Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Adult" books


I found this debate today in the New York Times, and I wanted to share it with you, and to share my opinion. 

What makes a book and "adult" book? It's complexity? the subjects that it touches? when is it right to read a certain book and when isn't? and while we are at it, what exactly makes an adult?


I'm 26, and I had my share of "young -adult" books, but also what apparently is called "adult" books. I read Gone with the Wind when I was still a teenager, as well as Madame Bovary, The Odyssey as well as all the available series of "Goosebumps" in my schools library. I always thought of them as books, that's it. Sure, they were genres, horror, fiction, non-fiction...but I never discriminated them for the age-public they were aiming at. I do not agree with Joel Stein, saying that adults should only read adult books. Partly because I think there are really amazing things about Harry Potter that you see differently with age. But mostly, because I think in a society that reading is being left behind, any opportunity that a person has to submerge in a book, and maybe find out what really moves them should not be left behind.  

I think however that are books that should be read after you have a certain background (I don't like to use th word maturity in this context). I think your first contact with a "love story" should not be The Twilight Saga, but I read it, enjoyed talking about it with my friends, all the time knowing that this was not the ideal relationship (far from it) vampires or not vampires.
So what's your opinion?  Let me know :)
 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Sunday Salon ( My first TSS post!)


This is my first OFFICIAL Sunday Salon post (Yeiiii, I waited almost 2 weeks to be accepted), so I guess I will open with some news, and then link to my new review.  First Blog news…as you may have noticed I changed my To Read and Read widgets. I used to use the ones from LybraryThing, and then when I went to add a new book…I discovered I had a 200 book limit if I was a free user, and since I am still a student, I can’t really afford 10$/month just to keep track of my books. So now, I’m using the ones from Goodreads, except for the currently reading one. 

On Books news, I re-read the Hobbit and started reading Death with interruptions. I will comment on The Hobbit on my review, but the second book, was a friend of mine who gave it to me on Thursday. I’ve read Saramago before and I can’t blame her for finding his style hard to follow. So I will give it a try, even though it was not planned to be on my reading pile this year. Other than that I’m still waiting for my local library to call me about 1Q84. I reserved the book a month ago, and still nothing!. But it is ok, I have a long list of to read :)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


Book summary (by Goodreads.com)

J.R.R. Tolkien's classic prelude to his Lord of the Rings trilogy featuring cover art by the author. Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum. Written for J.R.R. Tolkien's own children, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies worldwide and established itself as a modern classic.

Book review

I decided to re read this book since the movie is coming out this year. I am a fan of Tolkien, what can I say. I know that The Silmarillion is a hard read, because it has so many characters, but the stories are so beautiful!.
In the case of The Hobbit, I wish I had a kid to read the book as a night time story. It has everything…well, except for romance I suppose. Bilbo Baggins is a sweet character that, through experience, learns his own value and learns how to make others see it. That right there is a lesson I want my kid to learn as soon as possible. Also, team work, not to be afraid of adventure, and to always, always expect to be amazed by things unknown.

The story starts with Bilbo in his house, expecting nothing else but a quiet afternoon. But after he has a visit from Gandalf, all that will change. Contrary to what some people seem to believe (people that apparently didn’t take the time to actually read the book, or at least summary of it) the book is not about Bilbo finding the ring. If anything, this is an accident in the book, and as you consider that this book was written way before LOTR, you will see that the ring in The Hobbit has an important but not a main role. The whole propose of the voyage that Bilbo and his newly acquired dwarf friends undergo, is to recover a treasure long ago stolen by a dragon. Through the quest, they will meet with evil goblins, kind and not so kind elves and off course men. 

I think what makes his book an easy first touch to the Tolkien mythology is that it explains the big traits of each race briefly but still leaves room for you to want to learn more (then you go to the Silmarillion or LOTR)
About the movie, I can’t say I am surprised but it will be a 2 part movie with the first installment coming out at the end of 2012. I think the casting is right on the spot and I will be there to see it…not the first day, I am not a “camp out of the theater to be the first one to see it” kind of person, but I will be there! In the mean time, here is one of the trailers.




Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs


Book Summary (from ajjacobs.com)

Part memoir, part Cliff's Notes to every topic under the sun, The Know-It-All is about the year I spent reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica from A to Z (or, more precisely, from a-ak to zywiec). All forty-four million words of it. The book is many things:

First, it's a compendium of the funniest, most fascinating, and most profound facts I uncovered-from the history of canned laughter to Nathaniel Hawthorne's obsessive-compulsive behavior to female spies in the Civil War.

Second, it is a search for meaning and wisdom among that ocean of facts.

Third, it's a memoir of my eccentric, knowledge-loving family. (My dad, for instance, holds the world record for the most number of footnotes in a law review article: 5,435.)

And finally, it is a series of adventures to test the limits of intelligence. I competed in a crossword-puzzle tournament, went on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and attended a Mensa convention.

And if that's not enough, it's a mere 1.4 pounds, as opposed to the Britannica's 128 pounds.

My review

I read “TheYear of living biblically” (If the link won t work I added the video of his conference in TED, down below) before, from the same author, and had a blast, so I had big expectations about this book. My boyfriend read it a couple of months ago, and just like me with “Lamb” he would laugh out loud and read me excerpts from it. Needless to say, I was craving to read it myself and I was in for a treat.

I think I can now say with confidence that I really like the way Jacobs writes, to be honest I have never read anything else from him, but these 2 books have been entertaining and even better full of new knowledge.

His quest to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica starts actually with his father, who also tried to read the whole thing, but couldn’t pass the B section (I think I wouldn’t be able to finish the A, but never mind that). Also, because Jacobs is starting to feel dumber, which I can relate to, feeling like a lot of knowledge just escapes from you and there is nothing you can do. Actually, if I’m completely honest, I feel related to a bunch of character traits from Jacobs, although I wouldn’t consider myself as a germaphobe. But since this is not an essay (BTW, this I learn with the book, this word was coined by using the French term “essai” which means try. I had no idea) about my similes with Jacobs, let’s just say that I feel REALLY awkward in a crowd (more than 10 people is a crowd to me), I totally understand his fear of losing his intelligence, and like Julie, I am bit of a order freak…

The book is written the same way as the encyclopedia, every chapter is a letter. But is not a copy-paste of definitions but mostly a compilation of ha and hum moments about everyday things and not so everyday situations. At the same time, the words sometimes fall appropriately in moments of Jacobs’ life.  Another quest is going on in his life…being a father. You cross your fingers every time, hoping that this will be the moment when Julie (his wife) becomes pregnant. 

But off course there is more side stories, the constant rivalry with Julie’s brother, Eric, a know-it-all in himself, not afraid to gloat and even correct the EB (yes, he did it). Jacobs encounters with Mensa, he joining and then feeling not so good about it. Wanting to go into Jeopardy!, meet Alex Trebeck and then learn that because of this he cannot longer compete! (Another thing I didn’t know).  Also, he has all this movie ideas (Young Ghandi for example, I am sure would be a hit!).

At the end, he goes to How to be a Millionaire and I’ve been looking for that video all over the internet, with no success. I won’t tell you how far he goes, because for me that was a moment of stress. I think a book is really good, when you can feel the same emotions of the main character, either fiction or non-fiction. When the author manages to make you feel through words…is just that magical moment that you have than involves every single inch of what you are. Talking about words…his final words to his dad, they were ever so touching, that I was glad I was done with my work day, so no one actually saw me teary eyed.

I’m happy to say that there’s another book coming from the same author (Available in April), called Drop Dead Healthy. In the mean time, I while look for My life as an experiment, a book that promises to be as entertaining as the last two.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Bookmans Does Book Dominoes


This one is the last one of today...I promise

Organizing the Bookcase


Yeap, you guessed it, today is the "post all the videos of books you loved, yet you forgot to post" day. This one was shared by my local library almost a year ago!...well maybe less than that because is partially what inspired me to start this blog. I thought, there is a bunch of people like that love books as much as I do, why not share?.
Anyway, when I saw this one I remember thinking: I could've done that with my old library! but as I mentioned in On my love of books...I had to leave it behind :'(. Anyway...enjoy!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (Complete Movie)


Shame on me, I watch this movie and completely forgot to share it. Have you seen it? is the most wonderful short film dedicated to books and what they will do for us. Seriously, you just have to watch this! Did I mention it won an Oscar? Tell me waht you though about this, did it make you cry? laugh? all of them? it did to me :D

Friday, March 9, 2012

This shows the way I see my reading world!


