Isserley Loves Books: Review: Marilynne Robinson's Home 

isserleylovesbooks:


[image rebloggable here]
spoiler-free. Adapted from a reply I gave to a recent Ask.

Two of retired Reverend Boughton’s children have come to stay in their father’s home again, having each failed to build conventional lives for themselves. The obvious misfit is Jack, most beloved…

@1 year ago with 1 note
#marilynne robinson #home #gilead #robinson #book review #review #book recommendation #book rec #reading #literature #pulitzer prize 
isserleylovesbooks:

Shades of Grey: a review

Shades of Grey is set in the dystopian world of Chromatacia, where your worth is determined by how much of a certain colour you can see. Our protagonist is Eddie Russett, a seemingly unremarkable young Red who accompanies his father to a small town. Once there, the unfairness of the system starts to dawn on him, aided by the Grey Jane and her lovely retroussé nose.  

Shades of Grey was the first Jasper Fforde novel I’ve read. It was shamelessly pushed on me by Ellena, my closest friend and Read New Stuff advocate. (This is why we’re friends.) 
Pre-reading biases
I didn’t really have many. I had seen Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next novels before and thought they looked interesting, but I’d never read any. The fact that Ellena recommended Shades of Grey did prepossess me in its favour, though.Also, I have a definite thing for dystopias, so that certainly made me feel like this would be my kind of book. I was, perhaps, afraid it would be too smooth, too light and entertaining. I like my books to come with a message and to make me think and feel, not just entertain me on a rainy day. 
As I read
I cannot overstate how entertaining this story is. Fforde’s language is so concise and funny. And on top of that, an actual message is contained in all the hilarity.
Reading about the society in itself is quite fascinating, especially since things aren’t minutely explained to us. Several mentions are made of “swan attacks” as an ever-present danger, which remains baffling until you check out Fforde’s website. Then, too, it is hinted that the people in the story  have apparently evolved to something beyond human, as it is frequently mentioned that the “Previous” looked strange to them.
It is a very smooth read, but not irritatingly so. The ending will break some hearts - and the fact that the next installment in the trilogy is not soon forthcoming will make that so much worse. 
For
Everyone. I don’t say that lightly. The whole is well-crafted but not overly difficult. It is so easy to get immersed in this world, so get your hands on a copy as soon as you can!

isserleylovesbooks:

Shades of Grey: a review

Shades of Grey is set in the dystopian world of Chromatacia, where your worth is determined by how much of a certain colour you can see. Our protagonist is Eddie Russett, a seemingly unremarkable young Red who accompanies his father to a small town. Once there, the unfairness of the system starts to dawn on him, aided by the Grey Jane and her lovely retroussé nose.  

Shades of Grey was the first Jasper Fforde novel I’ve read. It was shamelessly pushed on me by Ellena, my closest friend and Read New Stuff advocate. 
(This is why we’re friends.) 

Pre-reading biases

I didn’t really have many. I had seen Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next novels before and thought they looked interesting, but I’d never read any. The fact that Ellena recommended Shades of Grey did prepossess me in its favour, though.
Also, I have a definite thing for dystopias, so that certainly made me feel like this would be my kind of book.

I was, perhaps, afraid it would be too smooth, too light and entertaining. I like my books to come with a message and to make me think and feel, not just entertain me on a rainy day. 

As I read

I cannot overstate how entertaining this story is. Fforde’s language is so concise and funny. And on top of that, an actual message is contained in all the hilarity.

Reading about the society in itself is quite fascinating, especially since things aren’t minutely explained to us. Several mentions are made of “swan attacks” as an ever-present danger, which remains baffling until you check out Fforde’s website. Then, too, it is hinted that the people in the story  have apparently evolved to something beyond human, as it is frequently mentioned that the “Previous” looked strange to them.

It is a very smooth read, but not irritatingly so. The ending will break some hearts - and the fact that the next installment in the trilogy is not soon forthcoming will make that so much worse. 

For

Everyone. I don’t say that lightly. The whole is well-crafted but not overly difficult. It is so easy to get immersed in this world, so get your hands on a copy as soon as you can!

@1 year ago with 27 notes
#jasper fforde #fforde #shades of grey #the road to high saffron #shades of grey: the road to high saffron #eddie russett #jane grey #dystopia #dystopian society #comic #book #books #book rec #book recommendation #book blog #book review #review #reviews 
Look what was waiting for me! 7 new books you guys!
Inside:
John Green - An abundance of Katherines (+ Paper Towns, yesterday)
Roald Dahl - The Witches & Matilda (indulging nostalgia)
Edward Albee - Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
David Mitchell - Number9Dream & Ghostwritten
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Beautiful and Damned
So nominations are in order once again: what to read after I’ve finished To Kill again? :)

Look what was waiting for me! 7 new books you guys!

Inside:

John Green - An abundance of Katherines (+ Paper Towns, yesterday)

Roald Dahl - The Witches & Matilda (indulging nostalgia)

Edward Albee - Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

David Mitchell - Number9Dream & Ghostwritten

F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Beautiful and Damned

So nominations are in order once again: what to read after I’ve finished To Kill again? :)

@1 year ago with 2 notes
#book #books #book nerd #literature nerd #what to read next #book rec #book recommendation #john green #an abundance of katherines #paper towns #edward albee #who's afraid of virginia woolf #roald dahl #matilda #the witches #F. Scott Fitzgerald #the beautiful and damned 

theiridescenceoflight answered your question: You choose, I read!

The Great Gatsby

And that makes two for Gatsby! I’m sure John will be proud despite my delay.
(Also GUYS this is going to be a movie with Carey Mulligan, who is one of my absolute favourite actresses)

@1 year ago
#theiridescenceoflight #The Great Gatsby #book rec #book recommendation #John Green #John Green approved #Carey Mulligan 

You choose, I read!

