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August – Sept 2012 : Wrap-up

How are you all?

For the bigger part of today I was lying in bed, scratching myself away.. for what reason? I’ll soon let you know if you manage to read till the end of this post!

It’s been awhile since I did a monthly wrap-up. I have been busy for the last two months and it looks like it is not going to let up till Christmas! I did so-so as I finished 4 books in August and 5 in September, and if I count each part of the book A Suitable Boy that I finish reading as one book, I would be finishing reading 5 books in August and 6 in September. And you think counting how many books you read would be easy, uh-huh not with a big tome though!

So here’s what I read for the past two months:


  1. The Sound of Waves By Yukio Mishima 
  2. Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata 
  3. Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton 
  4. Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris including books, street fashion and jewelry by Leanne Shapton 


  1. Evening is the whole day by Preeta Samarasan 
  2. The Shadow of the Sun (My African Life) by Ryszard Kapuscinski 
  3. The Loving Spirit by Daphne Du Maurier 
  4. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys 
  5. The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng 

Looking back I thought I have took an easy way out, reading books which are mostly less than 180 pages, at least 5 or them are such. Amongst my favourite non-fiction is The Shadow of the Sun and favourite novel is The Garden of Evening mists.

I have also finished two parts of A Suitable Boy, here are the reviews:

A Suitable Boy Part 1
A Suitable boy Part 2

I have also shared some travel pictures from my summer holidays:

Travel photos : Agadir beach scenes
Marrakech second stop for my last summer holiday

It is interesting to discover a huge community in travel blogging. For those who found my blog through my travel pictures posting, my heartfelt thank you for dropping by and subscribing to my blog. 2012 is indeed my travelling year, so there will more travel pictures to come. I don’t think I can run a travel blog separately with the  limited hours I have in a day but hope it is ok if I use this space to talk about the two hobbies I love best in my life, books and travelling. 😉


About 3 weeks ago I stumbled upon this series of Penguin Celebration in British Heart Foundation charity book and music store. I love collecting books in series, so it was my good fortune that I came across these. Except for White Teeth which I have it for more than 2 years, the rest are new purchase in September:

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. A second marriage to Clara Bowden, a beautiful, albeit tooth-challenged, Jamaican half his age, quite literally gives Archie a second lease on life, and produces Irie, a knowing child whose personality doesn’t quite match her name (Jamaican for “no problem”). Samad’s late-in-life arranged marriage, produces twin sons whose separate paths confound Iqbal’s every effort to direct them, and a renewed, if selective, submission to his Islamic faith. Set against London’s racial and cultural tapestry, venturing across the former empire and into the past as it barrels toward the future, White Teeth revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.

What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe

The novel concerns the political and social environment in Britain during the 1980s, and covers the period up to the beginning of aerial bombardment against Iraq in the first Gulf War in January 1991. It is a critique of British politics under the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher (and, briefly, John Major) and of the ways in which national policy was seen to be dictated by the concerns of narrow, but powerful, interest groups with influence in banking, the media, agriculture, healthcare, the arms trade and the arts. Coe creates the fictitious Winshaw family to embody these different interests under one name and, ultimately, one roof.

The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes

Jojo Harvey is a literary agent whose star is on the rise. In love with both her married boss and her burgeoning career, not much distracts her. Until she finds herself representing two women who used to be best friends. One of them, Gemma, has suddenly found herself from a broken home – at the age of thirty-two. Meanwhile, Lily – the woman Gemma has always blamed for stealing her one chance of happiness – is enjoying the overnight success of her debut novel. Set in the world of publishing, ‘The Other Side of the Story’ is about love, loyalty, glass ceilings and survival tactics – and what to do when you get your chance for revenge.

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

Logan Gonzago Mountstuart, writer, was born in 1906, and died of a heart attack on October 5, 1991, aged 85. William Boyd’s novel Any Human Heart is his disjointed autobiography, a massive tome chronicling “my personal rollercoaster”–or rather, “not so much a rollercoaster”, but a yo-yo, “a jerking spinning toy in the hands of a maladroit child.” From his early childhood in Montevideo, son of an English corned beef executive and his Uraguayan secretary, through his years at a Norfolk public school and Oxford, Mountstuart traces his haphazard development as a writer. Early and easy success is succeeded by a long half-century of mediocrity, disappointments and setbacks, both personal and professional, leading him to multiple failed marriages, internment, alcoholism and abject poverty.

