The better to see you, my dear
Reading progress update: I've read 38 out of 183 pages.
Chocky - John Wyndham

So far, a vacation from hell, digs at societal pressure to make babies, comparisons between religious beliefs and imaginary friends, and some cringe inducing comments on adoption.

 

And the vague sense of unease over the kid's questions, of course.

 

I love how Wyndham packs these page turners.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 270 out of 798 pages.
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale, Sandro Botticelli, Peter Armour, Dante Alighieri, Allen Mandelbaum

Finished with Inferno and in Purgatory now.

 

I forgot to mention before, but I'm having a blast with the all encompassing syncretism.

 

The last circle was interesting by how much less horrifying I found it in relation to the eight. I think it's the corporeal and visceral nature of the Malebolge, while a frozen plain has something of the unfathomable in it (and yeah, I got the contrast idea of virtues and the Holy ghost being depicted as fire).

 

Maybe there is something about horror vs terror in there too? The knowable bad vs the impossible to comprehend?

 

The descriptions, for such short things, are epic.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 200 out of 798 pages.
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale, Sandro Botticelli, Peter Armour, Dante Alighieri, Allen Mandelbaum

Holy shit, Dante did not like thieves!

 

The Malebolge is an all around horror fest in truth

 

Challenging myself this 2018 (tracking post)

12 classics from my TBR

 

Most years I manage to read a dozen or so of some form of classic, but just to keep on track and maybe try to stay within of what's ALREADY THERE in my TBR

 

  • Eugenie Grandet by Honerè de Balzac (22/1)
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (16/8)
  • The Tennat of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (22/8)
  • O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (25/8)
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1/9)
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (8/9)
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (11/9)
  • The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (11/10)
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (19/10)
  • The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (21/10)
  • La Divina Comedia by Dante Alighieri (26/10)

 

Other Countries, Other Languages

 

I've noticed I'm reading a lot of works originally written in English (somewhere around a 9 in 10 at least). A bit because England and USA have a long and healthy publishing history, with a lot of classics and pop-culture exponents to their soils. Some, because English is an easy common ground language-wise, and forums like these tend to exchange in it, either opinions or recommendations. A good deal because the market is flooded with them.

But I want more perspectives, different styles and backgrounds.

So I'll start shooting for 20 or so from my TBR and we'll see (availability might be an issue)

 

  • Dante Alighieri, La Divina Comedia (26/10)
  • Jorge Amado, Grabriela, Clavo y Canela (just bought it! so happy!)
  • Aristophanes, Lysistrata
  • Roberto Arlt, Los 7 Locos
  • Honerè de Balzac, Eugenie Grandet (22/1)
  • Enrique Barrios, Civilizaciones Internas (reading)
  • María Brandán Araoz, Vecinos y detectives en Belgrano (3/9)
  • Ítalo Calvino, Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Fernándo de Rojas, La Celestina (this one I have on hand, but it's such an archaic Spanish, it gave me head-aches the one time I attempted it. We'll see)
  • Marguerite Duras, L'Amant
  • José María Eça de Queirós, El Crímen del Padre Amaro
  • Umberto Eco, El Nombre de la Rosa (bought it too, will have leisure to read)
  • Yasunari Kawabata, Meijin
  • Clarice Lispector, Laços de família
  • Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem
  • Guadalupe Loaeza, Las Niñas Bien
  • Gabriel García Marquez, El Amor en los tiempos de Cólera (another of the buying spree and mom kept laughing and being amazed by the first third)
  • Facundo Manes, Usar el Cerebro (reading)
  • Haruki Murakami, Kafka en la Orilla (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Kezaburo Oe, Memushiri kouchi (Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring)
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses
  • Pairault, Suzanne, Verónica, ¿Estrella de Cine? (31/8)
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persépolis
  • Tulsidas, Ramayana
  • Lisbeth Werner, Puck y la Fierecilla (28/10)
  • Marguerite Yourcenar, Mémoires d'Hadrien
  • Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafón, El Juego del Ángel


 

25 female authors (22/25)

 

A follow up on this idea (here Themis-Athena explains in English). Shall construct my tentative list from my TBR as much as possible too, and post read books as I go.