Whichever gets the most votes between the following is the one I will read next.

OUR CONTESTANTS:

- The Mysteries of Udolpho

- The Great Gatsby

- The Unconsoled (Ishiguro y’all <3)

- Madame Bovary

Which do you think I should read?

@1 year ago with 5 notes
#book rec #book recommendation #books #reading #bookporn #personal 
isserleylovesbooks:

JPod: a review

JPod follows twentysomething Ethan and his colleagues in their cubicle island, the JPod. Our story begins with the arrival of Kaitlin, who takes some time easing into the Pod’s strange ways. 

JPod is one of those books that I often re-read, but wouldn’t quite call a re-read classic. However, I generally recommend it, especially for those who don’t read very often. Here’s why.
As I read
Although Coupland’s characters often lack complexity, they are sketched rather well. Most of the characters are little more than stereotypes with one or two token quirks thrown in. However, this doesn’t bother me much. In fact, it often adds to the entertainment value of the whole story.
Entertainment is the key-word here. Coupland makes some points, but they are made with all the subtlety of me a brick. 
Hilarious bits - as in, actually laugh out loud
Every so often, the JPod’ers ignore work  by completing random assignments. For example, right at the beginning of the story, an e-mail with the first couple thousand digits of pi is forwarded. “One of these is wrong. The first person to find it, wins…” 
I always enjoy quoting the competition letters, convincing Ronald McDonald of each JPod’er’s excellent qualities as a lover. 
Honestly, this book is one of the few that has me laughing out loud regularly.
Basically
Sit back, switch off your brain and enjoy laughing your ass off. 

isserleylovesbooks:

JPod: a review

JPod follows twentysomething Ethan and his colleagues in their cubicle island, the JPod. Our story begins with the arrival of Kaitlin, who takes some time easing into the Pod’s strange ways. 

JPod is one of those books that I often re-read, but wouldn’t quite call a re-read classic. However, I generally recommend it, especially for those who don’t read very often. Here’s why.

As I read

Although Coupland’s characters often lack complexity, they are sketched rather well. Most of the characters are little more than stereotypes with one or two token quirks thrown in. However, this doesn’t bother me much. In fact, it often adds to the entertainment value of the whole story.

Entertainment is the key-word here. Coupland makes some points, but they are made with all the subtlety of me a brick. 

Hilarious bits - as in, actually laugh out loud

Every so often, the JPod’ers ignore work  by completing random assignments. For example, right at the beginning of the story, an e-mail with the first couple thousand digits of pi is forwarded. “One of these is wrong. The first person to find it, wins…” 

I always enjoy quoting the competition letters, convincing Ronald McDonald of each JPod’er’s excellent qualities as a lover. 

Honestly, this book is one of the few that has me laughing out loud regularly.

Basically

Sit back, switch off your brain and enjoy laughing your ass off. 

@1 year ago with 5 notes
#Jpod #douglas coupland #ethan #kaitlin #JPod #book rec #book recommendation #books #reading 
isserleylovesbooks:

Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84: dreaming away slowly.

The novel has two seperate protagonists whom we follow in turn. Aomame is a young physical instructor who, after a bewildering episode involving a taxi and a guardrail, realizes she has entered a parallel world. She calls it ‘1Q84’. 
Meanwhile, her old classmate Tengo, now a maths teacher, rewrites a powerful but raw story that was submitted to a literary contest by an emotionally blunted seventeen-year-old. The edited story, Air Chrysalis, becomes an instant best-seller. Tengo now draws unwanted attention.

Recently I received an Ask asking what I liked about 1Q84 (since I mentioned it in a book challenge post on my personal blog). The lovely person posting personally wasn’t a fan, because of the slow-pacedness of the story. So here is my answer, in review form!
Biases before reading
For one thing, I had been looking forward to this for a LONG time. The wait was made more excruciating by the fact that a Dutch translation had been available for quite some time before we even made our pre-order. Really, publishing gods? A Dutch translation before the English one? SHAME.
I’m a devout Murakami fan, so there’s bias number two.
So as I read
I must say I wasn’t as wowed as I was by, for example, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. The chapter-by-chapter alternation between two completely different worlds and narrators is more instantly fascinating.
And yes, the story takes some burrowing into. However, I still really enjoyed reading 1Q84, and I believe it does have that Murakami magic.
The characters, for example, were complex and interesting, as I have grown to expect from the author. As protagonists we have lonely Aomame and discontent Tengo, who are connected by a childhood experience neither believes the other would have thought significant. Aomame is so honest and uncompromising, Tengo so caring in a searching way. I love it when characters aren’t bent on being liked, and Aomame certainly was a lovely brand of loner. 
I enjoyed the unworldly Fuka-Eri and the glimpses of her story, as we can read it Tengo’s description of her story, Air Chrysalis. It was interesting trying to figure out who and what she was, exactly. No spoilers, though!
As for the plot, it doesn’t race, but I enjoyed the creeping parts [a ton of spying on apartments] just as much. The stagnant parts were slow because the corresponding timelines were stagnant for the characters, as well. I have no issue with that, but it does require a certain commitment on the part of the reader not to give up. 
Typical Murakami loveliness
As a prototype of the lovely language, there is this quote, the full context of which is:

Tengo saw admiration in the eyes of several of his female students, and he realized that he was seducing these seventeen- or eighteen-year-olds through mathematics. His eloquence was a kind of intellectual foreplay. Mathematical functions stroked their backs, theorems sent warm breath into their ears.

