Archive | January, 2014

WWW Wednesday

22 Jan

W…W…W…Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. 

TO PLAY ALONG, JUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING THREE (3) QUESTIONS:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

_________________________________________________________________________________

What are you currently reading?

I am just currently reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. I’m pretty much 3 quarters of the way through, however the edition I have has another 3 stories in it too: House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar, and A Christmas Memory.

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

What did you recently finish reading? 

I’ve finished three books since my last WWW Wednesday – And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini; The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak; and Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet. Check out the reviews to see what I thought of them. 

And The Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini

And The Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant - Daniel Tammet

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant – Daniel Tammet

What do you think you’ll read next?

The next book on my list is The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmell. I have no real idea what it’s about or whether it’s well liked but i’m looking forward to it!

The Bride Stripped Bare - Nikki Gemmell

The Bride Stripped Bare – Nikki Gemmell

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these books, although no spoilers please for the ones I haven’t read yet!

-H-

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Teaser Tuesday

21 Jan

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

Rules
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser

Book: I am reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s and three stories by Truman Capote which is made up of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar, and A Christmas Memory. I’m currently up to page 74 of 100 for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. My spoiler is from page 85.

The male detective seemed embarrassed: by Madame Spanella and by the situation; but a harsh enjoyment tensed the face of his companion – she plumped a hand on Holly’s shoulder and, in a surprising baby-child voice, said: ‘Come along, sister. You’re going places.’ Whereupon Holly coolly told her: ‘Get them cotton-pickin’ hands off of me, you dreary, drivelling old bull-dyke.’

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

-H-

#29 Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant – Daniel Tammet

20 Jan
Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant - Daniel Tammet

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant – Daniel Tammet

Goodreads rating: 3.8/5 (10K+ ratings)
My rating: 7/10
First Published: 2006
Genre: Autobiography; Non-Fiction

This is a memoir of Daniel Tammet, a man with high functioning autism and savant syndrome. Savant syndrome is what Dustin Hoffman has in Rainman, however Daniel is high functioning and can live a relatively normal life.

The first chapter of this book is eye-opening. Daniel writes about how he sees each individual number, whether it be the number 9 or 131,555, as it’s own image, with it’s own feelings attached to it. He writes about how he can automatically multiply huge numbers in his head without really having to think, and how he uses the feelings that numbers give him to empathise with people.

I probably would have rated this book higher had it continued along the same path*, and had Tammet written more about how his mind worked, however the rest of the book was about his life and experiences. These were definitely still interesting and I enjoyed reading it but it didn’t draw me in as much as the first chapter did.

One of the most amazing parts of the book is when Tammet talks about how he rehearsed to beat the European record for the most decimal places of Pi memorised, and I’m pretty sure he remembered more than 22,500 decimal places of Pi. You’ll have to read the book to find out whether he beat the record or not!

Also in the book he mentions how he goes overseas to film a documentary called Brainman, and after I finished the book I decided to watch it. You can find it on YouTube here.

I have known little bits and pieces about Autism, Aspergers, and Savant Syndrome, but this book is a great way to understand more of what goes through the mind of a person with these conditions, and will also help you understand how to interact with people on the Autism spectrum, so for those reasons I definitely recommend reading it.

*Note: I have just realised, while doing a little bit of background research on this book, that Tammet has since published 2 more books which might possible cover the things I thought this one lacked. His next two books are Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind and Thinking in Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math.

-H-

If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!

#28 The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

9 Jan
The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Goodreads rating: 4.36/5 (414K+ ratings)
My rating: 9/10
First Published: 14th March 2006
Genre: Historical Fiction

When I put on Facebook that I was about to read this book I got loads of responses like ‘One of my favourite books, it really is beautiful’, and ‘this is my favourite book – it’s amazing’, and I thought ‘yeah, yeah okay so it’s a good book – probably really overrated.’

But I was so wrong. This is a beautiful, thoughtful, interesting, well written story – especially for a book lover. It’s about a young girl, Liesel Meminger whose younger brother dies, and whose mother gives her away to the Hubermann’s – a German family living in Molching – just out of Munich. They have two older children in their 20s and take on Liesel as one of their own. When her little brother dies on their way to the Hubermann’s, she finds a book buried in the snow near his grave. She steals it. This is the start of her book thievery career.

