A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. ~Oscar Wilde

Posts tagged ‘reading’

First book of 2016: Facepaint

It is the First of January, 2016, and I just stumbled upon the “First Book of the Year” community.

1stbook2016

I have never made the first book of a year into any kind of priority. Usually, I would not think it to be such a special thought in as much as it should not really matter to someone who reads all the time as to what time of the year it is. To me the year is a man made concept, for humanity’s own need to compartmentalise Time (with a capital T).

But, having just written in my list for 2016, “I have read and reviewed 30 books in 2016” I feel it may be necessary to undergo this ritual. Read the first book, review it. A journey of reading and reviewing 30 books starts by picking up the first book, after all.

To those who are planning to read 100+ books during the year, I commend you. There was a time when I did read a book or two in a week. Now is not that time. My very modest goal of 30 books this year is doubling what I managed to read in 2015. I am content to take my humble back seat in the community.

So my first book is one that I have just started to read over the last couple of days: “Facepaint: The Story of Makeup” by Lisa Eldridge. I am also reading: “The Modern Art Cookbook” by Mary Ann Caws, “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, and “Light on Yoga Sutras” by BKS Iyengar. This last book may also be finished as the last book of this year, depending on how many pages I read at a time.

First book of the year

Out of these I think it is easiest for me to finish Eldridge’s book, so I have chosen it to be my first book. It is filled with the most beautiful pictures. Her writing style flows like a conversation, and, as an avid follower of her YouTube channel, it feels like she is reading the book to me.

Thank you Sheila of bookjourney.net for the idea, and Ti of bookchatter.net for pointing me to the community. Happy reading adventures, fellow bookworms…..

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Adults: Young and Not So Young

I have recently discovered BookTubers . This YouTuber family is by no means new, it is just that I have arrived late to the party.

Since I came upon BookTubers via my guilty secret (beauty YouTubers), and since a large percentage of beauty YouTubers are in the early twenties age range, all the BookTubers I initially discovered were also similarly aged. Amazingly, or not so amazingly, this group of YouTube enthusiasts seems to review and read Young Adult Fiction overwhelmingly often. Even though not exclusively, it seems to be that much of the Book Reviews, To Be Read videos, Book Hauls etc. I have watched since discovering this genre, has involved Young Adult Fiction, Graphic Novels, etc. I know that Graphic Novel aficionados would all scream in frustration and fall in a heap, because some Graphic Novels are NOT Young Adult Fiction. E.g. “The Arrival”, by Shaun Tan. Oh dear, I have done it again. “The Arrival” is not a Graphic Novel, it is a Picture Book. Both of which are different to Comics. Sigh.

I remember back to my “freshly twenty” age, and the number of girls around me reading “Mills and Boon” or other such similar romances. I was guilty of sneaking a romance or two into my TBR (to be read, in modern parlance), myself. Most of the time, even at that age, my reading was heavily censored by my parents, which meant I read more classics than romances. Many of my friends were also reading Camus, Sartre, etc and making the atmosphere dense with their (surely half baked?) discussions of such thinkers and their work. Maybe they got those authors. I did not, which does not entitle me to cynicism. I did read a book or a half by such philosophers with no understanding whatsoever, but for the most part, satisfied my parents’ wish of my being a “serious” reader with less demanding books. Many of my compatriots at that age, though, were reading much lighter, romantic novels, which today would definitely be classified as YA. So there has been no generational “dumbing down”. People are reading as before, it is just that in today’s world of room to Internet to fame after a fashion, it is easy to get a very skewed view of what is actually happening in the world.

It has also occurred to me that I originally viewed the term Young Adult differently to what it is probably meant to be. I thought Young Adult meant the more “advanced” book for those who are too young to be called adult. The “Twilight” saga having being called YA probably added to this delusion, for I could not imagine that any adult could seriously digest these books. Amazingly, more than a few adults have, and with love. But YA fiction is aimed at those who are young adults. Who would have thought? Right?

Before I turned away from BookTubers and their vlogs, to more “intelligent” pursuits, because it is a very long time since I have been a young adult, I realised, that, Ariel Bissett, BookTuber, crazy, funny, adorable, and twenty years old, has been chosen by the Man Booker Prize people to be a “Man Booker Prize Vlogger”. OMG, right? This is her (along with four other BookTubers) official task: “This year, the Man Booker Prize will be running its own vlog book club, featuring five popular, literary vloggers in the UK and Canada. The ‘Man Booker Vloggers’ will chat about all things Man Booker from long list stage onwards, posting videos discussing the books and authors in contention for this year’s prize”.

What is the Man Booker Prize, other than being a prestigious award that can make an author’s career jump from the doldrums into the firmament? It’s aim is “to increase the reading of quality fiction, and to attract the intelligent, general audience.” I looked through the list of recent years Man Booker Prize winners, and the closest I have come to reading any of them is having the “White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga on the family bookshelf for a couple of years. I have not read it, another family member has. So, it is time I step off my high horse about BookTubers, and embrace them all.