English Passengers by Matthew Kneale

In 1857 when Captain Illiam Quillian Kewley and his band of rum smugglers from the Isle of Man have most of their contraband confiscated by British Customs, they are forced to put their ship up for charter. The only takers are two eccentric Englishmen who want to embark for the other side of the globe. The Reverend Geoffrey Wilson believes the Garden of Eden was on the island of Tasmania. His traveling partner, Dr. Thomas Potter, unbeknownst to Wilson, is developing a sinister thesis about the races of men.

Meanwhile, an aboriginal in Tasmania named Peevay recounts his people’s struggles against the invading British, a story that begins in 1824, moves into the present with approach of the English passengers in 1857, and extends into the future in 1870. These characters and many others come together in a storm of voices that vividly bring a past age to life.

The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru

In India, at the birth of the last century, an infant is brought howling into the world, his remarkable paleness marking him out from his brown-skinned fellows. Revered at first, he is later cast out form his wealthy home when his true parentage is revealed. So begins Pran Nath’s odyssey of self-discovery – a journey that will take him from the streets of Agra, via the red light district of Bombay, to the green lawns of England and beyond – as he struggles to understand who he really is.

Everything is illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

A young Jewish American–who just happens to be called Jonathan Safran Foer–travels to the Ukraine in the hope of finding the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. He is aided in his search by Alex Perchov, a naïve Ukrainian translator, Alex’s grandfather (also called Alex), and a flatulent mongrel dog named Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. On their journey through Eastern Europe’s obliterated landscape they unearth facts about the Nazi atrocities and the extent of Ukrainian complicity that have implications for Perchov as well as Safran Foer. This narrative is not, however, recounted from (the character) Jonathan Safran Foer’s perspective. It is relayed through a series of letters that Alex sends to Foer. These are written in the kind of broken Russo-English normally reserved for Bond villains or Latka from Taxi. Interspersed between these letters are fragments of a novel by Safran Foer–a wonderfully imagined, almost magical realist, account of life in the shtetl before the Nazis destroyed it. These are in turn commented on by Alex, creating an additional metafictional angle to the tale.

There were four more books on the same shelf that would add to my collection but I have already own How to be Good by Nick Hornby, Accidental by Ali Smith and Note on Scandal by Zoe Heller on other paperback edition.

There are still two copies sitting in the store which I’m torn as to whether I should own them:

Have you read any of these books? What do you think of them?

As for the itching and scratching, I’m sad to say that I got Chicken pox from my sons. Both my sons came back from school with Chicken pox and I thought since I had it in my childhood I should be spared from it. Oh no no no, apparently there is always a possibility of having it again but the effect will be milder as I had it before… so here I am taking my anti-viral tablets (in case it become full blown, as it can be deadly for an adult), paracetamol for fever. I manage however to finish A Suitable Boy (finally! Review out later this month) today while watching more of those red pimples popping up on my body and head. 😦

Autumn has always been my favourite season although it comes with a promise of erratic change of weather and virus this year. I hope you have a wonderful one nonetheless! 🙂


About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


28 thoughts on “August – Sept 2012 : Wrap-up

  1. You got quite a treasure here! I’ll probably be reading White Teeth next. Everything is Illuminated is on my wishlist. Others, I need to check them.

    Posted by Athira | October 12, 2012, 10:30 pm
  2. Okay, I’m embarrassed to say that one of the things I like most about your stake of Penguins is that they all match. Isn’t that ridiculous? But, I love the same color, same size thing…I think I’m turning OCD in my ‘old age’. Lovely pictures, lovely wrap up. You’ve done spectacularly well this fall so far!

    Posted by Bellezza | October 12, 2012, 11:27 pm
  3. I read How I live now without realising it was written for the YA market but I think it’s very much a “crossover” novel in the same way as The Curious Incident. I thoroughly enjoyed it and, although not perfect, it was very much a good story, well told. I also remember quite enjoying A Short History of Tractors although it didn’t persuade me to buy any of her later novels. Unfortunately, I’m a fairly rubbish critic – I get some something out of most books I read! I suggest you treat yourself – if nothing else, they’ll look lovely on your shelves…!

