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Day 12 - An book you’ve read more than twice

HAH! Better to ask which books I haven't read twice. At least. 

I read a novel, I like it, I go back and read my favourite bits again, I go back to the beginning and read the whole thing more slowly and probably read the whole book several times over within the week. Then I put it aside for a while and depending on the book, I might read it again in six months or twelve months or a few years. I have books that I've read literally dozens of times. I enjoy revisiting stories, noticing little details I didn't pick up before, reading books with the changing perception due to new experiences. Reading is my sanity.

If I only read a novel once? I didn't like it very much and I might as well give it away. (I'm getting better at doing that. Need more bookspace!)


Rest of the days )
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Day 10 - A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

Well, some few years ago now, my mother brought up a box of old books from the garage, wanting to read them again. I was rather surprised that my mother was interested in little romance novels with decidedly old-fashioned covers. I read a few romances but they usually weren't Mum's style. She suggested I might like them but I remained somewhat dubious until I finally read The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. I promptly read every other Heyer I could get my hands on and I remain a devoted fan.

Day 11 - A book that disappointed you

I greatly enjoyed the first four Harry Potter books, liked the fifth well enough and found the sixth and seventh boring and over-long. I've found the same problem with other authors of successful series - after a while they seem to think that they don't need editors or the editors are too afraid of annoying the commercial success to really have a go at the manuscript. Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Diana Gabaldon, looking at you.

Also, Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance authors, could we please get past the Sooper Speshul female whom all the guys are in love with, who's supposed to uber-competent but apparently we just need to take her word for it and could she please stop being a total bitch in the name of 'edginess'? Rude and nasty =/= edgy.

Rest of the days )

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Day 08 - Your favorite work in translation

*stares at shelves* I don't think I've read that many books in translation. I have quite a few in my to-read pile though ... hmm. Well, I really liked The Plague by Albert Camus, translated from the French by Robin Buss. It wasn't a fun read, certainly, but it was very powerful and I never felt like I was reading a translated work. That is, the ... flavour of a different language was there but ... damn it, that makes sense in my head.

I'm also very fond of Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder, translated from the Norwegian by Paulette Moller. It was a wonderful introduction to the history of philosophy and a surreal and entertaining story as well. However, I did find the writing rather clunky in places and I don't know if that was an accurate translation of the writer's original style or just a less than fluid translation.

Day 09 - Best scene ever

The Thing With The Bulls in Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad. I cannot describe the scene as it would spoil the surprise for those who have yet to read it. Those who have read it need no description. I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe.

Rest of the days )

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I was doing this meme a while ago and let it slide. Thought I should finish!

Day 07 - A writer you don't like

Well, if I don't like a writer's work, I'm not likely to keep reading their books, am I? I try not to pay attention to what a writer is actually like (unless their racism/sexism/homophobia is showing in their work. That tends to get my attention, just not in a good way.) And while Terry Pratchett and Nora Roberts manage to remain classy, online and in RL (please don't tell me otherwise), most writers who catch my attention online tend to do so for the wrong reasons.

Just to be clear - if you go on some stupid, spiteful rant about how fanfic writers are talentless thieves and horrible people, you can bet I won't be buying any of your books no matter how good they sound (or how bad.) Robin Hobb, Katherine Kerr, Jo Graham - I'm looking at you. Diana Gabaldon? I have been seriously disappointed in your last few books and you've convinced me it's past time to give up on you. (In relation to that - just because you've sold a few books and they've done very well, that does not mean you get to stop listening to your editor. *shudders for once good authors*)

The rest of the days )
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Day 06 - Your favorite writer

Didn't I just mention my stance on 'favourite' anythings? But in this case, I can narrow it down to a few writers who have written multiple books that I enjoy.

