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A Bookworm Again

February 23, 2012

Well, I feel like I can call myself a bookworm again – 30 books in just over two months, not bad. The first fourteen are here, and here’s the rest:

15. Robin Hobb, Die Zauberschiffe 1+2 (Ship of Magic) (reread, German): The Liveship Traders trilogy is my favourite among what I’ve read of Hobb’s books so far. Partly because ships and sailing don’t often feature so prominently in the books I’ve read, so there’s less of the “I’ve read something like this a dozen times” feeling, partly because (as I’m sure I said in the Farseer review, I enjoy the world, and partly because I love all the characters (and might even have a bit of a crush on a few of them). Well, all except Kyle Haven. I finally figured out why he annoys me so much – he reminds me a bit of one of my uncles! (Shh, don’t tell him! My uncle, that is.) I reread it mostly because I wanted to find the little references to the Farseer trilogy, now that I’ve read that – it’s made one character a lot less mysterious, but now I have some serious pronoun confusion going on when I want to talk about her/him. If I’d known I’d love it so much, I’d not have bought this book in translation, but it’s not as terrible as the Farseers.

16. Leonie Swann, Garou (new, German): A sheep thriller. Having sheep as protagonists sounds silly, but it’s not. It’s often hilarious, and I had several laugh-out-loud moments, but it’s a … well, an intelligent sort of fun. Not silly. The way the sheep see the world, and how they always take idioms so literally – just funny!

17. Diana L. Paxon/Marion Zimmer Bradley, Das Schwert von Avalon (Sword of Avalon) (new, German): A case of my terrible must-finish-series syndrome, because I honestly find the Avalon books a little repetitive. Maybe that’s because of all the reincarnations… in any case, even though I don’t rule out the existence of reincarnation, I find books that treat it – or the existence of any particular deities – as a fact a little irritating (because while I don’t rule out reincarnation, neither do I rule out heaven and hell, Valhalla or any other kind of afterlife, or any other kind of deity, or the lack thereof.) So, I read it right in the store, and didn’t buy it.

Huh - quite a pile again - and I thought the last one was big!

18. J.R.R. Tolkien, Geschichten aus dem kleinen Königreich (Tales from the Perilous Realm) (new, German): Many years ago, when I wrote a paper on Tolkien for my English final, I kept reading references to the stories in this book – Farmer Giles of Ham, Roverandom, Smith of Wootton Major and Leaf by Niggle (and probably the Adventures of Tom Bombadil, but those are poems, only a few of which have to do with Tom Bombadil, not a story), but I think none of the libraries had a copy of them, so I didn’t actually read them.

Now I’ve read them, and I felt a little… underwhelmed. When I think “Tolkien”, I automatically also think “Lord of the Rings”, and these stories didn’t seem like they were written by the same man who wrote LotR. But then, Tolkien also wrote “The Hobbit”, and that seems similar enough in tone to Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wootton Major and Roverandom (by the way, I like the name Roverandom a lot. More than I like the story. Now I want a dog so I can call him Roverandom.)
Leaf by Niggle kind of struck a chord – with the way I’m stuck in my Kivailo world, I often feel a little like Tolkien, and I do tend to get bogged down in details.

And the Adventures of Tom Bombadil? They reminded me that reading translations is really a waste of time if I can get my hands on the original at all (I read this book in the store, because I’d stumbled on it. If I’d wanted to buy it, I’d have ordered it in English). I love Tolkien’s poetry, but translating poetry is terribly hard. There were a couple of poems that I knew from the Lord of the Rings, and a few that I read in library books all those years ago (only about seven, but it feels like such a long time ago!) These had the original as well as the translation, and I should still have The Man in The Moon Came Down Too Soon floating around somewhere, copied out of one of those books. I actually had to look for it online now, and read it out loud – even if I keep stumbling over words I never normally use (and who does use words like “inaureoled”?), I simply can’t read Tolkien’s poems quietly.

19. Melanie Rawn, Mondläufer (The Star Scroll) (new, German): Again, the must-finish-series syndrome, and again, a book read in the store. Too many characters, too much intrigue – I can’t keep track, and I don’t care about the characters enough to want to, either.

20. Robin Hobb, Mad Ship (reread, English) and

21. Robin Hobb, Ship of Destiny (reread, English): what I said for 15.

Wow, the to-be-read pile has shrunk! Both these stacks used to reach all the way up to the next shelf, just visible at the top of the picture. One is still in the bathroom, to read while I brush my teeth, and one in my bag, to read on the train and during lunch break, but I've made quite some progress!

22. Enid Blyton, The River of Adventure (reread, English): These books are silly, and it irritates me a little that the boys are always brave and the girls always scared of one thing or another (Dinah of all animals, Lucy-Ann of everything else), but I love them all the same. Mostly because I love Kiki the parrot, who makes me laugh.

