* * *

Dec. 11th, 2014 08:46 pm
taelle: (cosy)
Saw a phrase describing a hypothetical book - "a book of miserable, shaky-eyed beauty, the sort of the book that makes you howl like a dog and gnaw on the covers".

Once again marvelled at the differences in people - I mean, some readers do actively search for books like this! Some recommend in this way - "this was wonderful! It exquisitely and painfully described the falling apart of a family/destruction of personality/whatever".

Also, in a slightly different vein (at least genre-wise different), apparently a lot of people love reading dystopias.

For me, books influence my moods way too much for me to lean in that direction.

* * *

Dec. 4th, 2014 09:04 pm
taelle: (Default)
As always, Thursday totally counts as Wednesday, so.

I recently read three mysteries by Catriona McPherson - liked them a lot, need to get more. I think in all three the murder was less of a mystery than the surrounding circumstances - which are VERY twisty; people aren't dead when they are announced to be, aren't children of their supposed parents, etc. Basically, I was genuinely interested in knowing how it would end. They're a bit strange to me character-wise because of Dandy the detective (especially Dandy's marriage) - okay, I am an emotionally cool person myself, but. Why on earth did she marry Hugh? Also, Alec, despite there being a lot about him in the first novel, doesn't quite come alive to me. Oh well.

I now have a Smartphone which makes it much easier to read Kindle books, so I left alone the ones I began on my reader and went to start several of my old and new Kindle buys. Fran Pickering's Cherry Blossom Murder is a murder mystery about Takarazuka - how could I not? I haven't read enough to say whether I like it, though - I also started Duke of Snow and Apples by Elizabeth Vail, a Regency fantasy with a mysterious footman, and a book about cleaning and housekeeping by Kondo Marie - I love books about cleaning and creating order, they're very soothing for me.
taelle: (Default)
Article about SFF says: "If you've never read NN, I feel bad for you. [She] explores racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, violence, and religion via dystopian futures [...]magnificently"

... really? I believe you that NN writes very well but I feel rather good that I've never read her - and am making a note to keep not reading her.

* * *

Sep. 13th, 2014 02:57 am
taelle: (books)
I think the reason I actually prefer reading nonfiction and genre books to general fiction is that I am the kind of person who never learned to separate her reading matter from her moods. The kind who won't have unhappy endings and such. And thus I am careful about what kind of books I let to influence my mood and my sense of well-being, even.

I remember ages ago, when I was still active on piffle, we were talking about Bujold. And I admitted I could not bear rereading the dinner party scene in A Civil Campaign, and even the first time I skimmed it in a jumpy and nervous way - because with my embarrassment squick it was almost unbearable to read. And several people agreed that they, too, felt that way. But then someone - Grada, IIRC - not just did not feel that way - she absolutely could not understand what was difficult in that scene. "I reread it many times! It is so wonderfully written, I enjoy it very much!" (quoted, naturally, from memory)

And I kept wondering, how was it, to experience books separately from yourself, to appreciate the skill, to enjoy complicated plots... I mean, I do appreciate all this, and yet there are books with all that which I will not finish or reread, because I am not comfortable in them. And I value my comfort, that's why I prefer the books which are subject to a certain kind of order and predictability.

(I started reading a book about reading books - I love those - and this led me to thinking that most book blogs I find, especially on Blogspot, seem to be about a very different kind of reading from mine)

* * *

Jun. 29th, 2013 11:38 pm
taelle: (Default)
I keep thinking about how there's such a lot of YA books and TV series about USAian high school, and how this is such a subject of instant boredom to me.

Of course, I haven't gone to high school in USA so I can't relate and maybe it's really important and recognizable for USA readers and watchers, but I never went to a college in USA either, and I _am_ able to enjoy college stories (and there seem to be plenty of non-USA people loving TV series about spoiled rich high schoolers and their social games and stuff). And in general I do enjoy stories not related to my experience... (okay, I hate prison stories, but that's more understandable).

Maybe it's because it's _partial_ relatedness to my experience. And maybe it's because all those stories seem to center on the school being a tribe with weird and complicated social customs (which sound unbelievable. Though I once asked on a mailing list and people answered that yes, there really are unwritten rules about who sits where in a diner, or something), and these customs do sound boring.

Or maybe I am at the age when teenagers in general do sound a bit boring.
taelle: (books)
What I have read recently:

Nightwatch by Sarah Waters: one of those writers I always hope to like but don't manage to. I took up this one because I am interested in WWII, and actually finished it. Found it well-written, but tiring because of not one of the main characters ever being happy.

