Thursday, 31 March 2011

Story of O by Pauline Réage (3/5) ***Spoiler Alert***

I finished reading this on Monday, but haven't been able to write anything about it because it left my mind all over the place.

The story starts off with O and her boyfriend, René, taking a taxi to the château of Roissy. Once inside O is subjected to systematic sexual [ab]use and whippings by numerous men - including René, who leaves her after a week, only to return a week later to bring her home. Before leaving the mansion, O is given a ring and told that it is a sign that she must allow herself to be used in any way by anyone who knows its significance. 



Once home, O goes back to working as a photographer and things return to, what I assume, their normal lives. Until René introduces O to his step/half brother, Sir Stephen, and informs her that she has to do exactly what he tells her, although technically René is still her master. O is told that she can refuse if she wants to, but then René will leave her and she will never see him again. Being madly in love with him, she agrees. Life goes on, and the longer O is used by Sir Stephen, she realises that she wants for him to love her. Which he eventually does. And when that happens, he asks O if she will agree to be marked as his.

She does.

So she is driven out to a house somewhere and gets a labia piercing with rings marked with Sir Stephens initials and insignia, as well as his initials branded on her buttocks. A series of events happen that I can't be arsed to write about, but the story ends with O being taken to a party, naked but for an owl mask. She sits in a corner quietly while the guests treat her like an object, coming up to look at her with curiosity. The last sentence stating that when the guests have all gone, Sir Stephen and another man "make use of her", for lack of a better expression.

The last page of the edition I have says: "There existed another ending to the story of O. Seeing herself about to be left by Sir Stephen, she preferred to die. To which he gave his consent." 

I say: It has taken me a couple of days to actually come to terms with this book, which I didn't expect. I've read BDSM stories before, and I'm perfectly fine with the lifestyle, so for me, it was O's thoughts that unnerved me the most. When first taken to the mansion, O says in response to being left there by René:

"She did not want to die; but if torture were the price she was to have to pay for her lover's continuing love, then she only hoped he would be happy because of what she had undergone [...]." - p. 40

Which is all well and good, I guess, only that once she is marked as Sir Stephen's and begins loving him, she feels:

"[...] here it is, come at last, the day I've always been so afraid would come: when for René I'd turn into a shadow belonging to a past life, a life that has been led and that is now gone be. And I am not even sad, now that it has come, and I only feel sorry for him, pity is all I feel, and I can see him every day without feeling hurt that he no longer desires me, without bitterness, without regret." - p.239

This fickleness reminds me of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, and the reason why I never liked that play. See, at the beginning of the play, Romeo is madly in love with Rosaline, but then as soon as he sees Juliet, he's madly in love with her. And then they go and kill themselves for absolutely no good reason.

And that is what I found so disturbing about O.

Her relationship with Sir Stephen is different from that of René, since the first was a lot more dominant, and thus the submission is greater. But to allow herself to be marked by Sir Stephen, knowing very well that she had just recently been declaring her love for René in the same way, makes her seem silly in my eyes. However, if the story had ended as it does, I wouldn't have thought as much of it, but that alternative ending did me in.

It simultaneously ties everything together and tears it all apart.

I understand that O wanted nothing but to be an object to Sir Stephen, her value defined by his use of her. And so if he loses interest in her, she'd rather die. But she had merely replaced René with Sir Stephen, so was it because she was marked?

Gah, I can't deal with this anymore.

Instead of analysing this to no end, I'll conclude by saying that it was a rather quick read, despite the poor language. I don't know if I bought a particularly bad translation, but it did irk me every now and then. Also there was a lot of plot and people that didn't feel relevant at all, almost as if it was only there as filler.

So yeah, I give it a 3 out of 5 because the story really wasn't that special, if not for the alternative ending, so I'm grateful they put that bit in. There's a part 2 of this story, so we'll see if I pick that up. Knowing myself, I probably will.

Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read


Jag Vill Inte Dö, Jag Vill Bara Inte Leva (I Don't Want to Die, I Just Don't Want to Live) by Ann Heberlein. I don't think this has been translated into English (or if it ever will), but because I don't want to keep repeating my answers, I've picked this one.

