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Best-Worst of the Years > Hardest of 2012

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message 2: by Louise (new)

Louise | 120 comments book 1 (Justine) of The Alexandria Quartet


message 3: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Huston (telynor) | 101 comments The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
The Annotated Emma by Jane Austen and David Shapard

I agree. I don't regret reading them at all, but I got terribly bogged down over them.


message 4: by Val (last edited Dec 28, 2012 11:15AM) (new)

Val I think that sometimes a difficult book can turn out to be very rewarding and memorable and one of my difficult ones is also one of my favourites:
The Death of Artemio Cruz

This one covered some very grim and disturbing incidents, which did not make for a relaxing read:
Life and a Half

My third choice is really good in parts and a complete mess as a whole novel, in my opinion:
The Bone People

Any books which I did not feel deserved the time I spent reading them got dropped from the list. I had already wasted enough time reading them, I was not going to waste even more time reviewing them or holding them up as representative of a country's fiction. I did read and review this one though:
Wolf Totem: A Novel. Translated by Howard Goldblatt
because, although it irritated me like a flea infestation, I do still think it is worth reading.


message 5: by Val (new)

Val Gaeta1 wrote: "Wolf Totem was a 2.5 for me, and it only got that much for some of the nature writing. I'd have dropped it--and did drop it as an audio since the narrator was ghastly--since I had more trouble find..."

There are good books set in China, but they tend to be about 'old' China, which is not the same country at all. "Wolf Totem" is one of the few which depicts life in communist China, not somebody's struggle to escape it.
I went for these two about modern China:
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai


message 6: by Val (last edited Dec 28, 2012 11:35AM) (new)

Val Gaeta1 wrote: "I totally agree with you on The Bone People a 2.5 for me--and the most amazing display of Mary-Sueness I have ever come across."

I'm not sure I know what Mary-Sueness is, but it certainly has something a forceful editor could have done something about, because Keri Hulme really can write, just not construct a novel. I gave it three stars, which is quite high, as I mark hard on here as they don't allow half stars.


message 7: by Val (new)

Val Gaeta1 wrote: "Mary Sue is a romance genre term decribing where the writer injects an idealized version of herself into the novel. Keri Hume admits thhat she is a wee bit guilty of it herself, and says she would ..."

Thanks, yes she does do that, although it didn't annoy me quite as much as some of the other problems did.
There are some wonderful descriptive passages, there are some good bits of character-drawing through interaction with other characters, there is some thought provoking coverage of sensitive social and cultural issues, there are even a few hints of some decent plot lines and it still doesn't work.


message 8: by Val (new)

Val Gaeta1 wrote: "Mary Sue is a romance genre term decribing where the writer injects an idealized version of herself into the novel. Keri Hume admits thhat she is a wee bit guilty of it herself, and says she would ..."

...and she can build a house, survive cancer, leap across rocks in the dark, drink too much without repercussions, etc., so perhaps it did get a bit annoying. I think I may have been concentrating too hard on what the hell was going on with Simon / Haimon and what was best for him, and the good individual passages in the book.


message 9: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Huston (telynor) | 101 comments I agree about the Mary-Sueness in books, I find it very annoying. To me, interesting characters are the ones who can do several things very well, and have some serious character flaws as well. Yes, I can speak several languages and I do make music, but I do not know any marital arts and am blind as a bat, and have the most evil temper ever. So it balances. Gaeta, what's the website?


message 10: by Thing Two (last edited Dec 28, 2012 01:06PM) (new)

Thing Two (thingtwo) OMG! I had such a hard time finishing The Bone People! My sister-in-law brought it to me after her time in New Zealand, and I felt an obligation to finish it. That, and its Man Booker Award, forced me to continue.

But A Thousand Years of Good Prayers? I loved this collection of stories! It's on my short-list for my one book club selection next fall. What didn't you like about it, Val?


message 11: by Val (last edited Dec 28, 2012 02:17PM) (new)

Val Thing Two wrote: "OMG! I had such a hard time finishing The Bone People! My sister-in-law brought it to me after her time in New Zealand, and I felt an obligation to finish it. That, and its Man Booker Award, forced..."

I did like it, but I mark quite harshly on Goodreads and I didn't love it. All the stories are good individually and some of them are very good, but I felt that there was not enough variety in the collection to give it a higher mark. I did choose it as my choice for China, which makes it better than any other modern Chinese book I found.

PS I gave it 3 stars, but did say in my review that it deserved 3.5 stars.


message 12: by Diane (new)

Diane | 366 comments Val wrote: "I think that sometimes a difficult book can turn out to be very rewarding and memorable and one of my difficult ones is also one of my favourites:
The Death of Artemio Cruz

This one covered some v..."


I had a tough time with Bone People, too. I had to temporarily abandon it halfway through and pick up something else. I thought it was a pretty good book, just an exhausting (and long) read. Maybe I will pick it up and try again next year.

I never heard of the Mary-Sueness thing. I like that. I'll have to check out the link.


message 13: by Val (new)

Val Judy: I would not want to put anyone off reading The Bone People (or The Bone People), it is, as Gaeta says, one of THOSE books which have a lot of controversy associated with them, so why not read it and see what you think yourself?


message 14: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Huston (telynor) | 101 comments So, Rebecca, do you fly or anything like that? Sure sign of Mary Sue-ness!"