23. Robin Hobb, Fool’s Errand (new, English): On to the next trilogy, and I enjoyed it as well (even if my head always disagrees with the protagonist on one character’s gender, which makes reading a little confusing.)

24. Enid Blyton, The Sea of Adventure (reread, English): What I said for 22, and why did nobody ever take me on holiday after I’ve been sick, and why has nobody taken me on this kind of holiday at all? Now I finally have the series complete, all in different editions, half in English, half in German, but I have them, and if they ever decide to mess with the text to make it more politically correct (as, I think, they have with some of Blyton’s books, it won’t concern me. Now the question is, do I want all the Famous Five books as well? There are, I think, an awful lot.

25. Karl May, Winnetou I (reread, German): This book was so funny! Old Shatterhand is the prime example of a Gary Stu – there’s nothing he can’t do, even if he’s never done it before. And if these books were published today, there would be so much slash fanfiction – because if him and Winnetou wasn’t love at first sight, I don’t know what is! Karl May can be dreadfully wordy, though, and get bogged down in descriptions – I honestly don’t care where every man and horse and tree was, get on with the story already!

But I can think of plenty more books I want to reread, and then there are the ones I want to buy...

26. Brandon Sanderson, Elantris (new, English): So this is what you get if you cross High Fantasy with a zombie novel…? I’m not quite sure what I think about this book. I liked the plot and the magic system, and the characters were OK as well, but the world felt a little… dry. Well, I guess I’m a little spoiled by all the Robin Hobb I’ve read, and I bet it is hard to develop a convincing and detailed world for a stand-alone novel.

27. Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (new, English): I don’t even remember when or where I picked this up. I had a really hard time with it – I spent long stretches being bored out of my mind, and if I read another word about fish, I will scream.

28. Matt Ruff, Fool on the Hill (new, German): Got this from a cousin who was downsizing her TBR pile. Not a book I would have bought for myself, and I can see why my cousin couldn’t get into it – I found it difficult myself. But in the end, I found myself caring about the characters more than I had expected I’d be able to, and I liked the idea of someone messing with people’s lives to create a story – how often have I said, “I feel like someone, somewhere, is writing a story about my life” when I found myself in a particularly odd situation.

29. Carol Lynch Williams, Auserkoren (The Chosen One) (new, German): Again, not a book I’d have bought myself, but it was a quick, enjoyable, if slightly disturbing read (had me thinking, quite frequently, “and this is why I’m agnostic”… people who are so convinced they’re right make me uncomfortable). And I like characters who read, and who read and like books I’ve read too.

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother putting books away if I'm just going to take them off the shelves again and pile them up against the wall to take pictures... but I need to rearrange the Fantasy bookcase anyway. I've added too many new books that should all go on the topmost shelf... Tolkien, Hobb, Canavan or Moers, one of them will have to move!

30. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (reread, English): I picked this up late last spring when I was looking for quick reads to meet my reading goal, but found I didn’t have the patience for it and dropped it back on the TBR pile. I think I was particularly irritated by the way he sometimes addresses the reader directly, which I then found sounded a little condescending. This time around I didn’t mind it, and didn’t even notice it unless I paid attention.

I think what made it easier for me this time (I’ve never liked The Hobbit particularly much) was having read Tales from the Perilous Realm – because I can see the man who wrote about the adventures of a toy dog, under the sea and on the moon, being the same man who randomly wrote, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit” (on the back of an exam paper he was supposed to grade, if I remember correctly) and went from there. Simply accepting that Tolkien sometimes wrote silly, whimsical stories as well, not just epics, made it possible to enjoy it much more.

And in any case, I love the songs. I literally can not read them quietly. And now I’ve put it in my mind to learn them all by heart. I need more songs to sing to myself to pass the time when I’m working alone, and it’s always irritated me that I could only remember a few lines of the “Far over the Misty Mountains cold” one (now I know all of four stanzas). And I find it pretty amazing that I can not read something as silly as,

Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
Pound them up with a thumping pole;
And when you ‘ve finished, if any are whole,
Send them down the hall to roll!

without singing it aloud. I never usually sing where anyone can hear it, but hey, this is from a book, no-one knows how it’s supposed to sound like, so I might not mind so much if anyone hears.

And it’s probably a good thing that I’ve refreshed my memory before the movies mess up my imagination. I’ll probably watch them, but I’ll grumble the whole time.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Deborah the Closet Monster permalink
    February 23, 2012 22:48

    In the same amount of time, I’ve read 8-9 books. That felt like an accomplishment until I read this post! Granted, I did used to enjoy a book a day . . . but it’s been many years since I kept up a pace close to that.

    I wish I could add more time to my day just for reading, but 30 minutes daily still does wonders for destressing me!

    • February 23, 2012 22:52

      Well, I was unemployed for much of that time, so there wasn’t much else I had to do. Now that I’m working again, I’ll slow down, and I’ll be surprised if I read a single book in May!

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