Title: Fording the Stream of Consciousness [read in Russian translation]
Author: Dubravka Ugrešić
Book Number/Goal: 111/150

This novel is extremely self-conscious & hilarious in that slightly histerical way. The plot boils down to this: the high Party functionaries of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia organize an international writers' conference, at which several writers are murdered, several manuscripts are stolen, and several interviews are forged, and, oh, one uber-spy is striving for control over all world's literature. Ugrešić casually makes fun of the literary establishment, totalitarian rhetorics, post-colonial rhetorics, feminist discourse, masculine discourse, and pretty much everything else she sees, which makes for a refreshing read.

Title: Technologies of Gender [read in Ukrainian translation]
Author: Teresa de Lauretis
Genre: gender studies
Book Number/Goal: 112/150

An analysis of ways gender is constructed in mass culture texts.

Title: Song of Susannah [Dark Tower VI]
Author: Stephen King
Genre: fantasy
Book Number/Goal: 113/150

7 books is too much even for most skillful narrators. Even most pressing intrigue rapidly devolves into a parody of itself if stretched over hundreds and hundreds of pages. One of the most important questions of the series got answered in this installment, but at this point, I couldn't care less *how* the problem got resolved, just that it would end at last.
Also, why the hell had King decided that bringing himself into the story as Demiurg almighty was a good (or at least not-too-disastrous) idea?

Title: The Morning Star [Shadow of the Templar I]
Author: M. Chandler
Genre: m/m romance, spy novel
Book Number/Goal: 114/150

As the villain tries to create laser swords (or something equally SF-sounding & puzzling), the art thief & the FBI agent pursuing him are forced to cooperate in order to save world peace and democracy (or something). Of course, slash ensues. On the plus side, this novel has more plot than most m/m romances, and some of its dialogues shine & sparkle. But what jumbled sequence of events pass for plot here was not too gripping, and the romance could use some build-up (it just appeared out of the blue in the epilogue, as if in afterthought).

Title: Novalis in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten [read in Russian translation]
Author: Gerhard Schulz
Genre: biography
Book Number/Goal: 115/150
Title: On the Other Hand, Death [2d Donald Strachey mystery novel]
Author: Richard Stevenson
Genre: mystery, m/m romance
Book Number/Goal: 106/150

The plot of this novel pretty much lagged & stumbled rather than moved, but it features a charming elderly lesbian couple of retired teachers as supporting characters, which ensured my eternal devotion to the author. The main characters are interesting, well drawn-out & with realistic flaws too.

Title: Wolves of Calla [Dark Tower V]
Author: Stephen King
Genre: fantasy
Book Number/Goal: 107/150

Better plotted than most of the previous novels, but the frantic search for signs the characters indulge in reminds me of paranoid conspiracy theories rather than actual, y'know, plot developments :)

Title: Український патріот з династії Габсбургів [Ukrainian - "Ukrainian Patriot from the Habsburg Dynasty"]
Author: Терещенко Ю., Осташко Т.
Genre: biography
Book Number/Goal: 108/150

A biography of Archduke Wilhelm of Austria, who's definitely one of my favourite characters in Ukrainian history. Read wikipedia, seriously - this guy's life reads like a spy novel, in good biographer's hands, that is. While I'm immensely happy that his biography had at last appeared in Ukrainian, I wasn't quite happy with it: it's too impersonal, never gives any human touches & is written in Soviet historiographic style. On the plus side, Wilhelm's autobiography & poetry are included.

Title: Mythologies [read in Russian translation]
Author: Roland Barthes
Genre: cultural history?
Book Number/Goal: 109/150

A collection of essays in which Barthes explicates ideological messages out of all sorts of cultural artifacts, from politicians' photos to detergent ads. A cool read.

Title: 120 сторінок Содому. Сучасна світова лесбі/гей/бі література. Квір-антологія [Ukrainian - "120 pages of Sodom. Contemporary LGB literature. Queer anthology"]
Author: various
Genre: anthology
Book Number/Goal: 110/150

This might be the book of the year for me. It's the first anthology of such sort on post-Soviet territories, and I'm immensely happy that this happened in Ukraine, that there are people courageous enough to arrange and print such a book despite it's presentation nearly getting prohibited and then being stormed by rampant homophobes. The texts are a mixed bag, which is always the case with anthologies, I guess, but there were some truly brilliant ones. And as a cultural event, it's priceless.
Title: Honey & Honey [WIP, 19 chapters, read in English translation]
Author: Takeuchi Sachiko
Genre: yuri, autobiography
Book Number/Goal: 91/150

An autobiographical narrative purported to explain the finer points of the lesbian lifestyle (TM) to unsuspecting straight readers. I don't get the point though - I mean, what's there to explain? The whole story ranged from boring to embarassing, like listening to a couple discussing their relationship loudly in public transport.

