Nickelini's 2012 Orange Reading

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Nickelini's 2012 Orange Reading

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Bearbeitet: Dez. 14, 2012, 10:39am

Dez. 11, 2011, 11:56pm

I know, my picture is probably more gold than orange, but I'm in a Klimt mood and this is the most orangey of his paintings that I can find. Anyway, my Orange TBR currently has:

We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel (P.S.) by Lionel Shriver (2005)
Home by Marilynne Robinson (2009)
The Enchantment of Lily Dahl by Siri Hustvedt (1997)
The Giant, O'Brien by Hilary Mantel (1999)
Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer: A Novel by Sena J Naslund (2001)
The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi (2001)
In the Forest: A Novel by Edna O'Brien (2003)
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (2005)
The Falls: A Novel by Joyce C Oates (2005)
Frangipani by Celestine Vaite (2006)
Love Marriage: A Novel by V. V. Ganeshananthan (2009)
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (2010)
The Colour by Rose Tremain (2004)
Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka (2005)
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel (2006)
Inheritance Of Loss by Kiran Desai (2007)
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2010)

Bearbeitet: Dez. 12, 2011, 12:50am

Sadly, I can only see an image that says "You are hotlinking an image from, Please link directly to the page on".

Part of me is peeved that they've done that, and part of me wants to know how. ;) is another version you may wish to use instead. I chose one with a nice orange tint. :)

ETA: Nice list of books! (Yeesh, ignore the books, why don't you Tania...) I've read a few of those, and I don't think you'd be disappointed with any of them.

Dez. 12, 2011, 5:42am

I love Tania's reaction to the image thingie!
That is a great list of books. I'm not even sure where you should start!

Bearbeitet: Dez. 12, 2011, 11:31am

Oops! You're right. I works beautifully on my other computer, but I've switched computers and now get the same message as you do. I'll come back to fix it later. Thanks for finding me a new version of the picture.

Dez. 12, 2011, 11:31am

There, it's fixed. And I like your image better, Tania, because it's smaller and more orange. Thanks!

Dez. 12, 2011, 12:11pm

I love the picture! =) And your list of books - many great ones on your list!

Dez. 19, 2011, 7:52pm

I found my husband a Klimt tie at the Vancouver Art Gallery gift shop this afternoon. :-D

Anyway, in books I will try The Hiding Place in January. I've tried this one before and was sooooooooo bored. I gave it away but it came back to me with positive comments. So I will give it one more try. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood.

Dez. 19, 2011, 7:57pm

I find it annoying when books I give away come back with positive comments. 1) I didn't want it so why is it back? and 2) now I feel obligated to read it!

I hope you overcome your dud first attempt and enjoy this one more the second time around.

Dez. 27, 2011, 12:32pm

Hi Joyce, great to see you here! Love the picture and your impressive list of Oranges! I haven't read The Hiding Place so I will be looking forward to see what you think of it!

Bearbeitet: Dez. 27, 2011, 4:06pm

In addition to my TBR Oranges, I also like to keep a list of what I've already read:

The Very Best
Alias Grace - fabamundo
Poisonwood Bible - one of the better books on the list
the Accidental - loved this one
Lullabies for Little Criminals - my fav Orange book yet

Better Than Your Average Novel
Bel Canto - different, very good
Ghost Road - well, you really should read the first two books in the trilogy first, and then it's all very, very good
Girl With the Pearl Earring - a great read for art fans
the Keep - interestingly odd
Unless - another really good one
Oryx and Crake - did I mention that I think Atwood is beyond brilliant?
Blind Assassin - worthy of all the awards and accolades it has received

Worth Reading
Larry's Party - better than average
Half a Yellow Sun - good but didn't like it as much as most readers did
the Underpainter - subtle
Five Quarters of an Orange - interesting enough
Ladder of Years - great concept; I'd have written it differently
Fault Lines - interesting, different
Digging to America - a good read, good characterizations
The Swimmer - another good one

Fugitive Pieces - very fancy, had it's moments, but not for me
Secret Life of Bees - a total potato chip book --good at the time, but causes a stomach ache after
Lovely Bones - okay
the Girls - slightly below okay
Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers - interesting
Time Traveler's Wife - very entertaining, but somehow shallow and unsatisfying
The Help - a page turner, but ultimately lacking

Hated It

So far, none that I really hated!

