lectrix_lecti: (Book stacks)
I've read far too little lately. Haven't even managed to finish The Dante Club. The Atrocity Exhibition lives in my bag and I read a little in it now and then in cafés, but I haven't managed to finish that one either.

Comics, TV, blogs and newspapers are all well and good, but I need to read some proper literature, damnit.

Which is why I think a reading blog might be in order.

With such a blog, I'd feel a certain pressure to update, and updating would entail having read something new. Not to mention that I always lose track of what I've read and what I want to read and which books I've bought and not read yet (and where the fuck is my copy of My Name Is Red?). A blog, complete with to-doread list, would be a help. I think.

Of course, I might tire of it after one-and-a-half week or so.

Well, at least I'll get to play around with layouts.
lectrix_lecti: (Bookshelves and reader)
From time to time, I head over to [livejournal.com profile] thebookyoucrew to be entertained, and did so today as I'm still sick and some fuckers decided to tear up the asphalt outside our bedroom window, starting at 8 am and making sleep impossible (damn you, damn you to hell).

[livejournal.com profile] thebookyoucrew is a rating community for book lovers. Applicants provide a list of 20 books, and the members vote yes or no or interrogate the applicant.

The most glaringly obvious trend in application responses is that most of the accepted members went to school in an English-speaking country (mostly the US, it appears), and books that were introduced much later in the school system or not read at all in school in the rest of the world are huge no-nos on application lists.

Which is bizarre, to put it mildly, but then again, I read so much sodding Ibsen and Bjørnson in school that I tend to dismiss fans of either with a cursory "so you didn't tire of that crap".

Come to think of it, why didn't we read any Hamsun? Huh. Maybe that explains why I can actually stand his works. Not to mention Kielland (oh, darling Kielland!).


My point is; literary canon is determined by nation, it's not universal. Automatically voting no to a rating community applicant because they list Orwell doesn't say that Orwell isn't a great author, or a challenging and interesting one, it says that the voter went to school in an English-speaking country and read Animal Farm at an early age. When I read 1984 I had no idea that it was a classic, all I knew was that it looked intriguing and wasn't this made into a film a couple of years ago? I don't suppose I need to say how much I loved it. The point is that people discover the world and its books, regardless of how much research and canonisation is already done about the book in question. The book stands alone to the person who stumbles upon it in the library or the book store without having heard of it before.

And there's usually a reason why classics become exactly that.


Would you mind answering the following questions? Yes, Americans too. On-topic anonymous replies are welcome.

Which books do you remember reading in school? Feel free to elaborate on what you thought of them at the time, and what you think of them now.

Are there any of these that you automatically dismiss as lightweight, because they were school reading in your country?



Naturally, I have some thoughts on this... )

Book sale

Sep. 1st, 2006 12:06 pm
lectrix_lecti: (Book stacks)
Went to a publisher's book sale yesterday, queued for ages before even getting in, queued for ages around the shelves, queued for ages to pay. Realised quickly that most of the books were a) not particularly interesting, b) already owned or c) Dostoevskij.

My haul (everything in Norwegian or translated into Norwegian):

Soseki Natsume - Kokoro
Forrest Carter - The Education of Little Tree/Watch for Me on the Mountain
Nikolai Gogol - selected short stories
Simone de Beauvoir - Le deuxième sexe
Kjell Askildsen - En plutselig frigjørende tanke (for boyfriend)
Haruki Murakami - A Wild Sheep Chase

The reason why there isn't more originally English literature is quite simple. I don't read translations from English if I can avoid it. If I knew more languages, I wouldn't read translations from those either. I think it's quite unnecessary to bother with translations in their losses when the original text is at hand.

When I do read translations, I try to get them in Norwegian. I also think it's quite pointless to read translations into my second language instead of my first.

