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sukouyant
It's a cool departure then. And can rarely resist "what if" stories.
bunnyb
On Beauty is one of those on my to read list (if I can start my PhD in January instead of next month then I'm planning to devour a good few books). The campus novel seems to be popular again.

Has anyone read Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress?

Enjoying Oryx and Crake but I've been starved of pleasure reading (although what I read is pleasurable it's compulsory and not escapism) so I would perhaps enjoy reading anything.
vesicapisces
QUOTE(crazyoldcatlady @ Aug 14 2006, 07:31 PM) *

so, in light of every mom n pop bookstore being usurped by something larger, i'm wondering if online ordering is the way to go. anyone know an independent site that is realtively inexpensive and ships fast?
Powell's!!!! www.powells.com The best bookstore in the world. Pity I live almost an entire continent away from it.

I bought Balzac etc. about a year ago at a rummage sale but haven't read it yet. I really should.

Currently reading one of Lee Child's "Reacher" thrillers. Very well written.
luludoll123
I've been gone a while but am back to see what everyone's reading these days having had some great recommendations from here.

Am very happy as I was trying to come up with 2 great books to give to my best friend for her birthday wanting female oriented stories that had a little more depth then the chick lit/Maeve Binchy she normally seems to read. Gave her Runaway by Alice Munro (Short Stories - you get so inside the head of her women!) and "The Way the Crow Flies" by Ann-Marie MacDonald (could NOT put that one down and such a satisfying story).

I'm reading "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" and have just finished "The True and Amazing Adventures of the Hunt Sisters" (lent by best friend) and "Bel Canto". All really good - was trying to read "Slaughterhouse Five" but for some reason can't get into it.

I'm finding having a young toddler and being full time at work that I SO treasure my limited reading time so am really up for some more recommendations. Especially - books that are impossible to put down but are a little more reflective than pure fiction but not so dense that they'd have to be big "L" literature. Oh - also read Michael Cunningham's "Specimen Days" recently which was a great example of that I think.
mouse
ann marie macdonald is AMAAZING. "fall on your knees" is an incredible family saga. she is like the canadian, female gabriel garcia marquez.
bunnyb
Ooh, "canadian, female gabriel garcia marquez" is quite the compliment! I have Fall on your Knees and must read it sometime soon. In actual fact, I have two copies as accidentally bought it twice!

The Waterstones graphic novel written using feminist cuttings from 60s is Woman's World by Graham Rawle.

mouse
oh my god, bunnyb, read it RIGHT NOW. seriously one of my favorite books, EVER.
faerietails
I know it's a little late in the game, but I just finished The Kite Runner today and I LOVED IT.

Ah...you reminded me of Fall On Your Knees! That book is fan.tas.tic. She's such an amazing writer!
sassygrrl
Yes, Powells is the big bookstore in the whole world! www.powells.com. Considering moving to Portland to live near Powells, yes I'm a dork. But, oh my god.... I could have just lived there for at least the week that I was in the Pacific NW. smile.gif

Heard Kite Runner was fab, but haven't gotten it yet. The Ruins is still amazing, and I'm reading a book about the Chicago World's Fair called Devil in the White City. I like Ruins better, but I think Devil is just taking a little time to get into.

Have to now check out Fall On Your Knees.
punkerplus
luludoll - try The Island by Victoria Hislop. Now I know I may be loving up richard and judy a little too much here, but I did feel that the book was a good work of fiction without being Literature. And I cried three times!

Don't get me wrong, I love Literature but I'd read so much of it I realised I just needed some escapist, easy to read good fiction.
sixelacat
punkerplus, if you (or anyone) is still looking for some fun, easy reads, can I suggest Sujata Massey? (you like mysteries, yeah?) The Floating Girl is quite good, the protagonist is a Japanese-American girl living in Tokyo who gets mixed up in murder mysteries (of course!). Great descriptions of Tokyo and modern Japanese culture.
bunnyb
mouse, I started reading Fall on your Knees last night! So far, so good. It may take me a while as also reading Oryx and Crake (enjoying) and my Master's dissertation is due 4 weeks today...
raisingirl
QUOTE(crazyoldcatlady @ Aug 14 2006, 07:31 PM) *

so, in light of every mom n pop bookstore being usurped by something larger, i'm wondering if online ordering is the way to go. anyone know an independent site that is realtively inexpensive and ships fast?


Catlady, you might want to check into Alibris. I hadn't heard of them until I saw an ad in the New Yorker. I've ordered from them (also the independent sellers selling used books) a couple of times and haven't had any problems. Even though I live in the land of used bookstores, I still like to order online once in a while.