Dez. 29, 2011, 4:44am

"Alias Grace - fabamundo"

Good to know! It'll be my first Orange for 2012, really looking forward to it. Interestingly, all of the books (with the exception of the sublime Fugitive Pieces) on your "Meh" list, in spite of torrents of glowing reviews and recommendations, have never made it onto my wishlist. Rather pleased to hear from at least one quarter that my life will go on without reading The Secret Life Of Bees. I like my potato chips kept literal, or failing that, with a big cheesy chunk of Gothic horror.

Dez. 29, 2011, 7:21am

Loved Alias Grace too!

Dez. 29, 2011, 2:54pm

Ahhhhhhhhhh, I loved Fugitive Pieces, The Secret Life of Bees, The Time Traveler's Wife & The Help off your meh list. Nice to know that we are not all 'cookie cutter' readers.
Gotcha starred & waiting............

Dez. 30, 2011, 6:22am

The Secret Life of Bees and The Girls would both go on my Meh list, too. I did like The Concise Chinese-English Dictionary a lot more than anybody else seems to have done!

Dez. 30, 2011, 6:31am

I agree with rainpebble - some of my top reads were on your meh list and some of my most disliked books are on your top list - thats what makes us all different - wouldn't it be boring if we all loved the same things :)

Jan. 2, 2012, 6:10am

Love the Klimt!
Interesting lists, look forward to seeing where you decide to start.

Jan. 2, 2012, 6:27pm

We seem to have fairly similar responses to many of these, although Fugitive Pieces was on my favourites list for the year that I read it; I understand it's not to everybody's taste though, and when I am in other reading moods, that oh-so-beautiful language can frustrate me as easily as it amazes me in another mood.

Jan. 24, 2012, 12:40pm

The Hiding Place, Trezza Azzopardi, 2000

Rating: 5 stars

Comments: This has been a lesson in reading for me. I attempted to read The Hiding Place in 2010, but chucked it at page 50. I couldn’t get into the story, and I found the writing style odd. I was bored, and despite all the rave reviews, and despite the Booker Prize and Orange Prize nominations, I just couldn’t get interested enough to make more effort. I gave the book away. But the person I gave it to brought it back and told me it was really very good, so I thought I’d better give it one more chance.

What a difference a change in mood and frame of mind makes. This time the story and the writing grabbed me right away. Azzopardi uses a complex structure and sophisticated style that demands the reader’s careful attention. But for that reader , the book is highly rewarding.

The main part of the story is set in 1960 in the Maltese immigrant community of Cardiff (who knew there even was one?), and most of the story is narrated by Dolores (Dol), the youngest of six daughters. Her mom was a working class Welsh girl who ran away and then met Dol’s father, who had jumped ship in Wales at the end of WWII. He’s ne’er do well, a gambler, and an all-round nasty individual. Theirs is an extremely dysfunctional family. Dad gambles away the rent money, Dol is disfigured in a house fire, one daughter is given away to settle a debt, one daughter is a pyromaniac, and mom suffers bouts of crippling depression (hmmm, I wonder why!). At age five, Dol’s family disintegrates permanently and she goes into foster care.

Most of the story is told by the now-adult Dol, as she tries to piece together the events of her traumatic early childhood and make sense of the bits of memories. This, of course, makes her a highly unreliable narrator, and I see Azzopardi using this as an experiment in memory. Part of this, and what is key to the novel, is the use of silences—what is not said is usually more important than what actually is said. With each revelation that Dol uncovers, the story shifts a little, building toward a version of what really happened . In the end, some questions are left unanswered, because, well, sometimes life’s like that.

