Saturday, September 30, 2006

Variety of Books

I was looking through the list of books I read so far this year, and I've only finished 25 books. It's almost October already and only 25 books? Whoa...I really have cut down. I didn't read a single book at all in fact, in June and July, which were the months I had the most sales at work. LOL! I really can't have it all, can I?

But anyway, I was counting up the different genres of books I've been reading this year and it's pretty varied, which is good. Let me see:

Fiction & Literature:
1. Evening Class - Maeve Binchy
2. The Pact - Jodi Picoult
3. Lost Horizon - James Hilton
4. Saving Fish from Drowning - Amy Tan
5. Sophie's Choice - William Styron
6. The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards

Non-fiction/self help:
1. The 24 Carrot Manager - Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton
2. Never Wrestle with a Pig - Mark McCormack

1. Smoke and Mirrors - Neil Gaiman
2. Tremble - Tobsha Learner
3. A Wrinkle in Time - Madelene L'Engle
4. Left Behind 1&2 - Tim LaHaye

1. The Midnight Tour - Richard Laymon
2. I am Frankenstein - C. Dean Andersson

1. Winterbourne - Susan Carroll
2. Half Moon Bay - Meryl Sawyer
3. Wild Enough for Willa - Ann Major

1. Ten Thousand Sorrows - Elizabeth Kim
2. The Happy Hooker - Xaviera Hollander
3. Sybil - Flora Rheta Schreiber
4. Bronte's Story - Bronte Cullis

1. The Wave - Todd Strasser
2. Empress Orchid - Anchee Min

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

Hmm...not too bad. Not enough classics though. I'm reading Water Babies by Charles Kingsley now, so that should cover it. I never really consider what genre I want to read until I read it, but although I'm reading less books now than previously, but I feel like there's more variety now. Should I check my previous list in 2004 and see how I did? I read over 120 books in 2004, but I think it wasn't a wide variety like this.

I'll do it later... =P

Friday, September 29, 2006

Literature: The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

You know, I finally know the reason why I still read trashy, sappy, romance novels. Literature nowadays is so cliche, the endings are always profound, depressing, and open-ended in some way. It's like, if there's a happy ending, it won't be a bestselling literature.


Whether that's true or not, I still like happy endings once in a while. I guess too much literature makes me depressed and then I need to take a break from 'quality' novels and read trashy ones instead.

It didn't used to be that way, though, classic literature has many stories with happy endings. I recently read Pride and Prejudice, for example, and it has a happy ending! I haven't been reading many classics. Maybe I should start reading them more. Almost every single literary novel nowadays are open-ended. Such a cliche!!

Makes me feel like sitting down right now and writing a literary novel with a happy ending. Bah!

Anyway, I just finished reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. It doesn't exactly have the kind of ending I was just moaning about, but you'll recognize the cliche when you read it.


The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (432 pages)

Date Started: 26th Sept 2006
Date Finished: 29th Sept 2006


The plot is a great one, and the prose amazing. The words just flowed off the page, making it a really enjoyable book to read. However, I felt that Edwards cheated the plot out of a really good story.

How do I explain it? Everyone knows it's a great plot, she got the plot from a real life story, in fact, and ran with it coz we all know that with a plot like that, it was probably destined to be a bestseller.

But I feel like it would've been a so much better story if given to someone who really *knew* how to make the most out of the plot. Edwards did a great job at the beginning of the novel, with the settings and the immediate consequences of the characters' actions, but it seems like she didn't know what to do with them after everything had happened. Fine, the doctor gave his daughter away, and then he and his family had their own miserable lives while his daughter had a separate life somewhere else.

And then what? Edwards didn't seem to know. She dragged it on and on and on... And finally got tired of all the characters' lives and decided to do something to end it. A very unrealistic something. And I don't mean what happened with the doctor, I mean what Caroline did after that.

