Lilisin ROOTS in 2023!

Keskustelu2023 ROOT CHALLENGE

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Lilisin ROOTS in 2023!

Muokkaaja: Eilen, 9:33 pm

Welcome to another reading year!

Last year was a year of experimentation and transition. My Japanese book club with a goal of reading one Japanese language book per month was a huge success and we ended up reading 10 books in Japanese last year! We only skipped one month because one member was falling behind and we abandoned the December pick because it was too difficult for our reading level.

However, because we read a lot in Japanese, and because I didn't want to mess up this momentum, I read less in English and French, and since I read slower in Japanese, that prevented me from reading more books last year. Of course, quantity is never the goal, but there are so many wonderful books that I want to get to that of course I don't want those to be left behind. Also, because it was a book club I was in, not all the books were my choice and we had to limit ourselves to reading capabilities, so many of the books chosen were not books I would typically read which meant, not less quality per-se, but less in my field of interest.

This year we have decided to continue the book club but to allow for more personal reading we will be having one month off every quarter leading to a goal of 9 books read this year for the club. We will also be attempting to up the difficulty level and page count.

As for personal reading I would like to read through my TBR pile this year. I have officially filled up my bookcases and so there is no need for me to look elsewhere for books. I will be focusing on a lot of the translated contemporary Japanese reads and the Penguin Classics and French classics I own.

I have high hopes for this year and am expecting it to be a strong one!

I thank everyone who has continued to support me and my thread throughout the years. Two years ago I read 84 out of my 60 book goal and thus bumped last year's goal up to 80. So since last year I read 113 books/manga out of that goal of 80 I've decided to make 100 my goal this year! Never have I attempted such a feat! I'm excited!

Books read in 2023:
1) Joseph Sheridan le Fanu : Uncle Silas
2) Emile Zola : Son excellence Eugene Rougon
3) Keisuke Hada : La Vie du bon côté (Scrap and Build)
4) Yuko Tsushima : Woman Running in the Mountains
5) Cao Xuequin : The Story of the Stone - Volume 5
6) Princess Der Ling : Two Years in the Forbidden City
7) Leo Tolstoy : Anna Karenina
8) Robert Macfarlane : The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot *abandoned
9) John Wyndham : The Midwich Cuckoos
10) Jules Verne : Le phare du bout du monde (Lighthouse at the End of the World)
11) Aki Shimazaki : Fuki-no-tô: L'ombre du chardon
12) Aki Shimazaki : Maïmaï: L'ombre du chardon
13) Pierre Corneille : Le Cid
14) S. C. Gwynne : Empire of the Summer Moon
15) Jules Verne : De la Terre à la Lune (From the Earth to the Moon)
16) Charlotte Bronte : Shirley
17) Emile Zola : La Curee (The Kill)
18) Amélie Nothomb : Premier Sang (First Blood)
19) Cédric Gras : Alpinistes de Mao (Mao's Alpinists)
20) Jules Verne : Autour de la lune (Round the Moon)
21) Nella Larsen : Passing
22) Shi Dan : Mémoires d'un eunuque dans la cité interdite (Memoirs of a Eunuch in the Forbidden City)
23) Shinsuke Numata : La Pêche au toc dans le Tôhoku
24) Bram Stoker : Dracula
25) Keyi Sheng : Un paradis
26) Robert Louis Stevenson : Treasure Island
27) Ira Ishida : Call-Boy
28) Shusaku Endo : Le Dernier souper et autres nouvelles

Manga read in 2023:
極主夫道 11
幽遊白書 1-12
クジマ歌えば家ほろろ 2-3
ラブひな 1-4

Previous threads: 2022 - 2021 - 2020 - 2019 - 2018 - 2017 - 2016 - 2015

tammikuu 9, 3:54 am

Welcome back! I always enjoy your reviews and look forward to more of them in 2023!

tammikuu 9, 7:17 am

Welcome back, lilisin. Happy ROOTing in 2023.

You have great plans for the year. Do you count any book you read as a ROOT?

tammikuu 9, 12:02 pm

Welcome back! I'm in awe of your goal!

tammikuu 9, 6:00 pm

Welcome back and best of luck hitting that 100-book goal this year!

tammikuu 10, 6:32 am

>2 MissWatson: Thank you! I'd like to actually be more prompt in writing them!

