Tuesday, 3 February 2015

February reading

Have you joined The Year of Books 2015 yet? As in 2014, I am linking up with Laura over at Circle of Pine Trees every month this year. Laura hosts The Year of Books 2015 where we can share our reads. I have found some great suggestions there and I am sure there is a book waiting for you, too.
 

January was a good month for reading and listening. Let me begin with my January book, 'The Housekeeper and the Professor' by Yoko Ogawa. This was a gentle and pleasant read. The professor is a brilliant mathematician who lives a secluded life. Ss a result of a head injury, his life is fragmented into short term memory is severely affected and is limited to 80 minutes. The narrator is a young woman who has been hired by the professor's sister in law to work as the professor's housekeeper. Every morning, they meet for the first time, at least in the professors mind. The housekeeper has a ten-year-old son who spends the afternoons with his mother and the professor. Their relationship blossoms anew every day but also develops over time, as the housekeeper and her son learn more about the professor and his life. Although his memory is severly impaired, the mathematic genius is still with him. I didn't know that maths can be so poetic. There is not much happening at all but it is such a beautiful story.

As in December, I continued to enjoy my foray into fantasy and science fiction. It feels good to immerse myself into a world that is clearly not mine. Thankfully I should maybe add. I have listened to 'The Girl with All the Gifts' by M.R Carey. I downloaded this book on a whim and enjoyed it quite a lot. The main character is Melanie, a mysterious girl living a weird existence. The story begins with Melanie waiting in her cell to be collected for school. Every morning, she is strapped into a wheelchair  by a guard (at gunpoint) and wheeled into a classroom she shares with other children, equally restrained. Melanie relates very much to one of the teachers, Miss Justineau and as the story progresses, more is revealed about Melanie's story and we are taken on a quite frigthening adventure during which the characters develop and form tentative relationships at first, stronger ones later.

I also listened to 'Oryx and Crake' by Margaret Atwood after reading about the MaddAdam trilogy on Leanne's book post. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world, in which humankind is nearly extinct as a result of a raging infectious disease created and released by Crake who is the best friend of the main character in this book, Snowman (formerly known as Jimmy). We gradually learn about a society ruled by powerful corporations engaging in the most bizzare genetic engineering experiments - all in the name of improvement, personal and societal. We also read about Jimmy's life, his relationships with his friend Crake and Oryx, a former child prostitute turned lover, teacher of Crakes creations, a 'species' of human with desirable characteristics (in the eyes of their creator). It is a life story and a love story of sorts. I enjoyed this book but found it difficult at first to relate to Snowman. As someone in the know (I am a molecular biologist), I also find the mad genetic engineering described ludicrous. Trust me, it ain't that easy! I haven't decided yet if I am reading the two other books in the trilogy. Maybe if I have a spare Audible credit or two I will.

I have set myself the goal to read more short stories, and appreciate those more. I have started with a short story collection by Kate Atkinson, 'Not the End of the World'. The collection even fitted in my fantasy/science fiction theme. A little at least. I didn't like all the stories but most of them. I am not sure how to describe the stories but here is the first sentence from Kate Atkinson's own webpage:
'What is the real world? Does it exist, or is it merely a means of keeping another reality at bay?' I think that should tickle your curiosity. My favourite story was that of Arthur and his mysterious nanny.
I have several books on the go just now but my official February read shall be an essay collection by David Sedaris, 'Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls'. I have already started and I am enjoying it so far. The book is also my earthly book group read, I am streamlining my 'workload'.

And now you must excuse me, I have to finish my English homework, analysing a short essay by Billy Bryson on the death penalty.

Oh, before I do that, I would like to thank everybody for their kind comments on my last post. I was overwhelmed by the supportive comments and private messages I have received, too. If you have read the unfinished and picture free draft which I prematurely and accidentally published, please accept my apologies for the stream of unfinished thoughts. Do go back and read the final version, it is much more coherent!


Good bye to January and hello February! Cxx

 

22 comments:

  1. You are doing so well with reading, I am afraid time is flying by and reading has not been easy this month. I need to be a little sterner with myself and get into a better routine.

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  2. I enjoyed Margaret Atwoods trilogy, but I do like a good post apocalypse tale.

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  3. A really interesting selection, I'm enjoying reading all the Year in Book posts. CJ xx

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  4. I love David Sedaris so much. I rather suspect you won't be reading the rest of the trilogy? Being a Classicist, I can't tell an atom from a lump of CO2, so I guess the unfeasible reality of the proposed science washed over me. I know a lot about Herodotus though...;))
    Leanne xx

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  5. I love David Sedaris and Kate Atkinson. I think it's a great idea to read more short stories. I usually find them very satisfying reading myself. If you like to buy used books, there are always lots of old paperback short story collections in thrift shops. I used to buy them by the bagful to have a fresh one for a long bus or train ride when I was younger.

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  6. I thought both versions of your post were good! xx

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  7. A lovely selection of books, I shall definitely search out 'The Housekeeper & Professor' I really like the sound of that one. x

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  8. Wow - how do you find time to read so much with 4 children?! I only have 2 and can't keep up! I think my eldest (17) might like the books you mention - she likes a bit of dystopian/apocalyptic sci-fi ;-) - I'm tempted by the Kate Atkinson - I find short stories the best for keeping in my bag for those few free minutes out & about!

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  9. Interesting selection Christina, I like the cover and title of your main book this month. X

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  10. Quite a selection. The Housekeeper and the Professor sounds like one I'd enjoy, I shall pop it on my list.

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  11. I love David Sedaris although I never read any of this work I love listening to him reading it on the radio, he is so funny! I know nothing about molecular biology but I love the MaddAddam Trilogy. I read Oryx and Crake a long time ago but the last two in the last few months, they are both wonderful and scary at the same time. So good to hear that you have found some good books to read!

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  12. I've always fancied reading David Sedaris, again after hearing him on Radio 4. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think.
    And thank you for the recommendations - I always find them really useful.
    S x

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  13. I have the Girl with All the Gifts to listen to as well... probably next week when I have finished my Harry Potter! It does sound good.

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  14. I like the sound of the Housekeeper and the professor... But I really didn't like Oryx and Crake when we read it for book club last year.

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  15. I'll be interested to hear what you think of the David Sedaris book, I love his Radio 4 programmes, so funny!

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  16. Let's explore diabetes with Owls - what a great title. I'd just have to pick it up if I saw that in a shop. I'll be interested to see what you think of it. xx

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  17. I have so many books to read from year in books recommendations x

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  18. How you find the time to read I will never know with a job, house, husband and of course four beautiful children.

    I am trying to get some reading done myself with not much luck lately.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  19. Hey Christina,
    My email is paxton3@sky.com
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Leanne xx

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  20. There's lots there I want to try, thanks for sharing :) Hope you enjoy as much reading next month :)

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  21. I love your book choices and take much inspiration from your reads, in fact I have noted one of them down.

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  22. Even more books to add to my to read list. i really enjoy Kate Atkinson and was very excited to see her new book is due out in May! xxx

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx