Top 10 Favorite Quotes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for the list lovers among book bloggers, created and hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today the theme is “Top Ten Top Ten Favorite Quotes from Books”. Oh, how to choose? There are so many… Let’s see:

One in keeping with the theme of this blog:

How do you lose a word? Does it vanish into your memory, like an old toy in a cupboard, and lie hidden in the cobwebs and dust, waiting to be cleaned out or rediscovered?
― Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide

One for my “other” theme:

The original is unfaithful to the translation.
― Jorge Luis Borges

One more by Borges, to complete the description of this blog in 3 quotes:

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
― Jorge Luis Borges

One because it fits our recent discussion on fairy tales:

Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
― G.K. Chesterton

One for my eyes:

All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

One for books:

Every book, every volume […] has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.
― Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

Which in turn results in this:

Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times? […] As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar.
― Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

One to represent the perfect opening lines of a story:

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
― John R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Or maybe the perfect opening is this:

It was a nice day.
All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn’t been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one.
― Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens

And the perfect ending?

I think we ought to live happily ever after.
― Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle

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Top Unconventional Tips for Book Bloggers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for the list lovers among book bloggers, created and hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is “Top Ten Tips for Book Bloggers.”

Now, who am I to suppose I have good tips? I am clearly not a successful blogger, nor a good reviewer, and least of all a good commenter. Still, I though about it and found that I do have something to say: so here are my top 10 unconventional tips for book bloggers:

  1. guard your freedom of choice: of course, when you read the same books as all other bloggers, the conversation flows more easily. But this means that the most trumpeted books get even more attention, and the hidden gems remain hidden. So do accept suggestions, do take part in readalongs and book clubs, do read books that sound interesting when you see them on other blogs… but keep your eyes wide open for that interesting title/cover/author that the book blogging world does not know yet, or for that book that was all the rage a couple of years back and that nobody seems to remember any more!
  2. beware of free books from the publishers/authors: if you want to start a book blog because of the free books, think twice. This follows directly from point 1, but there’s more to it. Fine, who does not like free books? But at the same time, you don’t have the time to read everything that has ever been written. All that glitters is not gold: do you want to spend your hard-earned reading time in something that is not right for you?
  3. don’t let number envy get you: you know, that blogger who reads 7 books a week? The one who on January 1st posts a list of 10 books read already? The one who posts a review a day and then casually says “Oh, don’t worry, I certainly don’t review all the books I read”? Don’t let envy get you. You have your own reading rhythm, and that’s part of your reading experience. You may challenge yourself to read more, but if your yearly average is 50, don’t aim at 100. Don’t let blogging (and number envy) change the way you read.
  4. study some HTML: using the visual editor is very nice, but please try to understand what you are doing. If you use a button, make it link to the related page or post or blog, I don’t like to be redirected to the simple image file. Use your options sensibly.
  5. don’t make me jump through hoops to read your blog: this may be counterintuitive and against all blogging expertise out there, and I may be the laziest reader in the whole wide web. If you decide to give only a snippet of post through my reader or on your blog homepage, chances are I won’t click through. If you write a blog, it’s not to keep your ideas hidden, right?
  6. don’t overload your blog: we don’t all have supercomputers. If your blog crashes my browser just once, I wont come back ever, no matter how interesting the things you write. Think twice before adding a heavier theme or a new flashy button.
  7. don’t follow my example: do comment, as much and as intelligently as you can.
  8. don’t follow my example: do write opinionated posts on subjects other than book reviews
  9. don’t follow my example: do take time to develop better reading/reviewing abilities, especially if you want to take the blogging thing on a semi-professional level.
  10. don’t be afraid: it’s your blog, not your boss. Do whatever you want (take a break, change your voice every other week, experiment…), just don’t let the blog enslave you, and have fun!

So bloggers, what do you say of my tips? Whether you agree or you want to tell prospective bloggers to beware of them, please let your voices be heard in the comments!

