Helen, the Hermit

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 11 - A Book You Hated

A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality - Joseph Nicolosi Birth Control Is Sinful in the Christian Marriages and Also Robbing God of Priesthood Children!! - Eliyzabeth Yanne Strong-Anderson Coming Out Straight : Understanding and Healing Homosexuality - Richard A. Cohen;Laura C. Schlessinger Stephen King Don't Know Shit - Rick Carufel The Female Brain - Louann Brizendine The Feminists - Parley J. Cooper Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer Fifty Shades Freed - E.L. James

Well, there are books I hated on the first sight; that is, never read them but hated them so based on the cover only, I put them on a shelf called "Kill It With Strychnine". No, not the author, the book. I know it makes no sense, but if it was possible, you can bet this post would be written by a serial book killer.


Freedom of speech? Certainly - it's what brought me here. But out of the entirety of my Lit classes, I remember Andric's Nobel Banquet speech the best:


"In the end it  matters little whether the writer evokes the past, describes the  present, or even plunges boldly into the future. The main thing  is the spirit which informs his story, the message that his work  conveys to mankind; and it is obvious that rules and regulations  do not avail here. Each builds his story according to his own  inward needs, according to the measure of his inclinations,  innate or acquired, according to his conceptions and to the power  of his means of expression. Each assumes the moral responsibility  for his own story and each must be allowed to tell it freely.  But, in conclusion, it is to be hoped that the story told by  today's author to his contemporaries, irrespective of its form  and content, should be neither tarnished by hate nor obscured by  the noise of homicidal machines, but that it should be born out  of love and inspired by the breadth of ideas of a free and serene  human mind. For the storyteller and his work serve no purpose  unless they serve, in one way or another, man and humanity."


Just because you can do something, it doesn't necessarily mean you should.


I cannot, on principle, bring myself to wish for their destruction; but I do wish we lived in a world where they were never written.


 Then there are some books I disliked after reading them. The particulars of why I disliked the final books in Twilight and Fifty Shades series are different, but the bottom line is the same: the author didn't care. In the case of Breaking Dawn, it was Meyer making everyone one big happy family with no loss, no price, no consequences, against all laws of logic, common sense, taste and even contradicting some hints from the previous books. In Fifty Shades Freed, what is there is so obviously there to pad. And we're not talking padding between few important points: the entire book is padding. Cover to cover. In both cases, there was absolutely no reason to continue the story after the wedding. There is no reason for either of these books to exist - the wedding scene could have been put on the end of their predecessors. (Well, okay, the cash is a reason, but from the literary standpoint, there isn't.) For those interested, I went into more detail in my reviews of Breaking Dawn and Fifty Shades Freed. (Again, the formatting was fixed on these ones.)




Funny how it's easier to talk about the things you hate than the things you love, isn't it?

Oh The Irony

So, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize.


...I wonder what David Gilmour thinks about it.


("But I can only teach stuff I love. I can’t teach stuff that I don’t, and I haven’t encountered any Canadian writers yet that I love enough to teach."


"I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women.")


ETA: Actually, this is hilarious in hindsight, considering who won it last year.

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 10 - A Book That Reminds You Of Home

The Xenophobe's Guide to the Welsh - John Winterson Richards

No, I'm not Welsh. But I was struck by the similarities. Must be some kind of small nation with history of being occupied and/or coexisting with one-time foes thing.

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 9 - A Book You Thought You Wouldn't Like But Ended Up Loving

War and Peace - Henry Gifford, Aylmer Maude, Louise Maude, Leo Tolstoy Bel Ami - Guy de Maupassant Swann's Way (In Search of Lost Time, #1) - Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis, Christopher Prendergast The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Victor Hugo

This is another difficult one, because I usually expect to like every book I read.


That said, I forced myself to start War and Peace just because. And I ended up loving it. But I already talked about War and Peace and how I was able to get through it in my best read of 2012 post.


I somehow ended up either disliking or not being impressed with over half of French authors I've read. So I didn't expect to like Bel Ami as much as I did. And most definitely didn't expect to fall in love with Proust.


Another book I didn't expect to like is The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Mind you, I'm not loving it either. I might have loved it if Hugo wasn't a pompous ass and didn't feel like climbing on that damned soapbox every odd chapter. (Seriously considering wasting time attempting to produce a Hipster Hugo gif to go in the review.)


Huh. I guess I came up with enough material after all.

Kaia sheds new light on GR vs. Booklikes review deletion fearmongering

Just read it. Contains analysis by a professional.

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 8 - Most Overrated Book

The Fifth Head of Cerberus: Three Novellas - Gene Wolfe

This is a difficult question. There are many books that such a claim can be made for. Over 75% of anything which main promo tagline is "bestseller". Dan Brown. Your average fantasy series.


There are also many classics I dislike, but I still recognise their significance. I guess they still deserve some praise for that merit. (Even Werther.)


I decided to go with a book that has very high ratings and clout in relevant circles, but I couldn't find any redeeming thing about. It has an interesting premise, but it falls flat due to trying too hard and forceful extension. (It used to be a single novella; then the writer was told to add more so it could be published in a single book. We all know how that goes.)


