The better to see you, my dear
Reading progress update: I've read 227 out of 387 pages.
The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Le Guin

They are discussing how the nature and perception of time relates to ethics, and it's blowing my mind. Earlier, the were chatting about an icon/goddess of morality, and whether it was better as an outside force or an inside one. It looks like no stone will be left unturned on this one's dialogues and self-musings.

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 I try to stay within of what's ALREADY THERE in my TBR

 

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 in flooded in them.

But I want more perspectives, different styles and backgrounds.

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

 

  • Dante Alighieri: La Divina Comedia (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Jorge Amado, Grabriela, Clavo y Canela
  • Aristophanes, Lysistrata
  • Roberto Arlt, Los 7 Locos
  • Enrique Barrios, Civilizaciones Internas (I'm so happy about this one! I read the first two books when I was a kid, and never found them again till now!)
  • 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
  • Umberto Eco, El Nombre de la Rosa
  • Yasunari Kawabata, Meijin
  • Clarice Lispector, Laços de família
  • Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem
  • Guadalupe Loaeza, Las Niñas Bien
  • Haruki Murakami, Kafka en la Orilla (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Kezaburo Oe, Memushiri kouchi (Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring)
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persépolis
  • Tulsidas, Ramayana
  • Marguerite Yourcenar, Mémoires d'Hadrien
  • Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafón, El Juego del Ángel


 

25 female authors

 

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 has been waiting a long while in the shelf
  • Margaret Atwood

 

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 Tenant of Wildfell Hall is an old debt.
  • Charlotte Brintë: 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
  • Fanny Burney

 

C

  • Angela Carter: Yes! Something different! I'm likely to go with Nights at the Circus
  • Willa Cather: O Pioneers! is a possibility

 

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: I've been eying the Books of Ember for good while

 

E

 

F

  • Carrie Fisher: been wanting to read one of her autobiographies

 

G

  • Elizabeth Gaskell

 

H

  • Patricia Highsmith: heard that Strangers on a Train is not that good, but want to fill the gap
  • Georgette Heyer

 

I

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: Little House has been long pending

 

J

  • P. D. James: Children of Men (hey! I did not know this one was written by a woman either!)
  • Diana Wynne Jones: Howl's Moving Castle

 

K

  • Barbara Kingsolver: The Poisonwood Bible

 

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 1/9

 

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
  • 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: Temeraire, here I come

 

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

 

P

  • 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
  • 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

 

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

 

W

  • Edith Wharton
  • Virginia Woolf

 

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

 

Z

2017: Reading Milestone

I've never done a reading re-cap before, but a yearly one seem like fun, and I have some bits to mark down:

 

- 2017 is the year I passed the 1K line of books read!! (thank you BLopoly)

 

- Read several of the classics that had been languishing in my TBR for years (many over a decade)

 

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson BurnettA Little Princess - Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Time Machine - H.G. WellsTreasure Island - Robert Louis StevensonMoby-Dick; or, The Whale - Herman Melville,Andrew Delbanco,Tom QuirkThe Sun Also Rises - Ernest HemingwayThe Canterville Ghost - Oscar Wilde,Inga MooreA Room with a View - E.M. ForsterAnna Karenina - Larissa Volokhonsky,Richard Pevear,Leo TolstoyAround the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne, Brian W. Aldiss,Michael GlencrossThe Invisible Man - H.G. WellsThe Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar WildeThe Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells  

 

- Filled lots of gaps in my Pop-culture, and New Classics

 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - Dr. SeussTarzan of the Apes - Edgar Rice BurroughsThe Giving Tree - Shel SilversteinThe Godfather - Peter Bart,Robert Thompson,Mario Puzo    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick,Robert ZelaznyCasino Royale - Ian FlemingRosemary's Baby - Ira LevinThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas AdamsThe Gunslinger - Stephen KingThe Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia HighsmithThe Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura MillerThe Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin  The Thin Man - Dashiell HammettThe Crucible - Arthur Miller,Christopher BigsbySomething Wicked This Way Comes - Ray BradburyMurder on the Orient Express - Agatha ChristieThe Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha ChristieI, Robot - Isaac AsimovFlowers for Algernon - Daniel KeyesThe Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham  

 

Tried many new authors, found some new favorite books, and saw my TBR grow still larger (I've more or less resigned myself to the fact that the number of books I want to read will always be higher than those I've already read). Overshot my challenge by September (those games were a blast!).

 

It was, reading-wise, a good year indeed.

Review
5 Stars
High "Holy-Shit!" quotient
The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham

That was awesome! I love it when pop-culture classics are really all that.

 

This one kept surprising me:

 

- Because I had NO IDEA what it was about (beyond some vague notion that there was an apocalyptic event, and some plants were involved)

 

- It changed lanes and directions non-stop (no getting too comfortable here, shit kept happening and fucking everything up)

 

- The dry, matter of fact and concise way some things were put, like

 

Oh, yeah, and one day those plants picked themselves up and went walking, whats it to you? Did I mention they are carnivore? Bah! People got over the novelty in a week or so

(show spoiler)

 

- And the sassy social commentary.

