Friday, 31 January 2014

Quotes on books

This last day of January is a very nice, slightly cold, sunny day here in Belgium. A lovely day for a walk in the forrest. But...yesterday I was a little bit eager and too fast stepping out of the car and something snapped at the back of my right leg, below the back of the knee. Could not walk so had to head to the doctor. A rapture in the muscle (a name reminding me of the names in 'Bones' but can't remember it!) but similar to the biceps in the arm. Just to be sure that it was not totally broken I had to spend a couple of hours in the Leuven hospital's emergency unit just to be told that it was only a rapture and will heal with rest. Good news indeed. However, it has left me somewhat crippled. I have to jump around on the toes only on my right foot so stumbling around the house in this way. Going out I use the crutches I rented from a pharmacy. Well, if this is not a good excuse to tend to your blog and read a little bit more I don't know any!

Since I am still reading several books as usual (Röde Orm from my TBR shelves and An Education by Lynn Barber for one of my book clubs and having promised myself to finish The Inheritance of Loss by reading at least one chapter a day) so I seem not to be able to finish any. An article about clever things said about and in books reminded me that I have a small note book myself where I have collected quotes (about books and other things) so it seems like a good idea to share these quotes with you. So click on the link below and enjoy! If you have any good quotes on books please send a comment.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

These two much acclaimed books and both winners of the Man Booker Prize in 2009 and 2012 respectively, do not disappoint you. They are masterly written in a very solemn, quiet sort of way. It is told from the part of Thomas Cromwell, the secretary to first cardinal Wolsey and then to Henry VIII. We follow Cromwell from his humble background, during his young years while travelling, fighting in wars and working in Europe before he returned to England to study law. He was acknowledged at the time as an 'administrative genius' and his able work took him to the top of the society.

The books are a work of fiction and one can only know as much as there are written evidence. Although based on historical events, Hilary Mantel herself says that for some events there are vague evidence of what really happened. For a skilled writer as Hilary Mantel this is maybe a fantastic situation. She creates out of known facts additions that are now known, but could be, and makes them believable.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

European Reading Challenges 2013 and coming up 2014

Rose City Reader hosted this challenge during 2013. This is the first challenge I have finalised so I think it will take a little bit of celebration. I chose the challenge Five Star (Deluxe Entourage): To read at least five books by different European authors or books set in different European countries. My five books are:

1. Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris (UK). One of my favourite authors. She never disappoint you.
2. Spöksonaten (Ghost Sonata) by August Strindberg (Sweden). One of our most famous writers and dramatists. This is not his easiest play and I remember seeing it on the theatre in Sweden many years ago. I was not any wiser after reading the book! Miss Julie is more to recommend if you want to try Strindberg.
3. Min önskelista (La liste de mes envies - My Wish List) by Grégoire Delacourt (France). A very nice book easy to read. It is about a lady who wins the highest price on the lottery and what happens to you in such situations.
4. All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues) by Erich Maria Remarque (Germany). The classic tale from the horrors of the trenches during the First World War. A remarkably fresh book and not so heavy as I had imagined. A true classic since it is a delight to read it even today.
5. The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Spain). This is one of his first books which he wrote for young adults. As with everything he writes it is a joy to read...and what a magic beginning 'I'll never forget the night it snowed over Calcutta.'

For 2014 I continue with my present challenges; A Century of Books and Book beginnings on Friday and I have enrolled in two new challenges; 2014 Monthly Motif Challenge and the TBR Pile Challenge.

Good luck with your own challenges!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Cleaning your books!

It is lovely to have a lot of books. However, the big disadvantage is that they tend to collect a lot of dust. Therefore I had - for some time I must admit (tend to postpone!) - the notion to clean my book cases again. For this purpose I bought a small handy vacuum cleaner which turned out to be perfect. You can just dust them where they stand but this time I took them all out to clean also the shelves.

To Be Read!
To my big distress I realise that I have a lot of books on my TBR shelves. Maybe they are even more than the books on the shelves that I have read? When I looked at them I also realise that some of them I bought many, many years ago. But I have promised to read one or two every month so I can move them up to the proper shelves where there still is some space. There are all kinds of books in this pile; classics, fiction, thrillers, mystery, non-fiction and more. I should be able to find something suiting all my moods. Let's see where I am in the end of the year.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Favourite books in 2013

This is the first time that I divide the books I have read into categories. My last post showed statistics on how many books could be related to each category. One can of course divide the books into another 5 categories, although I think it would make the numbers too small. So, which were my favourite books within each category? It is difficult to choose just one book but I must say that for all categories except maybe for Series there was always one that raised above the rest. In the Series category three of them were better than the rest. Here is the list:

Classics - Wuthering Height by Emily Brontë (one of my favourite books and although I have read it many times I always discover new things and I am always weak for eternal love, however devastating!)

Historical Fiction - The Duchess of Milan by Michael Ennis (a totally fascinating story of one of the many strong and fascinating female characters in history. Just make you want to read something else of Michael Ennis).

Mystery/Thriller - Grave Secrets by Kathy Reichs (surprisingly few books in this genre?! None of them really something extraordinary, which means I have to improve this year because I really like this genre. My reason for choosing this book is that it is rather thrilling and the characters from Reichs' books have been transferred into one of my favourite TV-series BONES!)

Non Fiction - Here were many good books but my vote goes for the biography of Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin. Wonderfully written and what a fascinating character, although I am not sure I like him entirely. However, full of admiration for this very energetic person.

Other Fiction - The Garden of Evening Mist by Tan Twang Eng (an absolutely lovely book with a lot of levels. I loved the story of judge Yun Ling Teoh who had been a Japanese prisoner during World War II and her relationship with a Japanese gardener who helps her overcome her trauma. A wonderful tale in beautiful prose).

Series - The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris (has to be this one which I was totally
fascinated by. Her characters who are anything but pure humans, living in their own world within the real world is a fantastic tale. She has managed to incorporate all these characters and makes them believable. The series are the base for another favourite TV-series True Blood).

Some of my favourite books for 2013. Let's see what good books we can find for 2014!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Reading year 2013 and reading year to come

Long time no see! I have been away for the holidays and no access to Internet. So, a little bit late I want to wish you all a wonderful 2014. Hopefully it will bring a lot of reading. 2013 was my first year of active reading. I had an idea that I would like to read at least 100 books. I managed with 108! Hopefully I will manage to read a slightly higher number this year so maybe I should go for at least 120 books! I said it so now there is no way back.

I have made statistics on the kind of books I have read through the year. I have divided them into Non-fiction (22) (easy enough) and under Fiction I have made the following sub-titles; Series (30), Mystery/Thriller (7), Classics (14), Historical fiction (6) and Other fiction (29) visualised in two charts below:

Read in 2013 by category

Read in 2013 by percentage

I am mostly proud over the number of classics that I have read. Will continue this trend in 2014.