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Showing posts from May, 2009

Quotation of the day

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges 24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986)

This is the motto of my favourite book discussion forum, Reader's Paradise.
To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all of the miseries of life.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965)

News: And the winner is...

Johan Theorin (Sweden) for Nattfåk (Night Blizzard).


Here are the authors, from left to right: Johan Theorin, Marko Kilpi, Lene Kaaberbøl, Agnete Friis, Vidar Sundstøl and Arnaldur Indriðason.

I was tempted to use a photo that includes a press photographer herding them into formation. Why on earth she wanted to photograph them out in the wind with the sun at their backs, I don't understand. She was also trying to get them to not smile and look menacing instead. Cliché!

Before the awards ceremony there was a short lecture on the Nordic crime novel, and afterwards the nominees participated in an interesting panel discussion about their books, their motivations, research and crime fiction in general. The majority of the audience were invited guests, with a few stragglers like myself in between. I wasn't doing any name-spotting, but I did notice Susan Moody among the audience, which is why I am going to read one of her books next: Penny Black, which happens to be on the top myster…

Time for a quotation from a book

Travelogues are my favourite non-fiction genre, and therefore you can expect to find a number of quotations from such books here once they start piling up for real. Not all are about travel, some are about the destination or the natives, expats or other travellers (I have yet to come across a travelogue written by a self-confessed tourist...).

I love this one:

"The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become, until he goes abroad. I speak now, of course, in the supposition that the gentle reader has not been abroad, and therefore is not already a consummate ass. If the case be otherwise, I beg his pardon and extend to him the cordial hand of fellowship and call him brother. I shall always delight to meet an ass after my own heart when I shall have finished my travels."
Mark Twain (1835–1910), The Innocents Abroad (Ch. XXIII)

This paragraph is followed by examples, and although Innocents... was published 140 years ago, the observation is still quite v…

Top mysteries challenge review: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer

Year of publication: 1974
Genre: Mystery thriller
Type of investigator: Professional
Series detective: Sherlock Holmes
No. in series: 1
Setting & time: London, UK and Vienna, Austria; 1891.

This is one of the numerous attempts to continue the saga of Sherlock Holmes from where Arthur Conan Doyle left off, although in this case the story actually happens right in the middle of the Holmes canon and is offered as an alternative account to what happened when Holmes disappeared in “The Final Problem” (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes). Two subsequent novels in the series fill in some more of what Holmes is supposed to have been up to during his absence, up to Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Empty House” (The Return of Sherlock Holmes).

Much like three of the four Holmes novels written by Doyle, the book is divided into two parts, but unlike them the story is told sequentially and has Holmes in both parts. In part 1, Watson, who is the narrator, finds his old friend in a state of paranoia induced…

Guerilla lending library

How cool is this?

Ok, so the school is probably within its rights to ban these books, but has banning a book ever stopped a determined teenager from reading it?

Minus point for the Twilight comment.

Wednesday reading experience #21

Choose a profession that you have read about in a novel and found interesting. Read some non-fiction about the same job or profession and compare the view the novels give with the view non-fiction books do.

It is quite likely that you will find that the novels either romanticise the profession or make it seem in some other way different from what is actually the case, depending on the kind of profession and the kind of novel.

This is, for example, common in crime novels. If crime novels are to be believed, private detectives frequently investigate murders, kidnappings, rapes, bank heists and other serious crimes, while in real life you are more likely to find them digging up dirt for divorce cases or running background checks on someone’s potential spouse or employee. And specialised forensic experts like pathologists and physical anthropologists, who in real life are confined in their work to the laboratory and the courtroom, in the books always seem to be questioning or chasing suspe…

Quotation

"Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries change lives for the better."
Sidney Sheldon

News: The Crime Writers of Scandinavia’s Glass Key will be awarded in Iceland this year – and I’m going!

The award will be delivered to the winner in the Nordic House in Reykjavík on Friday, May 29th, by the Icelandic Minister of Education, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

The nominees are:
Iceland: Arnaldur Indriðason for Harðskafi (Hypothermia)Sweden: Johan Theorin for Nattfåk (Night Blizzard)Denmark: Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis for Drengen i kufferten (The Boy in the Suitcase)Finland: Marko Kilpi for Jäätyneitä ruusuja (Frozen Roses)Norway: Vidar Sundstøl for Drømmenes land (The Land of Dreams)
There will be a panel discussion with the authors afterwards, and on Saturday there will be lectures, followed by a panel discussion with the participation of Jo Nesbø, Diane Wei Liang and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.

Unfortunately, none of the Scandinavian books are available at a library I have access to, and none have so far been translated into Icelandic, so I have had no opportunity to read them.

Mystery review: Appleby on Ararat by Michael Innes

Genre: Mystery thriller
Year of publication: 1941
No. in series: 7
Series detective: John Appleby
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: An unnamed island in the Pacific during World War 2

Story:
Appleby and six others are shipwrecked in the Pacific when their passenger ship is torpedoed. They end up on an island that at first seems deserted, but then one of them is murdered and it really seems impossible that one of them could have done it. Shortly afterwards, one of the group discovers a hotel at the other end of the island, and Appleby meets an archaeologist on the beach. At the hotel another murder is committed, and a group of natives attack the hotel. Appleby has by now figured out what is going on, but I will not go into it as it would be a spoiler.

Review:
This is my first Appleby book. I have read one other Innes book, The Journeying Boy which I enjoyed, but found a bit confusing because halfway through it shifted genres, from a mystery to a thriller. This book does the sa…

Wednesday reading experience #20

Have you ever found a description of a dish or a meal in a book that made you hungry? If you have, find the recipe or recipes and cook the dish or meal for yourself, or, if you don't cook, go to a restaurant and order it.

If you are the kind who reads while you eat, try reading the appropriate passage from the book while you eat.

Did the dish or meal stand up to expectations?

--
I have done this a number of times, with varying results. Some of the failures can be blamed on not having found the right version of the recipe, others on something going wrong with the cooking.

Top mysteries challenge review: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Sub-title: A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences.
Year of publication: 1965 (as 4 long newspaper articles; in 1966 in book form)
Genre: True crime
Setting & time: Kansas, USA (mostly Holcomb and Garden City), other places around the USA; Mexico; 1959-1960.

Story and review:
In November 1959, a respectable and prosperous Kansas farmer, his wife and two of their children were murdered by two ex-convicts. The men had come there to rob them of what they expected would be a fortune. They only scored a small amount of money but left behind them a carnage that horrified the peaceful small town of Holcomb. Truman Capote read a short piece of news about the murders and went there to investigate. What emerged was this book which is part fact and part fiction. The Wikipedia entry on the book calls it a non-fiction novel, i.e. a basically true story written using the techniques of fiction.

I must admit that I am squeamish when it comes to reading about real crimes, especially vio…

Quotation

"They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library".
Terry Pratchett: Guards!Guards!

Book quotations

Back when I was blogging on my original 52 Books blog on Tblog I had, for a while, a feature called “quotation of the day”, where I would post daily quotations about books, reading or libraries. For some reason this feature didn’t follow me here, but now I’m resurrecting it. I’m not going to make it a daily or even a regular thing, but will try to post quotations on days when I don’t post anything else, if only to keep the feed readers busy.

I am widening the scope and including quotations from books that I have read that caught my attention for some reason, even if they are not about books, libraries or reading. I have, for some time, been collecting quotations from books into a commonplace book, and this is a perfect venue to unload some of the quotations.

Here is one I like:

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

Wednesday reading experience #19

Consider a favourite book and find music that expresses how it makes you feel.

You may want to play this soundtrack in the background while you re-read favourite parts of the book.

You could also try making a playlist that expresses the book in some other way - like the relationships between the characters, or even one that retells the story in music.

My TBR challenge list

Lately I have been suffering from what we Icelanders call valkvíði when it comes to books. The word translates into English as “anxiety of choosing” and refers to the range of feelings from apprehension to terror suffered by one who has too many things to choose from. 809 TBR books are a very good reason for having valkvíði, and so I have gathered together 50 books that
I have, at one time or another, started reading and then put back on the shelf with the bookmark inside, or
I have been reading on and off for too long, or I feel it‘s time I read, either because they have been TBR for too long, or because they keep calling out to me to read them, or because I feel guilty that I haven‘t read them already.I put the list in the side-bar, under the title TBR books I want to finish before the end of 2009. The aim is to try to finish all of them and/or cull any that are too dull or bad to finish. If any books are left over at the end of the year, they will form the core of a new list of 50 bo…

Top mysteries challenge review: The False Inspector Dew by Peter Lovesey

I started reading this book a couple of months ago and finished a couple of chapters, but for some reason I then put it aside and forgot about it for several weeks. Since it is also a TBR challenge book, having lingered on my TBR shelf for over 2 years, I have managed to kill two birds with this one stone, challengewise, and also got an enjoyable read out of it.

Year of publication: 1982
Genre: Historical mystery
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Amateur
Setting & time: London, England, and aboard the passenger ship Mauritania on the way to New York; 1921.

Story:
Dentist Walter Baranov is devastated when his actress wife decides to go to Hollywood to pursue a career in the movies. As his practice is in her name and he is penniless without her, he sees no alternative but to go with her, that is until a young woman he has met and become attracted to puts into his head the idea of killing Lydia. The plan is to do it on board the passenger ship to New York and throw the body in t…

A celebration of Bibliophilia

Books in the windows, books on the floor,
Books fill my shelves and block up the door.
Books in my bedroom, books in the hall,
Books on the tables and up against the wall.
Books in the attic, books on the stairs,
Books in the bathroom, books on the chairs.
Books in the kitchen, books in my head,
Books in the basement, books I haven't read.

