domingo, 27 de abril de 2014

Dewey's Readathon: End of the Event Survey

 End of Event Meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
Inexplicably around Hour 12, but I magically recovered afterwards and I have been able to participate for the 24 hours.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Besides the books I recommended in past readathons (here and here), I would add Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Fun Home, any graphic novel and audiobook that can keep you entertained. All of them fast-paced books, either through medium, as is the case with comics, or actual plot pace.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Please, please, please, turn off the captchas for the sake of the cheerleaders' sanity. I know this isn't up to the organizers, but it would be cool if you could post a reminder just before the readathon.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year's Read-a-thon?
Cheerleading (I got cheered on for the whole 24 hours) and mini-challenges were especially cool. I had a look the prizes and I thought that classifying them in geographical categories was a great idea.

5. How many books did you read?
I completed 4 books and made a great dent in a fifth one. I have a read a total of 955 pages and 2.5 hours of audiobook listening. Yay!

6. What were the names of the books you read?
 - Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
 - Superior, by Mark Millar and Leinil Yu
And I started The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
That has to be both Fun Home and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

8. Which did you enjoy least?
It's Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty & People and Other Aggravations, by Judith Viorst. A truly appalling collections of poems by a woman who throws rocks to feminists and "different" people. Not exactly what I was expecting.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year's Cheerleaders?
There's plenty of time in the readathon to cheer - the moment it starts feeling like a chore, stop and resume when you make a reading break. It has kept me awake in those hours when the brain is too fuzzy to understand a book.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon? What role would you be likely to take next time?
100% likely unless real life gets in the way! Reader and possibly Cheerleader too.

Once again, THANK YOU EVERYONE - Cheerleaders, Organizers, Readers, Mini-Challenge Hosts, Prize Donors and Angels, you are all the best. I hope you all achieved the goals you had set for this readathon! See you in the next one! ;)

Dewey's Readathon: Hour 20

Snacks: breakfast, which consisted of strong Russian Earl Grey and cookies.
Reading: It's Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty on paperback.
Pages Read: the 232 pages of Fun Home.
Books finished

  1. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
  2. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel

So it's 9.30 am where I'm reading and I'm honestly surprised that I'm holding so well after 20 hours of reading and cheering and generally readathoning. The greatest pleasure has been opening the windows to let the early morning breeze come in, and getting an hour of reading with the background music of birds fluttering and chirping outside. It's a shame I can't see sunrises from my windows.

sábado, 26 de abril de 2014

Dewey's Readathon: Hour 15

Name in Titles Mini-Challenge
Sorry for the grainy quality, but it is late at night and my camera doesn't work well with artificial lighting

 1. Matilda - Roald Dahl
 2. Attentat - Amélie Nothomb
 3. Saplings - Noel Streatfeild
 4. A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
 5. North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell
 6. Orlando - Virginia Woolf
 7. Batman - Frank Miller
 8. Ulises - James Joyce

Snacks: Strong Russian Earl Grey Tea
ReadingMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children on hardback and The Secret Garden on audio.
Pages Read: 109 from the hardcover and 3 chapters from the audiobook
Books finished: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

I was starting to get tired a couple of hours ago (1 to 2 am) but a strong tea and some moving books here and there for the mini-challenges did wonders. I think I might be able to finally read for the 24 hours!

Dewey's Readathon: Mid-Event Survey

Mid-Event Survey
1. What are you reading right now?
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and The Secret Garden.

2. How many books have you read so far?
None that I have finished, but I will!

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Fun Home, a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
At first I thought I wouldn't be participating, since a couple of friends were going to spend the weekend at home. Then they had to postpone the visit and I got a sudden free weekend. I realised that the readathon was this weekend, so my initial sad, boring Saturday turned into a fantastic day!

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
None! The Boyfriend has been dealing with those.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
The community spirit. It always gets me. So many people, yet all so close.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Not really! You guys keep making it better every year, but I really can't see a way to make it better.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Sleep more beforehand! Ha.

9. Are you getting tired yet?
I'm yawning. I can't believe this, I must be getting old.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
Audiobooks. My eyes get tired from reading for long stretches of time, so I just read on audio for a while and I do chores or needlepoint work in the meanwhile (you can also go out, which was my plan all along, but the terrible weather thwarted that).

Dewey's Readathon: Hour 11

Shelfie Mini-Challenge
Snacks: Dinner, which consisted of tuna fillets, olives with oregano and foie. Very mediterranean. I also nibbled on some Oreo white chocolate.
ReadingMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
Pages Read: 98 pages.
Time Spent Reading: I have no clue. I know I spent a lot of time preparing and eating dinner, and then I wanted to go back to my book so much that I forgot to track time.

I'm starting to get weary and sleepy (it's past midnight here). But I wanted to try to read for 24 hours, so I'm going to brew strong tea to keep me awake!

How are you all doing?

