Thoughtless Book Reviews #3

This is my third in a series of book reviews I’ve written into a Moleskine notebook and feel I should share with you because of their concise honesty, scrawled as I was falling asleep or years later after having realized I never wrote a review.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

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One of those books where you don’t really know what it’s about until the very last page. You are just led to believe it’s bad and somehow it turns out to be bad enough to fulfill all the bad ideas you thought up.

The Little Washer of Sorrows by Katherine Fawcett

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Surprisingly good surprising stories about both supernatural and normal things. They never get too deep or tragic or gross or long but are always a good combination of those things and FUNNY!

Negotiating with the Dead by Margaret Atwood

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I thought about a lot while reading this book, but was rarely moved by the book itself. I wonder if it’s because my mind is different from Margaret Atwood’s?

The Pleasure of Reading by Antonia Fraser

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This is a book of essays I haven’t gotten to yet but love to look at on the shelf.

Dead Girls by Nancy Lee

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So gross! Put down the book and swore to petition against reading it at three separate points. Sexually gross, murdery gross. Okay – this was obviously the intended effect, but I fell for it.

The Riders by Tim Winton

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Ghosty, shadowy soap opera written by a man. No real payoff but lots of lead up. Leaves you asking the question, “Why’s that lady such a jerk?” and also, “Why does that nice man with the hard face like her so much?”

Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

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This book follows the style I love from The Flying Troutmans: humour in the face of everything sad and tragic. I love that the book never slows, never lies, never breaks character or style. I love that everyone is witty, and that people speaking in their second language are so loveable. Irma is the ubiquitous Toews character, like Hemingway.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

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The language pulls me in like no other book. I love it not really because of its story but its writing and its moments.

Motorcycles and Sweetgrass by Drew Hayden Taylor

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I liked it but didn’t always connect with it. My dad did and this is his favourite book, so that’s how humour works.

Anne Sexton: A Biography by Diane Wood Middlebrook

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I had no idea that I could like biographies, especially when I hadn’t read any Anne Sexton but I read it like a novel and that worked. A life is a story.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

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This book was SO LONG but I continued reading it because of a feeling it gave me: boredom, but also some form of being haunted, like if I stopped reading it the book would follow me home. Somehow this book surprised me on like, page 800, but maybe it was because I hadn’t been paying attention.

Photos from: theneuroticblonde.wordpress.comwww.npr.orgwww.goodreads.com

www.abebooks.co.ukwww.amazon.cawww.kirkusreviews.comwww.cbc.capicklemethis.com

www.amazon.cawww.goodreads.comthewritesofwoman.wordpress.com

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Virginia Woolf’s Exclamation Marks

“In love!” she said

He was in love!

And there’s no flesh on his neck; his hands are red; and he’s six months older than I am!

“She is beneath this roof … She is beneath this roof!”

“Good morning to you, Clarissa!” said Hugh, rather extravagantly, for they had known each other as children.”

The way she said “Here is my Elizabeth!” – that annoyed him. Why not “Here’s Elizabeth” simply? It was insincere.

He had escaped!

I haven’t felt so young in years!

“Well, and what’s happened to you?” “Millions of things!” he exclaimed.

But it was delicious to hear her say that – my dear Peter!

“How heavenly it is to see you again!” she exclaimed. He had his knife out. That’s so like him, she thought.

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The Reading Fad

I admit I walk around carrying a book in my  hand more than I used to, though I used to read more than I do now. I admit I don’t read as many classics as I should, but I always name classics as my favourite books. I admit I bought glasses that make me look like I’m reading and I get shivers in trendy used bookstores. But I will not admit that I am a part of this new trend called reading.

I’ve had a few different people lately tell me they are reading a book out loud as a couple. That’s great! I wish I was in a couple in which we read books out loud! But it also seems to signify something: is reading a becoming a novelty?

When someone walks by me wearing a Great Gatsby tee-shirt, I’m usually pretty sure it’s not an English Lit major. Why would someone who studied English feel the need to wear a tee-shirt announcing they like books? They decided that already, probably early in life, and it has since been their identity.

Second question: why am I so defensive of books? I didn’t write any of them! Maybe I’ve read more than some people, but I’ve also not read most of them, and I read them pretty poorly.

But books are my thing. They are a thing for people who don’t have many other things. But someone who rides a funny-looking bike and sketches and, like, has a horse, already has so many things! You can’t take books too!

So I propose this: we just all keep reading. Don’t stop when the other member of your couple has moved on to partner yoga (even though that’s so last year). Just keep reading until it stops becoming a trend. Until you missed the next trend because you were so busy reading.

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(from crazetees.com)

Until you become a real smoker, not just one who smokes at parties, you don’t know all the downsides of the trade. You don’t know that you slowly lose your eyesight. You don’t know that there are some books that will plague you, consistently looming over you to get you to finish them. And even if you’ve seen the Dracula movie and you read all of Atlas Shrugged except for the 100-page-long speech by John Galt, you know that one day you will just sit there, miserable, reading those two books instead of whatever book is on everyone’s tee shirt.

