story about grief that went the way I needed it to. Highly recommended.

25.The Cat and Shakespeare: A Tale of India***** by Raja Rao (India) 1965 (104 pages) 

A delightful fable about India and the differing philosophies of two friends, with humour too. I enjoyed it very much.

26.Holiday**** by Stanley Middleton UK 1974 (140 pages)

Co-winner of the 1974 Booker Prize. I talked my public library into purchasing a copy. A story of a man's week on holiday after he's left his wife. He runs into his wife's parents and it sets him thinking seriously about what went wrong in his marriage. He's also following his own father's pattern of vacationing in the same place and this gives him a great deal of pause about that relationship and it's rough spots too. A quiet but powerful story which I enjoyed. I recommend it.

27.In the Name of God****+ by Yasmina Khadra Algeria/France (216 pages)

My fourth book by this exiled Algerian army officer. Another story of corruption in a repressive regime, a heart breaking historical fiction. Highly recommended.
Book in hand:

Seek My Face by John Updike

A not even disguised account of an interview with Jackson Pollock's widow (Lee Rasner, herein called Hope Chafetz), supposedly about her own lifetime of work, but so far spent talking about sex with her three husbands and various others. I'm half way through and there's nothing about the Pollocks' lives I didn't already know from watching the recent film with Ed Harris. I can't imagine why Updike bothered. I was hoping to learn something about art while trying some of his fiction. I've purchased and read volumes of his essays and literary criticism (Hugging the Shore, Odd Jobs, Picked-Up Pieces) and loved them all. The man was sex-mad, but he did know about art. I'll finish it because there has to be a payoff in here somewhere. Does all this man's fiction read like a smirking schoolboy waiting for the next innuendo in the conversion to get off on? Can anyone recommend some fiction by Updike that I might enjoy? I Bookmooched a copy of Brazil but now I'm leery. If you've reviewed an Updike novel, leave me a link. I prefer reading blind (no reviews before reading a book) but I think I'll make an exception for this author.

Up Next:

Chef by Jaspreet Singh
Morituri by Yasmina Khadra (another succeful library purchase request!)
February by Lisa Moore
Translation is a Love Affair by Jacques Poulin
The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

Followers, check out my audio giveaway of The Swan Thieves-and my new tabs. Hundreds of good reading suggestions on those pages. What are you reading that's got you excited?


  1. I hope you are feeling better. The only book I have of these is The Danish Girl. Have a wonderful week reading. If you have a moment, my Monday:

  2. Where would you recommend I start w/ Yasmina Khadra?

  3. Hope your health improves enough to allow you to enjoy the books you so love to read!

    I think the world holds many "deeply contemplative souls" who can relate to the message within Against Happiness.

    The Arrival was my very first graphic novel experience and like you, would highly recommend giving it a try. Beautiful though it was, I wasn't convinced that books without (or with very few) words were for me. I've since warmed up to GN's and even found a trilogy I quite enjoyed. With such a short amount of time required to complete them, GN's help fulfill my "need to read" when life gets hectic.

    I actually had Seek My Face in hand but placed it back on the shelf. Your thoughts thus far seem to indicate I did the right thing! ;)

    Have a lovely week!

  4. Look at all your beautiful books! The Arrival is one I really want to try (still being graphic book free at this point). Grief intrigues me and I am going to look further into that one.

    Have a super week! :)

  5. I haven't heard of "Seek My Face" - I bet it will be good. Look forward to your review.

    Here's mine:

  6. I didn´t even know about The Danish Girl. I have just googled it, and I remember having watched a documentary about her when I was a teenager. It made me very curious indeed.

    I read crime fiction this week, because I have plenty of time for once. Last week I read crime fiction because I was overworked and stressed and needed something light. Next week I will read crime fiction because ... don´t know why, but it always suits me when I am not in work-mode. Probably just because I get my share of Shakespeare and company when I teach.

  7. The Arrival is INCREDIBLE. One of my favorites this year - it's such a powerful message and doesn't need words to convey so much emotion.

    Here is my Monday!

  8. Thanks for your post.
    I've added a couple of titles to my TBR list. Holiday and Grief.
    Have a great week!

  9. I'm sorry you had a rough week last week, but I'm glad you got your reading mojo back. I really want to "read" The Arrival.

  10. I hope you're feeling better! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed The Arrival; I "read" it recently too and thought it was fantastic!

  11. Nice to see you back Sandra :) Glad to know that you are feeling better now.

    One of my friends gifted me 'The Arrival'. I am hoping to read it soon. I also found the title 'The Cat and Shakespeare' quite interesting! One of my favourite characters in literature is the cat which comes in 'The Master and Margarita' which likes chess and vodka and so I am hoping to find out what the cat in this story does :) Thanks for writing about this book.

  12. so glad that the ones you picked up were enjoyed!! I LOVE The Arrival...I've had several students check it out and they all seem to really get into it too!!!

    Enjoy your upcoming week of reading!

  13. Ah, Updike. I don't always like what he has to say, but he invariably says it so damn well I set aside my qualms and go "Heck, that is great writing." How about starting with short stories? Maybe Pigeon Feathers.

  14. Updike: Loved him in 1967, reading Rabbit Run. I was a teenager then, and the subject matter was provocative verging on forbidden. As an adult now, many decades later, I don't like his writing style in any way, shape or form. Too wordy and, as you note, way too preoccupied with sex. I get the impression he's one of those men who grew up, grew old, but never really matured.

  15. another terrific week in reading for you. GRIEF sounds great. :-)

  16. I have an award for your wonderful blog, please stop by to pick it up!!

  17. I've seen Shaun Tan reviewed often lately; I really want to pick up something of his. You've read such a lot!!! I'm so impressed.

  18. Holiday sounds good to me. Glad to hear you enjoyed it and it helped get you out of your reading funk. Hope you are feeling better.



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