I'm currently reading a book by a Bust writer: I'm Not the New Me, by Wendy McClure. Honest, funny, smart, and comes at a good time as I am still on a mission to continue losing weight but don't want to lose my mind while doing so. In the center of the book are pictures of these old Weight Watchers recipe cards (Jellied Tomato Refresher, anyone?) -- that stuff looks HORRID! No wonder people could lose weight from those diets; the food looks completely nonedible! And certainly not desirable. I figured this was a logical follow-up book after reading the wonderful Girlbomb. I have to keep it in the family!
sybarite
I started A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian last night and got about halfway through. It's a bit self-consciously quirky but skips along nicely and is engrossing enough.

I also re-read Iain Banks' Against A Dark Background again. Some of his Culture novels leave me cold/bewildered, but I really like that one. 'Tis dark though.
bunnyb
*shakes fist at mouse*

I'm finding Fall on your Knees a hard book to put down! Not so good as I should be frantically reading other things, not to mention typing like a fiend! It's gripping and good to get my teeth into something that I don't have to analyse in minute detail.

Sybarite, have you finished A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian? Once the dissertation is out of the way I'm going to read that and The Eyre Affair and Middlesex and Nervous Conditions and On Beauty and 26a and ...
sybarite
I did bunnyb... I dunno. The background story of the family in the Ukraine was interesting but the central character Nadia annoyed me. She was a bit twittery and disingenuous, despite apparently being (like the author) a sociology lecturer.

I'm re-reading an Irish writer, Keith Ridgeway, who I really like. Whatever about Ireland's impressive literary legacy, a lot of the writing coming from there today is pants. Ridgway's The Long Falling really gets Dublin in the 1990s, the abortion referendum and the gay scene, as well as being a decent thriller.

I need new books...
bunnyb
OMG syb, I LOVE Keith Ridgway. If you haven't already read his novella Horses; it's beautiful and one of the most haunting things I've read. His short story collection Standard Time is good too and I have The Parts and Animals but haven't had a chance to read them yet.

eta: have you read any Jennifer Johnston (another Irish writer)? Tutor recommended looking at her for her use of birds but I'm not sure where to start!

Do you also know of any good books on Irish myth? I'm working on Irish dramatist Marina Carr along with Angela Carter.
mornington
damn borders and thier three-for-two goodness.

I have no idea why... but I really liked Tennyson's king arthur poems. Currently loving The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I've been intending to read but always forgot. Bless oxfam and thier cheap secondhand books.

Next up is Xinran's Good Women of China.
sybarite
Oxfam's cheap books rule. Especially as new books here cost a bloody fortune.

Bunnyb, re. Irish myths: anthologies or critical texts? I know of neither offhand but can ask around...
faith
Powells has a great online service, I've found a lot of random signed books there. They're the huge indy bookseller in Oregon. I thought Alibris was more about rare books, but it's been a while since I checked it out.

I didn't love "I'm Not The New Me" -- it might just be because Wendy's blog, www.poundy.com, has been rubbing me the wrong way and that somehow bled into the book. I just didn't feel like I understood her -- the book was somehow mediated/distanced, I didn't feel like it was personal. I wonder if you blog a lot that that's inevitable? You're so aware of people constantly reading you/judging you. She just seems so defensive and guarded. Just my $0.02 smile.gif

Recent great reads:

The Love Wife by Gish Jen -- I have loved her since Mona in the Promised Land, I thought this was a really interesting look at race and class but still a good read, with real characters I cared about.

The Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich -- pure wonderful escapism. I just finished 11 on Top.

Becoming Justice Blackmun, by Linda Greenhouse. (I'm a law dork though, but I still found it readable).

The Raintree Rebellion/Underneath my skin -- good Canadian sci fi-social commentary.

Miss Wyoming by Douglas Coupland.

I also read the new(ish) Jasper Fforde, The Big Over Easy, but I didn't like it as much as the Eyre Affaire books.
bunnyb
syb, anthology. I need a good inroad into Irish myth, especially those used by Yeats and then by later writers.
luludoll123
Faith - I just loved Miss Wyoming. Have you read Girlfriend in a Coma. Fall on Your Knees was incredible - but seriously I think The Way the Crow Flies was even better.

Am hitting a slump in "Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" - rare to slump mid book when it's been riveting so far. Harooumph!
crazyoldcatlady
while compelling, i found dave eggers to be pretentious and self-involved, which is kind of a requisite for that genre of writing, i suppose...

so, off topic, but i have an informal poll: do any of you have one book that fucked up your world? i.e., a book that significantly affected you, changed your course of action, etc. etc.?

