Saturday, February 28, 2009

'Bonjour Tristesse'

by Françoise Sagan
Fiction, 1954
Penguin (Great Loves collection), mm pb, 112 p.
Translated from the French by Irene Ash
Love can be complicated.
Cécile leads a hedonistic, frivolous life with her father and his young mistresses. On holiday in the South of France, she is seduced by the sun, the sand and her first lover. But when her father decides to remarry, their carefree existence becomes clouded by tragedy.
This is one of those classic stories where I knew the title but not really what it was about, so I began this slim novel (novella?) without any real expectations, and quite enjoyed it.

It’s a coming of age story that isn’t nearly so scandalous as it was at the time, but it’s still an interesting portrayal of the selfishness of youth, set in the beautiful French Riviera. Cécile is a shallow, annoying teenager, but considering the author herself was only 18 when she wrote this, it comes off as very realistic. So even though I didn’t really like the character of Cécile, or any of the others for that matter, and as it’s only too late that she realizes the consequences of her actions so that it was a little like watching a slow motion train crash, I had to read on.

Despite the smooth translation though, I can’t help feeling that it’s missing a certain je ne sais quoi that would make reading it in the original French a more engaging experience. Perhaps I’ll try someday. In the meantime, I wouldn’t mind reading something else by Sagan. Hesperus Press (I really wish they’d get their website back up!) has one, The Unmade Bed, which I’m now eyeing quite lustfully.

Article on the author in The New York Times

First sentence: A strange melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sadness.

My Rating: 3.5/5
(#9 for 2009, 1% Well-Read Challenge)

Have you read and reviewed this title? Let me know and I'll link to it here.

PhotoHunt: Thankful

I have many things to be thankful for, but one of them is Jiro, who makes me smile everyday with his goofy antics, and who loves to curl up and keep me company.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday meme roundup

This week, first I was in France, spending my summer vacation in a lovely cottage by the sea with my father and his latest companion. (Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan)
Since then I've been in Russia, contemplating my life as it nears its end, and trying to make sense of death and suffering. (The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy)

I was happy, but bewildered. I was used to hearing the word love bandied about, and I had often mentioned it rather crudely as one does when one is young and ignorant, but now I felt I could never talk of it again in that detached and vulgar way.
(Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan)

'Perhaps I didn't live as I should have?' it suddenly occurred to him. 'But how could I have not lived right when I did everything properly?' he said to himself, and immediately drove away this sole solution to the whole mystery of life and death as something utterly impossible.
(The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy)

I don't really have any true collectibles, or at least nothing that would be worth much to anyone other than me. Sure, I've acquired a lot of books but they're for my own enjoyment. So my answers to the questions are my general book preferences.

Hardcover? Or paperback?
I like hardcovers. They look nice on the shelf and are a bit more durable, but they are bigger, heavier and more expensive. It's mostly a cost and space issue for me so I usually only buy hardbacks when I adore the author, and can't possibly wait for the paperback, they're bargain books, or I am occasionally tempted by a pretty cover. And I might consider buying a hardback, after I've read the paperback, if it's one I really loved and want to treasure. Otherwise, I mostly buy paperbacks, and even still my shelves are at full capacity.

Illustrations? Or just text?
Illustrations? Yes, please. Only text is fine but I love illustrations and really love reading books that have them. A couple of times I have bought a second copy of a book to keep because a different edition had illustrations.

First editions? Or you don’t care?
I'm not terribly bothered about first editions, especially since for the majority of my books I wait for the paperback edition anyway. Ultimately I don't intend to try to sell any of my books for profit, they're for my personal reading enjoyment, so I don't really worry about which edition is more valuable.

Signed by the author? Or not?
I have a few books that have been signed by the author. Some of them I was lucky enough to have signed in person at book signings, but I also have a few that I acquired just by finding them on store shelves. Given a choice between a signed book and one that hasn't been signed, I'd most likely choose the signed one. Unless of course it was considerably more expensive.

