Friday Fill-Ins #126


1. It's cold and too windy to read outside without a blanket.

2. For me, a salad is spoilt with tomatoes.

3. My favorite health and beauty product is Nivea cream, it simply works for everything.

4. When we take enough good music with us, I can really enjoy a nice long ride.

5. Well, first of all I am on vacation and I don't need to do anything - I love to say that every morning to myself because it's true.

6. Many known but unnamed people; those were the cast of characters in a recent dream and it was chaotic.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to (Friday's already over and I have watched Volver by Almodvar), tomorrow my plans include taking some pictures of the nature in the sunlight and Sunday, I want to have finished Rebecca!

Thursday Thunks

21. How many states have you been in?
I guess, US states are meant. As I have been only once to the US, not many at all. I have traveled to Massachusetts, Florida and Louisiana and had stopovers in Pennsylvania and and Georgia. Makes 5.

22. If a sexist Man is called a pig, what is a sexist Woman called?
Why not also a pig?

23. You see the one person who you absolutely despise. If you were guarentee'd that he/she couldn't say or do anything back to you.... What would you do??
Nothing. There's neither fun nor honesty in arguing with a silent enemy.

24. How many states are to the right of you? And don’t give us a map to look at.
As I am in Europe, there are either all of them on my right or none, depends on which direction I'm facing.

25. You can go anywhere in the world for free. Where are you?
Somewhere like Australia or New Zealand to where the plane tickets are freaking expensive.

I'm neither drunk, nor spread out almost unconsciously on the floor, so I don't need to answer.

27. Are you a boxing fan? Do you think there will be a rematch of the Hatton-Pacquiao fight?
Can't say. I like boxing somewhat, but have no knowledge about it.

28. What is the most disgusting thing you have ever eaten?
Watery tomato soup when I was really really sick. I can't eat tomatoes since then.

29. Is it cloudy right now?

30. What is your dream job?

31. Someone gives you a $500 gift card to WalMart or Target. What are you going to buy?
I don't know Target, and I have been only twice to Wal Mart. Are there any electronic household things? Then I would buy a good mixer for everything and try to get the rest back in cash.

32. When you were little, what did you want to be "when you grow up"? And, how much different is your occupation now from where you thought it would be when you were younger?
I wanted to be a teacher for elementary school. Now I'm a student in politics and economy but have always helped kids around me with their homework or teached them some other things.

33. What was your favorite toy as a child?
My soft toys and puzzles. After I learnt to read, I basically stopped playing with toys.

34. How do you think these things up??
I'm not in charge, my cornflakes tell me all I have to do. :)

35. Why do you think so many "fake" veterans get away with pretending? Why don't people question them more (especially the media who eats up their stories?)
Maybe because we have our heads full of the horrors of war and do not want to open their wounds with too many questions. But the media should be much more critical.

36. What is the last place you had a good cry and why?
In my bed, with The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini). Sometimes, I could really see the parallels of Amir's life and mine.

37. What do you mean?
I mean what I wrote.

38. Which Sesame Street Character do you relate with the most and why?
I don't remember it very well. I liked The Count and Finchen (only in the German version as I discovered), she was a cute little snail, but I don't feel I related to them.

39. What song one would you listen to over and over if you absolutely had to?
Hoppípolla, Sígur Rós.

40. Did you ever make what you believed at the time to be a horrible mistake - that in hindsight turned out to lead you on the best path in your life?
No idea, I don't think I call anything I did and do a horrible mistake.

41. If you could change one thing on your person, what would it be?
My knees.

42. What’s your favorite show to watch on television nowadays?
I don't really watch it on TV (here we're always so many episodes behind), but I love Fringe. And I'm very eager to watch Weeds again when the new season starts.

43. Do you believe there is life after death?

What's on my nightstand - May

It's time again for "What's On Your Nightstand?" in the suddenly very rainy and windy end of May.
On my nightstand in May are not many books I am actually reading, because I am having a time in which I read one book at a time. So the other books besides my current reading Rebecca are all books that are waiting to be the next one.

