Saturday, July 9, 2016

Read in 2016: Non-Fiction books

Thank you for the kind welcome back comments in the end of the last post, friends! It's good to see you guys still around. 

So, to ease back into the swing of things, here are five out of 12 books I've read this year - non-fiction. I never used to be a big non-fiction reader, but this has changed vastly in the past few years' time, largely thanks to the other book bloggers. Looking at this selection of books, I realise there is nothing random here. Once I stopped eating meat, my focus also shifted to the other areas of human consumption, and I sought out some reads that seemed interesting.

Look at all the tasty non-fiction :)
Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer - 4/5
I had been planning to read some Krakauer for a long time, but didn't actually get to it until last year after seeing the movie Everest, in which Krakauer is one of the characters and which depicts the same events as Krakauer in his book Into Thin Air (which I inhaled right after I watched the movie - pun intended). So I bought two more of his books, this one and Eiger Dreams, the latter is a selection of essays about mountain climbing. 
Into the Wild was not a new story for me, as I had seen the movie a long time ago. Still, the book was enjoyable and poses some very interesting questions/dilemmas about what it means to be an individual in a society.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, Elizabeth L. Cline - 3/5
Much like the recent documentary made on the same topic, The True Cost, Overdressed offers a look into where our clothes really come from, how the cycle of a year in fashion has changed, and the catastrophic consequences it has had. Even without learning about this topic I never felt comfortable buying a nearly-for-free piece of clothing from H&M or some other fast fashion chain - not because I'm a snob but because I realised this price has to be paid by someone. Overdressed and The True Cost introduce you to the people who pay for many people's overconsumption tendencies. (For example, the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse.)

No More Dirty Looks, Siobhan O'Connor, Alexandra Spunt - 3/5
The better part of the last year I was struggling with an allergic flare, mostly on my face (fun times!) It was a face wash triggered allergy, which is what led me to read this book about the very dirty beauty industry. Some parts feel a bit dated by now (first published in 2010), but nevertheless it is a good introduction to the topic. I've since bought a few more books on this.

Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser - 5/5
The Best Book so far this year. It had been sitting on my shelf for at least a year until I decided to pick it up. This book is so thorough and so well researched. I usually do not add anything on the Goodreads once I finish the book (aside from the rating), but this I wrote after finishing Fast Food Nation:

Don't expect this to be anything like Super Size Me. This is a very serious, a very matter-of-fact, a very well researched book. More depressing than American Psycho, In the Miso Soup & Requiem for a Dream combined.

   Swallow This, Joanna Blythman - 3/5
... and continuing with "where our food really comes from". Sufficient to say it's also pretty eye-opening, somewhere in the middle I had the thought that soon I will not dare to eat anything... Good thing - it has completely cured me from the bad habit of getting some pre-processed foods from the store, ever. Cos it's not food, really. And I don't want to eat no-food.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The prodigal daughter returns

It's been almost a year! *virtual hugs to all the bookish people*

As usual, I didn't PLAN to stop writing, these things just seem to happen, the mojo goes away... But lately I've been really, really missing my good old book blog so here I am again. Now probably for longer, more regular time. And there might be some changes in the blog, but then again maybe not... I haven't got an elaborate action plan, I just miss reading and writing about books.

Yes, I haven't been reading a lot for this past almost-a-year. It's been weird, last I had such long gaps between reading were in uni days. I've read a whopping 12 books in 2016. A point of perspective - in 2014 I finished 100 books... Not that the numbers matter. It might sound strange but I have started to read slower deliberately, to get more out of each book and not just rush through. 

In other spheres of life, no major changes have taken place, except that I changed workplace. Well I did and didn't, I am still a media analyst and do exactly what I did before, but I just moved over to the Finnish branch in the same firm. That was one of my Big Goals for this year, so it's great to have it done. Still live with my hobbit and two furballs, still in the same place. I embrace the peaceful routine at this point of life, I do.

Oh and I also went vegetarian last autumn.

I think to catch up I'll make a little overview of the 12 books I've read this year next. It's been non-fiction heavy and interesting half a year. 