1. I'm tired, I'm cold, I need a hot bath.
2. Why do I have to work and clean the house and not read and hang out on the computer all day?
3. How does this time seeming to slip away faster and faster illusion work, anyway?
4. Every morning, I put my hand on my snooze button.
5. I consider myself lucky because the boys (2 felines, 1 human) amuse me on a daily basis, and keep me grounded.
6. One day we’ll see the floor again in the storage room (it's stuffed full right now).
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going to sleep so I can escape my headache, tomorrow my plans include spending the day with H and maybe hanging out in a cafe with a book and Sunday, I want to relax!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Orbis Terrarum Challenge 2009

I've mentioned before that I'm trying not to join in many challenges that require me to read a lot of books, like more than six, as I often don't do very well with them. But there are a couple of exceptions, and this is one of them. I love the idea of this challenge because reading more international literature is something that I always hope to do more of anyway. So, I'm going to join in the Orbis Terrarum Challenge again this year. It runs from March 1st to December 31st, 2009 and the goal of the challenge is essentially to read 10 books by 10 different authors, from 10 different countries.

Here are some of the countries I hope to 'visit' this year:
Japan - Not surprising considering my own Reading Japan Project. I have quite a few Japanese authors to choose from and I hope to read a few of them this year.
Portugal - I'd really like to read Blindness by José Saramago this year.
Turkey - I've been meaning to read Orhan Pamuk for the last couple of years but still haven't got around to doing so. Hopefully this will be the year.
Nigeria - I've had Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in my TBR stacks for quite some time too and I'd love to finally read it this year.
Italy - Perhaps I'm Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti, or something by Alessandro Baricco.
Sweden - I've only read the first book in Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series and would like to continue on to the next one. I also have The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson that I'm looking forward to reading.
Iran - Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi is one of the graphic novels I hope to read this year.
Russia - Will this be the year that I finally read Lolita?
Ukraine - Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky is another one I've been meaning to read, pretty much since it came out, but haven't yet got around to.
Brazil - I didn't love The Alchemist but I have another book or two by Coelho around here that I should probably get around to reading.
Belgium - I'd also like to read another book by Amélie Nothomb this year. The one I have on hand is The Character of Rain.

Plus I know I also have some books that would represent India, Iceland, Norway, China, Germany and a couple others, so we'll see where my reading takes me over the next 10 months.

Throughout the year I will naturally also be reading books from Canada, the UK and the US but I'm going to try again this year to not include them in my quest for 10 different countries, instead focusing on books in translation. Unless of course it's the end of December and I just can't make up the numbers otherwise, like I had to do last year.

There are also several mini-challenges to accompany the main reading challenge. Since I love foreign films I'm going to try to complete the Orbis Terrarum Film Mini-Challenge, which asks us to watch 10 films from 10 different countries by 10 different directors. I'm not sure how successful I'll be since the only way for me to see foreign films here is to buy the DVDs (Japanese subtitles aren't much help to me!), but I do already have a fair handful so I'm going to give it a shot.
Do you have any favourite foreign films? I'd love to hear your recommendations.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

'An Artist of the Floating World'

An Artist of the Floating Worldby Kazuo Ishiguro
Fiction/Literature, 1986
Faber and Faber, trade pb, 197 p.
Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, 1986. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, 1986.
It is 1948. Japan is rebuilding her cities after the calamity of World War II, her people putting defeat behind them and looking to the future. The celebrated painter Masuji Ono fills his days attending to his garden, his house repairs, his two grown daughters and his grandson, and his evenings drinking with old associates in quiet lantern-lit bars. His should be a tranquil retirement. But as his memories continually return to the past – to a life and a career deeply touched by the rise of Japanese militarism – a dark shadow begins to grow over his serenity.
I like how one reviewer on Amazon called it a 'fascinating Japanese parallel to "The Remains of the Day"' because I was also reminded of The Remains of the Day while reading it. Granted, I’ve actually only read these two books by Ishiguro, so far, but I did think they had a similar feel to them, a similar coming to terms with the past. Whereas the one is quintessentially British, however, An Artist of the Floating World had a distinctly Japanese feel to it. I’m hardly an expert, having only read a few titles, but like some of the Japanese literature I have read, this was also a beautifully-written, subtle story, calm on the surface but with emotion bubbling beneath.

