Monday, April 23, 2007

Reader Impressions

I've been posting the covers of the books I've been reading, but not saying much about them. I was gonna not just post the "literary" stuff but all the stuff I read in between, and let me tell you, nowadays...I'm just happy to be reading! Book reviews? Don't think I can do it. So I'm going to call these Reader Impressions - please feel free to suggest some stuff to me based on what you see here. I'm just going to casually say how the book made me feel, hoo and if I am really feeling brain snappy, I may have a thought. But probably just one.

Sometimes, I read 4 or more books at a time. I read lots of kids books too, as I like to keep up with what my kids are absorbing into their impressionable heads. But sometimes, I simply read them for me, probably takes me back to a time when I was a happy reader and could simply be a sponge. Anyway, I'll not excuse anything which shows up here, that's the deal. When I was little I used to take out say, 10 books from the library (basket basikal pecahlah!) and then I would play a game where I would find things in common linking one book to another. They would be tiny little details like, in book one there would be a story about a hummingbird. In book two, the heroine would notice a hummingbird come to her porch to sip on hibiscus, in book three, the hero would have a monologue about the place of porches in his world. Get the gist? OK, I lived a lot in my head. So if I notice something I will play the game.

The last book I read is a book I've been meaning to read for a long time. What a pleasant surprise it was. How I enjoyed and savoured its language, laughed really hard at the characters, cried for the narrator, dreamed in the golden summer sense of place this writer conjured up. Wow, this wins Best Read of the Year so far award. It belongs to Mr. G. Even he was surprised how much I liked it. It's about a young survivor of WWI, marriage bashed and wounded, who arrives to restore a church mural in a northern country church in England. Yes, it is quintessentially English - dry, wry and self-aware. The kind of writing where you stop and roll the sentences round your tongue. Yum! Sometimes I don't think I get to reading certain books because the time is not right, that I haven't learned enough to truly appreciate what it means. Perfect timing for this one, sigh. Mr. G said, "Well, it is a book about healing." By jove, he was right.


Kathryn said...

Slow Reader Alert:

I am glad to read your impressions. You go through so many books so quickly that it's hard to know where to start! But I always wonder about them and think maybe that one and then another pops up. This way at least I have a little casual guidance.


Kenny Mah said...

I know exactly what you mean by reading a book when the time is right. As I've mentioned before I enjoyed Perfume much more the second time round.

One book I've not been able to get into yet, after almost five years of purchasing it, is Iris Murdoch's the sea, the sea. I normally love dense, lyrical books brimming with ideas like this, but for some reason, no luck.

Maybe in a few years, the time will be just right. :)

Kak Teh said...

I brought back tons of books and nearly had to pay $1000 extra. Sop you can imagine the number of books i have to read. There are those i have read two or three pages, some a few chapters and one or two - just the titles. yesterday, a writer who wrote abt his experience in malaya phoned me - and looks like i have to finish reading his book before i go and meet him. sigh!

msiagirl said...

K-girl, I am sworn now to re-read any books I haven't put proper attention on - or am simply hoarding in case there is an alien invasion and all bookstores cease to exist. I do read like popping corks out of! But this way, I may do it a bit more thoughtfully :) I too have been through the Slow Reader Phase when the children are young, they use to come over when I was reading, take the book out of my hands and put it on the shelf because they knew it was their only rival for attention! In your busy life, between work and your warrior princess, where is the time?

msiagirl said...

Kak Teh,that must be the hardest, to have a big pile of books we have to read. There are probably ones you can't wait to read, but you have to read the ones you may have to do for work first. That's the danger of Lit degrees, you might get burnt out on reading and forget the joy of it..*shudder* Still I cannot fault the discipline I learned with one, to consider the writing in critical context.

msiagirl said...

Kenny,one day you may open the sea and it will be a treasure chest of all that you love! I think these books sit on the shelf for a purpose. I stopped beating myself up for not finishing a book or getting past the first chapter, and knew I had to get some kind of life experience in order for it to mean something significant to me. It doesn't happen always, but it's rewarding when it does, doesn't it!

Kenny Mah said...

I believe you're right. In the meantime, I've this incorrigible habit of going back to old favourites, re-reading them endlessly while a stack of new, unread books await me, forever in some cases. :P

O and I'm going to bed now, afraid I am of your kind admonishment... ;)

msiagirl said...

Haha!Good thing too. :)

I think some people are either re-readers or not. I re-read endlessly, I know in my psyche when the correct amount of time has gone by, and a favourite is ready to be re-read.

Kathryn said...

Ah - you got it - that is the way isn't it? I just get into my book around 10pm at night after all is said and done and sometimes read until midnight but then I PAY and PAY and PAY for it when she is up at three. It seems like when I try to read during her nap she knows that my attention is suddenly somewhere else and cuts the nap short to see where I have gone! sigh.

Also, when I have read a really good book when I am done I kind of go through a mourning phase. I think about the book and the characters I have come to know and have the whole vibe of it lingering round me like great perfume. Sometimes I mourn for a week or two. I know I am done when I can pick up another book and really get immersed.

The problem is finding the next best thing. That is why now I can refer to your list! I know that if you are reading it or have read it that there is bound to be great even poetic writing, some romance and some intrigue and interesting characters (all accept maybe in that stuffy English one you described ;-)

And, just so you know, if all the books stores close and the libraries too - I am coming over to your house for my next book!


msiagirl said...

Kathryn love, I laughed so much at your comment! So do I stay up late in the "blue hours of the morning" to read and then pay for it later, ouch! The quote is from Sylvia Plath, that is when she would do her writing, when her children were in bed - I used to admire her fierce dedication to her art, except of course that she then put her head in the oven, which I did not want to emulate. I can wait for my art, I think.

I am pleased you think my list worth looking at...and the dull looking cover of the stuffy English book hides all those attributes, "great, even poetic writing, some romance and some intrigue and interesting characters". There is even a film with a young Kenneth Branagh that I am going to get out.

When the aliens invade, I shall become the Librarian. ;)

Kathryn said...

Ok, you have redeemed Mr. G's pick. I like that "blue hours of the morning" That is great. I know them well. I guess it is the territory of all new mothers and fathers for that matter.

I have recently just become interested in Sylvia Plath though I have owned and moved and dusted and reshelved two of her works for over 20 years. It's only now that I am drawn to read them. Funny how books are. It's like they have a life of their own - a spirit.

Wouldn't is suck if all books had to be digital?!