In it Heberlein speaks about her bipolar disorder, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. A lot of people don't want to read about heavy subjects like this, but I think that everyone should read it. It's so easy to dismiss mental disorders, because you can't always tell on the outside what's going in someone's head. And as a person who suffers from a mental disorder (not bipolar), I feel like it would be easier to talk about it if people knew about the details of it all, and not just the basics.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t


War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

I got about halfway through and then things happened and I stopped reading, and so now I'll have to start all over again. It wasn't as hard a read as I had always thought, and I did actually enjoy it.

I know, surprise right?

Although maybe not so much considering what I usually enjoy reading. I just keep pushing it off cos it's so damn heavy and the writing is so small. I may have to just download it and read it that way.

But read it I will.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Day 22 – Favorite book you own


This is an impossible question to answer. But for right now I'm going to say my signed copy of Black Boxes by Caroline Smailes.

This book touched me in ways I'll never be able to explain, and I'm forever grateful to Caroline to writing it.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Take It or Toss It: Language

I've been bad with the blogging because my mind's all over the place. Also, I'm trying to decide if I want to continue reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz because I'm seriously struggling with the language. It's crude and offensive, and all vernacular, which is probably the point, but I don't like it. Also, there are frequent sentences in Spanish - with no translation.

For why?

I hate it when authors do this. I haven't touched the book in a couple of weeks and I think I was only a mere 20 pages in. Right now I'm struggling with my gut feeling of discarding this book and the fact that one of the few people whose opinion I value said it's an excellent read.

Sigh.

Then we have Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy which I'm maybe 100 pages in. Hardy, like Charles Dickens, is such a struggle for me to read, but more often that not it's worth it. So I may stick this one out. I think I'll just reserve an entire day for this book and be done with it.

Then I received The Story of O by Pauline Réage in the mail today and I set forth on reading it straight away. Only I got as far as the end of the first page and cringed.

"The taxi eases off, very slowly; nor has the man next to her said a word to the driver."
- p. 9

That sentence is stupid.

Just full of stupid.

I've wanted to read this book for a while now, and that one sentence has just ruined a lot for me.

Yes, I am that petty.

I have 8 other books on my nightstand I could turn to, but I don't want to start anything new until I've decided whether to finish the ones I've started or just toss them.

Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood


The First Thousand Words by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright. I've noticed in the online that there is a new red cover, and that is the best picture I could find of the yellow cover mine has.

It's well over 20 years I've had it, so...

The concept of the book is vey simple; a huge picture and then smaller pictures around the edges with the name of what they represent, say "ball". Then I'd sit and try to find the ball in the main picture.

Gah, how I loved that book.

Even after I'd learned all the words, I'd just sit with it and repeat them over and over again. And then I'd find things in the pictures that weren't named, look them up in the dictionary and write them down in my notebook.

Good times...

I may go down to the cellar and see if I can dig it out for old time's sake.

Day 20 – Favorite romance book

I don't think I read romance. Ever. Apart from my recent foray into fanfiction. I'm seriously racking my brain trying to find a title that classifies as romance, and failing. There was a summer when I was 11 and found nothing to read in the house but my sister's Harlequin novels, and I hated them all. Then I read some Danielle Steel and Barbara Taylor Bradford for reasons unbeknownst to me. I would read the books and then as soon as I was done, throw them away and read another one.

It's so odd that I have no relation to them at all now.

Just a feeling of meh.

So, to play it safe I'll answer Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman (which is my default answer for absolutely everything because it can never be wrong).

Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, BUT not the movie version, the BBC mini series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Almost everything about this is pure perfection, but my favourite thing is the staring.

The.

Staring.

*swoon*

Friday, 25 March 2011

Day 18 – A book that disappointed you


The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

I love this movie so much I've probably watched it well over 50 times (if not more), and surprisingly it wasn't until two years ago that I read the book. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement of epic proportions. The book is made up of letters and diary entries by Celie and would have been epic if it hadn't been written in what I detest the most

vernacular.

I really just can't stand vernacular literature because it just ruins everything for me. I've repressed most of it, apart from what quotes I've written down in my notebook, and maybe I'll try reading it again in a few years. I'm getting a bit better at reading vernacular literature, though I did abandon Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston halfway through because it was just too much.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about books and reading that I thought I'd start answering. This week's question is Series? Or stand-alone books?

I say stand-alone books, because when I read a book I want to be able to put it aside when finished and feel like that's that -

and I can move on.

With series, the whole idea is that I have to pick up the rest if I want closure. It's probably different if it's a finished series, because then you know beforehand what you're getting yourself into, but even so. Not reading all the books is like abandoning the story.

