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Another crazy busy week, I can’t believe I wrote this post a week ago! Will 2023 soon slow down?
This past Friday, we had our book club meeting (online). With our format, each member shares about a book he/she recently enjoyed reading. I realize I haven’t shared about our titles for a while. As we talked about so many fascinaing books, i’m planning on sharing about them soon.
I took a major decision yesterday: I had been using EStories for several years. A great alternative to audible. Same system, but cheaper.
I was using it to listen to very recent French audiobooks. But recently, we’ve had some extra medical bills, so I decided to make the responsible choice to stop this subscription.
I can listen to a lot of audiobooks through my public library (though very few in French) or on YouTube (classics mostly).
The only thing is that now, I will have to read and not listen to brand new French books. Netgalley.fr has very few audiobooks so far. If you know a cool place to find French audiobooks, let me know.
Posted this week:
- Wednesday: My 2023 January recap
- Thursday: The top 7 books to read in February 2023
- Friday Face Off: The Ant Revolution
I finished 2 books this past week, actually my last 2 French audiobooks through EStories, by the same author!
JUST READ/LISTENED TO 🎧
🎧 Éloge de l’énergie vagabonde,
by Sylvain Tesson
Narrated by Léon Dussollier
Published in 2007
This is my 6th book by Sylvain Tesson, this should be enough to tell you how much I enjoy this author.
The last one I listened to was also about a long trip.
Another excellent travelogue by Sylvain Tesson.
With great, and depressing but true reflections on our modern society and culture.
On his bike, Tesson follows the major pipelines, going from Azerbaijan to Turkey, through Georgia.
There are great descriptions on the fact of travelling slow (with wandering energy, as opposed to oil and gas energy found in the pipelines), on foot or bike, on nature, and on people he meets along the way, but deeper than that, many times he highlights the appaling way women are treated in these countries.
Also, Tesson offers a balanced view on the energetic issue: indeed it’s terrible to have the pipeline go through beautiful territory, though at the same time, some companies are working hard to allow the soil and environment to regrow as it used to be, once the pipeline has been buried.
And alas, humans, in our industrialized countries as well as in countries in development, have many other ways to destroy the land around them.
It was very sad to see the youth in these countries forgetting their own cultural traditions, and instead getting trapped in front of video games and the like, just as they are in the US for instance.
Tesson also invites to more consistency in our judgments: yes, we can be angry at the way we deface and pollute the soil with pipelines, but we have to go further, and adjust our daily living. Are we ready to give up completely our car? To really live off the grid, far from TV, social media, computers?
Only the firm decision to do without all these and many more can efficiently save our planet. Unfortunately, very few people are ready to do that concrete choice, and maintainging a book blog that alas I’m not one of them, even though I have been trying to drastically limit my need in fossile energy.
Just like L’Enfer digital [Digital Hell] by Guillaume Pitron, ths was quite an eye opener and a slap in the face.
by Sylvain Tesson
Narrated by Micha Lescot
Even though I hate cold and snow, Tesson’s books related to snow, this is the third I read with that focus (The Consolations of the Forest; La Panthère des neiges), are my favorite.
I love his poetry like prose, but also how he inserts philosophical reflections, and down to earth remarks on life.
They are inserted here among his notes on 4 seasons of intensive mountaineering (climbing and skying) in the Alps (mostly in France, Italy, and Switzerland), along 4 different winters. With a couple of friends, he restarts where he had stopped at the end of last trip.
I also enjoyed the many literary references, due to the books he finds along left in shelters. All his passages on Rimbaud make me now want to read his book on this poet (Un Été avec Rimbaud).
The last trips are set during the first COVID years.
In extreme situations, you focus on what’s essential in life, on what can make you happy.
CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO
📚 Okamoto Kidō: Master of the Uncanny,
by Okamoto Kidō
Japanese short stories
Published between 1897-1931
Translated by Nancy H. Ross
Published in 2020
It counts for the Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club
I only have three more stories to read. This is a wonderful collection of slightly spooky stoties inspired by old legends.
“Born just after Japan transitioned from the Shogunate to Meiji, Kidō grew up in a samurai-oriented world being transformed by the West in many ways. As a reporter he covered domestic development and overseas wars, while also marrying a traditional geisha, eventually becoming a playwright and author. In addition to a number of well-received plays, he also penned more than fifty horror stories over a roughly ten-year period starting in the mid-1920s. Just prior to this period, the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 destroyed almost everything in Tokyo that remained from the Edo era, and Japanese horror itself was transitioning from the traditional uncanny stories to more modern horror structures.
While many of Kidō’s stories are retellings of tales from China and other nations, he also drew on a diverse range of traditions, including the heritage of Edo-era storytellers such as Ueda Akinari and Asai Ryōi, to produce a dazzling array of work covering the entire spectrum from time-honored ghost tropes to modern horror. The majority of his stories were collected in four volumes: Seiadō kidan (1926), Kindai iyō hen (1926), Iyō hen (1933), and Kaijū (1936).
Kidō remains popular for his elegant, low-key style, subtly introducing the “other” into the background, and raising the specter of the uncanny indirectly and often indistinctly. His fiction spans an enormous range of material, much of it dealing with the uncanny, and as a pioneer in the field his work formed the foundation for the new generation of Japanese authors emerging in post-Restoration literature.
This selection presents a dozen of his best stories: pieces which remain in print almost a century later, and continue to enchant readers—and writers—today. Finally, English-reading audiences can enjoy his strange visions as well.”
📚 Rouvrir le roman,
by Sophie Divry
French nonfiction/ Book about books
Published in 2017
Reading with French student F.