 

I was very much entertained, and could hardly stop reading, or muttering exclamations every chapter or so. Classic campy deliciousness. Loved it.

Reading progress update: I've read 15 out of 228 pages.
The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham

When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.

 

Starting with that amazing opening, and following with great description of eery feelings

 

A nasty, empty feeling began to crawl up inside me. It was the same sensation I used to have sometimes as a child when I got to fancying that horrors were lurking in the shadowy corners of the bedroom; when I daren’t put a foot out for fear that something should reach from under the bed and grab my ankle; daren’t even reach for the switch lest the movement should cause something to leap at me. I had to fight down the feeling, just as I had had to when I was a kid in the dark. And it was no easier. It’s surprising how much you don’t grow out of when it comes to the test.

 

And observations foreshadowing socially induced survival failures

 

Each one of us so steadily did his little part in the right place that it was easy to mistake habit and custom for the natural law—and all the more disturbing, therefore, when the routine was in any way upset.
When almost half a lifetime has been spent in one conception of order, reorientation is no five-minute business. Looking back at the shape of things then, the amount we did not know and did not care to know about our daily lives is not only astonishing but somehow a bit shocking.

 

I'm a few pages in and I'm so sold on this.

 

Edit: and right after, the doc asking about the window... I did not expect that

Review
4 Stars
Sweet, simple and hopeful
Planet of Exile - Ursula K. Le Guin

More of a Rocannon flavor than The Dispossessed, in that it's more of a gorgeous and bittersweet cross between sci-fy, fantasy and adventure than hypothetical worlds heavy in social commentary (not to say any asides are completely absent).

 

Which in checking makes sense, since Rocannon is the first on the saga, and this the second.

 

I maintain Left Hand as my favorite (it strikes that perfect balance for me), but I enjoyed the simple but lovely story a lot. And it has another perfectly awesome introduction.

Reading progress update: I've read 32 out of 311 pages.
Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes

Oh my god. This hurts like a bitch. I want to go inside the pages and trash everyone involved. Getting him drunk, humiliating him for sport, having him clean a bar bathroom and then abandoning him. Christ! I used to get angry at the good-for-nothing so-called-friends when we picked up abandoned drunk girls and drove them home, and this...

Reading progress update: I've read 200 out of 387 pages.
The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Le Guin

*sigh* This stew of political/social/economical science is making my brain is heavy. Pausing for tonight.

Reading progress update: I've read 190 out of 387 pages.
The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Le Guin

They met again the next evening and discussed whether or not they should pair for a while, as they had when they were adolescent. It had to be discussed, because Shevek was pretty definitely heterosexual and Bedap pretty definitely homosexual; the pleasure of it would be mostly for Bedap. Shevek was perfectly willing, however, to reconfirm the old friendship; and when he saw that the sexual element of it meant a great deal to Bedap, was, to him, a true consummation, then he took the lead, and with considerable tenderness and obstinacy made sure that Bedap spent the night with him again. They took a free single in a domicile downtown, and both lived there for about a decad; then they separated again, Bedap to his dormitory and Shevek to Room 46. There was no strong sexual desire on either side to make the connection last. They had simply reasserted trust.

 

“Well, all I mean is, I don’t want to copulate with you now. Or anybody.”
“You’ve sworn off sex?”
“No!” she said with indignation, but no explanation.
“I might as well have,” he said, flinging a pebble down into the stream. “Or else I’m impotent. It’s been half a year, and that was just with Dap. Nearly a year, actually. It kept getting more unsatisfying each time, till I quit trying. It wasn’t worth it. Not worth the trouble. And yet I—I remember—I know what it ought to be.”
“Well, that’s it,” said Takver. “I used to have an awful lot of fun copulating, until I was eighteen or nineteen. It was exciting, and interesting, and pleasure. But then . . . I don’t know. Like you said, it got unsatisfying. I didn’t want pleasure. Not just pleasure, I mean.”

 

First sex as reaffirmation of trust, and then disillusion with sex for sex. Oh, and close to the beginning there was a bit that kinda linked repressed sexuality in society with sensual aesthetics. Like damn! How does this woman manage to pack all these things into her already well-charged-in-social-commentary books.

Review
3 Stars
Unknowables
From a Buick 8 - Stephen King

It does OK.

 

There are some excellent passages on the relationship of the old with the young, and curiosity, and trying to find meaning to things that have no answers. And eldritch horror galore.

 

Not one of those "Help me, I can't stop reading" page-turners that sometimes King pops on you, though.

 

I'm left with ONE question though: WHERE did the man in the black trench-coat go. And the woman that shadow belonged to *shudder*

(show spoiler)
Reading progress update: I've read 280 out of 356 pages.
From a Buick 8 - Stephen King

He vomited out a spew of smoky blood, half-dissolved tissue, and triangular white things. After a moment or two I realized they were his teeth.