I can't say more without giving away some spoilers, so if you think you wanna know, go read the book. =D

Monday, September 25, 2006

Literature: Sophie's Choice by William Styron

Sophie's Choice by William Styron
(626 pages)

Date Started: 14th Sept 2006
Date Finished: 26th Sept 2006


Oh my God, what a read! I finally finished this book after twelve days of slogging through it, and I'm exhausted!

It was an extremely intense read, deep and thought-provoking, but I guess I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to absorb everything that Styron had to offer. It held me captivated til the end, but there were many parts that I skipped because it got too descriptive and technical about the war. In fact, Styron went off into many tangents most of the time which, although has some relevance to the story itself, tended to get long-winded.

My initial interest in this book was because of the many references to 'Sophie's Choice' in real life, which I inferred from those references to mean a difficult choice. But I never knew all this while, what the choice was, what people were referring to, and just what the hype was over this 'choice'.

So I decided to read the book for myself and find out. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Whoowee...

Intense is the word. It was a freaking thriller! I kept asking myself, 'What happens next? What happens next?!' I was literally holding my breath each time I turned another page!

The way Styron wove the story is incredibly masterful. The story keeps on building up, and along with it the suspense and the tension of the reader. Secrets were unveiled little by little as Styron brings you closer to the climax. I could've guess the ending...well, ok, I couldn't have guessed it, but the ending doesn't surprise me.

Anyway, although the ending was pretty much predictable, in this story it wasn't about the destination. It was the journey. All the backstory about Sophie and Nathan, especially Sophie's history, was crucial in bringing us to this conclusion. It's a valuable insight to how our pasts affects us and make us who we are, how sometimes it can make us stronger people, but at the same time, it could also destroy us.

I like incorporating lessons from the books I read into my life. And while I could just stop here without elaborating further on what I got out of this read, I won't. I am a believer in personal strength, and attitude. I believe that two people can go through the exact same ordeal, and yet one will be a stronger and better person because of it, and yet the other can be a total wreck. Everybody handles things differently. And while I can totally understand the motives of the characters in Styron's novel, I believe that we can also learn a lesson from their mistakes.

I believe one day I will come back to this book again. It was a terrific read, and very engrossing, but I didn't do it justice with my inability to focus on Styron's amazing narrative on the South and of the war, so perhaps one day I will re-read this again, and come away with a deeper insight.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Set-ups Finished!

Well, I finally finished setting this page up! Yayy!! But it took me a while to decide to be happy with it. I wanted to move to another blog site because there were certain features that weren't easy to set up here, and like I've said before, I can't afford to spend too much time on my blog layouts.

But I decided finally, that I don't need such complicated features, and something simple will do. Because if I did go on looking for what I wanted, it would be a whole lot more complicated for me to search and research, and get used to how the new blog works and all that anyway...

Anyway, the blog's up now! The only thing I'll have to do is to read some books and review them. ;P I'm reading Sophie's Choice now, but it's quite a thoughtful read so I'm not sure when I'll be done with it and I don't want to give it an unfair review until I'm finished. So until then. =D

Currently Reading:
Sophie's Choice by William Styron (Historical Literature)

It's three stories in one; about Stingo, the narrator, and his quest to be a writer; Sophie, a beautiful Polish woman, and the terrible secret of her past; and Nathan, a extremely brilliant Jew, who has problems of his own. The stories of these three people intertwine when their lives cross, and as the terrible secret of Sophie's past reveals itself, it thrusts them towards destruction.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Introducing Betty's Books!

I've decided to create another blog page just for reading and reviewing the books I read. I originally thought that I could blog all my books in my main page, , but then I realized that with all my everyday blogs and rantings about other topics, the books won't stay on the main page very long.

So here's Betty's Books. =D Previously when I was on, all I needed to do was just set up different html pages, with many different sections for everything. But because I don't have the time to maintain it(I did all the designing and html myself), I decided to use blogspot instead for now. So far it's been great, so I'm gonna continue using it.

Oh, btw, although this page is called Betty's Books, I might occasionally have reviews about music and dvds as well. Unless I really listen to too many CDs, and watch too many dvds that I have to start new pages called Betty's CDs and DVDs. LOL!

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