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For someone who reads long books, there are those reads where I take my time because I do not want the story to end or to leave the characters behind.  On the other hand, there are those that keep me reading but I still have a mental demand for something new. The books that come to mind for the former are The Passage and The Twelve (City of Mirrors is next!) Image result for the passage trilogy and Anna Karenina.Image result for anna karenina It is quite a gift for an author to slam out 500+ pages and leave me wanting more. Those are the long books I love. For a long book to be gripping, the characters have to be well defined to the point where they feel real and the story has to be equally compelling. Usually authors get one or the other right.

I am not someone who has to read a book all the way through. If I am no longer engaged, I have no issue sending it to the bookshelf graveyard. But once you get into page 530 of a 720 page book and you’ve finally hit something of a climax, I don’t know if that speaks to my patience or the author’s ability to build up a story.

Two books fall into this category:

Image resultThe first is “The Meaning of Night” by Michael Cox. I do not remember much regarding the details or the characters names; however, I do remember a very strong story that you read for the end/final show-down. I remember the feeling of reading the last page. While the book was very long – at 700+ pages – the feeling at the end made it worth while. In the same vein, I am reading “By Gaslight“. Another clunker of a book at 721 pages. This one has a grip and with a little over 100 pages to go, I am hoping to have the same feeling at its conclusion that I did with “The Meaning of Night.” Although it has kept my attention, I find myself thinking ,”Are we done yet?”

 

 

There are a lot of ways writers get creative with style and they way they use fonts, spacing, etc. to tell their story. It can enhance the reader’s experience by pulling them into the story even more and give a direct visual. One example that comes to mind is when an author is describing a telegram, funeral announcement, or an invitation. Another example is adjusting font for a letter from one person to another. Those things are excellent if they are used well.

On the other hand, an author can use a style method and over do it to the point where it pulls you out of the joy of reading.  I am not a huge fan of italics and when an author over uses them to convey a character’s thoughts or to show that a character is emphasizing every other word he or she is speaking drives me insane! Of course, these are up to authors and their respective editors, but there are certain things, in my opinion, that shouldn’t be messed with. One prime example is the omission of quotation marks for dialogue….for the entire length of the book.

There are books I’ve read where the dialogue is rapid fire or it’s sort of like everything is a haze and the author “let’s the dialogue go” to show the uncertainty or instability.  A recent example is in Justin Cronin’s “The Twelve” and even in Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence.” Like anything else, when used well – and sparingly –  it works.

Last year I attempted to read “The Queen of the Night” by Alexander Chee.  I had heard rave reviews over this one; someone even said it was the most perfect book ever written. That is quite an expectation for a book to live up to and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be THAT great, but I was interested. I got about 50-70 pages into it before I got very frustrated and popped it in the give-away bin.

“Dude,” I screamed. “Where are the quotation marks?!

[Disclaimer: I am not a grammar police officer. I do not pretend to know the ins-and-outs of it. This is my Point of View.]

 

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I have read many more books since then and all have followed this very basic, first grade grammar rule of using punctuation to indicate when a character is speaking. I cannot speak on how other languages indicate dialogue as I am only able to read English, but I can imagine they too have some sort of symbol saying, “Hey! I’m talkin’ here!” Right now I am reading a book called “By Gaslight” by Steve Price and he too completely omits the quotes. The difference between “The Queen of the Night” and “By Gaslight” is the latter is more readable. I must admit I had a bit of an eye roll session when I saw this style is continued throughout the book, but there is something about the way Price writes that makes his use of this stylistic choice easier for me to read.

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Let’s to back to “TQofN.” I searched google to see if the author gave any insight on this. Had he has! [From BookoftheMonth.com] There’s a discussion this exact concept and some people are OK with it, others were annoyed:

I chose not to use quotation marks for this novel because [the main character] is recounting dialogue that she remembers from several different languages, but she is not recounting it in those languages–she’s translating it into English because that is how she remembers it. Quotation marks would have drawn attention to that–and then a French person speaking in English or a German person speaking in German would, to my mind, look simply ridiculous. I can appreciate that it isn’t to everyone’s tastes. But it was not done to be trendy. And as it is a choice made by writers like James Joyce, I felt like I was within a tradition. –Alexander Chee

 

I appreciate the author’s desire to be loyal to his characters by not making them “quote” memories or even to quote when they are speaking another language. However, there may have been a way to do just that without confusing readers or making them work to understand. I have read many books where characters are speaking other languages and the author uses quotes but indicates the language. For example, “I am so happy,” she said in French. “I wish I could stay like this forever!” or they simply write it out in the language the character is speaking and, in a round about way, translates it or does not. Admittedly, when an author neglects to translate in English it is frustrating but you can kind of figure it out based on the context. Kind of like learning what a word means based on the sentence it is in.

