Monday, November 14, 2011

Squeeee!

Very excited about new Hunger Games trailer! Although it looks a bit average really. Not like it's going to be Kubrick taking on The Shining or anything. But I'm so going to see it. Win win win.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Terry Pratchett: Pyramids

I'd written a post about this on my phone - pics and everything - but the Blogger app for Android is very unstable and completely melted down when I tried to publish. I had to forcibly restart and do all kinds of things to even erase the faulty post. Piece of rubbish.

So I'm just going to note that I read this and well it's a Pratchett and I enjoyed it. This is the one where the heir to the Faraonic throne is educated as an assassin before having to return to be king. Pyramids - cosmic energy - time - kaboom. There.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Patti Smith: Just Kids

I'm writing on my way from work to my book club, ergo am tapping away on the phone, ergo no deep thoughts today. Sadly not even a picture of the book in question on my lap; the rental has been returned to the library. ("Rental"  because it was overdue and I'll have to pay for my forgetfulness. Oops.)  Couldn't get hold of it in English, so read the translation - btw, it's a bit annoying when they don't translate the title, because if you're not up to speed on your library codes you can't tell which search result is the English one and which is the Swedish one. Translation ok, possibly brought out certain repetitions and mannerisms on Smith's writing for the worse. Hard to be sure without reading both obviously. 

The book is about Patti Smith's relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, how they met in the late 60s and how their careers got started in the following decade. Everyone seems to love this book, I've heard no-one gripe about it yet. Me - not sure. A lot of names in it I don't know, especially towards the end. The first half is the best and feels genuine, moving and heart-warming. I feel a great deal of sympathy for these kids and their dreams. I lose interest as the book progresses though. Despite professing to be The Story, honest and true, she seems to be writing more about surfaces. A lot of talk about how artists are special and not like other people - without really explaining the art to me. A lot of talk about how they're all about their inner lives, yet all the time telling me what they're wearing. It starts to feel - horror of horrors - pretentious. And I really don't think she is.

Be interesting to hear the others.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Charlie Higson: The Fear

Not read so much as skimmed. Can't quite stand all the dying, but I have to know how it all turns out. He ties up some loose ends in this one, bringing different characters together (and then killing them off). "St George's" zombie army is on the march now and becoming a real threat, just as megalomaniac David plants spies to destroy the nerds at the Museum of Natural History from within. It's still bloody terrifying, thank you very much Mr Higson. I think I even dreamt about it tonight.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Terry Pratchett: Nation

I felt like laughing a little, so I borrowed two Terry Pratchetts that I felt sure I hadn't read. This is one of them, a freestanding novel -  not Discworld that is. Just like the Discworld though it's set in a parallell universe.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Arnaldur Indriðason: Kvinna i grönt (Silence of the Grave)

Many many years ago (maybe a lifetime if you happen to be Minimus, maybe even a lifetime if you happen to be one of his big sisters - I don't recall exactly) I read a favourable review about Arnaldur Indriðason and then promptly forgot the name. I remember going to the library and asking the librarian if they had well, it's a detective story? Icelandic? There's an I in the name? She did know the name, told me, and I promptly forgot. (For some reason I couldn't borrow a book right then, maybe it was summer and they were all out. Summer tends to be crime fic time in Sweden.) Since then I have actually come across the name enough times to remember it myself; it's been mentioned somehow or other perhaps once a year and trickled itself into my consciousness. However, I still didn't read the books.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Some Harry Dresden

Well, I wanted something easy, and the library carries the books. And it's nice and distracting. However, by now I'm rather full and finished with Dresden I feel. I think I'm going to move on to some Terry Pratchett because I'm in dire need of fun. Don't want serious.

I've read the second book, Fool Moon (har har har - it's actually pretty funny, didn't notice the pun until now) and books 6, 7 and 10 - Blood Rites, Dead Beat and Small Favor. I didn't read them in order though, which was an experience in itself, a bit like that film with your man who has no long-term memory and the film shows what's happened to him backwards. You know which one I mean.

Slight Mary Sue warning on The Dresden Files. Not bad though. Really not - all characters are fleshed out and complex enough to avoid the serious Mary Sue-ing. A little too much martial arts, in the sense that you can tell that Butcher has been imagining the fights in his mind beforehand. Down to the last blow. But you can skim a lot of that stuff.

My favourite part of Butcher's writing is that he manages to add in a self-deprecating comment every time things get too cliché. I'd give an example, but I'm not keeping notes. Like, Harry cracks one-liners and then mentally comments on how on-type that was. It shows a nice sense of what we in Swedish call självdistans.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tomas Sjöberg (Deanne Rauscher, Tove Meyer): Den motvillige monarken

Kolla, kungen! På väg till bokcirkeln, hann med tåget med ett nödrop. Detta är dagens bok, av mig lånad på bibliotek. Var ju synnerligen aktuell 2010 då den kom ut, märkligt nog aktuell även nu när kvällspressen skrev om någon intervju som Camilla Henemark gjort nyligen om skandalen. Hon är, för den som missat det, den enda av kvinnorna i denna cirkel runt kungen som namnges, och hon pekas också ut som kungens regelrätta älskarinna. Inte bara utpekas, hon säger det själv och i den ovan nämnda intervjun menar de att kungen erkänt det han också då han talade om att vända blad och sådär.

