Sunday, February 17, 2008

Books I'm reading

Book #10 Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks - two lifelong friends work together to grapple with the mysteries of mental illness and finding a cure. It starts at the end of 1980's and continues to WWI. I like the book, though it's very intellectual with pages of two characters talking about Charcot and the 'recent' advances (in the 1890's) of defining the pathologies of the mind. I like the ideas, though I find my mind wandering through some passages. In some ways it's like a textbook in fiction form.

Book #11 Being Dead by Jim Crace - Recommended by one of my online reading groups, it's a strangely fascinating book, starting with the deaths of the two main characters. While there's some 'yuck' factor, especially dealing with decomposition, the concept of death starting with birth, and what goes on in between, has drawn me into the book.

Book #12 Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi - I found this in a used book shop in Vientiane. I have The Vision of Emma Blau which is one of my TBR challenge books for this year, but I haven't started it yet. The first chapter is very good - and strangely enough, there's a parallel with Human Traces, as the main character's mother is 'crazy' and moves in and out of reality, and there's treatment in an asylum.


Anonymous said...

I have heard a lot about Sebastian Faulks but haven't read anything of his yet...this has encouraged me to give him a go. Do you belong to any on-line reading groups? I've often thought of joining one but just haven't made the time yet.
I should!

chanpheng said...

I've read On Green Dolphin Street, which is a much easier read. Human Traces has some great sections, and captures the spirit of the late 1800's, where there was such optimism in the world. However, it's difficult going in some places - he pays so much attention to detail that some sections are too long.

I belong to some of the online book groups at yahoogroups. I belong to a group on 21st cent literature (with monthly books and discussion), 20th cent literature, a short story discussion group and a few others. I've been so busy recently that I really haven't had much time to participate, though I do try to keep up with the reading. All these groups give me good ideas about what to read. Lao culture and people are wonderful - but they are not strong on reading or discussing books!