What I am reading now:

Shadow Roses by Natalya Rezanova: a story collection based on Shakespearean plots - sort of like AUs intertwined with alternative versions of Earth history. Difficult to describe but interesting. I think my favourite was the story where Benvolio and Rosaline meet again many years in their future.

Pigeon Post by Arthur Ransome: I was curious because it seems to be popular, and it (and another book from this series) popped up in a nearby second-hand bookshop. I am not much of a fan of children's books, but this, even though the plot seems to be rather Enyd-Blytonish, is much better written (though I am not sure why they decided Timothy must be an armadillo).

Fanning the Flames, ed. by William Kelly: a collection of essays of Japanese fans and fandoms. Not about Takarazuka, but feels kind of recognizable, and also some interesting thoughts on fannishness in general (I don't read academic fan theory that much, I came to this mostly from Japanese modern culture angle)

Citizens, by Simon Schama - a Very Long book about French revolution. I have read Carlyle fairly recently - it's interesting to see a more objective angle, but I think after this I should look for something more pro-revolution, for comparison.
taelle: (Default)
 ... on Thursday.

Finished reading: Emma Lathen's Sweet and Low. Those mysteries work rather nicely as comfort reading for some reason. And I never remember who's the killer anyway.

Reading now: Emma Lathen's Ashes to Ashes.

Will read next: either the stuff I haven't finished since last Wednesday, or the rest of Lathen paperbacks I have. We'll see.
taelle: (books)
Reading now:

Hobbit - yes, yes, I went to see the film. Rereading with it still in mind, it's fun to compare. However, I only have it in Russian translation, and now I rather want the original.

Gavin de Becker, Gift of Fear - rather interesting observationss, though I know people who'd find them self-evident.

Have recently finished:

Nothing since last Wednesday.

Am going to read next:

Probably return to Corrigan's bio of Wellington, or to a rather charming mystery called Nun in the Closet.
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.
taelle: (Default)
From here: To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:

oh dear, I tend to read five books at once...
Second volume of War and Peace - I reread the first one last year and took a break, and now I am back at it, thinking all kinds of things about how Tolstoy sees maturity, intellectual life and women...

Simon Shama, Citizens - French revolution in great detail (I think the Bastille was at page 380), quite fascinating.

The first Bryant and May book by I don't remember who - slow going, maybe I am not as interested in mysteries any more? Or is it that Bryant and May failed to charm me yet?

Graham Parry, Trophies of Time - about English antiquarians, quite useful.

Sir John Ross, Memoirs and Correspondence of Admiral Lord de Saumarez - because after watching Trafalgar the musical I realized I missed Nelson and his gang and needed to read up on them again.

Andrew Roberts, Waterloo - I should maybe find a big map of Waterloo, or something. Amateur military historians amaze me, no matter how much I've read about Waterloo it never settles into a complete picture.


Recently finished reading: G.L. Oldy - Shelter for Heroes - rereading one of my favourite Russian fantasy novels (which I like most of all for details of everyday life and creating the sense of place)


What I will read next:

H.V. Morton's book on Spain, I think. Or something else about Georgian navy.

* * *

Nov. 18th, 2012 03:36 am
taelle: (crafty)
It's a funny thing that makes us enjoy it when book/film characters like the same things we do (I assume I am not the only one in this). Like, books about people who like to read (and read the same kind of books). ... I have yet to see a book where someone cross-stitched, though - except for Monica Ferris's mysteries, but that's just cheating for my purposes, of course in cosy mysteries set in specific settings you can find people doing _anything_...

* * *

Jun. 13th, 2012 10:10 pm
taelle: (books)
In a Guardian article totally not related to Russia I saw a comparison that amused me to no end: "as democratic as a president Putin election victory". Putin has the nicest reputation all over the world.

*listening to the news some more* Migrant workers stole a wing of a crashed fighter jet. Which crashed three years ago. And lay unguarded on a military base. So now of course everyone's off to prosecute them for stealing such valuable stuff. I dunno, if it's so valuable, why not prosecute people who left it there for three years looking like stuff to be sold as metal scrap?

Also, are we going to war with Poland over football? Listening to the news you'd think we are... I hope not.

Also, I bought the collection of mystery and horror stories edited by Sayers on a library sale.