Narrated by Death, The Book Thief follows Liesel in her quest to learn how to read, and her journey on understanding the world during Nazi Germany – at the height of Hitler’s reign. She’s a really likeable character, and the majority of the characters are relatable and likeable.

The movie came out in Australia today and I’m looking forward to seeing it this weekend, although I doubt it will do the book justice. Obviously I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I highly recommend reading the book before watching the movie as the books are always better than the movies.

Bits & pieces

  • Was listed on the New York Times Best Seller list for 230 weeks
  • Zusak took 3 years to complete the book and even went to Munich, Germany to research some of the finer points
  • Zusak said that writing the book was inspired by two real-life events related to him by his German parents: the bombing of Munich, and a teenage boy offering bread to an emaciated Jew being marched through the streets, ending with both boy and Jewish prisoner being whipped by a soldier.
  • He rewrote the first 90 pages of The Book Thief 150-200 times

Sources: The Guardian; The Book Thief Fan Page; Shmoop;

Notable quotes

He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.

The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn’t be any of this. Without words, the Führerwas nothing.

The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places it was burned. There were black crumbs and pepper, streaked across the redness. 

In fact, on April 20 – the Führer’s birthday – when she snatched a book from beneath a steaming pile of ashes, Liesel was a girl made of darkness. 

For me, the sky was the color of Jews.

In front of him, he read from the copy of Mein Kampf. His savior. Sweat was swimming out of his hands. Fingermarks clutched the book.

She was a Jew feeder without a question in the world on that man’s first night in Molching. She was an arm reacher, deep into a mattress, to deliver a sketchbook to a teenage girl.

“When a Jew shows up at your place of residence in the early hours of the morning, in the very birthplace of Nazism, you’re likely to experience extreme levels of discomfort. Anxiety, disbelief, paranoia” 

-H-

If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!

#27 And The Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

3 Jan
atmeAnd The Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini

And The Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

Goodreads rating: 4.02/5 (68K+ ratings)

My rating: 7.5/10

First published: 21st May 2013

Genre: Historical Fiction, Drama

The third book by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns), And The Mountains Echoed doesn’t disappoint. I had pretty high expectations as A Thousand Splendid Suns (ATSS) is one of my all time favourites, and although I found And The Mountains Echoed less full on than ATSS, it was still very enjoyable. 

Each chapter is almost written like a short story in itself. The overarching story starts with a boy, Abdullah, and his younger, beloved sister Pari who is sold to a rich family in Kabul without him. Each chapter follows the lives of a different character revolved around both of these children including Pari’s adoptive parents, her step uncle, the family next door who move to America, the Greek Doctor who moves into her childhood home during the war in Afghanistan, and a young, rich, oblivious boy. 

I’ve found other books written in a similar format, such as A Tale of Two Citiesreally hard to follow, but Hosseini has a great ability to fill you in on the background of each character, and help you get to know them in just a few pages. He also ties in each story to the overall theme really well and in an engaging way. Another thing I love not only about this book but Hosseini’s other novels, is his description of Afghanistan. In this story he describes pre-war Afghanistan and it sounds like a beautiful country – it’s a way i’ve never heard Afghanistan described as before, and just for that it’s worth reading.

This story is heartbreaking and touching, and totally worth the read. It’s a pretty quick and easy read, the language is really simple, but I definitely recommend it.

Notable quotes

A story is like a moving train: no matter where you hop onboard, you are bound to reach your destination sooner or later.

All my life, she gave to me a shovel and said, Fill these holes inside of me.

Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.

Creating means vandalizing the lives of other people, turning them into unwilling and unwitting participants. You steal their desires, their dreams, pocket their flaws, their suffering. You take what does not belong to you. You do this knowingly.

If an avalanche buries you and you’re lying there underneath all that snow, you can’t tell which way is up or down. You want to dig yourself out but pick the wrong way, and you dig yourself to your own demise.

If culture is a house, then language was the key to the front door; to all the rooms inside. Without it, you ended up wayward, without a proper home or a legitimate identity.

It’s a funny thing, but people mostly have it backward. They think they live by what they want. But really, what guides them is what they’re afraid of. What they don’t want.

If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!

-H-

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