Ray Kinsella: By the time I was ten, playing baseball got to be like eating vegetables or taking out the garbage. So when I was 14, I started to refuse. Could you believe that? An American boy refusing to play catch with his father.
Terence Mann: Why 14?
Ray Kinsella: That's when I read "The Boat Rocker" by Terence Mann.
vesicapisces
QUOTE(raisingirl @ Aug 20 2006, 02:31 PM) *

Catlady, you might want to check into Alibris.


I've found that although Alibris is usually your best bet if you're looking for something pretty obscure, you can usually find stuff much, much cheaper. They're sort of the filet mignon of online used book listings. Check out www.bookfinder.com - it accesses multiple online listings, including Alibris, so you can find exactly what you want and in the condition you want (i.e., not everyone needs/wants a signed first edition in near fine condition with a near fine dustwrapper - most folks just want to read the damn book) at a variety of prices. (This is also a great resource to suss out the value of a book you have and may want to sell.)

Says VP, used book junkie.

Speaking of Janet Evanovich, I read somewhere just today that she turned from writing romance novels to detective fiction when she hit menopause, because she found she was thinking more of murder and less of romance. smile.gif
ferraro
luludoll - i think you're hitting the slump because the second half of the book sucks. i love his commentary on this american life but david eggers is the most pretentious writer ever. there needed to have been more toph and less of everything else. especially the whole mtv thing, what the fuck was that??

anyways, i finally read "wicked" which everyone else hear seemed to have loved. i really liked the first half but it too seemed to lose steam at the end.

currently, i am reading "the known world" and am totally riveted by the idea of black slave owners.

crazycatlady - i think "god bless you, mr. rosewater" by kurt vonnegut totally messed me up in regards to how i relate to money and belongings and the material side of myself. my 14 year old self really *wanted* to be messed up by Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger but I really cannot pretend to be that religious/spritual/searching. i just don't see it as important.
sassygrrl
Loved Miss Wyoming. I used to have a signed copy, but my shit of a ex-fiancee stole it. I want to get his new one, Jpod. I had the pleasure of going out to coffee with Doug Coupland after a book signing (for Miss Wyoming) a few years back. One of the best nights of my life. I still heart Generation X.

Done with Ruins. Was fabulous. A thriller, but a very fast read. Stephen King was right! Ordered an old Neil Gaiman and a new Vampire book (the one that Alan Ball is creating for HBO) from Amazon the other day. Should be arriving next week. Yay!

Oh, forgot to mention, anyone read the sequel to Wicked, Son of a Witch? I have a feeling that he's got another book up his sleeve. It was okay, but not nearly as good as Wicked. The musical, by the way was freaking amazing....
raisingirl
Interesting observation, Faith. I know of Wendy's blog (I mean, how could you not?), but I have never read it regularly, so I don't really have much in the way of comparing the book to the blog. What an interesting and modern phenomenon, though.

Ooh, Catlady, good question. One summer for our required summer reading in middle school, I read The Jungle. I do think that those graphic descriptions of the meatpacking plants led me to eventually stop eating meat. Propaganda! heh. Those in-between years, though, were hell. It's going to sound a little OCD, but I'd make up rules about eating meat so I'd be okay with it -- like if my dad was making a grilled cheeseburger for me, it would absolutely have to have no trace of pink on the inside before I'd eat it. So yeah, I would say that book definitely changed my young teenage impressionable mind. Fucked me up in a way that I drove everyone in my family totally bonkers from about the age of 14 to early 20s because of what I would and wouldn't eat in terms of meat.

VP, now that you mention it, one of my purchases from Alibris was indeed a decades-old out-of-print book! Go figure.

Ferraro, I've heard good things about The Known World. ::adds it to my ever-growing list::
bunnyb
mouse, thank you.
sybarite
Bunnyb, don't know of any anthologies... poked around a friend's library with Irish lit stuff but no joy. I'll let you know if I come across anything. I think they're pretty standardised though; any luck with amazon or similar?
punkerplus
I don't have anything to add except that the BUSTmonster ate my post and now I can't remember what I said. Grrrmpft.
bunnyb
That sucks punkyp, what book(s) were you discussing?

Sybarite, amazon's not been too helpful but I may have found one. I'm going to have a look around Borders first. I may also pick up a copy of The Way the Crow Flies unsure.gif.
punkerplus
I thanked sixelacat for the suggestion, probably moaned about leaving my job because it means I have to return all my books. And I can't remember what else.