Boken inleds med en evighetslång beskrivning av kungens uppväxt och familjebakgrund (nazister). Här citeras barnjungfrun, systrar, rektorer, officerare från självbiografier och intervjuer. Bilden vi ska få är av en gosse som inte ville bli kung. Gott så - tråkigt men gott. Sen kommer vi till snasket. Kaffeflickor och allmän sexism, fester, festlokaler som ägs eller hur det nu var av kriminella. Sjöberg säger att han vill lyfta hur anmärkningsvärt och olämpligt det är att vår statschef umgås i sådana kretsar, hur han skulle kunna utpressas osv. Att det inte i första hand är moraliserande så. Men det är det. Jag tycker inte vi får någon analys av kungen, så bakgrunden känns lite jahapp, och den stora poängen är snasket. Klart som sjutton det är moraliserande, och varför inte säger jag. Med en mer fokuserad och ärlig bok hade kanske debatten kring den blivit bättre. Ni dog den i Anne Rambergs upprörda tal om elakt skvaller. Jag tycker att bokens historier är fullt trovärdiga, och hade det rört statsministern hade det tagit hus i helvete. Varför tillåts det glömmas när det rör statschefen? Konstigt konstigt. Men som sagt, egentligen inte jättebra som bok. Läsvärd dock!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nicola Upson: An Expert in Murder

I actually bought and read this after a tip here on the blog the other day, after I'd written about Josephine Tey (thanks oh swine of madness!). I got so curious, the library didn't have it and I realised they probably wouldn't get it either, so I thought what the hell. Treat myself even though it's an unknown quantity so to speak. Excellent service as per usual at The English Bookshop (link to the right), I ordered online and chose pick-up as delivery option. When I popped in for it your man in the shop said that he'd heard lots of great things about it and that the second one was supposed to be even better, so I was very favourably disposed towards the novel before ever cracking the spine. Although, luckily, not MADLY excited, thanks to the moderate wording of my internet tipper-offer there (a person I've internet-known for years and whose opinion I can trust, I feel) - " I quite enjoyed it, worth looking up for a bit of light fluff" she wrote, and I didn't really expect more then. Good for that, because if I had been I'd've been disappointed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Spoiled

Keep losing track of what's happening on stage, because I'm waiting for the murder mystery. This is the fault of Nicola Upson (more on that tomorrow). Also maybe I've read too much Ngaio Marsh in my life. Maybe. 

Charlaine Harris: An Ice Cold Grave

Am sitting on the train, same as every workday, but today is Saturday and I'm headed for the capital to go to the theatre with mah hubby. I'll say this for weekend travel - it's nice, nay fantastic, to have no trouble getting a seat. Amen. So why not avail myself of my seat (including the one next to me since the train is far from full) to write a blog entry? I'm sure you all agree, and with that you-all let's move to the South (well, North Carolina)  and re-visit Harper Connolly who sees dead people. Rather, feels them; rather, the presence of their bodies. In this one she discovers the hunting ground of a serial killer, whose anger at being thwarted might lead to her own death. Also, she has a fair bit of fairly explicit sex. Very difficult to read sex scenes on a crowded train I'll have you know. One glances through the page hoping none of the standing passengers will look down and see the phrase "his phallus was long, not as thick as some I'd encountered" (oh Charlaine. Phallus. Why?).
Quite a dark book. I like that side of her, it's genuine I feel. Like I've said a million times. Fluff, but not the worst kind. Reading this I was also struck by how well her books work to describe the minds and culture of the places she writes about. Small-town, semi-rural, bigoted yet capable of goodness America.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Charlaine Harris: Dead to the World

This is the one in which Eric is cursed by witches, remembers nothing about himself and has to hide out at Sookie's house. And Jason is kidnapped and we're introduced to the were-panthers of Hotshot. I've been wanting to read this in a not-very-active sort of way, because it's been a gap in the storyline for me - read the ones before and after, so knew what would happen but just hadn't read it.

Think I spotted several plot flaws, but I didn't keep notes (you don't when you're standing up reading on a moving fecking train) so don't remember specifics. Things like Sookie guessing something and two pages later treating it as fact. I do so wonder what Harris could turn out if she took her time instead of being so productive, but seeing as all her heroines (bar one) have low-paying jobs, struggling to get by, and Harris clearly writes from experience, I certainly don't blame her for wanting to keep a steady income coming in.

I'd've taken one of those fabulous book-in-my-lap photos, since this was a commuting read alright, but I forgot the book at home today and am tapping this out just before starting a new one. Hey ho.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: Storm Front

My sister listens to these as audio books, mostly because James Marsters does the reading. She readily admits that her keenness for the Dresden Files may have more than a little to do with Marsters' delicious voice, but claims that they're fun even without this added spice. This is the first novel and introduces Harry Dresden to us in a classic noir private-dick-in-the-office scene. Except Dresden is a wizard. It's a fun idea, a kinda pastisch on noir with a supernatural twist.  I suspect that the subsequent books start suffering from that repetition of facts that is the bane of all serials, but so far so relatively snappy. A few lame one-liners. Not too many. Very filmable, but not written as if this is the author's main hope. The image of a tall, lanky guy stumbling around in trackie bottoms, cowboy boots and some sort of trenchcoat while shouting pseudo-latin spells is pretty original. Not all original (hello, Buffy) but ok. Good good. I might read more if I stumble across any.

