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pants
Hey Epine, if you like end of the world narratives it might be up your alley. it took me two tries to finally get into Handmaid's Tale and boy, am I glad I made the effort. I've now read it 5 times and count it as one of my all time favorite books.

I find the term classic to be a funny one. it encompasses so much, from Dangerous Liaisons up through books like Beloved. I'm going to risk my BA in English and say that I think it's a meaningless classification. That's right, degree police, I said meaningless! I wish the people who determine these things would add more classifiers. Like, oh that, it's a Regency Era Classic, that, it's a modern American Classic, now that, it's a British Colonial Era African Classic, not to be confused with this British Colonial Era Inspired Indian Classic. But maybe that's just me.
sybarite
On behalf of the degree police I'd like to read you your rights...

At the risk of introducing slumber-inducing earnestness I think a lot of books taught as 'classics' are categorised as such because they usefully contain many components of the novel 'form' from whatever era they were written and/or effectively comment on prevailing social/political movements at time of writing--which Dangerous Liaisons does, for instance. I love DL, but calling it a classic meant all us undergrads thought the evil (but entertaining) emotional machinations therein were therefore sanctioned behaviour wink.gif

Then there's Lady Audley's Secret, which is actually trashy literature but is taught as, basically, an example of 19C chicklit.

*waves at pants* Saw your post in kvetch, nice to see you here (again)!

I couldn't get into Oryx and Crake at all but I think I ODed on Atwood in my 20s...

I read about half of House of Leaves a few years ago and was obsessed, then I put it down one day and never picked it up again. I think the footnotes put me off.

I recently re-read Mary McCarthy's The Group; I had forgotten how politicised the world she describes is; I am increasingly fascinated with how pervasive the American left was before McCarthyism. Such a great book.
pants
Hey Syb!

I accept your argument for terming specific books classics at the same time I find it less useful outside of academia.
Also, I have never read Moby Dick or Wuthering Heights. My degree is totally undeserved.

I've never red any Mary McCarthy, either. Based on your description I think maybe I should.

I'm reading On The Road now after listening to the soundtrack to One Fast Move Or I'm Gone on spotify and then unsurprisingly saw that today is the 40th anniversary of his death. I'll never like that book as much as I did the first time, but it sticks with me, although I do always wish the ladies could have been given just a tiny bit more to do, but hey, sometimes you've gotta accept the author's failings.

crazyoldcatlady
syb, i totally just bought the group! i'm gonna get to that as soon as i re-tread my fav ols school YA book the indian in the cupboard...
rogue
I really, really loved The Catcher in the Rye, epi. I haven't read it in years but I remember thinking the same thing as you - that the book was incredibly readable. I didn't have a problem with it at all and I thought I was definitely going to (especially at seventeen). I don't know why though. And I remember laughing all the way through it. I should really read it again because I honestly don't remember what was so fantastic about it, just that it was.

I've heard a lot about House of Leaves over the past year or so and I've wanted to read it but from what I've read about its layout and the footnotes to me it sounds a little daunting. Does anyone else have anything to say about it? I'm worried that all the footnotes would put me off too, as you said, sybarite. And it's supposed to be frightening, right? I don't know how well I would do with that living alone with two overactive cats that like to make noise that freaks me out all night long. I'd like to look into it, though.

I also really want to read The Road before it hits theatres. I think I read through the first few pages once in a bookstore and it really caught my interest. I need something more advanced than The Vampire Diaries at the moment. The book is definitely good, light reading but it's just not leaving a mark with me. I hate it when that happens. I usually finish a book within a few days of purchasing it and I've had this one for almost a week and nothing. I've only just made a dent in it. Sigh.
anna k
I read part of Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen, and I wanted to like it, about a man who believes his wife was replaced with a double, but I found it really boring. The main character was just really dull, it moved slowly, and I couldn't stay into it. The premise was really interesting, but the execution made it feel tedious, like I was just waiting for more to happen. I really wanted to like it because it was named as one of the best books of 2008 by the New York Times and I liked the story idea, but felt disappointed.

