* * *

Sep. 5th, 2014 03:24 am
taelle: (cosy)
I swear there should be a day of the week called 'Approximate Wednesday', for me to post my reading lists.
Then again, since I work at home and frequently work through weekends... let's say it's not approximate Wednesday, it's a relative one (Wednesday in Japanese seems to be 'Water day' judging by kanji, which makes me want to interpret 'Wednes' as 'Wetness', even though I know it's not so).

Anyway. I finished Klemperer's LTI, which was scary both on the level of 'I did not know this part of history' (seriously, I somehow thought all Jews in Nazi Germany went to camps. I knew of ghettos, of course, but only related them to occupied territories) and on the level of 'this reminds me of what's happening now'.

I also finished Boris Pasternak's 1905/Lieutenant Schmidt poems. Of which I previously have read only the first one, and I still like it better. But I now kind of want to read stuff about Schmidt now.

I am reading a bunch of stuff simultaneously, which is what usually happens when I feel jumpy and tired (well, more than 3 books is what happens when I am tired - 3 is normal); most of these, I think, I have mentioned already - the Poland history guide, the lesbian Pride and Prejudice, the next October Daye book (the 5th one). I also started a bunch of new stuff - Ernest Gellner's Nations and Nationalism, Yamaori Tetsuo's book about face in Japanese culture, Paolo Virno's book on multitudes (my sister gave it to me last New Year, but it seems strangely appropriate right now. Then again, everything seems strangely appropriate right now).

I don't think I will be up for making reading plans until I finish at least something.
taelle: (sad)
I am still at October Daye books. I am definitely reading fanfics after I am done with the books, because _more_ bad things continue to happen to Toby. No, this is not exhaustingly grim: she has support and friendship, but I feel the need for in-between moments. The time when they all had a picnic instead of trying to get killed.
Very readable though. Especially now that it started to seem that there's an overarching plot.

I am also reading a lesbian romance by Karin Kallmaker called Just Like That which is basically a lesbian version of Pride and Prejudice. It keeps amusing me. I needed something amusing between October Daye and the Klemperer book which I'm still at, and the Polish history guide, which is interesting but not gripping and certainly not sunshine-y.
taelle: (Default)
Missed the Wednesday before (I think) and this one too, but I am still at the October Daye books - now have finished three and am in the middle of the fourth. Very good. Reminding me of the early Anita Blake ones, when there wasn't still overwhelming sex-and-manipulativeness. Also, grimness is offset by a number of nice people and good friends.

Also still slowly reading Klemperer. Still being horrified.

Also still reading the book about Poland. Decent about basics of history and landmarks, I suppose - though I am not yet qualified to judge, of course.

Future reading will, I suppose, be October Daye until I run out of those.

* * *

Jul. 31st, 2014 07:17 pm
taelle: (Leningrad)
I have been reading and rereading the latest poem by Dmitry Bykov (and reading it out loud to myself). The one about the Malaysian airliner, except that it's not. I kinda regret that it's an English-language blog that I am having here and I can't post it here too.

Because it's important to me. Especially the way it ends. You see, the way things are going here, at least 80% of the population support Putin's policy or are even more rabid than that. I am an alien here. I always knew my political and social position isn't that popular, but in the last several months it turned out that I am an alien even to a lot of ordinary 'neutral' people who keep turning out to be rabid nationalists (I am still reading Klemperer and not liking that feeling).

And on top of that, out of the remaining 20%, the ones on my side, keep saying that we are doomed to this. To madness. That my country will never ever be an ordinary country among others; that nothing will ever be right, that the country, the people, will be nothing more than a bad example to humanity: see this? Don't do things like this.

And Bykov is saying: no, that's not Russia, I don't know what it is and I am not sure how to deal with this, but there's no proof that this is actually Russia as it is.


