Sunday, 26 April 2015

14:00 - final hours

What I've read.
159 pages
I've finished All I Know Now and a collection of short stories by Kipling

How I spent these hours.
Mostly eating and trying to find another book to read. Didn't read too much.

How I'm feeling. 
Tired and I feel lazy,

What's up next.
Perhaps a little bit of sleep, need to read lots for my dissertation, but also need to clean the house.

Total amount of pages read: 1361
Total amount of books finished: 7 

It's over! Although I thouroughly enjoyed the past 24 hours, I'm dead tired and I need to get on with normal life :p Thanks to the hosts for organising everything!

11:00 - Hours 19-21

What I've read. 
370 pages
I've finished Peter Pan
I've read the first three chapters of Watchmen
I'm about 200 pages into All I know Now

How I spent these hours. 

How I'm feeling. 
Good, sad it's almost over though!

What's up next.
The final three hours! It'll probably take one more hour reading All I Know Now, but I really don't know what I'll be reading next. I may just make a start in a big book.

Total pages read: 1202
Total books finished: 5

8:00 - Hours 12-18

Okay, so maybe I slept for a little bit too long.. but this will only improve my productivity for the day! I didn't fall asleep immediately, though, so I did do a little bit more reading

What I've read.
97 pages
I'm now on page 134 of Peter Pan

How I spent these hours.
Sleeping, a tad of reading, waking up and drinking coffee.

How I'm feeling. 

What's up next.
Reading, reading, more reading. Also eating.
First I'll finish Peter Pan, then I'll read a couple of chapters of Watchmen, until I'm no longer behind on my readalong for that one.

Total pages read: 832
Total books finished: 4

00:20 - hour 11. time for bed

I'm sorry to announce I'm not even capable to read for 12 hours straight. I'm going to bed now, but I will try to get up early again. For those still reading, GO YOU!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

23:00 - Hours 7-9

What I've read.
363 pages
I've finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Ik hoef niet op te letten, ik weet alles al. 
I'm on page 36 in Peter Pan and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

How I spent these hours.
Reading. Just reading. 

How I'm feeling. 
It's not even been twelve hours yet, but I'm quite tired. I don't know if I'll be able to read the full 12 hours before going to bed. But we'll see. 

What's up next. 
Reading for as long as I can, but going to bed when I'm too tired. As I mentioned in my TBR-post, I cannot afford to be ill as a consequence of this read-a-thon :p 

Total pages read: 735
Total books finished: 4

20:00 - Hours 4-6

What I've read.
215 pages
On page 200 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
I've finished "The Carriage" by Gogol 

How I spent these hours.
Mostly reading, but did take a fifteen minute break for dinner

How I'm feeling. 
Quite tired, but I've just made some tea, hopefully that'll help me get through many more hours.

What's up next. 
Finishing Harry Potter and perhaps making a start in a next book. But I could decide to go on a little walk the next few hours too.

Total pages read: 372
Total Books finished: 2

17:00 - Hour 1-3.

What I've read.
157 pages
I've finished The Rosie Project , which I'd already started before.
I've also finished "The Nose" by Gogol, which is the first short story in a collection of two by Penguin.

How I spent these hours.
I was planning on just reading, but honestly also already had to take a ten minute nap. Oops!

How I'm feeling. 
Good, excited to continue but also curious to find out how other people are doing, so I'm gonna check out Twitter and some blogs before reading on.

What's up next. 
The second story by Gogol, a start on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and dinner. Fortunately, I have a lovely boyfriend who'll prepare dinner, so I don't have to waste any time doing that ^^

Talk to you in three hours!

Total pages read: 157
Total books finished: 1

13:00 - One hour until take-off

I spent the morning working on my dissertation and doing grocery shopping. In the next hour, I'll eat lunch, get everything ready, take a shower, get dressed in comfy clothes, and settle down.

Here's a picture of today's food! Excluding the rice crackers which I forgot to add to the stack. Also excluding dinner and lots of tea and water.

Now, lets get started on my first read-a-thon!

(next update in 4 hours)

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Dewey's 24-hour Readathon

Dewey's 24-hour-read-a-thon is this Saturday, and I'm participating! The read-a-thon starts at the same moment all around the world, and for me, being in the Netherlands, it means mine will start at 2pm. As I cannot afford a hangover because I have quite some uni-work to do, I will not read for the entire 24 hours and try and get some sleep in.

Anyway, I wanted to post a TBR, but I'm really not sure what I'll be reading, so the books I've picked will be quite a few too many. Moreover, a few of these books need an explanation. 