Recommended for: This is a fabulous book for the reader who can pay attention and pick up on the subtleties. Also, you have to be in the mood for this grim world of grinding poverty (I know sometimes I’m not). Despite their bleak lives, Azzopardi treats her characters with dignity. And although the ending isn’t particularly depressing, it’s also not a hopeful feel good story. Because, well, sometimes life’s like that.

Jan. 24, 2012, 12:42pm

There's an interesting conversation about the cover for The Hiding Place going on over at my ClubRead thread, if you are interested. It starts at post #71:

Jan. 24, 2012, 4:46pm

Glad it finally clicked with you!

Jan. 24, 2012, 5:01pm

Me too! I admire you for picking it up again. I rarely give books a second chance.

Jan. 24, 2012, 6:18pm

I rarely give books a second chance.

Laura, I know! If it hadn't been someone who's opinion I trust deeply, I wouldn't have. But on the other hand, I really should know better. I don't know how many times at university I read an assigned reading and didn't think much of it until after the lectures and class discussion.

But it's a good lesson for me . . . never write off a book or an author based on one encounter.

Jan. 24, 2012, 10:16pm

I'm glad revisiting worked for you! And it does sound like a fascinating book, although I'm resisting adding it to my wishlist, not in the mood for "grinding poverty"!

Jan. 24, 2012, 10:53pm

not in the mood for "grinding poverty"

Better in a book than in reality!

Jan. 25, 2012, 6:46am

#25> LOL!

Jan. 26, 2012, 11:59am

I have had some revisiting successes, too, and absolutely love that feeling; it seems to promise that any book can be the "right" book, if only you discover it in the "right" reading moment.

Jan. 26, 2012, 7:43pm

>20 Nickelini: - I found it interesting that the cover image for The Hiding Place is a pic from a famous photographer, and not just something designed for the book. My version is more like the black and white original than the sepia toned version. And I agree about the legs. ;)

Jan. 29, 2012, 11:29pm

We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver, 2003

This somewhat boring cover doesn't do the book justice.

Comments: Well, isn’t this a surprise! I really didn’t expect to think so highly of this book. I expected it to be manipulative and ultimately trite. I thought it would be a potato chip book --one of those books that is interesting and compelling to read at the time, but makes me feel sort of queasy after I’m done. Indeed, the book was compelling, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so well written, and for all the biting observation of our culture.

Readers looking for a book on school shootings may be disappointed in We Need to Talk About Kevin, because at its heart, that’s not really what this book is about. Instead it is about the murderer’s mother Eva’s torment on her own culpability in the tragedy. Her son, Kevin, is clearly a psychopath. How much did her lack of natural mothering skills contribute to his personality? WNtTaK is often cited as a nature vs. nurture debate, but I think this is a little simplistic. What the novel does fabulously is explore the cult of motherhood, and what happens when women don’t live up our society’s standard. The other thing that really stood out for me was Shriver’s gift for describing moments or small scenes, and her sentences and paragraphs are both lovely and unique. Clearly she is a gifted writer worth watching.

Eva tells the story entirely n a series of letters directed at her husband, who is distanced from her. Until about chapter 3, I found this distractingly awkward, but then I realized that she wasn’t really writing to her husband at all, and I was sure that she never mailed any of the letters. Instead, she was journaling her thoughts to try and process her experience raising an impossible child. She chose this format over the straight-forward diary entries because her husband was more often her adversary than her support, and because she never stopped loving him. However, because we’re only hearing her version of events, it raises questions about what is and isn’t true.

