August 2012 wrap-up

Here is finally my August wrap-up! I got caught in a major translation work, which limited considerably my blogging time.

I read 8 books, 2 being non-fiction works. Total of 1754 pages, that is 56.5 pages/day.

And I didn’t finish any audiobook, because the one I was in lasted 25 hours! – that will give a very nice audiobook average for September!

Now the terrible thing is that I do not have ONE review done for this month, except for the read-along!!

The books I read were:

Fiction:
The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov
Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver – review will be posted on Oct 29
Lucretia and the Kroons, by Victor LaValle
The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene

Non-fiction:
Cliffs Notes on Shakespeare’s King Lear, by James Lowers
Clairvaux Manifesto, by Kirk Bartha

Plays:
All For Love, by John Dryden
King Lear, by Shakespeare

My favorites this month:

 

Risa @ Breadcrumb Reads recommended All For Love, by Dryden, when she commented on my review of Antony And Cleopatra, by Shakespeare. I enjoyed it thoroughly!

Reading Challenges recap

Around the World in 52 books:  26/52
Around the world in 12 books: 7/12
European reading challenge: 9/5 – COMPLETED
I love Italy: 3/3 – COMPLETED
Dewey Decimal: 23/20 – COMPLETED
We want you to read French authors: 6/5  – COMPLETED (ends in August)
Books in translation: 11/10-12 – COMPLETED
South Asia: 5/7
Middle East: 5/18
My own reading challenge: 1/5
What’s in a Name: 5/6
Ebook challenge: 8/10
Audiobook: 9/12
Support your library: 36/37 – COMPLETED
Finishing the series: 1/1 – COMPLETED
2nds challenge: 5/3 – COMPLETED
Foodies: 1/3
Japanese literature: 1/1+
Historical novels: 11/7-10 – COMPLETED
New authors challenge: 32/15 -COMPLETED
A Shakespeare play a month: 8 /12
SHAKESPEARE READING MONTH: 1/1   –  COMPLETED
AUSTRALIAN LITERATURE MONTH: 1/1 – COMPLETED
DICKENS READING MONTH: 1/1  – COMPLETED
Graham Green Challenge: 1/1 – COMPLETED

Special events in August:

–  read-along, on The End of The Affair, by Graham Greene

Special events in September

BBAW
Bloggiesta and in the middle of it, my 2nd blogiversary!!
Read-along on Bel Canto
– I still need to write a post on 3 amazing Christian Orthodox books recently published, as announced 2 months ago!

Currently reading

– The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton
– Equal of the Sun, by Anita Amirrezvani
– The Aleppo Codex, by Matti Friedman
– The Merry Wives of Windsor, by Shakespeare

The End of The Affair: August Read-along, part 3

Books And Movies is organizing a read-along of The End of The Affair.

Section three – discussion post on August 17th: Book 5

Here is what is proposed by Books And Movies for the last part of this read-along. She was late posting, and I am too, sorry about that:

Spoiler warning: We will be discussing Books One through Four of The End of the Affair in detail, both in this post and the comments section.

Emma at Words and Peace, who is reading along with me, pointed me to this reading guide at Lit Lovers, and so I am borrowing some of their questions for our final discussion.

So I will comment here on the questions she chose:

Talk about the arguments Bendrix has with God toward the end of the novel. How does he move from disbelief to belief? How would you describe the nature of his faith…has he reached a final acceptance of God?
Bendrix discovers little by little who his adversary is, He is not the potential lover he thought he was jealous about. Shocked by this discovery, and discovering also there was a dimension in Sarah’s history he had no idea existed, Bendrix becomes more angry than ever and at then end of the novel turns all his anger towards God, though he does not officially believe in Him.
His actions and decisions are now colored by this anger, and his trying to get his own revenge, for instance by preventing Sarah from having a regular Catholic burial, not a cremation; also I think by his flirting with an interviewer’s friend, the day of the funeral itself!
As a believer, the author may have experienced this step in his own discovery and knowledge of God: it is not unusual for some people to  start relating to God in this way. Through Sarah’s own faith, he may very well be on his way to a final peaceful acceptance of God, the story ends before the reader could know for sure.