However, I am feeling musty, forgetful and brainless. Hope I'm not going to get a cold.
taelle: (crafty)
I've been noticing that some books for me are like a test: I can handle people saying that they don't like/don't understand them, but when people start making _judgements_ on them, it makes me want to move back. Austen is a clearest example. "Austen? Oh, I am not interested in romance novels/chicklit/one more book about girls looking for husband'. Uhhhuh, and I am probably not interested in _you_.

Also, I've been reading an interesting blog, and its author had a post about bringing out and analyzing her internal convictions. And, well, she used crafts as an example - that for her paper crafts is stuff you do with kids, sewing and knitting is normal but still it's more economical to buy stuff... well, the basic conviction she discovered is kinda evident. And it threw me into thinking about me and crafts. Because my first instinct was 'She's right, and what I do is useless' - I do have some periods of thinking like that, usually stopped by 'and what _isn't_ useless?'

But. I know I am not interested in paper crafts, and sometimes I think it's because I find them useless, but. I know some people don't do cross-stitch because is useless... and maybe it is. I often find cross-stitching quoted as this ultimate example of useless fiddling, stuff old-fashioned spinsters/housewives do. And I certainly have a bit of inferiority complex because I use patterns created by others - not creative at all, basically a version of painting-by-numbers. (then again, I mostly consider myself not a creative person anyway).

So, am I trying knitting because it's useful? Because it's more creative? I certainly knit much worse than I cross-stitch (though it's difficult to cross-stitch badly) Even in fandom, knitting is kinda cool, and the only 'cool' cross-stitching is that book that offers patterns for cross-stitching the word 'fuck' and stuff like this.

... actually, no, I don't - I mean, I am also trying sewing, but that _is_ kind of practical, while knitting feels somewhat similar to cross-stitching for me, this process of doing things stitch by stitch, slowly, without trying to get this all at once (I am a slow person rather tired from the world that keeps wanting me to embrace whole processes at once and to be spontaneous and creative).

As for paper crafts, the simple truth is that I don't enjoy handling paper and cardboard the way I enjoy floss and yarn and fabrics.

I tend to forget this at times, though.

And I would love to knit better. And to not be afraid to sew and knit for myself (well, knit not-scarves for myself). And possibly to quilt.

* * *

Feb. 16th, 2012 03:40 am
taelle: (books)
... though, getting back to the previous post, I somehow don't have a problem of finding well-written things to read in English (says she, going to a Jan Morris after finishing a Rebecca West).

And I have heard dozens of arguments about how e-readers are splendid and let's get rid of tiresome paper books, and I certainly don't have space for books any more (well, _nearly_ don't have), and my e-reader is most convenient, but... books are a physical pleasure.

* * *

Feb. 15th, 2012 04:24 am
taelle: (books)
It is perhaps ridiculous, but I read far more in English than I do in Russian (actually, since I mostly read nonfiction and, for relaxation, urban fantasy and mysteries, it's totally understandable - there's practically no Russian nonfiction about what I am interested in, and Russian urban fantasy genre is rather dubious. As is the mystery genre).

Though, well, it may keep my English fresh and lively - but what about my Russian? Do I start using English-type constructions, bad syntax and all? I know that with words, I keep forgetting which scientific/Latin-originated terms made their way into Russian and which didn't.

Trouble is, I should read more in Russian, and in good Russian, but, well, what? (I reread Master and Margarita in January and enjoyed it a lot, and I ought to finish War and Peace, but beyond that I am out of ideas)

* * *

Nov. 9th, 2011 04:23 am
taelle: (Default)
I did not feel like updating this blog.
I still don't. But since I don't feel like anything, except for possibly playing mahjong and, definitely, hiding under the blankets, I may as well do the least difficult routine thing - that is, update the blog.

Also, for some reason I am reading a book called Tim Gunn's Golden Rules. All I know about Tim Gunn is that he does something in some reality show about fashion. The book is rather entertaining, though - I like to read such chatty stuff when I have no brain. Like now. *thinks how to tag this kind of books*

* * *

Oct. 4th, 2011 03:28 am
taelle: (reading)
Both circumstances and someone's blogpost kept me thinking today about what do you do if someone dear to you has problems. How can you help, if you're not at the same city at the moment, for example. If you can't give practical help and they are not in the mood to be distracted/entertained with random fun/pretty things. If you can only sort of give vague 'I'm here for you' signs. Because, am I here? What am I here for? Very likely those questions don't have answers, but I still feel like a failure.

