Sunday, 29 January 2012

week 4.

(Trying a new thing where I reflect on the past weeks in books and the like.)

This week was an okay reading week. I got quite a lot of time to read as influenza struck me on Thursday and most of the time was spent on finishing Great Expectations. My sister is currently living with me and it is hard to find a comfortable situation to do some reading when there is always someone talking or watching tv.

Books I finished
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens yesterday and while I truly enjoyed parts of it, I just couldn't really enjoy it. It has been really fun to read about what other Norwegian bloggers reading it and I seem to be the only one who wasn't awed. 

Currently reading
We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen - I love it! It is awesome and awful at the same time. I might finish it tonight if I don't prioritise sleep. 

Books I bought

I read in some blog about BetterWorldBooks - a website where you can buy new and used books and with each book you buy a book is donated to organisations worldwide. I rather buy used books (recycling and the thrill of the book having been in some stranger's hand) than new books and with the free shipping, I just had to try it. I chose books that I haven't been able to find elsewhere (not that I have been looking very hard). I also liked the personal thank you e-mail I got from the books I ordered. Can't wait for my package!

Films I have seen
The Hedgehog (Le hérisson) (2009) - based on the Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I loved the book simply because of the last 100 pages minus the end and I really hoped that they had changed the ending because it was so sad. Loved the film, and I loved Paloma more in the film than the book. Watch it if you want something cute and French!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) - based on the book by Stieg Larsson. I have seen the Swedish version of the film, but liked the American version better. I think it wasn't as rushed as the Swedish one. The rape scene really hit me because it was so disturbing. The first book in the Millennium series was my favourite, but I think I liked the film version better.

Next week's plan
Definitely finish We, the Drowned. I think I'll pick up the Help by Kathryn Stockett simply because the film is nominated for Best Film at the Oscar's. I will also start on Jerusalem - the biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore. We are currently learning about Judaism in the religion classes and I really want to learn more about Jerusalem's history. 


Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1861)

 Pip is visiting the grave of his mother on a Christmas Eve when he is 6, when he meets a runaway convict who threats him into stealing from his family. He is also a witness when the convict is arrested and he fears that the convict thinks that it is him that has told the police where to find them.

Pip lives with his sister and her husband, the blacksmith, Joe. They are very poor and his sister never says a kind word to either him or Joe. Pip is hired as a playmate to an orphan, Estella, who is adopted by a rich lady who was abandoned at the altar by her fiancé. Pip falls in love with Estella who is never kind to him.

Luck has it that Pip is taken care of by an anonymous benefactor in order to become a gentleman and he moves to London where he spends money and trying to get somewhere in life. And then he runs into the convict again.

I never really got into the story and found my thoughts to be drifting a lot while reading it, so I don't really understand the book. Shame on me. This always seems to be happening when I read the so-called classics; maybe I don't have the brain to devour those old books. Yet I had moments when I truly enjoyed what I read, and I loved the awkward Miss Havisham.  

(This book was the first book in Line's 1001 books reading challenge 2012 and if you want to see what other Norwegian bloggers think about it, follow the link.)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

week 3

(Trying a new thing where I reflect on the past weeks in books and the like.)

Last week was a slow reading week. The weekend was spent playing the national championship in volleyball for teachers and I didn't get any reading done at all. The rest of the week was just as bad with a lot of work and long evenings of assessment. I read just a chapter in Great Expectations before bedtime each night. Except on Wednesday when I took some time off and read almost the whole You Deserve Nothing. And then yesterday I finally got a lot of reading time.

Books I finished
You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik - set at an international school in Paris where the popular teacher has a sexual relationship with a young student. A slow start but then when the relationship started it caught my attention. I especially liked how there was no moral to the story.  

Currently reading
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - the first book in Line's reading challenge which should be reviewed next Sunday. A very slow read at the beginning because I was only able to read a chapter before falling asleep, but yesterday I finally got to read a lot. I'm currently at page 111, it is good so far but I hope Pip soon will grow up as the child's perspective is getting on my nerves.

We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen - what a brilliant book! Seldom have I been so shocked and so amazed by a book. Already shaping up to become one of my very favourite books so it better not disappoint in the remaining 400 pages.

Books I bought
None! (But 6 are somewhere between Amazonland and here). I also need to buy more bookshelves before buying more books.

Next week's plan
Finish Great Expectations and We, the Drowned. Then start on a book by a female author. I'm considering Edwidge Danticat or Banana Yoshimoto. Or Jonathan Franzen or Haruki Murakami. Will make my mind up when I get there.

(Is this yay or nay?) 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik (2011)
 "Teachers in movies are always leaping onto tables and sacrificing their lives for their students and their love of literature but the truth is that you rarely, rarely take a class from a teacher who cares. It's just unrealistic. How many people could walk into a classroom year after year and weep for ''Ode on a Grecian Urn"? That's why the ones who stay are so often some of the most depressing people you've ever met in your life. It has nothing to do with their age. They've stayed because of their disposition - bitter, bored, lacking in ambition, lonely and mildly insane. With few exceptions, these are the people who are capable of staying in a school. This is what it takes to teach for half a life-time. The ones who care, who love the subjects, who love their students, who love, above all, teaching - they rarely hang around".

Mr Silver is a popular teacher at the International School in Paris. The kids adore him, the girls fancy him and the boys want to be like him. At the end of the school year he meets a girl, Marie, at the students' party and doesn't realise that she is a student at the school.

Gilad is a son of an American diplomat and is used to spending a few months here and there. He is a loner and is impressed by Mr Silver's class and his way of provoking his students. While waiting for the Metro one day, he and Mr Silver witness someone being pushed onto the tracks and Mr Silver takes Gilad to a café to make some sense of what they have witnessed, something that the headmistress doesn't approve of.

This is an amazing portrait of teachers and students at an international school. What I really liked about the book is that the story is told from three narrators: Mr Silver, Gilad and Marie. I'm impressed how the author has managed to give the three narrators different styles and I really felt that the things seen through Marie's eyes is typical for a 17-year old lovestruck girl.

I also loved how much I learnt about other books and teaching literature from reading this book. Read it!

Thursday, 12 January 2012


the Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (2004)

It's 1983 and Nick Guest is invited to stay with his Oxford friend, Toby, and his family in their fancy house in Kensington Gardens. The Feddens are wealthy and the father, Gerald, has just become a new Tory MP and has huge ambitions, including meeting the Iron Lady. The daughter, Catherine, suffers from manic depressions and Nick has a special duty of taking care of her when the rest of the family is not present.

Nick has always had a crush on Toby and he hopes that by living in the same house would lead to a chance. Meanwhile, he is responding to the lonely hearts column in gay magazines and he meets up with Leo, a black older man and they instantly hit it off.

Fast forward to 1986 and Leo is no longer in Nick's life. Instead he is the secret lover to a boy of multimillionaire Lebanese immigrants with an addiction to cocaine and threesomes. Nick is having his time of his life partying with all the Lords, Sirs, MPs, Counts and whatnots while working on his thesis about Henry James and spending his lover's money. And AIDS is killing many of the gays they know.

1987 and boom! All hell breaks loose in the circle of posh upper class people.

This book had me right from the beginning with Nick's struggle to fit in with the Feddens and their circle. And it is not for a second boring, although little happens until the last 100 pages or so. The language is amazing and how it all unfolds in the end was nothing like I expected. Sure, I was waiting for some kind of disaster, but the plot just blew me away. I wish I had the proper time to sit down with this book instead of just reading a couple of pages before bed time because this book really deserves your undivided attention.

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