Through the main character Ono’s usually strained relationship with his daughters we see how the priorities and cultural attitudes, especially of the younger generation, changed as a result of war. His reminiscences of when he was a student of art, and at the beginning of his career, as well as his comments on the city as it is in the process of re-building, provided an interesting glimpse at Japan both before and after the war and ultimately how the different generations dealt with the aftermath of it.

I wavered over giving it a little higher rating, but I did find it a little bit slow in places, so I’ll leave it as is. All in all, it was a quiet, thoughtful novel about trying to reconcile the past with life in postwar Japan. I look forward to reading more by Ishiguro in the future.
‘I have learnt many things over these past years. I have learnt much in contemplating the world of pleasure, and recognizing its fragile beauty. But I now feel it is time for me to progress to other things. Sensei, it is my belief that in such troubled times as these, artists must learn to value something more tangible than those pleasurable things that disappear with the morning light. It is not necessary that artists always occupy a decadent and enclosed world. My conscience, Sensei, tells me I cannot remain forever an artist of the floating world.’
Conversation with Kazuo Ishiguro and Kenzaburo Oe

First sentence: If on a sunny day you climb the steep path leading up from the little wooden bridge still referred to around here as ‘the Bridge of Hesitation’, you will not have to walk far before the roof of my house becomes visible between the tops of two gingko trees.

My Rating: 3.5/5
(#8 for 2009, 1% Well-Read Challenge, Book Awards Challenge, What's in a Name Challenge (Artist), Reading Japan Project)

Also reviewed at:
Save Ophelia
Have you read and reviewed this title? Let me know and I'll link to it here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

梅 (ume)

We didn't do much of anything this past weekend so here is another photo of the Japanese plum blossoms taken the weekend before last.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading Retrospective

Since it's the last Sunday of the month, I guess it's time for my second reading retrospective. I started last month, by looking back at what I read in January 2002, the year that I started keeping track of the books I read. So returning today to the 2002 tab of my reading spreadsheet, I see that I only read two books in February. This probably isn't terribly surprising since it was near the end of February 2002 that we moved half-way around the world, from Japan to England.

If I remember correctly, I'd borrowed Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières from a friend and had to return it before we moved so I decided to try to fit it in. It's highly likely that I was a little distracted by packing and everything else an international move entails to really do justice to what I was reading. Plus I know that many people really like this one but I just really didn't, and only rated it 1/10! I didn't do reviews back then, just brief comments in my spreadsheet, and this is what I had to say of the book: "some parts incredibly boring, pathetic ending, total waste of time!" LOL. I do still remember being extremely annoyed by the ending. From my recent read of The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor, I think I understand a little better why. I think I simply have a hard time having sympathy for characters who essentially bring about their own unhappiness. I don't want to say more than that though for fear of spoiling either book.

I obviously returned the book, and then I took Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding with me for the trip. It was a reread for which I only said "still fun" and rated it 8/10. I don't remember exactly now but I suppose I decided to reread this one a) because I needed something light and easy to read, due to the stress of moving, and b) because we were headed to England after all! This reminds me that I haven't watched the movie, Bridget Jones's Diary, for a very long time. Maybe I'm due for a re-watch sometime soon.

And that was all I read 7 years ago this month! We had a lot of fun exploring London during those early days, as well as settling into our first flat there. Nowhere is perfect but we do have a lot of good memories from our time in England.

Do you remember what you were reading, seven years ago is probably too long so how about one year ago?

