Tag Archives: Book Club Forum

Unfinished books?

For a very long time (read: most of my reading life) I believed that I had to (as in the world might end if I didn’t, or at the very least that the book gods would be very displeased with me!), no matter how dreadful the task, finish a book once I had started it. I honestly can’t say how many books I’ve read cover to cover that I’ve read purely because I felt I had to finish them, and not reading because I was enjoying what I was reading. I fear it would be a fair few.

Then, a few years ago something changed. I don’t know what caused it (maybe creeping ever closer to 40?), but all of a sudden I just couldn’t bear reading books I wasn’t enjoying any more. The first book I really remember giving up on was Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult. God how I hated that book! If I had a zero book rating on my scale, or a minus book rating – that book would get it! I know that I am not alone, everyone I know who has read it disliked it, to varying degrees. Did I mention that I hated it? I gave up about 1/2 way through. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough, it was bad, bad, bad! (sorry Ms. Picoult)

Then, about 2 weeks ago I got into a discussion with one of the ladies at work who reads as much as I do. We were discussing books & I started telling her about The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak. I don’t personally know anyone who has read this, but everyone over at the book club forum who has read it has loved it. Yeah….I didn’t. Am I strange? Maybe, but I just did not enjoy it. My colleague had never even heard of The Book Thief, so I brought it to her to read. About 4 days later she brought it back because she just couldn’t read it – I share her pain! I found it boring, hated the narration by Death & just couldn’t be bothered to finish reading it. She felt the same. Ironically I had lent her another book a few weeks before that which she read in its entirety, but I know she did not enjoy it.

Why did she finish it? What causes someone to continue reading a book that they are not enjoying in the least, only to give up on a different one a few weeks later, for the same reason? Conversely, what makes a person come to the conclusion that life is too short to be reading books you are not enjoying? Have you reached that point? And finally – do you feel guilty about having reached this point? I sometimes do!

 

 

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Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I got Water for Elephants as part of a book ring from the Book Club Forum & it was a book I was really looking forward to reading – I wasn’t disappointed! I flew through this book & it was instrumental in getting me back into the swing of reading again.

Water for Elephants is a retrospective look at the life of Jacob Jancowski. It follows Jacob’s life from early adulthood, where he ends up working for the Benzini Brothers’ travelling circus as the resident veterinarian, tied in with moments of his present lonely life. Water for Elephants was easily the best book I have read this year & is definitely one that I will read again! (A rare thing for me!) I was swept away – caught up in Jacob’s story & the beautiful imagery that this book presents. My only disappointment was that the book ended, though I guess that had to happen eventually, right?

It was a very easy read – I read it in 2 sittings – and I would highly recommend that you make this one of the books you read this year!

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I'm embarassed to admit that I am a Canadian……….

I was searching through my unread posts on The Book Club Forum a while ago & came across a post from iisaying that she was addicted to this site: free rice – but it didn’t say anything else. I was intrigued, so I went to check it out. In the “About” section of the website, this is what it says:

About FreeRice

FreeRice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Program. Our partner is the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

FreeRice has two goals:

  1. Provide education to everyone for free.
  2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

This is made possible by the generosity of the sponsors who advertise on this site.

Whether you are CEO of a large corporation or a street child in a poor country, improving your education can improve your life. It is a great investment in yourself.

Perhaps even greater is the investment your donated rice makes in hungry human beings, enabling them to function and be productive. Somewhere in the world, a person is eating rice that you helped provide. Thank you.

So, I’ve been playing & have so far have donated over 2000 grains of rice – while having fun learning the meaning of new words & testing my world geography. While taking a break from trying to tell the location of Uzbekistan from Tajikistan Afghanistan and Turkmenistan I decided to have a wander around the website & found Poverty.com, which lead to this post. I read the front page & then went on to the “A solution” section, which lead to the embarrassment at being Canadian.

Annually donating 0.7% of our National Income shouldn’t be a difficult thing to do – otherwise why would we have agreed to the initiative? Thing is though, how many Canadians are actually aware that our government has agreed to this? I wasn’t aware.  Were you? 0.7% per person isn’t a great amount (for me it would be about £168 – which I would gladly give the UN if it meant we eliminated world hunger!

So far only 5 countries have met the pledge they made – Sweden, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway & Denmark. The rest of the 22 countries are severely lagging behind! 6 countries haven’t even identified when they expect to have reached the 0.7% goal – Canada amongst them.

From Poverty.com:

“Why the 0.7% Agreement?

The countries made this agreement because they realized that it was hard for each country on its own to give a consistent, minimum level of aid each year. Despite good intentions, a country would find that the aid it wanted to give was eaten away by competing political interests, concern about budget deficits, “problems at home,” “problems abroad,” and so on. So they agreed to a minimal, flat rate that each country could afford each year regardless of its current political or economic state.