So what's with the Carter book? See, I read The Education of Little Tree when I was 11 or so, in Norwegian. I had a huge thing for everything Native American (Geronimo!). Ever since then, I've struggled with reading Carter in English. It doesn't seem right. I don't mind reading Lewis Carroll and Frances Hodgson Burnett and such in English, although I naturally read them in Norwegian the first time around, but Carter? No.

I have no idea why. Maybe because the story of Little Tree made such a huge impression on me, and I need the exact same words to subconsciously recreate the overwhelming experience.

Looking forward to reading the Gogol, a bit apprehensive about the Murakami. I find the resume of that mildly off-putting. Still, I've liked what Murakami I've read. Must be the Atwood effect - I buy the books, glance at them guiltily for months before actually picking them up and starting to read, and find myself thoroughly absorbed.

It's with no small amount of shame I confess that I've never read de Beauvoir beyond various required reading. Will correct that now, promise.
lectrix_lecti: (Book stacks)
Gacked from [livejournal.com profile] eldritch00.


1. One book that changed your life.

2. One book you have read more than once.

3. One book you would want on a desert island.

4. One book that made you laugh.

5. One book that made you cry.

6. One book you wish had been written.

7. One book you wish had never had been written.

8. One book you are currently reading.

9. One book you have been meaning to read.

10. Now tag five people.

Here are my answers )
lectrix_lecti: (Not to be reproduced)
Well, I was planning to go to the beach. Pardon me while I scowl at the overcast sky.

It's a nice temperature, granted, not too warm but very pleasant, so I'll do what I seem to do the most these days and go shopping. I still need shoes and a bag and underwear for the wedding.

Since I've already been to every decent and not-so-decent shoe shop in my part of the city, this means hitting the posh and oh so annoying shopping district, eh. Woe is me.


I bought Lynn Flewelling's latest, The Oracle's Queen, yesterday and stayed up far too late to read. At this rate I'll finish it today, which means that I also need more books.

Wuthering Heights don't do it for me. I alternately laugh my head off at the dry wit and feel like throwing it at a wall, so...


ETA: Finished The Oracle's Queen.

*twiddles thumbs*
lectrix_lecti: (JAMC - I hate rock'n roll)
I have absolutely no idea how I managed to put off reading Atwood's Oryx & Crake for so long. It's ages since I bought it, and I started it only two days ago. It's amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Some books just don't tempt me to pick them up. I hear they're good, the back text is promising, I buy them and then I leave them lying around because I'm never in the right mood to actually read them. Atwood novels invariably fall into that category.

Meanwhile, I re-read and re-read some books, Steven Saylor and George R.R. Martin and Jan Guillou, because my brain seems to turn to porridge when I'm at home, so I can only stand light, undemanding, entertaining literature.

It's possible that other Martin readers would question my classifying him as light and undemanding. Ye gods, the politics in those novels, and the merciless offing of central character after central character. The thing is, the politics aren't real, it all happens in a constructed fantasy world, so there's no need to think or feel or react with my proper real-life brain parts.

On the other hand, I keep re-reading Stephen Bury's Interface, and the politics and science in that might very well become real. For all I know they are real, although I suspect the grey eminenses would have chosen a less bizarrely simian-like (looks and brains) puppet than the current US President. It shouldn't be too difficult to find a more edible and appealing politician than him.


In other news, I've received a package from Japan and I'm now the rather overexcited and ecstatic owner of The Jesus & Mary Chain's Sound of Speed, the Japanese version. Which contains the song Terminal Beach. Which I've been looking for for years, with no success. It's mine. Mine! Yesss, my preciousss, mine now, to listen to whenever I want.

Also, the new Muse album sounds better and better, so as long as I can successfully ignore tabloids arranging "tape yourself singing your favourite Muse song" contests all is well.
lectrix_lecti: (Percy Wells 4 (figure bright background))
It's fine weather for a trip to the beach. I think I own three or four bikinis. It would be nice to actually find at least one of them, so I could actually get a dip in the sea.

Sigh. Shopping tomorrow, then, I suppose.


If you like books that simply don't let you put them down, you should read this.

