Tuesday, December 02, 2008

5 books...it shall be done

So I'm home recovering from surgery which means I have ample amounts of time to reach my five book goal this week. One book down, four to go.

I finished Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laura Viera Rigler earlier today. The basic plot is as follows: Modern day woman obsessed with Jane Austen wakes up in the early 19th century in another woman's body and proceeds to reconcile her original modern self with the self she is inhabiting. I'm not quite sure why I kept reading it, since I found some it it to be implausible. Wouldn't modern speech be somewhat of a problem in Jane Austen's time? Here is one that bugged me: "I love to party." Would this have been something a person of that time period would have uttered? I'm not sure. Maybe I'm being too picky. The concept of switching identities is a great concept for a novel, but when it falls flat, it's not so great.

I went to the library shortly after to find some reading inspiration. There is a pile of books here at home, but I am not in the mood for any of them. I checked out five books from the library instead:

The Art Thief by Noah Charney
The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander
Versailles by Kathryn Davis
A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You: Stories by Amy Bloom
Petite Anglaise: In Paris.In Love. In Trouble: A True Story by Catherine Sanderson

I began Perfect From Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Live by John Sellers, but this might be one to give up on...for now at least.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Music Monday!

Recent acquisitions in my music library:

The Killers: Day & Age
Coldplay: Prospekt's March EP
Los Campesinos: We are Beautiful, We are Doomed
Love is All: A Hundred Things Keep Me up at Night
Of Montreal: Skeletal Lamping
Stars: Sad Robots EP
Ladyhawke: Ladyhawke
Army Navy: Army Navy
Asobi Seksu: Citrus
The Avett Brothers: The Second Gleam
Pictures and Sound: Pictures and Sound

So much great music came out this year. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite album this year.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

From The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

"Helen opened her eyes and gazed into the luminous blue of the sky. Was it crazy, she wondered, to be as grateful as she felt now, for moments like this, in a world that had atomic bombs in it-and concentration camps, and gas chambers? People were still tearing each other into pieces. There was still murder, starvation, unrest, in Poland, Palestine, India-God knew where else. Britain itself was sliding into bankruptcy and decay. Was is a kind of idiocy or selfishness, to want to be able to give yourself over to trifles: to the parp of the Regent's Park Band; to the sun on your face, the prickle of grass beneath your heels, the movement of cloudy beer in your veins, the secret closeness of your lover? Or were those trifles all you had? Oughtn't you, precisely, to preserve them? To make little crystal drops of them, that you could keep, like charms on a bracelet, to tell against danger when next it came?"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lovesong by Ted Hughes


He loved her and she loved him.
His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to
He had no other appetite
She bit him she gnawed him she sucked
She wanted him complete inside her
Safe and sure forever and ever
Their little cries fluttered into the curtains

Her eyes wanted nothing to get away
Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows
He gripped her hard so that life
Should not drag her from that moment
He wanted all future to cease
He wanted to topple with his arms round her
Off that moment's brink and into nothing
Or everlasting or whatever there was

Her embrace was an immense press
To print him into her bones
His smiles were the garrets of a fairy palace
Where the real world would never come
Her smiles were spider bites
So he would lie still till she felt hungry
His words were occupying armies
Her laughs were an assassin's attempts
His looks were bullets daggers of revenge
His glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets
His whispers were whips and jackboots
Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing
His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway
Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks
And their deep cries crawled over the floors
Like an animal dragging a great trap
His promises were the surgeon's gag
Her promises took the top off his skull
She would get a brooch made of it
His vows pulled out all her sinews
He showed her how to make a love-knot
Her vows put his eyes in formalin
At the back of her secret drawer
Their screams stuck in the wall

Their heads fell apart into sleep like the two halves
Of a lopped melon, but love is hard to stop

In their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legs
In their dreams their brains took each other hostage

In the morning they wore each other's face

Ted Hughes

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Has it been that long?

Wow! I can't believe it's been almost two months since I last posted. Time is just flying by so quickly lately. F and I have been pretty busy for the last two months with family engagements and mini weekend trips to Orlando but I think we finally have some room to breathe. Not much reading is getting done. I've only finished two novels since late May which is pretty lame for me. Hopefully I can find some quiet moments to endulge in my favorite hobby.

I love lists, especially book lists. I have the Excel list going around that has the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die titles. I was reading A High and Hidden Place and saw this posted:

According to The Big Read, the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on this list.

