Monday 19 October 2009

The Reading Lamp: reading east

Bellezza hosts the Japanese Literature Challenge 3, besides being a committed reader and blogger. She also sometimes sends me purty Japanese bookmarks in the mail.

Speaking of Japanese lit, I remember feeling a similar sense of wonder to Bellezza's when I first began immersing myself in it. As I can't recapture that feeling now, I'll continue to live vicariously through Bellezza and the JLC3 participants coming to the literature of the land of the rising sun for the first time. - Colleen

Your name:

What are you currently reading? The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Where and when are you reading it? Any moment I can catch, usually before bedtime. However, this Saturday I got up before any one else so that I could have a few pre-dawn moments in the living room to be alone with my book.

How did you discover this book? An old friend recommended it to me while we were eating lunch in the lounge one day at school. But, I'd also seen it on Lesley's blog so I was interested in reading it already.

What do you think of it so far? I'm amazed how an "old" subject, of prejudice and inequality in the South, can be presented with such freshness. I feel that I am living in the homes of the women whose lives we view, especially the Black 'help'. It tears my heart how much they gave, and the fear they lived in that their lives would be destroyed at the whim of some White person. I'm absolutely enraptured with this book.

Favourite childhood book? Without a doubt it's Charlotte's Web. I took that book with me, in 1969, on a trip to Europe. I was allowed to take ONE book, and that was it. I read it, and read it, and reread it, and it never seemed old. What that book has to say about friendships, loyalty, and death is impossible to convey with words. And yet, E.B. White did it masterfully.

Who is your literary boyfriend or girlfriend? (They need not still be living, or they can be a character in a book.) I wish I could meet John Galt from Atlas Shrugged. A man as handsome as he, but more importantly, as brilliant and independent, is my idea of a man. No wonder Dagny left everything, and everyone, for him.

What book have you hated so much you wanted to cause it or its author harm? These are pretty strong words; I've never wanted to cause any one harm, least of all an author. But, I don't understand how Toni Morrison can be so highly acclaimed. Her book Beloved remains one of the greatest literary mysteries to me."The New York Times found Beloved the best work of American fiction of the past 25 years; Time Magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005" (from Wikipedia). I disliked it, but I loathed Paradise more.

What’s the strangest/most interesting/creepiest/most amazing thing you’ve ever found inside a book? The most amazing thing I ever found in a book is the message of salvation found in the Bible. Every time I read the Scriptures I find myself with greater inner peace; every time I read the Word I find it new. There is always something to learn, and I've read the Bible straight through for at least 9 years in a row now.

Who do you talk to about books? My mother. My two Book Club friends. But, most of all, my book blogging buddies.

Does the literature of a particular country or region appeal to you particularly? Explain. I am absolutely enthralled by Japanese literature. The eastern perspective is so new to me, the style of writing so unlike what I've been accustomed to, that I can't read enough. Hosting The Japanese Literature Challenge for three years has really helped expand my understanding, and appreciation, of this genre because the participants' reviews are so enlightening. I've come to understand that a big part of Japanese authors' style is often to leave the plot alone; instead, they seem to focus on characterization, or a 'slice of life.' At first, I didn't understand why things weren't neatly tied up at the conclusion of a novel; now I enjoy pondering it on my own. For days.

If you're interested in being featured on the Reading Lamp, drop me an email at colleen AT bookphilia DOT com!


Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

This is a nice interview. The Japanese Reading Challenge has made me rethink the value of challenges a bit. Or a lot.

Heidenkind said...

Hello, Bellezza! I joined the Japanese Lit. Challenge a few weeks and I'm looking forward to it. I think I'm going to read Battle Royale, but that might change.

Anonymous said...

Colleen, I am so honored to be "under your lamp". Thanks for writing a post about silly me.

Perhaps the feeling you were thinking about when we first began immersing ourselves in Japanese Literature was, "Can I do this? Will I understand what the author is trying to convey because my culture is so very different from an Eastern one?" That's what I was feeling anyway. And, like any neophyte, I just jumped in oblivious to how challenging the task was. But, I've reaped so many rewards in the broadening of my own literature base, and the input from fellow challenge participants has been invaluable. In fact, if not for one of the JLC's, I wouldn't have met you.

So, I'm glad we jumped in together, daunted or not. ;)

Bookphilia said...

Amateur Reader: Me too! You should do that 18th century Scottish lit one you threatened a few months back...

heidenkind: Battle Royale is bloody bathy fun! Read it!

dolcebelleza: Oh you're welcome AND thank you again! I'm just now reading my JLC3 book for October (the month got away from me) and will be posting soon. :)