Based on several reviewer comments, I expected to dislike Eva. I admit that around page 76, I was growing a little tired of her voice. However, I realized that she was working through some extreme grief, and my annoyance disappeared. She occasionally repeats herself, and belabours some points, but I think it added to the story more than it distracted. Overall, I was surprised at how much I liked her. I also don’t for a heartbeat think that Eva’s parenting was the cause of Kevin’s extremely troubling behavior. I personally know people who didn’t bond with their babies, and people who didn’t bond with their mothers, and there isn’t a mass-murderer, or even a delinquent, in the lot.

As much as I liked the novel, it wasn’t perfect. I had a number of questions or concerns. Is it possible for a small child to be as nefarious as Kevin was? There was enough misbehaviour that was witnessed by others to see that it wasn’t her imagination. He seemed too much like Daemon from “The Omen.” I also had problems with her husband, and find it hard to believe that she would continue to love someone who treated her with such relentless condescension . Right from when she conceived, he stopped viewing her as a human being. I vehemently hated him. I would have liked to see her leave him with his precious son and see how he’d cope (and I’m not talking about a Saturday afternoon). Also, I find it hard to believe that she would ever leave her daughter alone with Kevin. And finally, I thought her forgiving and hopeful attitude toward Kevin at the end of the story was another bad decision. Having exhausted other options, I think he was just telling her what she wanted to hear. He’s still a psychopath.

Rating: 4 stars. I considered giving it 4.5 or 5 stars, but there were a few too many things that bothered me about the book. First, because of the somewhat false epistolary structure, it took a while for the book to click. I understand why Shriver chose this structure to tell this specific story; however, until I was wrapped up in the characters and story, it felt contrived and artificial. Second, while most of the parents’ poor decisions were explained quite well, there is no good explanation why all three of them didn’t go to therapy. Not that I think there was a cure for Kevin, but they may have averted several tragedies. Of course then there wouldn’t have been a story.

Recommended for: Because people have different takes on this, and because everyone who reads it needs to talk about it, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a fabulous book club selection. Also, it’s a book that a large majority of its readers deemed worthwhile (and an interesting number of the readers who rated it poorly didn’t read past page 50, if you can make it that far, you’ll probably be glad you did).

Why I Read This Now: Because I’m a huge Tilda Swinton fan, I know I’ll see the movie as soon as I have a chance, and I really wanted to read the book first. I think the casting of Swinton and John C. Reilly as her husband was excellent. And of course Orange January seemed like the perfect time to read this Orange Prize winner.

I don't think I've ever written a review this long!

Jan. 29, 2012, 11:58pm

Nice review Joyce.

I don't think I've ever written a review this long!

Long is good!

Jan. 30, 2012, 12:33am

I completely understand and agree with your review. I'm not quite finished We Need To Talk About Kevin myself yet, but can see exactly what you mean. I have also come to the conclusion that the husband never gets the letters. I have about 150 pages to go yet, so need to get back to reading!

Jan. 30, 2012, 2:20pm

Based on all this talk about it, I started reading last night and am about 100 pages in. After several past attempts to start, I have finally passed that hump and I am actually starting to like it. I think its funny that you mentioned Daemon because that's exactly what I thought when reading some of her descriptions of the child. I don't have kids but on the one hand, I have babysat kids who just wouldn't stop crying for hours and hours (and then perked up when mom & dad came home) so I get that frustration. But I am not sure I buy the whole psychopathic toddler persona though. It will be interesting to see how that whole thing develops as I continue along.

Mai 15, 2012, 6:36pm

Just updating my Orange TBR pile:

Home by Marilynne Robinson (2009)
The Enchantment of Lily Dahl by Siri Hustvedt (1997)
The Giant, O'Brien by Hilary Mantel (1999)
Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer: A Novel by Sena J Naslund (2001)
In the Forest: A Novel by Edna O'Brien (2003)
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (2005)
The Falls: A Novel by Joyce C Oates (2005)
Frangipani by Celestine Vaite (2006)
Love Marriage: A Novel by V. V. Ganeshananthan (2009)
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (2010)
The Colour by Rose Tremain (2004)
Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka (2005)
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel (2006)
Inheritance Of Loss by Kiran Desai (2007)
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2010)
Room, by Emma Donohue (2011)
Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Bearbeitet: Jun. 7, 2012, 4:01pm

And one I've read recently: Foreign Bodies, Cynthia Ozick, 2011

I like this cover because it's different--it drew me to the book.