A friend of mine shared this today...I just have to continue the sharing!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore


Book Summary (from Bookbrowse.com)

The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years -- except Biff. 

Ever since the day when he came upon six-year-old Joshua of Nazareth resurrecting lizards in the village square, Levi bar Alphaeus, called "Biff," had the distinction of being the Messiah's best bud. That's why the angel Raziel has resurrected Biff from the dust of Jerusalem and brought him to America to write a new gospel, one that tells the real, untold story. Meanwhile, Raziel will order pizza, watch the WWF on TV, and aspire to become Spider-Man. 

Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung-fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes -- whose considerable charms fall to Biff to sample, since Josh is forbidden the pleasures of the flesh. (There are worse things than having a best friend who is chaste and a chick magnet!) And, of course, there is danger at every turn, since a young man struggling to understand his godhood, who is incapable of violence or telling anything less than the truth, is certain to piss some people off. Luckily Biff is a whiz at lying and cheating -- which helps get his divine pal and him out of more than one jam. And while Josh's great deeds and mission of peace will ultimately change the world, Biff is no slouch himself, blessing humanity with enduring contributions of his own, like sarcasm and café latte. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior's pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there's no one who loves Josh more -- except maybe "Maggie," Mary of Magdala -- and Biff isn't about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight. 

Lamb is the crowning achievement of Christopher Moore's storied career: fresh, wild, audacious, divinely hilarious, yet heartfelt, poignant, and alive, with a surprising reverence. Let there be rejoicing unto the world! Christopher Moore is come -- to bring truth, light, and big yuks to fans old and new with the Greatest Story Never Told!

My review

This is the first book I’ve read from the author, and boy did I have a good time. It took me longer than I thought; just because, well…you know…people have to work sometimes. Anyway, this was a fun book to read. Biff is an irreverent character, to the point that sometime you just can’t believe he would say that to anyone, let alone any of the important characters of the book. 

It starts with Biff being brought back to life to modern times in order to write his Gospel. He’s been given the gift of tongues so he can write it in something different than Aramaic. The Gospel itself starts with him meeting Joshua when they were kids, and them becoming best friends. They also meet Mary of Magdala being kids, and she will be the life love of both kids. About the time they are turning 13 and Mary 12, she is betrothed to Jakan, a Pharisee’s son that will represent this group all through the book,   in order to save her family (now, I can’t just tell you why). Is then that Biff and Joshua will leave Nazareth in order to find the Wise men that visited Joshua when he was born, a.k.a Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar which will teach them about Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism respectively.

The funny part? The way Moore “explains” the birth of sarcasm. Biff will also introduce the concepts of a pencil and evolution. I found the explanation to why do we have rabbits during Easter just hilarious. Sometimes the humor passes the line from irreverent to really dark, so I guess that if you are really attached to your believes, there is a chance you might be offended by some of the events described here. But if you keep in mind that a. this is just a novel, and b. is meant to be funny, I’m pretty sure you will have a great time. And that's just in the Gospel part. The interaction between Raziel and Biff is just priceless.

One of my favorite parts is when they are in a Buddhist temple with Gaspar, and they meet the Abominable Snowman or the Yeti. The ludicrous situation is painted in such a pretty way when describing the personality of this creature that you almost wish he would’ve existed to meet him. I'm trying hard not to give away a lot from the book. I can't tell the number of times this week that I went on people saying :"I'm reading this book and the funniest thing happened, let me read a paragraph to you..." And I don't want to do this to you, so, this is me trying hard not to copy paste from the book.

But the fact that Joshua has this naïveté yet a great and sarcastic humor sense has to be the thing that sold the book. There would be entire conversations in the book that I just couldn’t help but laugh, people (my boyfriend included, thank you very much) like there was something wrong with me…to be fair, they were talking about Russia’s elections, so I guess my giggling next to them was kind of out of context. Oh well…


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Joy of Books

I found this today, I just had to share it:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Land of the Painted Caves, by Jean M. Auel


I’ve decided to work a little bit more on my reviews. I realized that I was giving more opinions and almost zero synopsis. How are you guys going to know if the book is worth it if all I say is: I like it!!!! (Most of the time I do, jiji…or for the Anglophones hihi :p). So I will try to add a synopsis, either the one from the back of the book or another website (e.g. Wikipedia) with slight modifications if possible to avoid spoilers. Once again, when is a saga, this is hard to avoid, but I promise I will do my best.

