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lono

What I am reading

this is the highly subjective way I read and interpret literature

(I mostly read classic belles-lettres, but you’ll find some examples of trashy readings here and there as well)

As usual, please comment under the original post!

New BookLikes "Admin Issues" Group

Reblogged from Themis-Athena's Garden of Books:

As the "official" BookLikes group has been swamped by unchecked waves of spam, I've decided to create a replacement group for us to address the issues that we'd otherwise post in the "official" group:

 

BookLikes Admin Issues

 

Since it's member-managed, it of course won't cause any issues to actually be fixed.  But let's face it, with BL admin AWOL, that's not happening anyway -- and this will at least give us a new place to discuss issues and voice grievances.

 

Most importantly, being a member-administered group, this will be a group where we will be able to keep out the spammers.

 

In light of this, it would be helpful if there were several other administrators besides me, so if you're interested, please let me know.

 

My hope is that we'll eventually be able to dry out the playing field that the spammers have found in the "official" group.  There hardly seems any point for any of us to remain in that group but for the few threads that remain useful to us, and ultimately it makes more sense to me to move those threads to a new group that we ourselves can control and leave the "official" group behind once and for all.  That way, we'd not only remove thread views from the spammers own statistics -- we'd also be spared seeing their threads in our notifications and at the top of our own dashboards.  I don't think this will entirely get rid of the spammers (nor does removing them from our "friends" lists, after all), but at least it will be one more way of making BL at least a bit less welcoming to them.

 

To get us started, I've replicated the five most important ongoing threads from the "official" group in the new group:

 

* Questions

* Bug Reports

* Spammer Reports

* Feature Requests

* BL Members' Non-BookLikes Blog URLs

 

If you want to add any further threads, feel free to do so -- just please keep it to threads that are of interest to the community as a whole.

 

Happy blogging all and have a great weekend!

Lenny

The Complete Robot - Isaac Asimov

Now that’s how you write a short story about robots!

Robbie

Robbie - Isaac Asimov

Good short story, somewhat weak on the character level though.

Reading progress update: I've read 50 out of 547 pages.

Berlin Alexanderplatz - Alfred Döblin

I just finished the first of nine parts and so far I am not convinced. I hate the overuse of dialect in almost all direct speeches, the plot is meh (mostly walking/driving around so far) and the language is odd.

But I'll hang on for a little bit longer.

Reading progress update: I've read 26 out of 547 pages.

Berlin Alexanderplatz - Alfred Döblin

I don't like it when authors mimic a certain dialect / sociolect in a character’s direct speech, so I really really hope, Döblin is going to drop this terrible habit soon.

2007 at its best!

John Dies At The End - David Wong

I really enjoyed this re-read of David Wongs debut novel from 2007. Of course, the book has aged, especially the pop culture references feel really old (you guys still remember Fred Durst?), at the same time it takes you down nostalgia lane, because I cannot be the only one remembering listening to Limp Bizkit CDs, right? Right??
But apart from that, it has aged very well. The story itself is still unconventional and out of the ordinary, although it is hard to explain why without giving away too much.

Wong has a great sense for syntax and a black, very dry humour. I am not kidding when I say that this book will make you laugh out loud or at least giggle even while being in public. It is well structured, the episodes are not long-winded (as they unfortunately are in his follow up novels), but above all, I have to praise the atmosphere. He manages to create a realistic uncanny environment that can turn from uncanny to simply horrifying to hilarious within two pages. One of the central statements of John Dies at the End must be (in my opinion), that ghosts, demons and whatnot don’t haunt specific places, but minds. They haunt minds. And this novel kind of does the same to you, it really messes with your brain and with your perception of reality up to a point when you question everything and everyone – and then Wong suddenly cracks some dick jokes so that the world feels alright again.

I really like John Dies at the End, but I have to admit, that I remember loving it the first time I read it. The first time, I was just not expecting half of the crazy plot twists and sudden turns, therefore I was not braced for them and this book left me staring dumbfounded at its pages with my mind going “wtf?!” more often than I like to admit here. Naturally, there were not that many surprises now, but I noticed a lot of details which I completely missed the first time. I still really like it and I can see myself reading it a third time when I need a break from serious literature.
And as far as the title goes… Well, you will just have to find out yourself if John dies at the end or not.

"You see, Frank found out the hard way that the dark things lurking in the night don’t haunt old houses or abandoned ships. They haunt minds."
John Dies At The End - David Wong

One incredibly good line from John Dies at the End by David Wong.

"Scientists talk about dark matter, the invisible, mysterious substance that occupies the space between stars. Dark matter makes up 99,99 percent of the universe, and they don’t know what it is. Well I know. It’s apathy. That’s the truth of it; pile together everything we know and care about in the universe and it will still be nothing more than a tiny speck in the middle of a vast black ocean of Who Gives A Fuck."
John Dies At The End - David Wong

John Dies at the End by David Wong

Reading progress update: I've read 162 out of 384 pages.

John Dies At The End - David Wong

I am currently re-reading John Dies at the End which I first read (and loved) in 2013.

 

I remember that its weird an twisted story blew my mind back then and that every book by David Wong that came out after John Dies at the End was disappointing in comparison to it (though still entertaining to a certain degree).

So far, I still remember some bits and pieces, but even though a lot of the crazy plot twists aren’t surprising to me any more, I still enjoy this novel and it still makes me smile and giggle from time to time.

— feeling booklikes
please comment at the original post.

Booklikes Active Poster

Reblogged from Abandoned by Booklikes:
— feeling booklikes

I thought this would be a good way for us to comment and then share the post to see who is still here to make sure we are all following each other. I only bring this up because I see some people posting and I appear to be the only one following their reviews.