Just me and the wheelchair... If I fly in that thing, it's not a good thing. ;)


message 15: by Thing Two (new)

Thing Two (thingtwo) Judy - here's my TBP review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

You and I don't have a ton of books in common; you might find you like it even though I didn't. One of the books I struggled with this year ended up on the best of 2012 for someone else.

Good thing there are lots of books out there! Something for everyone.


message 16: by Diane (new)

Diane | 366 comments Judy wrote: "Wow! What a helpful discussion on the The Bone People. I feel pretty confident I wouldn't make it through, so off it goes from my list."

Don't take it off your list! It actually is quite good. I just had to take it in small doses. I abandoned it mainly because it was slowing down my progress of getting other books read. I am told that it pays off in the end, and I will definitely finish it someday soon. I just started it too late into the challenge. I started feeling stressed about finishing, and I already had a book for NZ read (it was a monthly read for my other world challenge group).


message 17: by Barbarac (new)

Barbarac (bcb72) | 191 comments All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo was a hard read for me. I wanted to learn more about RDC since close family member li es there, but this book numbed me with all the horrific stories.


message 18: by Rusalka (last edited Dec 29, 2012 05:48AM) (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 991 comments Mod
My hardest to read book this year, was the one that made me join this group properly in order to get motivation to finish it The Blind Assassin.

We all know which were my least liked books of the year...


message 19: by Sylvia (last edited Dec 29, 2012 12:57AM) (new)

Sylvia (sylviahartstra) Even though I gave The Hunger Gamesa 5 star it was one of the worse book I read in 2012 (I hated the plot, but admired the writing), next to Riders of the Pale Horse which wasn't an inspiring read, although I learn a bit about Chechnya and the Caucasian border region.


message 20: by Mounir (new)

Mounir | 1 comments Sozialgeschichte der Kunst und Literatur.
Social History of Art and Literature.
[reading it in Arabic]
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15...


message 21: by Rusalka (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 991 comments Mod
Who would have known someone could have beaten the Old Spice ad!


message 22: by Rusalka (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 991 comments Mod
Argh, just thinking about both of them again makes me angry!


message 23: by Thing Two (new)

Thing Two (thingtwo) Okay, now you'll have to come clean. Which author?


message 24: by Thing Two (new)

Thing Two (thingtwo) Literally lol! Woke up my son, too,with my laughter.


message 25: by Val (last edited Dec 29, 2012 08:16AM) (new)

Val I wouldn't read The Bone People for its depiction of Maori culture, or Once Were Warriors either.
Try Witi Ihimaera instead: The Whale Rider.

This is my review of The Bone People
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 26: by Val (new)

Val Rusalka, didn't you read one of Witi Ihimaera's books for New Zealand?


message 27: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) I think that The Bone People is a clear winner of the most difficult book read by Around The World 2012 readers. It definitely topped my list as well.

Others that seemed to take me forever to finish (even though I ended up loving them) were:

The Stonor Eagles - 4 stars

Lust for Life - 4 stars. This book also goes on my list because Vincent Van Gogh's life was so painful.

The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit - 3 stars. It was just a bit too metaphysical for me. Less of the dream visions and more of the actual experience of walking El Camino please.

I have two books that I gave 1 star to: The God Complex and A Pale View Of Hills.


message 28: by Rusalka (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 991 comments Mod
Val wrote: "Rusalka, didn't you read one of Witi Ihimaera's books for New Zealand?"

I just finished it last night. Loved it. It was a book of short stories, and I'm not really a fan of short stories generally, but this was brilliant. And I agree, a great description of Maori culture. I felt I was back in New Zealand again... maybe I could sneak into Mum's suitcase when she goes back next month...


message 29: by Rusalka (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 991 comments Mod
Interesting regarding Pale Hills, Janice.

lol and thank you for your comments. As long as I amuse you all ;)
Wasn't meaning to be cryptic either. I just thought I had ranted enough about him in the last 5 months I didn't need to start again.


message 30: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) Gaeta1 wrote: "I remember when you were slogging through The Stonor Eagles. Wasn't there a point when you were going to count it for three countries, or something like that? LOL"

I was grumbling and complaining, thinking that I should count it for all the settings in it (England, Scotland, Finland, Iceland, USA) because it took me so long to read it. But, in the end, it was a good read.


message 31: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) Rusalka wrote: "Interesting regarding Pale Hills, Janice."

I just don't get Kazuo Ishiguro. I understand from others that you can't necessarily believe the characters. I guess it's a commentary that our version of reality may be flawed, or some other pyschological bibble babble. As I wrote in my review, I don't like to have to work too hard when reading a book to figure it out.

I see that you have it marked to read, so I'll be interested in your viewpoint. Perhaps you'll really enjoy it. Or, perhaps we have another rant to look forward to. :)


message 32: by Thing Two (new)

Thing Two (thingtwo) Now I recently read The Remains of the Day and enjoyed it. I lent it to my mother in law who says it's the slowest book she's read this year. I guess I like things slow?


message 33: by Rusalka (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 991 comments Mod
heh You never know, but I will definitely keep you informed.


message 34: by Val (new)

Val This is why Wolf Totem: A Novel. Translated by Howard Goldblatt only got one star.
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

Plus as another reviewer pointed out, there is something decidedly wrong about that horse:
Wolf Totem A Novel. Translated by Howard Goldblatt by Jiang Rong


message 35: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) Judy wrote: "Personally, I'm looking forward to the rant...lol "

Me too! LOL!


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