In addition to wonderful feats of lingual genius, there are the typical Murakami creations, both subplot-wise as the general context. The world of 1Q84 is the exact mix of impossible and realistic that it continues to fascinate. I adore the way Murakami’s brand of magical realism (like Márquez’) is so subtle - it gets you hooked in a way the obvious doesn’t.
As usual, 1Q84 contains a number of interesting side-stories or in-story anekdotes, such as the backstory of the older woman Aomame is hired by. One of my favorite characters in the book is Ushikawa, a detective hired to investigate Tengo after he rewrote Air Chrysalis. He’s not immediately likeable, but as I said before, I kind of like that. Interestingly, we first meet him through the distrusting eyes of Tengo, who feels hunted and naturally rather dislikes him, but after a while Ushikawa becomes a point-of-view character and overall, rather fascinates. He has one of those storylines that make you say “well, that could not have gone any other way”. I like tragic inevitability now. Tragic inevitability is cool.
As a relatively minor character, bodyguard Tamaru is quite interesting. The bond he develops with Aomame is fascinating because it’s founded on mutual professional respect, but evolves into a personal caring. And no, there’s no romance involved.
And yet!
One thing that got on my nerves was (what I perceived as) the overly detailed clothing descriptions. Often, they seemed repetitive and unnecessary and honestly, who even cares what brand his jacket was? 
However, as pet peeves go, that’s a pretty small one for such a long story. And who knows: maybe some fashion enthousiasts out there are now very grateful for Murakami’s detail.
As to the pace:
Yes, it was slow. Yes, it could have been more terse and condensed. Should it have been? Personally, I very much enjoyed it the way it is. That said, it’s the kind of book that you should schedule large chunks of time for, because once you’re in, you’re in. I’m absolutely re-reading it whenever I’m home sick for a few days. Because of its size (and prettiness) it’s less useful as a “take with me” book. 
Overall:
Definitely enjoyable, recognisably Murakami and a plot that, while slow, does draw you in entirely.
For:
Fans of magical realism who have some time on their hands and don’t mind staking out in an alternate universe for some time.

isserleylovesbooks:

Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84: dreaming away slowly.

The novel has two seperate protagonists whom we follow in turn. Aomame is a young physical instructor who, after a bewildering episode involving a taxi and a guardrail, realizes she has entered a parallel world. She calls it ‘1Q84’. 

Meanwhile, her old classmate Tengo, now a maths teacher, rewrites a powerful but raw story that was submitted to a literary contest by an emotionally blunted seventeen-year-old. The edited story, Air Chrysalis, becomes an instant best-seller. Tengo now draws unwanted attention.

Recently I received an Ask asking what I liked about 1Q84 (since I mentioned it in a book challenge post on my personal blog). The lovely person posting personally wasn’t a fan, because of the slow-pacedness of the story. So here is my answer, in review form!

Biases before reading

For one thing, I had been looking forward to this for a LONG time. The wait was made more excruciating by the fact that a Dutch translation had been available for quite some time before we even made our pre-order. Really, publishing gods? A Dutch translation before the English one? SHAME.

I’m a devout Murakami fan, so there’s bias number two.

So as I read

I must say I wasn’t as wowed as I was by, for example, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. The chapter-by-chapter alternation between two completely different worlds and narrators is more instantly fascinating.

And yes, the story takes some burrowing into. However, I still really enjoyed reading 1Q84, and I believe it does have that Murakami magic.

The characters, for example, were complex and interesting, as I have grown to expect from the author. As protagonists we have lonely Aomame and discontent Tengo, who are connected by a childhood experience neither believes the other would have thought significant. Aomame is so honest and uncompromising, Tengo so caring in a searching way. I love it when characters aren’t bent on being liked, and Aomame certainly was a lovely brand of loner. 

I enjoyed the unworldly Fuka-Eri and the glimpses of her story, as we can read it Tengo’s description of her story, Air Chrysalis. It was interesting trying to figure out who and what she was, exactly. No spoilers, though!

As for the plot, it doesn’t race, but I enjoyed the creeping parts [a ton of spying on apartments] just as much. The stagnant parts were slow because the corresponding timelines were stagnant for the characters, as well. I have no issue with that, but it does require a certain commitment on the part of the reader not to give up. 

Typical Murakami loveliness

As a prototype of the lovely language, there is this quote, the full context of which is:

Tengo saw admiration in the eyes of several of his female students, and he realized that he was seducing these seventeen- or eighteen-year-olds through mathematics. His eloquence was a kind of intellectual foreplay. Mathematical functions stroked their backs, theorems sent warm breath into their ears.

In addition to wonderful feats of lingual genius, there are the typical Murakami creations, both subplot-wise as the general context. The world of 1Q84 is the exact mix of impossible and realistic that it continues to fascinate. I adore the way Murakami’s brand of magical realism (like Márquez’) is so subtle - it gets you hooked in a way the obvious doesn’t.

As usual, 1Q84 contains a number of interesting side-stories or in-story anekdotes, such as the backstory of the older woman Aomame is hired by. One of my favorite characters in the book is Ushikawa, a detective hired to investigate Tengo after he rewrote Air Chrysalis. He’s not immediately likeable, but as I said before, I kind of like that. Interestingly, we first meet him through the distrusting eyes of Tengo, who feels hunted and naturally rather dislikes him, but after a while Ushikawa becomes a point-of-view character and overall, rather fascinates. He has one of those storylines that make you say “well, that could not have gone any other way”. I like tragic inevitability now. Tragic inevitability is cool.

As a relatively minor character, bodyguard Tamaru is quite interesting. The bond he develops with Aomame is fascinating because it’s founded on mutual professional respect, but evolves into a personal caring. And no, there’s no romance involved.

And yet!

One thing that got on my nerves was (what I perceived as) the overly detailed clothing descriptions. Often, they seemed repetitive and unnecessary and honestly, who even cares what brand his jacket was? 

