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What are you reading this winter?On my vacation reading list


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#16 Funny Face

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Posted 21 December 2003 - 08:45 PM

Whatta great snoggestion! Yes, it's a great time of year to be introduced, or re-introduced -- to Betsy and Tacy.

I might also reread Rosamund Pilcher's "Winter Solstice."

And don't forget to bring out the O'Henry volume to read aloud.

#17 Guest_gingembre_*

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 07:39 AM

I've been reading quite a few Octavia Butler books lately. I just finished the sequel to Earthseed, which I thought was a great book. I'm finding now that reading about any kind of parent-infant seperation or cruelty to children has become incredibly difficult since I've had my daughter. What else? I've reread LOTR and The Hobbit recently. I had forgotten that the Hobbit is written in a much more casual style than the LOTR. Not sure what's coming up next, I haven't been to the bookstore in a while. Very often I subsist off of murder mysteries loaned to me by my mom :D Probably more Octavia Butler, I am really enjoying all of her books.

#18 beckster

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 09:10 AM

I read Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides not long ago. I really enjoyed it - I thought it was better than the Virgin Suicides. I doubly enjoyed it because of my interest in genetics, but the story of the family was a great read in itself. It is definitely not a kids book, though!

#19 dido

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 01:06 PM

vagan'smom, have you read Gypsy Girl yet? After An Episode of Sparrows it's my favorite Godden book. She's so steely tough!
I am reading mostly books on the philosophy of mathematics and hellenistic science while trying desperately to find copies of Heiburg's editions of Euclid and Archimedes (Dissertation. Anybody got an extra copy kicking around?) while preparing for my Roman Republic class next semester.

HOWEVER. Over the break I've read all of Robin McKinley's books (Blue Sword, Hero and the Crown, etc) for the 70 zillionth time, and am working my way back through all of Joan Aiken's Dido/Is books which I've collected at great expense just as they're all coming back into print. I can't tell you how much I love that woman's writing. Dido is the best. And yeah, that's who I borrowed my name from, not that lame-o queen of Carthage :FIREdevil: .

#20 tigger

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 01:13 PM

I'm just finishing up Joseph Mazo's Dance is a Contact Sport. It's a non-dancer's perspective of NYCB. Mr. Mazo observed the company for the 1972-3 season and wrote all about many different aspects, including rehearsals, music, finances, etc and he's marvellously impartial and polite. Although probably all the dancers he profiled have retired, I'm sure a lot of the other material is still relevant, like the struggle between artistry and finances (but imagine, pointe shoes for 10.50, and 8.95 for orchestra seats...and at a time when the Met charged up to $20 for a seat!) I wonder if anyone else has written a book like this more recently?

#21 Funny Face

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 03:14 PM

Favorite Godden book: "A Breath of Air" -- a modern re-telling of The Tempest.

#22 Farrell Fan

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 03:33 PM

"Dance is a Contact Sport" is one of my favorite ballet books -- it paints an unforgettable, gritty portrait of life inside NYCB at a great moment in the company's history --after the Stravinsky Festival and before the return of Suzanne Farrell and the retirement of Melissa Hayden. I don't know of any other book like it. Mazo affects a sort of wise-guy tone throughout, but it is endearing and appropriate. Some of my all-time favorite dancers have cameo roles -- Bobby Maiorano, Delia Peters, Victor Castelli -- and the stars ... Villella, von Aroldingen, d'Amboise ... But while for me the book is a nostalgic trip down memory lane, there's much in it that is always relevant -- on the subjects of money, injuries, life in the corps, the relationship between soloists, principals, and stars, and -- as they say -- much, much more.

#23 Ed Waffle

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 10:56 AM

Arturo Perez-Reverte writes intellectual thrillers (or literary detective stories) in Spanish. I have read several in English translation. His books are set in Spain and with one exception in the present, although each the stories he relates are rooted in the past--some as long ago as the Middle Ages.

Perez-Reverte creates very credible characters—so much so that the reader accepts the occasionally incredible situations he puts them in. Those situations have to occur since his genre is mystery/thriller. He has the mysterious happenings and thrilling occurrences down pat.

Literary—he assumes, for example, that the reader knows not only the first sentence of “Moby Dick” (everyone does) and the last few sentences of it (also most of us) but much of what comes between the first and last pages. The plots of his novels center around books and reading.

“The Club Dumas” tells of the obsessive acquisitiveness of rare book lovers—and assumes the reader knows the details of many of Dumas’ books, since the characters and action from them especially D’Artangian and Lady DeWinter are woven into the narrative.

“The Fencing Master”, while set in the mid-19th century in Madrid, has constant references to fencing tomes of years past and its protagonist ignores the political tumult all around him while attempting to finish life's work, a Treatise on the Art of Fencing. He fails, of course, since this is a thriller, and is drawn into the plots and counter-plots that surround him.

“The Nautical Chart”, the book I recommend for those who haven’t yet begun to read Perez-Reverte, has action that is based on interpretation of 17th century Jesuit sources. The action in the novel could not take place without and is based upon critical comparisons of books of atlases from the early modern period.

One theme that surfaces constantly in his books is the conflict between history and tradition on one side and modernity on the other. Each of his leading characters are rooted in some way in the past—ancient book dealers, experts on restoration of Renaissance paintings, interpreters of documents from hundreds of years ago. But each of them is also completely comfortable with the very modern tools of his or her trade, is aware of recent breakthroughs in the science behind the art that they practice and is very aware of the current value to the objects for which they strive.