>3 connie53: I do count every book I own as a ROOT as I'm very keen on the idea that if I buy a new book despite already having a TBR, that I must be read it immediately. So making everything a ROOT ensures I don't create even more ROOTs by letting new books languish.

>4 Jackie_K: It's a much easier goal to accomplish when you count comics! A lot faster to read those than fiction/nonfiction!

>5 rabbitprincess: Thank you! I managed to get to 113 last year so I think I can do it again this year!

tammikuu 11, 2:25 am

Let's practice writing reviews close to the reading end date, shall we?

1) Joseph Sheridan le Fanu : Uncle Silas

The tale of our young protagonist who comes to live under the protection of her Uncle Silas, a man who was ostracized by society when he was accused of murder. The family has split into two as to whether he is innocent or guilty, and it is up to our protagonist to figure out the truth within the arguments, the rumors, the paranoia, and manipulation from both sides.

A fun tale and journey that suffers only due to the problem of having a strong, rational, and calm modern woman as a reader. The protagonist's weak nature becomes insufferable at many points when she continuously ignores warning signs due to not taking time to actually think about them. I never asked her to play detective but the author has a tendency to have her be careful with one side but not the other which creates quite the convenience for the plot. It's almost like when you watch a tv show where one character says "I have to tell you something important" then the other character replies with basically "no time now to listen to your 5 second explanation that will save us hours of trouble! I must be going!". It becomes frustrating to read as it happens over and over again. I read the book in only four days due to a lot of train travel during my vacation and I wonder if this feature of the book was accentuated by the short reading span. Although I also wonder if I might not have slumped through the book if I had let the book take longer than a week to read. Hard to say.

This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the book. I did, quite. I even gave it 4 stars out of 5. But while the tension was fun, the character was so weak, that I just couldn't help be annoyed by her. For example I much preferred Woman in White and My Cousin Rachel as great examples of books that have lots of tension where the characters aren't perfect and have weak moments, but at least use reasonable thought even if they sometimes end up being incorrect.

Still a recommended read though.

tammikuu 16, 12:59 am

For some housekeeping, let's look at my TBR pile as it stands now.
Spanish 3
Japanese 39
French 78
English 50
Total 170 books

My TBR pile went up from 144 at the start of 2022 to 170 at the end of 2022. I blame a nice book haul when I went back home to France in November on vacation. Otherwise I do like to have options in all my languages to make sure I always have something to choose from. And the French TBR really reflects my Jules Verne and Zola collection. But I definitely don't need any more books at this moment.

I also have a manga TBR of 460 volumes that definitely needs to decrease. Fortunately I had my wish of owning the Dragon Ball manga set fulfilled last year so now I'm happy with what I have. The only manga I should be purchasing are continuations of ongoing series that I'm caught up on otherwise. As long as I avoid BookOff (a major used bookstore chain here in Japan that is literally my definition of heaven) there should be no manga sets coming home with me.

Muokkaaja: Eilen, 9:33 pm

I've never tracked acquisitions on a thread before but in the case I do purchase a book or manga, let's see what happens if I track them. We'll try that this year. I'll strike out whatever I manage to read within the year as well.

Books acquired in 2023:
Myeong-kwan Cheon : Whale
Juhea Kim : Beasts of a Little Land
S. C. Gwynne : Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
Cédric Gras : Alpinistes de Mao
J.-M. Machado de Assis : L'Aliéniste
Tsering Dondrup : Tempête rouge
Keyi Sheng : Un paradis
Victor Hugo : Lucrèce Borgia
Shūsaku Endōo: Le Dernier souper et autres nouvelles
Kenzaburo Oe : Seventeen
Amélie Nothomb : Premier Sang
François-René de Chateaubriand : Mémoires d'outre-tombe, tome 1,2,3
Marguerite Yourcenar : L'Oeuvre au noir
Jules Verne : Le docteur Ox
Jules Verne : Autour de la lune
Jules Verne : Hier et demain
Jules Verne : Le château des Carpathes
Jules Verne : Hector Servadac
André Lévy : Fleur en fiole d'or : Jin Ping Mei Cihua, tome 1,2
Henri Troyat : Le Geste d'Ève
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio : Le Chercheur d'or
沙央 市川 : ハンチバック

Manga acquired in 2023:
極主夫道 11, 12
カードキャプターさくら・クリアカード 14
クジマ歌えば家ほろろ 3

tammikuu 16, 4:37 am

>8 lilisin: That's intriguing! What are the Spanish books?