Comments: Set in 1952, Bea is an almost-50 year old, divorced high school English teacher. She gets sucked up into the drama of her estranged brother's messed up family, and this takes her away from her boring life in New York to both Bohemian Paris and a Beverly Hills mental institution. The story was interesting, if you can suspend disbelief and accept that she would allow her brother to bully her relentlessly. And Ozick is a fabulously gifted writer. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but maybe it was my mood because the second half didn't do much for me. I think I was tired of the characters by then--none of them are particularly likeable.

The thing I really didn't like about the book was an undercurrent of nastyness. I'm not talking just "dark," because I like dark. There was something else unpleasant going on, and I wonder if Ozick is a bitter and angry woman. This is reflected in both the characters and her word choice.

Why I Read This Now: It's the only nominee for this year's Orange Prize that I own, so I thought I'd read it before the prize is awarded. I originally bought it because the cover description of it being a retelling of Henry James The Ambassador. I haven't tackled that James yet, but I'm a big James fan.

Recommeneded for: not sure. There's definitely an audience for this book, so if it sounds interesting, I say give it a go.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

Edited to say I'm changing my rating. I had it at 4 stars, but it doesn't compare to other 4 star books I've read lately. Or maybe I should raise them . . . anyway, 3.5 stars for now.

Jun. 7, 2012, 3:59pm

A Short History of Tractors Ukrainian, marina Lewycka, 2005

Comments: I was drawn to the quirky title of this book when it was first published, but didn't commit to reading it until it was nominated for both the Booker and the Orange prizes.

In short, the narrator, who is the English daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, is alarmed when her elderly widowed father announces he's marrying a 36 year old bombshell, newly arrived from Ukrainia. She, of course, turns out to be a nightmare who is in search of a British passport and as much material wealth as she can grab. Or is she just trying to pull herself out of a culture run by criminals, and trying to make a better life for herself and her teenage son?

Many people, including the critics that wrote the blurbs used on the book's cover and marketing materials, rave about how hilarious it is. I really didn't find it very funny, in fact, a lot of it made me quite uncomfortable. There were some horrible things going on, and they weren't funny. There is one point around three-quarters of the way through where the narrator says she can't take all the aggression, and that's exactly how I felt about the whole book. Too much bickering, too much unpleasantness. The only character I actually liked was Mike, the narrator's husband, and his role was minor.

Okay, there was one thing I found funny. A newborn baby is named after Margaret Thatcher. That was funny.

Rating: 3 generous stars. Although this isn't a terrible book, and I can see some of its merits, I just didn't like it.

Recommended for: Readers who follow the Orange and Booker prize nominees, people interested in the issues of immigration in the UK.

Oh, here's the cover:

Sort of a charming, but simple, cover. I've seen worse.

Jun. 7, 2012, 4:08pm

What very helpful and informative reviews you write, Joyce.

I've been dithering about Foreign Bodies but have decided against after reading your thoughts.

I had similar feelings to you about Tractors but I do like that cover. It has a nostalgic, sort of retro charm doesn't it?

Bearbeitet: Jun. 7, 2012, 6:50pm

Thanks for the kind comments.

Yes, it's a very nice cover. "Retro charm" is a good was to describe it.

Bearbeitet: Jun. 8, 2012, 12:09pm

Room, Emma Donoghue, 2010

This cover suits the book perfectly.

Why I Read This Now: it's my book club's selection for June. I was dubious, but since it was nominated for the Booker and the Orange prizes, I thought it might not be terrible.

