Also, there was a fire in our apartment building yesterday! I'm okay, JV is okay, and our apartment is okay, because the fire was in the storage unit. However, that means that all of the stuff we (that is, JV) had in storage is probably destroyed or damaged beyond repair. It also means that our apartment is going to have the lingering smell of smoke for a few days because we're on the same floor as the storage unit. Gross, but probably not as gross as the apartments right under he storage unit. Those poor bastards.
However, on a note related to books, all of the old pulpy noir detective novels JV has that belonged to his deceased father were spared because a couple of weeks ago we decided to move them out of the storage unit and in with us! Thanks, asshole(s) who broke into our unit to paw through our worthless-but-for-sentimental-value belongings TWICE in less than two years—through paranoia due to your bullshit, you saved a valuable collection!
Anyway, The Avengers Book Meme Tag Whatever!
|Image courtesy My Open Sketchbook. You can read her answers too, if you want!|
I love doing this but I hate tagging people because I can never keep track of who's been tagged and who hasn't and then there's that awkward moment when you tag someone who doesn't read your blog or even know who you are. (I am bad at commenting and letting people know I exist, so I have a whole bunch of blogs where I'm internally like "OH YES YOU POSTED I LOVE YOU I'M A FAN" at every new post, and then when I finally Tweet or comment or whatever, they're probably like "who are you???")
So if you're reading this, and you'd like to do this meme and no one's tagged you, I just did! Go forth and book blog, young grasshopper.
Anyway, on to the meme itself!
Iron Man (a book that made you laugh out loud): Grejen med verb
I don't read humor too often nowadays, mostly because I'm too busy to read much that isn't either for Swedish class or on my TIME Top 100 (Adjusted) list. Would you believe that neither of these categories have particularly funny books? Go figure!
But, one of my teachers from last year is a proper, published author. In addition to some novels (that I haven't read), she wrote this quick, quirky, humorous little book on Swedish grammar. I'm sure I cracked an out-loud chuckle at some parts here or there. I guess an English equivalent would be Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, which I've also read and enjoyed. So if you don't know any Swedish, pretend that I just talked about that book instead of Grejen med verb!
Captain America (a book that sends a positive message): The Glass Bead Game
I kind of wanted to make this category the "are you for serious?" category, because I am unfairly prejudiced against Captain America, but I'll play by the rules. I had to dig and think a bit, but I think The Glass Bead Game is a pretty good fit. Hesse is kind of incapable of writing stories that aren't existential Aesops, so they all have this feeling of wanting to convey a message. I can get behind Hesse's mystical Buddhist-ish messages, though. In particular I like The Glass Bead Game's philosophy on the arts and education; in a nutshell, everything from literature to music to physics is connected and can be considered another variation on one universal theme.
I just realized I never got around to reviewing The Glass Bead Game here, but ugh I finished it months ago and I gave my copy away and reviewing ~*~the classics~*~ is so useless, so I guess I'll say: everything else was great but the ending was bullshit, as was the fact that women (for no reason) were excluded from higher learning and learning to play the Game. Hesse has this weird Othering thing going on with women and it's kind of a recurring theme in all of his novels.
Thor (a book with a character whose strength you admire): A Tale for the Time Being
There are a lot of books I could have picked for this category, but in the end I had to go with A Tale for the Time Being. There are a lot of fantastic characters in the story who have moments of tragic weakness and triumphant strength alike, but if I had to pick one character to top the list I think I'd pick Haruki #1. We don't meet him for very long, but when we do it leaves an impression.
Black Widow (a book with a kick-ass female protagonist): The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
So the BBC made a TV series based on this and no one's ever mentioned it?! I wonder if that means it's terrible. But wait, there's also a pretty highly-rated one on HBO?!
It's silly mystery fluff, sure, but it's fun. This was a book we had to read for Swedish class, and while I don't understand why we keep reading Swedish translations of not-Swedish literature (we've read one native Swedish novel, one English novel, and two French ones), The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was a welcome relief from the awful and stereotypical romcom we'd had to read prior. A competent, intelligent woman who has an awesome exciting life and doesn't go all man-crazy? Yesssss. Bless you and your holy work, Precious Ramotswe. The rest of the series is on my to-read list, but right now I don't have much time for fluffy vacation reads.
Hulk (a book that made you incredibly angry): The Martian
I have so many! The Incredible Hulk is my spirit animal, I guess—I have been known to hulk out over a lot of things, bad writing included.
There were a lot of contenders for this one, but after assorted disqualifiers (read it way too long ago, personally know the author and don't want to trash their self-published mess in public except OOP JUST DID, COULDN'T RESIST) I finally settled on The Martian because ugh. So much ugh in this book.
I wouldn't even mind the ugh of the book itself if it hadn't blown up in the way that it did. Like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, I shouldn't believe the hype.
Hawkeye (an underrated book you think more people should pay attention to): Doctor Glas
Okay, within Sweden this is hardly an underrated book—it's nothing short of a classic—but the main exports of Swedish lit seem to be August Strindberg (okay) and Lisbet Salander (uuuuuuuuggghhh). So I'm going to my part with this meme!
Doctor Glass is a fantastic novel and is possibly one of my all-time favorites. I've read it three? four? times now, and there is always something new and beautiful and heart-breaking. It's a short book, but don't let that fool you: Söderberg packs a lot of heavy stuff into not a lot of pages, and many of them are debates we're still having today, 100 years later.
The English translation by Paul Britten Austin, while over 50 years old now, is lyrical and on-point. I could only aspire to that level of work. If it's at all available near you, pounce on it. It's an underrated little gem in the world of international literature.
Loki (a book with a twist or surprise that tricked you): If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
It's not the hugest twist in the world—it's not some kind of massive plot reversal OMG!, more like an "Ah hah, I see what you did there."—but I liked what Calvino did at the end of If on a Winter's Night a Traveler.