... meanwhile I missed Wednesday again, so belated reading report:

I finished Emperor's Agent, and it was rather cool. I really grew to like those people towards the end (I had a problem with 'I remember my past lives, I was this and that great person' initially, since I have met people who said this and they were tiresome and unpleasant, but I guess you are allowed to remember being Hephaistion and Robert Dudley in past lives if you're Michel Ney in this one). I wonder whether I should now go read the first book, or whether it would be unpleasant - Elza's relationship with Moreau doesn't seem to have been a nice one.

I also finished the Robin Hood time-hopping book I mentioned last time: a lot of fun. Pity there's no sequel. And the hero's modern views are a lot of fun in contrast with those that surround him ("Robin also believes in God? Damn!")

I have read the first October Daye book and found it very good, reminding me of the first Anita Blake books (and the bit about the fish is really scary: a horror you _really_ can imagine in your life).

I have started the second one... and then, reading the blurbs for the following books on Amazon, was kind of spoiled, so I paused. But I definitely will finish this one, and probably go on reading them, so that's for my reading plans.

Meanwhile I also started a book called 'Poland: a neighbor for thousand years', which is kind of a historical guidebook. The author is confusing at times (I am not sure what he wanted to say about Polish pronunciation, for example), but less confusing in history and respectful and interested, which is good since Poland was always a touchy subject here.
taelle: (books)
Have read:

Finished Two Caskets, Made of Turquoise and Jade - even managed to catch some allusions to modern Russian writers (amazing, that - since usually I only know genre writers). Nicely done.

And I am about ten pages from finishing Edo culture. Later chapters on music and theatre were a bit less interesting because they went more into specialist subjects and evidence and less into stories. But still, there were stories. It was good.

Am reading:

The Emperor's Agent by Jo Graham apparently has an investigation subplot. Which is good. Though right now it's more a flashback about the heroine's relationship with Ney, which is bad because from the current events we know it ended unhappily, and such things make me tense. Also, this is apparently a second book, and I think the thing I miss most is the mystical stuff/the stuff about the Companions.

LTI - Lingua Tertii Imperii by Victor Klemperer, still fairly scary.

Also started a chance recommendation - a portal fantasy called Robin Hood's Friend and Lieutenant, by Anna Ovchinnikova. It has Little John being actually a modern Russian guy who ended up in Sherwood by chance magical means. Fun so far.


Am going to read:

Still thinking about October Daye books.
taelle: (books)
Have read:

The Body in the Fjord, one of Catherine Hall Page's Faith Fairchild mysteries - this one featuring mostly her friend Pix Miller and Pix's mother, travelling in Norway and trying to find a girl who has disappeared. Left me wanting to go to Norway and to eat a lot of Norway foods.

A Charm of Magpies by K.J. Charles, a m/m romance/urban fantasy series set in AU Victoriana with magic. Very nice, plotty and readable.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison - loved it for a lot of reasons, including characters I would have liked to meet and background suggestions of culture (really loved the party with talking about philology and embroidery).

Am reading:

The Emperor's Agent by Jo Graham, much recommended - not sure what I think yet (I'm about 40 pages in). I am wary of 1st person books, but I have not felt like throwing it away by now.

Edo Culture by Nishiyama Matsunosuke - a collection of writings about urban culture in 17-19th century Japan, a lot of interesting stuff (especially about cooking and restaurants).

LTI - Lingua Tertii Imperii by Victor Klemperer, a collection of notes on the language of the Nazi Germany interspersed with diary entries of the author, a Jew who was not sent to camps because of his 'Aryan' wife. With lots of predictably horrible details - I read about camps, but many details of everyday humiliations and terror for not-imprisoned Jews were news to me. The most horrifying, though, are the moments where he describes his former colleagues becoming Nazi. Also, this is all rather frightening in connection with our current situation.

Two Caskets, Made of Turquoise and Jade, by Alexander Sekackii - the author states he's only a translator from Chinese, and this book is a collection of crib notes for medieval Chinese officials taking exams. An interesting approach to parables, sort of giving two to four versions of answers to set problems - that is, ways of seeing every parable from different sides.

