Monday, 26 January 2015

Monday Moods

I must laugh as I have realised since I retired I really like Monday.  It seems like a clean slate, the beginning of a new week, much like the new year but on a smaller scale.

Looking ahead to bookish goals for this week there is one major one really. That is to finish Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  I am one of the one or two people in the world that has not read this book.

American Lit classes never covered it and I must say it isn't the most recommended read in Australia either. However I felt I could not live a lifetime without reading it.

I won't review it. What could I possibly say that hasn't been said by a million people before me. I am enjoying it though. Very much.  I have the boxed set of Jane Austen Penguin classics books and I don't know if it is the story itself or the cloth covered book I am enjoying so much. I jest.

The beautiful cloth covered Penguin Classics
There is a specific set of 7 Jane Austen books that I have and am now enjoying.
 I was told I must read at least three Jane Austen books to get the language in hand. Well that has not been true. I have figured that out rather quickly and if I were to read it out loud I think I might sound rather English instead of this cross between an American and Australian accent I now have.

The copy I am currently reading

I must say I did google the words. "Which Jane Austen book should I read first?"  It was a toss up between Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. I will read Sense.... next.

I quite like this Penguin copy of the book too

I have seen the films and mini series of both and did enjoy them. So I sort of know which way the story goes.  I do enjoy Austen's sense of humour. I am thankful for that because the books wouldn't be what they are without it. I love her observations of people. She really had a knack for it. (I realised what a scholarly sentence that just was.)

I would dearly love to own a copy of this book.
I collect the Penguin Illustrated classics and haven't acquired it yet.

I really enjoy all of the various book covers these books come with also. I thought I would scatter a few of them throughout this post.  I just can't see reading Austen on a kindle. I think you must have the covers because most of them are quite gorgeous. However I did find a couple I didn't like.

 Not much else is happening this week. Today is Australia Day and we have a lunch with friends today. That will be fun.

This is just bizarre.

Wednesday is my bike club day.  Nothing like reading Jane Austen and riding with a motorbike club the next.  Kind of defeats the image of the tough biker.

I am getting ready to go to Sydney again next week.  I have five nights there but will address that more next week.  I am meeting my sister in law who is arriving from Ontario, Canada. She has had enough of bitter cold and snow and is spending a month here. I hope Tasmania warms up a bit for her. It still has a ways to go to qualify as summer here in most people's books.

Jane Austen as pulp fiction. It does make me laugh.

That kind of wraps up this Monday. Stay tuned to see how the week turns out here on Friday.

Happy reading and what books are you reading this week? What other activities will keep you busy?

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Grand Ledge High School - Class of 68 Book Club

As many of my book friends know I emigrated from the USA to Australia.  I actually originated in a little town of about 5500 people when I lived there in the 1950's and 1960's.
The state of Michigan. Grand Ledge is in the middle of the mitten.

I left Grand Ledge in 1973.  Recently I was playing around on Facebook and I found a Facebook page for the Class of 68 in Grand Ledge.  I checked it out and suddenly all of these memories came flooding back.  I joined the group and have been chatting to many of my past classmates.  I had not heard of anything to do with all of these people since I was in high school.  It has been a really fun experience.
Grand Ledge High School - we all left from Grade 12  in 1968

Well to make a long story short we decided to set up a book group. Many of my past classmates have moved away and we seem to be scattered all over the place now. But some loyal classmates have stayed in Michigan and it has been great fun to visit them.

Our book group is called....Grand Ledge Class of 68 Book Group.  We might think of something more original in future but we have now started on the first book assigned.

To set up the group all of us put forward two books and one topic of interest.   I have written all of the names onto little coloured slips of paper and put them in the Book Jar.
March Book

April Book

Today I gave the jar a good shake and the paper book nuggets were scattered onto a bed in the spare room.  Then Cousin Eddie, my 14 month old kitten came in and thought he would check this out. It looked like a lot of fun to him. So I asked him if he wanted to choose the books.   Of course he did.

Travel Writing - Free Choice for May

The inaugural book for 1 March is Beach Music by Pat Conroy.  Cousin Eddie picked To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee for the April book and he chose a Travel Book of any kind for May. Each of us will read a travel book and then talk about where we went and what we did, what we saw. This is not going to be a standard book group. We are going to do lots of fun things. We will read literary fiction but we will also be reading a variety of crime, spy and adventure books.  We have several men in this group which is excellent because men aren't known for joining book groups.
I folded up the titles so Eddie wouldn't cheat and read them.
He had a great time checking these out.

Cousin Eddie grabs one and our May book is chosen.
 We have created a separate Facebook page for our group and we will use it to discuss the books at the beginning of each month.  I think the Penguin and I are going to have a great time with our very diverse group.

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle- Whew !

What an amazing book this is.  This is a good length novel of more than 600 pages and it never stops for a minute. One starts reading it and meets Toru Okada at home in Tokyo, Japan.  

It seemed mundane enough as I met Toru and his wife. It all seems simple enough as they share a breakfast. Then the cat disappears.  Toru consults psychic sisters to see if they can shed some light on this and we're off and running.  

As I read this book by Haruki Murakami I felt as though I was on a journey. A very long journey. Every page I turned was as though visiting a different place, a different country. There are twists and turns as Toru is flummoxed by the strange phone calls and the psychics that now become part of his life.

As I was thinking about the disappearing cat,  his wife disappeared.  There is no indication of anything being wrong with the marriage so that is a surprise.  

As he walks around his neighbourhood looking for the cat he meets an unusual 16 year old girl in the back yard of one of the houses.  A very strange friendship ensues.  There is also a very haunted house in the area that plays a significant role.  Enter a very old war veteran with horrific stories combined with a scheming politician relative and somehow all of this comes together to make up a terrific story.

This story is about the elusiveness of love, the atrocities of war, the scheming of politics and the ongoing actions of a very passive man trying to sort out all of this as it relates to his everyday life. He is trying to get his "normal" life back but everything only becomes more bizarre.

Toru is a passive man. He is a very passive man.  He can become quite irksome. The only problem I had with this interesting novel is that all these very weird things are happening to him and he just takes it sitting down. Give him another cup of tea.  

He does not get wound up much about anything. When he realises his wife is not coming home from work he really doesn't seem to do much about it except to ring her workplace.  If I were him I'd be checking with the police or the hospitals. I'd be doing something more than ringing her workplace.

I loved the way that all of these eccentric events came together to make up a very surreal, magical journey and how it appeared to become all so logical as the story progressed.

I enjoyed this book very much and part of me did not want it to end.  Yet I wanted things to start making sense. I will offer a warning though of some quite graphic situations that are most disturbing. Some chapters are definitely not for the faint hearted.  I found myself skipping over a few pages here and there when it got to be too much. I got the picture and did not need quite so much description.

This book was published in 1995 but not translated into English for another couple of years. In any case it counts for my Century of Books challenge.  

The first time I read a book by this author was several years ago when our book club discussed Norwegian Wood. I enjoyed that book very much, mainly for the visual descriptiveness of it. I thought it was beautiful.  It was very different to this book. 

After reading two of his books I am definitely looking forward to reading more of this author. I think his descriptive language is entrancing and the story certainly didn't bore me.  I could predict nothing.
I did have to let go of any kind of rationale thinking and completely disappear into this story. It was a story I didn't want to surface from.