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Among Other Things, I've Taken Up Smoking

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  997 ratings  ·  173 reviews
Critically acclaimed by reviewers across the country, Aoibheann Sweeney?s beautifully written debut novel is a story of the profound human need for intimacy. For Miranda, the adolescence spent in her fog-shrouded Maine home has been stark and isolated? alone with her troubled father, a man consumed with his work translating Ovid?s Metamorphoses, her mother mysteriously gon ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,727)
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Jasmine
according to the internet this person's name is pronounced even. I hope that is true.

This book is amazing really and truly amazing. I can't actually tell you that much about the book because I have realized that even being aware of the genre of this book actually minimizes the impact of the book. But what I can do is talk to you about some of the reasons this book worked for me that may or may not work for you.

This is a really great coming of age novel (now remember I hate coming of age novels
...more
Oriana
Feb 15, 2011 Oriana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Oriana by: Boldtype
Shelves: read-2011
I liked the tone of this book a lot, but I'm not sure I can really say I loved the story. The first half introduces us to this very lonely girl growing up isolated with just her dad on a tiny island in Maine. It's really suffused with soft melancholy, and very evocative and lovely. Dad's life's work is doing a new translation of Ovid's Metamorphosis, and there are snippets of some of the myths and personalities from it woven into the narrative in interesting ways. Miranda basically spends her ch ...more
Elizabeth
This book has many things I loved and a few things I wasn't so keen on, I thought giving it a "4" was a stretch, but I didn't have the heart to only give it a "3"

The side characters are all extremely predictable stereotypes. As soon as you meet them, you pretty much know everything that is going to happen with them. The predictability of the plot was my only major gripe with this book.

I loved how this book drew on Ovid's Metamorphoses. Ovid was invoked always at the right time, and in an appropr
...more
Laura
Aiobheann (say "Even") Sweeney adds a worthwhile volume to the "coming of age" genre. Miranda, a teenager who grew up on a tiny island in coastal Maine, visits New York at the behest of her father, a classical scholar writing a translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Books that make liberal use of metaphor, as this one does (episodes from Metamorphoses are sprinkled throughout), can be heavy-handed, but Sweeney has a light touch. While there's nothing startlingly original here, Sweeney's writing is
...more
Tuck
great first novel. sweet and etheral, like a teenager, then changes to more gritty and "real", like the "real world". hopefully we can expect good things to come from aiobheann sweeney! probably everybody should read this book, if you have a heart at all. even dick cheney
Kirsten
Probably the best part of this fresh and fast-paced novel is the stubbornly self-reliant protagonist's acceptance of her parents as human. That sounds like a cliche, but it's actually the most subtle transformation in a forest of other easy-reading dramas contained within this book. Nudged into understanding by the myths of Ovid's Metamorphoses woven throughout this short text, the reader discovers a young woman who worships her late mother and her elusive father as if they were gods. But then, ...more
Oana
Am gasit intamplator aceasta carte in biblioteca mea. Trebuie sa o fi cumparat la un moment dat pentru titlul ei foarte "catchy". (Dragi editori, se pare ca decizia de cumparare, cel putin la mine, se bazeaza intr-o proportie destul de mare pe titlul cartii. Deci aveati dreptate in tot acest timp!)

Dupa ce am citit coperta spate si cele cateva randuri despre autoare, m-am hotarat ca n-o sa-mi placa. Apoi m-am apucat de citit. Si am terminat cartea in doua zile, pe nerasuflate. Avand in vedere ca
...more
Mallory
This is a sweet, sad coming of age novel about a young woman who spends most of her life isolated and alone. The novel starts on a tiny island off the coast of Maine, where Miranda is raised by her alcoholic father, who is more interested in his translations of Ovid than he is by his daughter. I loved the idea of starting Miranda's life on an island, as this upbringing is what creates in her both her self-sufficiency and her extreme aloneness. There are months which pass where her only company i ...more
Tsani Jones
Written by fellow Crimson Aiobheann Sweeney, this is probably one of the best reads I've had to date.

It reminds me of the way I handled Trangression Junction, but her style is so clean, and the story so well written that I wish I owned this book rather than having to return it to the library. That actually says a lot.