Top Ten Short-But-Good Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for the list lovers among book bloggers, created and hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is “Top Ten Books to Read in a Day” and I know that Daisy at this week’s roundup post took it to mean books that keep you on edge, so much that you don’t put them down and end up reading them whole in a day. The thing is, my unputdownables are longer books, too long to be read in a day anyway. I tend to dislike shorter books… but of course there are exceptions, and when I like a shorter book that’s very high praise coming from me! So it’s to these small treasures that I dedicate this post:

My Top Ten Books That Are Beautiful Despite Their Shortness:

  1. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: I don’t think this needs any presentation, right? But if you read French, do check out the pop-up version by Gallimard, it’s just wonderful!
  2. The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers: this was my big discovery last year. I know it is not for everyone, but if you have even just the slightest interest for anything fantasy, go and read it now.
  3. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino: my precious Calvino! Of course I could mention If on a Winter Night a Traveller or the Cosmicomics, but Invisible Cities succeeds in putting so much in so little a book and it seems to me that it fits this list better.
  4. Venice is a Fish by Tiziano Scarpa: born and bred in Venice, Scarpa sings his love for his hometown in tones that are lyrical and trivial at the same time. Makes you wish your own hometown was just as special, and then it makes you open your eyes and discover that it is, in its own way.
  5. The Beekeeper by Maxence Fermine: if you want to breath the air of Provence for just an hour, this is exactly what you want to look for. A minimalist book that is nevertheless full of the scents of Southern France, and of its colors, and of its magic.
  6. Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi: I knew nothing whatsoever about Portugal when I fist read Tabucchi’s masterpiece, but it still left me with a life-lasting impression — of good literature, of perfect balance, more than of Portugal itself.
  7. Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham: the first volume of the series still is the best.
  8. Os Olhos de Ana Marta by Alice Vieira: the tenderness! the narrative structure! the deep Portuguese-ness! I raved about it enough here.
  9. Allegro ma non troppo by Carlo Maria Cipolla: and I don’t mean both essays but just the one that went under this title, about the role and diffusion of spices in the Medieval European economy and society. One of the funniest things I ever read.

Wondrous Words Wednesday: Charles Dickens (2)

Sorry for being MIA! I didn’t plan to disappear so completely, but I was traveling and, as often happens, my online time was reduced to zero. Back just in time for this week’s words, though!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) and interesting (to us, again) words we encountered in our readings. See this week round-up at BermudaOnion’s blog!

My words for this week come from Bleak House by Charles Dickens (which still offers plenty of beautiful words!).

*****

She might have coaxed me to say no if I had been the hardest-hearted duenna in the world.

Duenna: n. an older woman acting as a governess and chaperone to girls in a Spanish family.

*****

For he is the most self-satisfied, and the shallowest, and the most coxcombical and utterly brainless ass.

Coxcomb: n. archaic a vain and conceited man; a dandy.

*****

The house was a real old house with settles in the chimney of the brick-floored kitchen and great beams across the ceilings.

Settle: n. a wooden bench with a high back and arms, typically incorporating a box under the seat.

*****

He’s as obstinate a young gonoph as I know.

Gonoph: n. A pickpocket or thief.
*This definition comes from TheFreeDictionary

*****

(All definitions are taken from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 via WordReference.com unless otherwise stated.)

Musical books – a Top Ten Tuesday list

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for the list lovers among book bloggers, created and hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today the theme is: “Top Ten Books You’d Give A Theme Song To”.

While I’m not a very musical person, it’s an interesting game: I went through my reading lists and tried to match a song to each book. So mine is not a top ten, just a number of connections I made up. If you have any better idea, I’m curious, please share in the comments!

  1. Verdi’s Dies Irae for Luther Blissett’s Q
    The music sounds epic and dangerous and the lyrics fit the story as a glove
  2. Aerosmith’s I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing for Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife
    “Every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure”: it picks up a completely new meaning in the context of this novel
  3. Sting’s Gabriel’s Message for O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi
    This little-known song is to me the best Christmas song ever, so it fits beautifully one of the best Christmas stories ever.
  4. The Bangles’s Eternal Flame for Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle
    This book needs a song that talks about fire, and about eternal love. And I can totally see the narrator thinking: “A whole life so lonely/And then you come and ease the pain”
  5. Sting’s When We Dance for John Irving’s The Cider House Rules
    Some parts of this song’s story just fit: “Come and live with me/We’ll have children of our own/I would love you more than life/If you’ll come and be my wife”
  6. Abba’s I Have a Dream for C.S. Lewis The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    … or basically for any other book where children escape their real life to a fantasy world…
  7. Loreena McKennitt’s The Mystic’s Dream for Amin Maalouf’s Samarkand
    McKennitt’s music has the right balance of East and West to be perfect to listen to while reading this novel

That’s all I have for today! If you have any better idea for these books, I’m curious, please share in the comments!