Nora Roberts - she amazes me. She's written more than a hundred books and I've read most of them. You might think that several decades of writing 'Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Eventually they live happily ever after,' would have led to burn-out, repetition, crappy writing, but no. Okay, read enough enough of her books (as I have) and you'll notice some similarities and a few plots that have been reworked over the years (and she's improved over the years but she still listens to her editor.) But La Nora still manages to make each book fresh. Fresh and fun and something to read and relax with. I admire her tremendously.

Georgette Heyer - the Regency Romance writer. She pretty much created the genre. Every book had distinct and lively characters (even if she did largely stick to two hero types.) She could write an absurd and hilarious plot and keep the story moving along so well that it's only when you finish the book that you go "... wait a minute." She wrote dozens of books, largely for financial reasons and she wrote them very well. Again, as with La Nora, you do see some of the same plot elements cropping up but Heyer also manged the trick of keeping them fresh.

Between them, Roberts and Heyer kept me sane during a year when my brain fog was so bad I couldn't read anything new or anything complicated. I read their books over and over and over again. And I still enjoy them. 

Terry Pratchett - I don't know how he does it but he takes ideas and objects that most people don't think twice about, turns them upside down and inside out and reinvents them for the Discworld. He writes scenes that are laugh-out-loud funny and then drops a ethical conundrum on the reader. His breadth of knowledge is extraordinary.

Barbara Kingsolver - okay, this is a bit odd because I haven't read that many of her books; some I've tried to read but they just didn't grab me. But her writing is beautiful. Mostly, I read books for the story not the writing. I consider good writing to be writing that doesn't distract from the plot. If that makes sense. But Kingsolver's writing makes me slow down and savour. I love The Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer. Not cheerful books but powerful and haunting and beautiful. I also enjoyed her essay collection Small Wonders and local eating memoir Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

The rest of the days )
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Since I didn't have internet yesterday, I'll do two questions today.

Day 04 - Your favorite book ever

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! *wheezes for breath* You want me to choose? Choose one single favourite book? I have enough trouble picking a favourite anything and that's with qualifiers and lists and alternates. I rarely do absolutes. It's not my style. And a favourite book? Give me a genre, then give me a sub-genre and I might manage a single favourite. Or at least a short list.

Day 05 - A book you hate

I just said I rarely do absolutes. Well, I rarely hate anything. And if I read a book, I can usually find something to like in it. (If I don't, I suspect I must block the experience from my mind.) I have come across books with such poor writing and editing that they almost caused me physical pain. Books that start with a really great idea but the execution is woeful. Books that just didn't grab my interest. And at this point, I've realised that life is too short (and there are so many books out there) to read a lousy book. I think I truly accepted this when I tried to read Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy a couple of years ago. I was on a classics kick at the time; I'd read some terrific books, many borrowed from the library - including Jude.

Well, I tried. I tried for several weeks. I had to renew the loan. I kept trying. It wasn't the writing, as I recall, the writing was fine. But I did not like any of the characters. So why was I spending my time reading about a bunch of people I didn't care about, leading miserable lives? I finally said hell with it and found plenty of other classic books that I enjoyed.

The rest of the days )
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Day 03 - Your favorite recent book

Uh, if that means favourite of books I've read recently ... A Stitch in Time by Penelope Lively. It's been drifting around the house for a few years and I kept thinking, must read that, then getting side tracked but I picked it up for something short and light after reading the Dracula omnibus. I finished it in one evening. I loved it.

I don't know how to convey the wonderful atmosphere of the book. It's ... Lively writes about time, about how the physical world changes yet endures longer than any person. How memories are often tied to a place and how those memories can survive. How growing up as the only child of reserved parents can be difficult but growing up the eldest of a boisteruous family has its own difficulties. How much having a friend to talk to can mean to a child. How a summer can always be a part of you but you'll never again be quite the same person you were in that time.

I really liked Maria, right from page 3.

... Maria hoped there would be something to talk to at this holiday house her parents had rented for the month. You can always talk to people, of course. It's usual, indeed. The trouble with people is that they expect you to say particular things, and so you end up saying what they expect, or want. And they usually end up saying what you expected them to. Grown-ups, Maria had noticed, spent much time telling each other what the weather was like, or wondering aloud if one thing would happen, or another.