This is the one in which people's hearts are magically ripped out of their chests by an evil wannabe wizard.

Oh, note to my sis: the love interest is TOTALLY OBVIOUS.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Incidentally

Parked my bike next to the window of a second-hand book shop ten minutes ago, and walked past their display on my way to the station. Among the children's books I noticed a book by Christianna Brand, about a little Matilda. Huh, don't think I knew that she'd written books for kids. That would be interesting to read ... but I'd want it in English obviously. Note to self, however.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time

Reread this today. Well, started earlier, but finished today. Read it years ago, but this copy was a gift from my cousin. It's a nice one, because it has the portrait of Richard III on the cover, which is helpful considering that the story starts with that and they keep referring to it. I love this, even though I do lose track of some of the historical characters. Mr Bani started to read it in an attempt at solidarity with my hobbies but he wasn't too keen apparently. Philistene. I wonder if the Babes in the Tower are ever mentioned in the tv series, The Tudors I mean? I think not, right, it starts with Henry VIII doesn't it? And it's his father who is the true murderer, according to Tey. Great book anyway.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Lee Child: The Enemy

Bought myself this second-hand. Quite enjoyed reading it. It's a prequel, set before Reacher leaves the army, starting just as 1989 turns to 1990. The Berlin Wall is coming down and Reacher discovers that the various fractions in the military are panicking over what the new world order will mean for them. The best part for me was that Reacher and his brother Joe visit their mother in Paris, and she obviously lives right next to where I lived when I was an au-pair. Awesome! Brought back memories that did. Pretty nice complicated plot, but not too hard to follow, despite military jargon and all. Am writing this on phone on the train home, so will try to insert snapshot of book on my lap, on lovely Boden bag my sister gave me.


Monday, August 22, 2011

David Leavitt: The Page Turner

A present from my cousin in Dublin, who always gives me books. I'd never heard of this and after glancing at the cover asked her sceptically if this wasn't terribly sentimental, but she said no no. I think after reading it I'd say yes, yes. It gets great reviews according to the back, not just from The Gay Times but from more, shall we say, independent press too. But me, I don't really get it.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Colin Cotterill x 3 (2? No, let's say 3)

As previously stated I read Anarchy and Old Dogs before going to Ireland. That's the one in which Dr Siri discovers a plot to overthrow the Communist government and thwarts it. He's not having the Royalists back even if his hopes of an equal and free Lao society are turning to Cold War Communist red tape dust. I liked it so much that I got my cousin the first one in the series - no, the second I think it was.  I've yet to read it myself though ironically, and the library doesn't have the first three at all. So I might buy them. However, I'm sort of reading them in order, as I read Curse of the Pogo Stick next and after that The Merry Misogynist. I liked the latter the least; not because it isn't well crafted or whatever, but because it introduces the by now rather cliché serial killer theme. I kept imagining this being filmed. There's already so much on-screen these days portraying  violence towards women - rape scenes, naked mutilated bodies, CSI and so on. As Wennstam notes in Alfahannen somewhere, this too serves to objectify, however much the creators may think it's to inform or whatever. Bla bla. Anyway, felt a bit meh, same old same old. Curse of the Pogo Stick was quite obviously written in order to introduce the plight of the Hmong people more than anything else, but that's okay. I liked it better. One con is that there is a fair bit of repetition "Dr Siri remembered how he only a few months ago had ..." and then a quick recap of the last book. You know. But fairly inevitable in this type of literature. Take the good bits and enjoy them, I say! I like these a lot. I think I'll buy myself the first three - I can always donate them to the library after I've read them.

Läsvärt

En väldigt bra artikel, ett utskrivet tal närmare bestämt, i dagens SVD. Selma är ju ruskigt bra.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Whoohooo let's BURN this candle!

If you know what cartoon I'm referring to with that line, you win a wink.

Anyway, so we've had a busy summer, during which I have largely not been at the computer. I have been reading however, so shall now try to catch myself up with some posts over the next few days. My husband said something a while ago about how my blog posts were mostly me moaning about how bad the post is and how I have no time to blog - but hey, there you are. It's true and I feel sad about it. All the smart thoughts I have in my head while reading, all the associations and connections I make; even if I make notes I can't get it down. Ah well.

Luckily I've been reading nothing too strenous. I had two weeks holiday before we went to Ireland for another two weeks (where we had an absolutely glorious time) and I'd started two new obsessions then: Eric Ambler and Colin Cotterill. Of the two, Ambler is the easiest to spell, so I'll start with him.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Ursula Le Guin: The Other Wind

I'd missed reading this, the last part of the Earthsea books. Series. Saga. It does tie up some loose ends that had bothered me previously, but I didn't realise it until I read this. The dragons are explained, the oddness of the depressing afterlife ... Much better way to finish things up that in Tehanu, which I thought was the last one (clearly I never pay attention nor do I do research - The Other Wind is from 2001! Talk about out of it!).I still don't think she should necessarily have resurrected the series after the 1970s classic trilogy, but there you go.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Wheeeeeeeee!

