I am trying, yet once again to get back on the blogging wagon. Now that I don't have mandatory readings, I hope to try and share my opinions on books.
Hey my fellow netizens,
I am so sorry I have not updated this blog in over 2 months. It is needless to say that life has been hectic and difficult. However, I have had this book review as a draft since October and I thought it was grand time to release it. It might have been nicer to do so on Veterans' Day in memorial of those who fought the war. Unfortunately, timing was difficult. I can't promise that I will make many more book reviews but I will try my best. In the meantime enjoy, heart and feel free to leave a comment.
Set before and during the great war, Birdsong captures the drama of that era on both a national and a personal scale. It is the story of Stephen, a young Englishman, who arrives in Amiens in 1910. His life goes through a series of traumatic experiences, from the clandestine love affair that tears apart the family with whom he lives, to the unprecedented experiences of the war itself.
What I liked:
Wow, there is so much to say that I don't even know where to start. I think that first and foremost, the strength of this book lies in the characterization. No one is perfect yet you can really feel their humanity leap out of the novel. When Faulks starts describing the war, you really start to feel a strong kinship for the soldiers mentioned; even though, in all likelihood, you will have to bid goodbye to them. I am a great admirer of the effect storytelling has on fomenting human connections and transcending socially created barriers (such as race, citizenship, nationhood, class etc). I truly felt that in Birdsong, Faulks managed to effectively use storytelling to that effect.
For example, one of my favourite characters, whom I shall not reveal for fear of spoiling some people's read, had a nervous disposition that made me want to comfort them. Sadly, this same character dies later on in the book in spite of Faulks having spent a good two parts of the book describing the character, his background and his relationship with the protagonist. Needless to say that I cried a little.
I also enjoyed the vivid and quite graphic descriptions of World War I. Even if, I do have a personal issue with the fact that it is called "World War I" because it had European origins and they dragged everyone else into it. I often feel that stories occuring during World War II are so commonplace in our society that we forget how important WWI was in terms of modern warfare, literature, international relations and post-colonial movements. In the case of Birdsong, Faulks focuses more on the modern warfare and the psychological effect on the soldiers.
Finally, I really liked witnessing the generational drama and how Faulks describes the lives of the characters before, during and after World War I. It was interesting to discover the perspective of someone who is living the in 1970s looking back on the war and trying to better understand her ancestors' choices.
What I disliked:
There is not much to dislike about this novel; however, I wish that there was more mention of the other nationalities that fought for Britain during World War I. I guess Faulks really wanted to focus on the British battalion I cannot blame him. Nonetheless, I generally feel there is a lack of literature accounting for the role that colonies played during the war.
The book is narrated by Peter Firth, and I must say he did an excellent job. There are times, he spoke a little fast but otherwise, his voice was engaging and pleasant to listen. Additionally, considering that the audiobook is over 15 hours long, it is a demonstration of his strong narrative capacity. I am glad that this was my first audiobook.
Rating: I gave this book 5 stars out of 5, because I am sure I will re-read or re-listen to it. I personally feel that there is a lack of emphasis on World War I literature and I immensely enjoyed the experience of reading this book. I would recommend this book to everyone; however, I must warn there is some NSFW content at the beginning.
One of your favourite character in a book dies. Mine just did. I literally cried; although this book is about World War I and therefore everyone is dying left and right.
Will write more on the book later.
In case you didn't know, I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada (not Vancouver, WA) and I heard of a few upcoming events that I wanted to share with fellow Booklikers.
First off, from October 22nd to October 27th, there is The Vancouver Writers' Festival. I first heard of this event during an informational interview with a marketer who also has a soft spot for books. The festival will take place on Granville Island with a few readings-- if I am not wrong-- also taking place at the Vancouver Public Library. To learn more about the story behind the Writers Fest, please check out this video. And if you are interested in the writers who will be visiting our magnificent city (sorry, I had to boast or this would not be a proper post on Vancouver), check out this link. Apparently, Maureen Johnson is also coming! I am delighted to see the emphasis that is being put on storytelling and its importance to social connections. Here is an excerpt for their website:
The Festival is a celebration of story, told by authors, poets, spoken word performers, and graphic novelists. Ideas create books, but people create the Festival. The Writers Fest brings people of all backgrounds together—writers, children, adults, staff and hundreds of volunteers—all of whom love to read. They also love what reading represents: the stirring of ideas, the sparks of recognition, and the realization that we are all connected.