However, as pet peeves go, that’s a pretty small one for such a long story. And who knows: maybe some fashion enthousiasts out there are now very grateful for Murakami’s detail.

As to the pace:

Yes, it was slow. Yes, it could have been more terse and condensed. Should it have been? Personally, I very much enjoyed it the way it is. That said, it’s the kind of book that you should schedule large chunks of time for, because once you’re in, you’re in. I’m absolutely re-reading it whenever I’m home sick for a few days. Because of its size (and prettiness) it’s less useful as a “take with me” book. 

Overall:

Definitely enjoyable, recognisably Murakami and a plot that, while slow, does draw you in entirely.

For:

Fans of magical realism who have some time on their hands and don’t mind staking out in an alternate universe for some time.

@1 year ago with 7 notes
#Haruki Murakami #Murakami #1Q84 #reading #book #books #book review #book rec #book recommendation #favorite author #tengo #aomame #intellectual foreplay is the best 
isserleylovesbooks:

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest: she’s a ball-cutter.
[warning: contains several spoilers.] / [this is not a coherent review.]
Today I finished re-reading Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I sat for some time, thinking about what to write exactly. I think part of my love for the book stems from it, like Wuthering Heights, being the kind of story that provokes a lot of thought and indecision.
In any case, here are a number of things that struck me this time around.
I had forgotten how much the Chief’s recollections of his youth used to move me. Reading through the psychosis, you get an excellent sense of what it must have been like for him, and how his home life affected him deeply. The scenes where Chief Senior defends their way of life to the government agency men trying to buy them off, makes me deeply angry.
“What can you pay for the way a man lives? […] What can you pay for what a man is?”Further on, the Chief recalls one of the men in the village who now had twenty-thousand dollars and 3 Cadillacs - none of which he could drive. Actually stating an opinion is unnecessary.
As an aside, the Chief’s narration, for me, is one of the selling points of the book versus the novel. In the movie, nobody is very seriously ill. The Chief, however, is frequently hallucinating and holds a number of powerful delusions, all relating to the Combine. And yes, as a narrative tool this complements wonderfully with the actual events - it even supplements our own secret understandings of how society molds and meddles with us all. His delusional ideas about the size of a man and his hallucinations - of machinery in all of us, of abusive hands growing ever-larger - are powerful metaphors, used in an almost-accidental way. It’s “just the way the Chief thinks”, which says quite a lot about the way we condescend to some people.
Secondly, I really love Harding. He really does have some of the best lines. Additionally, the film version is one of the only novel adaptations ever where I’m sorry a line is in the movie, but not in the book.
You can find that particular fabulous speech of Harding’s here, from 0:30 to 0:50.
“I’m not just talking about my wife, I’m talking about my life - I can’t seem to get that through to you! I’m not just talking about one person, I’m talking about everybody! I’m talking about form! I’m talking about content! I’m talking about interrelationships! I’m talking about God, the Devil, Hell, Heaven! Do you understand?! Finally?!”
Coming back to Book Harding: don’t you just love the very first time we meet him? When he and McMurphy have that excellent exchange: trying to one-up eachother to see who’s the biggest looney? And further on, when, after that first group meeting where he gets torn down, McMurphy confronts him about what the guys did. Then, they talk about Miss Ratched and how she makes rabbits out of them all. At first, Harding tries to shake it off, calls her “Sweet Mother Ratched”. Then he sort of freaks out and stumbles out one of the best parts of the book. He manages to show us just what Nurse Ratched is about, while - at that point - steering clear of overt hostility. “Ah, look: there she is, our nurse. Her gentle knock on the door. The ribboned basket. The young couple overjoyed to the point of speechlessness. The husband open-mouthed, the wife weeping openly. She appraises their dwelling. Promises to send the money for - scouring powder, yes. She places the basket in the center of the floor. and when our angel leaves - throwing kisses, smiling ethereally - she is so intoxicated with the sweet milk of human kindness that her deed has generated within her large bosom, that she is beside herself with generosity. Be-side herself, do you hear? Pausing a the door, she draws the timid young bride to one side and offers her twenty dollars of her own: ‘Go, you poor unfortunate underfed child, go and buy yourself a decent dress. I realize your husband can’t afford it, but here, take this, and go.’ And the couple is forever indebted to her benevolence.” 
Then, still later: “She has a genius for insinuation.”
Such a genius for words.
Another thing that I rather love about the book is the way the deaths are handled. Billy’s death, of course, had a number of consequences, which were all far-reaching and moving. His death, in itself, though, echoed that of Cheswick, earlier in the story. Once there, then no more. I like the way this is handled because firstly, desastrous things can and do happen instantly and unpredictably in this story. Secondly, especially in Cheswick’s case, there is a nice juxtaposition of the way his death came out of nowhere and is described in a rather dry, concise way, and the far-reaching impact of it, especially on McMurphy. Indeed, there is some question as to whether Cheswick’s death was an accident or a suicide. “But just as soon as we got to the pool he said he did wish something mighta been done, though, and dove into the water. And got his fingers stuck some way in the grate that’s over the drain at the bottom of the pool, and neither the big life-guard nor McMurphy nor the two black boys could pry him loose…” It’s literally over in a sentence, and yet it steers the book in a distinct direction. Steers it, indeed, almost inevitably to McMurphy’s fight and defeat, by showing him this huge responsibility that he got in spite of himself. By making it not-okay that he stop fighting and by not allowing him to give up and leave the patients to their own counsel.
My personal best ending line is, once more, a Harding quote. When Miss Ratched returns to her ward and gives Harding a polite, condescending written answer to his questions about McMurphy, he tears up her paper and says: “Lady, you are full of so much bullshit.”
Cue me high-fiving the air.

