I don't know how long ago you posted about Alain de Botton, but I recommend starting with Essays in Love. Because it's fiction, it runs a little more smoothly - but at the same time, offers a very accurate examination of love and relationships. 10/10 would recommend. I've also read How Proust... which is also a great book with wonderful insights, but also has some lulling passages.
Thanks to everyone who gave me Alain de Botton recommendations! I think Essays in Love seems to be the most popular - plus this message was the most useful (thanks coponder!)
With the end of my exams in sight and summer coming up, I’ve been going on a bit of a pre-emptive book-buying spree (hah, as if I needed a larger to-read pile), so I shall add Essays in Love to the ol’ Amazon shopping basket.
As always, my Askbox is open to all recommendations, job offers and book deals.
If you guys are anything like me, you’ll get unnecessarily excited about an article entitled The Great Gatsby: Are There Any Feminists in the Disillusioned Jazz Age?
Which is why I have a provided a link to said article. It’s really everything I care about rolled into one on-topic-and-not-super-gimicky piece.
It’s perhaps rather simplistically written, but at least Feminspire seems to actually understand contemporary feminism as it really stands, acknowledging intersectionality in hints of class and race issues as well as those of gender.
Plus it’s succeeded in getting me in the mood (as if I wasn’t already) for the much-anticipated/partly-dreaded/hopefully-wonderful (oh Baz Luhrmann I do hope it’s wonderful) film.
And it’ll take you like five goddamn minutes to read is all I’m saying, okay?
This was really wonderful and I highly recommend taking twenty minutes to watch it (if, like me, you’re currently in the midst of exam season I can only assume that, like me, you need no inducement to procrastination).
I found Adichie such a compelling speaker that I’ve just ordered her collection of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck, to add to my embarrassingly large to-read list/pile/utterly disorganised loose grouping. Oops.
“It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was meaning to read.”
- Lemony Snicket (via honeycaughtalite)
A Portrait of the Artist as Pajama-Clad Undergraduate About to Take an Exam on A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Once She’s Got Dressed, Hopefully)*
*As well as Conrad’s The Secret Agent, Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Rhys’ After Leaving Mr Mackenzie, and Golding’s Darkness Visible.
Sorry for subjecting you guys to awful pictures of me, but even two hours before an exam I’m trying to find new ways to procrastinate. Wish me luck!
I get asked this question a lot. The short answer is nope.
The longer answer is I had one for all of about three hours, during which time I tried to input every single book I had ever read, because I’m incurably anal and can’t stand when things aren’t organised properly. Unfortunately I am also incurably lazy, so after an incredibly stressful few hours of feeling like Sisyphus and his damn stone, I gave up and deleted the whole thing. I don’t really know who I was kidding, how was I ever going to be able to remember every book I’ve ever read? Awful idea.
PS; You should definitely read 1Q84. Mo’ Murakami, mo’…good literature in your life?
“In university courses we do exercises. Term papers, quizzes, final examinations are not meant for publication. We move through a course on Dostoevsky or Poe as we move through a mildly good cocktail party, picking up the good bits of food or conversation, bearing with the rest, going home when it comes to seem the reasonable thing to do. Art, at those moments when it feels most like art — when we feel most alive, most alert, most triumphant — is less like a cocktail party than a tank full of sharks.”
- John Gardner, The Art of Fiction (via larmoyante)
Review: 1Q84, Books I and II
The first two books in Haruki Murakami’s trilogy, 1Q84 I and II tell the story of Aomame, a skilled assassin who finds herself in a parallel universe.
Yep. And it gets weirder; add to this an extremist cult, a long-lost childhood friend/lover, a high-school girl who appears to be some kind of writing prodigy, mysterious “little people” and multiple deaths. Not to mention a continuation of Murakami’s seeming obsession with giving pieces of music a stranglehold on his books. Norwegian Wood opens with The Beatles’ song of the same name, 1Q84 with Leoš Janáček’s ‘Sinfonietta’.
Despite all this (or perhaps because of it?) I thought these books were a pretty good read. 1Q84 is surreal and strange, but has a clean, clipped quality that makes it seem realistic, if not exactly believable. It feels…grown up - in a way that other novels of its type don’t (Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go springs to mind, as does David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, although I do have a real soft spot for the latter), to the point where I would hesitate to class it as a sci-fi or fantasy work. Instead, I would place it alongside Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, or even Brave New World.
