Monday, 31 May 2010

It's Monday What Are You Reading? (1)

What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.

Hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey

Why is it that whenever someone asks me "what are you reading" that my mind goes completely blank and I can't remember what I've been reading? Especially if they ask me when I'm away from my laptop and don't have my handy excel spreadsheet opened up in front of me so I can actually see what I've been reading?

So, spreadsheet open: Since last week I have read quite a few books which is unusual for me as it usually takes me one week to read a book, but then again these have all been fairly short.

Last week I finished After Dark by Haruki Murakami (favourite author of mine) Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster (first time I have read one of his) and today I finished The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones (my absolute favourite author).

After Dark is one of Murakami's latest books and despite some sneering reviews from other people, I really, really enjoyed it. The main criticism seemed to be the fact it left the ending hanging loose, but I really loved this as it allowed me to keep on thinking, imagining and wondering what was going on. It is set during only one night, and to tell a complete story with full plot and character arcs in one night, I have always found overly simplistic and unrealistic.

Murakami writes weird surreal fiction (and non-fiction - don't know whether the non-fiction is weird yet) that mixes reality with not-so-reality in a seamless fashion you're left not truly knowing the difference between either. When reading, you merely accept it - no matter how bizarre. Reading a Murakami is no linear experience. You have to take into consideration everything - not just what happens on the page, but how it makes you think, feel and experience different things. Whilst reading After Dark I listened to jazz music mentioned in the book and tried to look up other cultural references whilst reading. Murakami is much more an experience then any other book I have read.

Where Angel's Fear to Tread was my introduction to E. M. Forster. I quite enjoyed it though I wasn't blown away by it either. I'm still keen to read his other books though, I enjoyed his rather simple style but I found the characters all rather hard to feel anything for - like, dislike, love or anything like that. As my post-After Dark read though perhaps it dimmed in comparison. Next up by Forster will probabably be A Room With a View which I'm really looking forward to.

And then today I recently finished The Time of the Ghost which is for older Young Adults and really quite good - very spooky and like all Diana Wynne Jones books, she can just suck you into this world and make you feel like you've been there all your life. I loved all the characters and how real they felt - and I don't know how she does it. It isn't as if she even tries. You can't see how she develops the characters or progresses the plot. Some authors just have an innate ability I think - she introduces a character and you already know her just within a few words. I could wax on about Diana Wynne Jones for a whole blog though so I shan't start now.

It wasn't as funny as her books for younger readers, and from what I have read about her life, she has inserted a lot of her life into this book - her negligent parents who couldn't care less and her sister's way of coping with their lives living in a school for boys. Cart I think is a version of Diana Wynne Jones - considered by her parents to be ugly but clever and so deserving of university - Isobel and Fenella mirroring her two sisters. In many of her books, careless, selfish parents are a common feature, but I think there is a lot of herself in this book.

And now I have just started Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe the first international best-selling American classic. It is, if you are unaware, about slavery and the fight towards freedom. Abraham Lincoln apparently said to Stowe: "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!" I have to admit - I know next to nothing about the American Civil war that started in 1861 (I know that now!) so this book should be quite enlightening for me, and help fill in those gaps that I missed out in school.

So, what are you all reading? Something interesting I hope.


  1. Welcome to the blogosphere! Looks like you've got some interesting reading going on! I haven't read any Forester, which suddenly makes me feel terribly behind in my quest to be a well-read human being! Guess I better get on that! Good luck!

  2. Thanks Heather.

    Hope you'll enjoy your first Forster when you get to him.

  3. the only one of Forester's I've read is Room of One's Own. It was pretty good, I also liked the movie. But then...I love Helena Bonham Carter.

    I promise I really will read Kafka on the Shore someday.

  4. I can't remember the film with Carter, but last year I watched the TV version of Room with a View with Rafe Spall and Timothy Spall.

    I kinda think Rafe Spall is dead cute. :D

  5. Only Andrew Davies, who wrote the screenplay for it (same one who did P&P) went and butchered a perfectly romantic ending.

  6. The Time Of The Ghost and Uncle Toms Cabin sound wonderful! Have a good week of great reads!

  7. Uncle Tom's Cabin is brilliant. Happy reading! My Monday is here:

  8. I always go blank when people ask what I've been reading too. I think in my mind am always moving on to the next book so I forget what I just read.



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