That would be all, as I'm off to keep reading this. I might also dedicate some more time to hunting for the damn bikinis.
lectrix_lecti: (Books and apple)
This needs to be a meme.

Top five books to be stuck inside

In no particular order:
  • Angela Carter - Wise Children (for vaudeville and probably the most fun to be had in any book ever)

  • Clive Barker - Weaveworld (yes, it's gory. And a brilliant story. Yes, I know that rhymed. Ah well)

  • Steven Saylor - Catilina's Riddle (because I'd soooo like to meet Catilina)

  • Tor Åge Bringsværd - De flyvende hvalers land (for non-Norwegians; it's got flying whales. FLYING WHALES.)

  • Neal Stephenson - The Baroque Cycle (it's a trilogy of huge, amazing, intricate, technological, utterly fascinating novels and I'd like to get lost in them and never come back)


  • ...and a little bit more )
    lectrix_lecti: (Transmetropolitan - Finger)
    I'm up from the floor and quite comfortable, so the attentive weadew might deduce that the chair problem has been solved.


    On to more pressing matters: can everyone please shut the fuck up about The da Vinci Code?

    It's a completely rubbish novel. The title alone is enough - there is no such thing as an art historian who would think that Leonardo is called da Vinci. Brown's art historian imposter makes that immensely grave error all the sodding time.

    So why give two bits about a film based on such an atrocity of a book?


    Yes, I read the book. I cringed at the title, but soldiered on, only to find that I'd have been vastly better off re-reading Force 10 From Navarone for the umpteenth time. And it's not even one of MacLean's best.

    Brown fails at art history, suspense and conspiracy theory. The only thing that kept me from death by boredom was my consuming fury at how he kept displaying that he knows fuck all about art history. I was later made aware of the fact that his wife is dabbling in it, and that she came up with all of the artsy and historical-y stuff for the novel. Let that be a lesson to all writers: do not let ignorant amateurs do your research for you.


    There; now I've given that pile of elephant manure a few more minutes of attention. That'll be enough.


    I had the good sense to go see The Matador last night. Now there's a good film, children.
    lectrix_lecti: (Percy Wells 3 (shelves))
    I'm sitting on a cushion on the floor, because the laptop is ADSL-cable-chained to a low table and the only low chair in the house broke last night. This may affect my concentration. Also, it means I have to go chair-shopping today.


    Now to the reason why I'm bothering with the cushion: Blake Fraina's King of Cats - A Life in Five Novellas.




    Okay, I'm just going to breeze past my numerous issues with grammar/spelling/whathaveyou with a single word: argh!

    I rather adore the story. I'm a huge fan of stories where few things are what they seem to be, where twists and turns reveal in small pieces what may or may not be some kind of truth.

    The main character, the musician Jimmy Lyons, is introduced through the first story, about a man fascinated with Balthus' painting The king of the cats (see above). Through his rather unhealthy fascination and wish to find someone who looks like the man in the painting he meets Elliott, who also appears fascinated with it, and gets drawn into what appears to be a very unhealthy and tangled relationship between Elliott and Jimmy Lyons.

    Elliott is actually the character that interests me the most, probably because he remains mysterious throughout the book. Jimmy Lyons' enigma is gradually picked apart, and I find that he ends up rather flat and clichéed - not that there's actually anything wrong with that. He's a musician, focused primarily on his own ambitions, and he's hardly the first cool looking guitarist to prove less than exciting on further examination.

    The characters in this book, Jimmy included, are real and believable, revealed as human beings through often irrational and sometimes rash actions and chopped-up, limping thought processes. Elliott, on the other hand, is a person whose actions could always be disguising a motive and whose thoughts stay shut away from the reader. He's a trickster, a shameless liar and manipulator, and it's never clear which, if any, of his declarations are truthful. He's the constant spoke in the wheel of relatively straightforward actions of the others.

