Dewey’s Read-a-thon October 12. 2013

So, as usual, hubby did NOT make it to his outrigger paddling this morning.  I just got back from my volunteering at the library. I won’t have done anything else to distract from my reading, but I figure, it’s the library, so it’s still reading related activity.

To catch up for lost time, I probably won’t be joining in the mini challenges as much. Will still try to visit some of my friends, or else why do a read-a-thon together?

I will be tweeting as well, so follow me @CrystalSP.

And here’s my virtual dog helping me select my books:

my virtual dog

Time: 2:19pm

Currently Reading:

books change world

Reading Location:In living room, on sofa.

Total Pages read so far: 60
Books That Changed The World: 10
Something Rotten: approx 50

Total Time spent reading so far: 1.5 hr
8:30 am – 9:00am Something Rotten
1:00pm – 2:00pm Something Rotten (audio CD while driving)

Other Readers I have visited:


Books I have munched on:


Books I have finished:

Mini Challenges I participated in:

Published in: on October 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm  Comments (1)  

Dewey 24 Hour Read-a-thon Getting Ready!

This book blog practically only get updates at read-a-thon – shame on me!!

Life has been rather crazy the last few months, but has finally settled down somewhat.  I have a few books lined up for read-a-thon already.  A few ballycumbers I want to finish, an awesome manga series called Pluto, and several thin books just in case.  I won’t be able to read too much though, as I have to volunteer at the library in the morning, and going out with my friends at night.  On Sunday I have a full day which means I won’t be able to stay up all night.  My majority of reading will be done between Hour 5-10. 

Published in: on October 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm  Comments (2)  

Reading in Translation (Mini-Challenge)

I decided not to participate too much in the challenges as to concentrate on my reading, but I just happen upon my answer to this challenge so I figure I will post it.

    1. If you could read any book that’s been translated into English in its ORIGINAL language, what would it be?
    2. Include the original book’s cover if possible; if you want, also post the English cover for comparison.
    3. Optional imaginary bonus points: post a sentence from the book in its original language.

I love to read translated work because it is a wonderful window into another culture.  I enjoy reading historical fiction too, as it’s a peep into another time.  So you guess right if you think I like historical fiction set in another country.

The one book I want most to read in original language (that I can think of now) will be The Tales of Genji, or Genji Monogatari in Japanese. Written in the early 11th century, around the peak of the Heian period. It is sometimes called the world’s first novel.  The story is about the life in the royal court, about Genji, a super handsome son of the emperor.  However, as he was born to a lowly concubine, he was not a contender for the throne.  He leads a very romantic life, falling in love with many women.

More about the book is on wikipedia.

As it’s an old, poetic literature, I would imagine a lot is lost in translation.  If I can understand the original language, I imagine it will be a very beautiful read.

My first introduction to this book is the manga series by Yamato Waki.  Her artwork is simply breath-taking.

Liza Dalby is an American author who, for her PhD dissertation, lived in Japan and worked as a geisha in Japan.  She also wrote an interesting fiction The Tale of Murasaki, about the author of Genji. I enjoyed this novel a lot too.

There are lots of English translations of the book.

And naturally even more in Japanese.  As it’s written in an old languages they have some simplified versions of it too, written in a more comtemporary Japanese.

Also found this, an illustration book published in Taiwan.

Just like Shakespeare’s works, this classic has been made into movies and TV dramas numerous times.

Published in: on April 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Read-A-Thon Hour 14

Okay, finished my first book. Or rather, finished reading the last 60 pages or so of the book I’ve been reading for weeks.

Time: 9:30pm

Currently Reading:

Barry Trotter And The Shameless Parody

Barry Trotter And The Shameless Parody
by Michael Gerber

Up after some much needed sleep, I am ready to finally start some serious reading! With a not so serious book…

Reading Location:In the living room on the sofa.