Say hello if you are still lurking around these corners, please :)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Summer Holiday Reading vol 2

Here come digital books I plan to read during my summer holiday.  

The Blade Itself, Joe Abercrombie - to be finished (90% done). I think Abercrombie is a good pick for the folks suffering from Song of Ice and Fire-withdrawal. Won't make my all-time favourites but it's decent escapism with some very interesting characters.

The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi - to be finished. This is a buddyread I'm doing with Michael from Knowledge Lost. The world has gone pear shaped and the remaining population lives in constant fear of mutating plagues. Lovely beach read.

Ubik, Philip K. Dick - I think everyone should have more Philip K. Dick in their lives.

Wastelands 2, edited by John Joseph Adams - anthology on the apocalyptic themes. I've always had a healthy interest (:p) in apocalypse narratives. I have ordered Wastelands 1 in print but it might take a while to arrive. The authors of the stories in this collection make me feel all kinds of excitement. Another lovely beach read.

Breaking Stalin's Nose, Eugene Yelchin - one of the first books on my Kindle, a very short read, yet I haven't got to it yet. The title is entertaining and I'm happy to give it a go.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betti Smith - one of the great American books. I don't care much for all things American, but I have a soft spot for some of their literature, and I think this would be a good pick as a holiday read. 

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins - two words: low expectations. 

Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell - I have no idea how this book got to my e-reader. But there it is and I suppose there won't be a better time to give it a go. Might be an actual, sarcasm-free beach read for a change.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Summer Holiday Reading vol 1

Context: for the half of last month, I worked 12-hour days. For the rest of the half, I worked 10-hour days. Given that, it's fair to say I am slightly overexcited about the prospect of 3 glorious, summery weeks off from all the editing and translating and arguing with an irrational client and "herding the sheep" (this is a joke, I love my team a lot :) ) 

This may also be why I have listed 15 books in my to-read list for three weeks (plus one day... a lot can happen in one day). 

Here are the print books:

Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger - a collection of short stories. Salinger's Franny and Zooey is one of my favourite books.

The Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch (about half way through) - the last book of the series was pretty much a miss for me, but this one has been going a lot better.

The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, Michael Booth - how is it that so many people seem to possess deep interest in Scandinavia/Nordic region, yet no one really knows anything much about it, not to mention dreams of living here? I'm afraid it might turn out a bit of a shallow read, but no doubt it will be entertaining, and at least semi-educating.

The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides - seems to be bit of a love-or-hate this one? Then again I guess Eugenides is... I'm pretty sure I'm going to love it because if you write like the guy who gave birth to Middlesex, it takes a sort of unimaginable skill to screw up a book.

Abaddon's Gate, James S. A. Corey - ain't no better combination than summer and space operas.

Apteeker Melchior ja Rataskaevu viirastus, Indrek Hargla -  the smart apotheka owner Melchior continues solving brutal crimes in medieval Tallinn. Bloody love this stuff.

City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett - so excited for this one! Looks very promising.

And that's about half of it, I will be posting e-books tomorrow!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Twinkle, twinkle, little five-star...

Been a bit of an odd reading year, this one. I've completed 37 books and given maximum score to only four. While normal for some, this is definitely a tad negative outcome for me, I'm not the type to "save" my fivers for the Life Changing Books :p Most of the books I've read have been 3-stars, there are a few ones among them (*cough* Not This Kind of Girl *cough*) It's been a mess, really, but on the other hand - those best books really stand out in the crowd. 

The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton - so back in the day (May 2013) I read The Innocents - a book that was said to be a retelling (gosh how I hate this word and what it represents!) of The Age of Innocence - and had some problems with it (of course I did...). So what do we learn from this situation? Don't fix it if it ain't broken. The Age of Innocence definitely ain't broken, and I recommend you read it if you at all like classic/American lit. 

Pirita k├Ągistaja, Indrek Hargla - keeping this one short since it is Estonian - this series by sci-fi author Hargla, in which chemist/druggist/apotheka owner Melchior solves mysteries in medieval Tallinn is getting better by each book. 