Secondly, I wanted to share the Vancouver Public Library's (VPL) initiative-- Welcome Back Week. Have you had any books that are more than 6 weeks overdue? Have you not returned them because you fear the borrowing fees? Or perhaps, you returned them but haven't borrowed any book because you know that there will be fees. Well, you can finally return your books in person and your fees will be waived! Completely waived! I will definitely be taking advantage of this opportunity.
In my opinion, this initiative follows the line of VPL's innovation in the public library experience. Remember how prior to this, librarians became mobile?
Anyways, I hope that these events brighten your October calendars.
PS. I would like to disclose that I am not gaining any benefit from sharing this information. I just thought it would be nice to use Booklikes as a means to also mention what is happening in the publishing/ literary community.
And I am back with a #fridayreads/weeklywrap up!
Last week, I asked if there were any audiobook recommendations and though I received none (if you wish to leave one please leave a comment), I went ahead and bought one. It is Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. Thankfully, the narrator, Peter Firth, manages to mostly captivate me and the experience of listening to an audiobook has thus far been pleasant.
The only difference between reading the book and hearing it is that it is sometimes difficult to absorb the descriptions of the surroundings, because all the sudden the narrator is saying a litany of adjectives quite rapidly.
Otherwise, I am motivating myself to make a few changes on this blog. There should be a post coming up on upcoming events in my city, Vancouver! (Represent!) And of course, the backlog of reviews to be written. Hopefully, I will gain more readers if I review more books.
Oh and before I leave, I must tell you about a prize that had me chuckling all throughout the day (but please, it is not safe for work). It is the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award! Apparently, Faulks won this award-- though thankfully not for Birdsong. And dear John Updike won a Lifetime Achievement award for Bad Sex in Fiction!
Have any you read Updike? Do you agree with the Lifetime Achievement Award? What about your experiences with audiobooks? Are there any good ones you've heard or are you still like BOUND BOOKS ONLY!
Ok, I know that I haven't put up #FridayReads which ... I will just not address and instead ask my question.
I have been wanting to try out a different type of reading; more specifically, I have been wanting to listen to an audiobook. That said, I am a novice to the auditory reading world which is why I am turning to fellow readers/ listeners.
What audiobook narrators do you recommend? Where do you get your audiobooks from? Have any of you tried Audible and what was your experience?
Please leave a comment below! It would be much appreciated.
I am changing the name of this blog's url from www.shamwow.booklikes.com to www.thesilentwhispers.booklikes.com . Aside from the new url being ridiculously long, I just wanted to match the URL to the blog title. Anyways, if you are a booklikes user, I should still appear on your dashboard.
That's it from me. xox, S.
So I am back with a new edition of #FridayReads. I really don't have that many huge updates but here it goes.
I finished reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and I LOVED IT! I loved it! I think I may be even crushing on the writer herself.
Yep, so that is a spoiler for how the review of that book is going to go ... if it ever goes up. (I am kinda bad at putting up reviews, eh?).
I also went on a book haul during the weekend, where I bought We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and The Thing Around Your Neck by Adichie. I am pretty excited for the former considering that I lived in Zimbabwe during my entire adolescence-- though, I read the chapter and I could not situate myself at all. It does have some similarities with Americanah by bringing in the diaspora aspect of Africanhood (if such a thing exists).
I feel that I will start another themed read which would be Contemporary African Literature; sadly, I hesitate because I didn't even post a single review for my last themed read. Then again, no one has commented negatively about it. So it is okay?!?
Finally, I am toying with the idea of testing out a new format of reading. I used to , and to a great extent, still am a strong advocate of the "BUT IF IT IS NOT A BOUND BOOK YOU LOSE ALL THE EXPERIENCE." Yes, I put all caps, because that is how strongly I felt. You see, I work at a relatively new job, where I am required to spend an inordinate amount of time doing the same task again, and again, and again. Which is why we are allowed to listen to music. I have been thinking of downloading an audiobook or two and reading while listening. It is much better than logging around Stephen King's The Shining (when am I ever going to finish that?!?) or feeling awkward because there is no time to sneak in a few pages from Americanah.
So that is it from me. I hope you have a great week.
I personally believe that Booklikes can be a forum to discuss issues that go beyond book reviews, into talking about the publishing industry, academic analysis of literature and other similar subjects.