Title: Pumpkin & Mayonnaise [WIP, 5 chapters, read in English translation]
Author: Kiriko Nananan
Genre: drama
Book Number/Goal: 92/150

A story of a girl supporting her unemployed striving musician boyfriend. Refreshingly realistic for manga, which often leans to more outlandish plots. Will make sure to read on as the new chapters get scanlated.

Title: I Spy Something Bloody
Author: Josh Lanyon
Genre: m/m romance
Book Number/Goal: 93/150

One of the more forgettable works, with no plot to speak of.

Title: Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison [read in Ukrainian translation]
Author: Michel Foucault
Genre: cultural history
Book Number/Goal: 94/150

Part of my attempt to read up on cultural history classics.

Title: Романи Куліша
Author: Віктор Домонтович
Genre: biography/drama
Book Number/Goal: 95/150

The title plays on the double meaning of the word "Романи", which in Ukrainian can denote either "novels" or "romantic relationships", thus providing both an intimate & a critical look on Kulish, one of the classical Ukrainian realist writers. This book jumps from close reading of Kulish's novels to fictionalized accounts of his personal life with startling nonchalance; makes me sorry that there are so few such biographies in Ukrainian literature :(

Title: Comrade Loves of the Samurai [read in English translation]
Author: Ihara Saikaku
Genre: drama
Book Number/Goal: 96/150

Several Saikaku's m/m-centered short stories which I had not, to the best of my knowledge, read before. Makes me wonder whether he was familiar with the Decameron?

Title: Reading Lolita in Tehran
Author: Azar Nafisi
Genre: autobiography
Book Number/Goal: 97/150

A sort of autobiography, or the biography of an era, as told through reading experiences - which is all sorts of awesome. Azar Nafisi tells a story of a reading club she had organized for her students in the wake of the Iranian revolution, recounting the girls' experiences and her country's history through the way her acquaintances read books. "Lolita" pops up in the title because she draws parallels between the way Humbert robs Lolita of her personal narrative (as we only see her through his 1st-person POV) and the way Iranian women get shaped by the image the rulers have of them as Moslem women. An interesting, if terrifying read.

Title: An Artist of the Flowating World
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Genre: drama, historical
Book Number/Goal: 98/150

This follows the life of a once-succesful Japanese painter in the aftermath of the WW II. Liked the rambling, roaming style, and the way some events, like the bruning of paintings, crop up again & again, shaping the narrative.

Title: Cards on the Table
Author: Josh Lanyon
Genre: m/m romance, murder mystery
Book Number/Goal: 99/150

Forgettable to the point I had to open the file to know what it was about - not even a week after I've read it!

Title: Dangerous Ground
Author: Josh Lanyon
Genre: m/m romance
Book Number/Goal: 100/150

Lanyon has once stated that soldiers & FBI agents are hot in the genre, and this novella is his attempt at exploiting this trend. If this is your thing, this might be an enjoyable read, but there's little besides the trend there.

Title: Snowball in Hell
Author: Josh Lanyon
Genre: m/m romance, murder mystery
Book Number/Goal: 101/150

A piece set in LA during WW II, dealing with the theme of homophobia (both internalized & coming from the world at large) first and foremost. One of the better Lanyon's works, if depressing.

Title: The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks
Author: Josh Lanyon
Genre: m/m romance, murder mystery
Book Number/Goal: 102/150

A cool murder mystery with a healthy dollop of Gothic sensibility - my cup of tea exactly!

Title: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
Author: Erving Goffman
Genre: cultural history
Book Number/Goal: 103/150

An enlightening read; also, surprising how fine a line between fiction and non-fiction is for classical works of sociology/cultural history XD

Title: Kant's Aesthetics [read in Russian]
Author: Afasizhev M.
Genre: philosophy
Book Number/Goal: 104/150

I usually have hard times getting into philosophy treatises, as they seem too abstract to me; tracing the impact some ideas had on cultural axioms up to our times is fun though :) For example, I'm pretty sure that the idea that true art (TM) should be a selfless act not to be paid for (to the extent that said selflesness becomes one of its defining characteristics) was to a large extent made popular by Kant.