Going to Ireland tomorrow, the whole lot of us! I'm bringing library books to read on the trip - very daring, but it's two new (to me) authors that I found and now want to read all of. If that makes sense.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Xiaolu Guo: UFO in Her Eyes

In my youth a long time ago I read a collection of short stories about Chinese peasants and their lives. Give me a year and I might remember the title and author, but it's not likely - anyway, the point is that this was the first time I came across "Miserable China". My image of China was heavily influenced by what one must bluntly call positive racism - people of learning and dignity, with an innate wisdom that they hold on to despite the suffering imposed on them even during Cultural Revolution etc etc. Invented paper and gunpowder, much more advanced really than Europeans etc etc. However, that book and this one talks of life as a peasant in China as dusty, crude, coarse and hopeless. Not only, obviously - but the contrasts between the glittering surface of modern Shanghai and these hamlets that by Chinese standards are tiny (only 300 or so inhabitants) where people still can't read and have no way of independently connecting to the outside world are immense. (I remember when I read the short story collection I was shocked at the language, the swearing. I thought Chinese was automatically more refined. In UFO in Her Eyes the favourite expressions are Bitch Bastard and Cow's Cunt - colourful.)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Charlie Higson: Double or Die

Why not? I said to myself, and read the third book in the Young Bond series, since the first wasn't in. In this one Bond and his group of friends discover that Eton's teacher of mathematics has been kidnapped, since he sends them a coded letter that only the student crossword buffs can decode. Pretty much same as last time. I pondered a little on how it seems as though Higson is gradually breaking Bond down into a sociopath, but I'll have to read more of the books to tell. I also think boarding schools seem so shite. And that's it from the Efficient Blogging Machine.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Jasper Fforde: The Last Dragonslayer

His kiddie book, borrowed 'coz I saw it. Funny, but Fforde can be a bit tiresome when there is too much Clever floating about and there is a bit here. Nonetheless I enjoyed it and wouldn't mind more of this universe. I like the idea of the Ununited Kingdom etc. Read about it more somewhere else, we're on an efficiency roll here!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kathy Reichs: Spider Bones

Borrowed this in the large print edition, which feels a bit like reading a shout. Anyway, I've gone of Reichs quite a bit, her writing isn't great even if I like THE REAL BONES thankyouverymuch as a heroine and find the actual facts interesting. This is the one where they find a dead man who turns up as reported dead and buried during the Vietnam war, and then find more bones that might be him and go to Hawaii. It's a bit slow and choppy. But still - a fairly good travel book.

Charlaine Harris x 2

One I own, Club Dead, one I recently borrowed, All Together Dead (had a fabulous library haul!). I haven't been following True Blood lately and I don't read the books in any order, only one now and then as they happen to cross my path, so the storyline in Sookieverse is jumping all over the place for me. In Club Dead she turns down a nice romp with the were Alcide because she's faithful to her man Bill who is captured by his maker Lorena in cahoots with the king of Mississippi (seen that bit in the True Blood version), whereas in All Together Dead she's not with Bill at all 'coz he LIED to her and now she's with this were-something or shifter or whatever named Quinn instead and they go to this convention thing and there's a bomb. I remember turning over a book in the series (where? where was I? where did I see this book?) and reading that she gets together with Erik the vamp later on, so my timeline is totally unsequenced here.

(Basically I only want to note down the titles so I can keep track of which ones I've read.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

I done gone did a good deed

A colleague and I got to talking today about how she'd seen all the Twilight films recently and ended up reading the final book to see what would happen. She was surprised at herself because the book was so thick (cue me "one should never judge a novel in advance based on the number of paaaaaaages it's all about the stoooooooryyyyy...") and because it was fantasy. So she was rather pleased with this venture into a new genre, and I immediately tipped her off about the Sookie Stackhouse series. And I wasn't snarky about Twilight.
And now I'm off on my holidays. Good times.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jack London: A Daughter of the Snows

If I ever ventured to surmise based on my positive recollections of one book that Jack London maybe was worth reading, could write or anything else of a positive nature - consider it revoked. I take it all back. The man was, and his writing still is, obnoxious, chauvinist, monotonous and most of all despicably through-and-through racist, in the vilest pseudo-scientific manner. This book made me gag many many times. All my former prejudices were proven true. Before Adam must be an anomaly; I'm guessing since it's all imagination there's no room for ranting about how Native Americans must be inferior to Europeans (especially the Nordic "races") because otherwise why would the Europeans have won? 

Utter utter shite. Avoid avoid avoid. I took notes but it was ages ago and frankly I don't feel it's worth the effort now (three months later).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bill Bryson: Made in America and The Lost Continent

Oops, I had started a blog post on Made in America. Silly me. On March 30th as a matter of fact - well, I have no trouble repeating myself, so here goes again. (My husband has pointed out that most of my blog is me complaining about how I never get to blog, how crap I am at blogging, how I never have time for it and so on in aeternum. He isn't wrong. But I got defensive. You had to be there.) I remember now that I had planned to write about these two together since they're both about America. A thematic blog entry, like. Possibly I even had very smart things figured out. I distinctly remember thinking as I read the one that aha! he write about that in the other too! but I'm drawing a blank now and didn't keep notes.