Synopsis (from Wikipedia)
In this three-part book, Ayla is 20 (in part 1), about 23 (in part 2) and 26 (in part 3) (My book said 36, typo?) and is training to become a spiritual leader for the Zelandonii. Most of the first and second parts of the book involve Ayla's acolyte training to become Zelandoni. The third part of the book contains most of the action of the story and plot line.
In the first part, Ayla is in a Summer Meeting, and she begins to learn what an acolyte does. Ayla and the First decide to start Ayla's Donier Tour, which is a tour of the sacred caves in the wider region. Jondalar, Jonayla, and their animals as well as many others decide to travel. The second part is mainly about the caves that they visit. In many of the Sacred caves the Ancients, the people before the Zelandonii, left drawings. During this time, Ayla meets many other Zelandoni, and one of them gives her a pouch of dried herbs smelling faintly of mint. Ayla also discovers that the Clan visits some of the sacred caves as well. In the third part of the book, Ayla is marking the passage of the sun and moon's phases as part of her training as an acolyte. One night she is distracted and decides to share Pleasures with Jondalar, starting a baby. However, most of her Cave leaves for the Summer Meeting, but Ayla stays behind until Midsummer so she can finish her observation of the celestial bodies. During this time she takes care of Marthona, her mother-in-law, as well as the others in her Cave.

My review
First of all I have to say something, I read this one in French, whereas I read the other 5 in Spanish, so it took me a little longer than usual. The first part of the book starts a little bit slow, but true to her nature Auel takes us back several times to past events. I’ve seen other people’s reviews, and I know a lot of them are not happy about this fact, but they seem to have forgotten the fact that the last books are separated by more than a couple of years. Unless you read them in a row (like me) being remembered as to why this particular event has a big significance, should be appreciated. 

The part of the Donier tour was my least favorite. You see, I really enjoy the description of daily routines, how Auel embellishes what was for them a daily process. Making a dress, cooking. The reason why I liked this saga so much, is because it makes it easier to imagine day-to-day characters back in Cro-Magnon era. However, when Ayla visits the 5th or so cave…it stops being such a novelty. 

I expected a little bit more of development for the part where they finally capture the band of “ruffians”. With such an elaborated description of other rituals, I thought we would see a type of judgment of the sort…instead the faith of these guys is determined and settled in a few pages. I think the author could’ve dedicated more time to events like this one, or even Jonayla’s confrontation to the horse hunters, instead of talking again about the paintings in the caves. With that in consideration, I have to say that I really admire Auel for actually going and visiting the caves, and somehow I understand that she wanted to put all the knowledge acquired in the book.

Now, I will agree with Wikipedia. The last part was the one with more action going on. Ayla finally gets to be a Zelandoni, officially, after being called by the Mother, and a lot of things happened in the Summer Meeting, but there were a couple of things that really bother me at this part.  First of all **spoiler alert** I am majorly disappointed at Jondalar! I mean, the whole time I thought, oh he is so kind, so dedicated to Ayla, and then boom, because he has “needs” he goes sleeping around. Yeesh. And then Ayla decides she doesn’t want to be there anymore, her daughter will be better off without her. Give me a break!. Until this moment I loved Ayla as a heroine. I mean the second book (The Valley of Horses) was amazing. She is alone, yet she gets by perfectly. And then, she gets heartbroken and thinks she better die? No, no, this was not nice, for me it killed the all powerful woman image I had from Ayla. That and the way Auel sent Brukeval and Marona to disappear, was just to sudden. I did like, however, the way the word “father”is presented, how the role of the man in conception is portrayed. And how finally Ayla understands her visions from the first book. For those of you that, like me, are wondering what was the root all along, well…I don’t know for sure. I found another blog that suggests that it might be derived from Mandragora, but honestly I cannot know. However I know they are several plants with similar effects used by Amazonian communities, although I am not versed on the exact names or preparations.