It took me ages to get through this book, but considering they're short stories, that's not too bad. The book opens with a set of short stories in whi...moreIt took me ages to get through this book, but considering they're short stories, that's not too bad. The book opens with a set of short stories in which Arthur Japin's fantasy seemed to run away with him (the "magonische verhalen").. and I absolutely loathed it. It's the main reason why this book took me so long to get through. But once I got to the travel stories, I was fascinated. Those were nicely done and captured rather nicely how other cultures differ from the Dutch culture. That I did like, so 3 stars it is.(less)
These were quite a few lovely short stories about Sherlock Holmes doing what he's best at: solving cases. Some of these were rather genius, others I g...moreThese were quite a few lovely short stories about Sherlock Holmes doing what he's best at: solving cases. Some of these were rather genius, others I guessed from the start, but all in all this made for lovely reading. Seeing as these are all short stories, it proved to be ideal to read when I just had little time.
My edition of this book (not the one shown here on Goodreads) was rather a funny one. On the outside it's one of the loveliest books I've ever seen: it's just plain red with gold letters but it's really wonderfully made. The text itself on the other hand was done rather poorly. They forgot a lot of interpunction and I'm quite sure they occasionally missed some of their typos.
That being said, it is still lovely to read about Holmes & Watson, no matter how many proof-reads the edition could have used. I do wonder about Holmes wanting Watson with him on every case though. Surely he's a smart man, but he rarely gets the chance to shine. Oh well. Guess he needs the company.. I suppose this shows Sherlock Holmes is human after all. :P(less)
Daphne's writing style is incredible.. and I think that's the only reason I kept on reading this book. It exists of 8 short stories, 4 of which I rath...moreDaphne's writing style is incredible.. and I think that's the only reason I kept on reading this book. It exists of 8 short stories, 4 of which I rather loathed, and 4 of which I rather liked. Even so.. I don't think I'll be reading more of Daphne's short stories.. this is enough for a long time to come, I suppose. Some of the things her mind comes up with just can't interest me, no matter how well she may have written it.(less)
Four short stories, and I loved all of them! Farmer Giles Of Ham made me laugh out loud several times, I appreciated The Adventures Of Tom Bombadil be...moreFour short stories, and I loved all of them! Farmer Giles Of Ham made me laugh out loud several times, I appreciated The Adventures Of Tom Bombadil because I quite enjoy Tolkien's poetry, Smith Of Wootton Major was very very interesting and Leaf By Niggle just made me smile a lot - especially the ending, it was perfect.
I just love reading Tolkien - his fantasy world is captivating and his writing is beautiful. Reading these stories just made me very happy and giddy and I indeed enjoyed them very much.(less)
In this book we can find Tolkien's translations for 3 older poems: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl and Sir Orfeo.
Storywise, my favourite of the...moreIn this book we can find Tolkien's translations for 3 older poems: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl and Sir Orfeo.
Storywise, my favourite of the three was without a doubt the story of Sir Gawain. This story is one of my favourites in the Arthurian Legend. It was just a shame that the translation occasionally seemed a little.. wonky. The sentence structure was off, and the metrum was just all over the place! Pearl & Sir Orfeo were a much better translation in that aspect, especially Pearl: the metrum and rhyme were beautiful.
I however didn't really love any of these particular versions of these stories. It was all just so exceptionally Christian. I don't mind it when Christian beliefs shine through in texts, but this was just too much in your face and it really annoyed me. It bothered me most in Sir Orfeo, which is one of my favourite stories in the Greek mythology and this just seemed like a twisted version of it. And that was a shame.
If you really like Tolkien & can deal with very strong Christan beliefs, I would recommend this. Tolkien's word choice is often quite beautiful and that makes these poems worth a read. On the other hand, if you're just interested in the stories themselves, I would recommend reading another translation: especially when it comes to Sir Orfeo, read a translation of Orpheus & Eurydice instead.(less)
When I'm looking for new books to read, there are a few things that call to me. First of all, the title. I'm attracted to words that have to do with n...moreWhen I'm looking for new books to read, there are a few things that call to me. First of all, the title. I'm attracted to words that have to do with nighttime, sadness, fantasy or music. ("Dream" is my favourite word. It used to be "Twilight", but we all know what happened to that.) Second of all, it's the cover. I know, don't judge a book by its cover, but I do. Both criteria were approved of when I saw this book in the bookstore. I was enchanted by the title, the description of the stories and the wonderful cover. Plus I saw it was written by Kazuo Ishiguro, so I made up my mind I wanted to read it. I didn't buy it then, but the next time I went to the store, I just *had* to buy it. The book was calling to me.