Title: Death Trick [1st volume of Donald Strachey murder mysteries]
Author: Richard Stevenson
Genre: murder mystery
Book Number/Goal: 105/150

Read it after Lanyon, so couldn't help comparing the two. Stevenson wins for portraying the gay scene (his characters do not just float in space! they interact with other people, some of whom are gay too!) & avoiding the much-dread "true love heals all" trope, but his plots seem less tight than those of the better Lanyon novels.
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([personal profile] potted_music Aug. 1st, 2009 12:06 am)
Title: Narratology
Author: Wolf Schmidt
Genre: litcrit
Book Number/Goal: 71/150

Title: Persepolis [2 volumes, English translation]
Author: Marjane Satrape
Genre: graphic novel, autobiography
Book Number/Goal: 72/150

This autobiographical coming-of-age story of the Iranian girl in the years following the revolution sure was an interesting read, but just in the way travelogues are interesting. It treats all the cliched topics in all the cliched ways: dictatorships are bad, massacres are bad, the state intruding on the private lives of its citizens is bad... nothing a reader could not have surmised on her own.

Title: Tele Vision
Author: Jacques Lacan
Book Number/Goal: 73/150

I chose it as a Lacan primer because it's quite short, and I had a bilingual French-Russian edition, which allowed me to brush up on my French somewhat. Though this book might be interesting, it's definitely not a place to start reading Lacan, as it explains nothing, referring to some of his established concepts without going into any detail.

Title: Woman in the Dunes [read in Ukrainian translation]
Author: Kobo Abe
Book Number/Goal: 74/150

A man gets kidnapped to help local villagers shovel ever-shifting sands. The tale is Kafkaesque in its mundane horror - not quite so bleak on the surface (which, I think, is a plus), but all the more horrific for it in the long run (for the defeat gets treated like a win).

Title: Очерк истории европейского стиха [read in Russian - Notes on the History of European Verse]
Author: М. Гаспаров [M. Hasparov]
Genre: litcrit
Book Number/Goal: 75/150

Title: Wizard and Glass [the 4th book of the Dark Tower series]
Author: Stephen King
Genre: fantasy
Book Number/Goal: 76/150

I'm pretty torn about this volume. On the one hand, I like King's writing style (audiobooks do bring out how *precise* he is with his words, how effectively he uses assonances & alliterations & stuff), but he doesn't always know when to stop, so many descriptive passages get repetitive & redundant. The plot, a volume-long flashback created for infodumpy purposes, felt like too much of a digression, and could have been much shorter (and, I feel, more powerful for it).

Title: Magic or Madness
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Book Number/Goal: 77/150
Title: Magic Lessons
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Book Number/Goal: 78/150
Title: Magic's Child
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Book Number/Goal: 79/150

Liked the premise of this trilogy: magic users die when they run out of magic, but if they don't use it at all, they go mad. One hell of a choice that is - but the finale felt like an easy way out. The plot never quite grabbed me, and some plot points (like teenage pregnancy - yuck) just plain-out squicked me.

Title: Somebody Killed His Editor
Author: Josh Lanyon
Genre: mystery, romance
Book Number/Goal: 80/150

For an author writing romace for a mostly female audience, Lanyon sure disses both his genre, target audience AND fellow writers a lot. The protagonist of the novel is a middle-aged writer stuck at the writers' retreat, spouting insults at his co-attendants & investigating some murders. This constant stream of insults might be perceived as an attempt at creating a flawed narrator, but this made him too unlikeable for me to really care about.

Title: Palimpsest
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Genre: urban fantasy
Book Number/Goal: 81/150

Loved it to the point of imposing the book on several friends. Beautifully written, and with a great premise - it's an urban fantasy in a sense that a city is the protagonist, a sexually-tansmitted dream-city. I don't get what purpose the non-linear narration was serving though.

Title: The Book of Dreams
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Genre: fantasy
Book Number/Goal: 82/150

The tale of shifting identity, much like Palimpsest; beautifully written too. It's a tale of a woman from mediaeval Japan living through a number of myths in her dreams (Osiris&Isis, Oedipus Rex as told by the Sphinx, etc.). The only downside is, I'm not big on the essentialist idea of womanhood pushed forward in this novella, as some points (predestination, all-women-are-one, etc.) make me uncomfortable.

Title: Lawrence of Arabia
Author: Alistair MacLean
Genre: biography
Book Number/Goal: 83/150

I had high hopes for this one, as I adore both MacLean's prose and T.E. Lawrence, but it turned out to be a huge let-down. It's a simple retelling of Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, but without the gorgeous descriptive passages and sharp observations that made the latter book such a rewarding read.