It appears that in a recent interview Professor David Gilmour confidently stated
I’m not interested in teaching books by women. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys.Real guy-guys. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I tried to teach Virginia Woolf, she’s too sophisticated, even for a third-year class. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.
The blatant misogyny, homophobia and sexism in the statement is not the only problem; rather, stories and storytelling are essential in humanizing people who would otherwise remain in a group characterized as 'the other'. And the rob young people of the opportunity to understand issues through different lenses is nothing less than to perpetuate the oppression of the privileged over the less privileged. Oh and failing to see the issue with only teaching about white, european/european descendent, middle class men, reeks privilege.
There is a big woman problem in literature as it stands and to have a professor (and a novelist on top of that!) so irresponsibly uphold the barriers that women writers face-- well it makes my blood boil. Keep in mind that these days the majority of readers are... women!
I'm sorry that I cannot make any argument which is more coherent about why I feel Gilmour's statement is wrong. Instead I wish to invite readers to comment and to consult the following resources:
Problems in American Literature
"Why are some themes (courtship, family life) or forms (the short story) typically regarded as less significant than others (war, adventure, the epic novel)? How is it that purportedly lightweight themes suddenly become momentous in critics’ eyes when the novelist who takes them up is a man (Jonathan Franzen, Jeffrey Eugenides)?"
Read article here.
Roxane Gay's response and suggested reading list. Click here.
And of course Maureen Johnson!
"My college reading was 90% male.. In high school, I took four years of English, including advanced classes. I can only remember reading two works by women in all of high school, and they were both poems. One was by Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) and the other by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886). And I went to an all-girls school, where catering to the reading tastes and styles of boys wasn’t even an issue. Later, my reading lists were full of people like Norman Mailer, Phillip Roth, David Mamet, and John Updike. Which is fine and good, I guess, but do you know how much I read about aging men and their penises and their lust for younger women and their hatred of their castrating wives? I read enough stories about male writing professors having midlife crises and lusting after young students to last me seven lifetimes"
Full post here.
Ok, peeps, I think I gave you plenty of extra reading. Let me know your opinions or don't. It is fine with me. xox, S.
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. pg 21
Hi people, welcome to a special edition of #FridayReads!
Since I do not have much to say, since my last update, I just wanted to share a quote from the book I am currently reading which is Americanah. Growing up, I never really taught about anything relating to African literature, African history or African philosophy in school-- even though, I spent 19 years of my life in the mother continent. FYI, I am 23 yr/o. Furthermore, my parents and my ancestors are East African; therefore, it really feels like I missed out on an integral part of learning about my identity. Anyways, Americanah is a refreshing read because every three pages I find a little gem that I can relate to or that speaks to me.
On that note, I would just have a few last things to share with you.
If you haven't seen my update on my absence, please check out my blogpost here.
I've recently read this article on Nigerian Literature, from the renown Francophone Magazine Jeune Afrique. Si vous parlez le francais, vous pouvez le retrouver ici.
K, that is it from me. xox, S.
So I have missed out on a few blogspots in the past two to three weeks, which is a shame because I really want to be a consistent blogger. Life has been a little hectic, as I have just started a new job! Although, it is neither my ideal job nor a permanent position (it is a contract, so I will find myself back on the employment market within a few months), it is a respite from the agony of job-hunting with no structured schedule.
Because I haven't yet found a position that is permanent, I feel that every spare moment should be used for sending online applications or making attempts to network. Thus, my both my Booklikes and my personal blog have been neglected. My apologies.
I cannot promise that I will be uploading my blog regularly; nonetheless, I know it is possible to schedule posts ahead of time which should help me get useful content to your dashboards.
On that note, on to the literary stuff! The first week of September I had read or just finished reading several books on which I want to do book reviews. These include:
In addition to posting these book reviews, I have a few literature/book related posts that I want to create, notably race in romance novels, favourite booktubers and why I read.
I am also hoping to finish Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie and perhaps start We need new names by NoViolet Bulawayo.
As most book lovers, my to be read is slowly extending which I hope translates into many, many, many more posts about books.
Goodness, I missed blogging.
That's it from me,
So this is going to be an extremely, extremely short post. I am starting to research and write a piece about race and fiction. I am pretty excited but it might take a while to produce.
Hey invisible readers,
So this is second time that I am writing this post because yeah, I forgot to save under drafts (ah, the frustrations of being a blogger).
