I first heard of The Wind in the Willows from its TV adaptation; I remember it vaguely because I was very young but there was a pleasant theme song aI first heard of The Wind in the Willows from its TV adaptation; I remember it vaguely because I was very young but there was a pleasant theme song and pretty countryside landscapes and talking animals including a frog (I didn't know of toads then) in a car and that was enough to convince me that I wanted to watch it.
Those vague memories - and I'm not going to lie, the fact that I found this book for 49 bucks - finally got me around to reading it. It was surprisingly less juvenile than I expected, perfect for any adult wanting to indulge in reminiscing about childhood.
Mr. Grahame's writing is lyrical and vivid and so very evocative of the rivers and woods that make up the home of his characters. I disagree with the introductory essay by Roger Sale that declares that some of his descriptions are embarrassingly breathless. Just look at this one - "Leaving the main stream, they now passed into what seemed at first sight like a little landlocked lake. Green turf sloped down to either edge, brown snaky tree-roots gleamed below the surface of the quiet water, while ahead of them the silvery shoulder and foamy tumble of a weir, arm-in-arm with a restless dripping mill-wheel, that held up in its turn a grey-gabled mill-house, filled the air with a soothing murmur of sound, dull and smothery, yet with little clear voices speaking up cheerfully out of it at intervals." It makes the whole scene come bright and alive right in front of you and it's a pleasure to read aloud. My two favourite stories were Dulce Domum, cozy and warming and Wayfarers All, in essence, the opposite of the former.
My copy also had lovely illustrations by Les Morrill that added another touch of magic to the stories (I loved the one that showed Rat in a deer stalker in a chapter where he performs a fine bit of deductive reasoning). I did have issues with Toad's change of character, which I thought could have been done less abruptly; the book seems somewhat hastily wrapped up. Then again, this is one of those stories that's more of a portal into an experience and I think I'll be picking it up again when I want to feel like I'm floating down a river in a boat on a summer afternoon....more
I found this book while searching for stories about fairies (the morally ambiguous monsters of folklore, not the candy coloured Victorian version). II found this book while searching for stories about fairies (the morally ambiguous monsters of folklore, not the candy coloured Victorian version). I forgot about it until the middle of the night at an okonomiyaki restuarant in Osaka because I finally missed having something to read while eating alone and it was the only one I had on me at the moment.
I did like the premise of the story but there were rather too many humans and far too few faeries. The initial meeting between Tara and Hiero was promisingly magical but it ultimately deteriorated into a rather halfhearted portrait of fairies as hyperintelligent (and hypersexual) dwellers of another world. I guess it's a matter of personal taste - I wanted to read about folklore and the modern(ish) take didn't really capture my interest and the fact remains that I rarely enjoy reading about modern human relationship dynamics, which is honestly the heart of this book (though I must say it is dealt with quite well). Mr. Joyce's writing was however, lyrical enough in parts to make me want to search out some more of his work....more
I haven't read a Discworld novel in a while now and I miss having them to take the edge off another serious or unsatisfying book. This is the first DiI haven't read a Discworld novel in a while now and I miss having them to take the edge off another serious or unsatisfying book. This is the first Discworld audiobook I've listened to and I was surprised to find how much I liked it. Th books are perfect for audio and the version by Nigel Planer that I listened to truly brought the story to life.
Hogfather has the dependable Discworld humour: "It's a sad and terrible thing that high-born folk really have thought that the servants would be totally fooled if spirits were put into decanters that were cunningly labelled backwards. And also throughout history the more politically conscious butler has taken it on trust, and with rather more justification, that his employers will not notice if the whisky is topped up with eniru.". Mr. Tea Time is another colourfully engaging character, despite how unpleasant he is and I liked Susan almost as much as Death.
At the same time, this book has a depth and heart that I would not have readily expected in the first few pages. Mr. Pratchett manages to make you laugh at and laugh with and cry for the same characters, even when they're part of the large supporting cast. It's the little touches, like Banjo's room when he seemed all set up to be just a thug - and I liked the way Mr. Planer played him. The climax of the book, with a tone that is decidedly different from the rest - more primitively magical, more raw - was powerful in every sense. And I remembered why Death is one of my favourite characters in the verse. He glides through the stories like a twee sugar skull and then all of a sudden you remember why he's what he is when he says something like this:
“All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable."
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—"
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
"So we can believe the big ones?"
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
"They're not the same at all!"
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point—"
MY POINT EXACTLY.”
This is definitely one of my favourite books in the series and I was happy to discover a great story, told so well....more
I wanted to like this book so much but I have to admit that I am very glad I watched Blade Runner before reading this cumbersome book or I might haveI wanted to like this book so much but I have to admit that I am very glad I watched Blade Runner before reading this cumbersome book or I might have given up on some interesting ideas.