I go into details in my review (fear not, it's one of those I managed to fix), but here's the breakdown: Wolfe enjoys a very good reputation in SF circles, particularly for his metafictional elements. His idea of metafiction here, however, boils down to hiding the clues for the reader to find. There is no meaning in it beyond being gimmicky. There is some attempt at touching the question of identity in the first (original) novella, but it's lost beneath all the winks and nudges.

My new reading challenge: David Bowie's 100 must-read list

No, I don't expect to like every book on it. But the whole point of challenges like this, in my opinion, is to go outside one's comfort zone and try something new.


The list has quite a few perks:


1) Many 20th century books

2) A lot of nonfiction

3) Less than 10% of books I already read/was planning to read anyway

4) No entries I object to reading/finishing, unlike more famous lists. The closest one was In Cold Blood, but might as well read it for reference. I do not find it offensive on the level of Memoirs of a Geisha.


Rules: Barely any. No, there will be no time limit. With magazines, I will try to get at least one issue/annual/omnibus, but I can hardly read all that there is.


If you are interested, but it looks intimidating, maybe set a certain number of books? ("I'll read 20 from the list", etc.)


I used the list from this article, but it is a bit unclear. I started with the one here, but a part of the list is missing. If it helps any, there is my "Bowie's 100" shelf. Questions are welcome.

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 7 - A Book That Makes You Laugh

The Colour Of Magic - Terry Pratchett Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency  - Douglas Adams The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul  - Douglas Adams Three Comedies - Branislav Nušić Rivers of London  - Ben Aaronovitch The Summer of the Ubume - Natsuhiko Kyogoku, Alexander O. Smith

Hmm...there are many of those. There is all of Discworld, Good Omens, Dirk Gently (I actually find Gently books funnier than Hitchhiker's Guide), there was one huge edition of Monolith almanac (#5) that was solely dedicated to humorous fantasy/SF/horror, and then there is a whole pile of regional satirists that I grew up with.


But overall, I'm a very sympathetic reader and I will often laugh with a joke in a book or at a very funny/witty phrase. Which can pose a problem when, for example, one is reading The Once and Future King on a train. Luckily, I live in a metropolis, where odder sights can be seen daily on the commute, so I get mostly overlooked.


Recently, I've been laughing along with Rivers of London and, surprisingly, Kyogoku Natsuhiko's Kyōgokudō series. On the surface, it doesn't seem very humorous, but there is both unintentional (by the characters) hilariousness and snark flying back and forth.

Petra X: A publisher advises on how to hand-pick and fake-friend GR people for reviews

I cannot say that I'm surprised, but one'd think they would be more discreet...This nonchalance is kind of insulting.

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 6 - A Book That Makes You Sad

The Idiot -

Unlike the previous entry, there are many contenders here. And while there are several stories that made me cry, I decided to go with one that throws me into a more profound low mood.


Few, if any but me, put The Idiot as their favourite Dostoyevsky or their favourite Russian novel, much less their favourite book. But I met this book in a significant period of changes, unpleasant revelations and shattered illusions. You'd think it would have made things worse, but it didn't. It said: "Yes, the world is a terrible place. So terrible, a veritable living saint - a man that nearly all faiths and value systems tell us a man should be like - is seen as mentally deficient just for being good." Instead of pushing me even lower, it made me come to peace with the facts.


And then I read the afterword that had a part from Dostoyevsky's letter or note (I can't recall) that said that the plan was for Myshkin to change the people around him for the better, but as he wrote the book he realised that is completely implausible.What is more grief-inducing than the reality not letting the author write a happy ending?

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 5 - A Book That Makes You Happy

I'm kind of late with this one...but the thing is, I just can't think of a book that makes me "happy" - or, at least, my definition thereof. There are many books that make me laugh until my belly aches, but I wouldn't call that "happiness". Reading Proust or Tolkien gives me a sense of contentment, but it's still too low-level for me to call "happiness". Inspirational books don't really work on me - I like Coelho's imagery and prose and de Mello's philosophy, but I don't feel like my eyes have been opened and am feeling happy to be alive or anything. So...I'm afraid I must give this one a pass.

[reblog] Well, that was interesting

Helen's note: someone did screencap one of 'em: https://www.goodreads.com/user_status/show/33684394




Just when you thought it couldn't get any sillier.


Someone (*cough*Moira*cough*) built an author page for Goodreads' own Otis Chandler, to feature some pertinent quotes:


We love having authors on Goodreads. But, we are a site that's focused on readers first. If there is a choice between what is best for readers and what is best for authors, we will always err on the side of readers.”


Sadly, I didn't screencap it, and so I can't quote the other two exactly - because within about half an hour the author page was deleted, and the quotes with it. Now, it was about 11:30 PM that it disappeared here, on the East Coast, so it was about 8:30 PM at Goodreads Central. I don't believe I've ever seen any glitch or problem attended to at that hour; they seem to be pretty solidly 9-5. When it's not something guaranteed to cause further disgust amongst us rabble.


Was this one of the quotes? Either way, it's funny.