    I have to admit, the last story of the five disappointed me a bit. I'll avoid spoilers, and just point out that while it's every bit as well written as the other four, the plot seems so mundane to me. I'd like a different backstory to Jimmy's life as an adult.

    The language sometimes creates a distance to the plot and the characters, through pared-down, summarising sentences, and that works with the stories, contrasting with the vividness of the characters. Unfortunately, it's somewhat difficult for me to say anything intelligent about the use of language, as I'm honestly not certain what is intended and what should have been edited.
    lectrix_lecti: (Antique books)
    Currently reading:

    Steven Saylor's A Gladiator Dies Only Once - short stories about one of my favourite whodunnit heroes, Gordianus The Finder. Ancient Rome + mystery = very, very happy Ina.

    Juliet E. McKenna's Western Shore - book 2 in the Aldabrashin Compass series. Quality fantasy. No orphans with speshul powers in sight, and a good take on the mandatory dwarves and elves.

    Blake Fraina's King of Cats - fascinating read. I love stories where few things are what they seem. I have some issues with the grammar, but all in all I'm quite happy with the book. Will get back to that one.


    Plus, I've just finished Michael Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Daughter, and everyone should read that. Yes, it's fantasy/sci-fi, and some might not enjoy those genres, but you'll be depriving yourself of a bloody good read if you avoid it because of genre. It's another tale where few things are as they seem.
    lectrix_lecti: (Percy Wells 5 (stormy sky))
    I'm reading Christopher Brookmyre's Be My Enemy and having occasional incidents of actual laughing-out-loud.

    As I habitually read several books at once, I've also started Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead, but I got sufficiently caught up in Brookmyre to put Card aside for a few days, and, amazingly, to not start His Dark Materials yet.


    In other news, we've got new neighbours. They apparently think it's an ace idea to let a pint-sized kid take a big fucking Rottweiler for a walk each morning. The hellhound takes no interest in me, thank the gods, but yesterday it got pissed off at a passer-by. Witnessing a big mean-looking dog trudging after a stranger, barking and dragging along a powerless little child, was more than mildly unsettling.

    It's tempting to tell the lad's parents (parent, maybe? I've only seen his mum) to take their dog out themselves, and that it's fucking irresponsible to let a tiny child do it, but people who own Rottweilers are generally not all that open to criticism. I suppose we'll just have to wait for the beast to bite someone or drag the kid under a moving car or something.

    Oh, the humanity.


    Today's good news: The Libertine is finally shown on an Oslo cinema, as of tomorrow. Sadly, I'll be out of town, or I would have bought tickets for the opening. I've waited patiently for the DVD, not expecting it to make it to the cinemas here at all, but there will be no more worries.


    A little later...

    Guess who locked herself out of her office, in a deserted building?

    Guess who had to run to another building, look for a master key, not finding one etc etc ad nauseaum?

    Guess who had a major hassle just getting access to a bloody telephone, so she could call security and get them to let her in?

    Ohgodohgodohgod the embarrassment when the guard person showed up.

    Thåström

    Feb. 25th, 2006 07:17 pm
    lectrix_lecti: (Thåström)
    In a meme some time ago, I stated that I wanted to see Thåström live once more before I die. It's my pleasure to announce that this is accomplished.

    Squee moments: Alla Vill Till Himlen (surprise surprise, and a great version), Du Ska Va President, Ungefär Så Här and ...Som Eld. Naturally, he played several songs from the latest album, and surprisingly at least one more from the Peace Love & Pitbulls era.

    The thing is, Thåström has such a brilliant catalogue to choose songs from that a gig can never be truly bad. It can, however, leave something to be desired. I'm afraid he's gone too quiet now, he needs to rock it up a bit.

    Also, at first the gig seemed like a bloody barista convention. Swedes immigrate to Oslo in hordes, as they make lots more money as baristas and bartenders here than they would in just about any job in Sweden, and apparently every single one of them had showed up to get embarrassingly drunk and dimly register that a Swedish hero was on the stage (two, I suppose, the guitarist in Thåström's band was the ugly fella from Bob Hund). Ah well, there were blessedly few of them at the barrier.