Back to 2009, this past week was a busy one, so not a great one for reading but I did finish An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. It was a little slow, but I quite enjoyed it. Now I'm about half-way through Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan, which isn't saying much since the whole thing is only about 100 pages long. I plan to read a little bit more today and hopefully finish it up in the next day or so. Then that leaves me just a few days to try and fit in one more book for the 1% Well-Read Challenge which runs to the end of this month. I've got another short one lined up so wish me luck!

Also, I didn't receive a single book this week, so no Mailbox Monday for me tomorrow. I know I said in last week's Mailbox Monday post that I was going to refrain from buying any books for the rest of this month, and so far I haven't. But I'd like to know, is it cheating if I pre-order a book now that comes out at the beginning of March?

Week in Review:
Sunday Salon: From New York to Japan
Spring is in the air (Weekend Snapshot)
Mailbox Monday
'The Story of Lucy Gault' (Review)
'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (Review)
Friday meme roundup
PhotoHunt: Warm

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

PhotoHunt: Warm

Not something you see everyday! Happened upon this cat, and its owner I presume, while wandering around Yushima tenmangu (shrine) last weekend to see the blossoming plum trees.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday meme roundup

Partly inspired by Florinda, I've decided to combine the two Tuesday memes that I often do with the Friday ones (this week only one). They're all quite short so combining them will be more interesting, and this way it'll free up Tuesday for other posts. I don't like to have really long posts though so I still plan to keep Mailbox Monday on Monday, and I've been thinking of joining in Monday Musings, and Booking Through Thursday more if I feel inspired, but I'll probably combine those two on Thursday. Anyway, I'll try this out and see how it goes. I also played around and made a couple of new buttons to reflect the fact that I'm not participating on the official meme day, and because I just like having an excuse to make a new button or two! Clicking on the buttons or the links below will take you to the host's blog.

This week I've been in an unidentified city in Japan, as it recovers from WWII. I was reminiscing about my early years as an artist and how the country has changed since the war. The younger generation has a different view of things now and sometimes my daughters and I didn't see eye to eye, but overall I've had a good life.

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
Where has your reading taken you this week?

It's Tuesday, where are you? hosted by an adventure in reading.

On three or four evenings a week I still find myself taking that path down to the river and the little wooden bridge still known to some who lived here before the war as 'the Bridge of Hesitation'. We called it that because until not so long ago, crossing it would have taken you into our pleasure district, and conscience-troubled men - so it was said - were to be seen hovering there, caught between seeking an evening's entertainment and returning home to their wives.
An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

1. Give me a good book and I'll be happy for hours.
2. Whenever I visit a bookstore, in person or online, I'm always tempted to get more books.
3. I wish I could read faster.
4. The bowl of borscht I had on Wednesday was the last thing I ate that was utterly delicious.
5. To live in this world is sometimes a challenge.
6. Other than this one, I don't remember because I haven't had a chance to read blogs for a couple of days but hope to do so this weekend is the last blog I commented on.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to starting a new book, tomorrow my plans include whatever we end up deciding to do and Sunday, I want to read and try to catch up on blogging!

Friday Fill-ins hosted by Janet.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

by Truman Capote
Fiction/Classic/Novella, 1958
Penguin, trade pb, 146 p.
It’s New York in the 1940s, where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except, of course, Holly Golighty. Pursued by Mafia gangsters and playboy millionaires, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexer, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock department’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.
This edition also contains three stories: ‘House of Flowers’, ‘A Diamond Guitar’ and ‘A Christmas Memory’.
I’d read two other books by Capote before this one. In Cold Blood, which I thought was ok, but looking at it through modern eyes, just didn’t seem terribly shocking. Then last year I read Other Voices, Other Rooms, which I really didn’t care for. It started out well but completely lost me by the end. After Other Voices, Other Rooms I wondered if Capote just wasn’t for me. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List though so I thought I’d give it a try and ended up thoroughly enjoying it. What a great character Holly is, flirtatious, flighty, charming, vulnerable, capricious Holly! I haven’t seen the film yet, but Audrey Hepburn certainly helped turn her into a lasting, iconic character, and I’m glad to have finally ‘met’ her through the pages of the book. All in all it was a very fun read and proof that sometimes it’s worth trying an author again.
I knew damn well I’d never be a movie star. It’s too hard; and if you’re intelligent, it’s too embarrassing. My complexes aren’t inferior enough: being a movie star and having a big fat ego are supposed to go hand-in-hand; actually, it’s essential not to have any ego at all. I don’t mean I’d mind being rich and famous. That’s very much on my schedule, and some day I’ll try to get around to it; but if it happens, I’d like to have my ego tagging along. I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Along with Breakfast at Tiffany’s, this edition also contained three short stories, which I fully enjoyed as well. They were each quite different but I found each of them to be engaging glimpses into human nature. So it seems that Capote has finally won me over and I’ll be less hesitant to read something else by him in the future.