The instructions:
Look at the list and:
Bold those you have read.
Italicize those you intend to read.
Underline the books you LOVE.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. 1984 - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot (started this one last year and still haven't finished it!!)
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (started this one too about the same time as Middlemarch)
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (um okay? why is this on here?)
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92.The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I've read 19 books from the list. I decided not to underline the ones I love and the books I intend to read. I loved all of the books that I have read from this list. No disappointment in any of them...which is probably why they are on this list.

I'm off to read Eat, Pray, Love for a bit.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

M83- Graveyard Girl

I love this song and I love this video even more!

1% Well Read Challenge

My life has finally calmed down in this neck of the woods. All is now settled and peaceful which leaves me with more time to read. I haven't been reading as much as in previous years but I hope to change that. Joining another challenge is another way to get me in the spirit of reading. Admittedly I have not been doing so well with my other challenges but I have decided to join the 1% Well Read Challenge based on the list 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. I downloaded the Excel sheet and I am ashamed to say I have only read 4.2% of the list. I know I won't be able to read the entire list but I would like to be able to say one day that I've read 20% of the list. To help me with my goal I will embark on this challenge. These are the books I've selected:

1. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
2. The Waves by Virginia Woolf
3. The Joke by Milan Kundera
4. Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
6. The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence
7. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
8. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
9. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
10. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

I've recently read two of the books from the 1001 books list but I won't count them as part of the challenge since I read them prior to joining the challenge. I read Persuasion by Jane Austen and Torrents of Spring by Ivan Turgenev. I loved both novels and hope to write about them soon when I've gathered my thoughts together. Happy reading for now!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I've been on a book buying binge...

these last couple of weeks. I'm slowly getting my reading mojo back! In the last few weeks I've purchased a fair amount of books. I was in New York City last week and had to hit up my favorite bookstore in the entire universe, The Strand. I love that place so much and it just so happens everytime I go I don't have a list with me of books I've been meaning to buy. Always happens but of course I come out of the store with a good amount of books. My last shopping extravaganza yielded these buys:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot
The Diary of a Chambermaid by Octave Mirabeau
Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
The Torrents of Spring by Ivan Turgenev

My uncle also gave me an interesting book while I was visiting him in New Jersey. My uncle is a huge bibliophile, every nook and cranny of my grandmother's apartment is filled with books. Each time I visit he tends to give me a book from his collection. This time he gave me a psychology book entitled Ego and Instinct by Daniel Yankelovich and William Barret which deals with both philosophy and psychology, namely psychoanalysis.

Last night F. and I went to Barnes and Noble and I scored three great books in the bargain section:

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris ($5.98 in hardcover!)
Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence ($7.98 in hardcover)
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters ($4.98 in trade paperback)

With so many book purchases in the last few weeks I feel inspired and look forward to reading them all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Um yea

So I have no witty words to impart at the moment. Sick again...damn colds! Personal life is in slight turmoil but it's slowly getting back to normal. A regular reading schedule is currently in hiatus for me. I gotta get my reading mojo back but until then music is my solace. My recent acquisitions:

Kate Nash: Made of Bricks
Cat Power: Jukebox
Glen Hansard and Market Irglova: The Swell Season
Headlights: Kill Them with Kindness
Ingrid Michaelson: Girls and Boys
Stars: In Our Bedroom After the War
Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend
The Weepies: Say I am You
James Figurine: Mistake Mistake Mistake

I've been listening to The Swell Season everyday. The beauty of the songs brings me close to tears each time I listen. Each song is so romantic, brooding, and melancholy. The passion in the songs is too much to bear sometimes but I can't help listening on...

Saturday, February 02, 2008


I am dealing with some personal stuff right now that is not allowing me to have the attention span I need for reading. Hopefully all will be back to semi-normal soon. At least I will have grown from the experience.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa

This is the first novel I have read by Mario Vargas Llosa and I have to say he has found himself a new fan. I enjoyed reading this novel, particularly his descriptions of swinging London in the sixties. This novel questions the effect love has on us and how we sometimes do things in the name of love that may not be healthy. The protagonist, Ricardo, first falls in love with Lily, who claims to be from Chile, when they are teenagers in Peru. Her lie is revealed and she disappears from Ricardo's life. Several years pass and Ricardo is now living in Paris as an interpreter where he is friends with a revolutionary group that has plans to overthrow the government in Peru. Through this group he meets a new recruit, Comrade Arlette. She is the Lily he once knew in Peru. He spends a short amount of time with her before she is sent to Cuba for her revolutionary training and thinks that is the last he will ever see of her. A few years pass and he meets her again in Paris but this time she is married and goes by the name of Mrs. Robert Arnoux. This is repeated over the course of the novel with Lily taking on different identities. She drifts in and out of his life with the only constant being his love for her. In the end he is the man she turns to when she needs help.