Am going to read:

Don't know, but I am thinking about October Daye books by Seanan McGuire
taelle: (books)
What I have just finished reading: on Dec31 I read a Russian fantasy novel (not translated) about a random guy who ends up in a body of young Border Guards officer in the late 19th century and uses his technical knowledge (he's a gun nut and supposedly just generally good at technology) to get himself a fortune as a manufacturer (at the same time being awfully good at border guarding). A fairytale for boys; there's a sequel where this guy has plans to avoid coming revolution and the like. Why are all such books so empire-minded?

What I am reading now: (only what I am _actively_ reading)

H.V. Morton's A Stranger in Spain - I like Morton's travel writing, both for descriptions and for interest in people (and also for assuming that his readers have the same cultural baggage - I wonder if his original readers actually did have the same classical and Christian allusions on their minds).

Gordon Corrigan's Wellington, A Military Life - looks like I'm on a Napoleonica (for lack of a better name) kick again, and I like Wellington (I get a thrill from reading about people who are basically orderly by nature, 'cause usually people worthy of being written about, both in fiction and in biographies, are the messy creative types).

Graham Parry's Trophies of Time - a part of my 'maybe let's revive the dissertation' reading program. Essays/articles about antiquaries, some better known, some practically unknown.

Simon Schama's Citizens - 1000 pages All About French Revolution. Interesting and more balanced than I usually see (growing up in USSR I read all about how awesome revolutionaries were, later on I see mostly stuff about how awful the revolutionaries were).

What I am planning to read next: have no foggiest idea - probably should finish some other books I pecked into/left unfinished. Probably still Napoleonica.

* * *

Feb. 24th, 2012 02:34 am
taelle: (Rylance Prospero)
I am trying to work, and for relaxation (my mother's favourite idea: "Tired of working? Go iron some linens" etc.) I am reorganizing my English history shelf. It is a big shelf for two rows of books, but I am out of space anyway, and I don't have spare shelves. And I wish I had a separate Shakespeare shelf - I don't have that much, yes, but... I don't have much YET. So I am weeding out not-so-necessary stuff in order to put it away (xeroxed stuff, for example! I used to xerox tons of stuff from British Council books, for example. That was ten years ago).

In that vein, I was reminded of the Ricardians today. Funny people: maybe the English and/or USAian ones are different, but here, though I am kind of in favour of their theories, I got very tired of the Ricardians themselves. Two main reasons: (a) Shakespeare hate (also, Shakespeare as a Tudor hireling paid to besmirch Richard's reputation kind of breaks my brain), and (b) total unwillingness to acquaint themselves with actual modern history studies outside of their set list (and with history in general - the idea of historians being dead set against Richard because they' hate to rewrite the generally accepted view of history kind of breaks my brain too. A lot).

* * *

Jan. 20th, 2012 03:47 am
taelle: (books)
The current job is so mind-numbing that I started reorganizing stuff on the shelves under the ceiling.

And now my online dictionary won't open: perhaps I did enough for today.

Finished Huntingtower, am reading Castle Gay, but it's slower to get into, because there's very little McCunn, and the elections and rugby are kind of bewildering.

Funny thing: this is the first winter with the new governor, and the streets are suddenly passable in winter. Even with snow. Maybe she's the Snow Queen? Although, why would the Snow Queen look so repulsive?

* * *

Nov. 1st, 2011 05:29 am
taelle: (rain)
I want to hide from the world (this, of course, is why I post in a public blog, right); no, really. I need the sense of being coccooned - like making a playhouse by putting a blanket over a table, - to pull myself together (this is, of course, where any sane person would ask me what I need to pull myself together _from_). Maybe I _am_ an hypochondriac, I dunno.

I am reading Eric Hobsbawm, which is kinda... different after some postmodernist historian stuff I've been looking at lately. But I hope I do remember stuff. I think with years I have started reading more slowly - though I always wondered whether things stay in my mind. This is one of the reasons I've always kept a diary - to prevent time from sifting through my fingers.

