Intellectual, Hipster, Culture, Art, Books

Wednesday Reading Meme 2019-2

Since I just finished a book yesterday and it happens to be Wednesday, I'm resurrecting this book meme... I also documented my day yesterday for glimpseatmyday so I'll try to get that posted soon, as well as a general update about the past couple of days.

2019 books finished: 3

Just read

Grand Hotel Europa - Leonard Ilja Pfeijffer: Our book club pick. The premise sounded really good — a writer checks in to the classy, old but dilapidated Grand Hotel Europa to think and write about the end of his relationship with the love of his life — and the book got great reviews/won prizes.

I liked how the story switched between the present at Grand Hotel Europa and the past in Venice with the girlfriend. I liked the little stories within the story, like the protagonists' search for a lost masterwork by Caravaggio (though it's quite telling that the most Dan Brown-esque part of the story was my favourite part).

Overall though, I didn't think it was a good book. It was overly long and not even as well written as reviewers would have us believe ; the endless mentions of Italian street names wasn't as much impressive as boring (like reading directions on Google Maps), and then there were the great literary comparisons like "her titties were like titties". It's a verbose book, but that doesn't mean it's good.

There was the main character's sexism throughout the book that served no purpose — even more frustrating because it was combined with too many words trying to convince the reader that the main character is not an awful bag of dicks, whilst acting like an awful bag of dicks. There's the continual sexualisation of every woman in the book with the sole exception of the very elderly owner of the hotel, always describing women's bodies by using diminutive forms of words, talking down to women in ways that are very much "haha I will say something in such a way that sounds like I agree with you, but in reality I believe myself to be superior and you're too dumb to notice."

Also, the actual theme of the book is the author's conviction that Europe (as a continent) is past its prime, decaying, and is being destroyed by mass tourism from China and the United States. It's an interesting topic, but literally every character the protagonist meets in the book completely agrees with him and has A LOT to say about this topic, from a mysterious hotel guest who once belonged to the European upper-classes to the taxi driver who brings him to a restaurant, they're all parrots who agree with the author's opinion. They're not so much actual, living people than walking Wikipedia pages who all happen to have extensive encyclopedian knowledge about studies, numbers and graphs that endorse the author's opinions.

Anyway, I didn't mean to write out an extensive review of the book and so I'll stop here — it's just good to have these thoughts written down somewhere so I'll remember them when I have to go discuss this book at the book club in two weeks. A lot of people seem to really love this book and think it's so amazing, so I'm kinda hoping some of the book club members love it as well so I can ask them: "BUT WHY THO?"


Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood: Since I don't know yet what our next book for the book club will be, I picked up a book I was already reading before I started on Grand Hotel Europa. I enjoyed the TV series 'Alias Grace', but to be honest I'm not all that into the book (yet). It kind of bothers me that the main character (the doctor) keeps getting a hard-on for every single female character he encounters, including his patient ... that's gross.

Up next

The next book club pick, whichever book that may be.

Okay, time to get back to work ...
Intellectual, Hipster, Culture, Art, Books

Wednesday Reading Meme 2019-1

I saw this meme on falena84's journal last week & thought it would be fun to do as well, since it's now Wednesday again. I don't think I'll be doing these every week as I don't read fast enough for that, but I might use this format to check in on my reading progress every once in a while ...

2019 books finished: 0

Just read

It's been a while since I last finished a book. It was 'Patria' by Fernando Aramburu, which I read for my book club meeting of December 12th. I can't even remember the exact date on which I finished it (because apparently I can't recall that information on my Goodreads account? - or else I'm just looking in the wrong place). It wasn't a bad book but not a favourite either ; it felt too long and I didn't care much for any of the characters, so I often didn't feel very motivated to pick up the book and continue reading.


There are so many books that I'm in the middle of reading, but haven't finished ...