Total Pages read so far: 88

Smile or Die: pg 1 – 26
The Valleys of the Assassins: pg 232 – 292

Total Time spent reading so far: 1 hr 10 min
3:30pm – 3:50pm Smile or Die: pg 1 – 26 (audio CD while driving)
5:00pm – 5:10pm The Valleys of the Assassins: pg 232 – 242
(visit friends’ blogs, play online games…)
5:50pm – 6:30pm The Valleys of the Assassins: pg 242 – 292

Other Readers I have visited and Cheered on:

Books I have munched on:

Smile or Die
Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World by Barbara Ehrenreich

Books I have finished:

The Valleys of the Assassins
The Valleys of the Assassins: and Other Persian Travels
by Freya Stark

Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 9:28 pm  Comments (2)  

Pretty Birds

by Scott Simon

I picked up this book because I recognize Scott Simon from NPR. Simon is a NPR Weekend Edition host, and a journalist who has won many award including the Emmy and the Peabody. This is a novel based on his experience covering the war in Sarajevo and his interview with one of the teenage girl snipers.

During the conflict, both sides employed teenage girls to act as snipers. This free up men to battle in the front, and also for the fact that teenage girls have the cool, discipline and patience less common in boys of the same age. This story is not a biography but rather an active imagination based on his interviews.

Irena is a 17 year old with a Serbian father and Muslim mother. This fact doesn’t much concern her – what she is interested in, are her basketball team, her Air Jordan, her coach, and the little African Grey parrot she keeps, Pretty Bird. However, all that is changed when the Bosnian Serbs begin their campaign of ethnic cleansing, and Irena and her parents are brutalized and driven from their home on the mostly Serb side of town. They fled to her grandmother’s apartment, only to find her slain on the staircase. Irena begins working at a brewery, which is actually a front for a team of snipers. An assistant principal from her former high school spots the talent in Irena, and she becomes very good at her job.

This is a powerful story of human survivial in adversity. Time and again we are reminded of the humanness of all characters involved – ordinary people trying their best to survive, hoping for the best for their loved ones. Irena especially is a vibrant character, but others have their shining moments too, including the nurse at the hospital, the vet, and the other members at the brewery.

The story is made more impactful by the sense of humor throughout. When the driver is kidnapped and later moved by how much ransom his group is willing to pay, he is told that they are paying for his truck. When young Irena has a chance to talk to her Christian friend Amela over radio, they screams over the divorce of Prince Charles and Diana. A character tells a joke “What is the difference between here and Auschwitz?” “They have gas, we don’t”.

Admittedly, this story only tells one side of the story, and as a fiction rather than an unbiased news report, it does take side. However, one walks away from the book with a strong sense that war is brutal. It reduces people to live in unhuman condition, in divides friends into enemy.

Published in: on January 19, 2009 at 6:20 pm  Comments (1)  

The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese

by Margaret Hathaway

I got interested in cheese, so when I saw this title on Amazon I immediately wanted to read it.

The truth is, the subtitle is misleading. The book is about goat alright, but cheese doesn’t feature much in the book at all. They did taste a few cheeses, but any mention barely last more than a few lines and the taste comment doesn’t go much beyond a couple of words. Definitely not what I expect from a quest for cheese.

The author and her boyfriend have a sudden “goat fever”, and decided to take a year off on a tour around the country, embarked on a goat odyssey and in general satisfying their love for goat (which includes goat in all forms: from the bleating little kid to the warm cashmere socks to the goat stew). They went to a goat auction, attended a goat convention, watched goat chariot race, spoke to chefs and cheesemakers, visited farms big and small, learned to milk a goat, went on a goat-packing hike and finally had a goat-themed wedding. Most of the time they spent their nights at campsites or bundled up in a sleeping bag inside their cars. For a happy ending, at the end of the year they know what they want. They decided they could no longer go back to their Manhattan urban life. They wanted to be farmers, they wanted their children growing up on a farm.

Theirs is a personal awakening humbly told. They are surprised by how friendly and open these people living in rural area are, and are gradually disarmed and then won over from their urban lifestyle. They had nice jobs in New York, but they yearn for a simpler lifestyle with little want. In this day and age, they are certainly not alone, many people just couldn’t find satisfaction in their high paying and materialistic job. But rare indeed is someone who have their courage to really uproot and follow their dreams.

Published in: on August 30, 2008 at 2:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Mary Roach at Books & Books

Author Mary Roach was at Books and Books, Coral Gables, last night to promote her new book Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.

I just started on Stiff so I decided to go there to get my book autographed.

Roach was a really entertaining speaker, as can be imagined from her humorous writing.

Mary Roach at Books and Books, April 23, 2008

Mary Roach signing book

I got her to sign on my copy of Stiff, which naturally is a BookCrossing copy.

Autographed copy of Stiff

Published in: on April 24, 2008 at 8:23 pm  Comments (3)