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 19, 3:55 am

>10 MissWatson:
The three Spanish books are:
Laura Esquivel : Como Agua Para Chocolate
Luis Sepúlveda : Mundo del fin del mundo
Isabel Allende : Retrato en sepia

While the last two were purchases within the last two years at a book sale (I guess I felt inspired), the Esquivel is a book I've owned since 2007. It has followed me to quite a few locations. I should state now that I haven't read in Spanish since probably 2009! I do miss the Spanish language though and wish I had the opportunity to use it again. But Japanese dominates my time, obviously.

tammikuu 17, 3:43 am

>11 lilisin: Yes, something always falls by the wayside. I also would like to make more time for my Spanish books. I read Como agua para chocolate years ago. The other too sound interesting, too!

tammikuu 25, 2:12 am

2) Emile Zola : Son excellence Eugene Rougon

I have finished the second book in Zola's Rougon-Macquart series. Despite having read a few of these books already (the ones in the middle mostly) I have decided to go back and read the series in suggested reading order (and I'll be reading them in the original French). I read the first book in 2021 and am only now reading the second book. I have promised myself that I will be more diligent about reading these in a timely manner.

I have also decided that there is already so much out there about these books that I'm not even going to attempt to summarize them myself. Nor will I be trying to do "reviews". So instead, I will be posting the wikipedia summaries with full spoilers so as I have a way to remember and mark what I've read. But only in my Club Read thread. In this ROOT group I will just be declaring the reads complete as this thread is more about encouraging myself to read off my shelves.

And so my Zola journey begins/continues/makes some progress.

tammikuu 26, 6:08 am

>13 lilisin: That is a project I am also keeping at the back of my head. I've got Le rêve sitting on the shelf patiently waiting for me.

maaliskuu 11, 8:18 am

8) Robert Macfarlane : The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot *abandoned

While I currently read Anna Karenina I was trying to read this nonfiction which I have decided today to abandon after 100 pages (out of 364) as it is not the book I hoped it would be when I purchased it. I found this book after a google search for the best travelogues and this was consistently on the best of lists. (I think I will stop looking up best of lists after a couple failures: for example, the best novella list I found where I didn't like any of the books that were recommended.)

The blurb was incredibly intriguing which is why I went ahead with the internet recommendation:
Following the tracks, holloways, drove-roads and sea paths that form part of a vast ancient network of routes criss-crossing the British Isles and beyond, Robert Macfarlane discovers a lost world -- a landscape of the feet and the mind, of pilgrimage and ritual, of stories and ghosts; above all, of the places and journeys which inspire and inhabit our imaginations.

My issue with this book is that it's not personal enough. I was hoping for MacFarlane to embark on a long walking journey through the British Isles and have him discover these wonderful paths for us, and to share the beauty he explores while sharing his exploits.

But it feels more like a history of path-exploring itself with mostly references to the work of other people, only barely interspersed with his own journeys, that aren't presented in any linear fashion. When he does talk about himself it's full of wit and a fun bit of humor and we definitely see his sense of adventure, as well as his fairly stupid dismissal of any concept of preparation and self-preservation.

But I wanted more of that and didn't get it. I found my eyes skimming through all the other bits to get to his parts but even then it ended up not being enough to keep my attention. Pity.

Also, a couple of maps would have been a much needed addition to this book as there is nothing to help us locate him.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 11, 8:39 am

6) Princess Der Ling : Two Years in the Forbidden City

This is a memoir written by Princess der Ling, Empress Dowager's Cixi's favorite lady-in waiting. I read this now because last year I read the wonderful memoir, Empress Dowager Cixi about the empress, by Jung Chang, and so this provided a perfect companionship piece to solidify parts of what I had read in the memoir. This memoir is less about the political inclinations of the empress but instead presents you an insight on court life, primarily at the Summer Palace, during the two years that Der Ling was by the empress's side.

The most interesting aspect is the fact that Der Ling, despite being Chinese, actually spent much time abroad, primarily in Paris, as her father was a diplomat working there. This made her a very favorable additional to the court as the empress used her as a way to manage and direct any foreigners that might visit the palace. Her foreign upbringing also gave her a unique perspective on court life that aided both the empress, but also gives us a wonderful insight as to the comings-and-goings.