I'm reading some short stories by Haruki Murakami, a Vintage collection. I don't know what it is about him, but he has this clear, precise way of storytelling to describe character's lives, give them intellect and ambiguity, and just wrap the reader right in. It's remarkable and just beautiful writing.

Kindred was a stunning book, I finished it in a few days, and felt shook up by her depictions of slavery and the breaking down of one's humanity, as well as the ending.

Into the Wild was a great book, it presents two different takes on Chris McCandless' journey, the ones who thought he was wild and sacrificed himself and lived the American dream, and the others who felt he was careless and ill-prepared and full of fanciful illusions.

I liked The Catcher in the Rye when I was younger, more for the 1950s setting and Phoebe, but got irritated with Holden saying "goddamn phonies" every few pages.
epinephrine
Ohmygodohmygodohmygodmyfavouriteauthorisgivingatalkatmyuniversity!!! AAAAAAHHH!!! I'M GOING TO SEE EDEN ROBINSON!!!!!
girl_logic
Pants and Rogue, my fella has been trying to get me to read The Road, even with the caveat that it's the most depressing novel he's ever read. He keeps going back to it - 4 times now. It's obviously some kind of masterpiece, but it also seems like a scab of a book that he keeps picking. Like, painful but intriguing in some way.

Annak, are you talking about Octavia Butler Kindred?


ETA: doh, pants, I see you said On The Road. I'm getting old in the eyes.
koffeewitch
Re-reading the Collected Short Stories of Paul Bowles. King of biting urbane witticisms and razor-sharp dark humor. The kind of thing that does't tickle your funny bone so much as it burns. A modern Oscar Wilde with a sinister streak. Not for the faint-hearted, but I love the guy.
anna k
girl logic, I did mean Octavia Butler's book.
pants
girl_logic, no worries, i keep meaning to to read The Road too so that actually made sense to me even though I couldn't remember mentioning it. wink.gif

i'm actually reading a lot of romance novels right now for 2 reasons: 1 i'm working on a blog (created by me and thus far just read by me it seems) about them and 2 Because they are good stress relief when I am feeling spastic

And I'm actually finding depressing books to be something of a relief as a result, although sometimes i have to remind myself not to expect sex scenes.

auralpoison
My god. The Road was hands down the most bleak fucking thing I ever read. Seriously. After I finished it, I immediately gave it somebody else to read just to get it out of my house. There was a specific part that REALLY did a headfuck on me; it freaked me out so bad that I still remember what page it started on five or however many years later.

I started the latest Ellroy, Blood's A Rover, but feel like I need to reread American Tabloid & the Cold Six Thousand again to be in the right frame of paranoid, bloody mind.
annabananahannahmontana
people seem to like to read really bleak things, at least all the people i know because i keep getting rave reviews of The Road. that and The Lovely Bones which i really can't seem to get into.
sassygrrl
QUOTE(annabananahannahmontana @ Nov 11 2009, 06:14 PM) *
people seem to like to read really bleak things, at least all the people i know because i keep getting rave reviews of The Road. that and The Lovely Bones which i really can't seem to get into.


I just finished The Lovely Bones. It was okay. People were raving about it, and I just thought it was meh. It should be a decent movie. I haven't gotten into The Road b/c it seems too damn depressing. My next couple of books are going to be romance/chick lit I think. I've been super stressed out lately, and I think that's all I can handle.
girl_logic
QUOTE(anna k @ Nov 10 2009, 04:53 PM) *
girl logic, I did mean Octavia Butler's book.


I found that book incredibly haunting (particularly since I am in an inter-racial relationship). I liked Wildseed too but I didn't find it as powerful.

I read Morrison's Paradise earlier in the year and got a similar feeling of dread after the first line

Butler: I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm

Morrison: They shot the white girl first.

But I trust both of those writers to take me somewhere that's worth it.

I actually liked Lovely Bones. I lost my sister in a violent and sudden way so it was cathartic to read in some ways. I think the movie version of it would just be unbearably sad.

I just got The Road audio book out of laziness, so I might never know what page the mind-fuck starts, god bless me.