    No chest shot this time either. I did buy a T-shirt (no shit), though.

    Oh, and Danny has arrived. Plus, I bought a couple of Philip K. Dick novels, Frode Grytten's book about Dublin and a hopefully amusing book about being a culture-shocked Westerner in Japan. There was a sale at Tronsmo...
    lectrix_lecti: (Antique books)
    My boyfriend's hair smelt like old books yesterday.

    Mind, I very much like the smell of old books (provided it does not involve mould). It's just that he's been working at the library since September, and he's never come home smelling like that before, despite spending some of his time around books several hundred years old.


    I've finished Stace's Misfortune, and I'm not entirely happy. It's very entertaining, but it comes down to a tired, overused plot, although it's brilliantly executed. There were absolutely no plottish surprises. None. Nada. But, as I said, very well done. Good take on the old foundling setup.


    I have some disturbingly anal tendencies, like refusing to buy George R.R. Martin's latest in hardcover. This is because we have the rest of the series in paperback, and heaven forbid my books don't match. Of course, that hang-up means that I have not yet read the damn thing, so yesterday I asked the resident library worker to bring it home. He made some non-committal noises and trailed off discussing his inability to follow the twists and turns of Martin's novels. I still don't know if he'll bring it today, but I did manage to get in some remarks about people who have the attention span of a flutterby and can't even work out Martin's universe.

    It's also painfully apparent that I have much better video game orientation than him. When playing Morrowind, he ambles around wondering where the hell the next goal is, switching between map view and game view and not getting any less confuddled, while I usually head straight for whatever I'm looking for. Granted, Morrowind is huge, but sheesh. If I can find a bloody campfire in the bloody wilderness, you should think that he could find a big damn city.

    Aren't men supposed to have better detail orientation than women? Pfah.
    lectrix_lecti: (Not to be reproduced)
    First of all, Seigmen on Friday can be nominated for my Top Ten Best Gigs Ever List. Enthusiastic band, equally enthusiastic (and for bloody once low on the obnoxiusness factor) audience. The singing along on "Döderlein", "Mesusah" and "Hjernen er alene" was the loudest I've heard since Peter Gabriel doing "Biko", and there was about ten times as many people at the Gabriel gig, so...

    I recommend such Down Memory Lane concert-going. Dumdum Boys and Raga Rockers coming up.

    I can't remember when I last saw Seigmen live - Roskilde some year? Maybe not? Maybe in their hometown before they got big? I am certain I didn't think that Alex Møklebust was particularly hot back then, an opinion greatly amended now (the fucker is a year or two older than me, and looks ten years younger, hate hate hate). Actually, what I remember most vividly is Sverre Økshoff hitting on me on one occasion and me turning him down with my inborn snottiness in full bugger-off-you-prat mode.

    For the record, I've always thought that the cover version of "Hjernen er alene" alone justifies Seigmen's existence. It's the darkest, creepiest, most beautiful lyrics ever, and deLillos' bleating original doesn't stand a chance against Alex' voice. It's a bit like 16 Horsepower doing their cover version of "Bad Moon Rising", it's doing justice to a great song.


    In other news, I'm reading Wesley Stace's Misfortune and thoroughly enjoying it. There's nothing like quirky stories involving gender bending, bizarre chains of events and benignly insane characters.


    Edit: Mostly for [livejournal.com profile] tragicsupergirl: this is a recent picture of Alex Møklebust.

    lectrix_lecti: (Spirited away)
    Wee rant coming up.

    So this truly terrific book-recommender tells me about Chancery Stone's novel Danny: v. 1, I toddle off to Amazon and order it, as it happens I order a brilliant copy from a private seller which comes signed and with a bookmark and a signed poster(!), and all is well in the realm of Ina.

    Or not.