Among other things, it's related to my eternal worry that there are correct emotional reactions and I don't know them. I know where this is coming from - I am temperamentally very different from the rest of my family, - but when you remember from the age of five that good girls don't react to presents like that (saying "oh, that's cool, thanks" instead of jumping with joy and hugging the giver like you're supposed to), don't greet family members like that, etc., it's rather difficult to keep remembering that there's no One True Way. I mean, what if there _is_ one?

In less introspective/cheerier news, I went to the library today, a month late. In the end I only took out one new book and renewed one book I already had - because the foreign language department had a book sale. And they're going to have more sales because they're clearing up space and clearly I have to go there more often because books! Cheap and unexpected books! I was good and only bought seven books, from P.D.James to Richard Hakluyt, and still I have aching shoulders from carrying all this home. I like biographies, and biographies are heavy... And I need to reorganize my bookshelves. And I don't know when I'm going to read all this. But: BOOKSES!

And I am still at the first chapter of War and Peace, thinking mostly about how I don't like Andrei. And feel sorry for his wife. And for Pierre, somehow.

Also, wrote a ficlet today. Liked it more than the stuff I wrote yesterday. But I circled around my notebook for maybe an hour, spamming Tumblr instead. Oh well, I can do it. I can get through the fear of writing if I keep writing. I know this.

* * *

Sep. 29th, 2011 11:07 pm
taelle: (Default)
My brain did not want me to read anything requiring any amount of concentration, so I reread three Christies I remembered worst of all. Still works as comfort reading. Rereading and comfort reading is a curious thing - sometimes a book stops working for you. I used to reread Max Frei to bits until I just couldn't. Suddenly author's world view was too much in my face and too different from mine to enjoy it.

I am fine with other times' views, though - well, mostly fine (I used to like a mystery writer either writing or setting her novels in the 50s and then I reread her books and couldn't stand the way women were treated). I know a lot of people who can't read Austen for reasons ranging from 'these people are busy with stupid things and make mountains out of molehills' to 'the women's lives are intolerable and it is suffocating to read about their powerlessness'. And I know people who find Sayers or Heyer too antisemitic, too homophobic or too... something - which I mostly don't. Okay, Heyer's modern mysteries do read kind of homophobic to me, but somehow the dismissal of a heroine's activities as silly (I do tend to love Heyer's more male-centered novels more) troubles me far more than the image of a stereotypical Jewish moneylender. Maybe because the latter is someone so stereotypical that I just can't relate? A 'type', not a person, which feels more like author's shorthand than conscious attitude.

* * *

Sep. 22nd, 2011 11:16 am
taelle: (Default)
I think the most interesting thing for me in this George Eliot bio is, well, the social details. Just what opportunities women had, what happened to marriages, what were the consequences of living with a man without marrying him and so on. I just hope this bio is accurate - it looks to be pretty definitive.

I wonder if I should try Middlemarch again. "Family" novels for some reason get me nervous and on edge as much as thrillers do - maybe more; there is so much more potential for nasty stuff happening. (and I alway knew my tastes in reading matters were pretty philistine - I like mysteries and biographies because they are sort of orderly and ordered).

* * *

Sep. 20th, 2011 04:17 am
taelle: (Default)
It's my favourite weather out there, especially in the evening - this early autumn city weather, when darkness shines with streetlights and the remains of a rain - or promises of a rain. I want to be out walking, but even not thinking about my cough which gets worse after I go out, I'd get tired after twenty minutes.

Weather, please wait for me.

So I've mostly been reading - finished Oldington's bio of the Duke of Wellington (now want more modern treatments as well as more primary sources), and Heyer's Infamous Army (so much love. Even though Heyer's heroes are allowed to be more sensible than heroines. But I like Barbara - and I really like Judith!). Now reading a bio of George Eliot (maybe silly of me - of her books I only ever read a part of Middlemarch and not finished it - I think it was too complicated a read for my state of English back then) and an urban fantasy by Kate Griffin called Madness of Angels. It was a present from a friend and I know nothing about it, but I like sometimes to read books without expectations - expectations weigh on me and make me nervous about what's going to happen in a book and what the author is going to do with her characters and with me. ... anyway, I haven't read much yet, but it's kind of interesting for now.

And I really, really hope I'm not getting a migraine. A migraine is precisely what I do not need.

And I am way too irritable to deal with many of my acquaintances, even if I'm still polite enough not to show it.

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