Here are some random thoughts about Ken Kesey&#8217;s One Flew Over the Cuckoo&#8217;s Nest. Feedback always welcome.

isserleylovesbooks:

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest: she’s a ball-cutter.

[warning: contains several spoilers.] / [this is not a coherent review.]

Today I finished re-reading Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I sat for some time, thinking about what to write exactly. I think part of my love for the book stems from it, like Wuthering Heights, being the kind of story that provokes a lot of thought and indecision.

In any case, here are a number of things that struck me this time around.

I had forgotten how much the Chief’s recollections of his youth used to move me. Reading through the psychosis, you get an excellent sense of what it must have been like for him, and how his home life affected him deeply.
The scenes where Chief Senior defends their way of life to the government agency men trying to buy them off, makes me deeply angry.

“What can you pay for the way a man lives? […] What can you pay for what a man is?”
Further on, the Chief recalls one of the men in the village who now had twenty-thousand dollars and 3 Cadillacs - none of which he could drive. Actually stating an opinion is unnecessary.

As an aside, the Chief’s narration, for me, is one of the selling points of the book versus the novel. In the movie, nobody is very seriously ill. The Chief, however, is frequently hallucinating and holds a number of powerful delusions, all relating to the Combine. And yes, as a narrative tool this complements wonderfully with the actual events - it even supplements our own secret understandings of how society molds and meddles with us all. His delusional ideas about the size of a man and his hallucinations - of machinery in all of us, of abusive hands growing ever-larger - are powerful metaphors, used in an almost-accidental way. It’s “just the way the Chief thinks”, which says quite a lot about the way we condescend to some people.

Secondly, I really love Harding. He really does have some of the best lines. Additionally, the film version is one of the only novel adaptations ever where I’m sorry a line is in the movie, but not in the book.

You can find that particular fabulous speech of Harding’s here, from 0:30 to 0:50.

“I’m not just talking about my wife, I’m talking about my life - I can’t seem to get that through to you! I’m not just talking about one person, I’m talking about everybody! I’m talking about form! I’m talking about content! I’m talking about interrelationships! I’m talking about God, the Devil, Hell, Heaven! Do you understand?! Finally?!”

Coming back to Book Harding: don’t you just love the very first time we meet him? When he and McMurphy have that excellent exchange: trying to one-up eachother to see who’s the biggest looney? And further on, when, after that first group meeting where he gets torn down, McMurphy confronts him about what the guys did. Then, they talk about Miss Ratched and how she makes rabbits out of them all. At first, Harding tries to shake it off, calls her “Sweet Mother Ratched”. Then he sort of freaks out and stumbles out one of the best parts of the book. He manages to show us just what Nurse Ratched is about, while - at that point - steering clear of overt hostility.

“Ah, look: there she is, our nurse. Her gentle knock on the door. The ribboned basket. The young couple overjoyed to the point of speechlessness. The husband open-mouthed, the wife weeping openly. She appraises their dwelling. Promises to send the money for - scouring powder, yes. She places the basket in the center of the floor. and when our angel leaves - throwing kisses, smiling ethereally - she is so intoxicated with the sweet milk of human kindness that her deed has generated within her large bosom, that she is beside herself with generosity. Be-side herself, do you hear? Pausing a the door, she draws the timid young bride to one side and offers her twenty dollars of her own: ‘Go, you poor unfortunate underfed child, go and buy yourself a decent dress. I realize your husband can’t afford it, but here, take this, and go.’ And the couple is forever indebted to her benevolence.” 

Then, still later: “She has a genius for insinuation.”

Such a genius for words.

Another thing that I rather love about the book is the way the deaths are handled. Billy’s death, of course, had a number of consequences, which were all far-reaching and moving. His death, in itself, though, echoed that of Cheswick, earlier in the story. Once there, then no more.

I like the way this is handled because firstly, desastrous things can and do happen instantly and unpredictably in this story. Secondly, especially in Cheswick’s case, there is a nice juxtaposition of the way his death came out of nowhere and is described in a rather dry, concise way, and the far-reaching impact of it, especially on McMurphy. Indeed, there is some question as to whether Cheswick’s death was an accident or a suicide.

“But just as soon as we got to the pool he said he did wish something mighta been done, though, and dove into the water. And got his fingers stuck some way in the grate that’s over the drain at the bottom of the pool, and neither the big life-guard nor McMurphy nor the two black boys could pry him loose…”

It’s literally over in a sentence, and yet it steers the book in a distinct direction. Steers it, indeed, almost inevitably to McMurphy’s fight and defeat, by showing him this huge responsibility that he got in spite of himself. By making it not-okay that he stop fighting and by not allowing him to give up and leave the patients to their own counsel.

My personal best ending line is, once more, a Harding quote. When Miss Ratched returns to her ward and gives Harding a polite, condescending written answer to his questions about McMurphy, he tears up her paper and says: “Lady, you are full of so much bullshit.

Cue me high-fiving the air.

Here are some random thoughts about Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Feedback always welcome.

@1 year ago with 4 notes
#One flew over the cuckoo's nest #ken kesey #randle mcmurphy #mcmurphy #harding #r. p. mcmurphy #dale harding #review #book #books #book rec #book recommendation #favorite books #recently read #literature nerd 

Update on the books.

starrymidnightskies answered your question: You choose, I read!

The Great Gatsby

Alright, noted!



catacombxkitten answered your question: You choose, I read!

The Mysteries of Udolpho!

And noted! Anyone else care to weigh in? :)

@1 year ago
#starrymidnightskies #catacombxkitten #reading #books #book rec #book recommendation 

Cue enormous sense of relief

… because I have received my copy of Looking for Alaska in the mail today, started reading it, and like it so far!