Watchmen is a book I've been reading for a readalong, but I got a bit behind because of finals. So I'll be catching up, but not finishing it, cause I don't want to get too far ahead. 
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This is part of a project I'm trying to do this year: read all Harry Potter books - one every month for the months of January, April - December. Yes, that's 10 months, but I included the Hogwards Library books as well. 
All I Know Now. A book by one of my favourite Youtubers, Carrie Fletcher, which came out today. I had planned this for Saturday, but as I got it in the mail I realised it may be a bit too big for the day, and I might not want to rush it either. So I'm not sure about that one. 
The Little Black Penguin editions. I got these the other day, and I thought they'd be perfect for a day of reading. However, I'll most definitely not read all four of them. 
The Rosie Project.  I've been reading this for the past few days, but I'm pretty sure I won't have time to finish it before the read-a-thon, so I'll finish it in the first hour or so. 

Saturday, I will try to update every, say, three hours. But we'll see how it goes. If you're participating too, please let me know what you're reading! 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Review: Ada or Ardor

“What are dreams? A random sequence of scenes, trivial or tragic, viatic or static, fantastic or familiar, featuring more or less plausible events patched up with grotesque details, and recasting dead people in new settings.”

Title: Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Year: 1969
Pages: 479

Ada is a family chronicle and spans one hundred years. It tells the story of Ivan ‘Van’ Veen, and his life-long love for his cousin Ada. Although at first glance you’d say this would fit in the genre of romance, it is at the same time a fairy-tale, but also philosophical, epic, historical, erotic, and maybe even science-fiction.

It is set in an alternate version of our earth. There are slight differences in world events, and, in short, consequently North-America is a country in which people speak French, Russian, and English. Very convenient for the author, who was fluent in these languages, and felt being able to speak all of these allowed him to express himself best – if a word lacked in the English language, he’d use the French word, etc. (Very contrasting to the way language is used in the dystopian 1984). Although all Nabokov’s novels mix these languages, in Ada it is most prominent and important. At first glance, too, he has provided us with a glossary. Unfortunately, there are no notes, so whenever you stumble upon a foreign word, you’d have to go to the back of the book, and find out whether it’s been translated or not. Quickly enough, you’ll find that you’ve put too much trust in Nabokov. Of course, the easy phrases are the only ones translated, and for the difficult passages, you’d have to use Google Translate. Even more so, there are some words or phrases which are glossed several times, with different meanings. When then you see the notes were written by Vivian Darkbloom , someone who’s read Lolita will understand that this is a character (and a persona of our author – it’s an acronym, you see). Language is the first of many features which makes this novel interesting and dynamic, but at the same time tedious and difficult. Much time is spent trying to figure out what the characters are saying when speaking Russian – French I could often understand - up until the point when you can no longer be bothered checking each and every word, hoping you’ll understand the basic premise without looking it up.

While at first hand the plot seems quite straight forward, it becomes weirder and more morbid throughout. What probably should have creeped me out properly, but frankly only interested me, was the fact that for thirteen-year-olds, Van and Ada know much about sex, and are slightly too interested in it. In my opinion, this resulted mostly in funny or awkward scenes. While I admit, at some parts it could be viewed as erotic, I could not forget about their age which sort of obstructs this genre, in my opinion. There are more instances when the novel gets weird, but I want to remain spoiler-free here. When you get to the very last sentence of part 1 you’ll know what I mean (Although, the very attentive reader will merely regard this as a reference to Madame Bovary, rather than a plot-twist – this had to be pointed out to me, though).

When discussing this in class, I found out most people found the novel boring and too long. While it is indeed the longest novel we had to read, to me, it was the most exciting one (disregarding Lolita here as I’d already read it a year before), mostly because it was so plot-driven. This allowed you to read on, remain interested in what happened, and care for the characters. This also helped me getting through the more confusing and philosophical chapters. I have to agree with most critics that at some point these chapters seem superfluous and make the story drag, but knowing the plot will continue in just a few pages motivated me. I would also be interested in finding out how exactly those chapters fit in - I cannot wait to reread the novel for this purpose.

One last quality I’d like to talk about is the form of the novel. In essence, it’s a memoire, written by Van, reread by both him and Ada, which we can see sometimes when at the end of the chapter there’s a note by either of them. This made the novel even more dynamic.

As I mentioned before, though, it lost me sometimes. Also, the amount of references to other literary works or historical figures became exhausting. You don’t want to come across as ignorant, so in the very beginning of reading Nabokov, you try to understand every single reference. I was lucky enough that I read this novel at the end of a course on Nabokov, which meant I had by now become somewhat familiar with his style. Hence, I did not bother to understand everything. But how much more fun would it have been if I understood every reference? Yet another reason to reread this (in ten or twenty years).

