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August 06, 2008

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Rani's Books

  • Italo Calvino : If on a Winter's Night a Traveller

    Italo Calvino : If on a Winter's Night a Traveller
    Brilliantly thought-provoking in terms of a postmodern look at narration and readers and genres and text and, well, almost everything about books in general, but if you just want a good dreamy book to curl up with for escapism purposes, read Invisible Cities instead. (***)

  • Sarah MacDonald: Come Away With Me
    Edited by Sarah McDonald (1 star for the smug parent tales and 4 stars for the travel adventure tales) I think Sarah McDonald was overwhelmed with baby hormones when she edited this book. It purports to be a collection of short non-fiction tales from travel writers, but I think it is more correctly a collection of tales from writers who used to travel and/or who are now SMUGLY MARRIED WITH BABIES, prime example being Nikki Gemmell’s self-indulgent tale of a trip to EuroDisney with kids. Urgh. There are some exceptions which make great travel reading: the stories by Irris Makler, Nick Earls, Peter Moore, Tim Elliot and Christopher Kremmer are highly recommended, but the rest are sh*t. (****)
  • Jonathan Harley: Lost in Transmission

    Jonathan Harley: Lost in Transmission
    Stories of Jonathan Harley’s time as a foreign correspondent with the ABC based in Delhi. Greatly entertaining and it’s truly fascinating to learn about the frustrations and horrors of what happens on the other side of the news stories we freely access back home in Australia. (****)

  • Zadie Smith: On Beauty

    Zadie Smith: On Beauty
    Rollicking good read, but a bit of a disappointing ending (which reminded me that I hated the ending of White Teeth, too). With On Beauty, Zadie Smith goes back to her “Barbara Trapido”-esque style - which also reminds me to tell you never to read her second book, The Autograph Man, it’s dreadful. (****)

  • Sue Monk Kidd: The Secret Life of Bees

    Sue Monk Kidd: The Secret Life of Bees
    A very enjoyable and easy read – but a bit “light on” overall. Lily has been told by her father that she accidentally killed her mother when she was four. Amid mounting racial tension in the American South in 1964 (the year the Civil Rights Act commenced), this is Lily’s coming-of-age story, when she runs off with Rosaleen (her African-American nanny). The two are taken in by three black beekeeping sisters who worship the Black Madonna. (***)

  • Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner

    Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner
    Read this. It is brilliant – by far the best book I’ve read in years! It’s the tale of an unlikely friendship between a wealthy Afghanistani boy and the son of his father's servant. It’s pretty harrowing in parts but I think that’s why it’s so, so powerful and deprives you of sleep because you get addicted to reading it. (*****)

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
    Latin-American tale about the growth of love out of a marriage of convenience. It has some elements similar to One Hundred Years of Solitude, but I confess I enjoyed this one more. (****)

  • Anne Fadiman: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

    Anne Fadiman: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
    Essays for anyone with a love of books. (****)

  • Iain Pears: An Instance of the Fingerpost

    Iain Pears: An Instance of the Fingerpost
    A murder mystery, set in Oxford in the 1660's, shortly after the death of Cromwell. It is written in four sections, each in the first person, and each from the point of view of a different character. It's intriguingly different as it gives an exciting description of academic life at the time Calculus was being discovered. (****)

  • Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose

    Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
    Awesome murder mystery set in a 14th century Italian monastery. William, an English Monk, and his apprentice use humanist methods of thinking and logical deduction to solve the mystery of the monks who keep dying, one by one. [I agree with this one - Blog God] (*****)

  • Elliot Perlman: Seven Types of Ambiguity

    Elliot Perlman: Seven Types of Ambiguity
    A very intriguing story of some unusual events is told in seven parts by seven different narrators. I found it very compelling and I liked the technique; however, I have never encountered writing so "male" in all my life! (***)

  • David Gutterson: Snow Falling on Cedars
    The murder trial of a local Japanese fisherman sparks the narrator's telling of a beautiful coming of age story on an island community off the west coast of America during WWII. (*****)
  • Alexander McCall Smith: No.1 Ladies Detective Agency

    Alexander McCall Smith: No.1 Ladies Detective Agency
    Mma Ramotswe (who is a traditonally built lady - blessed with girth, rather than height) solves crimes and mysteries in Botswana. Heart-warming stuff. (*****)

  • Haruki Murakami: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles

    Haruki Murakami: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles
    I sure am grateful they translated this delightful book into English as my Japanese is pretty bad. (****)

  • (Editor) Frank Moorhouse: Best Australian Stories 2004
    By far the best story in this collection is one called 'Jump' by the very talented Ms Erin Gough (5 stars for 'Jump'). (*****)
  • Colum McCann: Fishing the Sloe-Black River

    Colum McCann: Fishing the Sloe-Black River
    I love a fine short story and this collection documents a fine array of styles and a great cast of characters in exile, loss, love, and displacement. A treasured gift from my friend Justin, who has learned the value of the short story during exam time. (*****)

  • Tim Winton: The Turning

    Tim Winton: The Turning
    I think Tim Winton short stories are ace. If you're looking for a Winton novel, read Cloudstreet - it's brilliant. Don't even consider reading Dirt Music - it's dreadful, dirt even. (****)

  • Mark Haddon: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    Mark Haddon: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    This just won the Whitbread. I think I like books that win the Whitbread Award on the whole. This book uses the really simple language of a 15-year-old boy, Christopher John Francis Boone, suffering from Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. (*****)

  • Isabelle Allende: House of Spirits

    Isabelle Allende: House of Spirits
    Glorious multi-generational stuff! Gorge yourself on early Isabelle as I think she's recently sold-out and gone all "Oprah's Book Club" on us. (*****)

  • Sarah McDonald: Holy Cow
    This painted imagery of modern day India so vividly that I had crazy dreams (like when I eat too much spicy food or drink spicy chai) while I was reading it. My friend, Erin, who accompanied me to India couldn't finish it because she found it stirred up all her repressed Indian memories. I don't know if you would get as much out of it if you haven't been to India - but maybe you would and should. (****)

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