To read-a-thon or not

Like the last Dewey’s readathon I’ve ended up double booking myself but this time I’m not beating myself up about not making ALL the hours. I’ve had a great day out with various friends and lots of belly laughs, so it’s now midnight and I’m finally joining in the readathon challenges before heading to bed :

Mid-Event Survey!

1. What are you reading right now? The city of lost souls

2. How many books have you read so far? this is my first, but I normally only get through 1 or 2 standard length novels

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? See question 1, I stayed up reading the prior book in the series until nearly 2am so, pretty excited 

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? I spent most of the day being way sociable with friends and decided to be chilled out about it

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? always how many books other people can read, so fast.

Review: Oblivion

Oblivion
Oblivion by Arnaldur Indriðason

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I only noticed that it’d not read this book when tidying up my wish list, hastily ordered because I couldn’t believe I’d missed another instalment of the ever pensive Erlendur. It didn’t take long to realise that this was a prequel, the book cover features an eerie looking blue lagoon, not the fun n frolic-y one we’re used to seeing in tourist photos, and as the first crime unfolds it becomes apparent it was set before the blue lagoon existed as a private entity.
The story (or stories as there is never just one thread in these books) are centred around activity related to the air force base at Keflavik, a murder and a missing persons cold case. This gives you some insight into Elendur’s fascination with missing persons whichs is a constant thread woven throughout the later series even if you’ve never read any of the other books that reveal the whole back story. So you can read this as a standalone book and not feel like you’re missing out. The other story is investigated mostly by Erlendur’s mentor, Marion Briem – which again fills out some back story missing from the later set books. I’m hoping that this continues – as I feel that this would be a really interesting addition to the series. I dont want to say much about the story as I feel that this would spoil the plot too much, but as usual the plot is a slow boiling stew with the tension mounting more than I expected towards the final few chapters and I really didn’t want to stop reading but had to go to work!

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Review: The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well
The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a small, compact book and initially I thought I would finish it in a day, but as I found out from the first few chapters, this would be very un-hygge of me to do so. Although you might initially think the whole hygge thing a bit of a fad (there has been a slew of books come out all just before Christmas), this book has some really strong points aside from being written by someone who runs a Happiness Institute. Along with all the tips on how to make your home hygge, ideas for hygge get togethers there’s also some nice sounding recipes to try out, and getting together with friends to try them would be totally hygge. If you’re looking for something to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside whilst stuck indoors listening to the rain hit the window, this is it.

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Bout of Books round up

So I actually started this post back on day 3 (today is day 7!) on my lunch break, I got caught up in the fact that I couldn’t find the original wordpress post editor and ergo could not fathom a few features I wanted to use, so it fell by the way side.  Then if I’m honest I’ve prioritised the actual reading side of things with all my spare time, so I’m doing one update to cover the whole week.

I started reading Blackout by Ragnar Jonasson, it was on a Kindle deal over Christmas, and whilst I own his other two UK released books in paperback, I felt like this was too good to miss. The story is once again set in the Northern town of Siglufjörður, and has more twists and turns than an old fashioned rollercoaster. I rated the book 4/5 but the actual Kindle version 1/5, I realised once I was about a third of the way through that Jonasson usually includes a little map of the locations used in his books and sometimes more info: it turns out that this information is included in the e-book version, but upon starting it, it jumps from the title page to the first chapter, I also noted at least 4 grammatical / typesetting mistakes in the text – I’d have been really peeved had I paid full price. My other gripe with this book is that it’s listed as ‘book 3 of the Dark Iceland’ series, which for the UK order release it is, but not for the original and chronological order. This makes no sense to me, so I’ve read in the UK order book 1, 5, 2, leaping back and forwards in time is very confusing for the read how can a character have a child with his partner last book, but this book they’ve not had it yet and have split up… also kinda ruins the on going plot just a bit. (Page count 220)