Title: Микола Лукаш. Від Бокаччо до Аполлінера [re-read, read in Ukrainian - the anthology of translations by Mykola Lukash from Boccaccio to Apollinaire]
Author: various
Genre: poetry
Book Number/Goal: 84/150

The ouevre of this legendary Ukrainian translator is interesting on so many points - the way some things, which would have got censored in original writing, could be smuggled into print via translations, etc. What grabbed me the most on this re-read though is how, while rendering most European meters masterfully, he fails with Japanese poetry. His failure is spectacular in its own way, as he is the only Ukrainian translator (that I know of) who tried recreating the wordplays, but such wordplays become just puns & good clean fun in translations, which misses the point of most poems.

Title: Sakura Gari [2 volumes, English translation]
Author: Watase Yuu
Genre: yaoi, historical, manga
Book Number/Goal: 85/150

Gave it a try because the art is pretty, and the Taishou Era (which this story is set in) is not often used in manga, but the plot is nothing to write home about. It features some of the most unlikeable characters I have ever encountered, as well as the good old "rape is how love is spelled in Japanese" trope.
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([personal profile] taelle Jul. 30th, 2009 02:54 am)

Title: Прогулки по Парижу [Parisian Walks], read in Russian
Борис Носик [Boris Nosik]
Genre: travel
Book Number/Goal: 64/175

The author is a Russian travel writer living in Paris. He obviously knows the city well and has a lot of interesting details to tell, but I disliked his bias for Orthodox Christianity and against any revolutions and his propensity for self-aggrandizement.

Title: Four and Twenty Blackbirds
Author: Cherie Priest
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 65/175

The protagonist of this book had a number of strange things happening around her when she was a child, and when she grew up she finally had to find what it all meant. I love the type of thrillers which deals with someone dealing with family mysteries, and this is quite well done, with an engaging heroine.

Title: Everyday Life in Florence in Dante’s Times
Author:  Pierre Antonetti
Genre: History
Book Number/Goal: 66/175

The Everyday Life series include books of varying quality, but this one is well organized and clearly written.

Title: MAN, OH, MAN! Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks and Ca$h
Author:  Josh Lanyon
Genre: writing
Book Number/Goal: 67/175


Not many new writing advices for me, but an interesting look at the genre/

Title: Dead in the Morning
Author:  Margaret Yorke
Genre: mystery
Book Number/Goal: 68/175

A nosy college don deals with a murder in a family mansion; a typical cozy mystery, which was just what I wanted.

Title: In Search of London
Author:  Henry Morton
Genre: travel
Book Number/Goal: 69/175

Travels around London in early 1950s — both a travel guide and a journey back in time told by a man with a lively interest in people and an eye for description. I liked this book a lot.

Title: A Night in the Lonesome October/Doorways in the Sand
Author:  Roger Zelazny
Genre: fantasy, SF
Book Number/Goal: 70/175

Two novels in one book; the first is a fantasy of a kind, a story of some Halloween ritual told by a dog. The second is a SF mystery and the protagonist, though human, seems intriguing and entertaining. Liked both books

Title: Шик, блеск, красота [Chic and Beauty], read in Russian
Марина Серова [Marina Serova]
Genre: mystery
Book Number/Goal: 71/175

A female PI investigates a murder at a fashion show. The writing is flat, and the protagonist seems incompetent.

Title: Convergence Culture
Author:  Henry Jenkins
Genre: cultural history
Book Number/Goal: 72/175

This book shows how today’s culture works across many types of media and how the audience participates in all this. Lots of things to think about.

Title: The Partner
Author:  John Grisham
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 73/175

A lawyer who embezzled 90 million dollars from his firm is found and brought home for trial, but things aren’t what they seem to be. Clever and entertaining; I read this in 3 hours in a train. Interesting how the author found necessary to give at least _some_ punishment to the protagonist.

Title: Murder on the Menu
Author:  Beverly Byrne
Genre: mystery
Book Number/Goal: 74/175

Not a cozy mystery I expected, but a man’s journey into his memories with a murder as more or less a pretext/starting point.

Title: Calahari Typing School for Men
Author:  Alexander McCall Smith
Genre: mystery
Book Number/Goal: 75/175

Mma Ramotswe has competition in business, mma Makutsi starts a new venture and meets a man. Everything ends well, of course, and keeps getting me into a good mood.

taelle: (Default)
([personal profile] taelle Jun. 27th, 2009 02:46 am)
Title: Orientalism
Author: Edward Said [read in Russian translation]
Genre: erm... cultural studies?
Book Number/Goal: 59/175

The most useful books turn out to be those which make you exclaim "But of course!" and "Isn't it evident?" while reading, and this is just such a book. I mean, isn't it evident that no study of culture different from ours can be free of our own cultural prejudices and influences? And it all goes from there. And makes me want to apply Said's ideas to many other subjects. And I am so bad at reviewing.

