Deep Dive Book Club – Anna Karenina

I’ve finished it.

It’s long.

Very long.

This is probably the fourth time I’ve attempted to read it. I think having the audiobook helped somewhat as it meant I stayed with it on the drive to and fro work. But blimey Charlie it was hard work getting through it.

It doesn’t help that each character is called at least three different names, sometimes on the same page. From their full name, to nickname to another nickname. Which, as there are so many characters is confusing, and mostly listening to it, I also didn’t have the handy character list at the front to refer to. Yes it’s a quibble, but it is my quibble dammit.

With the audiobook, I don’t know when it was recorded, the blurb says “This is a vintage recording”. They’re not kidding, aside from the narrator often stumbling over her words, (forever known as Pismonounciations) and hearing pages being turned; the translation was from 1901 and included the N-word too.

In the paperback, translated a bit later in 1918, (in the same passage) Katavasov and Koznyshev are as dark as ‘Arabs’ with dust after riding in a horse and cart. Katavasov says ‘But I am not a negro! [marginally better] When I have had a wash I shall look like a human being!’ [Truly awful].

I know it’s of it’s time, and looking back even at Enid Blyton makes you wince now, but goodness me o.O

Konstantin Dmitrievich Levin is by far my favourite character; he’s sweet, humble and kind. I love how he felt so much for Kitty, he retreated away to the country; read philosophy trying to understand everything and where he fit in the world; how he shared his diaries to show Kitty he wasn’t ‘chaste’ before they got married, and also love that until Kitty got caught in the rainstorm with the baby in the pram, he wasn’t in love with Mitya his son.

I felt the same way about Archie, I loved him – but it was a few months before I was in love with him. I had this big natural birth thing going on in my head and his delivery was so far removed from what I wanted; the rite of love-warrior experience and feeling, it took a while for me to reconcile with the wee human.

I remember one night he was looking at me as he fell asleep, I was standing up, rocking him, he was tiny – he still fitted in one arm. His eyes grew heavy, but he kept looking at me. I told myself “You need to remember this.” And I have.

I’m enjoying the deep dive, if I can get hold of Maggie Gyllenhall’s version, I’ll give that a listen as her voice is like a warm bath.

Anyhoo, I can officially tick it off the classics list!

Deep dive book club

Here are the deep dive books I’m going to interrogate this coming year. I’m going to be too restrictive on this study pile as I’ve learned don’t box yourself into life too tightly! If another book speaks to me, it will get added.

Deep dive book club

From the left:

Steering by Starlight, Martha Beck

Wherever You Go, There You Are, John Kabat-Zinn

Spiritual Liberation, Michael Bernard Beckwith

A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle. I’ll be revisiting the handy chapter breakdown, 10-part series Oprah did too.

Australia Day, Stan Grant

Becoming, Michelle Obama

Everything is Figureoutable, Marie Forleo

Sane New World, Ruby Wax – not pictured because the book itself is in transit. I’ve listened to the audio-book twice though.

I’ll let you know how I go, and if through this self-imposed study I find the answers to life, the universe and everything.

2018 reading review, including my book of the year

In 2018, I was aiming to read 52 books. I hit 80 this morning on 28 December, I’ll explain why I posted this early at the bottom of the post.

For one of my “19 in 2019” I want to get to 100 books, which means less time on social media (can only be a good thing) and broadening my reading repertoire (can only be a good thing). The hardest part of getting to 100 books will not be turning books I love around to promptly re-read them – I will be strong! This year has been a period of growth for me, mostly thanks to two women:

  • Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule I read this twice and listened to it twice this year.
  • Brené Brown, with Daring Greatly and Dare to Lead which I promptly brought for the Management Team at work. Yes, seven additional copies. Mine is already dog-eared, highlighted all the way through. Both of these got listened to and read at least twice as well.

As you will see from the list, I’m also addicted to Agatha Christie, with a penchant for audiobooks Joan Hickson reading Miss Marple and Hugh Fraser reading Poirot. Agatha Christie has been a companion for 30 years, I don’t see that changing any time soon. I also finally got round to reading His Dark Materials trilogy, Book Club gave me a couple of books I wouldn’t have picked up, and also one that I could not finish. My rule of thumb is 100 pages plus my age; if I’m not in it by then, I close the book and move on.

Stand out reads of the year include:

  • Uncommon Type, Tom Hanks – damnit, the man can do everything.
  • Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern – a book I hugged with joy when I finished it.
  • Promise Me Dad, Joe Biden – read with tissues, then tell everyone you love that you love them.
  • Not My Father’s Son, Alan Cumming – I listened to this, then went back and watched his Who Do You Think You Are episode, which prompted the book. Glorious but heartbreaking and his Scottish burr in your ears is really rather lovely.
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat – I think I’ve watched the Netflix special eight times (see a pattern here when I get excited about something?) I ordered this for my Christmas present, to me!