I'm cozy and content in my quiet world of books,
I turn and read my pages in several little nooks.
I am relaxed and happy in my comfy little nest,
To read at least a book a day is what I love the best.
I feel alive and happy with my eyes fixed on a book,
I do my daily reading and sometimes forget to cook.
Some may think that all those books are keeping me in thrall,
It's true I will be old and gray before I've read them all.

Thank goodness!

Copyright by Bibliophile

Wednesday reading experience #18

Play a casting director: Take a familiar book and decide who should play which character in a movie. Read the book with the cast list in mind and see if your choices stick.

I recommend doing this with a book that has not been filmed before, as actors from the real film, whether you have seen it or not, tend to interfere with the fantasy.

If you have or know of any blog entries about casting a book, please post the link in comments.

News! Arnaldur Indriðason shortlisted for the Macavity award

Arnaldur Indriðason's book The Draining Lake (Kleifarvatn in Icelandic) has been shortlisted for the 2009 Macavity award, in the category for "Best Mystery Novel".

See my review of the book.

The Macavity Award is awarded annually in several categories, by Mystery Readers International, a large mystery fan organisation.

(Found through Petrona)

Top mysteries challenge review: The Shortest Way to Hades by Sarah Caudwell

Year of publication: 1985
Genre: Mystery
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Amateur (a law historian)
Setting & time: London, England and Corfu, Greece; contemporary

Story:
Professor Hilary Tamar tells the story of how she (or is it he? – it is not clear from the text) became involved in solving a murder connected to a legal case being handled by her/his barrister friends and ex-students. The heirs to a considerable fortune wanted to change an entail arrangement so that the main heiress wouldn’t have to pay inheritance tax. The case was successful but when one of the heirs in the tail (i.e. she will only inherit if the main heiress dies) falls off a balcony and dies, the barrister representing her thinks it may be murder, but neither Hilary nor the police can see how it could have been done. Then two of Hilary’s young friends go to Corfu for a holiday and are invited to stay with the family, which includes the heiress and three others who are after her in the tail (line of in…

2008 reading report mistake

I just discovered an error in my reading report for last year. I have been collecting all the statistically interesting information from my handwritten reading journal in an Excel file that allows me to make the statistical analysis I have published here at the end of each year. From the beginning of my journal-keeping I have written in the name of the publisher, but for some reason I never entered that information into the Excel file.

Having nothing better to do this afternoon, I decided to add the publisher information for this year and the last, so I got out the journal, opened last year’s spreadsheet, sorted the information by date and started entering the information. I soon discovered that I had somehow missed a couple of pages when entering the information for 2008, amounting to 4 books. The outcome is that instead of 153 books and 44691 pages I actually read 157 books and 45212 pages in 2008. It hardly affects any of the other stats, so I haven’t bothered recalculating them.

Fo…

Reading report for April 2009

I read 16 books in April, which is slightly fewer books than the average of the three preceding months. Of these, I had started five in an earlier month and one in the previous year, and 5 were under 150 pages, so in pages I read much less than in March. Asterisked books have been or will be reviewed on this blog.

The challenges:
Top mysteries: 4. These were the only crime books I read in April.Icelandic books: 3. Should have been 4, but I was one book ahead so I am still on track.TBR for more than a year: 4, which is disappointing but not unexpected, as I found a lot of interesting library books that I wanted to read.
The books:
Michael Bell, ed.: Scouts in Bondage and other violations of literary propriety (collection of unintentionally humorous book titles)
André Bernard: Now all we need is a Title (famous books and their original planned titles)
T.J.Binyon: Murder Will Out (overview of the history of the detective in crime fiction)
*Nicholas Blake: The Beast Must Die (murder mystery…

Top mysteries challenge review: Green for Danger by Christianna Brand

Year of publication: 1945
Genre: Mystery
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: A military hospital in rural Kent, England; World War 2

Story:
An old man dies on the operating table during what should have been a routine operation to fix a broken bone, and Inspector Cockrill of the Kent police is called in to investigate what most people are sure will turn out to be an unfortunate accident or an unexplained but not malicious death. But then one of the nurses who attended the operation claims that she knows it was murder and that she has proof and knows who the killer is. She is subsequently murdered, and now everyone is convinced the first death was also a murder. Cockrill is sure he knows both the who and the why, but he still needs to find out how, and obtain solid evidence for the identity of the killer.

Review:
This story has a wonderfully evocative and atmospheric background: a rural military hospital during WW2, with bombs often falling nearby. The cast of suspects is quite …