Speaking of depressing, has anyone read Push? I'm hoping to before seeing the movie Precious.

Pants, I work at a public library and started reading harlequins while shelving them one day - holy soft porn, I just had no idea. They're great! Not to make you my smut-pusher, but do you happen to know of one involving a librarian (male or female)?
sevenseconds
I read Push.
It stirs such deep and weird emotions, you'll have to remind yourself to breathe at times. When she talks about her feelings for her father, it's so hard to read, let's just say, you conceive the inconceivable.
pants
Well Ms G Logic. Nora Roberts Key series features a character named Dana who starts out as a librarian and becomes a book store owner. She also has a book store owner in the Dance on Air series, and a researcher / archivist type in the Blood Brothers series

Cathie Linz wrote a book called Good Girls Do where the amin character i s a librarian as well (it's not one of my favorites but it's okay) That character pops up again later in the otehr books in that series, and actually I found Good Girls Do to be the best of the series

Oh and In Too Deep by Portia da Costa is total smut with a librarian in the lead role from the Black Lace series which is a pretty raunchy set of books, but in a good raunchy smutty way. Some of them lean heavily into the realm of BDSM so check reviews if you're not into that sort of thing

I can't think of any others off the top of my head but if I do I will let you know

girl_logic
QUOTE(pants @ Nov 13 2009, 03:20 PM) *
....Oh and In Too Deep by Portia da Costa is total smut with a librarian in the lead role from the Black Lace series which is a pretty raunchy set of books, but in a good raunchy smutty way...


Yes please! Grazie :-)

QUOTE(sevenseconds @ Nov 13 2009, 03:09 PM) *
I read Push.
It stirs such deep and weird emotions, you'll have to remind yourself to breathe at times. When she talks about her feelings for her father, it's so hard to read, let's just say, you conceive the inconceivable.


361 holds on it at the library.
pants
Va Bene, Girllogic. I should point out that I used to work in a library as well which is why I was able to rattle those off so quickly, I don't know if I could do the same for other professions as well.


I'm about to start Barbara Kingsolver's new book and am really looking forward to it. I know she was berated for awhile after having been chosen as an Oprah book club author but I really enjoy her writing and the stories she tells.

Also read Audrey Niffenegger's newest recently, it was okay, but sort of uneven. Not as lush and fully realised as Time Traveller's Wife which I enjoyed in all it's soppy glory. Did anybody see the film? Was it worth it?
girl_logic
library grrrls unite! (well as grrrlish as i can be in my 30's)
i kept getting warned off the Time Traveller's Wife movie, so no.
sassygrrl
Library grrls indeed (yeah trying to become one in a few years!)
There's also a series of Charlaine Harris about a librarian. It's before she wrote the True Blood series. It's called the Aurora Teagarden series. I haven't read them but it's a collection of 8 books so far. I'll have to read some of these listed.

I joined a local bookclub on fantasy/graphic novels! smile.gif



kari
I just finished The Help. Reallllllly enjoyed it.
nickclick
QUOTE(pants @ Nov 16 2009, 06:18 AM) *
I'm about to start Barbara Kingsolver's new book and am really looking forward to it. I know she was berated for awhile after having been chosen as an Oprah book club author but I really enjoy her writing and the stories she tells.

I've got The Lacuna on hold. Frida Kahlo is a character! pants, did you start it?
pants
Nickclick: Not yet, it's hardcover and massive and I had to pick some stuff up from the post office today so it wouldn't all fit in my bag, I'm hoping tonight or tomorrow to get started
pants
I finally got started on The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver and I am totally in love with it thus far. It is worth lugging around in my bag and then some
epinephrine
Not sure if this is the right thread for this, but can anyone recommend some decent erotica or smutty novels? I'm not too particular about themes and genders and all that, as long as it's well-written. I'd even be happy with badly-written erotica, as long as it's sexy enough. I'd be especially interested in a novel, something I could spend a little more time with and get to know the characters a little better. Erotica has a way better hold on the imagination when you really know the characters. I've been reading a lot of short erotic stories and they're just not satisfying enough.