Second book on my list was the Little Book of Icelandic – by Alda Sigmundsdottir a wonderful compendium of nuances of the Icelandic language, reminding me of all the things I loved about Lingo  and more. For example the reasoning behind some root words that haven’t evolved like English has, contained three examples that I could also recognise in my Swedish learning (the words for dog and meat). There’s also the explanations of pronunciation of those funny characters and my favourite – the compound words! I find it a lot easier to remember words when I know the history of how they could about, this is especially true when they are amusing or quaint (eg. laptop comes from the words meaning migrating computer). I think this is a must for anyone with an interest in the fun side of linguistics or anyone wanting to learn Icelandic. (Finished today, page count 162)

Third book, I’m currently reading and predict will be finished tomorrow, is The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, which is a beautifully designed, hardback, almost pocket sized book on the hygge lifestyle. So far I’m learning that candles, snugly scarves and coffee are all good elements of hygge, loving it. (page count on day 7, 75)

So total page count: 457

I hope next time for bout of books to get more involved with the twitter chats etc, but I’m fairly sure they’re all at 4pm UK time (the ones I’m actually awake for) which is commuting time and not great tbh..  til next time

Bout of Books 18 and reading challenges

Heading into the New Year and one resolution I kept, or rather challenge I completed (I like to think as resolutions as challenges to keep tally of), was my Goodreads Reading Challenge, of 52 books for 2016. I’ve actually exceeded that reading a total of 63 so far  and it feels slightly premature posting this, as I fully intend to finish another tonight and there’s still tomorrow to go!

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This was in no small part to joining several Read-a-thons, and I’m stoked to say the next one starts in a few days – the week long Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Given that during the last read-a-thon I signed up to, I read nothing, as family descended on us for the whole weekend, I’m really looking forward to this one. It’s certainly more relaxed than a 24 hour read a thon lasting a whole week, and entirely in your own timezone. I haven’t decided what to read yet, I downloaded a few e-books over Christmas, and acquired a few more physical books during December (ok, more than a few, 11 to be exact, with 2 more in the post.. but who’s counting really?). So come Monday 2nd January, I’ll be reading on the bus, in my lunch break, after work, in my bed… wherever I can.

Bout of Books 18

Review: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The premise of this book is fairly simple – a 100 year old man climbs out of the window of his care home and disappears, but nothing could have prepared me for the gloriously funny stories that unfold. Not only the story of what happens once he turns 100 and nips out the window, but the back story of his entire life which is interspersed with the modern day adventure. Was he responsible for Hiroshima? Did he thwart Stalin? Become friends with Harry S Truman? read it and find out…

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Review: Lingo: A Language Spotter’s Guide to Europe

Lingo: A Language Spotter's Guide to Europe
Lingo: A Language Spotter’s Guide to Europe by Gaston Dorren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t think I can truly express how much I loved this book? It really surprised me – I don’t recall why I downloaded it, probably some Kindle deal day, but it must’ve sat there unread for a year or so, I actually put it in my ‘Holiday Reads’ folder twice, but when it came to the actual holiday thought it would be too much hard work. Silly me.
It’s a witty and interesting whirlwind tour through European languages since the Greeks. Where they came from, how they evolved, languages that died out, languages that have been resurrected. Learned at least what some of those squiggles under and above some letters mean, along with why my Finnish friend Liisa spells her name with two i’s.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, well why don’t they just spell it like that or why does this language put words in this order? Why are something masculine and feminine and others not – you’ll likely learn all about that in this book.
One of my favourite parts was at the end of each chapter, there was a word English has loaned from each language – along with often a word that doesn’t exist in English that probably should.
As someone who’s learning Swedish, this book was so insightful, as someone who’s had brief dalliances with several other languages through life, I feel again so much more informed – knowing the why not just the how.