The elements that made the movie an absorbing watch make this fairly engaging, in places. The problem is all the other tripe that gets latched on to it. Deckard is an unlikable protagonist and he often came across as downright creepy and repulsive. Isidore, while not perfect is at least someone you want to root for. And if you start to doubt when this book was written, the misogynistic treatment of its female characters should remove any doubt that this was created in an era when it was perfectly acceptable that the chief purpose of a woman in a novel was to be little more than a pair of talking boobs.
And it's a pity because the book does throw up some very interesting questions about the concept of human-ness, about religion and society, about the hierarchies we choose to follow. However, the more frivolous parts of the book take away from the overall impact. ...more
The writing was slightly better in this sequel and it had enough entertaining plot twists, although anyone with even a basic knowledge of Hindu mytholThe writing was slightly better in this sequel and it had enough entertaining plot twists, although anyone with even a basic knowledge of Hindu mythology could see the big reveals coming....more
Paper Towns takes on the same themes that the more popular Looking for Alaska but in my opinion, does a much better job of it. Part of the reason is tPaper Towns takes on the same themes that the more popular Looking for Alaska but in my opinion, does a much better job of it. Part of the reason is that while the latter merely explores the perspective of a boy who chooses to fall in love with the idea of a girl, this book actually explores the feelings of a girl herself as well.
Another reason why I liked this story was that the characters here were far more engaging. Q makes for a likeable protagonist - he retains the normalcy and mundaneness of Miles and his infatuation with the idea of a girl, with a sense of level-headedness that was severely lacking in the latter. The journey of his feelings for Margo, from fascination to realization is bittersweet and real: “And all at once I knew how Margo Roth Spiegelman felt when she wasn't being Margo Roth Spiegelman: she felt empty. She felt the unscaleable wall surrounding her. I thought of her asleep on the carpet with only that jagged sliver of sky above her. Maybe Margo felt comfortable there because Margo the person lived like that all the time: in an abandoned room with blocked-out windows, the only light pouring in through holes in the roof. Yes. The fundamental mistake I had always made—and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make—was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.”
I liked the other characters too. While still the token minority, Radar is a step up from Takumi and Ben is the slightly disgusting but ultimately loyal friend that I can completely imagine having in real life (and do). I also liked that almost everyone, particularly Becca, has different layers that the book takes the trouble to show. I found the writing to be funnier than Looking for Alaska and I particularly liked the road trip.
John Green's pop poetry is everywhere here and I confess I do like it, despite the feeling like it was craftily tailored for Tumblr reblogs and Facebook status updates: “When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.”
But like I said, my favourite part of the book was the exploration of Margo's own feelings; the manic pixie dream girl turning into just a girl. I couldn't relate to Margo - I have never been that kind of a social queen bee - until I got to the part where she asserts that the closer people get to her, the less attractive she becomes. And most of all, when she talks of feeling like a "paper girl". So even if I am nothing like her on the surface, I can perfectly understand a lot of things she feels.
I always say that I don't like works that are solely concerned with human relationships but I did like this one; if for nothing else than for the relief of meeting characters that I can relate to. ...more
The first Platonic dialogue I ever read was The Symposium and I liked Aristophanes' tale, frivolous as it was intended to be, of humans searching foreThe first Platonic dialogue I ever read was The Symposium and I liked Aristophanes' tale, frivolous as it was intended to be, of humans searching forever for their other half, separated from them by jealous gods. That was many years ago and when I was looking to get back to reading the classics, I thought I'd try something similar.
Phaedrus is smaller in scope and to be honest, slightly less engaging but it does throw up some interesting ideas. I liked Plato's analogy of the charioteer with two horses, one noble (reason) and on not (passion). On the whole though, I found the discussion on love in rebuttal to Lysias to be somewhat tiresome, especially with all the necessary mysticism that Socrates claims recourse to in order to make his speech.
On the other hand, his speech on writing and memory were my favourite part of the book, especially as, just then, I was wondering to myself why we read classics and if there is any value thereof. I think yes there is, but perhaps what is more important is how relevant the classics are to our lives beyond being mere records of another time and place. With Phaedrus, I have to admit that at this point the only lesson of relevance I can take away is that as long as love exists, people will not cease to think of ways to explain it. ...more
I always find Neil Gaiman's books to be better-written when they feature children as protagonists - two of my favourite Gaiman books are Coraline andI always find Neil Gaiman's books to be better-written when they feature children as protagonists - two of my favourite Gaiman books are Coraline and The Graveyard Book and they both had that whimsically frightening quality that makes his writing so enjoyable.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is well balanced between wonder and horror. Gaiman's writing has this Roald Dahl-esque quality of being able to truly understand children, as well as the fears of childhood. What I found interesting about this book is how seamlessly real horrors blend with the unreal, human monsters with those from other worlds. The most chilling part of the book for me was not any of the more fantastic scenes but rather the words of a child standing up to his parent: “Does it make you feel big to make a little boy cry?”
I loved the Hempstocks and their world was creatively imagined. This is a short tale that nevertheless has plenty of potential for exansion and I would love to read a sequel. ...more