Besides the various volumes of erotica I've been reading, I've finished Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, which was as poetically visceral and disturbing as Beloved, though it felt a little overwritten at times. I've just started Sena Jeter Naslund's Ahab's Wife, which was recommended to me by a woman whose taste in books and movies was remarkably similar to mine, but I haven't really gotten into it yet. And! I met my favourite author last week! She gave a talk at the university and I got to talk to her and have my picture taken with her and tell her personally how much I adore her writing and give her a little card telling her how much she's influenced and inspired me! She was such a sweetheart. It was really, really cool to meet her. Of course, I couldn't find a copy of Monkey Beach for her to sign because I've lent them all out to friends, but I brought her other two books with me and got one signed for me and another signed for a good friend who couldn't make it. It'll be his Christmas present. She wrote him a cute little Christmas greeting in it and everything.
pants
How smutty are you looking for epinephrine?

Emma Holly is an okay writer of smut, same goes for Portia da Costa. Both deal a fair bit in bondage and bi scenes. You might want to look into publishers like Ellora's Cave and Black Lace. I know Harlequin has their Spice line which I believe is raunchier than their typical novels. They actually have a variety of lines of fiction that go from chaste kisses and handholding to random assignations in alleys with multiple strangers. Probably if you go to their website there's a list detailing levels raunch.

rogue
I'm a little behind in this but I both read and saw The Time Traveler's Wife and enjoyed both, pants. I will say that I enjoyed the novel more and found the film a little inconsistent, but, that being said, it takes a lot for me to hate a film. A lot. I'm not one who will read a book and then go to the film to compare both, I go to enjoy the film. I went to see it with a friend of mine who also read the book - she said if one hadn't read the book it would probably be really confusing and I tend to agree.

I think the film is worth it if you like to visualize characters "in real life", but some might not. I don't think it was too much of a departure from the novel. The one thing I will say is it was probably the most uncomfortable movie experience of my life - people in the theatre were literally sobbing all around me. Heaving, hysterical-type sobs. That was interesting.

Right now I'm re-reading (for the third time) The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I know a lot of people don't like her but whatever - I find this series a thousand times better than Twilight. It's young adult fiction as well, but sometimes I need some fantasy in my life. laugh.gif
pants
Rogue I think we have similar movie viewing strategies smile.gif

I used to get really frustrated with movies ased on books but then had an epiphany one day and said to myself, 'Dude, this is a movie, it is separate from the book, it is okay if they are different.'

It makes my moviegoing experience so much less stressful

I'll put it on my lovefilm queue
rogue
The only book-to-movie transition I was really pissed about was Flowers in the Attic. It's my favourite book/series of all time and I was pissed when they took out the most significant part - Chris and Cathy's incestuous relationship. I mean, yes, incest is disgusting and wrong and illegal but come on, it was what made the book the book! It was so important to their story and the film just butchered it. I'm still not over it. The film itself was merely okay to me, and not only because of that, it was just really lacking to me. If it's on television I might watch it but I'd never, ever, ever choose it over reading the book. I'm so bitter about it.

But yes, as for TTTW (The Time Traveler's Wife), I'd recommend it. It was decent.
nickclick
my favorite book-to-movie is Age of Innocence. Scorsese's visuals are more elaborate than i could have ever imagined.
sevenseconds
Can't resist asking, in light of this and that, has anyone read The Good Terrorist by Doris Lessing. Cannot recommend it highly enough.

The woman was a hardcore British communist for many years, from before (and during) the time it became a dirty word here. Lots of her stuff has to do with absolute power and how we choose to fight it.

She grew up in then Rhodesia, btw, and The grass is Singing is such a breath taking study of the *fear>attraction>obsession* paradigm of touching the Other, I got goosebumps just typing the title. Her The Godlen Notebook is the feminist novel of all time.

And she is one of the few women novelists with a Nobel Prize.
But The Good Terrorist. Seriously.
sybarite
7sec, I love The Good Terrorist, although it took me a second read to fully grasp its ambiguities. Excellent, if deeply cynical, analysis of the reasons people get involved in political action. I think Lessing really looks at the intersections between political activity and what I'll reductively call human nature... clearly from experience.