Dewey's Readathon: Hour 9

Snacks: Hot cocoa and biscuits.
ReadingMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children on hardback and The Secret Garden on audio.
Pages Read: 120 from the hardcover and 5 chapters from the audiobook
Time Spent Reading: 2h 24min

I have reading and cheering for a good chunk of time in the last four hours. So much that I forgot to take a picture!

The readathon has magically woven a connection between my two reads. Unexpectedly, Jacob, the main character in Miss Peregrine's Home explores and old library, where he finds old copies of Peter Pan and The Secret Garden. I thought it was cool.

I've also profited the last rays of sunlight to advance my needlepoint work. I'm weaving a blanket with a vague aztec-ish design, while listening to Karen Savage read The Secret Garden. Perfect day is perfect. The readathon feels a lot like Christmas day.

Dewey's Readathon: Hour 5

Snacks: Lunch (beef stew and veggie cream) and loquats.
Reading: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children on hardback and The Secret Garden on audio.
Pages Read: 89 from the hardcover and 2 chapters from the audiobook
Time Spent Reading: 1h 27min

Everything is going great, although I'm not reading much. Too excited about cheering and mini-challenges! I've also watched an episode from the first season of Scrubs. Bad readathoner!

Dewey's Read-a-Thon: Hour 0 - Kick Off Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Same as always, Spain - windy and clouded Spain.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I couldn't say! My stack is full of really interesting books. 

From top to bottom:
 - Murder on the Links, by Agatha Christie
 - Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach
 - It's Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty, by Judith Viorst
 - The Victorian Chaise-Longue, by Marghanita Laski
 - Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
 - The Puppet Boy of Warsaw, by Eva Weaver
 - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
 - A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin
 - Superior, by Mark Millar and Leinil Yu

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Veggie crisps. They are delicious. Oreo white chocolate is looking very tempting, too.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I'm trying to get my PhD. A year into gradschool, I'm realising this is crazier than promised, but still exciting. The sad part is that my reading and my blogging have plummeted - another reason why Dewey's Readathon makes me excited :)

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

This is my third readathon, and I'm doing something different! I'll be cheering! Cheerleaders have been great in past readathons to make me feel part of a community, so I hope I can do the same for other readers today. Go Team Wordsworth!

miércoles, 2 de abril de 2014

A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki

Summary (from Goodreads):

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

The story starts when Ruth, the novelist, finds Nao's diary ashore and starts reading it. Nao has an endearing voice, and her story sucks you in and doesn't let you go, even though the pacing is slow. Her diary is deceptively simple - Nao is written in an upbeat teenage voice which lulls the reader into a false sense of security, while she is in fact recounting atrocious experiences. She plans on committing suicide because of the ijime (bullying) she has suffered, because of her inability to adapt to Japanese lifestyle, because his father has lost his will to live and her mother is distant, and because she is being pimped by a French maid café hostess. Her story becomes bleaker with every chapter, and it's really heartbreaking and stomach-turning to read. It's overwhelming.

Nao's story is interspersed with that of Ruth, the author who happens to find Nao's diary, thus becoming Nao's reader. Ruth is also a maladjusted woman - she has trouble focusing on her work and fears dementia ever since her mother Masako died from Alzheimer complications. Her marriage with artist Oliver isn't in the best of places, and she resents trading New York for a lost island in British Columbia. All of this adds up to make Ruth the perfect reader of Nao's diary - she is uncomfortable in her own skin, which helps her lose herself in Nao's story.

Ruth the character is very similar to Ruth Ozeki the real novelist and filmmaker, although I'm sure there are some differences between the two. At some point in the story, Nao introduces us to her great-grandmother, Jiko, a 104-year-old Buddhist nun. Before she became a nun, she was a radical activist and feminist, and the author of a fictional autobiography. This is the cue for Ruth the character to explore the concept of the I-novel, or Japanese fictional memoir. A Tale for the Time Being is exactly that, a modern version of the traditional Japanese I-novel, and a very intelligent one. I also appreciated the metafictional devices (footnotes, appendices, a story within a story, characters semi-aware of their function as characters...) and the surge of magical realism featured in Ruth's dreams. I wasn't expecting that Ruth had such a relevant role in the development of Nao's story, but I liked it.

A Tale for the Time Being is a dense novel with impeccable style. It gives much food for thought, and deals with a vast array of topics: bullying, violence, feminism, memory, writing, reading, creation, suicide, Buddhist Zen, 9/11, the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, WWII kamikaze pilots. It all feels natural and interesting. That's why it upsets me that such brilliance is mingled with not-so-good bits and lost in new-agey mystical life guidance, which prevented me from fully loving this novel. In any case, I'm glad I've read it.

Have you read this book? Please, leave a link to your review in the comments and I will link you here!

This book counts for the Adult Fiction category of the Reading Outside the Box Challenge 2014 that I'm participating in.