And it will become a part of you (not every book you read, but the fact that you do weird little things, like accidentally buy two copies of the same book or bring ten with you on a trip) and you will never stop reading, because it’s the best trend ever invented. It offers a way of seeing the world and of seeing yourself: through words, beautifully arranged, on these little sheets of paper you carry around in your hand for everyone to see.

HP Sauce

A couple friends and I are rereading Harry Potter. My friend did this a few years ago and I was so jealous – how did he have the time? He had the time, I realized, by letting Harry Potter and his childhood overtake his life. I grew up on Harry Potter. I left a best friend’s birthday party to go to the midnight release of the seventh book. I like being in on something so childish and esoteric. I like books!

Remember how big Hermione’s hair was in the first book?

And how you never see Scabbers coming?

Remember when you realize that instead of a murderer, Sirius Black is just a sex bomb?

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I don’t always remember that Professor McGonagall is an animagi!!

Wouldn’t there be some practices where you just don’t find the Snitch?

They don’t even know about the tournament yet!! People are going to DIE!!

Yesterday somebody had a portrait in their room that looked like You-Know-Who but it might have just been a deceased grandfather!

Did Joanne see the Ginny thing coming? Because Harry sure didn’t!

Is it just me, or does travelling by Floo Powder make no sense at all?

Who IS Dean Thomas??

A New Philosophy on Owning Books

Become more liberal about buying and exchanging books.

Always buy used ones and give away those I have read and can part with to used book stores.

Search for good copies of my favourite books. Buy hard cover, smelly copies.

Lend out books on a whim. Don’t ask for them back.

Let books flow, always living and being read by new people.

This would allow for ever-changing book shelves and not hoarding.

It would give me more excuses to go into used bookstores and support them.

I would be better connected to books, more excited by them.

And think about how often I could alphabetize.

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Poor Quality Book Reviews #2

Number one of my poor quality book reviews can be found here. These are copied out of my Moleskine book journal, which I fill in when I finish books, late at night, delirious.

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When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

“Oh how I loved laughing along with David Sedaris, my new best friend. My new cynical, lovable, laughable best friend David Sedaris. I laughed out loud a lot, and it was because things were so dead on because they were honest and therefore embarrassing.”

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Solar by Ian McEwan

“Character was off. Who would John Beard appeal to? I hope that’s not what Ian McEwan is like.”

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Shopgirl by Steve Martin

“Steve Martin’s writing is not somehow comedic but has all the perfections of his comedy: it’s precise, it’s well-timed and it connects with the audience by going into and through them, to a place from which we all come. The humanness of it all that he observes and translates is somehow perfect in comedy and in prose fiction.”

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Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic

“Very informative and enlightening.”

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Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

“This book was so easy and kind but still revealed so much about something so incredibly obvious: wolves are just dogs, and we already know dogs.”

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Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway

“I loved this book and couldn’t believe it existed and didn’t have everyone talking about it. It was so much about Hemingway and from Hemingway that I felt he was whispering to me.”

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

“Captivating. I stayed up wide awake until 1:30 a.m. reading this book.”

“One year later, I can’t believe how much I seem to have liked this book from my prior review. I have since convinced myself I hated it.”

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Dracula by Bram Stoker

“This book could have been a lot shorter with a lot fewer characters.”

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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“I kept telling people ‘I’m still at the crime part,’ then I realized most of the book is about the internal, moral punishment of committing a crime and that the joke was on me. Russian names posed a significant comprehension problem for me.”

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“I liked Alice’s spunk, but sometimes she was just rude.”

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Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

“I keep trying to catch pages of this journal where I have not yet filled in my review because a book felt too big to write about so close after putting it down (or I was lazy). Now who knows what this book is about. I know that I loved this weird book I had never heard of.”

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The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

“I did not actually fall for any of the characters (not even Jeffrey Eugenides). The ending was memorable but felt like a cop-out.”

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Away by Jane Urquhart

“I didn’t finish. I got lost in this book and not in the sense that I was consumed by it. In fact, I was rejected by it. I liked it at the beginning for its writing and then it turned into a poem. I try to like poetry.”

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It Chooses You by Miranda July

“Miranda July feels like my best friend, and this book her latest hobby. I am amazed at how creative and lovable my best friend is and though I don’t really know where the hobby’s going, of course I’m interested.”

(photos borrowed from dalaigrandma.blogspot.com, bookreview.mostlyfiction.com, avonellelovhaug.com, blsciblogs.baruch.cuny.edu, wolvesontario.org, desktopretreat.blogspot.com, goinswriter.com, serendipity3864.files.wordpress.com, 25.media.tumblr.com, wendyvancamp.files.wordpress.com, claudiobadii.altervista.org, dana.deathe.net, englisch.schule.de, laimyours.com