Next #50bookpledge pick also qualifies for #ReadingBingo with an animal on its cover! Several other categories too, but that would be cheating. Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres is my ‘B’ selection for my first round of “reading through the alphabet”!
2013 #50bookpledge - A is for Azzopardi
This is a very powerful and heartbreakingly sad book about an elderly homeless woman and the life that led her to her present circumstances.
It’s quite well written, though a bit uneven with a fairly slow middle that redeems itself with a sudden (too sudden?) burst of revelation at the end.
I’m not sure if the main character was actually “simple minded” or just seemed that way by virtue of having been simultaneously shielded and neglected for so many years. Regardless it wasn’t easy to read about the many people who abused her trust and gentleness over the years, and the small cruelties that accumulated into a lifetime of shame and fear.
The novel would have benefitted from a bit more detail in some areas and perhaps less in others but overall very interesting and thought-provoking.
My first selection for the 2013 #50bookpledge will be Remember Me by Trezza Azzopardi, in keeping with my plan to work through my book stack alphabetically by author. Plus it just looks like an awesome book.
So I came close to achieving the #50bookpledge at 43 books read in 2012. I did much poorer with my blogging efforts, and that’s something I definitely plan to work on for 2013. And of course I want to meet or exceed 50 books.
I was looking at my to-read stack (truth: it’s an entire bookcase) and realized that I have books by authors representing almost every letter from A to Z, so I’m going to tackle 26 books in alphabetical order and then - if all goes well - go around again. I may have to get creative for X and Q but otherwise I think I can do it! Positive thinking!
50bookpledge - book 18 - July 1, 2012
Jenny Lawson is my long-lost twin, I just know it. It’s also somewhat comforting to know that millions of other women have read her book and felt the same thing. We must all be crazy!
I don’t even know what to say about this book except that it’s absolutely brilliant and I laughed throughout. A book every woman must read. My husband enjoyed it too, for that matter.
50bookpledge - book 17 - June 17, 2012
Sigh. Another wonderful children’s book thoroughly lost in the translation to my modern child. He would disagree, and insists he enjoyed it, but I could tell from the laughs in the wrong places (and lack of in the right ones) that he didn’t really get a lot of it. Will have to try this one again in a few years.
50bookpledge - book 16 - May 3, 2012
Finally reading grown-up books again! Or trying to. I still have a lot of painting and shipping to do.
American Dervish is the story of a Pakistani family struggling to build new lives in the US - a story that has been told many times, often (as in this case) as a fictional retelling of the more-or-less true experiences of the author. Hayat is a first-generation American boy, trying to cope with all of the usual challenges of puberty, compounded by the difficulties of fitting into an all-Christian neighbourhood.
However, much of the similarity to other such books ends there. Unlike the typical tale of parents pressuring their children to uphold the traditions, culture and religion of their homeland, Hayat’s parents are actually far less strict with him than he is with himself. When his mother’s childhood friend, the beautiful and spiritual Mina, comes to live with them, Hayat finds his religious mentor, and he strives to memorize the Quran both for his own redemption and to try to save the souls of his parents (especially his philandering, atheist father). Meanwhile the real crux of the story unfolds before his young eyes, which is the treatment of Muslim women by their families and their religious and social communities.
This book goes into far more detail than I have ever seen about the actual content of the Quran and specifics of the Muslim faith, particularly in contrast with the Jewish faith (both supposedly born from the same source). It offers tremendous insight into how racism and misogynism are justified by some interpretations of the Quran and denounced by others. Of course the adults in the novel have already cemented their beliefs in the rightness or wrongness of everything from anti-semitism to wife-beating, but seeing their arguments alongside the actual verses from the Quran through young Hayat’s eyes allows the reader to see the depth of the paradoxes in the Islamic religion.
This book is extremely fluid, focused and compelling, but frankly not all that enjoyable. Although atheist myself, I am very interested in world religions; however, the arguments became repetitive and the false way the characters interacted with each other despite their fundamental disagreements didn’t sit well with me. While it no doubt reflects reality, the fact that the main female characters let themselves be treated so poorly - essentially since “it could be worse” - was frustrating and painful to witness. I also found it impossible to believe that a woman who had gone through so much to escape her first husband would do so little to escape her second, particularly considering what her young children were being exposed to as a result. I’m not convinced Akhtar did right by Mina in the end, and that coloured my feeling about the entire book
50bookpledge - books 14 & 15 - March 30, 2012
Seems the only things I’m still reliably reading these days are children’s books. And since reading them aloud takes such a very long time, I’m going to count them too.
Most recently, I (we) read Winnie the Pooh (the original, non-Disney-ified version) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (ditto).
Naturally Winnie the Pooh was a hit, because as long as you do the right voices it can’t help but be loved. Alice was a bit of a different story. It’s filled to the brim with antiquated language, such that even the parts that were supposed to make sense didn’t. Since half the pleasure of reading it is in the poetry of the words, stopping to explain every third thing (like waistcoat, kid gloves and treacle) really detracted from the experience. I also had to explain that “leave off” means stop and “take a fancy to” means like and “out-of-the-way” means weird. And of course some of the things that I find most amusing are just not funny when they have to be explained, like the Mock Turtle’s description of his classes (Arithmetic: Ambition, Distraction, Uglification and Derision; and Art: Drawling, Stretching and Fainting in Coils). For that matter, don’t get me started on explaining what a Mock Turtle is.
So a hit and a miss (for the child anyways, though I enjoyed both) - not too shabby.
I swore I wasn’t going to take any art orders this year. This year I would put the stress of deadlines behind me and just enjoy my down time. But, I couldn’t do it, could I?! Nope, I not only decided to take orders but to try a new product. They’re simple enough to make, but shipping is always the bottleneck, and it seems I have to have 45 of these (8” MDF initials, hand-cut and painted) sent out by the end of the school year for teacher gifts. Maybe 50 books won’t be such a piece of cake.
50bookpledge - book 13 - March 15, 2012
Love the Ondaatje book and yet cannot seem to stay focused on it. Thought I’d enjoy a bit of fun instead. LOVE Mindy Kaling!!