Sunday, December 16, 2007

On Dessaix and books for xmas

Reading Robert Dessaix turns on the neurons in my brain. It was cerebral indulgence as he considered topics from pornography to creative genius in his collection of short works,And so forth. The book was one of those pageturners where I felt a need to remember something on each page, making mental notes to reread or write down as I went along.

You know that feeling when an author so envelops you, reviving your perspective and mood? If you want an author with intellectual verve and a capacity to walk and wander through many stimulating paths, consider giving this Australian intellectual a go.

In other reading news, I was stoked to receive an early xmas present which entailed some seriously cool reading matter. I’ve noticed that as a booklover, people often hesitate to buy me books, thinking a) that I’ve probably read it already or (mistakenly) b) that I have too many books and wouldn’t want any more. As you would know, any booklover secretly desires another addition to the bookshelf.

My boyfriend, sadly, is working away on an oil rig this Christmas. So, he got me to unwrap my presents early. He got me the perfect combination – a picnic blanket and a copy of Nabokov’s Pnin so I can sit and read one of the novels I love. A great gift indeed!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Our Reading Escapade! Oh the urgency!

Reading Robert Dessaix's collection of short works And So Forth is an intellectually titillating and indulgent experience for me. Browsing the shelves of a bookshop that I often come out of empty-handed, I was surprised to discover a beautiful hardcover edition of this Dessaix gem. Deliberating due to dollar dramas, I bought it anyway because I suspect it may now be out of print.

Turns out, on the train ride home from work today, that it was a judicious purchase. One of his essays 'The Love List' resonated with me - as he urges the reader (us crazy bibliophiles) not to lust after a year of reading bliss. He talks about ever bibliophile's fantasy - time out where we can retire to say Patmos or our own reading haven to tear through those to-be-read stacks.

Dessaix is an exquisite Australian author and essayist. How true is his encouragment to pursue our own reading impetus and intensity:

'to acknowledge that you're doing this out of love -- don't be put off, don't be made anxious by people who press their own loves on you, amazed that you're not instantly seduced. What! they'll exclaim, you've never read Margaret Mead or Roland Barthes or Janet Frame or Dante? No you haven't, and possibly never will and in the grand scheme of things it simply doesn't matter'

As a guilty blogger who laments her lapse in posting, this validates the ebb and flow of my reading and reflecting. Recently, I've read some wonderful books that I'll have to share. I'm bad. I haven't blogged books. I'll never read 'the best book of your life' that I told a customer I'd sink my teeth into it. But really, does it matter?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rock around the clock tonight

Doesn't this clock rock? Arriving back from my adventure early, I've been forced to find a new sharehouse and make it home, sweet home. So, in a bid to freshen it up I purchased this cute little clock.

My premature return involves mixed experiences. Lesson one involved learning it was difficult to travel with my mum. There was also some romance - a boy I met prior to my trip followed me over to Greece.

Not having read as much as I expected on my trip but keen to get back into books, I'm looking forward to catching up with fellow bookbloggers. Currently, I'm on the last few pages and laughs of A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Apologies abound - retrospective and for the future. I'm such a slack lady - but I've been busy with the boredom of essays and the excitement of trip planning. I'm writing from Auckland, New Zealand, but tomorrow it's off to Germany. Oh the excitement! If anyone is interested, email me at and I'll hit you up with my new travel blog address. Sorry guys, I am still reading on the run, but announcing a hiatus. Keep up the blibliophilic blogging work!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Book bashers

Moving house is always great fun. After half a day of packing and stacking, my room looks messier than before we started. I’m going to stay in my mum’s shoebox of a unit before we head off for our trip.

Housing stack-loads of books is an endless comfort to my bibliomania – but presents hassles when moving. Kindly though, two of my brothers offered to help store and move my stuff. It’s a work in process; we move a bit here and there. Eldest brother came today to move two large bookcases, a dryer and other assorted junk. Some straggling books still remained on the bookcases so we decided to place them on the master bookcase.

I entered the room to find my brother and mum throwing the books onto the shelves. Frantically scrabbling to rescue and rearrange, I screeched: ‘Nooooooooooo, what are you doing to my boooooks?”

My beautiful Collected Short Stories of Saki is now besmirched – the cover’s all bent and manky. My David Copperfield will never be the same. Later, my housemates said the whole world heard me yell. I was distraught.

But a happy ending is only a page away. Early intervention meant the majority of the books are snugly packed and living underneath my mother’s bed. I know some of you are proud-owners of even more books than moi. How do you go about transporting them when you are on the move?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Tell King Tut I want my mummy

I miss my mum. When she last got in touch she was going to a sinfully sunny island in Greece. She’s on a cruise – complete with movie cinemas, swimming pools and restaurants - where dinner is served promptly at ‘whatever o’clock.’ When some folks in her social group decided to book a cruise, she jumped high and far at the chance to travel.

She asked me to come but alas the trip coincided with exams and assignment madness. With the gotcha gremlin of hindsight I now think I’m crazy for passing on this one! She gets back tomorrow and in amongst doing my essays (1 down, 2 to go!) I look forward to seeing her.

My plane reading is sorted, thanks to recommendations from fellow bibliophiles. I'll be cruising the clouds with my head stuck in David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas , thanks to Matt. Satisfying two of my passions, wanderlust and bibliomania, is Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs, a travel narrative by Jeremy Mercer about his stay at an English-language bookstore in Paris - Shakespeare and Co (cheers tanabata!). Overexcitement bubbles at the thought of reading the YA book Holes . I will leave it behind owing to Bybee's input about its lack of page-number meatiness. Not ideal for plane material, but I hope to consume it quickly the week before I leave.