 

A

  • Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey (16/8)
  • Margaret Atwood: The Penelopiad (24/8)

 

B

  • Lois McMaster Bujold: I owe to myself to try her. Almost did for Bingo, but couldn't get my hands on one of her books.
  • Octavia E. Butler: Ditto
  • Anne Brontë: The Tennat of Wildfell Hall (22/8)
  • Charlotte Brontë: Shirley and Villete have been there some 7 years too, but I've been procrastinating because I did not care for Jane Eyre when I was a teen.
  • Leigh Bardugo: Ruin and Rising
  • Natalie Babbitt: Tuck Everlasting (21/7)
  • Fanny Burney

 

C

  • Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (17/10)
  • Willa Cather: O Pioneers! (25/8)

 

D

  • Marguerite Duras: The Lover is one that I've been meaning to read for over a decade but have not yet found a hard copy
  • Jeanne DuPrau: The City of Ember (4/8)

 

E

 

  • George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans): Middlemarch keeps popping (Chist, it's massive)
  • Kate Elliott: King's Dragon

 

F

  • Carrie Fisher: The Princess Diarist (9/8)

 

G

  • Elizabeth Gaskell: North and South (11/9)

 

H

  • Patricia Highsmith: Strangers on a Train (4/9)
  • Georgette Heyer
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Shuttle (26/1)

 

I

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: Little House in the Big Woods (29/7)

 

J

  • P. D. James: Children of Men (27/8)
  • Diana Wynne Jones: Howl's Moving Castle

 

K

  • Barbara Kingsolver: The Poisonwood Bible
  • M. M. Kaye: The Ordinary Princess (5/8)

 

L

  • Clarice Lispector: I think mom added one of her books to our library
  • Guadalupe Loaeza: Las Niñas Bien
  • Ann Leckie: Ancillary Justice
  • Madeleine L'Engle: A Wrinkle in Time (9/1)
  • Ursula K. Le Guin: The Dispossed (4/1) The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (24/1) The Word for World is Forest (26/1) Four Ways to Forgiveness (18/4)

 

M

  • Juliet Marillier: I've heard so amazing things about her, and fantasy is my love
  • Carson McCullers: scared to, but have The Heart is a Lonely Hunter somewhere around
  • Collen McCullough: The Thorn Birds, yeah, another scary prospect
  • Marissa Meyer: Cinder (26/9)
  • Toni Morrison: Funny thing here: I've had it on my "author to try" list for a long while, but thought her male
  • Anchee Min: Empress Orchid
  • Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Blue Castle
  • Ann McCaffrey: Dragonflight

 

N

  • Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler's Wife
  • Anais Nin: Delta of Venus has been waving at me, but I'm unlikely to pick it up this year
  • Amelie Nothomb: another on mom's wish-list that I can't remember if we bought
  • Naomi Novik: His Majesty's Dragon (5/9)

 

O

  • Joyce Carol Oates: Bellefleur is one I took a stab at when I was 14 and never finished. Might rectify this year (and how did I come to the conclusion Joyce was a male name then? maybe my brain associated James Joyce?)
  • Lauren Oliver: Liesl & Po
  • Wendy Orr: Nim's Island
  • Nnedi Okorafor: Akata Witch (10/9)

 

P

  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper (1/9)
  • Eleanor Porter: Pollyana
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Barbara Pym: Excellent Women
  • Ann Patchett: Bel Canto
  • Katherine Paterson: Bridge to Terabithia... if I'm feeling brave or wanting a good bawl

 

Q

 

R

  • Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho
  • Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase (23/10)
  • Veronica Rossi: Never finished her saga. Might go for it if in the mood for YA
  • Mary Doria Russell: The Sparrow
  • Carrie Ryan: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
  • Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea

 

S

  • Lisa See: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (some group discussed a buddy read when I was still on goodreads, and the movie renewed my interest)
  • Alice Sebold: maybe. The Lovely Bones did a lot of noise
  • Betty Smith: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Dodie Smith: I Capture the Castle
  • Sofia Samatar: Stranger in Olondria (read a short story of hers in Clarkesworld magazine, and oh, my!)
  • Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis
  • Elizabeth George Speare: The Witch of Blackbird Pond (20/10)

 

T

  • Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar was brought to my attention during the games, and will read as soon as I can get a copy
  • Amy Tan