, Daphne Du Maurier
The Voodoo Queen, Robert tallant
Moscow, a travel guide
Good Wives, Louisa May Alcott
A thousand splendid suns, Khaled Hosseini

Reading updates and May/June plan

I'm really happy my copy of Rebecca (Daphne Du Maurier) has arrived so quickly and I'm looking forward to read it, as soon as I have finished Slumdog Millionaire (Vikas Swarup).
So my reading plan for end of May->end of June should be the following:
- finish Slumdog Millionaire (Vikas Swarup)
- read Rebecca (Daphne Du Maurier) for the Classics Challenge, Royal's Romance Reading Challenge and my Fill in the Gaps List.
- read The Voodoo Queen (Robert Tallant) for the Southern Reading Challenge
- read Mansfield Park or Northanger Abbey or both (Jane Austen) for the Classics Challenge and the Royal's Romance Reading Challenge

I hope I am not overestimating myself and the power of my current vacation lazieness, but I will at least try to get that done before I start with my July reads: Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy), another Russian classic and maybe Atonement (Ian McEwan)

New books!

Friday Fill-In #125


1. Moving furniture around is my dad's annoying quirk.

2. Real holidays make you feel free.

3. My best quality is my ability to adapt quickly and never get dependent on things.

4. I haven't count the number of people that have gone mad because of the importance I can give to little details.

5. In nearly 10 years, I want to have my own stable place and stop worrying about what happens to my belongings.

6. Mixed fruit juice is what I need right now!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watch "Changeling", tomorrow my plans include doing some laundry and cook pasta with zucchini and Sunday, I want to go out for a walk!

Classics Challenge 2009

Okay, the Classics Challenge (April 1rst 2009 - October 31rst 2009) is again another challenge but I totally need to sign up for this one as I tremendously love classics!
But I'm also starting late and have other challenges to complete, so my list will only contain four classics for the Classics Snack level that will contain crosspostings:

1. Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca [x May 31st 2009]

2. Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
3. Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey [x June 2009]
4. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina [x August 2009]

And I read one book for the "Will-be-classics"-round:
5. Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner [x 25th May 2009]

Slow progress - no progress?

I think I've never been so slow reading a book as I am with The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. I've bought The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini I am very eager to start but this damn Faulkner novel doesn't want to let me finish it and go over to the next book! Terrible. I cannot even think how I am going to write a review about it, as it is difficult to read and doesn't tie me to the story as every good book does, yet it is very fine literature.

So, this was my Thursday complaint on Father's Day, which I am spending with my Dad for the first time in many years: after lunch at a restaurant, I'm doing my own stuff and he's snoring on the couch :)

Friday Fill-Ins #124

1. If we had no winter I would forever be stuck in my (fortunately light) spring and summer depression.

2. I can't stand those tourists whose favourite occupation is to stay in a perpetual astonishment.

3. If I had my life to live over, I would rather not - I want to see what's next!.

4. I'll be moving out of my place, moving into a friend's place with another friend's things and give these things to the latter as soon as possible to prevent any further nervous breakdown inside of four and twenty hours.

5. If you've never been thrilled to read a classic fairytale again, someone forgot to give you something important in your childhood..

6. To be interested in the changing seasons is to experience how a small death means a small life means a small death means a small life means a..

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to party party party as a newly homeless with a friend who just came back to Iceland to search for her mind she lost here last year, tomorrow my plans include visiting the Art Museum, buy and send a "Lost in Iceland" longsleeve to my mum and party again like a native and Sunday, I want to see the island Videy and get some last impressions of my soon-to-be former home, Reykjavík!

Royal's Romance Reading Challenge

Yes, I know it really doesn't look like me and more like someone hacked my blog, but to vary a little bit in the genre and try out the extra challenges in letters and such, I signed up for Royal's Romance Reading challenge.
Oh, and I thought the picture was cute. Did I mention that I secretly have been a huge fan of Sarah Kay all my life? (Yes, it's still me, I happen to be more than one-dimensional) The soft colors of this picture with the girl on it reminded me that a little bit, voilà!