Along with Lolita, my favourite Nabokov.  Also the last one I’ll be reading for a while now. I’ve had my fair share of this author for the year. 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Review: Speak, Memory

"It is probably true, as some have argued, that sympathy for Leninism on the part of English and American liberal opinion in the twenties was swung by consideration of home politics. But it was also due to simple misinformation"

Title: Speak, Memory
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Year: 1967
Pages: 251

Speak, Memory is Nabokov’s memoir. I don’t like being negative about him, again, because I still feel he was a great author, but yet again, this book was not enjoyable for me. It was well written, that’s for sure, and most of the stories were interesting as well: you find out many themes which reoccur in his books, were drawn from his own life. But there was something that bothered me throughout the novel to the extent that I genuinely could not appreciate it. As a memoir at least.

As I’d been studying Nabokov for a while when I read this, I felt the need to distrust him. I felt that probably nothing was true anyway. An author, in most his novels, is mysterious, needs to be figured out, and is often a persona of Nabokov himself. While I know now, that I shouldn’t have approached this novel with such caution, it held me back constantly.

Just know that, if you’re going to read this book, it is actually quite trustworthy. Just read it as a memoir, but keep in mind that memoires are objective – perhaps more so when it’s one written by Nabokov.  

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Review: Pale Fire

"Come and be worshiped, come and be caressed,
My dark Vanessa, crimson-barred, my blest
My Admirable butterfly! Explain
How could you, in the gloam of Lilac Lane,
Have let uncouth, hysterical John Shade
Blubber your face, and ear, and shoulder blade?"

Title: Pale Fire
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Genre: Modern Classic
Year: 1962
Pages: 315

I don’t like writing reviews about novels that disappointed me greatly. That’s why this review will be short.

The premise is interesting: There’s a poem, but the real novel actually consists of the commentary written by someone other than the poet.

Then you start reading the poem. It’s quite interesting and follows the author’s thoughts about his recently lost daughter. After a while, though, you start to wonder whether you should perhaps flip back and forth, between the notes and the poem. So you start again. Read the first four lines. Then the commentary on those lines. You realise the author of the notes starts to wander off to a story about himself. Not uninteresting, but irrelevant. You continue until you notice that in fact, the commentary has very little to nothing to do with the poem. So you start again. You read the poem. You read the commentary. You treat them as autonomous works of art.

While I was convinced this was, to me, the best solution to get something out of this book, it still didn’t do it for me. The poem was okay but perhaps too straight forward. At points, it was written as if the author was just putting his thoughts to paper, and then suddenly realised ‘wait, I’m writing a poem, I should use complicated words and constructions’.

As for the commentary, I was already too annoyed with the form to enjoy this. It’s a fantastic story about a king in Zembla. Honestly, I didn’t care for any of the characters, and I couldn’t be bothered to even try to understand what was going on half of the time.   

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Review: Pnin

"I do not know if it has ever been noted before that one of the main characteristics of life is discreteness. Unless a film of flesh envelops us, we die. Man exists only insofar as he is separated from his surroundings. The cranium is a space-traveler's helmet. Stay in side or you perish."

Title: Pnin
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Year: 1957
Pages: 191

We follow Pnin, a Russian √©migr√© professor who works at an American college. His English is not perfect, he’s very clumsy, and he seems uncomfortable in his surroundings.

Pnin is not my favourite Nabokov I had to read for the course. Now, three stars is obviously not the worst rating in history, but I noticed that many of my fellow students absolutely loved this novel. What bothered me most was the fact that it was supposed to be a funny novel. His other works - admittedly, at this time I’d only read Lolita – feature many quirky remarks or events, but this is not the main focus. In Pnin, it is, and to me it was to ‘slapstick’-like, and too embarrassing to the point of annoyance.

What has to be said, though, is that to some extent, it is also a very sad novel. You can’t help but care for Pnin. His clumsiness is fed by misunderstandings resulting from language differences and gradually you’ll notice he is not at all as stupid as people think he is. When put in the right (Russian) environment, people think he’s smart and he does get friends. This somehow touched me.

There is also a very nice mystery evolving throughout the story, which I won’t talk about in great depth because I want this to be spoiler free, but it really had me engaged. Generally, when I read a detective-type of novel, I just read it and read what the solution is, rather than trying to figure it out for myself. Obviously, the main premise of this novel is not detective, but as soon as you notice there is something to be found out, you want to find the solution yourself – even I did!

One of the themes that reoccur in Nabokov’s novels is his disdain for the academic life. This is very obvious in Pnin, but I’m not sure how I feel about this. Gradually making my way through Nabokov I learned that he was possibly the most elevated author I’ve ever read. Him disliking academic life, highlights this even more and while in Pnin it is done quite exquisite, in retrospect I think it would have bothered me if I’d read it later on in the course.

All in all, there’s no denying that this, too, is a good novel. The writing is no less brilliant than in other Nabokov novels, and Pnin as a character was interesting as well. But it did not grab me, it even bored me at times.