Context: I had this crazy neurotic anxiety that I wouldn’t like John Green’s books even though I’m a great admirer of the man himself (cited: his general awesomeness and the fact that the amount of suck in my world has certainly decreased since I found his and Hank’s videos and, consequently, the badassery that is Nerdfighteria and its lovely commity) but lo! As per usual my fears proved unfounded.

So. Yes. Just posting about how relieved I am that one of my heroes is actually a good writer and not JUST a popular one.

(As an aside, starting in Looking for Alaska also means that I finished The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and can I just say, David Mitchell, you never disappoint. It is SO very different from Cloud Atlas, but just as enthralling. Recommend!)

@1 year ago with 2 notes
#books #reading #nerdiness #Nerdfighteria #John Green #Vlogbrothers #looking for alaska #The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet #david mitchell #book rec #book recommendation 
Isserley Loves Books: Review: Marilynne Robinson's Home→

isserleylovesbooks:


[image rebloggable here]
spoiler-free. Adapted from a reply I gave to a recent Ask.

Two of retired Reverend Boughton’s children have come to stay in their father’s home again, having each failed to build conventional lives for themselves. The obvious misfit is Jack, most beloved…

1 year ago
#marilynne robinson #home #gilead #robinson #book review #review #book recommendation #book rec #reading #literature #pulitzer prize 
isserleylovesbooks:

JPod: a review

JPod follows twentysomething Ethan and his colleagues in their cubicle island, the JPod. Our story begins with the arrival of Kaitlin, who takes some time easing into the Pod’s strange ways. 

JPod is one of those books that I often re-read, but wouldn’t quite call a re-read classic. However, I generally recommend it, especially for those who don’t read very often. Here’s why.
As I read
Although Coupland’s characters often lack complexity, they are sketched rather well. Most of the characters are little more than stereotypes with one or two token quirks thrown in. However, this doesn’t bother me much. In fact, it often adds to the entertainment value of the whole story.
Entertainment is the key-word here. Coupland makes some points, but they are made with all the subtlety of me a brick. 
Hilarious bits - as in, actually laugh out loud
Every so often, the JPod’ers ignore work  by completing random assignments. For example, right at the beginning of the story, an e-mail with the first couple thousand digits of pi is forwarded. “One of these is wrong. The first person to find it, wins…” 
I always enjoy quoting the competition letters, convincing Ronald McDonald of each JPod’er’s excellent qualities as a lover. 
Honestly, this book is one of the few that has me laughing out loud regularly.
Basically
Sit back, switch off your brain and enjoy laughing your ass off. 
1 year ago
#Jpod #douglas coupland #ethan #kaitlin #JPod #book rec #book recommendation #books #reading 
isserleylovesbooks:

Shades of Grey: a review

Shades of Grey is set in the dystopian world of Chromatacia, where your worth is determined by how much of a certain colour you can see. Our protagonist is Eddie Russett, a seemingly unremarkable young Red who accompanies his father to a small town. Once there, the unfairness of the system starts to dawn on him, aided by the Grey Jane and her lovely retroussé nose.  

Shades of Grey was the first Jasper Fforde novel I’ve read. It was shamelessly pushed on me by Ellena, my closest friend and Read New Stuff advocate. (This is why we’re friends.) 
Pre-reading biases
I didn’t really have many. I had seen Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next novels before and thought they looked interesting, but I’d never read any. The fact that Ellena recommended Shades of Grey did prepossess me in its favour, though.Also, I have a definite thing for dystopias, so that certainly made me feel like this would be my kind of book. I was, perhaps, afraid it would be too smooth, too light and entertaining. I like my books to come with a message and to make me think and feel, not just entertain me on a rainy day. 
As I read
I cannot overstate how entertaining this story is. Fforde’s language is so concise and funny. And on top of that, an actual message is contained in all the hilarity.
Reading about the society in itself is quite fascinating, especially since things aren’t minutely explained to us. Several mentions are made of “swan attacks” as an ever-present danger, which remains baffling until you check out Fforde’s website. Then, too, it is hinted that the people in the story  have apparently evolved to something beyond human, as it is frequently mentioned that the “Previous” looked strange to them.
It is a very smooth read, but not irritatingly so. The ending will break some hearts - and the fact that the next installment in the trilogy is not soon forthcoming will make that so much worse. 
For
Everyone. I don’t say that lightly. The whole is well-crafted but not overly difficult. It is so easy to get immersed in this world, so get your hands on a copy as soon as you can!
1 year ago
#jasper fforde #fforde #shades of grey #the road to high saffron #shades of grey: the road to high saffron #eddie russett #jane grey #dystopia #dystopian society #comic #book #books #book rec #book recommendation #book blog #book review #review #reviews 
isserleylovesbooks:

Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84: dreaming away slowly.

The novel has two seperate protagonists whom we follow in turn. Aomame is a young physical instructor who, after a bewildering episode involving a taxi and a guardrail, realizes she has entered a parallel world. She calls it ‘1Q84’. 
Meanwhile, her old classmate Tengo, now a maths teacher, rewrites a powerful but raw story that was submitted to a literary contest by an emotionally blunted seventeen-year-old. The edited story, Air Chrysalis, becomes an instant best-seller. Tengo now draws unwanted attention.

Recently I received an Ask asking what I liked about 1Q84 (since I mentioned it in a book challenge post on my personal blog). The lovely person posting personally wasn’t a fan, because of the slow-pacedness of the story. So here is my answer, in review form!
Biases before reading
For one thing, I had been looking forward to this for a LONG time. The wait was made more excruciating by the fact that a Dutch translation had been available for quite some time before we even made our pre-order. Really, publishing gods? A Dutch translation before the English one? SHAME.
I’m a devout Murakami fan, so there’s bias number two.
So as I read
I must say I wasn’t as wowed as I was by, for example, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. The chapter-by-chapter alternation between two completely different worlds and narrators is more instantly fascinating.
And yes, the story takes some burrowing into. However, I still really enjoyed reading 1Q84, and I believe it does have that Murakami magic.
The characters, for example, were complex and interesting, as I have grown to expect from the author. As protagonists we have lonely Aomame and discontent Tengo, who are connected by a childhood experience neither believes the other would have thought significant. Aomame is so honest and uncompromising, Tengo so caring in a searching way. I love it when characters aren’t bent on being liked, and Aomame certainly was a lovely brand of loner. 
I enjoyed the unworldly Fuka-Eri and the glimpses of her story, as we can read it Tengo’s description of her story, Air Chrysalis. It was interesting trying to figure out who and what she was, exactly. No spoilers, though!
As for the plot, it doesn’t race, but I enjoyed the creeping parts [a ton of spying on apartments] just as much. The stagnant parts were slow because the corresponding timelines were stagnant for the characters, as well. I have no issue with that, but it does require a certain commitment on the part of the reader not to give up. 
Typical Murakami loveliness
As a prototype of the lovely language, there is this quote, the full context of which is:

Tengo saw admiration in the eyes of several of his female students, and he realized that he was seducing these seventeen- or eighteen-year-olds through mathematics. His eloquence was a kind of intellectual foreplay. Mathematical functions stroked their backs, theorems sent warm breath into their ears.

In addition to wonderful feats of lingual genius, there are the typical Murakami creations, both subplot-wise as the general context. The world of 1Q84 is the exact mix of impossible and realistic that it continues to fascinate. I adore the way Murakami’s brand of magical realism (like Márquez’) is so subtle - it gets you hooked in a way the obvious doesn’t.
As usual, 1Q84 contains a number of interesting side-stories or in-story anekdotes, such as the backstory of the older woman Aomame is hired by. One of my favorite characters in the book is Ushikawa, a detective hired to investigate Tengo after he rewrote Air Chrysalis. He’s not immediately likeable, but as I said before, I kind of like that. Interestingly, we first meet him through the distrusting eyes of Tengo, who feels hunted and naturally rather dislikes him, but after a while Ushikawa becomes a point-of-view character and overall, rather fascinates. He has one of those storylines that make you say “well, that could not have gone any other way”. I like tragic inevitability now. Tragic inevitability is cool.
As a relatively minor character, bodyguard Tamaru is quite interesting. The bond he develops with Aomame is fascinating because it’s founded on mutual professional respect, but evolves into a personal caring. And no, there’s no romance involved.
And yet!
One thing that got on my nerves was (what I perceived as) the overly detailed clothing descriptions. Often, they seemed repetitive and unnecessary and honestly, who even cares what brand his jacket was? 
However, as pet peeves go, that’s a pretty small one for such a long story. And who knows: maybe some fashion enthousiasts out there are now very grateful for Murakami’s detail.
As to the pace:
Yes, it was slow. Yes, it could have been more terse and condensed. Should it have been? Personally, I very much enjoyed it the way it is. That said, it’s the kind of book that you should schedule large chunks of time for, because once you’re in, you’re in. I’m absolutely re-reading it whenever I’m home sick for a few days. Because of its size (and prettiness) it’s less useful as a “take with me” book. 
Overall:
Definitely enjoyable, recognisably Murakami and a plot that, while slow, does draw you in entirely.
For:
Fans of magical realism who have some time on their hands and don’t mind staking out in an alternate universe for some time.
1 year ago
#Haruki Murakami #Murakami #1Q84 #reading #book #books #book review #book rec #book recommendation #favorite author #tengo #aomame #intellectual foreplay is the best 
Look what was waiting for me! 7 new books you guys!
Inside:
John Green - An abundance of Katherines (+ Paper Towns, yesterday)
Roald Dahl - The Witches &amp; Matilda (indulging nostalgia)
Edward Albee - Who&#8217;s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
David Mitchell - Number9Dream &amp; Ghostwritten
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Beautiful and Damned
So nominations are in order once again: what to read after I&#8217;ve finished To Kill again? :)
1 year ago
#book #books #book nerd #literature nerd #what to read next #book rec #book recommendation #john green #an abundance of katherines #paper towns #edward albee #who's afraid of virginia woolf #roald dahl #matilda #the witches #F. Scott Fitzgerald #the beautiful and damned 
isserleylovesbooks:

