Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading Retrospective (April 2002)

I've been trying to dodge a nasty sinus headache all week, but it doesn't seem to want to leave me alone, so I haven't been online too much the last few days. I have been reading a bit though. One day, not being able to concentrate on much else, I curled up on the sofa and read Austenland by Shannon Hale. A cute romantic tale was just what I needed. I followed that up with the movie, The Jane Austen Book Club, which was pretty much what I expected but entertaining enough. I've also almost finished reading Mother Superior by Saleema Nawaz. I only have the last short novella left so I'm sure I'll finish it either tonight or tomorrow. I've really enjoyed all of the stories so far, and I think I've found a new Canadian author to watch.

As it's almost the end of April, I guess it's time for another look back at what I was reading 7 years ago. April 2002 saw me continuing my chick lit phase that had started with re-reading Bridget Jones's Diary during our move from Japan to England in late February. I can't remember now exactly for sure but I think all of our stuff probably arrived sometime in April. We had a few essentials sent by air, but the majority of our things were sent by ship container, which tends to take about 6 weeks to arrive. So I'm guessing that with unpacking and getting settled in, easy reads were the most appealing.

I have to admit that I don't really remember much about these titles now, but the ratings and brief comments are taken from my reading journal at the time. Looking back at them, I didn't seem to really love any of the books I read that month.

The Rebel Fairy by Deborah Wright 6/10
Cheesy at times but with a few twists and clever references to Shakespeare.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami 6/10
Less surreal than Sputnik Sweetheart, with frank, memorable characters, but the ending didn't seem to match the rest of story.

Angus, Thongs & Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison 6/10
Cute, sometimes silly, and very predictable.

About a Boy by Nick Hornby 7/10
Amusing but still pretty typical for chick lit/lad lit. [I think the movie has overtaken any of my memories of the book. I can't help but think of Hugh Grant in the lead role.]

Irish Girls About Town by various Irish authors 6/10
As usual with story anthologies I liked some more than others but it was enjoyable overall. Favourites were the stories by: Colette Caddle, Cathy Kelly, Annie Sparrow, and Morag Prunty.

Of these, the only one I'd really like to read again is Norwegian Wood. That was only my second Murakami and even though it's not as surreal as his other books, I still didn't really 'get' his stuff then. It wasn't until a couple of years later, when I read The Wind-up Bird Chronicle that I began to appreciate his style, and became a fan. Kafka on the Shore was one of my favourite reads of last year. So I really think I would feel differently about Norwegian Wood if I were to read it again now.

As for other authors I'd like to read more of, other than Murakami of course, About a Boy is still the only novel of Nick Hornby's that I've read, besides two of his non-fiction titles about reading, The Polysyllabic Spree and Housekeeping vs. the Dirt. I plan to read the third book of essays, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, soon. It's on my short stack. And maybe one of these days I'll try another of his novels.

Do you have a book you'd like to try again? One that you think you'd like more now than when you originally read it.

Week in review:
New books and Favourites of 2009 (so far)
'Dear Everybody' by Michael Kimball (review)
'The Graveyard Book' by Neil Gaiman (review)

Have a good week. Happy reading!


  1. Hm. What have I been reading 7 to 10 years ago that I would love to get back to? Let's see..
    Ben Okri's The Famised Road & Songs of Enchantment
    Yasunari Kawabata's Snow Country & The Sound of the Mountain
    Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled
    Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird
    Toni Morrison's Jazz
    James Kelman's How Late it Was, How Late
    Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams

    All of these I loved, but want to see if I could get more out of them, as they seem pretty ambiguous to me now, after all these years.

  2. I find that if I really like an author and I read one book by them that doesn't really work for me, then I will hold on to it to read later. Sometimes I end up liking it better with a reread, or sometimes I still think it is terrible!

  3. I like keeping my reading log and looking back over it to see what I thought about books. I seem to get more out of books when I write about them.

  4. Isn't Austenland fun? Sorry about the headache. It's that time of year. The pollen is such a pain.

  5. Sorry you have a headache Nat. I haven't been blogging for 2 weeks however I am reading. Will b back this week with my memes and photos.

    I BookMooched some Japanese books for Bellezza (Japanese Challenge) so I'll be ready. Received
    "OUT" by Natsuo Kirno
    "ASLEEP" by Banana Yoshimoto and
    "THE LAWS OF EVENING: STORIES" BY Mary Yukari Waters

    I am 3/4 finished with "THE HELP" by Kathryn Stockett, a very well written book definitely a 5

    Hope your headache vanishes and allows you a nice week

  6. Well, it's interesting that for me Norwegian Wood is my favorite Murakami, while Kafka on the Shore is my least. I love the Wind-up Bird though.

  7. Your response to Norwegian Wood was of some interest to me. It was the first Murakami I read and after finishing it I just though, "hmmm...." I saved the book anyway. Now, several years later and several Murakami books later, I think I'll read it again!

  8. I hope you are feeling much better now!

    You know, I read About A Boy and didn't like it too much. Especially as I am pretty sure I read High Fidelity first and that one I liked a lot. But now, every time I think of About A Boy I think of the film which I thought was a lot of fun. Wasn't Hugh Grant perfect for that role?

  9. Oh no! I hope you are feeling better, Nat. Having a sinus headache is no fun.

    I love reading your retrospectives. :-) This isn't really answering your question, but Pride and Prejudice comes to mind as a book I read years ago and wasn't too impressed by, but when I read it again years later, I loved it. There are a number of books I would like to reread--not so much because I think I might enjoy them more now, but because I think I would get something different out of them this time around.

  10. claire - Of the ones you mentioned I've only read Snow Country and that was only a couple of years ago. That's one I would definitely like to read again though as I really think I'd get more out of it the second time around. I'm not sure why but lately I've been thinking more about which books I'd like to re-read. Maybe I'll have to set aside some time to do just that.

    Kailana - LOL. That's true that time sometimes gives us a new perspective, but sometimes not. :P I'm more likely to give a book another chance if I really like the author too.

    debnance - I didn't write very much about the books when I started keeping track in 2002 but talking about them here on the blog for the last couple of years has definitely make me think about them more than I probably would have before.

    Nancy - Thanks! Pollen really is a pain in the butt, isn't it!? Oh well, the head is better for the time being. Austenland was a lot of fun. Just what I needed that day.

    Sylvie - Thanks, my headache is pretty much gone now, although I can feel it lurking on the edges waiting for a chance to jump back in! Glad to hear that you've been reading even if you haven't been blogging. I hope you enjoy your Japanese books. Out is pretty violent but I did really enjoy it. I've had The Laws of Evening on my shelves for ages but I still haven't read it. Maybe this year. :)

    mee - Kafka was a favourite from last year, but my overall favourite Murakami books, of the ones I've read, are Wind-up Bird and Hard-boiled Wonderland. I think I really do need to try Norwegian Wood again. :)

    Terri B. - I'll be interested to hear if your opinion of the book has changed after reading it again now. You're making me want to pick it up sooner rather than later to try again for myself!

    Iliana - Thanks, I can function again this week which is an improvement over last week. :P
    Hugh Grant really was great in that role!

    Wendy - Thanks. Sinus headaches always seem to incapacitate me, and pills never seem to help. It's gone for now though, thankfully.

    I have a few books that I'd like to re-read too, like you said, because I think I'd get more out of them by reading them again. I don't often re-read since I have so many unread books but books I'd like to re-read have been on my mind lately. I keep hoping someone will have a re-reading challenge. :P


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