This is a book you cannot rush through, as the author discusses all kinds of issues realted to authors: do they have a social/political role? Is there such a thing as art for art sake?
We are having great discussions with my French student on this. She is very well-read, and from Mexico, so I appreciate her input from a Latin-American perspective.
“This book aims to discuss preconceived ideas that weigh on the conscience of contemporary French writers. The main purpose is to show that the novel is not dead, and that literature is worth it.
Sophie Divry offers solutions to reset the novel into a place of research and adventure. She shares her ideas for a literature that is more demanding, more lively and more tenacious, more necessary for authors and readers alike.”
In the beginning she speaks about editors set in their ways, who think novelists should not reflect and explain about their writing process, even though in previous centuries, it was expected the author would explain his/her method in the very introduction to the book!
📚 120, rue de la gare,
(Nestor Burma #1)
by Léo Malet
Published in 1946
Available in English as
Bloody Streets of Paris
It counts for The Classics Club
Reading with French student E.
We can’t believe we had never read anything by Léo Malet! This is so good that instead of reading the book in four weeks, we decided to read it in two, because we just couldn’t wait that long to know the end!
All along, we have to remind ourselves the style of the author was really new and sort of revolutionary in 1946. And he dared touch very painful topics related to WWII –even though France was still so much suffering from it– with lots of humor. That was quite a daring move from the author, but it works!
I have the feeling we may read book 2 one day…
“Set in France during World War II, this is Léo Malet’s first novel starring detective Nestor Burma.
Burma’s assistant Bob Colomer, having just arrived in France after being held prisoner in a German camp, is murdered at the Lyon station as soon as he reunites with his boss. Colomer’s last words, whispered to Burma as he lay dying, are the address 120 Station Street, the same address Burma had heard from an agonizing patient in a military hospital.
And thus begins an investigation that will force Burma to revisit episodes from his past he thought he had buried long ago, and that will take him from Vichy France to Nazi-occupied Paris.
First published in 1942, this passionate noire novel is a description of everyday French life during World War II, where rationing, division of territory, and Nazi-imposed restrictions serve as the backdrop to this tale of intrigue.
It sealed the birth of the French noir novel, a cocktail of suspense, humour, poetry and social reflection.”
🎧 The Wind in the Willows,
by Kenneth Grahame
Published in 1908
I am not sure I ever read this book.
It is so delightful, I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
Despite your differences, even in your way of living, you can be true friends and discover the world together.
I may have a hard time sticking to Spring cleaning when spring comes to my place, lol!
The narrator Andrew Wincott (available through Hoopla) is just FA-BU-LOUS!
“Spend a season on the river bank and take a walk on the wild side…
Spring is in the air and Mole has found a wonderful new world. There’s boating with Ratty, a feast with Badger and high jinx on the open road with that reckless ruffian, Mr Toad of Toad Hall. The four become the firmest of friends, but after Toad’s latest escapade, can they join together and beat the wretched weasels?”
BOOK UP NEXT
📚 I Am a Cat,
by Natsume Soseki
Japanese literary fiction
was first published in 1905
Translated by Graeme Wilson and Aiko Ito
It counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club
I have read many books by Soseki, The Gate for instance, but not this one, which might be his most famous!
“Written from 1904 through 1906, Soseki Natsume’s comic masterpiece, I Am a Cat, satirizes the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era. With acerbic wit and sardonic perspective, it follows the whimsical adventures of a world-weary stray kitten who comments on the follies and foibles of the people around him.
A classic of Japanese literature, I Am a Cat is one of Soseki’s best-known novels. Considered by many as the most significant writer in modern Japanese history, Soseki’s I Am a Cat is a classic novel sure to be enjoyed for years to come.”
LAST BOOK ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR
by William H. Gass
This might be quite ambitious (even just considering the size of the book), but what Sophie Divry says about it in Rouvrir le roman (see abook above) makes me really curious about it!
Have you read it? What are your thoughts?
“Thirty years in the making, William Gass’s second novel first appeared on the literary scene in 1995, at which time it was promptly hailed as an indisputable masterpiece (1996 American Book Award). The story of a middle aged professor who, upon completion of his massive historical study, Guilt and Innocence in Hitler’s Germany, finds himself writing a novel about his own life instead of the introduction to his magnum opus. The Tunnel meditates on history, hatred, unhappiness, and, above all, language.”
📚 MAILBOX MONDAY 📚
📚 An Astronomer in Love,
by Antoine Laurain
Translated by Louise Rogers Lalaurie and Megan Jones
Literary/historical (?) fiction
US publication date: June 27, 2023
Les Caprices d’un astre was first published on 01/12/2022
From time to time, a publicist sends me books translated from the French, and often published by Gallic Books.
I have enjoyed many books by Antoine Laurain (Red is my Heart is the last one I reviewed), so I’m really thrilled about this one.
“From the best-selling author of The Red Notebook comes the enchanting story of two men, 250 years apart, who find themselves on separate missions to see the transit of Venus across the Sun.
In 1760, astronomer Guillaume le Gentil sets out on a quest through the oceans of India to document the transit of Venus. The weather is turbulent, the seas are rough, but his determination will conquer all.
In 2012, divorced estate agent Xavier Lemercier discovers Guillaume’s telescope in one of his properties. While looking out across the city, the telescope falls upon the window of an intriguing woman with what appears to be a zebra in her apartment.
Then the woman walks through the doors of Xavier’s office a few days later, and his life changes for evermore . . .
Part swashbuckling adventure on the high seas and part modern-day love story set in the heart of Paris, An Astronomer in Love is a time-travelling tale of adventure, destiny and the power of love.”
Please share what books you just received at Mailbox Monday