Some of my favorite passages are when Der Ling shows the lack of critical thinking skills from the purely Chinese other ladies-in-waiting.

Soon after Li Lien Ying had gone, two court ladies, daughters of Prince Ching, came in and asked the eunuchs who were attending us if we could speak Chinese, which we thought a great joke. I was the first one to speak, and told them of course we could speak our own language, although we knew several others. They were very much surprised and said: "Oh! how funny, they can talk the language as well as we do." We in turn were very much surprised to find such ignorant people in the Imperial Palace and concluded that their opportunities for acquiring knowledge were very limited.


This day to me was a medley of brilliant impressions. I was a great novelty among these exclusive Court ladies, brought up rigidly apart from foreign life and customs, and I was subjected to a rapid fire of questions. I soon found that these women were the same as others the world over in point of curiosity and love of gossip. The fourth daughter of Prince Ching (Sze Gurgur), a young widow and a strikingly handsome woman, spoke to me.

"Were you brought up in Europe and educated?" she asked. "I am told that when people go to that country and drink the water there, they quickly forget their own country. Did you really study to acquire all those languages or was it drinking the water that gave them to you?" I mentioned that I met her brother, Prince Tsai Chen, in Paris on his way to London for the coronation of King Edward, and that we should have liked to have gone also, as my father had a special invitation, but were prevented from doing so by his urgent duties in Paris in settling the Yunnan question, to which the Princess replied: "Is there a king in England? I had thought that our Empress Dowager was Queen of the world."

Glad to see these types of questions have existed since the dawn of time. (As a foreigner in Japan I have been asked if there are mountains in America, if we have a winter, if we have a spring. A coworker asked me if all foreigners don't drink alcohol after seeing that I, a foreigner, at a sample size of one, was not drinking alcohol. I of course have also heard many Americans ask super ignorant questions about countries abroad.)

My only critique is something that was brought up by Jung Chang. The whole reason Jung Chang wrote her memoir was to give credit to and present the Empress in a different light, not as the "dragon-lady who almost destroyed China" but as a woman who actually revolutionized and modernized China but admittedly made a huge mistake with the Boxer Rebellion. However the blurb to the back of the book immediately mentions that quote and Graham Earnshaw writes an incredibly negative foreword of how the empress is only responsible for the decline of China and nothing else but in his last paragraph he gives us the chance to make our own judgement as "it is really for you, the reader, to take your own view". Of course, not before he spent several pages inserting his negative bias.

A must read for anyone interested in this time period and is curious about the inner workings of the Chinese court while looking at two fascinating women.

toukokuu 22, 7:02 am

Hi lilisin. Just popping by again. I've been neglecting my Fellow ROOTers for a long while. I just kept my own thread updated. Now I feel really guilty about neglecting all others. I hope you are doing all right and still reading those books, ROOTs or non ROOTs.

toukokuu 22, 7:43 pm

>17 connie53:

Thanks for dropping by Connie. I've been neglecting everything, my reading, everything, so don't feel guilty about just being able to focus on yourself.

heinäkuu 22, 5:58 am

Hi Lilisin. It's been a while since my last visit and I hope you are getting back on reading and feel good. It sounds like you have had a not so good time. Just keep smiling (and reading).

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 24, 1:58 am

I haven't been posting about my reading 'cause despite reading some good stuff, I don't feel like putting in the effort.

But I do have a book haul I don't mind talking about. I wasn't planning on buying books this year (I've only purchased 3 and already read one of those). And even while in France, I spent a week and a half in the countryside so I still hadn't bought any books (no bookstore around). But then I had 2 days in Paris and that's when I bought a bunch of books. The first day I had only bought some Jules Verne books from the bouquinistes to add to my collection, as I was searching for "Round the Moon" as that is the sequel of "From the Earth to the Moon" which I had just read. I went into a few bookstores but nothing was jumping out on me.

But on the second day I went into two bookstores with a much better organizational system and better table layouts and suddenly I felt inspired to read everything! So this is my final haul: 21 books. Which is not really good as I've only read 15 books so far this year. Never buy more than you read! Well, guess that means I need to read at least 6 more books this year. Well, 8, fi you count the two books I mentioned hearly.

The book haul!