Halloween in Russia is taking strange forms. I am afraid that in a year or two it will be considered polite to give people best wishes for Halloween and to send postcards. Or something. There's already children's events - day events! In local cultural centres!

I started watching the Takarazuka Hamlet - and liking it more than I expected, for all its rock opera glamour (also, eternally amused by female Rosencrantz and by the gravedigger girls who look a bit like the younger version of Macbeth witches).

Still continuing my story - or trying to. Wrote an interlude before a talk which I'm not sure how to do (well, the character planning to have that talk is not sure either, but that does not matter). I am an okay writer on a phrase-and-paragraph level, but story-level... that's what happens when you stick to vignettes.

Also I should go to a dentist.

* * *

Sep. 13th, 2011 05:52 am
taelle: (Default)
I still can't write; well, except for the soap opera I'm telling to myself while hiding under the blankets. Except that right now my cough is so bad that I can't lie down, it gets worse then; and it distracts me from everything except possible websurfing. Out of frustration I've written down what's going on in this soap opera: the summaries do read a lot like soap opera summaries in a TV guide: "X tells to Y that she wants a baby. Meanwhile Z is attacked by a stranger". And so on.

Oh well, I suspect that a part of my writing block is fear: once I do open the file/the notebook, I _will_ write something at least. Last several months I've been telling myself that I'm learning to write bad stories, and I'm not going to show them to anyone anyway, so it's okay, I can just write anything I want to, as long as I write. It does work... sometimes. Other times, I keep remembering I wrote some good stuff and being afraid to not measure up to this.

I started reading Richard Oldington's book about Wellington, and was quite amused to see the mention of Chauvelin. Perhaps one day I will finish the Pimpernel books. I love them, and I love Percy, but somewhere at the beginning of Lord Tony's Wife I got tired of nasty lower-class antagonists. I like it better when Percy deals with Chauvelin (of course, I then feel sorry for Chauvelin. And want him to have a happy ending too. And a happy threesome with Percy and Marguerite. Yes, I am a silly fanficcish person. Yes, I know it's impossible. Doesn't stop me from wishing.)

Mostly I feel better, though. I started putting my room back into order. Starting with throwing out used Kleenexes. And putting stuff back onto the walls. And deciding which stuff I want to put onto the walls (not related to illness. I just tend to re-haul stuff from time to time - take down posters and calendars and pictures, and all the teddy bears and stuff from bookshelves, and then after a while rearranging it all).

Also, I am going to have guests this weekend, so I'd better get better.

* * *

Sep. 11th, 2011 02:47 am
taelle: (Default)
I still feel ill and completely brainless. And useless. Also, conducting negotiations with a tooth of mine to convince it not to ache until I get better, since I'm so not up to going to a dentist.

I remember being little and enjoying being ill. Staying in bed and drinking tea and tasty things my mother brought me to make me feel better. Where has all this gone? I mean, I don't even feel like reading! Though I do read - I finished Karin Calvert, and also a book called "Re-thinking history" (much slower going than Calvert, especially since it was in English. It doesn't matter to me which language I'm reading in - until I fall ill, and the little bit of additional effort that English requires starts being more noticeable). Reading... it makes me feel less useless.

Though, remembering my childhood illnesses, I remember spending a lot of time leafing through a big book with a lot of photographs of La Scala. And today I relaxed and cheered myself up by looking at my Takarazuka photo books. So not that much is changed (except for possibly my tastes getting less elevated).

About my tastes, by the way: I notice I'm getting... less tolerant, maybe. When I notice someone dismissing things I love, like writing online about a book I liked a lot and saying that it is silly/empty/badly written, I feel like coming in and commenting 'Shut up, what do you know about it anyway!'. Not that I do, of course. Though - who knows, maybe I will, in five or ten years.

And I am still cross-stitching that corner of sky.  Being all sniffly isn't particularly conducive to cross-stitching. Though I finished watching the musical I started yesterday. Or maybe the day before yesterday.

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