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Review: The Painter of Modern Life

The Painter of Modern Life
The Painter of Modern Life by Charles Baudelaire

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I struggled to decide whether this should be 3 or 4 stars, but given that I didn’t enjoy reading a vast chunk I’ve knocked it down to 3. It was an interesting style of writing, and what drew me in particular to this book (aside from Baudelaire being recommended to me on several occasions at uni), was that it was part of a series ‘dedicated to those writings that changed the way people thought about the world’ or something… To be honest, I probably could do with re-reading the beginning, or reading it solidly over a few days rather than sporadically over a few months, as I really can’t remember much from the first part. some of it clearly struck a chord with me, as I’ve underlined and highlighted several passages, but the swathes of praise for Delacroix sort of fell on deaf ears, as I’m not that familiar with his work (and to be fair, nothing in the passages made me think ‘oh I should go look him up’). The final passage on photography and how it should not be considered art, and should remain low-brow was fairly amusing to me, not least because it was referred to as mechanical; as are certain types of printmaking, but he lauds that earlier in the book.
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Bout of Books round up

Aka, days 5-7..

So I didn’t do all that badly, I don’t think. I definitely made good progress particularly in finishing a couple of lurkers on my currently reading list.

Saturday I finished off The Stranger by Albert Camus, made all the more easier once I realised I had a physical copy to read lurking on a dark shelf, as the e-book version was just not very e-book friendly. Next up was a photography book that had a couple of essays in it – oh and a great quote from Henri Cartier-Bresson:

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Sunday I got less reading done, as I had signed up to run the Oxford Town and Gown 10K Sunday morning (1hr 15m if you were wondering). Afterwards though in a very hot bath, i finished A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy. The last few chapters were interesting enough giving me more ideas on what to read, but the thing that really bugged me about it was that for the first 30% of so of the book, the author kept heavily suggesting you read several other texts, which to me, misses the point of this series… but anyway, done with.

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I now have the rather ominous task of writing a piece of criticism on a literary text for my evening class, that is due in about 10 days, which wouldn’t be half as ominous if I wasn’t away visiting family the entire weekend. Wish me luck!

Bout of Books Day 3-4

So my week of reading is not going quite as planned, I’ve been really busy as well as trying to fight off a stinking cold that is threatening to ruin my long standing plans to run a 10K this weekend. But I managed to find time to do the day 3 challenge for Bout of Books “5 Favourites” and with that I present 5 of my favourite book covers. I would say that a good cover design is definitely something that will make a book stand out – particularly when in a physical store (especially if the cover is embossed and made of a nice feeling paper), although buying online can be a visual game as well I guess.

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Don DeLillo – is one of the newer, sexy Penguin Modern Classics covers that come in silver and white. I have loads of these actually, but this is a favourite because of the stereotypical images of Americana on the front. Top right is Tom Perrotta’s the Abstinence Teacher, not entirely sure what it was about this, perhaps the white border that complements the white trim of the shorts so well?

Road to nowhere – this was a Goodreads giveaway win, I’ve taken so many photos myself of this nature, roads with vanishing points, empty expanses. Also the cover is made with this really unusual matt paper, it feels very nice to hold, I think I liked the cover more than the story. The final two I bought together, they were on display at Daunt books in London, which many other lovely designed books. the Camus one is almost booklet ish, being around 30 pages in total, the Baudelaire cover attacked me because of the letterpress style type face, and the cover is slightly embossed, I have no idea whether it was traditionally printed by letterpress or whether it’s printed modernly to look vintage in style, either way I love it, unfortunately though the cover does not have any sort of protective film and therefore porous which means it’s already getting grubby from being in bag to and from work!

Day 4 of the readathon I didn’t get too much done again, I have my Critical Reading class on Thursday nights, so I spent my day checking out some poetry for a mini assignment. I went with Maya Angelou’s Women Work as we had to say what made the poem poetic, thinking about structure and language. I don’t really know much poetry thanks to school not managing to make it engaging (sorry, War Poetry was not interesting to this girl at 14), so it’s only in the last year (after going to a poetry reading) that I’ve had an interest. I feel like a complete novice as I don’t really know what a lot of the terms mean and keep having to look things up, but at least I’m learning something.