Read more about Capote at CapoteBio.
If you don't want to read the full novella, you can always read the Digested Classic version of Breakfast at Tiffany's in The Guardian.

First sentence: I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighbourhoods.

My Rating: 4/5
(#7 for 2009, 1% Well-Read Challenge)

Also reviewed at:
Reading Matters
katrina's reads
Have you read and reviewed this title? Let me know and I'll link to it here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

'The Story of Lucy Gault'

by William Trevor
Fiction, 2002
Viking (Penguin), trade pb, 220 p.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2002
Captain Gault had seen off the three intruders easily enough. They had come in the night with the intention of firing the house, but a single shot had sent them scuttling back into the darkness. One, though, had been wounded and for that the Gaults were not forgiven: sooner or later there would be trouble again. Other big-house families had been driven out – the Morells from Clashmore, the Gouvernets, the Priors, the Swifts. It was time to go too.

But Lucy, soon to be nine, the only child of the household, could not bear the thought of leaving Lahardane. Her world was the old house itself, the woods of the glen, the farm animals, the walk along the seashore to school. All of that she loved and as the day of departure grew closer she determined that this exile should not take place. But chance changed everything, bringing about a calamity so terrible that it might have been a punishment, so vicious that it blighted the lives of all the Gaults for many years to come.
Well, I have to say I had a hard time buying into the basic premise of this story, which kept me from fully believing it. I realize the story was set in the 1920s when things were quite different in terms of how we could communicate, no cell phones or email for starters, but I had a hard time getting past it and some of the characters' behaviour. Sorry, I know I’m being a bit vague here but to explain clearly would be a rather large spoiler. I don’t regret reading it though for otherwise it was beautifully written, with lovely descriptions of the Irish countryside and seashore where Lucy often liked to walk. We never made it to Ireland when we were living in England, but reading this made me wish again that we had.

Ultimately though, it’s a very sad, rather depressing tale. I think this review in The Times Online sums it up well:
Readers must judge for themselves whether it is the weakness or the strength of this finely crafted novel that Trevor does not flinch: while scattering some crumbs of comfort, he offers resignation rather than redemption, leaving us with a palpable sense of sadness for wasted lives and lost opportunities.
I originally picked this up because it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and read it now because it was on the original 1001 Books to Read Before You Die List, but I think that this novel was perhaps not the best introduction for me to Trevor’s work. Reviews for it seem quite mixed, although some love it so don’t let my rather negative review put you off. However, even the author apparently considers himself primarily a writer of short stories who occasionally writes novels, so I think I’d like to try some of his stories next time around.
‘D’you know how many books there are at Lahardane?’
‘There are four thousand and twenty-seven. So old, some of them, they’re falling to bits. Others have never been opened. Do you know how many I’ve read? Can you guess?’
Ralph shook his head.
‘Five hundred and twelve. Last night, for the second time, I finished Vanity Fair.’
‘I haven’t read it even once.’
‘It’s very good.’
‘I’ll read it one of these days.’
‘It has taken me years to read all those books. I began when I left school.’
[ … ]
‘Do you think it strange that I counted the books?’
‘No, not at all.’
He imagined her counting, a finger passing from spine to spine along a bookshelf, and then beginning again on the shelf below. When he’d come the last time he hadn’t been invited into the house. He wondered if today he’d see the rooms, and hoped he would.
Listen to an interview with the author from BBC Radio 3.
Review in The Guardian (contains spoilers!)
Review in The Times Online

First sentence: Captain Everard Gault wounded the boy in the right shoulder on the night of June the twenty-first, nineteen twenty-one.