Cute, Mad Ariel 

Very Insightful Rincey Reads       DeathtoStock_Clementine2

Sanne, whose name is as commons in The Netherlands, as Sarah is in the UK.

Only some of my new discoveries.

Photo Credit: http://deathtothestockphoto.com

The Telescopic Vision of Mr Jefferson

Thomas JeffersonLeave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Obviously Mr Jefferson had never read a lot of the popular literature of the twenty first century, some of which read like they were written by an unlearned person, and others read like they were edited by an unlearned person. In order to avoid the risk of offending many of the popular authors fast garnering millions of dollars in royalties, I will not mention any books here. The point remains, though, that reading does not necessarily equate to learning. Reading, however, can equate to recreation, and has the advantage over exercise that it need not be confined to any part of the day.

The next thing that jumps out is that Thomas Jefferson, may the Lord bless his wise soul, does not seem to have heard of mental health. Yes, exercise, does improve mental health, but reading does so as well, and it seems to me, from his sentences, that Mr Jefferson is talking of the kind of robust health that is energetic, kinetic, and bursting with movement. He is not talking of the health that lights up one’s innermost thoughts and adds a spring to one’s smile. He has a point, naturally, but maybe if he had been a twenty first century guru of everything, he would have phrased this same advice much differently.

Maybe he would not have talked of leaving ALL the afternoon for exercise and recreation, for if the ordinary man did so, the ordinary man would have to also go to bed with maybe one meal less in his tummy. Who but the school student, or the sports star has the opportunity to exercise all afternoon? It is also very questionable whether said school student or sports star would actually find this steady, compulsory sport practice recreational, all the time.

Maybe he would have suggested recreational exercise at different times of the day, suited to different walks of life, ages, and cultures. Maybe he would have added reading as recreation. Maybe he would have emphasised reading for health as well.

But, to give him his due, Thomas Jefferson is probably drawing the attention of people to the need for exercise and recreation, and recreation through exercise. Perhaps, in his wisdom, he foresaw, that there would come a time when people would get so cornered into eking out a subsistence during the day, and relaxing on their buttocks during the evening, that he saw the need to remind us to get out there and exercise. The “all” afternoon, is probably rhetoric, and the point about health and learning the same as well.

All Hail Thomas Jefferson. 

The Witch Who Flew in from the West

Wicked: distressing, mischievous, evil, mean, depraved, immoral…

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1) by Gregory Maguire

When I picked up the book at the library, I was excited. Having been the inspiration for a musical, I was expecting it to be quirky, saucy, funny, clever. I thought it would give a story of how the Witch from the West became Wicked. There was always this niggling thought at the back of my mind, “mmnngh! Don’t know whether I will relate to a book that excuses Wickedness due to life’s hard hits.”

But that idea of a musical  loomed large in my mind and I decided to give it a try.

I found it quite Tolkeinesque in its descriptiveness and slow, meandering narration. I believe that is what kept me going. I kept expecting the adventure to start. In Lord of The Rings so much happens it is hard to keep track of everything. I soon realised I had done Tolkein a grave injustice by comparing Maguire’s style to his.

NOTHING EVER HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK!

We have a green baby girl whose first word is “horrors”. She grows into a green teenager who is extremely clever, intelligent and in spite of being an outcast because of her skin colour, extremely kind and loving. She grows into a green woman while the reader waits, and waits and WAITS for her to do SOMETHING.

She never does anything, achieve anything, or really learn anything. Growth never occurs. She always is what she always was. Strong, fiercely independent, well read, with a brave and realistic though sometimes incredibly naïve outlook to life, she makes a few half hearted attempts at political activism, and most of the time just seems to wait around for something to happen. Why Wicked? There is not a single wicked bone in her body! Neither is she mischievous. She is so earnest in all her dealings, it is surprising that she does not project prudish. No one who knows her ends up believing her to be wicked. They mostly love her. So, it all remains a bit of a mystery.

Losing himself in myriads of descriptive passages and relating in minute detail what the Witch feels, Gregory Maguire never surfaces long enough to actually make a hero of his protagonist. He never commits the solecism of making his protagonist Wicked due to horrible life circumstances, he shows her capable of rising above every petty evil thrown at her, but neither does he ever take her on an heroic journey.

There are those who will tell you this is a book  with political references, socio-philosophical lessons. There are those who will discuss long and hard about how this book is a political satire. As you can tell, I am not one of them. Please do read it if you are an academic who likes reading obscure references. You may also want to read it if you are incredibly clever in finding meaning in everything.

The others may just want to watch the musical, which I am told, is a hoot! 

Love

PS:Another one of those rare books I did not finish. I read up on what happens at the end, and stopped a few chapters short.

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