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest: she’s a ball-cutter.
[warning: contains several spoilers.] / [this is not a coherent review.]
Today I finished re-reading Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I sat for some time, thinking about what to write exactly. I think part of my love for the book stems from it, like Wuthering Heights, being the kind of story that provokes a lot of thought and indecision.
In any case, here are a number of things that struck me this time around.
I had forgotten how much the Chief’s recollections of his youth used to move me. Reading through the psychosis, you get an excellent sense of what it must have been like for him, and how his home life affected him deeply. The scenes where Chief Senior defends their way of life to the government agency men trying to buy them off, makes me deeply angry.
“What can you pay for the way a man lives? […] What can you pay for what a man is?”Further on, the Chief recalls one of the men in the village who now had twenty-thousand dollars and 3 Cadillacs - none of which he could drive. Actually stating an opinion is unnecessary.
As an aside, the Chief’s narration, for me, is one of the selling points of the book versus the novel. In the movie, nobody is very seriously ill. The Chief, however, is frequently hallucinating and holds a number of powerful delusions, all relating to the Combine. And yes, as a narrative tool this complements wonderfully with the actual events - it even supplements our own secret understandings of how society molds and meddles with us all. His delusional ideas about the size of a man and his hallucinations - of machinery in all of us, of abusive hands growing ever-larger - are powerful metaphors, used in an almost-accidental way. It’s “just the way the Chief thinks”, which says quite a lot about the way we condescend to some people.
Secondly, I really love Harding. He really does have some of the best lines. Additionally, the film version is one of the only novel adaptations ever where I’m sorry a line is in the movie, but not in the book.
You can find that particular fabulous speech of Harding’s here, from 0:30 to 0:50.
“I’m not just talking about my wife, I’m talking about my life - I can’t seem to get that through to you! I’m not just talking about one person, I’m talking about everybody! I’m talking about form! I’m talking about content! I’m talking about interrelationships! I’m talking about God, the Devil, Hell, Heaven! Do you understand?! Finally?!”
Coming back to Book Harding: don’t you just love the very first time we meet him? When he and McMurphy have that excellent exchange: trying to one-up eachother to see who’s the biggest looney? And further on, when, after that first group meeting where he gets torn down, McMurphy confronts him about what the guys did. Then, they talk about Miss Ratched and how she makes rabbits out of them all. At first, Harding tries to shake it off, calls her “Sweet Mother Ratched”. Then he sort of freaks out and stumbles out one of the best parts of the book. He manages to show us just what Nurse Ratched is about, while - at that point - steering clear of overt hostility. “Ah, look: there she is, our nurse. Her gentle knock on the door. The ribboned basket. The young couple overjoyed to the point of speechlessness. The husband open-mouthed, the wife weeping openly. She appraises their dwelling. Promises to send the money for - scouring powder, yes. She places the basket in the center of the floor. and when our angel leaves - throwing kisses, smiling ethereally - she is so intoxicated with the sweet milk of human kindness that her deed has generated within her large bosom, that she is beside herself with generosity. Be-side herself, do you hear? Pausing a the door, she draws the timid young bride to one side and offers her twenty dollars of her own: ‘Go, you poor unfortunate underfed child, go and buy yourself a decent dress. I realize your husband can’t afford it, but here, take this, and go.’ And the couple is forever indebted to her benevolence.” 
Then, still later: “She has a genius for insinuation.”
Such a genius for words.
Another thing that I rather love about the book is the way the deaths are handled. Billy’s death, of course, had a number of consequences, which were all far-reaching and moving. His death, in itself, though, echoed that of Cheswick, earlier in the story. Once there, then no more. I like the way this is handled because firstly, desastrous things can and do happen instantly and unpredictably in this story. Secondly, especially in Cheswick’s case, there is a nice juxtaposition of the way his death came out of nowhere and is described in a rather dry, concise way, and the far-reaching impact of it, especially on McMurphy. Indeed, there is some question as to whether Cheswick’s death was an accident or a suicide. “But just as soon as we got to the pool he said he did wish something mighta been done, though, and dove into the water. And got his fingers stuck some way in the grate that’s over the drain at the bottom of the pool, and neither the big life-guard nor McMurphy nor the two black boys could pry him loose…” It’s literally over in a sentence, and yet it steers the book in a distinct direction. Steers it, indeed, almost inevitably to McMurphy’s fight and defeat, by showing him this huge responsibility that he got in spite of himself. By making it not-okay that he stop fighting and by not allowing him to give up and leave the patients to their own counsel.
My personal best ending line is, once more, a Harding quote. When Miss Ratched returns to her ward and gives Harding a polite, condescending written answer to his questions about McMurphy, he tears up her paper and says: “Lady, you are full of so much bullshit.”
Cue me high-fiving the air.

Here are some random thoughts about Ken Kesey&#8217;s One Flew Over the Cuckoo&#8217;s Nest. Feedback always welcome.
1 year ago
#One flew over the cuckoo's nest #ken kesey #randle mcmurphy #mcmurphy #harding #r. p. mcmurphy #dale harding #review #book #books #book rec #book recommendation #favorite books #recently read #literature nerd 

theiridescenceoflight answered your question: You choose, I read!

The Great Gatsby

And that makes two for Gatsby! I’m sure John will be proud despite my delay.
(Also GUYS this is going to be a movie with Carey Mulligan, who is one of my absolute favourite actresses)

1 year ago
#theiridescenceoflight #The Great Gatsby #book rec #book recommendation #John Green #John Green approved #Carey Mulligan 
Update on the books.

starrymidnightskies answered your question: You choose, I read!

The Great Gatsby

Alright, noted!



catacombxkitten answered your question: You choose, I read!

The Mysteries of Udolpho!

And noted! Anyone else care to weigh in? :)

1 year ago
#starrymidnightskies #catacombxkitten #reading #books #book rec #book recommendation 
You choose, I read!

Whichever gets the most votes between the following is the one I will read next.

OUR CONTESTANTS:

- The Mysteries of Udolpho

- The Great Gatsby

- The Unconsoled (Ishiguro y’all <3)

- Madame Bovary

Which do you think I should read?

1 year ago
#book rec #book recommendation #books #reading #bookporn #personal 
Cue enormous sense of relief

… because I have received my copy of Looking for Alaska in the mail today, started reading it, and like it so far!

Context: I had this crazy neurotic anxiety that I wouldn’t like John Green’s books even though I’m a great admirer of the man himself (cited: his general awesomeness and the fact that the amount of suck in my world has certainly decreased since I found his and Hank’s videos and, consequently, the badassery that is Nerdfighteria and its lovely commity) but lo! As per usual my fears proved unfounded.

So. Yes. Just posting about how relieved I am that one of my heroes is actually a good writer and not JUST a popular one.

(As an aside, starting in Looking for Alaska also means that I finished The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and can I just say, David Mitchell, you never disappoint. It is SO very different from Cloud Atlas, but just as enthralling. Recommend!)

1 year ago
#books #reading #nerdiness #Nerdfighteria #John Green #Vlogbrothers #looking for alaska #The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet #david mitchell #book rec #book recommendation