I was not disappointed. There is a rather sad undertone to all of these stories. I don't mind about that, somehow they relax me and they always feel so truthful. I loved how the music was interwoven through all the stories. How music (even without sounds) could still tell such wonderful histories. Just the essence of music was distilled in the stories, the effect it has on people. I felt it was wonderful. I did not always particularly like all the stories, and I did not like many of the characters much, but it didn't matter. I loved the themes, and I loved the writing. It was so fluent. These were perfect little stories and if I didn't always feel so unfulfilled after reading short stories, the book would definitely have gotten 5 stars. As it was, I was completely enthralled for as long as it took me to read each story. Quite a feat, when I think of how important characters are to me and how little I liked them in this book. But strangely, I really really loved it. The strange appeal the cover and the title held for me, the writing and the themes held as well. And as such, I really enjoyed this book.(less)
These were some surprising fairytales! There's a lot of murder, a lot of ridicule (mainly of men: princes, kings & clergymen don't come off too we...moreThese were some surprising fairytales! There's a lot of murder, a lot of ridicule (mainly of men: princes, kings & clergymen don't come off too well in these tales) and a lot of awesome female-action. And they give a whole new meaning to "short stories", since these stories were, well, short. Some didn't even take up half a page, but man, they were funny.
The most common themes were adultery and dishonesty, and the treatment thereof. But of course, truth will out and can I just say that the punishments were cruel? But these were surprisingly nice stories all the same.(less)
While I liked some of Andersen's fairy tales, I was mostly shocked by how cruel they seem to be. This reminds me once again that not all fairytales ar...moreWhile I liked some of Andersen's fairy tales, I was mostly shocked by how cruel they seem to be. This reminds me once again that not all fairytales are like those of the Brothers Grimm, that tend to have a happy ending. But thankfully there were quite many fairytales I did like, with "The Little Mermaid", "The Rose Elf" and "The Little Match Girl" being personal favourites.(less)
Wer hat Dornröschen wachgeküßt? is a book that deals with fairytales, both in the common and slightly less-common way. Iring Fetscher retells 13 of Gr...moreWer hat Dornröschen wachgeküßt? is a book that deals with fairytales, both in the common and slightly less-common way. Iring Fetscher retells 13 of Grimm's most famous fairytales and then tries to figure out their original meaning. He tries to do this from a historical point of view, a psychoanalytical point of view and/or a philological point of view.
This gives us some interesting results. Iring Fetscher argues the Grimm brothers have changed things in the stories on purpose, and argues why. He also tries to explain where the stories come from and what they represent. What some people might dislike is the psychoanalytical method. He uses Freud, and basically says in his introduction: "any psychoanalytic analysation is correct. When you agree with me, it means I'm right; when you don't agree with me, your subconscious is resisting, which actually means I'm right too." This is kind of the attitude you see in the entire book. I personally always think there is more than one possible interpretation for a story and I wasn't really fond of this attitude, especially because I didn't always agree with Fetscher's points of view. For instance, I found some of the interpretations too modern (Hans Im Glück especially) so that was a shame.
What also confused me was that in his introduction Fetscher said he'd try to clear up the confusion in the fairytales, and that afterwards, you would suddenly know how to tell these fairytales to (your) kids in a less conventional way. For most of the stories, Fetscher neglected to provide this new way of storytelling. Which actually disappointed me, because I was looking forward to that the most.
In short: 13 Grimm fairytales + 13 possible interpretations. Quite fun, quick read, but don't forget to keep your wits about you or Fetscher's writing will indoctrinate you.(less)
I don't know why, but I liked this Sherlock Holmes book decidedly less than some of the others I have read. I had a hard time connecting to the charac...moreI don't know why, but I liked this Sherlock Holmes book decidedly less than some of the others I have read. I had a hard time connecting to the characters in this one, and the cases didn't particularly interest me. Even Moriarty, in print, felt like a disappointment. I think I hyped this up a bit too much for myself.
I enjoyed reading about Mycroft however, and I liked seeing a more human side to Holmes, however few times it occurred. I would have liked to read a bit more about the relationship between Holmes and Watson, because I like their friendship, and.. well, the characters felt very static in this book; I would have liked more development. Circumstances changed, but I didn't really feel like the characters did.
Also, luckily Holmes' cases always appear whenever Watson has a quiet time in the office.. and bless that neighbour of his, or we'd have no book.(less)
I think this is the first time I've read Japanese literature.. when I saw this book yesterday, I couldn't help but take it home with me. The cover is...moreI think this is the first time I've read Japanese literature.. when I saw this book yesterday, I couldn't help but take it home with me. The cover is gorgeous, plus I had been wanting to see the anime movie with the same title for ages. So, today I read the book.. and saw the movie. I must say I liked both. It's a story about a girl who can travel back in time a bit and so change/repeat events. Though I'd worked out who was in the lab relatively quickly, the twist at the end of the story was very nice. I liked it.
The second story, The Stuff That Nightmares Are Made Of, was about a girl and her brother, who both suffer from phobias. The girl's friend mentions the problem might be psychological, and so she does her best to find the source of the problem and solves it. This story was also quite nice and sends a good message (try to confront year fears if you can), but The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was my favourite of the two, because the concept was so interesting.