So, hum, what was it? Right, 7 books from June 1rst to November 30th 2009 and their title or the author's name have to begin with one of the letters of the word R-O-M-A-N-C-E.

Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier [Kehl] [x May 31st 2009]
Odaantje, Michael, The English Patient [Kehl]
Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
Atonement, Ian McEwan [Kehl]
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen [Kehl] [x June 2009]
Colleen McCullough, The Thord Birds [Kehl: Dornenvögel]
Eva Ibbotson, A Countess Below Stairs [Kehl: Sommerglanz]

The list may change during my reading.

Steinunn Sigurðardóttir : Le Cheval Soleil

Title: Sólskinshestur (Icelandic), Le Cheval Soleil (FR), Sonnenscheinpferd (DE), in English that would be Sunshinehorse, but it hasn't been translated yet.

Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, is an Icelandic novelist and poet. I got this French translation from my Grandmother for last Christmas and did not read it until now. These last days I needed a book to fill the gap until the start of the Southern Reading Challenge, for which The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner is waiting, so I finished Sólskinshestur (for no challenge at all).

For a brief summary, I would just say that the story evolves around Lí's childhood and adulthood as the daughter of absent-minded parents. She is somehow brought up by her German housemaid, who leaves early and then by Nellí, a poor alcoholic single mother whose own daughter has been taken away. Lí blossoms out like a flower when she experienced her first love, but she ends the relationship to mourn it for the rest of her life. After an unsuccessful marriage that brings her to Copenhagen for some years, she leaves her husband and two daughters to come back to Iceland.

This book was very different from what I expected, maybe because I did not know that Steinunn was also a poet. The writing is very poetic and from time to time, parts of the story are presented in poems, about which is unclear whether they are Lí's thoughts (as she is usually the narrator of the story) or an unknown voice. Even if this poetic writing sometimes made a distance between the reader and the story, I was captured by Lí's life and the sad characters around her.

I loved her adorable brother Mummi and was intrigued by her cold mother Ragnhild, whose job as a doctor and the children dying under her hands have torn her apart on the inside and made her incapable of showing love and attention to her children. Haraldur is a father who tries to escape having the same behaviour as Ragnhild, but generally fails.

The character of Lí is broken by two things. First, the suicide of Nellí she discovered and never accepted as the truth (she invented that Nellí went working in the countryside) until she finds Nellí's daughter to tell her the story to realize it at last. Then, the loss of the love of her life, who brings the story's climax as he suddenly comes back to Iceland and makes of the past a possible future.

Steinunn herself called this novel her saddest story and it is true that I closed the book deeply moved by the broken lives it contained.

Disney Literature Challenge

I'm getting quite fond of those perpetual challenges, as it is very easy to convince myself that I'll be able to finish them some time in my life.
Sarah's Disney Literature Challenge is even better, because the point is just reading whatever I like from the books that inspired the Disney movies.

Surprisingly, I have read more books than I thought, or maybe I just don't always link the book and the movie when it is Disney. Concerning the folk stories, I won't list them here, as I want to concentrate on the novels as a challenge and I have read them all anyway (yes, including Mulan etc).

Books I have read:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving (1820)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (1865)
Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There, by Lewis Carroll (1871)
Peter Pan, by Sir J.M. Barrie
Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers (1934)
The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen (1836)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo (1831)

Books I plan to read:

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame (1908) [also on my Fill in the Gaps List]
The Once and Future King, by T.H. White (1958) [also on my Arthurian Challenge List]
The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling (1894) [also on my Fill in the Gaps List]
Bed-knob and Broomstick, by Mary Norton (1957)
Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne (1926)
The Rescuers, by Magery Sharp (1959)
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens (1838) [Kehl]
Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)

Southern Reading Challenge 2009

I'm joining a new challenge: Maggie's Southern Reading Challenge (15th May - 15th August)!
I have already read several Southern novels as one can see on my Goodreads shelf and enjoy it immensely. It even starts to be one of my favourite settings in novels, especially when the story evolves around the Civil War period.
As I have to read 3 fiction or non-fiction books in this period, I will choose some of those I already own and have to read anyway.