Cédric Gras : Alpinistes de Mao
- this one sounds amaaaazing; a nonfiction about two men Mao sent to conquer Mt. Everest even though they had never hiked a mountain before in their lives

Machado de Assis : L'Aliéniste
- A light bulb went off in my head and I thought there must be more translations of this author available in French! And lo and behold there are!

Tsering Dondrup : Tempête rouge
- A Tibetan novel that looks at the Chinese ousting of the Tibetans which will be a nice pairing with the nonfiction Eat the Buddha which I read a few years ago about the same topic

Keyi Sheng : Un paradis
- feminist Chinese novel that sounds like it will be horrific to read

Victor Hugo : Lucrèce Borgia
- wanted to try a play by Hugo

Repeat authors:
Shūsaku Endōo: Le Dernier souper et autres nouvelles
Kenzaburo Oe : Seventeen
Amélie Nothomb : Premier Sang
Henri Troyat : Le Geste d'Ève
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio : Le Chercheur d'or

François-René de Chateaubriand : Mémoires d'outre-tombe, tome 1,2,3
- this was my only in the moment purchase as it was the entire 3 volumes for only 10euro so despite another Chateaubriand sitting on my shelf unread, I got these too

My Jules Verne haul:
Jules Verne : Le docteur Ox
Jules Verne : Autour de la lune
Jules Verne : Hier et demain
Jules Verne : Le château des Carpathes
Jules Verne : Hector Servadac

Marguerite Yourcenar : L'Oeuvre au noir
- on idea what this is about but had to trade in a just purchased Verne book (didn't realize I had picked up a more modern edition that I am looking for) so I traded the Verne for this as it was the same price and I know how famous this author despite never having read their works

tr. André Lévy : Fleur en fiole d'or : Jin Ping Mei Cihua, tome 1,2
- been wanting to take this Chinese classic home with me for a while and knew we owned it but couldn't find it. Found it!

heinäkuu 24, 5:11 am

Oh, that is an impressive haul! Amélie Nothomb's book has just been translated into German and the review I read was very informative, made me think I'd enjoy this. I'll be hoping for comments!

And the Yourcenar has been on my wishlist for ages...

heinäkuu 24, 6:58 pm

>21 MissWatson:
I used to read one Nothomb a year but I fell behind when I had caught up to all her released books. Sounds contradictory but it's because catching up to all her released books means only the expensive hardback editions at 16 euro were available instead of the small paperback versions at 5 euro. I enjoy her books and they are fun but they are not worth 16 euro each! So now that a few years have passed by I can finally buy the paperback versions of the books that have been released since.

I can guarantee I'll read the book but can't guarantee comments! lol

heinäkuu 25, 2:40 am

>22 lilisin: Premier sang was suggested for a mini-bookclub organised by our local French institute, but I was too busy at the time. And yesterday it was offered at a special price by my bookstore, so I snapped it up. Serendipity!

elokuu 3, 4:02 am

>23 MissWatson:

I went ahead and immediately read Premier Sang. I always say that Nothomb is at her best when she writes semi-autobiographically, and while this book isn't about her, but instead about her father, the book works. It doesn't have the self-deprecating humor she usually includes but the Nothomb humor is still present. Her characters feel much more alive and real than usual and it made for a pleasant read. One of her better works.

elokuu 3, 5:22 am

>24 lilisin: Thanks, it's on the deck and I hope to get to it soon.

elokuu 20, 5:37 am

Hi Lilisin, Just catching up on threads!

Muokkaaja: Eilen, 11:48 pm

11) Aki Shimazaki : Fuki-no-tô: L'ombre du chardon
12) Aki Shimazaki : Maïmaï: L'ombre du chardon

I finally finished the last of Aki Shimazaki's series: L'ombre du chardon, a series title that makes sense when you read the books, although I must admit I've forgotten what that meaning was now. Although the whole series can, I believe, be read in any order, the publication order is as follows, and it is the order in which I read the series.

Azami ; Hozuki ; Suisen ; Fuki-no-tô ; Maïmaï

Although a Japanese author, Shimazaki lives in Canada and writes in French. These have been translated in neither English or Japanese. Also, despite being written in French, as these books were written by a Jpn author, take place in Japan, and have Jpn themes to them, I categorize the books as Jpn literature.