I wasn't sure how to feel about the characters. Ricardo is a sympathetic character but I did not feel sympathy for the bad girl until the very end of the novel. The character of the bad girl was not developed as well as Ricardo's which I think hinders how much the reader invests into the character emotionally. The only time I felt any type of emotion for the bad girl was in the last quarter or so of the book when she is finally shown as having a vulnerable side to her personality. Despite feeling ambivalent about the characters the story was intriguing enough for me to finish the book.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Is there such a thing as too many books?

I was asking myself this question as I cataloged my books last week on Goodreads and found that I own 955 books! I had an idea I owned that many books but when I look at my bookcases it seems like I have a small collection. I find myself always wanting more books for my collection knowing that I have not read half of the books I own. Working at a bookstore for six years contributed to most of my collection as I have not been buying as much since I stopped working there. With that said I have decided to join the TBR challenge to help make a dent in my unread books. These are the books I've selected to read from my shelves:

  1. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  2. Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar
  3. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  4. Kafka was the Rage by Anatole Broyard
  5. Everybody was so Young by Amanda Vaill
  6. The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence
  7. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
  8. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
  9. If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
  10. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  11. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  12. Atonement by Ian McEwan

The alternates:

  1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  2. Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch by Dai Sijie
  3. Come to Me by Amy Bloom
  4. The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir
  5. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  6. What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
  7. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  8. The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter

I'm also thinking of joining another challenge but I may just stick to the two I've joined. Happy reading!

This song is catchy as hell!

I cannot stop listening to this song!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Insomnia...friend or foe?

I had insomnia last night and was able to finish reading The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa. I haven't had insomnia in a long time. I didn't go to bed until 6:30 in the morning and now I feel like crap. I slept a whopping 3 hours...just a short nap really. On the bright side of things I was able to finish the novel so I guess you can say insomnia was my friend in that aspect, but it will be my foe later on today when I fall asleep flat on my face. More about The Bad Girl tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It's been a while...

but I'm still here. A lot has been going on hence my absence from blogland. My friends came to visit us for a week. We had such a great time. We went to Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was so beautiful! I'm originally from Miami and let me tell you it was so exciting for me to see mountains. Miami is so flat and blah. It's the same season all year round...personally I like to call summer there hell. The humidity is unbelievable but the beach is fantastic. F. and I moved here in August but have decided to go back to Miami. It was a tough decision but we feel going back home is the best place for us. We miss our Cuban food too much!

We're moving in two weeks so not much reading is going on. I started Great Expectations for the reading challenge My Year of Reading Dangerously. I'm only about 25 pages in because I'm distracted by The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa. I feeling torn about this book. The story begins in Peru when the main character, Ricardo, is a teenager. He meets a girl named Lily and falls hopelessly in love with her. Lily claims she is from Chile but her lie is revealed and he does not see her again...or so we think. It is years later and Ricardo now lives in France as an interpreter for UNESCO. He meets a girl in France who turns out to be Lily but using a different name. This theme is repeated over and over again. They meet each other over a period of years and she always ends up leaving. Her character is interesting because she seems cold and calculating but she always somehow goes back to him. How can a man be in love for 30+ years with the same woman who constantly leaves him for men who are wealthier and more powerful than he is? This is my problem with the book but I am so curious to how it ends. I'm about halfway through.

On the music front I've downloaded (via http://www.emusic.com/) and purchased some great music recently. I finally got my hands on the new Radiohead and it is fantastic! The opening song on the album gave me chills in just the first few notes. I highly recommend this album. Run out and get it! From emusic I downloaded the following albums:

The Sea and Cake: Everybody
Au Revoir Simone: The Bird of Music
The Chromatics: Night Drive
Coconut Records: Nighttiming
Janelle Monae: Metropolis Suite I "The Chase"

F. also gave me Feist's The Reminder for Christmas. I can't get My Moon My Man out of my head. "My moon my man such a changeable lamb such a lovable lamb to me." I love that line!

Well I'm off to start packing! I don't look forward to packing my books again but oh well...