Title: Death by Cashmere
Author: Sally Goldenbaum
Genre: mystery
Book Number/Goal: 60/175

Your average cozy mystery about a group of women gathering round a knitting shop in a small town. Good enough if you like cozy mysteries; also, I liked that the victim was treated with respect and shown in all aspects of her life even though initially he seemed to be a 'fast woman' or something like that.

Title: Fire and Hemlock
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Genre:  fantasy
Book Number/Goal: 61/175

First of all, I like books where characters read books. Maybe it's just me and my existence in the bookworld and connecting to people through books. Second, I like stories about recovering memory. Third, I was vaguely alarmed by a story about a girl's friendship with a grown man: purely innocent friendship, but such stories made me wonder about the man's motives etc. However, I was wrong: the memory of the girl's life shows that he wasn't all-important in her growing up - too much of family troubles, school, friends, sports etc., and also, the book does analyze the hero's motives in staying friends with a little girl. An interesting book, but somehow my impression of it is a bit in pieces, like this entry - maybe I should reread and think a bit more.

Title: The Horse and His Boy
Author: C. S. Lewis
Genre: fantasy
Book Number/Goal: 62/175

I should have read all the Narnia books when I was a child: I liked the ones I read then. This one... is dubious on many points, from the contrast between  noble North and unpleasant South (really, the only decent Southern person seems to be the tomboyish heroine, and even her main plot function apparently is to reassess the boy hero, forget her pride and understand his worthiness) to the flat nature of the hero's growth. The talking horses are much better, however: there are also two of them, boy and girl, but the 'boy horse's growth and development is more vivid, the gender dynamics are trickier and the horses, unlike humans, do not end marrying each other.

Title: Эта странная жизнь [This Strange Life], read in Russian
Author: Даниил Гранин [Daniil Granin]
Genre: biography
Book Number/Goal: 63/175

This is a life story of a biologist who through all his life kept notes of how much time he spent at which task, and generally developed a system of accounting and planning for his life. Not much of a biography, actually: the author was mostly interested in the planning aspect and everything else is too sketchy. Pity: I would've liked more of how it worked in RL and less of the book author's ponderings on the nature of time. Interesting subject, pompous writer.

Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austen
Genre: romance-gothic mixture?
Book Number/Goal: 56/150

insta-reaction )

Title: The Best American Poetry 2005
Author: ed. by Paul Muldoon & David Lehman
Book Number/Goal: 57/150

insta-reaction )

58/150 - four Gothic-themed stories that I'm counting as one book.

The Canterville Ghost, by Oscar Wilde; Sarrasine, by Honore de Balzac; The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving; The Camp of the Dog, by Algernon Blackwood )

Title: Maus [2 volumes]
Author: Art Spiegelman
Genre: biography
Book Number/Goal: 59/150

insta-reaction )

Title: The Wisdom of Father Brown
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Genre: mystery
Book Number/Goal: 60/150

insta-reaction )

Title: The Queen of Whale Cay
Author: Kate Summerscale
Number of Pages: 256
Genre: biography
Book Number/Goal: 2/50

Rating: 0 for an attitude dismissive of racism, among other things

Review: The thing is, I really really wanted to like this book. I read Kate Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, and I thought it was a great book, and that writing about history by showing the interaction of real events with their media coverage with the fictional accounts that were inspired by the real events and/or their media coverage was ingenious and helped you understand things better. What I got was disappointment increasing proportionally to and exponentially with my expectations.



Cut for race fail D: )

2If so, please read the citations again. And again. And again. And again...

Title: Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties
Author: Mike Marqusee
Number of Pages: 310
Genre: non-fiction, social history, biography
Book Number/Goal: #10 out of the 18 I've read so far
My rating: 4/5

Review: This is not a biography in the traditional sense, but rather an exploration of those past and contemporary events that shaped Ali and how he in turned influenced the events of his culture. I was surprised by his attitude toward the civil rights movement and moved by how he changed and grew through the years.

I was very interested by the connections the author made between Ali and the rise of Black Power out of the civil rights movement, by Ali's influence on American/African/International culture, and by Ali's relationship with his religion and his sport. A thread that runs through the book is Ali's opposition to being drafted and the stand he took on that. His words speak most clearly about who he was: "I know where I am going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want."

This is a passionate, loving and open look at Ali and the sixties, at what influenced him and the influence he had on both America and the world. A quick entertaining read, I enjoyed reading this very much. The only weakness with the book was the lack of footnotes. Notes on Sources at the end of the book does not make up for a complete lack in citing original sources.


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