February 1st, 2014

yellow roses

January 2014 Reading

January 2014 reading:

1. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (113 pages)
I've been meaning to read this since I was a kid, and what better time than the holiday season? I've seen the movies and the play, but this was a bit fuller than those. Glad I finally read it.

2. A Good Problem to Have, by B.J. Novak (10 pages)
Issue 187 of One Story, this short was a little bizarre but interesting. A young boy's class is interrupted by an angry elderly man, who claims to have created the "two trains" math problem.

January pages: 123 pages

Pages to date: 123 pages

Progress: 2/52

January 2014 comics/manga reading:

1. A Certain Scientific Railgun: Volume 6, by Kazuma Kamachi (192 pages)
2. xxxHolic: Volume 10, by Clamp (192 pages)
3. xxxHolic: Volume 11, by Clamp (192 pages)
4. xxxHolic: Volume 12, by Clamp (192 pages)
5. xxxHolic: Volume 13, by Clamp (192 pages)
6. xxxHolic: Volume 14, by Clamp (192 pages)
7. xxxHolic: Volume 15, by Clamp (192 pages)
8. xxxHolic: Volume 16, by Clamp (192 pages)
9. Detroit Metal City: Volume 4, by Kiminori Wakasugi (200 pages)
10. Detroit Metal City: Volume 5, by Kiminori Wakasugi (208 pages)
11. Vampire Knight: Volume 17, by Matsuri Hino (208 pages)
12. Detroit Metal City: Volume 6, by Kiminori Wakasugi (208 pages)
13. Detroit Metal City: Volume 7, by Kiminori Wakasugi (208 pages)
14. Detroit Metal City: Volume 8, by Kiminori Wakasugi (200 pages)
15. The World Exists for Me: Volume 1, by Be-PaPas (200 pages)
16. The World Exists for Me: Volume 2, by Be-PaPas (190 pages)
17. Shirahime-Syo, by Clamp (128 pages)
18. A Little Snow Fairy Sugar: Volume 1, by Koge-Donbo (161 pages)
19. Shout Out Loud!: Volume 1, by Satosumi Takaguchi (177 pages)
20. Tegami Bachi: Volume 13, by Hiroyuki Asada (200 pages)
21. Tegami Bachi: Volume 14, by Hiroyuki Asada (192 pages)
22. Betrayal Knows My Name: Volume 5, by Hotaru Odagiri (336 pages)
23. Cardcaptor Sakura: Omnibus 1, by Clamp (576 pages)
24. Arata The Legend: Volume 16, by Yuu Watase (192 pages)
25. Bleach: Volume 23, by Tite Kubo (208 pages)
26. Bleach: Volume 24, by Tite Kubo (208 pages)
27. Anything and Something, by Kaoru Mori (208 pages)
28. Nabari no Ou: Volume 14, by Yuhki Kamatani (176 pages)
29. Dengeki Daisy: Volume 1, by Kyousuke Motomi (192 pages)
30. Tropic of the Sea, by Satoshi Kon (236 pages)
31. Bride of the Water God: Volume 14, by Mi-Kyung Yun (164 pages)
32. Kekkaishi: Volume 14, by Yellow Tanabe (200 pages)
33. Kekkaishi: Volume 15, by Yellow Tanabe (210 pages)
34. Fate/Stay Night: Volume 9, by Dat Nishiwaki (162 pages)
35. Fullmetal Alchemist: Volume 1, by Hiromu Arakawa (183 pages)
36. Ceres: Volume 8, by Yuu Watase (200 pages)
37. Dance in the Vampire Bund: Volume 9, by Nozomu Tamaki (224 pages)
38. Dance in the Vampire Bund: Volume 10, by Nozomu Tamaki (192 pages)
39. Gunslinger Girl: Omnibus 5, by Yu Aida (320 pages)
40. Ooku: Volume 1, by Fumi Yoshinaga (198 pages)
41. xxxHolic: Volume 17, by Clamp (192 pages)
42. xxxHolic: Volume 18, by Clamp (192 pages)
43. xxxHolic: Volume 19, by Clamp (192 pages)
44. Loveless: Volume 10, by Yun Kouga (176 pages)
45. The Wallflower: Volume 16, by Tomoko Hayakawa (192 pages)
46. The Wallflower: Volume 17, by Tomoko Hayakawa (192 pages)
47. Translucent: Volume 3, by Kazuhiro Okamoto (200 pages)
48. Case Closed: Volume 24, by Gosho Aoyama (208 pages)
49. Case Closed: Volume 25. by Gosho Aoyama (200 pages)
50. Crossed: Volume 1, by Garth Ennis (240 pages)
51. Sakura Hime: Volume 11, by Arina Tanemura (184 pages)
52. Zombie-Loan: Volume 10, by Peach-Pit (174 pages)
53. Descendants of Darkness: Volume 9, by Yoko Matsushita (192 pages)
54. Boy Princess: Volume 2, by Seyoung Kim (167 pages)
55. Spice & Wolf: Volume 8, by Isuna Hasekura (176 pages)
56. Skip Beat!: Volume 1, by Yoshiki Nakamura (184 pages)
57. Scalped: Volume 1, by Jason Aaron (126 pages)
58. Someday's Dreamers Spellbound: Volume 5, by Norie Yamada (192 pages)
59. Sailor Moon Short Stories: Volume 1, by Naoko Takeuchi (200 pages)
60. A Certain Scientific Railgun: Volume 7, by Kazuma Kamachi (256 pages)
61. Detroit Metal City: Volume 9, by Kiminori Wakasugi (208 pages)