New vocabulary
pusillanimous: lacking courage and resolution : marked by contemptible timidity
Even though in the ordinary run of things she was not pusillanimous, Heloise Gault felt frightened. (p. 6)

My Rating: 3/5
(#6 for 2009, 1% Well-Read Challenge)

Also reviewed at:
Reading Matters
We Be Reading
Have you read and reviewed this title? Let me know and I'll link to it here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Two books that I'd ordered from The Book Depository arrived in the mail for me last week. (BTW, have you seen their new "Watch People Shop" feature on the main page? It's kind of amusing.)

The Pools by Bethan Roberts
I originally added this one to my wishlist after reading Shana of Literarily's review of it and author interview last year. Plus the edition I got does have a very pretty sunset on the cover! I am a sucker for a pretty cover.

What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn
This one was mentioned during one of the book review podcasts I listen to, and it won the Costa First Novel Award in 2007 so I justified the purchase by thinking that I can always read it for the Book Awards Challenge.

I have a couple of review books that I'm expecting but otherwise I'm going to try to be good and not buy anything else this month. I can hold out for two weeks, can't I? Why are you laughing? ;)

For more Mailbox Monday visit The Printed Page.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spring is in the air

On Saturday, Valentine's Day, we took our cameras out for the first time in weeks. It was a warm, sunny, spring-like day and we stopped off at a little temple famous for its ume (Japanese plum) trees, which have started to blossom. Looks like spring is definitely on its way!

Sunday Salon: From New York to Japan

I finished reading Breakfast at Tiffany's this week, as well as the three short stories that were included in the book. Like I had already begun to suspect last week, it's definitely my favourite of the three books I've now read by Capote. The other two were In Cold Blood, which I thought was ok but not earth-shattering, and Other Voices, Other Rooms, which I didn't care for. After Other Voices, Other Rooms I wondered if Capote just wasn't for me so I'm really glad that I enjoyed Breakfast at Tiffany's as much as I did. Isn't it a great feeling to be pleasantly surprised by a book you weren't sure you'd like?

We actually looked for the film at the rental shop on the weekend but they only had one copy of it and it was out. But we'll try again and hopefully get to watch it before too long.

Now I'm reading An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. I'm quite enjoying it so far and it reminds me slightly of The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki. Perhaps it's just because both books deal with marriage investigations for one of the daughters of the family, but they both also seem to look at the changing attitudes and Westernization taking place in Japan before and after WWII.

I was so sleepy earlier today that I ended up having a nap, but I did manage to read a few more pages before I fell asleep, and I look forward to getting back to it in just a little bit. What have you been reading this weekend?

Week in Review:
Sunday Salon: Giveaway winners
Mailbox Monday
It's Tuesday... (Where are You? and Teaser Tuesday)
Weekly Geeks: Judge a Book by its Cover
Friday Fill-ins (and Facebook in Real Life)
PhotoHunt: Nautical

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

PhotoHunt: Nautical

Taken at the end of December at Cattle Point in Victoria, Canada.
Brrr.. it was chilly out there with the wind blowing.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

1. It seems like we've barely had any winter and now spring is already on its way. The forecast for tomorrow is for a temperature of about 20C (70F).