My review of the first few books can be found here although to resume the gist of the series as a whole. We follow a different protagonist in each book of the series where all the characters are connected in some way. Each book is about 120 pages short and they are very quick to read. I quite enjoyed the series as it gives you the ability to follow through with the characters like you don't get the opportunity to do with other books. What happened to the side character once any interaction with the protagonist was stopped? Well, with this series you get to find out. And it's a lovely way to read through the life story of a group of people.

However, I found the three first books stronger than the last two. The last two, in particular, Fuki-no-to, become almost laughably unrealistic and it's hard to believe the coincidences. To spoil the plot: In Fuki-no-to we follow the wife of the man who started off the series, as she comes to terms with her husband's infidelity. Fortunately a woman from her past shows up, the wife discovers she's a lesbian and they live happily ever after. The book just ignores all the difficulties that can arise from discovering your sexuality and leaving your family to create a happy-go-lucky ending for the wife. I just couldn't not find that fairly preposterous.

Following, with Maimai, we follow the son of the mistress who has now grown up to be an artist. His mother dies (the mother-son relationship was beautifully rendered), and decides to open a gallery while continuing to live with his grandmother. Then one day a former grade school friend shows up again and they begin a romantic relationship. We know that this girl is his half-sister so the sex scene was obviously horrifying to read. And then, we are left with him finding out about their relations and yet not telling her, so we are left with the idea that he never tells her and continues to sleep with his sister.

So really strange ending to the series but I'm still looking forward to reading the other series I have on hand (which I've read is a stronger series).

Tänään, 3:21 am

24) Bram Stoker : Dracula

Needing a new book to read via e-book I thought this might be grab my attention and well, it most certainly did! What a fantastic ride this was! I was absolutely hooked from the first 30 pages and just couldn't put the book down. What was supposed to be an at work where I sneak in a paragraph here or a page there became my everywhere read because I just had to know what happened next. The suspense, the tension, the legitimately frightening horror! I loved every bit.

Written in the form of memoirs, telegrams, newspaper clippings, letters, etc... we are constantly pushed forward with the plot and no angle is left undiscovered. So many memorable and terrifying scenes: the boat scene, Lucy, the asylum, the final chase, and of course, Jonathan Harker's initial encounter with Dracula himself.

I can now say that all adaptations of Dracula and of the Dracula character are subpar and nothing compares to this original work. Absolutely loved it!

26) Robert Louis Stevenson : Treasure Island

After the high adventure that was Dracula I decided to continue along that same vein and picked up this famous pirate romp. I had fun with this one and although it's not as thrilling as Dracula, it was certainly still a fun page turner what with its amazing characters and adventure. Told mostly from the point of view of a young lad, Jim, (he relinguishes some parts to the testimony of his companions so that they can plug in the holes in the story) we start the story with his meeting of the frightening Captain at his familiy's inn. One by one the Captain's former companions come in and when the Captain is killed Jim must flee, but not without taking with him a map, which he will discover is the map to the Captain's famous bidden treasure.

We follow the story as Jim, and the doctor who helped him, band a crew together to sail to Treasure Island. But of course, being a tale of pirates, bucanneers and gold, havoc awaits as the legendary one-legged Long John Silver makes his appearance!

What a romp this was and it was fantastic finally meeting all these legendary characters. With so much color to the story and dialogue, it was a wonderful few days of reading.

Tänään, 3:45 am

10) Jules Verne : Le phare du bout du monde (Lighthouse at the End of the World)

Published posthumously, and most likely not written entirely by Verne, this book lands on the adventure side of Verne's writing; the science limited just to the idea of a lighhouse being built in new territory: the tip of Argentina.

Vasquez, Moriz, and Felipe, are three men deployed to man the new lighthouse at the end of the world. They are ready to spend months taking notes on their experience as they wait until their relief is to come in months to come. However, a group of bandits led by Kongre that have been trapped in the area have eyes on the lighthouse's reserves and have plans to hijack the returning ship for their escape.

The story follows the same lines as so many of these simlar stories but it is just so peaceful to read Verne that the predictability was not a destractor. Because, in any other book, this lighthouse plot would probably only be a few pages long and would be only a single foil to a more elusive plan, but in Verne's hands we get a detailed look at a scary (for the lighthouse keepers) event.

Not the best Verne but still good silly fun.

15) Jules Verne : De la Terre à la Lune (From the Earth to the Moon)
20) Jules Verne : Autour de la lune (Round the Moon)

And then the famous duology of shooting passengers up to the moon, and their need to return to Earth after failing to land on the Moon.