Anyway, so you all should read both. The Lost Continent is about Bryson driving across America to rediscover the country he has left and the road trips of his childhood. It's also I think a form of grieving process since his father's death; this is never the main point, but now and then Bryson's memories are very touching and poignant. Since the book is by now a little older (first published in 1989) it's also by way of being an historical document, almost. Made In America is about linguistics, about how that special kind of English called American evolved. It's tremendously interesting for those of us who like that sort of thing. I especially enjoyed the bits about the oldest records, Pilgrims and all.

Very much recommended, always.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

George Sylvester Viereck: The House of the Vampire

This entry was started May 3d this year, FYI. I downloaded this novel to the Aldiko because the author is written up as the man who introduced gay pulp fiction. I was curious alright? No harm in that.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lasse Berg: Skymning över Kalahari

This book is not translated, but you never know: it might be. Or at the very least someone may write a very similar book in English, and then one can, you know, draw parallells, should one so wish. The title means "dusk over the Kalahari". Lasse Berg is a Swedish journalist who has reported from many war zones over the years, and says that until quite recently he believed in the old idea that humans were intrinsically dark creatures, prone to aggression and violence when thwarted. "The veneer of civilization" you know. Survival of the fittest and throw the weak ones overboard, that sort of thing. Then he started reading about recent research into our earliest development, and changed his mind.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Charlie Higson: Blood Fever

The Young Bond series, so - y'see I'm experiencing withdrawal waiting for the next zombie books. Which, by the way, is set to be an everlasting series now, and I can't say I'm very pleased. Chances are it'll just go on and on and on like fecking Tribe. Anyway, so I took a chance at the library with this. From whence, by the way, it is probably overdue by now. I believe this is the second book, but don't let that stop you, you don't seem to need to read them in order.  I am actually very impressed by the level of action, by how closely Higson follows the Bond template (exotic location, eccentric megalomaniac crook, girl interest - Young Bond isn't that into it though - , explosions, fast boats and cars and so on). Bond is just not a psycopath/sociopath. Yet? Shall we follow him as he gets older and his mind more perverted? (Recently watched a bit of that Bond film with Roger Moore and Jane Seymour, the Haiti voodoo one - Live and Let Die, that's it - what a bunch of psycho racist shite. And Bond's the psycho - the voodoo seems reasonable by contrast.) I think I might borrow a few more this summer for light entertainment. I like his style. I like how he's set things in the 30s or so too. Clever!

Summary: this is the one where young Jimmy-oh is on/in (which is it? surely on?) Sardinia and meets a lunatic art-collecting local "prince" who has kidnapped the sister of one of his schoolmates. All coincidental of course - if real life was like James Bond storylines the police would solve all crimes. They'd go into shops to get a fresh pack of cigarettes and overhear the crooks making plans behind the deodorant shelves.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Bill Bryson: At Home (maybe also Made In America)

My husband gave me this for our wedding anniversary on the 15th of June,  and I didn't read it at first because I thought I'd save it, and reward myself with it after finishing all the blog posts that are waiting - but what the hell. Just a quickie then.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summertime

Summertime means changes in the train schedule, so the 7.13 departs directly from Uppsala instead of coming in from the North (i.e. Tierp), which means that those of us who are always there early have the pleasant luxury of being able to step aboard a waiting train and choosing our seats, instead of jostling like it's the last lifeboat off the Titanic. This is off topic, but it needed to be crowed over. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Diana Wynne Jones: The Dalemark Quartet

I had a sudden urge to read some Wynne Jones, after Minimus having a phase of watching our dvd of Howl's Moving Castle again. So when we were at the library at one point during a gloriously extended weekend (thank you Christ for ascending and thank you government for 6 of June being a holiday - that was five days of work that was and a half day the day before - oh yeah, thank the union for that) I borrowed all four books of the Dalemark story.

I get a bit vexed with myself for wasting my fantasy-mad childhood reading Alexander Lloyd, who frankly is monotonous when you devour all his books at pretty much once, when I could have been reading Wynne Jones instead. Nothing and no-one is perfect, but Wynne Jones has a lovely wry sense of humour that isn't limited to goofy side-kicks. I like that. At the same time she introduces very difficult subjects in her books.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Anniversary Day + 1!

Our wedding anniversary was yesterday, we've been married fifteen years. To celebrate, my journey home after work was marred by a late bus and a cancelled train. But no matter! Mr Bani got me a lovely surprise present: Bill Bryson's At Home. Just perfect! -  I was looking at that myself on Amazon, wondering whether to hit the buy button. He's a genius for getting good gifts. (I bought him an orchid, which - well, at least it was something.)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Artikel om Dorothy Sayers i SvD

http://www.svd.se/kultur/gatfull-deckardam_6218343.svd

Kommentera gärna om du är positiv, så dränker vi den märkliga person som tycker att Läckberg (!?!?!?!) är bättre. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Re-reading Harry Potter

I'm on the train at the moment with HP and The Order of the Phoenix in my bag. Sadly, in oh so many ways, that book is as thick as ... oh I dunno - maybe six Gutenberg bibles? not to mention the fact that it's the hardback kiddie edition. I.e. it's conspicuous as hell and I'm too embarrassed to take it out on a packed train.  With the ease built into this Blogger phone app I could take a photo of its massiveness, but due to the above I won't.