2. Wash your hands when you're done, please?

3. If I thought you would enjoy it I'd let you know!

4. Goofiness and laughter is what I think of most when I think of you.

5. To me, Valentine's Day means chocolate, or essentially a commercial holiday created by candy makers to sell more stuff! Of course I love my husband (and I love chocolate!) but I don't need a special day to remember that! ;)
And if you're in Japan, Valentine's Day is one-sided, only women give chocolates to men. Then one month later on March 14th, White Day, which was apparently started in 1978 by the National Confectioners Industry Association, the men give chocolate or gifts to the women.
But that's not all, in Japan you also have the giri choco (obligation chocolates) that you must give to your co-workers! Reminds me of kindergarten and having to give a Valentine to every one in your class, which is fine when you're 5 years old but for an office full of adults? Anyway, sorry for the mini rant!

6. Tranquility and nature give(s) me strength.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to curling up with a hot mug of tea, a cat, and my book, tomorrow my plans include spending the day with H and hopefully taking the camera out for the first time in weeks and Sunday, I want to relax and read!

Also a big thank you to Karen of Book Bath for bestowing on me the Premio Dardas award! She had this to say: "I love this blog for it's beautiful content and presentation." Thank you so much, Karen!
As usual I'm going to bow out of passing it on because it's just too hard to choose and while I haven't been very good about stopping by lately (time seems to be disappearing even faster than usual recently!!), I think you all have wonderful, unique, blogs that represent your own personalities, and I love visiting all of them!

Part of my recent time drain is no doubt due to Twitter. I'm still figuring my way around but I have to say it does kinda suck being in such a completely different time zone as I miss out on most of the conversations and feel like I'm just talking to myself a lot of the time. Following some of the publishers is kind of fun though to hear about new books and such, and there are other random things to amuse.
I can't remember now who tweeted the link to this YouTube video on twitter today but it's hilarious and perfectly explains why I just don't get Facebook. (I have an account but almost never log in). I'm still chuckling over it - do watch it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Weekly Geeks: Judge a Book by its Cover

It's been quite some time since I've joined in Weekly Geeks, and not since Dewey was still running it :(. It's not that I don't want to but I just never seem to get around to the weekly theme or task before the next week's is already up. I think Bi-Weekly Geeks would suit me better! LOL. But I think I've made it in time this week and it's a fun one.

This week it's all about judging books by their covers! Pick a book--any book, really--and search out multiple book cover images for that book. They could span a decade or two (or more)...Or they could span several countries. Which cover is your favorite? Which one is your least favorite? Which one best 'captures' what the book is about?

Before you say anything, yes I know I've got two books here, but let me explain. I'd already uploaded the covers for Kafka on the Shore and saved a draft, but then today I went to browse a few of the other posts and found that in the very first entry gautami had already done this one. But since some of the covers are different I thought I'd go ahead and post them anyway, but then I decided to see what other Murakami covers I could find. I haven't looked through all the posts so I don't know if someone else has already done The Wind-up Bird Chronicle as well, so apologies if this is all a repeat.
Cats feature prominently in the covers of Kafka on the Shore which isn't too much of a surprise. I think my favourite of these is the German one (3rd row, middle) because I love the colour and the close-up photo of the cat's eye, or the Arabic one to the left here, as it's such a pretty silhouette and as well as portraying the significance of cats to the story, it also includes an image of the shore which features in both the title and the story.
And for something a little different, I found these illustrations inspired by Kafka on the Shore, by the artist Leila Shetty.

The fact that Murakami is so well-known around the world means there is certainly an interesting variety of covers for his books. From these covers for The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, my favourites are the German one (top row, middle) and the Vintage UK one (top row, left). The German one for being so fun and colourful, the Vintage one for the simple black and white and the striped cat's tail. I am a cat person after all! I also find it interesting that I like the German covers for both books. Kind of makes me wish I could read in German! I do also like the Swedish one (bottom row, left) for the cute wind-up bird (clever, no?) on the cover.
I don't love it but the cover (bottom row, middle) is the only one that actually represents some scenes from the book but it seems to be from an out of print edition. And I have to say that the Japanese cover (bottom row, right) is really boring!
So which of all of these do you like best?