I must admit I wanted more from this famous story as a whole, but I loved many parts of the story, although I admit I liked book 1 better than book 2, finding book 2 actually boring and needing to skim about a hundred pages of Verne just writing the distance between every single crater on the moon.

Book one takes us through every step: from the decision to shoot a bullet towards the moon, the planning stages, the setup stages, the final calculations, and then the sudden change from an unmanned vessel to a manned one! The first third with the description of Americans and their thirst for guns while also admiring technological advancements Americans make when it comes down to needing to shoot something was hilarious and I just loved reading that part. Verne has such a way of describing America that I can never get enough. The middle third with the science behind how to prepare what is necessary was actually a pleasure to read as Verne never plodded too long on one topic. And then of course the third part as it leads to a major cliffhanger was fun as well.

But book two! Oh book two! How boring were you! Hundreds of pages of descriptions of craters and mountains, and the distance between them and the text was a dry as the moon's surface. Not helped by the fact that to the modern reader who can google a picture of the moon in milliseconds, we know what is and is not on the moon. So I had to try and keep the idea of the reader at the time of publication who would have been so amazed at getting such a close look at the moon. But the characters, and Verne, just couldn't sell that excitement as he caught too caught up in, and bogged down by the science. Eventually I started skimming the pages letting my eyes look for dialogue between characters and plot progression of which there was none until suddently they had to start heading back to Earth.

All in all a bit of a disappointment as a whole but still a worthwhile experience in my Verne journey. Can't like them all!

Tänään, 4:52 am

If you've noticed I'm trying to catch up on some old reviews, nice observation!

5) Cao Xuequin : The Story of the Stone (Dream of Red Chamber)- Volume 5

I never even mentioned I finished this glorious Chinese classic epic! Probably because I'm a little embarassed as I had read the first four volumes two (three?) years ago and despite having gobbled up those 1800 pages easily, those last 300 pages just sat there. Oops!

But what a fabulous read, following the peak splendor of a traditional aristocratic Chinese family of the time period, and it's subsequent downfall. The downfall is so subtle that you hardly notice it happening, much like the characters themselves. The richness of the setting, the characters, the story, everything was spectacular. I found myself much surprisingly loving the poetry club scenes best of all for I love all the manner in which these used poetry to play games. I felt for the characters who never wanted to play as they were too weak at the game. I feel for them because I would also be horrible at the game and would end up drunk under the table from losing every round.

As for the book's multiple titles, for me the book is very much the story of the stone, as we start the story with the stone and end the story with the stone and it's the legend of the stone that carries us through the story.

My only gripe I must add however is the random switch of translators in the middle of the Penguin Classics set. There is no mention of the switch, and no introduction of the new translator, but it was quite noticeable when Bao started calling his cousin "cuz" despite having been calling her "cousin" the entire first half of the book. Quite the glaring transition!

But what a wonderful read! Can't wait for my next Chinese classic. I already have the next two big ones on my physical TBR.

7) Leo Tolstoy : Anna Karenina

Although I posted all of the quotations I found interesting as I read through this book, I never actually made my final thoughts upon completing the book and I have to say that reading AK was a splendid experience. Reading 20-30 pages a day was the perfect pace allowing me to get properly immersed in each chunk I read without getting bogged down by the length of the book. Anna's emotions, while incredibly understandable, are very strong and relentless and they are obvious poison to her and the reader so spending any longer than 30 pages with her in a day would have been draining. I already have enough poision coming from my own thoughts so no way I could handle someone else's!

This was actually my sort of kind of second read of AK, having read about 2/3s of it the first time, leaving it behing only because I was reading it on my phone and lost the commute time that allowed me to read on the phone. Reading this a second time though showed me how many times you could read AK and get something out of it. Upon one reading, you can focus on the love story, another, the political backround of the political era, another, the social commentary of Russian classes, etc... Although both time I found myself equally in love with Levin's parts. I just love his interaction with the countryside and could relate with his efforts, whether politically correct (according to our modern viewpoint) or not. His efforts working with and against the "country folk" showed an extraordinary parallel to modern times that is well worth reflecting on. Combined for his poor backwards thinking about "a woman's place" he makes for a fascinating character.

Amongst the many fascinating characters, including AK herself. Losing herself to her poisonous thoughts, oh, how I wish I couldn't relate.
A truly wonderful read.