01. 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Brontë - page 220 of 353 ; my main read at the moment is the book we're reading for the next book club meeting. It had only been since page 200 or something that I'm starting to get into the story and care somewhat to learn what will happen to the characters. It's been slow-going because I often didn't feel super motivated to pick up this book. I haven't quite made up my mind yet about whether I like 'Wuthering Heights' or not ...

02. 'Alias Grace' by Margaret Atwood - page 75 of 545 ; I began reading this book right after I'd finished 'Patria' but stopped to give precedence to 'Wuthering Heights'. I enjoyed whatever little I read of it - the writing style reminds me a lot of the dialogue from the Netflix series (I keep reading the book in the actress' voice!). I guess Netflix made a very faithful adaptation, and I liked the tv show so I suppose I'll like the book as well.

03. 'War and Peace' by Leo Tolstoy - page 570 of 1522 ; I've already made good progress with this tome, but it's simply a huge book and I'm trying to read other books in between. I'm enjoying 'War and Peace' more than I thought I would, it reads more fluent than I had expected - but I'm a slow reader so I'm still not making very quick progress.

04. 'The Pillow Book' by Sei Shounagon - page ??? of 364 ; I LOVE this book. It's so incredibly fascinating. It's a collection of musings and oberservations written by a court lady in 990-1000's Heian Japan. It's rare to have such personal writing from more than a thousand years ago and written by a woman as well! It's amazing how this woman lived so long ago, on the other side of the world in such a vastly different culture and society, yet some of the things she writes are so recognisable in my 21st-century Western European world! However, due to the age of the text and the differences in culture, I have to refer to the author's notes at the end of the book a lot - which makes reading go verryy verrrryyyy slowly.

05. 'Belgravia' by Julian Fellowes - page 48 of 411 ; I borrowed this from the library in summer and enjoyed what little I read of it. It's a book about English high society in the 19th century (one of my favourite themes) written by the guy who wrote Downton Abbey (one of my favourite tv shows). I had to return it to the library when I left on vacation to Austria because I couldn't extend the lease until after my return, and after that other books took precendence so I never borrowed it again. I should though ...

There are more books on this list, haha - but these are the most important ones.

Up next

When I finish 'Wuthering Heights' I will continue reading one of the books mentioned above - probably 'Alias Grace'. The next new book will probably be whichever one we choose at our next book club meeting on February 6th, so no idea yet which one that'll be.

Nostalgia! Kid's Shows.

Had an awesome day today! Hung out with my best friends at the park, had dinner with my sister & parents, it was all very very cozy and fun.

But in other news:
I like to watch intros for old tv shows on YouTube, it's so nostalgic! I was doing that today and I tried to come up with a sort of Top 10 of kid's shows that I used to love when I was a child. Of course, there're a lot of shows to choose from, I was a child that watched too much tv. Basically that means that the selection here compasses everything I watched between the ages of 2 and 15, which is ... a lot. I've mainly put the shows I liked when I was already in my teens more to the back on my list. Also, it's kind of interesting how all of the highest scoring tv shows are actually Flemish productions! With all the crappy soap operas we make, it's easy to forget that we also made some epic tv shows - for children and for adults. Actor Jan Decleir is like a Belgian superstar. But now, on to my personal Top 10!

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Quirrellmort. (Song)

I've travelled the world from here to Albania,
I've tossled with vampires and I've seen how they hate.
Now I'm alone, and I just want to explain to you:
I miss your face,
On the back of my head.

It's not about ruling the world anymore,
Love has blossomed and it has opened my eyes.
Soon it will just be the two of us forever,
Two best friends,
One magic world of fun.

I want you to know:
Voldemort, I'm yours forever,
Through thick and thin,
I'll stand by your side.

Remember that time with the Sorcerer's Stone thing
We thought we could steal it, how silly was that?
Potter escaped, and his loving touch killed me,
And it's not mentioned once in this entire show.