The 0.7% figure may sound complicated, but it is actually quite simple. You take the total income earned by all the people in the country and then the government gives 0.7% (seven tenths of one percent) of that as aid. Or to look at it another way: for every $100 earned in the country, the country gives 70 cents in aid.

How are the countries doing?

… five countries have already met the goal to give 0.7% of their income in international aid: Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

In 2002 and 2003, five other countries set up a schedule to give 0.7%: Belgium, Ireland, Finland, France, and Spain.

In July 2004, the United Kingdom set up a schedule to give 0.7%.

In April 2005, Germany set up a schedule to give 0.7%.

In May 2005, Austria, Greece, Italy, and Portugal set up a schedule to give 0.7%.

It was not easy for many of the countries to set up a schedule to reach the 0.7% goal. In some cases, such as Britain and Germany, it took the combined effort of many thousands of citizens writing and petitioning their government to get it done.

The remaining six countries

Only six countries have not yet set up a schedule to give 0.7%. These are Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States. To raise the $195 billion a year, these six will need to reach the goal.

These six countries are all democracies. All that is necessary for them to reach the 0.7% goal is for enough of their citizens to show their support.”

So – about the support – give yours, please. Print off the letter that is provided & send it off to Ottawa (or Washington, Downing Street, Canberra, Tokyo, or Wellington depending upon your nationality) & encourage your friends/family to do the same. It’s literally the least we could do – lets force our collective governments to honour the pledges they have made! Lets make our actions & voices speak louder than our government’s empty promises!

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Global Reading Challenge ~ Country #187) The United States of America

The Camel BookmobileThe blurb from the back of the book:

Deep in the heart of the dusty Kenyan desert a train of heavily laden camels wind their way slowly through the bush.

The camels’ panniers are stuffed to bursting, not with grain or medical supplies, but with books of every imaginable variety.

Mididima is a nomadic settlement so tiny that it ia almost invisible. Into this remote world comes an unexpected wealth of literature – tips on surviving an avalanche, the adventures of Tom Sawyer, vegetarian cookbooks: all are eagerly devoured under the blazing Kenyan sun.

Volunteer Fi Sweeney, her heart filled with passion and possibilities, is surprised to discover that the project divides friends and neighbours. To Kanika, who reads every book she can lay her hands on, the Camel Bookmobile brings hope. But to some it represents the inevitable destruction of a fragile way of life…

The Camel Bookmobile came to me as part of a book ring from Chimera from the Book Club Forum & I decided to use it as my selection for the USA, for my Global Reading Challenge. The book is about Fi Sweeney, an American Librarian who has volunteered to go to Kenya to operate the Camel Bookmobile project, which takes books into the far deserted recesses of Kenya, providing a traveling library for people who otherwise would not have the oportunity to read books. The book is also about the tiny community of Mididima: a nomadic community, some of whose citizens can read & were educated in the Distant City, others who were taught to read but are not “book educated” (as in they never atteneded school)& still others who are illiterate and look  upon the Camel Bookmobile as the degrading of their culture.

I have to admit that I was really torn about this book. The Camel Bookmobile does exist & that is what made me so torn. I am an avid reader & really do believe that books are vitally important to a modern society, but the people of Mididima are not a modern culture. They are a culture rich in tradition – tradition which is handed down to them from elders to the young & I have a hard time believing that books like those mentioned in The Camel Bookmobile have any place in a place like Mididima. (Like Snow Sense: Staying Alive in an Avalanche – This IS Kenya, after all.)

At the same time I think that anyone who wants to should be given the opportunity to read as much as they want & as varied a choice of books as they would like. So, I guess the real issue is this: Is it possible to introduce something like books to an ancient society, like that in Mididima without destroying their culture, without upsetting the delicate balance that exists within their society?

In a nutshell, that’s the 2 sides to this book and I guess you will have to read the book to see what happens.

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Harper Connelly Series by Charlaine Harris

Grave SightGrave SurpriseAn ice cold grave

I received these books as part of a book ring from a lovely lady called Gyre, on The Book Club Forum. The reviews I have read have been favourable, to a man & everyone in the ring so far has absolutely loved them. I wish I could say that I was in that camp, but I am not. I tried soooooooo hard to love these books but that is incredibly difficult to do when you hate the main character! (Sorry Gyre, I really really tried!)

The premis of the books is excellent & I can honestly say I have never heard of anyone else writing books about someone being “in tune” with dead bodies & being able to find them, so in that respect the idea behind the books is brilliant. Harper Connolly was struck by lightening as a young teen & left with the dubious “gift” of being able to find dead bodies (as long as the general location of that body was a known factor), which she has crafted into a form of employment for her brother & herself.

Unfortunately I passionately disliked the main character(s), so didn’t really enjoy the series. I read all of the first book, half of the second & skipped the third. Then, because I was part of a book ring I have struggled with what to say here because I really desperately wanted to like these books & I really don’t want to hurt the feelings of the lovely person who so kindly lent them out to all of us! Suffice to say that these books were not for me – that is enough.

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