 

I have gotten some comments from bots though which is another reason why I wanted us all to take this Friday to comment and share this post so we can all find each other. 

 

Feel free to drop your name in the comments and share! 

Playing God

Hundeherz - Mikhail Bulgakov

For years I wanted to read Heart of a Dog, finally I found the time to do so and I am not disappointed. Bulgakov presents a great satirical novella in which he asks quite a few uncomfortable questions about the freedom and limits of science, about responsibility for one’s creation, personal happiness, and, last but not least, about the influence and corruption of the communist/bolshevik system.

Since I usually find a constantly changing perspective rather annoying and/or distracting, I am surprised, that I really enjoyed this mixture of the dog’s perspective, third person narration and pieces of Bormental’s diary. I especially appreciate the fact that the story starts from Šarik’s point of view (that is the dog’s) and that Bulgakov concentrates much on scent, smell and sensations of details that are in general irrelevant for humans. Therein also lies the explanation for Šarik’s later fondness of flashy patent leather shoes.

I love the fact, that all characters in here are quite coherent in their behavioural traits, even Šarik – while being a dog, while transforming into a human and while being the human Šarikov. That’s quite an achievement in my opinion!

Besides the social satire that can be found in Heart of a Dog, Bulgakov imposes some further existential questions like what makes one human? How does one behave towards his/her own creator? How does one behave towards his/her own creation? Or what ultimately makes us who we are?

Overall, this is less surreal and phantasmagorical than most of Bulgakov’s other writings – and I like it!

Mariama Bâ’s idea of interracial relationships

Der Scharlachrote Gesang - Mariama Bâ, Irmgard Rathke

Scarlet Song is quite different from Mariama Bâ’s other novel So long a Letter and while I thoroughly enjoyed the latter, I have some issues with this one.

But first things first. Scarlet Song is set in Dakar around the 1960’s and it is the love story between Mireille, the daughter of a French diplomat, and Ousman, son to a poor Senegalese family. One is a man, one a is woman, one is black, one is white, one comes from a rich family, one comes from a very poor family, one was raised according to European standards and norms, the other one to Wolof traditions. Both families resent this interracial relationship for different reasons, but as you can see, there is a lot of potential for conflict.

But surprisingly this is not so much the story of Mireille and Ousman, but of Ousman and especially his mother Yaye Khady. Although the novel shows, that racism goes both ways, Bâ definitely did not write for a European audience since you need at least some basic knowledge of Senegalese / Wolof culture and society (although the translator was kind enough to add some footnotes). The characters (all but Mireille) go back and forth between love, racism, prejudices, tradition and religion, additionally, the novel is sometimes strangely focused on motherhood (since Bâ raised nine children herself, I guess this was a big issue for her).

My main problem with this text was probably that only Yaye Khady as the hellish mother-in-law was believable as a character. Ousmans behaviour in the second and in the third part of the book was quite out of character and completely contradictory to the first part. While his close bonds with his family are understandable, his treatment of Mireille doesn’t make any sense. Mireille on the other hand feels like the embodiment of how Bâ as an African writer imagines a European/French woman to be. For example: it is said a couple of times, that she is rather rational, intelligent and proud, yet she never acts like that, but is only shown as someone who has fallen in love head over heels (once you go black, you never go back, I guess) and who struggles to fit in.

After all, Scarlet Song doesn’t really deal with the issues of an interracial marriage, but with the problems of an intercultural one. While Ousman and Mireille overcome racism and prejudices seemingly without any hassle, religion and traditions set them further and further apart. Again, it just felt less like a story about an actual marriage and more like a tale of Bâ’s idea of such a relationship.

Doran Gray’s Instagram of Horror

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

I truly love the idea of this novel for being so simple and so complicated at the same time. The downfall of the young aristocrat Dorian Gray ultimately shows that the combination of good looks, infinite money and bad friends can be fatal.

Does anyone remember the (really not so good) movie Hollow Man and how Kevin Bacons character states how you wouldn’t believe what you are capable of doing when you no longer have to look at yourself in the mirror? The same principle can be found in The Picture of Dorian Gray, it only differs in the design. It is easy to understand how everlasting youth (and apparently good health) can be tempting and corrupting, hence it is easy to understand how Dorian Gray starts out on his hedonistic journey. He is young, rich and good looking, the world is at his feet and thanks to the bad influence of Lord Henry and his endless supply of cynical one-liners, the protagonist gets self-absorbed and reckless. He lives only for his own vanity and in search of pleasures which turn out to be unfulfilling and he is left wanting more and more.

Due to the fact that he never bears any visible consequences of his actions, Gray stays irresponsible and defiant like a teenager. He goes on blaming everyone else for his own actions, suppresses his own guilt as well as his misbehaviour and he is easily angered when hearing the truth about himself.  When James Vane forces him to face his past, Dorians panic, denial, paranoia and his inability to do anything but run away and hide show how irresponsible he truly is.

The story is great, the novel’s characters are great (although somewhat flat considering that the plot spans over a time period of twenty years). This novel about vanity, self-absorption, temptation and hedonism should be a reminder (especially) for the Instagram generation that looks are deceiving. Whenever I read one of the „classics“, I am astonished how much universal truth lies in them, because they still relate to modern life, in the case of The Picture of Dorian Gray, it might relate even more to our current day and age than it did in the last century.

The one really weird thing of the whole novel was that no one ever questioned how an almost 40 year old man still looks exactly like a 21 year old lad. Seriously, no one??

…that and chapter 11.

Reading progress update: I've read 185 out of 256 pages.

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

Lots of aristocratic / first world problems, yet why is it so incredibly hard to put this book down?

The best summary of Plato’s Republic I have ever seen!

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
"‘Yes,’ he continued, ‘that is one of the great secrets of life. Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.’"