January pages: 12,444

Pages to date: 12,444

Progress: 61/365

3: Brave New World

Originally posted by audrey_e at Book 3: Brave New World
3 BRAVE NEW WORLD Aldous Huxley (England, 1932)

In a society where everyone is conditioned to be happy at all times, Bernard Marx is one of the few who question the system.

Brave New World and 1984 are probably the two most famous dystopian novels in the anglophone world, and since they're often compared to each other, I can say the latter is far more memorable and convincing.
Based on the world we live in today, I find it hard to believe that eradication of fear and anxiety is a potential threat, just like I do not believe absence of emotional attachment through conditioning would benefit those in power in any way. I'm also skeptical of the fact that Huxley's imagined society would let its outliers in peace on an island. The fear and worship system of 1984 seems far more relevant.
I'm not saying there's no value to Brave New Word's warning; I agree that distractions are used by governments and people to prevent a society from thinking about serious issues. I thought several passages illustrated that idea very well. Yet this novel is not as visionary as I expected it to be.
Having said that, I really enjoyed Huxley's writing style. It flowed beautifully and was occasionally surprising. The chapter in which different voices are mixed together was particularly impressive.

Briana and Aunty Tara
  • blinger

Books 9 & 10 - 2013

Book 9: The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings – 283 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
A descendant of one of Hawaii's largest landowners, Matt King finds his luck changed when his fun-loving, flighty wife Joanie falls into a coma, victim of a boating accident. Matt is left in sole charge of his two daughters, teenage ex-model and recovering drug addict Alex, and Scottie, a feisty ten-year-old. And then Matt discovers Joanie has been having an affair. Deciding to seek out Joanie's lover so that he too has a chance to say his goodbyes, Matt takes to the road with his daughters on a memorable journey of painful revelations and unexpected humour...

This was another book I picked up as part of my education for Hawaii phase, as it was one of the few novels I could find that was set in Hawaii. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did, and to be honest, I didn’t really love it that much till I got to somewhere close to the end. It’s one of those books that crawls under your skin and sits there, reminding you of it whenever it feels it needs to. I even went out and bought the movie afterwards (starring George Clooney, who proved once again to me why he is such a mega star – the man really gets subtlety – something I also loved about his small role in Gravity), and it was fantastic, even if the fact that they changed Joanie’s name to Elizabeth really annoyed me. What I really loved about this book was the fact that Matt didn’t necessarily hate Joanie for what she’d done and he was open to acknowledging his own flaws. I also really loved the very first statement of the book which reflected on what its like to live in ‘paradise’. I’m from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, which is much like Hawaii in that its always sunny, has amazing beaches (well, we do just slightly north and south of us – distance is a bit of a relative thing here in Australia), and generally reflects the whole idea of paradise. Matt points out that just because he lives in ‘paradise’ (or at least other people’s perception of paradise) doesn’t mean life is without its challenges, frustrations and disappoints. You still have to go to work, people still die, life can still suck. I sometimes feel ungrateful when I complain about having a bad day, because I live in ‘paradise’ (which many a foreigner will comment on). Matt comments on the fact that maybe its easier to be annoyed, or angry or upset when its grey and overcast most of the time (I’m looking at you, London, the only other place I’ve ever lived). It was an interesting observation. And while I’m on the topic (and I’m going to deviate entirely from the point of this review right now), why is paradise defined by summer and sun and sand and surf? As much as I love these things, what I wouldn’t give every now and then for the beauty and cold of snow and ice and rugged up clothing and fireplaces (it doesn’t snow in Brisbane – coldest it gets is about four degrees Celsius)? I love the hustle and bustle of New York because it doesn’t matter in a city of eight million who you are or where you going. It reminds me that I’m just a tiny speck of dust in the universe and my problems are utterly unimportant in the scheme of things. Paradise is many things in my opinion. Anyway, that aside, I really, really enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it.

