Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading Retrospective (Sept. 2002)

It's hard to believe it's already the last Sunday of September! So I guess it's time for another look back at what I was reading in 2002, the year that I started keeping track of what I read.

Seven years ago this month my reading took me to "heaven", from where I watched over my family and the man who murdered me, Russia, first to a country estate at the turn of the century and then to St. Petersburg in the winter of 1941, and finally to a peculiar house with strange neighbours, a mysterious passageway, and where I had a rather scary adventure.

I'm not sure I'm terribly interested in seeing the recent film but I quite enjoyed reading The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I wrote in my book journal at the time that I thought the writing was sometimes choppy but that overall it was a compelling story. There was that one scene which I still don't think fits the tone of the rest of the book, and if you've read it you can probably guess which one I'm referring to, but otherwise it was a really good read. Have you seen the film? If so, is it any good?

Next up in September 2002, I read the play, Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, in preparation for watching Sam Mendes' direction of the play at the Donmar Warehouse in London. The play has some memorable characters as it is but seeing the play after reading it really brought the story to life. I was quite spoiled when we lived in London and saw some fantastic plays and musicals. I really miss it.

In my brief reading notes on The Siege by Helen Dunmore, I wrote that I found the characters somewhat flat but that it was interesting to read about the siege of Leningrad, a part of history that I know little about. This still holds true, as my knowledge of Russia is pretty pitiful. I've only read one other book by Dunmore, Mourning Ruby, but I've been meaning to read something else by her. Any recommendations?

Seven years ago was also when I read Coraline by Neil Gaiman for the first time. I wasn't completely wowed by it but Gaiman does have a wonderful imagination, and it's a great book for this time of year. I've since read it again, and enjoyed it a bit more the second time around. I'd love to see the film sometime as the stop-motion animation looks amazing! Have you seen it?

As for what I've been reading this past week in 2009, it was actually a bit of a slow start to the week in terms of reading but when I managed to find some time I spent it in Darfur with Halima Bashir and her family. I finished Tears of the Desert this morning and I'm so glad I read it. It was a very moving story and it left me feeling so sad about all the horrible things people are capable of doing to each other. As part of The Year of Readers, I've been reading for Book Wish Foundation, a charity that helps refugees of Darfur, and reading this book re-affirmed my desire to help even if it's in a very small way.

I'm not quite sure what I want to read next. I think tonight I'll go back to the book of Poe's stories, and go on from there. I have a few review books that I should get to soon but I also have some books I'd like to read for the R.I.P. Challenge. Why are there always so many books, and not enough time?

Earlier in the week I also asked if anyone would be interested in a Japanese Literature Reading Group and I'd like to say thank you again to those of you who said you would. I'll have a post up tomorrow announcing the first group reads. Everyone is welcome to participate so I hope you'll consider joining in when you can. Happy reading!


  1. Hi Nat :D

    I did see Coraline and suggest anyone to see it, it is so well made.

    Have a wonderful coming week, Nat

  2. I love the banner! Very pretty. :-)

    I remember really liking The Lovely Bones when I read it. I really like Alice Sebold's writing style. The movie isn't out yet here in the U.S. as far as I know but I do hope to see it. Even hubby's expressed an interest in it so we may even see it while it's in the theater.

    I really need to make time to read Coraline. I wanted to see the movie when it came out but decided to put it off until I'd read the book. I still haven't done either.

    I'm nearly done with Tears of the Desert. I plan to finish reading it tonight. I agree, it's a very moving story.

    I hope you have a great week, Nat!

  3. I read "Lovely Bones" a few months ago-I thought the point of view of the book and its basic plan very imaginative-I also have her second novel "Almost Moon" but have not yet found the motivation to read it.
    Looking forward to joining the group read.

  4. I didn't much care for The Lovely Bones when I read it, so maybe the movie will be better for me - I'll probably wait to rent it, though. And although I quite enjoyed Coraline, the book, the movie looks a little too cutesy for me, so I haven't had the inclination to watch it yet.

  5. I liked this post. And I think I ought to do a nostalgic reading post too. I started recording my reading on a blog from 2006. Before that I had a journal. I still do.

    TSS: The past week in retrospect and on to the next one...

    TSS: The Locked Room by Paul Auster

  6. I have never been wowed by Gaiman but he does have good ideas... So, I keep reading him!

  7. I loved The Lovely Bones and will probably see the movie. I usually go into books-to-movies with reservations. That way, if it's not the greatest, I'm not disappointed. I was thrilled that Julie & Julia was even better than the book. Another I'd like to see is The Time Traveler's Wife.

  8. It's weird to think that Coraline has been around for so long already!

    I love your new header, btw :)

  9. There's a movie of The Lovely Bones? Well, I'd be up for seeing it that's for sure. The book I thought was interesting. I liked some parts quite a bit but I think I know which part you are referring to and I hated that. Just didn't fit with the story in my opinion.

    Can't wait to see what the group read will be by the way :)

  10. Sylvie - All the effort that went into making the film is quite impressive. The bits I've seen in trailers and whatnot look great!

    Wendy - Thanks! I'm enjoying the red. :)

    I'd assumed The Lovely Bones was out already, oops. I'll be curious to know what you think of it when you see it, and how it compares to the book.

    Coraline is a pretty quick read. Perfect for this season!

    mel u - It really was imaginative, wasn't it? I've read The Lovely Bones and Lucky. Someday I'll have to get around to reading her latest novel.
    And I'm glad you'll be joining in the group read. :)

    Lesley - LOL. We're of opposite thoughts on those books and movies. The trailer of The Lovely Bones that I've seen made me think it might be too cheesy. ;)
    I don't really like cutesy either but don't mind an animation film once in a while if it's very well done.

    gautami tripathy - It's kind of fun to look back at what I was reading a few years ago. I started this blog in 2006 but started keeping track in a spreadsheet in 2002, and still do.

    Kelly - I did really enjoy The Graveyard Book, but yes, I keep reading him too, and maybe someday we'll find a book or story of his that completely wows us! :)

    Les - I'm usually pretty open to movie adaptations and go into them knowing they won't be the same. I guess I'm a little sceptical about how they filmed the 'heaven' part but I probably will watch the movie someday. Yes, I'm quite eager to see The Time Traveler's Wife too. I'm not sure if or when it will come to Japan though so I may just have to wait for the DVD.

    Nymeth - Thanks! It was great to get out for a day last week with our cameras. It's been so long!

    Iliana - I thought it was out in the US already but apparently it'll be released in December. That part really was at odds with the rest of the book, wasn't it?


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