What feelings did you experience at the end of the novel?
I have to say I had to go back and re-read the passage with the bombing of London, and see Bendrix’s reactions and evolutions from there. I still did not much like the characters as a whole: even Sarah, the fact that she did not manage to explain what she was going through complicated the whole affair. It left me with a feeling of unease and sadness, though recognizing the quality of the writing, especially at the beginning.

Has reading this book in any way altered—or affirmed—your own beliefs? Has the book enlightened you…or not particularly?
It certainly emphasized my firm belief that communication is key number one in any type of deep relationship, and so absolutely for marriage. Sarah and Henry may have been able to experience some happiness together with this major ingredient. And she may have been able to live a profound and different relationship with Bendrix as well.
As for God, He is portrayed as a jealous and calculating God, a God made in the image and likeness of Bendrix!, and this is not the loving God I experience  and learn to love more deeply every day.

Now I would like to add something related to the movie, which I watched right after I finished the book.
I did find the writing of the book interesting and good, especially at the beginning, with reflexions on tha art of writing.

But I didn’t really like the characters nor the plot.
I enjoyed the movie much better, but it is an adaptation, a different book, actually.  I watched the 1999 drama film directed by Neil Jordan and starring Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore and Stephen Rea.
The characters are more loveable, even Bendrix at the end takes care of Sarah when she is so sick, whereas he flees in the book.
The characters of the atheistic Richard Smythe is changed into the one of a priest! And the goofy miracle through a hair stolen from Sarah’s corpse, is changed into a healing of the detective’s boy thanks to a kiss given by Sarah.

 

Section one – discussion posted on August 17th: Books 1 and 2

Section two – discussion post on August 27th: Books 3 and 4

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS?
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE MOVIE ADAPTATION ?
HAVE YOU SEEN THE OLDER MOVIE? IS IT CLOSER TO THE BOOK?

CLICK ON THE COVER OF THE BOOK
TO READ WHAT OTHER READERS HAVE TO SAY

The End of The Affair: August Read-along, part 2

Books And Movies is organizing a read-along of The End of The Affair.

Section two – discussion post on August 17th: Books 3 and 4

Here is what is proposed by Books And Movies for part 2 of the read-along:

Spoiler warning: We will be discussing Books One through Four of The End of the Affair in detail, both in this post and the comments section.

In The End of the Affair, Greene deals with three big topics. I thought we might discuss our opinion of how these themes are presented in the characters’ lives.

So I will comment here on the theme she chose:

Marriage: this is definitely not a happy portrayal of marriage. Henry and Sarah do not communicate, which I think is one of the most fundamental key to a successful and loving marriage. They both live in the same house, more to me like two independent renters.
Bendrix’s relationship does not seem to point to a happy idea of marriage either.
It might be interesting to remember that Graham Green was suffering from bipolar disorder, and that may have affected his own marriage with Vivien. He spent the last 30 years of his life with a woman he had known earlier on.

Passion: This does not seem to be too hot either!, but always lived for a purpose in mind for Bendrix. Sarah seems to be more genuinely passionate, but her passion does not seem to be strong enough to take Bendrix away from his self-interest and ego-centrism.
As for Henry, he probably does not know the word, just like Sarah reassures Bendrix that Henry, coming home at the moment when Sarah reached her orgasm, would not have recognized what that cry meant!

– Faith: now this is a very interesting element, and unexpected from my part. I have to even confess that I kind of passed over the scene of the London bombing without realizing this was the crux of the novel. Only when I read Sarah’s journal thorugh Bendrix’s eyes did I realize what was going on!!
At the beginning of the book, faith seems to be a very superficial element, not central, but then everything evolves with it, as Sarah made the promise to God to leave Bendrix if he survived. And survive he did. Sarah gets involved in more religious reflections and tries absolutely to keep her promise. But it is hard nevertheless, and her last hope is to escape her struggle by dying from a sickness before she feels weak enough to break her promise.

Graham Greene, though objecting to be considered a Roman Catholic writer, did insert the theme of faith and religion in four of his major works.

I’m not comfortable though with this presentation of God. He looks more like a cruel business-oriented God (I’ll give you this IF you do this) than the loving God I know and experience daily.

See you on Aug 31 for next section

Section one – discussion posted on August 17th: Books 1 and 2

Section three – discussion post on August 31st: Book 5

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ABOUT THESE THEMES?

CLICK ON THE COVER OF THE BOOK
TO READ WHAT OTHER READERS HAVE TO SAY