Then I'm also one of those people who feel like some things are better left unsaid. Sure, I've read a lot of books where I've wished the author would continue with the story, but part of the magic with books for me, is that I can sit for hours afterwards just pondering what all the characters are up to after the author, and I, left them.

Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book


My favourite book at the moment, if not to say my current obsession, is Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman and my favourite quote is Elio telling Oliver

"You'll kill me if you stop."

I can't be arsed to find the page right now, but it's in there and it's just pure perfection. Elio also says at one point "kill me if I stop", which is the title of this blog.

Huzzah!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Day 15 – Favorite male character & Day 16 – Favorite female character

Real life is kicking my ass at the moment, and I haven't really had that much time to read over the past couple of days, but I thought I'd throw in a quick answer to yesterday's and today's challenge questions.

Favourite male character has always been (well, since I was 11) Macbeth, from the play of the same name by William Shakespeare, and I think I'm going to let him keep that spot. Runners up are probably Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (and I'll have to blame that on the hotness that art Colin Firth) and Elio from Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman (I knew I couldn't go an entire week without writing that).

Favourite female character is a bit harder, since I've never really thought about it too much. I'll say Anette from Alltid Den Där Anette! (Always that Anette!) and Kan Ingen Hjälpa Anette? (Can Nobody Help Anette?) by Peter Pohl, because I've read those books so many times it feels like she's a part of me. Also, so much of her is me.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer


Considering the fact that Oscar Wilde only wrote one novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, I don't really have that much choice in the matter, do I? Thankfully, I fell in irrevocable love with this, and with Lord Henry especially, so it's all good.

My favourite play is The Importance of Being Earnest, if anyone cares.

Also, how disgusting is that cover? Ugh.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Day 13 – Your favorite writer


Oscar Wilde.

Every now and then I crush over a new writer and completely obsess over them, and I'm actually finding it harder and harder to have a favourite the more I read. My first literary love and obsession was William Shakespeare, and I do believe that Wilde is my second. A few years back I was obsessed with Fyodor Dostoevsky and last year, or the one prior, it was Albert Camus. Right now I'm pondering whether I should continue with Dostoevsky or start on Guy de Maupassant.

I have no idea what I'm on about, to be honest.

But I love love love me some Oscar Wilde. So much I even went and lay down with his statue in Dublin, stood outside of one of his homes, and kissed and marked his tombstone in Paris last year. I've read all of his plays and The Picture of Dorian Gray, but was struggling with his poetry because I wasn't really feeling it. Strangely enough I actually just took out The Complete Works the other day because I wanted to read Vera; or The Nihilists for some reason.

Also, I read The Importance of Being Earnest and De Profundis once a year. The latter contains one of my favourite quotes of all time:

"[...] if ever I lie in the cool grass at night-time it will be to write sonnets to the moon."

Perfection.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore


I'm going to go for a series of books for this one, since I can't seem to make up my mind (big surprise), and it's Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne.

I used to love Winnie the Pooh, both the books and the cartoon series, but for a few years now I've been convinced that they're all on drugs. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I just find it hard not reading into everything they say as some sort of code for their fix.

It's all ruined.

I do realise that this says more about me than anything else, but it can't be helped.

Bel Ami (or the History of A Scoundrel) by Guy de Maupassant (4/5)

I read this last year and after having a discussion with a friend decided to re-read it since it appears my opinion of the book shocked her. My opinion being that I didn't think Georges Duroy was such a bad character, and that I found him to be somewhat humorous.

The back says: Young, attractive and very ambitious, Georges Duroy, known to his friends as Bel-Ami, is offered a job as a journalist on La Vie francaise and soon makes a great success of his new career. But he also comes face to face with the realities of the corrupt society in which he lives - the sleazy colleagues, the manipulative mistresses and wily financiers - and swiftly learns to become an arch-seducer, blackmailer and social climber in a world where love is only a means to an end. Written when Maupassant was at the height of his powers, "Bel-Ami" is a novel of great frankness and cynicism, but it is also infused with the sheer joy of life - depicting the scenes and characters of Paris in the belle epoque with wit, sensitivity and humanity.

I say: I really like this book, bordering on love. The main reason being that Duroy is such an unapologetic schemer. He sincerely believes that the world owes him these things and thus any action he takes to get there, deserves no justification.

It was meant to be.