The point is that I enjoyed it quite a lot, although nowhere near as much as Norwegian Wood. I wasn’t wholly convinced by some of the more sci-fi elements of 1Q84, and much as I love Murakami’s writing style, I prefer to have it applied to more mundane plots.
This was read, as with most of last summer’s books, whilst roadtripping in Scandinavia. Unfortunately I can’t read in moving vehicles without vomiting copiously, so I was limited in my roadside reading to the times we slept in the car in lay-bys. Here, have a (less than attractive) picture:
By the way, please note that although it looks way too light to be bedding down for the night, bear in mind that this is Norway in July; it was about midnight when this was taken.
Final Word: Sharp, sparse sci-fi for adults and/or literary snobs. I should probably read the final instalment at some point.#Haruki Murakami #1Q84 #review #books #reading #lit #Norwegian Wood #book review #Norway
A recommendation request.
I’ve been seeing a lot of Alain de Botton posts on my Dashboard recently (and reblogged a quotation I especially liked here), and I was wondering if anyone cared to furnish me with a recommendation of a work of his to read?
Should I start with How Proust Can Change Your Life? Or begin at the beginning, as it were, and read Essays in Love? Or something else? Or should I even avoid him entirely? Is he secretly a bit rubbish?
I value your opinions! Let me know here.#Alain de Botton #How Proust Can Change Your Life #Essays in Love #lit #books #reading #recommendation
Hey, just wanted to say I was in Paris last week and I read your note in Shakespeare and Company, just thought I'd say hi :)
Really? That’s wonderful! I didn’t think anyone would see it in amongst everything else - congratulations (I guess)! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed Paris/Shakespeare and Co. as much as I did.
Jessica takes the most beautiful photographs*, posts the most beautiful poetry, and (most importantly) feels the way I feel about food.
Also I once used her scone recipe and then lived off the results for about two weeks.
*The above photo is not one of hers, but that doesn’t matter. Be quiet.
Theming My Life
I recently read “I Read About It: Music, Food, Poetry, and Lifestyle Suggestions We’ve Taken from Literature”, a really great piece from The Millions about the influence of books and films on…well, everything really:
All this resonates with me strongly. I am consistently swayed by what I read and what I see. I theme my life something awful - whether it’s theming my holiday reading with the place I’m visiting, or theming my dinner to the film I’m watching. Some of these are mere association; there is nothing, for example, in The West Wing that suggests one should accompany a viewing with a bacon sandwich, and watch it only in the mornings, preferably hungover - and yet that is absolutely what it means for me.
Other links are more direct. I read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy whilst in Denmark and Sweden, and developed a penchant for rye bread, Jarlsberg, remoulade and black coffee. Four years later, and to this day I can’t have it for lunch without feeling like Lisbeth Salander.
Perhaps more worryingly, I am so easily swayed by what I read that it can affect my life choices. Possibly the most formative influence of my childhood were Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books. There are ten, and they span Betsy Ray’s life from her fifth birthday party to her mid-twenties - her Minnesotan childhood to her married life. Betsy wants to be a writer. Betsy wants red hair. Betsy wants to prove herself to be the absolute best at everything. Betsy wants to go to university. Betsy wants to be a leader. Betsy wants to travel the world. Betsy wants fame and glory. Substitute ‘Rosa’ for ‘Betsy’ in any of these sentences and you’re faced with my life story. I’m actually planning on writing another post on the importance of this series to me, but for now suffice to say that when I left home for the first time to go travelling on my gap year, I took Betsy and the Great World with me and used it as a sort of guidebook (albeit one nearly 100 years out-of-date).
So what I’m saying is that it’s not really just “suggestions” that I take from books - it’s instructions. Is that troubling? I feel troubled. Welp, I guess I’d better go find a book about feeling troubled so I don’t feel out of sync.
“Woke up this morning with
a terrific urge to lie in bed all day
and read. Fought against it for a minute.
Then looked out the window at the rain.
Would I live my life over again?
- Raymond Carver, “Rain”
Here, have a video that I made in about November and promptly forgot about, in which I talk nonsense about eBooks and The Hunger Games for about four minutes.