Caliban's War, James S. A. Corey - what's summer for if not reading chick lit space operas? The first in the series, Leviathan Wakes, was okay very decent, but this one really added some gears. I'm planning to read the third book soon - even if they say it's gonna go all downhill now. 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick - you know that movie Blade Runner? Of course you do. Well, even if it is very much the matter of taste, and apples and oranges, this book is so much better. Let's just say it made a whole lotta more sense. And the whole topic of animals is just so close to my heart. 

But Riv, I hear you say while counting fingers on your left/right hand - you said you read four five-star books this year and yet there are five covers on this very amateurish Picmonkey collage photo? Very observant! Because technically, I have given 

Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed - four stars on Goodreads. However! As this year is going as it is going, meaning not very generously star-wise, I realised this is definitely a top read as well. Especially considering it has kinda stuck with me, and it was the very first book I read this year. To say I was skeptical about Tiny Beautiful Things (What Dear Sugar?? I ain't that kinda girl...) is ... well, I was very skeptical. But dear heavens, that lady can write! Don't be skeptical. It's good stuff if you feel like being a little bit emo about all sorts of relationship issues.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

[insert those *Comfortably Numb* lyrics]

Hello (hello... hello... helloo..... yep, it echoes around here :p)

Well. Ain't it just convenient where I left off with this blog - the last post was made on 31st of December, 2014. I can honestly tell you it was not a planned disappearance - but it happened anyway. I ain't even gonna attempt to say anything other than if you feel like blogging - blog; if you feel like not blogging - don't. Clearly I've been feeling like not blogging for seven months now, and obviously I, at least somewhat, feel like blogging again. 

I had a blog slump, I had a major reading slump in the beginning of this year, it can even be said I had a life slump (HI, M!) -  it was pretty bad, let me tell ya. 

I miss my book blog. I don't miss struggling with Blogger, though, but I miss writing about bookish stuff. I miss my bookish buddies (if there is anyone still around, HELLO!). 

It is a bit ironic that I am writing this post and planning the return while having major workload and 10-hour days (at least) - but there are people who get more done the more they have things to get done with, and I am clearly one of them people. 

It's summer, I still live in Helsinki, with a hobbit and two cats, I still read books. I shall leave you guys with that for now, and cross all my fingers to still feel like book blogging tomorrow. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best and Worst of 2014

In 2014 I read a hundred books. I read tons of science fiction, and not enough classics. I read more non-fiction than I usually do. I finished the Harry Potter series. I read three David Mitchell books, and loved them all. I had slumps and sprees. It was a good year ^^
Here are my favourites of 2014, described in one sentence (as usual, best if not be taken too seriously):
Best in Fiction

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell
Quiet tension, sad fates, oriental setting, beautiful writing.
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
Epic family story, peels like an onion, beautiful writing.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler
Humans are awful animals, beautiful writing.
Best in Science Fiction
Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons
Great sci-fi books Great books.
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
Every nerd's comfort read.
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
Gender is overrated.
Best in Fantasy

Among Others, Jo Walton
Less is more - very quiet, subtle, and thought-provoking book.
The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch
Cleptomaniac & co, commotion & banter, cool sidekick.
Best in Non-Fiction
An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, Chris Hadfield
Inspirational - that is all.
Nothing to Envy, Barbara Demick
The real lives of North-Koreans are shocking.
Packing for Mars, Mary Roach
Funny, daring, will possibly gross you out.
Best in Classics
Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy
Life is a bleak piece of hell, and then we die.
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
Melodramatic, atmospheric, dislikeable, unputdownable.
The Biggest Disappointment
Disclaimer: I am aware that these are highly popular books. I personally didn't like them. I maybe *got* them, but still didn't like them. Tastes are different. The fact that you enjoyed them and I didn't does not mean we still couldn't be friends. Happy new year.
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
Nothing special, a mega annoying female character.
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
Plain characters, uninspiring, relying too much on shock value.
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
Confusing, too long, I don't click with Gaiman's writing.
The Fault in our Stars, John Green
Teenagers don't talk like this; John Green does.