For me, TQofN was not reader-friendly for me. I’m a very well-rounded reader and I am always willing to give stylistic choices a chance. While I am thoroughly enjoying “By Gaslight”, it has been a slow go. Yes, it is a 700-pager, but the speed at which I could be reading is not as fast as I would like. Perhaps that is the goal? I cannot say for sure. Personally, it is a style choice I am not a fan of. For future reading options, I think I may have to flip through pages to be sure the author has used his or her quotation marks.

This weekend was the most perfect weather! I get very inspired when the weather is warm, the sun is shining, and the windows are open in the house.  I finished The Age of Innocence for the second time (See: The Re-Read Project) and equally gushed over it as I did the first time after reading it in 2015. There is something about that book that sits right in the middle of my heart… I will need to do a post on it, complete with spoiler alerts because I cannot write about that book without giving things away as to why I love it so much.

Drawing from the inspiration from the beautiful weekend weather, I started 2 bullet journals: one for my finances and another for books/reading. I have just a small number of pages started. Including: To Be Read, Read, and an Unofficial TBR – which will be a list of books I am curious to read but not officially on the TBR list for 2017.

I created an entire spread for my Re-Read Project.  It is broken down by each month and under each month I will write the book read that is a part of the project. So far, I’ve only finished two books. My plan is one book per month, but I am open for more!

 

 

I also created an “appendix” which, sadly, I did not leave enough pages for, but I have these sections:

  1. Books Read 1990s-2010 (Remembering the 90’s reads will be a fun project. I wish I kept track, but I have a pretty solid memory.)
  2. Torah Reading Plan (I need to find one!)
  3. All-Time Favorite
  4. Book Rating Code (This started with the intention to use the code on the Read list but I do not have room… I may use smiley/frown/mediocre faces instead)

Below is the little drawing I made to capture my all time favorite book. I only added a few so far:

 

Thank you to Jessica from Pretty Prints & Paper  for the handwriting prompts.

I will be practicing!

 

Hello Readers!

The last quarter of 2016 was an odd one for me and I did not do much reading at all. I had lost my passion for it – along with other things – due to reasons I’d rather not discuss on the internet. ha!  Let’s just say I was taken out and lost a lot of the joy I usually find in many things. I am back to it and in January I culled my To Be Read (TBR) list and decided to begin the Re-Read Project to ignite the bookworm in me once again.

All 3 below are so different from each other and makes for great, diverse reading.

As a bonus, queued up is :

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. 

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The 3 Books I am Excited to Read

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth…But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand

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Girl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters, #1)

When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.  

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Pachinko

follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

One of my goals this year is to read more and read faster. I have so many books on my reading list and as a slow reader – not a good combination…

When I think of reading, I think of sitting in a window seat, overlooking the streets of Paris, with the gentle Spring breeze gently blowing the curtains…a cup of coffee on a delicate table and I, comfortable in a dressing robe, reading my day away.

Alas, I do not live in Paris, I do not have a window seat and it is certainly not Spring. I’ve always heard people say how they squeeze reading in during the day. I never could do that because I always felt like I needed to “get into” the book for a solid period of time. While I do schedule at least 1 hour per day reading (yes, I mark it as a task on my to-do list) I want to get in more.

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Yesterday my work computer was updating. While it did it’s thing I thought I’ll just read a few pages while this updates. I ended up finishing about 10 pages or so while the computer ran it’s updates. It got me thinking of opportunities to read during the day that I otherwise would not have thought:

  1. While waiting for your phone or tablet to charge
  2. Boiling water – A watched pot never boils, so why not read?
  3. As food item cooks in above water – watched food never cooks.
  4. At the deli counter – the meat slicer is going, you may as well use that time wisely!
  5. At a red light – And if the person behinds you beeps when the light turns green they obviously do not understand the importance of finishing a paragraph before re-inserting the bookmark.
  6. During a conference call you really do not need to be on – Caution advised
  7. Schedule a 30 minute meeting and hide in the bathroom – no one will know….
  8. While on hold with customer service – Your call may be important to them, but your time isn’t
  9. When a friend or family member puts you on hold – see above
  10. Waiting in line to buy or check out books – may as well get a head start.
  11. Laundry time – whether at a laundromat or not, use that time wisely!
  12. Pumping gas – safer than smoking a cigarette
  13. While your dog is doing his/her business
  14. As the coffee is brewing or tea kettle going
  15. Arrive to an appointment early and read in your car – waiting rooms are too loud and chaotic.
  16. Waiting for food at a carry out or drive through
  17. Software updates – This could take a while…
  18. During a dish washing cycle – maximize the free time.
  19. At a 4-way stop sign – no one can decide who goes first anyway…
  20. At an amusement park while others get in line for a roller coaster — up to an hour wait? No problem!