 

U

 

V

  • Catherynn M. Valente: In the Night Garden is one I want to buy and savor
  • Joan D. Vinge: The Snow Queen

 

W

  • Edith Wharton: pure author faith (even if she rips my heart)
  • Connie Willis: keeps popping up on my radar
  • Virginia Woolf: sure I have a couple of hers back at home

 

Y

  • Banana Yoshimoto: Kitchen is a book that keeps popping up and haven't gotten to yet
  • Jane Yolen: I had Tam Lin on my list, but reading up on her... over 365 books! Woman!
  • Marguerite Yourcenar: Have Memories of Hadrian on my bed-table
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: I'm likely to pick Blood Games for bingo

 

Z

Review
3 Stars
Funny and annoying
The Circular Staircase - Mary R Rinehart, Otto Penzler

I'm not much for cozy mysteries. The vaguely acerbic nosy middle aged men and women that populate them tend to annoy me. As do the comedy of errors that people being secretive cause. I get it, the very human petty selfishness that makes one try to keep hidden personal peccadilloes even in the face of serious matters and even possible danger to loved ones. Doesn't mean I enjoy reading about it, or stop me from wishing to strangle the character even if I'm enjoying it.

 

With all those caveats, where this one wins is in the humour department. People are ridiculous and inconsistent, and the amount of bits I saved where Ray observes it plainly (and when in her, somewhat obliquely) are legion, and made me laugh quite a bit.

 

I still think the Innes family took a trip down blanket stupidity where useful communication was concerned.

What did the kids plan to do if Ray had decided to leave the house?

Keeping the room secret for the day for effect was the height of hubris

Louise... just... Louise

(show spoiler)

The casual oh-so-benevolent racism also made me cringe so hard.

 

I own another of Rinehart's novels, so I might revisit. This not being my genre at all, the tone was fun.

 

And there goes my 4th Bingo. Now for black-out.

Reading progress update: I've read 50 out of 798 pages.
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale, Sandro Botticelli, Peter Armour, Dante Alighieri, Allen Mandelbaum

This guy happily lumps himself with Homer and Ovid like no business. I always end up smiling a bit at this, because time kinda justified it, but the ego!

 

I've gotten this far and a bit more some years back. Now to go the distance (since I'm skipping on The Name of the Rose again)

 

Review
5 Stars
I honestly tried
The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

I don't know whether I read a satire written as a self-challenge to pack as much over-the-top drama in as few pages as possible, or an over-the-top dramatic tragedy on rocket fuel.

 

I feel a bit like when I watched Venezuelan TV novelas, only those tend to stretch, and barely come to the ankles of this... unholy (heheh) mess. So, pretty much the same reaction: either you unapologetically immerse in the guilty pleasure, or you laugh and mock with abandon. I might have canted for the first as a kid (hell, I was tempted for the beginning pages), but I confess that by Frederik's reveal and Theodore's story I just straight started giggling and could not take anything seriously any more.

 

And if it resembles history a bit too much at points, well, it comes to show that reality will always prove to be more ridiculous than any fiction, even this.

 

 

And double bingo for me! (not like I can really keep avoiding them at this point, lol)

Reading progress update: I've read 100 out of 125 pages.
The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

*blink*

 

Did... did Hippolita just say she'd acquiesce to divorce her husband so the men could exchange daughters and exhort the girls to trust providence and be obedient... ?

 

I think there is such a thing as taking piety so far as to cross the line twice into stupid and evil territory and here I have my proof.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 85 out of 125 pages.
The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

“Oh! amazement! horror! what do I hear! what do I see!” cried Isabella. “My father! You my father!

 

LMAO! *ahem* Right, I don't think that was the aimed response... but come on!

 

 

Review
4.5 Stars
Surprised me
The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare

I was not expecting to find such a flawed, three-dimensional cast and a sad grim tone in a short, children's book. I don't know why, really, since I've come across both of those separately often enough in them (Dark Materials, Little Princess) paired with the big questions too. Specially given the fact that I've been a heavy reader since my tweens, and a firm believer in that Cabal's quote "when I want to write something that I think adults will have trouble understanding, I write children books" (I'm paraphrasing, I don't have that good a memory, and she likely borrowed too).