    A little later, I get a notification from Amazon about them not being able to withdraw the money from my credit card account. Nothing new about that, I've just gotten it renewed and I keep forgetting to update my credit card info wherever I shop. So I enter the new info, delete the old card, successfully change the credit card on a couple of Katharine Kerr preorders (the last two Deverry books will be released this summer, fucking finally) and try to change the card on my Stone order.

    Error message.

    I try again. Error message. And again. Error message. I e-mail Amazon. They send me a help mail. Error message, a-fucking-gain. More e-mail to Amazon, more unhelpful help reply. More error messages.

    Finally, both Amazon and I despair. I e-mail the seller, explaining why the order won't go through and practically begging him to put the book up for sale again asap, as I really want that particular copy (poster! Signed!). He replies and is very nice to me, telling me that he certainly will put it up again, and if there are any problems with re-ordering I can contact him and we'll sort it out outside Amazon. Now the original order has been automatically cancelled.

    So I'm twiddling my thumbs and waiting anxiously for that copy to reappear, whilst watching a bloke on Big Brother giving spectacular head to a banana, proving that he has no gag reflex whatsoever. Please shoot me.


    In other news, there seems to be trouble with LJ comment notifications again.
    lectrix_lecti: (Default)
    First, the Holocaust revisionist conference in Tehran. I must admit it's quite refreshing to see other nations than the US attempting to police the world, what with the Iranian president suggesting that if they decide that Holocaust happened (a bit delayed, that), they will consider suitable punishment for Germany, such as giving over land to establish a Jewish state, so Israel can cease to exist. On the other hand, irrational minds are always very, very scary.

    Second, The Vineyards got a review in Dagsavisen I rather agree with, and amused me by opening with "as soon as Gluecifer steps down from the throne, The Vineyards are ready to take over" or something to that effect. Good point.

    Third, yesterday Tom Spanbauer's The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon arrived from Amazon. And I finished it yesterday. 368 pages and a good chunk out of my night's sleep, but I couldn't bring myself to putting it down for longer than about five minutes at a time. Holy hell, what a novel. The imagery, the oddly constructed sentence gems, the story. The play with identities and self-defining. The traces of magic realism. It's funny and sad and ugly and beautiful and thrilling and epic and convoluted.
    Thanks muchly to [livejournal.com profile] dew_dropped, who recommended it.
    lectrix_lecti: (Default)
    A few days ago I received my copy of the live CD from the Neubauten gig in Copenhagen. I actually squeed fangirlishly when seeing the words "Bargeld Entertainment" stamped on the envelope.

    The sound quality is far from stunning, but it's fairly good. I so adore Neubauten for making recordings of all their concerts and making money off their loving fans by selling said recordings. Can't wait to get my hands on the DVD I, as the good paying supporter I am, will receive this summer.


    And speaking of DVDs, I got The Black Heart Procession's The Tropics of Love DVD and made the somewhat annoying discovery that our low quality DVD player couldn't handle it. After 15 minutes of adrenaline rush and fiddling with the DVD player, I watched it on the laptop. Very beautiful, very strange, highly recommended.


    When I go buying books, I always head straight for the English section. I rarely hear about Norwegian novels or anthologies that actually sound interesting, and I see no reason to read English literature in translation, so I can't be bothered with standing around staring at Anne Holt and Unni Lindell titles. For some reason, yesterday I got the notion of browsing the Norwegian section to see if there were any interesting translations available of books in languages I don't read (i.e. all languages but Norwegian, Danish and English. I can read some French if I set my heart to it, but I miss out on too much to enjoy it).

    Whaddya know, I left the shop with a reissued translation of Boris Vian's L'écume des jours. I had no idea it was translated, but it apparently was in 1976... I simply couldn't not buy it.


    I also seem to slowly oh so slowly be getting over the "can't concentrate on reading" spell, Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is starting to absorb me. Now I have to finish it as quickly as possible, I want to get started on Vian but I'll be damned if I leave one more unfinished novel lying around.

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