Has anyone read The Shadow of the Wind?

Hmmm books that fucked up my life......

I read Dear Nobody when I was 11 and it was the first time I really thought about abortion and what I believed about it.

I read the Beauty Myth when I was 16 and that put an end to the slight weight obsession I had.

Reading the Vagina Monologues when I was 15 and talking to people afterwards about it, made me feel more comfortable with discussing vaginas, and helped shape my body politics.

I guess a lot of them have been to do with feminism and have just solidified previous beliefs.
bunnyb
I'm finding it a very difficult Q to answer: probably The Diary of Anne Frank and Schindler's List (the book as well as the movie).

On a lighter note, reading my first Angela Carter novel Nights at the Circus has kinda fucked up my life a bit (but in a good way) as I loved it so much I'm devoting a good few years to writing on her work.
punkerplus
I am ashamed to admit that I have never read The Diary of Anne Frank, nor Schindlers List.
vesicapisces
OK, I'm reading a book right now that is making me a little crazy. It's really not my usual fare at all, but it's so interesting. It's Galatea 2.2, about a novelist who goes back to his alma mater for a year's writer-in-residence position and gets involved in an attempt to teach a computer about literature and make it at least mimic consciousness. The jargon of artificial intelligence, all about neural networks and cognition studies, is a little overwhelming in places, but the writing is *so good.* He's written several other books that have been highly rated (The Gold Bug Variations is the one title I recognized) - anyone else read him?

ETA: The author's name is Richard Powers, BTW.
mornington
I like The Shadow of The Wind. It's quite gentle, and takes a while to get into, but it's well-written and keeps the plot going without being an "omg, thriller!" (like the da vinci code) sort of book.

I've just finished Xinran's The Good Women of China and cried.

As far as books that changed/fucked-up my life... James Herriot's All Creatures Great And Small (and The Stray, a children's book he wrote). Damn you, Herriot. *shakes fist*. The Female Eunuch (I know I've not spelt that right) as well.

I haven't read anne frank either, punker.
sybarite
I seem to have overlooked crazycatlady's question before, but here is my belated answer:
I think the books that impacted on me the most were those I read in my teens: Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by de Beauvoir, which has convinced me that I have never worked hard enough at academia. Some sexist sci-fi (Jose Farmer, Arthur C Clarke) I read as a 10 year old left a vaguely nasty taste in my mouth. Little Women led me astray at around that age too, asserting that Jo was an early feminist when really all she did in the end was marry an older German professor and run a school. Before that the Nancy Drew books convinced me that George was indeed a 'tomboy' (instead of merely short-haired and independent) although by the same token they represented boy-crazy Bess as silly, which was no bad thing...

I suspect I'm veering off topic towards books I remember from my childhood. I'm sure there are other books that have been pivotal for me; I just can't think of them.

Vesica, I couldn't get into Powers but a writer friend of mine swears by him, says he's a genius and reveres his work.
bunnyb
I'm taking it as a sign that Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter and The Good Women of China have been mentioned as I've been looking at both recently.

I bought The Way the Crow Flies yesterday but will not open it until dissertation submitted. Syb, I also found a dictionary of celtic myth which will suffice for the moment.
faerietails
I just got The Way the Crow Flies in the mail today. Damn, I'd forgotten how long it was! But I'm glad someone mentioned it, because I'd really wanted to read it a couple of years ago, but then I just forgot about it.
kelkello
I just finished reading Marcus Zusack's I am the Messenger. It is supposedly a young adult fiction book, but I'm 32 and was moved and intrigued by the book. It was one of those reads that promises on the cover that you won't want to put it down, and they weren't lying. Highly recommended to all, regardless of age.
bunnyb
I can't recommend The Diary of Anne Frank enoughl; it was the first book concerning the Holocaust that I read, given to me by my mum (she's debating whether my lil sis is old enough to read it- although I was about same age, we're very different- and thinks it should be compulsory reading in schools). Around the same time I read I am David and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.

Mentioning Anne Frank has prompted me to purchase The Boy who Loved Anne Frank. I also ordered a copy of The Good Women of China. I have high expectations for the amount of reading time I have once dissertation is out of the way.

faerietales, TWtCF is loooong, but if it's anything like Fall on Your Knees in its compelling story and enjoyability then it will be a quick read.
punkerplus
I've tried reading The Female Eunuch (You did spell it right mornington!) but I've never been able to get the whole way through. I just seem to wander off and pick up other books instead. I loved The Madwoman's Underclothes though.