Book of the year though, has to be Osher Günsberg’s Back, After The Break. I cannot stress how well this book captures what it feels like to live with ‘a different brain’ as Osher puts it. The book also addresses via Audrey his wife, what it’s like to live with someone who lives with a different brain. I’m up to my fourth reading of it, it is now a permanent fixture on my bed side table.

Thanks to the book and subsequent media attention, Australia is now, (at last), catching up with those who’ve been listening to his podcast and had heard from the man behind the TV presenter persona. Sharp suits and counting roses is one thing, but Osher is also proud about sharing his mental health and sobriety journey. I really recommend his podcast; Osher is a skilled interviewer, not being afraid to go ‘there’ in conversations. Also as they are long-form interviews, the conversations are wide-ranging, intimate and every single one of them brings an “a-ha!” moment.

What I really love about the podcasts though is Osher still getting goofy talking about his family, Audrey and Georgia. Audrey recognised how scared he was in one of his fragile moments and told him “It’s ok, because I’ll be there with you” which started leading him towards the light again. Here’s Osher talking about that moment with Todd Sampson – when Todd interviewed him after the release of the book.

I’m so bluddy proud of him. It has been an extraordinary year, Men’s Health cover and all. Here’s me, bursting with joy to meet him back at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival.

Happy Second Anniversary to all of you. I was going to post this review on 31 December, with my final number but brought it forward to today after he popped a wedding photo up. There was no doubt what my book of the year was as soon as I’d finished reading it.

Osher

 

Back to Basics

I have issues with Facebook, I need it in my life (apparently), but I hate it. I am out of alignment with it. I find myself comparing myself to others, wondering why when I am doing the exact same things, I am not getting the same results.

I am out of alignment with it because, I would rather sit with others and talk with them. Hold their hands when they’re struggling, laugh till tears stream down our faces, hug hello and goodbye. I love that I can see pictures of people I care about from here when they’re there. But I hate that I have to plonk myself down in front of a computer to do it. Most often, I use my phone. Which means, it is with me all. the. time.

I listen to audiobooks, podcasts and music on my phone. Check emails. The bluddy thing is ruling my life and I am all out of whack. I’m out of flow. I need it, but it’s running me. Not the other way around.

I took Facebook off my phone. I’m about to take other things off too. Go back to using my laptop, so I have set times and boundaries on the phone. Get my chi back.

Stream of consciousness I know, one thing I’m going to do is blog more often. Get the words out my head :D see what happens.

What’s happening next??

surrender2.jpg

Picture credit

A year of reading – February redux

Here was January‘s selection if you missed it, or are bothered *cough*

This has been a slow month, not sure for why, but I didn’t feel like I read much.

Deenie was a completely impulsive grab off a trolley in the library, read in one sitting and returned the next day. I loved Judy Blume growing up, I’ve still got Wifey and Smart Women on my shelves at home. However, after reading the exorable In The Unlikely Event last year, it’s fair to say her writing style is her writing style and has not changed in forty years. I will revisit Wifey and Smart Women again this year, and if I’ve grown out of them, I will pass them on to someone else who will enjoy them.

Gratitude, working my way through the Oliver Sacks back catalogue. This was one of the last books published, and is only four essays he wrote towards the end of his life. It’s slim enough to keep in my handbag, but at the moment it’s by my bed. Either way – I can’t bear to put it back in the bookshelf yet, as I keep re-reading them.

The House of Hidden Mothers by the gloriously talented Meera Syal. Although selected by BC, I would have read this anyway, as I love her writing. I love the seamless way she weaves India, India-UK, UK cultures, smells, foods, architecture, families – life. Since I read this, I’ve made no end of curries from scratch.

The Mysterious Affair At Styles, Agatha Christie. Introducing Hercule Poirot, not only through the first book with him in, but also to three Agatha Christie newbies. All of which liked it. Hurrah! We suggested they either read some of the short stories or a Miss Marple or even And Then There Were None next, as they all said keeping up with the characters was a bit hard work. This iconic book now re-set on Soldier Island (ahem) has only 10 characters and rattles along nicely. V said she wasn’t sure if she’d read Styles again, as she knew what happened. Both L and I said that re-reading them is half the fun, as the clues are (sometimes) there, and then the big reveal at the end is very much a part of the fun.

Curtain and Cat Among The Pigeons, Agatha Christie. Closing the loop, Curtain is the last Poirot. Both audiobooks, really well read by Hugh Fraser, I listened to these while pottering about the house.

Secret History, Donna Tartt. Reviewed on A Good Read last week, I ordered it from the library, but it had another back order behind mine so I would have to read it earlier than some of the other library books I’ve got waiting. It got bumped up the list, it’s one I read back in 2002(?), and loved it. It is so dark, so claustrophobic, probably better read in the winter, not in the summer, but I still love it.

Upcoming, is a revisit of The Rosie Project for BC2, Uncle Tungsten and Hallucinations from Oliver Sacks and I’ve got 6 hours left of Neverwhere to go, which I’m heartily enjoying Neil Gaiman reading to me.