9 / 50 books. 18% done!

3814 / 15000 pages. 25% done!

Book 10: Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Makes Us Fat by David Gillespie – 205 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
You can understand and break your addiction to sugar with David Gillespie's Sweet Poison. David Gillespie was 6 stone overweight, lethargic and desperate to lose weight fast - but he'd failed every diet out there. When David cut sugar from his diet he immediately started to lose weight and - more amazingly - kept it off. Now slim and with new reserves of energy, David set out to investigate the connection between sugar, our soaring obesity rates and some of the more worrying diseases of the twenty-first century. He discovered: it's not our fault we're fat; sugar was once such a rare resource that we haven't developed an off-switch - we can keep eating sugar without feeling full; in the space of 150 years, we have gone from eating no added sugar to more than 2 pounds a week; eating that much sugar, you would need to run 4.5 miles every day of your life to not put on weight; and food manufacturers exploit our sugar addiction by lacing it through 'non-sweet' products like bread, sauces and cereals. In Sweet Poison David Gillespie exposes one of the great health scourges of our time and offers a wealth of practical information on how to break your addiction to sugar. David Gillespie is a recovering corporate lawyer, co-founder of a successful software company and consultant to the IT industry. He is also the father of six young children (including one set of twins). With such a lot of extra time on his hands, and 40 extra kilos on his waistline, he set out to investigate why he, like so many in his generation, was fat. He deciphered the latest medical findings on diet and weight gain and what he found was chilling. Being fat was the least of his problems. He needed to stop poisoning himself.

There is so much talk about sugar lately and how bad it is, and as I’m on a never-ending crusade to get fitter and healthier, I wanted to read this book. David Gillespie is an Aussie so this book got a fair amount of press over here (he’s just released a new one about schools that is causing a lot of talk at the moment). It’s a fascinating read, told in layman’s terms and fairly no nonsense. And the ideas Gillespie presents make sense. I’ve heard a lot of arguments both ways about sugar and how good/bad it is for you and truth be told, I’m fairly well situated in the school of thought called ‘moderation is key’ (I’ve got to justify my Ben and Jerry’s somehow!). I did learn a lot about how the body processes certain chemicals and about the pros and cons of sugar substitutes, and I will admit I do try to be more conscious of how much sugar I put in my face now (I aim to try and have at least one day a week I don’t eat it, but it generally depends on how stressed I am as chocolate is my go to when I’m stressed). Ultimately, I think the most important thing is to strike a balance between enjoying life (and not being ‘that’ person at a party – its bad enough not being able to eat gluten!) and being healthy. Knowledge is power, and I think this book is just another piece of that puzzle. Definitely worth a peruse.

10 / 50 books. 20% done!

4019 / 15000 pages. 27% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory – 437 pages
-        Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore by Bettany Hughes – 412 pages
-        Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – 323 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

4 and 5

4. Embracing Love - Youka Nitta
Blurb: Iwaki Kyousuke and Katou Yoji are tow hugely popular adult film stars looking for a way out of the industry. Their chance arrives when they're both invited to audition for a new erotic film. Imagine their surprise when the director decides the only way for him to choose who will get the coveted lead role is for them to perform one of the film's love scenes on the spot - with each other! Things get even crazier when Katou decides to take drastic measures to ensure he can continue seeing Iwaki after film production wraps. How will Iwaki respond to Katou's impulsive act?
Thoughts: This was an OK read, although I lost the plot quite a few times.

5. Fatherland - Robert Harris
Blurb: April 1964. The naked body of an old man floats in a lake on the outskirts of Berlin. In one week it will be Adolf Hitler's 75th birthday. A terrible conspiracy begins to unravel...
Thoughts: This has to be one of the best books I have ever read. I love the truly terrifying world of Nazi rule which Harris creates. I loved that this combines so many of my favourite things - crime, Nazi history, alternative history, history, good use of German. The story is full of twists and turns and had me gripped right until the end. For anyone who likes crime, I would say this is definitely worth a read.