I went on this Harry P kick after we watched the last film again not long ago. Of all the films it's my favourite. They manage to convey a feeling of bleakness and realism that lifts the story to a better level. All good science-fiction and fantasy should, ironically, be realistic. I'll get back to that when I write my Tolkien post someday THIS YEAR - see how I've committed myself now? I read that part two of The Deathly Hallows is going to me more spectacular though, all effects and 3-bloody-D I suspect. How utterly boring, predictable and disappointing.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Scarlett Thomas: The End of Mr Y

So this is the one the conductor (ticket inspector?) in my previous post liked so much she had to lean over and tell me. That sounded snarky, but I'm not taking the piss, honestly. I like the community of readers. I posted the picture on Facebook too and my editor friend said it'd be interesting to hear what I thought, because they'd turned it down themselves. So the pressure is on, people.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Laurie R King: The Language of Bees and God of the Hive

Disclaimer: this post was started on May 6th. Adjust all references to times and dates accordingly and make allowances for sketchy memories.

Two days before reading these books (well, one of them, I can't remember which one I was thinking of when I started the draft)  my husband and I walked about the Wordsworth poem We Are Seven (yes yes, initiation of discussion was all his. I'd never read it before, I admit it). And lo and behold the quote from that very poem on page 82 (in one of the books, see above), which would have been meaningless to me only three days earlier. Yesterday I read an article about a recent trend in Japan for divorce ceremonies. A key element was smashing a symbolic wedding ring with a mallet. The broken pieces are placed in the mouth of a netsuke, a frog (not real one obviously), which in Japanese belief symbolizes new beginnings. Page 210 Mary Russell breaks into a house, and her foot brushes against a netsuke on the floor.

Lucky I'm not that crazy, or I'd start thinking I was receiving messages from Above. Of what though? - that would lead to new levels of madness.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Community

And later that afternoon the ticket inspector (conductor?) checked my commuter card, then leaned over and said "that's one of my favourite books".


Not dead!

I'm still here. Just not that much on-leasure-line.

Thursday I stopped by Väsby Centrum and went into the big charity shop there (a very good one!) to panic-shop something to wear to a dissertation party we were going to the next evening (a very smart lady deserves her guests to be at least moderately smartly attired, no?). Naturally I browsed the book section, which was surprisingly good, even for English books. I could have picked up several, including two Lee Childs because whythehellnot, but I settled for The End of mr Y which I've been wanting to read for ages and lo, lo, lo and behold - The Language of Bees.

I've finished the latter and reading it was like meeting old friends. I'll get back to you on that one.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ken Bruen (ed): Dublin Noir: The Celtic Tiger vs. the Ugly American

My husband got me this book for - oh God, it was either my birthday, which would make this late blogging of it REALLY embarrassing, or else Christmas, which is only a little bit embarrassing. It's a collection of short stories by mostly NA authors, written as you can tell in the noir genre and with Ireland as the subject theme.

My poor husband was on to me for the first few weeks to find out if I liked it, but I didn't read it straight away (this is unusual for me) because I wanted to save it as a back-up book for times of drought. By the time he'd given up I did start reading it, and frankly wasn't too enamoured with it so it got pushed to the side for a while. I finished it this month anyway (by this month I mean March, the time of writing), and have been left with a resounding impression of Meh.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Christine de Pizan: The City of Ladies and Thorstein Veblen: The Theory of the Leisure Class

I'm putting these in the same post because I happened to read them back-to-back and found a similar theme. I started with The City of Ladies on 8th of March - International Women's Day - and finished with Veblen's two days later. Both books have been hailed as feminist literature, and reading them so close together sparked lots of comparisons in my mind. All brilliant, all very intellectual. Sadly, I can't remember any of them now, I don't think.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Charles Dickens: Hunted Down

Hunted Down was in the Aldiko's mystery section, so I had to read it. It's one of Dickens's typical magazine stories, I suppose, very Victorian damsel-in-distress, sudden ending, swift punishment of the villain, self-sacrificing death and so on. Actually it's quite gripping up to the ending, which is pretty lame. The worst side of Dickens is his Deus ex Machina-trait, and this was full of it. Suddenly people turn out to be the unfairly impoverished good child's rich relations and so on. (This is my first Dickens post, but I have read more of his, I promise, so I know it's a pattern.) Anyway, still enjoyable and dramatic. Also, like all Dickens, in one way or other historically interesting. I liked the descriptions, however brief, of the office work/life insurance business.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A.A. Milne: The Red House

I read this on my phone as an eBook, and here's the link to Project Gutenberg's versions of it. Yay eBooks! It's a bit stupid writing eBooks though. I have to start rebelling against the minuscule as initial trend. Ebooks. Ebooks. Now that wasn't so hard, was it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dorothy Sayers: In the Teeth of the Evidence

I'm home sick today, so it's BLOGGING DAY my friends, bloggetty-bloggetty blog! I have six (6) empty posts in my draft lists that are waiting to be filled with content. All I have to do is type like a madwoman for a few hours (with intervals for the Book of Face, random surfing, making extensive watch lists on Ebay and Tradera), then set the posts to be published at regular intervals - and hey presto, it once again looks like I'm a Real Blogger™.  This draft is the oldest, so I'm starting here. Also it's the easiest post to write I think, I probably don't even have to locate the book (a near-impossible task since that ill-fated attempt to organize the shelves alphabetically), since I've read it several times and should remember it anyway.