I must say that the reason why I don't outright love this is because sometimes Duroy's whining gets the best of me. He often comes across as a petulant child, and really doesn't think too far ahead in his scheming. He's also a misogynist and quite possibly a misanthrope -

in other words, a scoundrel.

I must confess that I kind of like how he fools these women into thinking he's madly in love with them, and that his immediate reaction to people not doing what he wants them to is to want to strangle them. I can't help it, I just find de Maupassant's writing incredibly witty. My favourite part may very well be in the church where Mme. Walter forces a priest to take her confession because she doesn't want to be tempted by Duroy. When she's finally done, she sees Duroy waiting for her and tells him to leave her alone, and she walks off.


"He permitted her to go, because it was against his principles to force matters. As the priest in his turn issued from the confessional, he advanced toward him and said: "If you did not wear a gown, I would give you a sound thrashing." Then he turned upon his heel and left the church whistling."
- p. 76

I know I probably shouldn't, but I just love it.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Day 11 – A book you hated


The first book that came to mind was New Moon by Stephenie Meyer because, well, it's a really bad book. Everyone knows that SMeyer can't write, and as bad as I thought Twilight was when I first read it, New Moon made me violent.

Really.

Just.

Violent.

So much rage after every page turn.

I'll include my review after the jump because I hadn't read it since I wrote it, and I kind of like it. My reviews are so unproffessional and snarky...

Day 10 – Favorite classic book


I'm a day late with this one, but whatever. I had a hard time thinking of this one and in the end decided to go with The Prince by Niccoló Machiavelli. In hindsight I realise that reading and becoming obsessed with The Prince at age 14 probably wasn't the best thing I could have done, but I turned out just fine.

For the most part.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving


Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

I read this a few years back when I was obsessed with reading all the classics before I turn 30 (which I still may manage, btw). So many of the classics are not worth the hype and, let's be honest, Crime and Punishment is one of those books that people love to tell you is one of their favourites for no other reason than that they think it makes them look intellectual. Also, I was a hopeless cynic that loved quoting Mark Twain. Case in point:

"'Classic'. A book which people praise and don't read."

So yeah, I read it and loved it. This was the beginning of my sad little obsession with Dostoevsky and in turn Russian literature. I kinda miss that obsession. I should pick it up again.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


My teaser this week: "'O merciful God, have pity upon my poor baby!' she cried. 'Heap as much anger as you want upon me, and welcome; but pity the child!'"

- p.118, Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Day 08 – Most overrated book


I could name quite a few, but I'm going to go with the most obvious one: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. I just did not like this at all. Looking back I see that I rated it a 2,5/5, but somehow that feels very generous.

Holden really annoyed the shit out of me.

See, this is the thing about hype; more often than not it's just people blowing hot air. Maybe I missed something significant when reading this, so I'll count my non-existent losses and be happy to never mention this again.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Day 07 – Most underrated book


I've honestly spent all day trying to think of a good answer to today's question, but keep coming up empty. My memory is the worst, and so for the sake of saying anything I'm going to go with Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo.

As much as I try not to listen to people's opinions about books that I want to read, I tend to check out the general opinion when it comes to books that I normally wouldn't read.

Does that make any sense?

I picked up Cosmopolis because it's being turned into a movie and I really couldn't wrap my head around the idea of making a movie about a guy riding around in his limousine for a day. So, I wanted to read the book first (even though the movie probably won't be out for months), and before doing so I checked out what people thought of it.

And the reviews weren't really that great.

I've never read anything by DeLillo so I didn't have anything to compare it to, and perhaps that worked in my favour. I really liked the book. Perhaps I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's the most underrated book ever, but it's the only one I can think of at the moment, so it'll have to do.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac (5/5)

So, I've wanted to read this for a long time, but have for some reason kept stalling. Mostly because whenever a lot of people say that a certain book changed their lives, history has taught me to be very suspicious. But hey, I'll try anything once.

And I'm glad I did.

The back says: 'On the Road' swings to the rhythm of 1950's underground America, jazz, sex, generosity, chill dawns and drugs, with Sal Paradise and his hero Dean Moriarty, traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat. Now recognized as a modern classic, Kerouac's American Dream is nearer that of Walt Whitman than F. Scott Fitzgerald's, and the narrative goes racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and passion.

I say: This book is so intense, and I'm not used to reading such a fast pased narrative. I found myself initially reading 20 pages at a time and then putting it down to collect my thoughts. So much is happening all the time, so many names, stories, cities and circumstances are being thrown at you, and at first I was confused about what to focus on.