A literary device that Perez-Reverte uses to great effect is a shifting point of view. Combined with related tropes like a (slightly) unreliable narrator and uncertainty as to the identity of the protagonist this creates several layers of meaning. His language, while not flowery, is rich and a joy to read.

Like many “classic” authors of centuries past, Perez-Reverte immerses his reader in the obsessions and diversions of his characters. In Melville you learn about whaling. Stories of farm life in the Russian provinces run throughout Tolstoy, while detailed explanations of the English courts and justice system characterize Dickens. As with these authors, you will finish one of Perez-Reverte's books knowing a good bit more about what animates the lives of his characters.
Art restoration, the history of chess, the different schools of fencing during the waning of the age of Chivalry, the value of books pubished before the year 1600 and how mariners determined longitude before the invention of the chronometer are among the things he discusses in delightful and discursive detail.

At least one of his books has yet to be translated into English: “La Riena del Sur” and I haven’t been able to find “El capitan Alatriste” in English. I look forward to reading both of them plus “The Seville Communion”, which I am saving for a bit.

#24 vagansmom

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 01:21 PM

Ed, thank you so much for that post. You have got me looking forward to reading a book by Perez-Reverte. Could you single one out as a good first read for someone unfamilair with his works?

#25 Ed Waffle

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 02:53 PM

"The Nautical Chart" is a good place to start. Although that is probably because it was the first of his books that I read and was entranced by it.

Discovering new authors can be a bit daunting sometimes, at least for me. I formed a habit back when I first began reading seriously of reading through several books by the same author, one after the other. I can recall essentially checking out entire shelves from the Chicago Public Library and chewing through Melville, Hawthorne, Hardy, Dickens, Faulkner and plenty of others.

I still have a tendency to do that, but try to slow down and savor each book as a thing in itself.

#26 vagansmom

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 04:15 PM

LOL, that's what I do too. My family teases me for that because I have a habit of latching hold of a good author, disappearing behind her/his books, and not coming up for air till I've read everything in print.

I will look for "The Nautical Chart" at my library tomorrow. Thanks for such a quick reply. :wub:

#27 dmdance

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Posted 23 January 2004 - 08:55 AM

I know this is a little "after the fact," but I thought I would add my opinion anyway. I was deeply moved by "Life of Pi." I enjoyed the symbolism (although blatant) and all of the life questions it raised. It made me deeply uncomfortable more than once (and even angry, I suppose), but I was forced to think and feel. I appreciate that. I am a vegetarian for ethical reasons. I felt as though the author was humanizing the animals by the personalization of the violent animal scenes. I thought it was brilliant.

I just finished "The Corrections." I found it hilarious and tragic and the same time. The author's verbally superfluous and indirect style served to make many of his points. On one level the book is an inictment of the American life style. Defining one's worth by occupation, house size, number of children, money, etc... is a path to unhappiness. The author makes no direct value judgements on these people. He only shows that in their effort to create all of the currently accepted trappings of success, a whole family of people finds itself each with his/her own miserable life. On another level, these very people make their way through some major life "corrections," and find at least some peace in their lives. I recommend it.

I just reread "Cry The Beloved Country" by Alan Paton. It is one of my all time favorite books. Beautiful, ethical - without being polemic, and thought provoking. The story follows one man as he searches for his son in Johannesburg, South Africa during the height of Apartheid. I read it in school in 8th grade. Loved it then. Still love it.

OK, I also just read the "Illiad" by Homer. I just hadn't read it, and felt like it was a good idea. I have to admit it wasn't bad. Long and full of confusing names. VIOLENT!!! I had to skim through the middle third of the book, but overall found it to be less difficult than I had anticipated.

I am about to read "A Confederacy of Dunces" and "Mrs. Kimble." (A college friend of mine - Jeniffer Haigh - wrote it. Has anyone heard of it?) I am also in the middle of reading a non-fiction book called "When Religion Becomes Evil" by Charles Kimball. It deals with extremeism that leads to violence and other evils. I have a need to read more than one thing at a time unless I am reading something so magnetic that I cannot put it down.

I am so glad that this forum is available on this board. I love to read. And it's so interesting to read others' opinions of books. Thank you.

#28 Funny Face

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Posted 24 January 2004 - 07:49 AM

I know this sounds traitorous to the area I'm from, but I never could get through "Confederacy of Dunces," because I see too many of them in everyday life and it just isn't amusing when you have to live it. Incidentally, there's an annual dance concert (modern) given every year here entitled "A Confederacy of Dances."

I can't believe I finally just read my first Ethan Canin book, "The Emperor's Club" -- yes, the movie of the same name is based on the book. It seems from some of the research I've done that people feel very strongly for or against Canin's writing. I, personally, have to admire someone who penned bestsellers while attending medical school. (He's since given up medicine and gone back full time to writing, also teaching on the staff of Iowa's proram).

#29 dmdance

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 07:27 PM

FunnyFace, I'll have to let you know about how "Confederacy of Dunces" goes for me. I've heard good and bad things about it.

#30 atm711

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Posted 30 January 2004 - 11:31 AM

I have been reading Nigel Hamilton's biography of Bill Clinton--"An American Journey". I do have some reservations about the book; there is too much psychoanalyzing of his subject and he has far too many quotes from Emmett Tyrrell of 'American Spectator". This aside, I was delighted to learn that our very own Paul Parish was a Rhodes Scholar with Clinton during that time. B)


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