I love her short stories too, particularly (for reasons you identify) those set in Africa. The Golden Notebook is denser and (I think) more uneven in some ways, but well worth a look for its mid-20th-century feminist perspective.
sevenseconds
Succinct and nailing it as always, Sybarite.
For some reason when I was typing absolute power, her later *sufi-sci fi* novels flashed through my head (talk about uneven) where the agents always try to weasel their way out of their "higher duty" but know they'll have to do it all over again if they do. Yet most of them still "put up a fight". And yes, with her the why is almost bigger than the how. I have often wondered reading her if an altruistic calling to make the world a better place really exists, or is it all A/ an adrenaline high and B/ our ego's smoke and mirrors over what's in fact the need to kick our own mom/dad in the teeth.
The Golden Notebook is uneven, way, but there are parts of it that are as golden as silence -- or am I collapsing it with The Four-Gated City, her other brick, (even more uneven) where she argues the point for the human right to unmedicated borderline states as a tool for knowing both the self and how the world really works. I must admit it's a contact high, her *tenderly looked-after madness* pages and the trust she puts in wisdom over sanity. Her log of the semi-contracted semi-induced psychotic state is so brutally honest. Well, honest is Dorris Lessing's middle name.
And also true how she rides the cynic line and with every read you figure out how to better close one eye and blink with the utter believer and close the other and scoff with the jaded skeptic.

But also, her commitment to honesty often takes its price in her style. Hm. Does it have to be like that?
koffeewitch
QUOTE(sybarite @ Dec 4 2009, 09:25 AM) *
7sec, I love The Good Terrorist, although it took me a second read to fully grasp its ambiguities. Excellent, if deeply cynical, analysis of the reasons people get involved in political action. I think Lessing really looks at the intersections between political activity and what I'll reductively call human nature... clearly from experience.

I love her short stories too, particularly (for reasons you identify) those set in Africa. The Golden Notebook is denser and (I think) more uneven in some ways, but well worth a look for its mid-20th-century feminist perspective.


I'm a big fan, too of her stories set in Africa. She has an interesting way of dissecting the issues of privilege and guilt without stumbling all over a bunch of platitudes or dismissing these subjects in trite, sophisticated-sounding cliches. There's some real substance in her stories, and she doesn't let her characters off easy.

Has anyone ever read the short stories of Paul Bowles...mostly set round Morocco and other parts of the world he lived and traveled. Dark, difficult, disturbing stuff but with a rapier wit...I've wondered more than once about his state of mind even though I adore his work.
go_kayte
I am reading Thus Spake Zarathustra by Nietzsche right now because it is supposed to be poignant and important philosophy, but this guy is a TOTAL ASSHOLE! He said women are a puzzle and the only solution is pregnancy. And that womens' souls are akin to cats and birds and cannot achieve Superman - but hey maybe if we get knocked up by a special guy we can give birth to the Superman and that would be the highest achievement of any woman.

BARRRRRFFFF


It's not that good.
nickclick
hi, we're pregnant and shopping for mother's day gifts.....any suggestions for good (but not chicken soup-y schmaltz) books for the future grandmas?
koffeewitch
QUOTE(nickclick @ Apr 23 2010, 05:38 AM) *
hi, we're pregnant and shopping for mother's day gifts.....any suggestions for good (but not chicken soup-y schmaltz) books for the future grandmas?


I don't know about books for grandmas, but bookstores have some beautiful photo albums now adays. Maybe something special to put new baby photos in? My favorite baby photo albums are the ones where they re-print classic children's books with spaces to put baby photos/write a few words of your own. I have one for my kids that makes it like reading a story about the world and stars and telling them the story of their own birth all at the same time.
pants
New Maggie O'Farrell book! The Hand That First Held Mine.