 

Here is the deal: this was way dramatic than I expected. And when I say dramatic, I mean angst, grief, homesickness, the loneliness of being an outsider. Really sad. Also maddening.

 

It is maddening because human nature is maddening. And because everyone, MC included, are flawed people with some good qualities and reasonable ideals and opinions and stances, and some appallingly wrong mixed in, so even with the best intentions they rub the wrong way and clash, misunderstand, work at cross-purpose. And there is always a little bitch witch shit ready to hate.

 

It was an interesting read even before the context of publishing-time kicks in (though I suspect there were some interesting witch-hunt related things coming out then... wasn't The Crucible a contemporary of McCarthyism too?)

 

At any rate, it was a really good book (totally deserves those awards), and it ended all sweet, happy and neat.

 

Hey! I keep missing my read for making another bingo. At this point, I'm not even pretending to curve my mood-reading. (There is also the bit where there is no magic here, but I'll let the title excuse my being misled)

Review
4 Stars
Bittersweet is such an odd word for this, yet...
The Return of Sherlock Holmes -  Arthur Conan Doyle

I'd never read this collection before, and I'm happy to say I liked this one about as much as Adventures (which is to say, among favourite Holmes').

 

There is this sense of deep friendship that permeates it and also growth. Holmes has changed as time passed, taking more care of what he divulges once he solves the mystery, he's more... empathetic I guess. Oh, and he has stopped doing drugs.

 

It might be that I was primed by the first story. I felt angry at the detective for concealing his continuing living from Watson, even as I grasped his pragmatism, but I reached dismay when I realized Watson was now a widower. Holy shit, the man had to have had some terrible three years there.

 

But whatever I though of Holmes, I could read in Watson's frame his care, and maybe the same tether that saved him in A Study in Scarlet. And if I got fanciful, I might imagine Watson's bereavement is recent, and Sherlock picked a good time to show himself.

 

Because those are some long years of friendship folks (my maths say 16 from A Study to Abbey Grange), and the bits where Watson points to them being middle aged men have their bittersweet culmination in the mention on the final story of Holmes having retired.

 

And hell, I'm feeling like bumping Memoirs' stars now.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 75 out of 256 pages.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare

Huh...

 

This is shaping as quite the bleak thing for a children's book. My compliments to the author for not shying from serious issues.

 

Also, I'm having some flashbacks to The Little Princess.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 7 out of 362 pages.
The Circular Staircase - Mary R Rinehart, Otto Penzler

Gertrude came out was nothing but a succession of sitting up late at night to bring her home from things, taking her to the dressmakers between naps the next day, and discouraging ineligible youths with either more money than brains, or more brains than money. Also, I acquired a great many things: to say lingerie for under-garments, "frocks" and "gowns" instead of dresses, and that beardless sophomores are not college boys, but college men. Halsey required less personal supervision, and as they both got their mother's fortune that winter, my responsibility became purely moral. Halsey bought a car, of course, and I learned how to tie over my bonnet a gray baize veil, and, after a time, never to stop to look at the dogs one has run down. People are apt to be so unpleasant about their dogs.

 

Oh, my God! I laughed so much at this page! I got some funny looks at the train-station.

 

Reading progress update: I've listened 2267 out of 4260 minutes.
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection -  Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Fry

Look! Fandom over a century ago!

 

This collection keeps on giving

Review
2.5 Stars
Reading out inertia
Leverage in Death - J.D. Robb

Meh.

 

At this point, I figure I keep reading these because they are easy time-killer page-turners.

 

 

Review
5 Stars
Guess who has a new favourite author?
Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter

This was bloody amazing!

 

The writing was gorgeous, the braided in stories colorful and as bizarre as you could expect, and even when at their most tragic, always running this underground hilarity out of sheer cynicism and pragmatic pizazz. All seasoned with a good dose of feminism and magical realism.

 

I laughed a lot, but it actually ran me through the whole gamut of emotions and I did not want it to end. Loved it, will read more by the author, and will buy whatever of hers I can find around here.

 

currently reading

Progress: 30/303pages
Progress: 25/204pages
Progress: 3377/4260minutes
Progress: 189/366pages
Progress: 27/260pages
Progress: 140/288pages
Progress: 69/264pages