I must offer up a little confession at the risk of being maligned. I’ve never read Harry Potter. Horrified now? I'm willing to correct my backward ways and the trip would be a good excuse. So, if I get hold of a copy of the first book, I might make a substitution… I'm not sure about the Los Angeles aiport, but since we have a six-hour stopover there I could possibly acquire it there.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Curiosity took over the comments

My backpacking trip is going to involve a lot of spontaneity owing to the little planning time I've allowed myself. Fed up with my impending essays, today I began to plan our adventures in Germany, Austria and Poland. Enthused is an understatement in regards to my anticipation about visiting Auschwitz. This will be the first leg of my trip. Which reminds me, I must begin a travel blog for these posts. There seems to be an overwhelming number of vehicles for this. Does anyone know whether I should stick with blogger or try something different?

It was probably unfair of me not to share the source of my reading revulsion in the last post. I've mentioned my reasons for not identifying the text, but I've worked out a way to get around it. So here's the answer:

Yup, it's a two-word title. I'm sure you'll all work it out.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Reading revulsion: sorry to rant!

The only thing that unsettles my stomach more than reading my own writing is reading published work that should not have been published. Unfortunately, this dilemma faces me as I write an essay on a book I dislike. Scholars have not touched the novel. Did the pallid prose send them searching for more sexy material? One girl in my tutorial cheerfully announced that we could do our honours theses on it. Reader, I shuddered. Owing to the dearth of critical material I will not name the text for fear of bringing fellow students (googling googlies?) here.

The premise of the book has merit. Events unfolding in an ancient Chinese text are mirrored with a contemporary love story between a Chinese antique dealer and an Australian girl. I have an aversion to the author’s clumsy and uninventive style. Lines such as, ‘He made love and become another person who was also himself’ frustrate me with their hackneyed expression. This is disappointing, because the novel aims at sensory immersion. The girl who I co-presented with adored it, but I am left grimacing as I take in each page.

Why would I write my essay on a book that I hated? I did my tutorial presentation on it, and in lazy uni-student fashion I’m drawing upon those ideas to save time. Does it sound like I'm being unfair on this book? I have a hard time saying I don’t like something. To me, books are like people, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings. Generally, most books I review are the ones I enjoyed. Yes, I tend to cruise the comfort-zone when reading for pleasure.

With three major essays approaching I’m feeling pressure, pressure, pressure. Arggggh! Ending on a more cheerful thought, I don't have to cook tonight because we are going out to dinner to celebrate the birthday of one of our houseguests from England.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hey chicky babe: championing chicklit

Yesterday’s meme reminded me of Jess’s post at this delicious solitude about her unexpected discovery of the Jane Austen Book Club. To the disappointment of her book-purist heart, she found herself enjoying it. Her problem was that the novel may be considered ‘chicklit’. Evaluative and enlightening, her post and the comments received provide an interesting take on our assumptions as readers.

Stigma surrounds chicklit. But if content counts, then shouldn’t we as readers be open to new reading adventures? Sure, chick lit books are marketed with bubble-gum covers that scream cultural commodification. This sucks for authors who mix the frivolity of the fashion world with astute observation. Intelligent chick lit, like La’Brooy, can appeal on different levels. I do wonder though, if I wasn’t young and female would I still find La’Brooy equally amusing and enjoyable?

One day, a customer came in to work looking for a book. She was afflicted with a common customer ailment; details had fled her brain. Not even a title or author to go on. She lingered in front of the Alphabet Sisters . She was searching for a book ‘kind of like that.’ I ascertained she meant something with that candy-pink, girly appeal. She wavered at classifying this mysterious book as chick lit. We couldn’t work out what it was.

Alternatively, I recommended the book I was shelving - La’Brooy’s love struck . I raved about its intellectual merit, Salinger allusions, quality prose. Realizing these things mighn’t appeal, I talked up its humourous plot. She looked dubiously for a moment at the garish cover, until recognition hit: ‘that’s it! That’s the author I read!’. Turns out, she had read La’Brooy’s new novel Serendipity, but almost didn’t recognize the author owing to the different nature of the covers adorning her first two books. She happily bought La’Brooy's other books. We were both spun out.

The wish list was truly a riotous read. Particularly amusing was a scene involving an intellectual rendezvous at a bookstore gone awry. Intellectual pretensions are satirized as they create misunderstanding and embarrassment. The incident ends with the accidental theft of some Marquis de Sade. I’ll zip it with the rave review, but the humour definitely gave me an ab workout.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Not in earnest: more meme madness

All-too-quickly I was tagged again for a meme! This one is not very involved. My meme task, set by Dewey over at the hidden side of a leaf, led me to re-examine another ‘chick lit’ novel. Grabbing the first book next to me, The Importance of Being Earnest I discover Wilde’s play is short and sweet; too brief a candidate for this meme. Next in line was La’Brooy’s wishlist .

Here are the rules:
“You simply have to grab the book nearest to you (no cheating here), turn to page 161, and post the text of the fifth full sentence on the page along with the body of the instruction on your blog. Then you tag 3 people.”

As we’ve established the wish list was the closest fit. And now for the sentence:

"He turned on the overhead torch to reveal the sight of Lucy trying to stuff socks in her ears"

The absurdity of this sentence makes me chuckle all-over again at the candid representation and self-dissection the characters engage in. Quirky, embarrassing and self-critical, the main character Lucy and her friends are an interesting bunch. So, after a simple meme turned book promotion, I’ll tag:

Bybee at Naked Without Books.
Meli at The Little Bookroom
Tanabata at In Spring it is the Dawn