Ok, on that note, welcome to Friday Reads, where I give a weekly wrap-up of books I've read and the reviews I'll make.
In case, you have not seen it I have finally written a book-to-movie review about The Silver Linings Playbook which you can read right here.
Otherwise, this week I have finished What do Women Want by Bergner and I have started both Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Montgomery. I've already read the latter in Grade 7 because I used to watch the anime version as a child. Does anyone remember this? However, when I read the book, I didn't understand a thing; despite English being my first language. This time I have been really enjoying the book, especially now that I know what and where Prince Edward Island is (if anyone else didn't connect Anne of Green Gables with Canada, please leave a comment and let's commiserate). I would love to write a review of Anne for this blog but I would have no clue how to do it considering it is a children's book.
Moving on, I will keep reading Anne during this upcoming week. I am starting a new contract position which should let me some time to breathe and make job hunting less stressful. I hope you have an enjoyable weekend.
Hi my invisible readers!
Ever wonder why I call you invisible readers? Yes. Well, I also wonder. I am random like that.
Anyhow, I am excited to bring you another review-- and this time it is a book-to-movie one. Yaaay!
In case, you haven't seen it, you can read my original book review here. I am going to write this review in the same format as I usually do; however, I will add a difference between the book and the movie category.
Summary/ What is this movie about:
Unlike Howl's Moving Castle, the plot of the book and the movie are not worlds apart. So I don't necessarily have to re-write the summary. Nonetheless, if it helps, I linked the trailer at the beginning. Somehow, I cannot find a way to embed videos into the text of a normal post.
What I liked:
The tough part about a book-to-movie adaptation is that since you read the original source material, it is difficult to not focus on the elements that got lost during the transition. So, I have to push myself to abstract a little from the book. With that in mind, I truly enjoyed the movie! The dialogue was witty, fast-paced and funny; the characters were endearing and I am pretty sure that Pat's dad is 180% less asshole-y than in the book. I was shocked when he actually uttered the words, "I want to spend time with you, Pat..." repeatedly. Completely different person.
I also enjoyed the expansion on Danny's role. If you read my original post (if not, please click here), you will know that I found Danny's characterization very limited-- to the point that it might have been an attempt by Quick to appropriate ebonics. Danny in the movie is a full fledged, and if I may say, very quirky character. In fact, you could say that together with Tiffany and Pat (how great was Tiffany!!), they sorta formed a trio. And of course, I loved seeing Julia Stiles.
What I didn't like:
There were a few differences between the book and the movie that made me sad. Most of them, I can ignore except for one thing -- the characterization of Cliff, the therapist, was much worse in the movie. In the book, Cliff is more than a therapist: he is a friend. In the movie, the bonding between Cliff and Pat happened much later than the book which is probably due to a key difference that I will discuss later. I just feel that creating strong, minority characters should not be a trade-off. Cliff the therapist doesn't need to be made even more secondary nor does Danny have to be reduced to an ebonics muppet.
I also wish that they had kept the sibling relations between Pat and his brother. In the movie, the brother to brother connection is significantly watered down. Oh, and I thought the end was too rom-commy.
What changed during the movie adaptation:
Here is a non-exhaustive list of changes between the book and the movie:
And many more things....
Final rating: Overall, I liked the movie and I would recommend it. I feel that perhaps I had given the book a really harsh rating; it probably deserved a four out of five stars. My apologies. Anyways, I feel that you would enjoy both the book and the movie. If you either read the book or watched the movie, please let me know in the comments below.
That's it from me, xox. S
Hello invisible readers,
So welcome to another edition of #FridayReads! I didn't publish any reviews or special content this week but I read quite a bit (yaaaay!)
I bought and finished What do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire by Daniel Bergner. You can expect a book review soon. I actually enjoyed it despite some of the bad reviews out there.
I also finished Silver Linings Playbook, the movie. You can expect yet another book review.
Finally, I started Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie, which is supposed to explore the identification issues faced by Africans in the Diaspora, like myself. I had previously read Half of a Yellow Sun -- an excellent, moving and compelling novel on the Biafran War.
The great thing about this blog is that I can write at my own pace. Therefore, though I really want to put out all these book reviews, it may take me some time to type them out. But yes, there will be four upcoming reviews and that is very exciting stuff.
Also, I wanted to mention that some people in real life recommended me some mangas and graphic novels to read. They will be on my TBR list which is ever expanding.
That's it from me xox, S.