This book was also a good fit for me because I can relate to a great deal of what was said and written as far as location, the feelings involved, and while I am not directly fami
...more
Jared Della Rocca
It's hard to tag this book accurately, straddling between "Coming of Age" and "Exploration of Sexuality", without reliably falling into either genre. Sweeney's protagonist has a complex relationship with her father due to his own closed nature, which she doesn't really break open until she has moved away from him. As she truly forms her own identity, she can then better see her own father. Similarly, her own identity doesn't fully form until that separation occurs. While her coming of age and ex ...more
Michael Hicks
The terse prose of this book was reminiscent of Hemingway. When a writer is this economical with the prose, what they think is worth noting becomes important, as does what they don't. The fact that both the writer and protagonist were women made what she chose to note and not note insightful to me as someone who's never fully understood the female perspective. With that being said, some of the plot that hinged on innuendo was depending on me understanding that perspective, which was a stretch so ...more
Annette
The author is really good at describing small interactions between people, by using a few details to give a vivid impression of complex relationships, and of how the relationships change over and are made up of those small details.
The story feels really incomplete and I feel unsatisfied about it so far (the book covers twenty years) but the moments that make it up are so good that I didn't really notice that flaw as I was reading. The book reminds me of A Complicated Kindness.

Extra bonus points
...more
Michelle
It started off a bit slow and weird but I wanted to give it a chance. I kept doing so until I realized it was over and had continued until the end to be a bit slow and weird!

Young girl lives with her father on a remote island in Maine. Her mom is dead. we wonder if the man that is the family friend is the ed'd lover, the daughter doesn't seem to notice. Girl travels to NY and meets all of her Dad's old friens who are gay. Girl doesn't sem to make he connection to her dad. Girl becomes inoled in
...more
Ruth
If I hadn't known that the author won a Lamba award for Lesbian Debut Fiction, I would have described this as a novel about bisexuality. It's not, though. This is just my wishful thinking. It's not about bisexual people who find they love same-sex partners more. It's about people in the closet who have to come out, and that's actually more appropriate for a contemporary retelling of The Tempest.

Here's one thing that is a little weird about this book: if the protagonist Miranda is the Miranda of
...more
Natalie
Sep 09, 2007 Natalie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: english majors, lesbians
Shelves: fiction
A bildungsroman about a young girl raised by her father consumed with the translation of Ovid's Metamorphosis and has that really delightfully Jeanette Winterson aspect of calling on myth for plot exposition. Hauntingly beautiful with descriptions like Plath and reminiscent in themes of Fun Home by Allison Bechdel.
Sarah Shaw
I chose to read this work of contemporary fiction based on the settings; Maine and New York are two locations that are meaningful in my own life. Although Miranda is socially awkward and her metamorphoses was slightly different than my own, I could relate to this coming-of-age story, transitioning from tranquil life in rural Maine to the chaos of New York City.

Quote: Among other things, I’ve taken up smoking. Ana says I should stop with the good girl/bad girl stuff, and obviously she’s right, bu
...more
Rose
Things I liked: The prose was soft and sometimes ethereal, without being wishy-washy. The references to Roman mythology and literature. The fact that the author gave birth in a New York taxi, according to the internet.

Things I didn't like: The whole "parent who has been gone/dead for as long as the protagonist can remember" trope. It pops up so often these days and it doesn't automatically make the protagonist more interesting or sympathetic, especially if it's not really explored (as is the cas
...more
Sarah
From the cover of this adult novel, I was expecting an artsy-fartsy literary thing. I was pleasantly surprised. I liked it. Is it one of the best books I've read all year? No, mainly because I can't think of a single student to recommend it to. But, the author definitely wins the coolest first name award.[return][return]Miranda grows up on an isolated island in Maine caring for her intellectual father who is translated Ovid. She cooks, cleans, and takes care of her absent-minded father. She does ...more
Angela
Aoibheann Sweeney’s debut novel, Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking, is the best coming-of-age novel I’ve read since Melanie Rae Thon’s Iona Moon.

Miranda Donnal lives with her father, a reclusive classicist translating Ovid’s Metamorphosis, on Crab Island off the coast of Maine. Miranda’s mother died when she was three, and Miranda has been raised mostly by her father and Mr. Blackwell, a Native American Indian who cooks, cleans, and nurtures the family when he is not fishing for a living
...more
Ruby
Jun 28, 2008 Ruby rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mainers, dykes, and people who like coming of age novels
Shelves: fiction, lgbt-etc
Something I read about this book called it restrained, and that's probably the word that best describes it to me. This fits the setting of a lonely island, where the protagonist grows up with her father.

The metaphors are really well done: everything relates back to the island, its air, light, water, color, and the tools of life on a rural island. It's certainly distinctive to hear descriptions of the island where I was born, Manhattan, described with rural references.