She's a very acute observer, even while she's still trying to work things out. I can see how some adults might not know how to deal with her but something I really liked about these book was that no one was demonised. Everyone has their flaws, it doesn't necessarily make them bad people.

The writing in this is beautiful and ... I don't know. It's an easy book to read but it has ideas you want to go back and think about, descriptions that make you want to linger and a lead character I could truly identify with. I love this book.

The rest of the days )

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Okay, I'm really not sure how this whole crossposting to Twitter and Facebook thing that LJ's started actually works but I honestly do not see the point. For myself, I have a Twitter account (under my fannish name) that I haven't touched in years; I have a FB account (under a variation of my RL name) that I haven't touched in ... months, at least. I have no desire to crosspost anything from LJ to my FB account. Why? Because it has no link to my fannish activites and I'd prefer it to stay that way, thanks. Anyway, I will not be posting links to (or comments from) anyone's journal without their blanket or particular permission. I request the same in return.

LJ, you are very strange. How did you not see the potential for customer backlash in this? Or in the last half-dozen 'great ideas' you've had. Anyway.

Day 02 - A book that you wish more people had read

Er ...  I just wish I knew more people who read. You know, more than one-book-while-on-vacation readers. On the rare occasion I get to talk books with someone other than my mother, it is so happy-making. And when someone actually knows the books I'm talking about, it's even better.

Generally speaking, I wish those moronic reviewers who like to diss romance novels would actually read some of the good stuff. Yes, romance has its share of crappy writing. Every genre has its share of crappy writing. But instead of sneering, try reading some Georgette Heyer. And Nora Roberts. Or maybe just watch Nora laugh all the way to the bank (except she's too classy for that.)

The rest of the days )

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Right. I'm trying to get back into my routine which has gone all to hell these past ten days. Unsurprisingly. But I made dinner tonight and washed up. (I know that doesn't sound like much but my days are built on small achievements. Like having a shower and getting dressed. That I've been managing without too much effort, thankfully.) Dinner was Fesenjan aka Persian Pomegranate Walnut Stew and it turned out very nicely. As did my one attempt at cooking last week, Roast Chicken with Pomegranate Molasses. So juicy and tender.

Anyway, in an attempt to post regularly again (since I'm behind with NewWho rewatch due to not wanting to cry over things) I'm starting the 30 Days of Book Blogging that I've seen around.

Day 01 - Your favorite series of books (with more than 3 in the series)

Discworld by Terry Pratchett. I love these books so much. PTerry is one of the few authors who can reduce me to helpless, wheezing laughter. Good Omens was the first Pratchett (and Gaiman) book I read and it was so amazing, I immediately turned to the only other Pratchett novel Mum had - Witches Abroad. It was my introduction to the Discworld and I can't imagine a better one. Granny! Nanny! Magrat! Greebo! Headology! Fairy tale cliches being turned inside out and upside down! And the Thing With The Bulls still cracks me up.

The Witches remain my favourite of the various ... subseries? Granny and Nanny FTW! But the Watch run a very close second. And of course, Death and Susan and Albert and Death of Rats and BINKY!

Why do I love these books? Well, the humour for one. It's my kind of humour. And I love that each time I read the books, I notice some new reference or injoke that I didn't get before. As with Witches Abroad, when I first read it, I had yet to read Lord of the Rings so the Gollum joke completely escaped me. Having read a book about the Great Fire of London, I suddenly realised how much Ankh-Morpork and the River Ankh are based on medieval London and the Thames.

I still haven't read all the Discworld books though. Why? Because reading a Discworld book for the first time is a delight and a joy that cannot be repeated. I'm trying to stretch out the pleasure. And now that PTerry has Alzheimer's ... Terry Pratchett has the most amazing mind and breadth of knowledge. The Discworld is an extraordinary creation. And it never fails to make me smile.


The rest of the days )


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