Comments: This is another one of those highly popular books that I didn't expect to like. I thought it would be compelling, but ultimately vacuous. Something along the lines of The Help, or The Lovely Bones. But instead, it pleasantly surprised me, much in the way that I was surprised by We Need to Talk About Kevin earlier this year.

Room is written in two parts--when Jack and Ma are held captive in Room, and after their escape. Predictably, many readers prefer one section over the other. I liked the second half better. Seeing Jack finally experience the world, and seeing Ma trying to readjust, was fascinating.

I had a few problems with the first section. One was Jack's voice. His speech habits just didn't work--they didn't feel right. I know the author put a lot of thought and observation of kids into his voice, but it still felt inaccurate. My second complaint was that this section was too claustrophobic. I kept flipping pages to see how much more I had to read about their world before we could move on (and out of it!).

Otherwise, I really enjoyed the novel. It had a subtle sophistication that was unexpected. I will definitely read more Donoghue in the future, and I trust this book is very different from her others.

Rating: I'm going to give it 4 stars. I understand why some readers didn't like this book, but it was a good read for me.

Recommended for: pretty much everyone--it's a straight-forward narrative, interesting topic, and has garnered a lot of deserved attention from critics and award committees.

Jun. 7, 2012, 7:13pm

Whoops, I just asked on the "Room" thread if you like this book, and now I have my answer! =) Glad it was a good read for you.

Bearbeitet: Jun. 18, 2012, 2:19pm

Getting ready for Orange July, this is what I have in my TBR pile:

Home by Marilynne Robinson (2009)
The Enchantment of Lily Dahl by Siri Hustvedt (1997)
The Giant, O'Brien by Hilary Mantel (1999)
Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer: A Novel by Sena J Naslund (2001)
In the Forest: A Novel by Edna O'Brien (2003)
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (2005)
The Falls: A Novel by Joyce C Oates (2005)
Frangipani by Celestine Vaite (2006)
Love Marriage: A Novel by V. V. Ganeshananthan (2009)
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (2010)
The Colour by Rose Tremain (2004)
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel (2006)
Inheritance Of Loss by Kiran Desai (2007)
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2010)
Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout

I'm planning to read The Colour, as it's been patiently waiting near the top of Mnt TBR for too long. Others that I'm most interested in are Inheritance of Loss and In the Forest.

Jul. 23, 2012, 2:22am

1. on my computer, my picture in post #1 has disappeared. hmmm.

2. It's late in July. I am realizing that due to a series of other priorities, Orange books are not in my immediate future. I've noticed this in July in other years-- it's not a good month for me to read Orange books. So I will read an honorary Orange book in August or later this year. July + Orange just really hasn't worked for me. But I'm having fun following your Orange party.

Jul. 23, 2012, 6:29am

Thankfully, there's always January! We're glad to have you at the party!

Dez. 14, 2012, 10:50am

Getting ready for 2013. I haven't read any Orange books since I posted my last TBR list, but I've added:

The Lost Dog, Michelle de Kretser
Jamrach's Menagerie, Carol Birch
the Little Stranger, Sarah Waters

These are the ones I most want to get to are:

The Colour, Rose Tremain (I'm always planning to read this but never do--I think the reason I keep avoiding it is because my copy is ugly with mean, tiny print)
The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, Siri Hustvedt
In the Forest, Edna O'Brien
The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai (just because it's on every award list out there)
A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan (because I've liked everything else I've read by her)

Dez. 17, 2012, 2:33pm

ugly with mean, tiny print.

Ha! If you don't get to them, you'll end up with a whole library full of books you know you want to read but are aesthetically unpleasant. Obviously I can identify with this problem .

Love the picture you added, Joyce.

Dez. 17, 2012, 2:49pm

Ha! If you don't get to them, you'll end up with a whole library full of books you know you want to read but are aesthetically unpleasant. Obviously I can identify with this problem .

So true! I'm afraid of that, so once in a while I force myself to read one. My other strategy is to replace the ugly copy with a nice one. I try not to do that though because it gets expensive and seems excessive.