Monday, March 28, 2011

RIP Diana Wynne Jones

I'm just after reading on Neil Gaiman's blog that Diana Wynne Jones has died. And this is terribly terribly sad. She'll be missed, even by those of us who never had the pleasure of knowing her in person.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The new masthead ...

... which will probably be up for the next five years seeing as how it took me five years to make it at all, ha ha ha, was done with the aid of mr Bani, who knows how to handle the proper camera. He is sorely unhappy with the photo (started mumbling immediately about lightening it up in Photoshop at the VERY LEAST), so don't judge him. I rushed him a bit. We did two sets of pictures, this and a different setup that was longer, with more books. But I tried adding this first, found that it worked, so I left it. He isn't pleased, thinks it's too high. Well, yes, it is a bit. But I had to fit all those books in, didn't I? The masthead gets its own page, with explanations, see above.

I counted 35 books, and only 15 female authors. That annoyed me quite a bit, and in the second photo session I added on a few women. However, I did go with photo nr 1 for now, and I do think that it is another bit of proof that we're living in a patriarchal society, innit. I think of myself as someone who is forever reading books written by women, but when I'm choosing books that I feel represent a sort of cross-section of my reading, men dominate. Just like all research shows that when teachers feel that they're giving boys and girls equal time in the classroom, they're giving boys more, and when they do split it equally they feel like the girls are getting more time. I read just last week some columnist in the paper (can't find it now) who wrote about a visitor who had remarked grouchily that "you seem to read only women writers!" after looking in her bookshelf. The reality was a pretty accurate 50/50. So there we are.

Another side-effect: trying to find the books I wanted to photograph made it clear how impractical colour-sorting is. Christ. So it has to go. Project Alphabetical Order is being drafted. I gave it a go yesterday, after taking the photos, but you need to take EVERYTHING down, and dust, and sort, and put EVERYTHING back, and make some tough decisions ... so it'll have to wait.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Alice Munro: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage

Alice Munro has totally flown under my radar all these years. I might have heard the name, but that's it. I certainly wouldn't have been able to place her as a Canadian author, for example. Now, my book club decided to read Alice Munro, and the week after that it turns out that a woman who wrote what was, I believe she said, the first ever dissertation about L. M. Montgomery's books goes to my pilates class and is generally a bit of an expert in Canadian literature, so another woman there asked her if she could recommend Canadian books for her book club who were considering having Canada as a theme for a while, and they mentioned Munro "obviously" (I was like, Atwood - now that's obvious). So there you go, coincidences make up the weave of life and so on.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Jack London: Before Adam

If you had asked me three weeks ago whether I'd ever read anything by Jack London I'd have looked you straight in the eye and with complete assurance said no, definitely not, I'm sure I haven't. Yet I've surely read this book about a dozen times as a child and loved it. And I've always avoided Jack London's books, with their aura of manly maleness, chapped skin, doggy smell and antiquated frontier spirit. That aura is of course based solely on my prejudices. Jack London wrote, I was convinced,  adventure and hunting books for boys; for boys who grew into the sort of man my (paternal) grandfather was (a house tyrant who bullied his sons a fair bit, hunted, and expected the sort of respect one is due as Head of a Household). He, of course, owned a complete set of London's novels.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Read and be rude

Despite still being a commuter, this year travelling even further and for longer (for my sins), I'm having trouble finding time to read. The reason being that I have colleagues who travel the same way. And if we sit together then I can't in all decency immerse myself in my book, because that would be rude. The train part of the trip is alright. Since the train is packed to bursting point it's every human for h**self, in an inhumane fashion - no holds barred in the struggle to get a seat on the train. Thus, no-one expects to choose who to sit next to. We are all islands on Upptåget in the mornings. I'm perfectly capable of reading no matter how uncomfortable I am, so I can use those 25 minutes to my advantage. The bus trip that follows is a different matter though, since we often re-find each other and sit next to one another.

Just writing this post feels terribly rude, but my intent is not to complain really. I've (almost) come to terms with having more limited reading time. And the colleague I most often travel with is lovely. It's more a case of, yet again, noticing how different the work-place culture is compared to my last job. There were several of us who commuted at my last job, but by tacit understanding we never sat beside each other while travelling. That time was private time. We slept, tried to work a little sometimes, we read. Nodded at each other, said hello, but we didn't encroach on each other's privacy, oh no no.