Which was the point of it all; what makes it such a great book. 

The title of the book pretty much says it all, Sal Paradise spends most of it "on the road" with various characters. And they're all characters, believe you me. Dean Moriarty being the biggest, loudest and most intense of them all. I can't even begin to describe them all, and even though they all play their part in the story, for me, it was all about Sal and how he allowed himself to be enticed by Dean time and time again.

And I'm not even sure if 'entice' is the right word since Sal was beyond hypnotised by Dean.

My favourite parts of the book were when Kerouac was describing the musicians playing in the clubs. It was so ridiculously vivid it felt like I was there; I could hear the horns, see the sweaty bodies dancing, taste the whiskey and smoke in the air, and I just wanted to yell out "blow!" and keep going all night.

I could quite literally go on for hours about this book, and that was a pleasant surprise. Undoubtedly, had I read this earlier in life it would have changed it everything, but I somehow feel as though I've been feeling like Sal for the past 5 or 6 years, although my travels on the road haven't been near as epic as his. I arrived there naturally, at wanting to be a part of what Kerouac refers to as Beat, and in a way, On The Road is a strange glorification of a lifestyle, if you may, that is frowned upon.

Two final things.

One. Dean Moriarty was insane. And I love it.

Two. "Anonymity in the world of men is better than fame in heaven, for what's heaven? what's earth? All in the mind." (p. 223)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust



Some reviewer of Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman over at Amazon mentioned In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, which of course means that I have to look it up. Unfortunately, for my wallet, this is a work of fiction made up of 6 or 7 volumes that the dear sweet, deluded library doesn't have. I'll call them tomorrow to see if they can ship it over from another library in Sweden, but I doubt it.

So I'm getting busy trying to find cheap-ish copies and it's going so so, because I'm once again stuck in that conflicting trench that is translations. I know how utterly pretentious one sounds when talking about translations, but the things is,

they really do matter.

Also, I have this insane love for Everyman's Library Classics' hardbacks, but they're priced at £15 at Waterstones, and they only have 4 volumes. And I'm running myself ragged trying to figure out all these translations and editions and

GAH!

Oh how I suffer for the love of reading.

Day 06 – A book that makes you sad


I've been heartbroken since I re-read Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman earlier this week and haven't been able to get it off my mind, so I'm compelled to name it now.

Because it's just pure perfection.

I read this the first time in 2008 and loved it, but somehow forgot all about it until the other week. Actually, to say I forgot would be simplifying it; it was always there in the back of my head as something magical I once experienced and that was all. So I decided to read it again, because so many times you love something in that particular moment and returning to it years later it's not the same. That's how it was for me and this book.

I loved it even more.

I think it may very well be the best book I've ever read, if my broken heart is to decide.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Day 05 – A book that makes you happy

It's Just You - Everything's Not Shit by Steve Stack, which was given to me by a E who has oodles of humour. I actually fell in love with this book, which is filled with things that make life great and that you sometimes forget about.

Also, it's written by a very funny man.

Unfortunately, I have no idea where I have left this book, so I can't give any examples. If I find it (I can't be arsed lifting and looking underneath anything atm) I'll update with a few of my favourite quotes.

30 Days of Books: Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series

I started the 30 Days of Books Challenge on my other blog and since I've just decided to do a separate book blog, I'll continue on day four here. If you want to see the rest then skip over to the other blog. I'll put all of the daily challenges after the jump.

So, since I said previously that my favourite series was Twilight (for all the wrong reasons) I will now have to continue down that godforsaken path and say that Breaking Dawn is my favourite book. Simply because it's quite possibly the most ridiculous book I've ever read in my entire life.

I kid you not.

It's just so riddled with stupid I didn't even know where to turn when I read it the first time. Just when I thought it couldn't possibly get any more stupid, it did.

Again, and again and again.

I mean come on, Bella gets pregnant by Edward (how does that even work?), the baby breaks her ribs (if I'm not mistaken), Edward speaks to it while it's in her stomach (!), he then chews the baby out of her stomach (which is funny, since Carlisle is a doctor and has all the proper equipment in his office), Jacob falls in love with the baby (no comment), they name it Renesme (!), Bella has superpowers (!), all these random circus freaks showing up (the plot thins), the big epic battle of dialogue (!), the happy ever after (finally?).

What's not to love?