Also fresh was the descripti
...more
Nicole
The way in which Sweeney interweaves Miranda's own thoughts and experiences together with her retelling of pieces of Ovid's Metamorphosis is really interesting and its' done so well here I think---Miranda uses stories from Metamorphosis to understand her own life, explain/rationalize/flesh out how she feels about things she experiences, and in some cases, expresses subconscious curiosities or desires. In any case, it feels a bit like watching her thoughts and identity grow from inside of her bra ...more
Caseythecanadianlesbrarian
I expected to love Aoibheann Sweeney’s debut novel Among Other Things, I’ve Taken up Smoking (2007). This, unfortunately, was not meant to be. This is not to say that Among Other Things doesn’t have its good points. It’s a novel whose queerness gradually sneaks up on you: a novel of subtlety above all else, and its approach to the main character Miranda’s coming of age and coming out is no exception. It deals with the issues surrounding Miranda’s mother’s suicide, her father’s past, and his rela ...more
Nancy
Miranda has grown up largely alone on an island off the coast of Maine with her father. Her mother died (possibly a suicide) when she was three. For many years Jonas Blackwell, a local fisherman, spent a great deal of time with Miranda and her father, taking on a great deal of parenting from James who was distracted at the best of times and absorbed in his work translating Ovid for hours at a time. The relationship between the two men, and the cause for their break is never explained, partially ...more
Jessica
This was a perfect book to read as I prepare to leave NYC. Sweeney captures all the awkwardness that comes from being new in this city--from feeling under dressed and unfashionable at all times, to not knowing what a "regular" coffee is, to learning how to walk with the crowd. My favorite observation about New Yorkers is about weather. In the rain, "they seemed to feel as if the weather was meant for someone else, or somewhere else," and isn't that always the way with New Yorkers? Some days I fe ...more
AJ
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stacy
Oct 16, 2010 Stacy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010, eng
A story of one girl looking around at life like it is.
Unusual kind of book, without well seen problem to solve, almost without any action, just thoughts, just way of finding things out.
In the beginning I liked how stories from mythology were tied in, almost all the book long I waited for some more to appear. Around the end I understood why I like this novel - the main heroine has some characteristics which are close to me, maybe the way of thinking while looking for something not in particular,
...more
Elizabeth
I really liked how this novel refers back to Ovid's Metamorphoses, especially after reading segments of it earlier this year. Among Other Things, I've Taken Up Smoking tells the story of a young woman coming of age and searching for answers regarding her own life, and the lives of her parents. Although somewhat predictable, it does present very unusual circumstances for the main character as she continues to transform, growing as a person.

That being said, the story did lack a degree of substanc
...more
Kimi Moore
There are books that you read when you need them, and this was one of them for me. I read this in a hot car in the middle of summer, slacking off work and not caring because nothing existed for me but the book. I loved the main character not because she was a great one...actually she was kind of a pushover and she's hard to like until you get near the end, but I appreciated her for being someone who notices things. The book is basically a series of observations, but I like it. I also enjoyed her ...more
Kathy McC
This book had given rave reviews to this debut author. I liked it, but cannot rave about it. I found the characters underdeveloped and the symbolism too obvious. The storyline had promise-- Girl and her inpenetrable, unnurturing father live alone on small island in Maine. Girl leaves the foggy island behind for the brightly lit New York City. The prose is well written; there is just too little of it. This novel's brevity forces the movement of the plot instead of letting it unfold. There is no n ...more
Ever
I'm giving this an extra star for the author's inclusion of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Even so, a more subtle approach to Ovid's stories, rather than taking up pages to explain each myth word for word, would have made this novel a more pleasurable reading experience. Ovid's not exactly high on everyone's reading list, and I can see the need to retell each story, but I was more interested in the character applying the myths to her own transformation, rather than recounting them from memory (although h ...more
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loneliness 2 32 Oct 28, 2008 09:23AM  
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Sweeney was raised in Massachusetts and attended Harvard University and the University of Virginia’s MFA Program, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow.

Her first novel, Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking, is about a girl who grows up alone with her father on an island in Maine and is sent to stay in New York City with friends of her father's who open up her past, and her own world, in ways she
...more
More about Aoibheann Sweeney...

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“It is astonishing, in the end, how difficult it is to know the things you know. What I mean is that all I had discovered was everything I knew all along.” 8 likes
“The whole world seemed full of hurt feelings and apologies, endless selfishness and explanations. Wasn't there anything that anyone could understand about each other? Weren't there some hurt feelings that mattered more? Or did it all matter just as much, interminably, wound after wound?” 2 likes
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