 

*grimace* Helloooo Tommyknockers

Reading progress update: I've read 250 out of 356 pages.
From a Buick 8 - Stephen King

What a complete waste of biological material. I can foresee his pan-universal karma catching up to him, and the ton of trouble it'll cause the squad.

Reading progress update: I've read 23 out of 387 pages.
The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Le Guin

“Is it true, Dr. Shevek, that women in your society are treated exactly like men?”
“That would be a waste of good equipment,” said Shevek with a laugh (...)
“Oh, no, I didn’t mean sexually—obviously you—they. . . I meant in the matter of their social status.”
“Status is the same as class?”
Kimoe tried to explain status, failed, and went back to the first topic. “Is there really no distinction between men’s work and women’s work?”
“Well, no, it seems a very mechanical basis for the division of labor, doesn’t it? A person chooses work according to interest, talent, strength—what has the sex to do with that?”
“Men are physically stronger,” the doctor asserted with professional finality.
“Yes, often, and larger, but what does that matter when we have machines? And even when we don’t have machines, when we must dig with the shovel or carry on the back, the men maybe work faster—the big ones— but the women work longer. . . . Often I have wished I was as tough as a woman.”
Kimoe stared at him, shocked out of politeness. “But the loss of—of everything feminine—of delicacy—and the loss of masculine self-respect— You can’t pretend, surely, in your work, that women are your equals? In physics, in mathematics, in the intellect? You can’t pretend to lower yourself constantly to their level?” (...)
“I don’t think I pretend very much, Kimoe,” he said.
“Of course, I have known highly intelligent women, women who could think just like a man,” the doctor said, hurriedly, aware that he had been almost shouting— (...)
Shevek turned the conversation, but he went on thinking about it. This matter of superiority and inferiority must be a central one in Urrasti social life. If to respect himself Kimoe had to consider half the human race as inferior to him, how then did women manage to respect themselves—did they consider men inferior?

 

Le Guin does not pussyfoot around

Reading progress update: I've read 120 out of 356 pages.
From a Buick 8 - Stephen King

That's like those guys on "The ten O'clock people"

Review
4.5 Stars
In one human's lifetime
I, Robot - Isaac Asimov

Well, that ended on an eerie note. And dovetails nicely into Foundation I guess (I'm always telling myself I have to read it, and balk at the commitment). Also, extra points for... is it irony? I mean, given who (and what) are the ones having this "laying it out and guessing" chat, and who each blame, and which is in favor? O maybe it is "discomfiting" the word I'm wanting.

 

This is an excellent collection that delves into different aspects on the overarching theme of Robot/human interaction, and goes for a variety of moods too. The thread is Susan Calvin on her interview, who, in her own words

 

saw it from the beginning, when the poor robots couldn’t speak, to the end

 

(And boy, do I have feelings about that one! My great-grandma was born in 1920, saw the advent of radio, cars and cinema into sleepy little towns, TV, PC's, cell-phones, and by the time she died in 2010, chatted on Skype with her daughter)

 

I had read many of the stories before, but the arrangement lends them extra weight with it's overarching view. As for each, there is for every taste, from the heartwarming, and the harrowing, often times ridiculous, hilarious (Powell and Donovan kept reminding me of my programmer brother whenever he's at testing stage), to the heartbreaking, disturbing and, like I started, discomfiting.

Reading progress update: I've read 230 out of 256 pages.
I, Robot - Isaac Asimov

Ching Hso-lin’s great-grandfather had been killed in the Japanese invasion of the old Chinese Republic, and there had been no one besides his dutiful children to mourn his loss or even to know he was lost. Ching Hso-lin’s grandfather had survived the civil war of the late forties, but there had been no one besides his dutiful children to know or care of that.

And yet Ching Hso-lin was a Regional Vice-Co-ordinator, with the economic welfare of half the people of Earth in his care.

Perhaps it was with the thought of all that in mind, that Ching had two maps as the only ornaments on the wall of his office. One was an old hand-drawn affair tracing out an acre or two of land, and marked with the now outmoded pictographs of old China. A little creek trickled aslant the faded markings and there were the delicate pictorial indications of lowly huts, in one of which Ching’s grandfather had been born.

The other map was a huge one, sharply delineated, with all markings in neat Cyrillic characters. The red boundary that marked the Eastern Region swept within its grand confines all that had once been China, India, Burma, Indo-China, and Indonesia. On it, within the old province of Szechuan, so light and gentle that none could see it, was the little mark placed there by Ching which indicated the location of his ancestral farm.

 

A tiny dot that none can see... I think this here is why I love Asimov so much: make it about robots, take it as far into the futuristic sci-fi territory as you wish or can, and it'll still be about being human.

currently reading

Progress: 40/248pages
Men Explain Things to Me - Rebecca Solnit
El nombre de la rosa - Umberto Eco, Richardo Pochtar