I bought it but haven't started it yet. I've got a long train journey I'm saving it for and can't wait to start it. Her last book The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox hasen taken a place as one of my all time favourite books. She's a stunning author and I liker writing a lot.
damona
i recently read garden spells by sarah addison allen. she also wrote the sugar queen. both just amazing books.

i'm currently reading by hook or by crook: a journey in search of english which is a linguistics study. actually quite fascinating.
pepper
My library list grew by a foot just from coming in here.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. I can't do it justice with a description I'm afraid. All I can say is that I couldn't put it down but was so sad to find I'd read it all so quickly. Has anyone else read her work? Before this I read The Bean Tree and sequel but this was very different.
anarch
I just finished a book of short stories by Primo Levi. Had never heard of him before. A lot of the stories were enchantingly whimsical. The one I liked best was about a poet who types out a poem on a piece of paper that literally gets away from him.
anarch
On little legs, I should have mentioned.
pants
QUOTE(pepper @ May 15 2010, 03:21 AM) *
My library list grew by a foot just from coming in here.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. I can't do it justice with a description I'm afraid. All I can say is that I couldn't put it down but was so sad to find I'd read it all so quickly. Has anyone else read her work? Before this I read The Bean Tree and sequel but this was very different.



ME! Me! I really like her books a lot and thought The Lacuna was great. Now that you mention The Bean Trees, I think I may hit the library to pick that book up for a reread. I think I've read all her novels, but haven't read her recent nonfiction book yet. I tend to be fussy with nonfiction and have a hard time getting into it.
anarch
Is Kingsolver's latest nonfiction Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? I enjoyed it (though have never had a problem getting into nonfiction). It described way more about our food system from the farmer's point of view, than any other food system critiques I've read (Pollan, Fast Food Nation, etc). She intersperses facts with stories from her family's years of working their land, so it's not as dry as "food system critique" makes it sound.
pants
Anarch, yes that's the one I was thinking of! I was just too lazy to go to amazon and look it up myself smile.gif

Every time I see it, I think, oh you should read that, but then I don't despite the fact that I've only heard good things about it and it looks interesting.

I am just over half way through The Hand That First Held Mine and am enjoying it a lot. It's got the twisty sort of plot that O'Farrell often does, jumping between late 50's early 60's London to modern day and all with beautiful detail and great affection for the characters who I assume are intertwined somehow, just not sure HOW yet. Her books always make me feel half jealous that I'm not her and half inspired to write more.
doxy
Greetings.
I come to you with my full attention and confidence that you all will help me with a certain literal situation I am in.
My book club chose War and Peace this year. What happened was most of us were out of town and the host didn't have time to find books to choose for the following month and so the few attendees that were there decided to do War and Peace for 2 months...skipping a book club meeting all-to-gether.
Well, I am about vengence and I happen to know two of the persons to blame for the abomination of choosing War and Peace for Book Club are anti-female when it comes to literature.
This is not a joke, I have been with Bust for almost 8 years.
Last year I got "Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single" from my friends here and I aim to do the same lady-lit for when I host bookclub next month.
Seriously, what are some witty female oriented books that your lot have read lately that can serve as ammunition for when I pay those chumps back in a month?
Thank you in advance.
ps. the Sarah Adams books look intrigueing? Are they what I'm searching for?
sybarite
Nice to see you Doxy; whither your wine postings? Dunno from Sarah Adams but I'd recommend anything by Sarah Waters, an award-winning British novelist. Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet are probably her best known books; I haven't read them but I have read The Night Watch and The Little Stranger, which were excellent. The Night Watch has a reverse chronology which would be an interesting topic to discuss in a book group. At least three of her books centre on lesbian characters which I suppose qualifies them as' lady lit'... and should suit your purposes nicely.
Persiflager
Ooh, I loved 'The Night Watch'! That'd be a great subject for book-club analysis (and has fewer explicit sex-scenes than 'Tipping the Velvet' so you shouldn't get too many crass comments).
doxy
Thank you ladies.
Yes, I've slacked on the wine post. I've been slacking in general...so hard to get out of this funk? For another topic I guess:)
Anyway, I'm going to the book store now for Tipping the Velvet and McElhatton's new book. I host at the end of this month...I'll let you know what we choose:)
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