The friendships were something I also really liked in both stories. You have a girl protagonist, who is friends with boys, without dating. She's also friends with girls, but her best friend(s) is/are boys.. and they're not dating. Nor is she actively looking for a boyfriend. There is no real romance and, though you can argue that may have to do with the length of these stories, I actually really appreciated this. The friendships itself involve teasing, but also serious moments. It talks about sticking together, helping each other, being there for another. I liked it so much because the friendships seemed so genuine.
Now, I've seen other people mention the use of language in this book. I must admit, it took some time getting used to for me as well. It was very direct, a bit stiff perhaps, a bit bleak. I imagine the Japanese was a lot richer, but I didn't think the writing was bad. I liked it and thought it added something to the story, especially for the twist in first story, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. There is one thing however that bothered me in the translation. The second story features a protagonist by the name of Masako. For some reason, she's twice refered to as Mariko on page 114. This is odd: at the beginning of the page she's still Masako, on page 115 she's Masako, but in the second half of page 114 she's Mariko. This seems to be something they missed during the editing (in case it isn't, feel free to point out), and it was quite obvious. It annoyed me because it seems such an unnecessary mistake.
I actually quite liked this, though I imagine some people may be better off with one of the movies, the anime or the manga. I only saw the anime movie, which added quite a bit of humour which cannot really be found in the book, so it all depends on what your preference is. But this is the original story, and it doesn't take long to read at all, so I'd say: give it a chance. You might be positively surprised.(less)
I'm assuming this is the book I've just read in Dutch - it had a different title ("Kramp", or "Cramp" in English: which was the first short story in t...moreI'm assuming this is the book I've just read in Dutch - it had a different title ("Kramp", or "Cramp" in English: which was the first short story in the Dutch edition), but the particular story mentioned in the English title was also found in my book, and as they're both collections of short stories.. I'm going to assume this is the book I've read.
Gao Xingjian's work was interesting. I didn't like all the short stories as much, but I liked the ones that had a reflective mood (mostly "Buying A Fishing Rod For My Grandfather", which was without a doubt my favourite). Gao also has the ability to turn one event into a complete short story: a stomach-cramp, a car-crash. Quite little things that turn into thoughts and somehow turned into stories. In a way, Gao's stories are unusual, even if they didn't always work for me.
The afterword was maybe my favourite thing about the book, it explained Gao's life, his exile, and his writing. It's quite odd that a man, who hadn't been published in his home country for over 10 years, would get the Nobel prize. But his life story sounds so interesting, how he just writes for the writing without a political agenda (though you can't exactly claim that in the China Gao lived in), and who doesn't believe in metaphores and the like. Gao's writing is quite bleak for that reason, to the point, and lacking in word games. It's refreshing. I might like to read another book by Gao in the future, provided I can find a book in the same style as the short story "Buying A Fishing Rod For My Grandfather".(less)
The synopsis for this particular edition is, for some reason, in English instead of in Dutch - the reason I mention this is because the Dutch edition...moreThe synopsis for this particular edition is, for some reason, in English instead of in Dutch - the reason I mention this is because the Dutch edition only includes 50 fairytales, and not the 200 promised in the English synopsis.
Russia has always interested me greatly, but I personally haven't gotten around reading any of the great classics just yet. I grew up with Russian folk songs (especially when a certain Belgian guy by the name of Helmut Lotti decided to record them as well), my mom loves Russia and the Romanovs, so I must have gotten it from her. Still, I have zero reading experience when it comes to Russian works.
I love fairytales, so when I saw a cheap copy of this particular book, I figured it was time to get some Russian-related reading done. Reading fairytales is always interesting, because as long as the fairytales are European (and maybe this is a global thing, but I've only read European fairytales so far) there are many parallels that can be drawn. Stories that have the same premise, or the same build-up. You find a couple of those stories in here, too. I'm not one to take notes while reading (that makes it look a bit too much like a homework assignment, something I actually try actively to avoid when reading for fun), so I can't tell you exactly which story shares what characteristic with a certain other famous fairytale, but I do remember very clearly that one story had the same opening as Beauty and the Beast (at least, the version the 1946 French and the 1978 Czech version are based on). The rest of the story differs slightly, but the parallels are there. That's just the one example however, there are many more!
Another thing that's quite curious about these fairytales is the insane amount of repetition. Character names are repeated a lot (Wassilissa, Iwan [without luck], etc.). There seems to be a theme of Tsars marrying merchant's daughters, the Baba Jaga makes frequent appearances, there are many magical devices (e.g. a little doll) which can make or do anything in just one night, and it's constantly stressed that the morning is wiser than the evening. So yes, loads of repetition. But then I suppose that's a fairytale characteristic, though I never noticed it quite as clearly as I did now.