I picked up Fat is a Feminist Issue recently and I haven't started reading it but now from the reviews I've looked at I'm a bit worried it is going to be more of a self help book than an inspiring feminist tome. Guess I'll try it anyway.

I'll keep Shadow of the Wind on my list and add The Good Women of China and Anne Frank.

This is slightly off topic but has anyone seen the film Sophie Scholl? I watched it the other day and was wondering if anyone knew of any good books about her and The White Rose?
curioushair
I just got Leslie Feinberg's new one, Drag King Dreams. Haven't started it yet, and with some tredpidation. Stone Butch Blues was almost painful to read. I mean, I'd read a few pages, and have to set it down and catch my breath. Not a light lunchtime read.
wombat
I want to belatedly chime in on books that changed my life.

Number one, chronologically, would be "Harriet the Spy" by Louise Fitzhugh -- Harriet is such a tomboy/ uh, regular girl -- riding around on her bike, writing in her notebook, getting into weird situations. Kind of 'portrait of a young female writer' without being sappy -- definitely encouraged me a lot!

Then, sophomore year in High School, found "Last Exit to Brooklyn" by Hubert Selby, Junior, in a book store! Hard, crazy Brooklyn slum characters from the 1940s really made me see a few things and think about lives beyond the suburbs and small towns.

At some point I found the Carlos Castaneda books, and, whether its truth or fiction or some weird amalgam of both, its view of a concurrent reality with its own strict rules is enlightening.

Then "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand. She's a nut, but she manages to put into words some experiences and ideas that are hard to put into words. You have to make your way through a few god-awful passages, but it reminds me of my core values as a creative and technical person from a fairly non-encouraged background.
And a lot of the things she says about the media are still deadly accurate.

Lastly, "Valis" by Phillip K. Dick. His expansion of traditional Christianity and tough, humorous stance on the burnouts around him messed with my perceptions for awhile.

Love "Sound of Chariots" by Mollie Hunter -- and Margaret Atwood.
falljackets
finished the kite runner last week, finally! it took me about a two and half months to finally make it through the first quarter of the book because of other obligations, but once i got into it, i was reading it every chance i got. beautiful story; heart-breaking but lovely. i cried several times. highly recommended.

last night, pulled out in cold blood the next on my long and ever-growing list. i'm already loving capote's writing style. i can hear his voice (or at least ps hoffman's version of it) in my head as i'm reading. i haven't seen capote yet, hence the reading of the book now so i can!

bunnyb
Both read In Cold Blood and seen Capote; I read the book a few years ago and seeing the film definitely altered my perception of it. Both are fantastic.
sybarite
(belated response)

Bunnyb, try Great Folk Tales of Old Ireland compiled by Mary McGarry... cheesy title but it's got some of the biggies like Diarmuid and Grainne and The Children of Lir. Here's the link on amazon.

Am I trawling amazon as procrastination instead of doing my own work? Why yes, yes I am. At least my time wasting is alturistic. smile.gif Hope it's what you're looking for.
thepointybird
I've just finished We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Schriver, and I thought it was awesome. Deals really well with the whole issue of nature versus nurture and whether motherhood comes easily or naturally to some women. Anyone else read it?
sybarite
Pointybird, that book killed me. I raced through it; I read it over Thanksgiving with my family last year, heh.


*POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

I don't actually feel it was a balanced view of motherhood (understatement) or even a good representation of nature vs nurture, only because the situation was so extreme. She does make a good point about some people not being suited to parenting, altho again the sitch here is pretty unusual. Disturbingly, I found myself identifying with her responses to her (admittedly psychopathic) son.

The guardian newspaper (www.guardian.co.uk) has a good article by Shriver where she explores being childfree; it'll be in the archives.
fina
I read The Shadow of the Wind and absolutely loved it. I'm going to buy it for my dad for his birthday. I've been to Barcelona a few times and it felt so right for the city.

I read We Need to Talk About Kevin recently too and thought it was really good, but very creepy. The whole notion that your own kid could be so horrible from day one and you're basically powerless about it... and the ending where she realizes she loves him anyway and is keeping a room for him to stay in for when he gets out of prison... it freaked me out. [white text to avoid spoiling] I would never recommend this to a friend with kids, I really did find it that creepy.

After over a year it is finally my turn to pick a book for my book club at work and I'm making them read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. It is one of my favourites and I am really curious to see what they think of it. I am keen to reread it again as it's been probably 8 years or so since the last time.
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