Although ... okay, slight complaint. This commute is different in that it's more broken up and I can't sit and relax for the full hour or so what with changing buses and trains and stressing over whether I'll make the connection or not. So it does affect me a little to not have all that time to myself, to wind down or mentally prepare myself for the day ahead. While I in theory have those three hours (oh dear Jesus that's depressing) to myself each day, in reality I don't, and it makes me feel like I Never Get Time For Myself - you know. Normally a book = two commuter days. Now - I have no idea. It takes some getting used to.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Agatha Christieand Dorothy Sayers x 2, also Ngaio Marsh and Joseph Smith Fletcher x 1, respectively

What I'm actually reading now, to sound like a tv chef, is Alice Munro (for my book discussion club). It's just that my recent setback at work left me not only very down (although I'm better now) but also with a strong hankering for detective fiction, my old love. More specifically for the vintage, Golden Age type of detective fiction that don't over-analyse things and revel in upholding the status quo. Escapism, in other words. I only kept away from Tolkien (the ultimate escapism) because it, frankly, makes me cry, and from The Left Hand of Darkness because I felt I was being too pathetic re-reading that again so soon (at least, it feels as though I re-read it very recently). So detective fiction it was.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kate Chopin: The Awakening and other Short Stories

Downloaded because Kate Chopin is, according to Wikipedia, considered to be a forerunner to feminist authors of the 20th century - caught my interest. Admittedly, I have never studied literature, but Chopin seems quite forgotten, which is a bit of a shame. I don't know if I loved her writing to be honest, but it's certainly not worse than that of many male authors of the period who still make their way into anthologies and are spoken of with respect. I sometimes feel that a lot of writing still hailed as classic is actually very dated and dull. But that's by the by.  Chopin's writing is actually remarkably modern, I think.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Jerome K Jerome: Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

Downloaded and read because I enjoyed Three Men in a Boat, once upon a time. This is not at all as much fun, since it's full of the downside of Jerome's writing, which is dreamy, moralistic passages that go on for pages and pages, on the beauty of nature and the nature of beauty etc etc. There are some gems though:


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ayn Rand: Anthem

I heard of Ayn Rand quite late, I must have been nearly thirty or so. Her name - which no doubt was her intent - then floundered about in my brain for a while without being able to stick to anything. I thought it was a man's name, I thought it was a modern writer and not someone dead and so on. Finally, I think thanks to some article or other, I got it - but getting it didn't mean wanting to read it. In fact the only reason why I downloaded this to the Aldiko was that it was labelled science fiction. I thought I'd give it a shot. When I told my husband that I was reading Anthem he said that he didn't like Ayn Rand, she was too furiously liberal and sure of everyone being able to manage on their own.

Anyway, I didn't really see what he was on about, because I'd only started reading it and it was quite enjoyable retro science fiction so far. Clearly drawing on Soviet Russia, Rand describes a future in which no-one has choice, but are allocated work at the age of 15 or something, and then work work work until they retire, old and worn, at the age of 40. There is no privacy, no I. Only community and We. As far as community and we goes it reminded me of the anarchist world of Anaress, except Rand's future is a nightmare version of the idea. Our narrator is a bit of a rebel and has always been difficult, so despite having an aptitude for science he works as a street-sweeper, which clearly is a form of punishment and shows that there is a subtler power structure at work in a seemingly egalitarian society (Shevek on Anarres, again, comes up against that same problem). By chance he finds a way to hide away and experiment, but runs away when he realises that society doesn't want his ideas. The book then descends into a trudging monologue on how important it is to stand alone and not be ... I suppose it might be forced into a community, but it comes across more as part of community at all. A long tribute to Ego. It's boring and obvious and ruins the science fiction. Frankly, why bother writing a novel of imagination if you can't go through with it and be more subtle in your ideas? The most annoying part was Rand's surprisingly shoddy treatment of women, in my opinion. The narrator's love interest, who escapes to follow him into the wilderness, has no personality and seems to exist merely to worship the man and his great ideas, and to bear him a son (of course, the sex of the child she carries is a given, I mean why ever expect a daughter, right?). Oddly misogynistic and just plain dull.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Jasper Fforde: Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron

I have my favourites, but I don't keep track of when the next book is coming out and what they're working on at the moment and so on - in short, I don't keep up with the news. So when I for the first time in ages go into the library (because I was so depressed and wanted something escapist to read) and find a new (to me) Jasper Fforde - well it's an enormously pleasant surprise. And a new series even! Published in December 2009 according to Wikipedia, it has not come to my attention at all. You may all laugh now at my ignorance. I find that this casual approach saves me a lot of tense expectation. Anyway, a new Jasper was just what I needed in my current state.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Amanda Cross: An Imperfect Spy

This is the Amanda Cross book I bought at my church's Christmas market do on the first of Advent. I read it shortly after that, and have been feeling the blog guilt ever since. I tried to not read anything else and ONLY play Angry Birds until I'd blogged about it, but it didn't work. But I'll do this now, and start working off my list.

Looking at it now though I know there were some things I definitely wanted to say about it, but for the life of me I'm not certain what. It's a very political novel, very definitely with a strong agenda.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yes, I do still read

I just don't have time to sit down and blog. Also, I don't read as much, because I discovered Angry Birds.

I know.

The shame of it.

Nonetheless I'm about four books behind, at least.