1. William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury [Review to come]
I wanted to start it rightaway, but now I'll wait until the 15th.

2. Robert Tallant, The Voodoo Queen [Review]
It's been on my shelf for some time now and I have finally finished the more general account Voodoo in New Orleans by the same author.

3. Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
It's becoming more and more a classic read when I see how many people around me highly recommend it. And because of its popularity, it is more likely to be available in a bookshop in Moscow, where I'll be this summer (*think practical*)

***Update June 26th 2009***

3. Kate Chopin, The Awakening
I just bought it so I will read it for this challenge - The Secret Life of Bees will stay on my TBR-list for a little longer until I find a way to borrow it somewhere.

Joy Kogawa: "Obasan"

Obasan is one of the books I had to read for the course "Canadian Literature & Multiculturalism" and deals with Canadian citizens of Japanese origin who are interned as public enemies during WW2. This highly autobiographical novel is stunning in its quietness. In fact, we encounter the injustice and horrors only through the timid eyes of Naomi, the little girl of the family, and through the outspoken and "adult" letters Aunt Emily (who actually manages to escape the camps) writes to her sister.
This story shows the vulnerability of children of immigrants, how citizenship and the thereby aquired rights do not matter anymore when the country of origin is declared war on. Third generation of immigrants, who call themselves Canadians by their culture and affiliation, have been ripped of their rights not so long ago in a country that adorns itself with the supposed successes of multiculturalism.
This book tells the story of those many people and is well worth a read, even if not everyone will like the style of writing or the constant switching between different spaces of time.


1. Apples are to oranges as vanilla ice cream is to chocolate ice cream: it depends on your mood.

2. There are days when not getting bothered and be considered invisible is simply your right and that's all I have to say about that.

3. I think I hear the little bell the neighbour's cat has on his neck under my window.

4. As I forgot to buy one when I was there, I am really looking forward to find a shop where I could get a Greenlandic flag.

5. Do what you want to do, but don't deny what you did.

6. Fluffy suddenly stopped to sniff what looked like a thrown up Chicken Teriyaki Sub and behind him was a Radio Flyer wagon; in the wagon was a bucket filled with Cheerios.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relax in front of some silent movies I found on YouTube and try to get rid of my headache, tomorrow my plans include studying and preparing some packages and Sunday, I want to study for my last exam (yes, I'm getting boring, but exam period is not a very interesting time)!

Joined "EW’s New Classics Books Perpetual Challenge"

So, another perpetual challenge (list if from Entertainment Weekly), but isn't it wonderful: I've already read several of them - checking things off at the very beginning of a to-do-list of any kind is simply pleasant :)

Here's the list (in bold the read books):

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars’ Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991) KEHL
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988) KEHL
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990) KEHL
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989) KEHL
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990) KEHL
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000) KEHL
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World’s Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985) KEHL
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003) KEHL
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989) KEHL
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002) KEHL
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991) KEHL
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators’ Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995) KEHL
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)

I do not think writing reviews about books I have already read from that list, only about those I will read starting from now.

Friday Fill-Ins #122

1. The first rule of working in an office and getting along is have a lot of humor but not necessarily show it.

2. Hope this summer my grandmother will prepare some clams.

3. When I think of carnivals I think of colors everywhere.

4. Violets are my favorite spring flower.

5. Things on my desk include a little wooden horse with the Icelandic flag on it.

6. The new Fringe episode makes me wanna get the next asap!.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to get some studying done, tomorrow my plans include finding a huge cardboard box and Sunday, I want to go for a walk in a hopefully good weather for once!

Constantly changing places is inherent to my life. Books have always been steady friends which I could bump into wherever I was all over the world.
Stumbling upon Kaminer's German stories of "Die Reise nach Trulala" in Reykjavík's city library is as moving as meeting the Icelandic sagas in Boston's Borders.
To see a book again, that I've read thousands of kilometers away makes me smile "Hey I know you.." and shake hands by thumbing through it for a while.