"I agree that it’s a shame some books have to suffer ratings that clearly are invalid. However I can’t think of a way to prevent it, and I didn’t see any ideas in the thread either (I did skim though). I hope you’ll appreciate that if we just start deleting ratings whenever we feel like it, that we’ve gone down a censorship road that doesn’t take us to a good place."


Not ha-ha funny, you see, but O-Lord-the-irony funny.


Then there's:

"We’re in the media business today. We’re in the business of helping authors and publishers market their books to readers. And that’s where we make our money. We sell book launch packages to authors and publishers and really help accelerate, build that early buzz that a book needs to succeed when it launches and accelerate that growth through ads on the site."


That would be AmazOtis talking, that.


There's also this, posted by Jennifer on the Big Giant Thread of Fail:

I've watched us deal with many author flame wars over the years, and they all started with an author commenting on a negative review of their own book.
Author Participation Thread, March 2, 2011


Source: http://stewartry.booklikes.com/post/557268/well-that-was-interesting
Reblogged from rameau's ramblings

[REBLOG] Warning: DO NOT use Anonymouse.org as a Web Proxy

Anonymouse.org, despite its claims, doesn't work. I have been playing with an IP tracker tool on my new blog, and I experimented this morning by hitting my site using a few popular web proxies to see how well they hid my information.


I was shocked to find out that Anonymouse.org doesn't even work! However, Zfreez.com and iphider.org worked as advertised.



worked perfectly. It displayed as if I was a visitor from France. I recommend it.


worked perfectly. It displayed as if I was a visitor from Florida. I recommend it.


did not hide my information at all. In fact, it announced that I was using 'anonymouse.org' as a web proxy. A complete fail.

Source: http://karlynp.booklikes.com/post/554839/post
Reblogged from Karlynp & The Doggone World

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 4 - Favourite Book of Your Favorite Series

The Colour Of Magic - Terry Pratchett Witches Abroad (Discworld, #12) - Terry Pratchett Guards! Guards!  - Terry Pratchett

Disclaimer: The poster is tipsy right now.


I mentioned in my previous post that I'm not a fan of series.


I though I'd go with middle ground and pick Discworld.


But then the problem of picking the favourite Discworld book pops up.


So I decided to be cheap and just go with the my favourite novel in my favourite Discworld sub-series.


The Colour of Magic (The first book of Rincewind sequence. If I had to pick only one book, it would probably be this one due to the sum of awesome parts.)


Witches Abroad (Witches sequence. I like this one because it has both the humour and a shred of actual philosophy/mysticism. It's also one of the rare moments when we get the glimpse behind Mistress Weatherwax's stern exterior.)

  Honourable mention: Maskerade - a Phantom of the Opera parody.


Guards! Guards! (The first book of City Watch sequence. Probably one of the best books of Discworld overall.)

  Honourable mention: Thud! - in which Vimes is awesome.


 (ETA: Fixed a sentence. ("favourite novel Discworld sub-series - they are one of those I like the best."->"favourite novel in my favourite Discworld sub-series.") My tendency to edit halfway through made a mess again. (It was supposed to be the first novel of every subseries, but then I remembered that I liked some latter entries better than the openers.) Considering that I kept making typos last night, I daresay it turned out very well for a drunken post.)


Satantango, page 55

Satantango - László Krasznahorkai, George Szirtes

However apparently insignificant the event, whether it be the ring of tobacco ash surrounding the table, the direction from which the wild geese first appeared, or a series of seemingly meaningless human movements, he couldn't afford to take his eyes off it and must note it all down, since only by doing so could he hope not to vanish one day and fall a silent captive to the infernal arrangement whereby the world decomposes but is at the same time constantly in the process of self-construction.


(Sorry for spamming, I thought about doing status updates on GR, but even this sentence is too much for the character limit.)

More (Bitter) Parody Because Now The Censorship Is Official:




First they came for the reviews,
and I didn't speak out because I didn't write reviews about author's behaviour.

Then they came for the lists,
and I didn't speak out because I didn't rate on BBA lists.

Then they came for the shelves,
and I didn't speak out because I didn't do negative shelving.

Then they came for the comments,
and I didn't speak out because I didn't discuss author's behaviour in the comments.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.


(They will probably come for groups and writings too, but this is the current status.)

Currently reading

A Postmodern Belch
M.J. Nicholls
A Tale of Two Cities
Anton Lesser, Charles Dickens
Progress: 35 %
The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes
Arthur Conan Doyle
Progress: 26/1408 pages
A Prayer for Owen Meany
John Irving
Progress: 5 %
The Ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories
Susanna Clarke
Progress: 35/256 pages
Terry Jones' Medieval Lives
Alan Ereira, Terry Jones
Progress: 22/224 pages
The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1)
Bernard Cornwell
Progress: 38 %
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Hapgood Translation, Unabridged)
Victor Hugo, Isabel F. Hapgood
Progress: 43 %
The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy
Sebastian Peake, China Miéville, Mervyn Peake
Progress: 23 %
The End of Eternity
Isaac Asimov
Progress: 6 %