This past year was the greatest term ever,
You taught me to live a little, and I taught you how to be nice.
The way things turned out, our alliance was severed,
But I swear to you now
I'll win you back someday.

I want you to know:
Voldemort, I'm yours forever,
Through thick and thin,
I'll stand by your side.

I may be a loser with a horrible stutter,
And the smell of garlic hangs over my head.
We argue sometimes, but I love when you mutter:
Quirrell I'm yours, now get me ready for bed.

I want you to know:
Voldemort, I'm yours forever,
Through thick and thin,
I'm there by your side.

I'll stand by your side.

- Brian Rosenthal -

  • No particular reason for posting this. Except for Brian Rosenthal love.
  • I don't know if there's already a transcription for this online? I think I got everything right, but I'm not 100% sure ... Some parts were a little difficult to understand.
  • Prompted by bircka telling me about a "Brian Rosenthal Documentary" that I am now going to watch *giggle*.
  • Been skyping with my sister who's in Leeds and I'm so jealous that she's there right now and I'm not ...
  • This post is full of small font ...
  • I am wondering if I have 'Jurassic Park' on video, because I feel like watching it ...

About books ...

Post inspired by a question at bookfails
I didn't feel like spamming the commentbox over there, so I'll post about it here.

Books read this year

* De Avonden - Gerard Reve
* De Geruchten - Hugo Claus
* The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - R.L. Stevenson

Whoa! That's ... not enough *sigh* ... I'm ashamed to call myself a literature student. It certainly felt like I read more, but I guess that's because I've done quite a lot of reading in December with Frankenstein, Heart of Darkness, Waiting For the Barbarians, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Hard Times ... B-but I'm definetely planning to start reading more from now on!

Books that failed this year

* Middlemarch - George Eliot

Actually it's more "I that fail" since this was required reading and I wasn't able to finish it. It's quite long, I started too late and it isn't the type of book you can read in one go, so to speak ... I still want to try and pick it up again. Though since I quite liked (even loved) the other books I've read, I guess this one was the biggest fail.

Books I'm reading now

* The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga
* The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera

The first one is required reading, but I'm quite liking it. The second one seems interesting, I've had the movie on my to-watch list for a while now so when I saw the book I really wanted to try it.

Books I want to read

* Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
* Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer
* Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
* Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There - Lewis Carroll
* Une Saison en Enfer - Arthur Rimbaud
* Kartonnen Dozen - Tom Lanoye

And many many more that I'm forgetting at the moment, I'm afraid. (And of course I also still want to read Middlemarch ...)

Books I want to re-read

* Crime and Punishment - F. Dostojewski

Currently lend out to some friends, but I definetely want to re-read it once I get it back.

Books I have to read

* Max Havelaar - Multatuli
* Kaas - Willem Elsschot

Required reading for Dutch Literature next September. I can't say I'm looking forward to it ... Especially since Iris already told me that I best start reading them in advance because they're very hard to finish ... and not very interesting ...

KKM Icons?

Two posts in one day? Well, it's not a first ...

Today I kept myself busy with this:

It's my first time making icons, hehe. PhotoShop was giving me a hard time so I only made three ...

The last couple of Kyou Kara Maou episodes I watched had quite a lot of little Wolfram, but I found that there weren't many little Wolfram images online?

The image for the first icon was taken from the end of epsiode 47 "Proof of Life". I personally thought that this was the cutest young Wolfram scene ever! But it was hard to capture it in an icon ...
The second one is from episode 45 "The Betrothed versus the Fiance", which is easily my favourite episode from the first two seasons.
I really love the image for the last icon, unfortunately I don't really like how the icon turned out, b-but it's little Conrart holding little Wolfram! 

Cuteness overload?
That was it for now, and I promise that this will be all for today ^^'

I just realised that I have Monday off, so I'm going to try and relax as well as getting some stuff done (I really really need to continue reading in 'Middlemarch' ... Ugh ...)