    Posted by Alison P | October 13, 2012, 6:43 am
    • Alison P,
      Thanks for being here! and yes I’ll see if the two is still there. Interestingly I look up How I live Now and was surprised that it was for YA market. I’m somewhat like that. I like most books I read. If I don’t like a book, chances are I won’t review it anyway! 🙂

      Posted by JoV | October 13, 2012, 10:23 am
  4. If that is the view from your bedroom, I’ll be happy to risk the chance of getting chicken pox a second time and come over to make you nourishing soup!
    Get well soon, though, it’s no fun lying in bed being ill and all 😦 How are your boys by the way?

    That pile of books is quite a good one! I’m afraid that when I visit the UK again, the first thing I’ll do when my feet touch British soil is to run to a charity shop to stock up on affordable second-hand books. I’m not kidding, they are so much cheaper than the ones we can find here… I am regular customer of Awesomebooks!

    Kudos to you for finishing A Suitable Boy. I remember saying a few times that I could not fit a tome like that into my reading schedule, but now I’ve finished Justin Cronin’s The Passage (850 pages) in five days. Hm, seems like I could do it after all :s

    Have a good weekend and again, get well soon!

    Posted by Chinoiseries | October 13, 2012, 9:39 am
    • Chinoiseries,
      It’s strange. I get in and out of bed, when I have my paracetamol, I’m able to go out and about, otherwise I do feel ill.
      My boys are ok and recovered now, fortunately. It’s me who is itching and scratching away… 😦

      I do buy from Awesomebooks, but most of the time I buy from “World of Books” as they are always the cheapest on Amazon.co.uk. Do visit our charity shops. I would say Oxfam and British Heart charge about £1.99 per book but I get £0.60 to £1 at the charity stores in my neighbourhood.

      I have The Passage with me too. I think the key is not the number of pages, the key is whether the novel is engaging or not!
      Have a good weekend. 🙂

      Posted by JoV | October 13, 2012, 10:29 am
  5. So sorry to hear you have chicken pox 😦 Hope you get better quickly. Enjoy all your lovely new books!

    Posted by farmlanebooks | October 13, 2012, 10:06 am
  6. I have that Penguin Celebrations set! My sister got it for me from the Book People for my 21st birthday back in 2007 and I love it. English Passengers is very good and I was surprised by how much I liked the Marian Keyes. I would recommend How I Live Now, even if it sounds like something you wouldn’t usually enjoy, it’s another one that surprised me.

    I am behind with A Suitable Boy, I am still around about page 850.

    Posted by Sam (Tiny Library) | October 13, 2012, 8:28 pm
    • Sam,
      Another great endorsement for How I live Now. I hope you will finish A Suitable Boy in time, I’ll cheer you on! it’s great to know you have the celebration series, do you have all the titles in the series?

      Posted by JoV | October 13, 2012, 8:34 pm
  7. I hope you get better soon, Jo! As long as the tablets work you should be fine soon, I think.

    That Penguin series is a brilliant find! Such a variety of good books.

    Posted by Leeswammes | October 14, 2012, 8:18 pm
  8. Hi. I noticed your comment on Tony’s site regarding your desire to read more north African stuff. I’ve read a couple of good ones lately – Nuruddin Farah’s ‘Crossbones’ (Somalia) and Sulaiman Addonia’s ‘The Consequences of Love’ (Eritrea/Saudi). If you’ll forgive me for being so presumptive, there’s reviews of them pretty high on my blog.

    Posted by markbooks | October 15, 2012, 8:00 am
  9. Hope you get well soon 🙂

    I have to say that I’m not a huge fan of those Penguin books. I don’t like books that size – too small for me 😦

    Posted by Tony | October 15, 2012, 10:29 am
  10. Oh no chicken pox. I have not had them either (scary!)….. I hope you feel better and less scratchy soon!

    Meg Rosoff’s book (i have not read it) is young adult and I believe it is a dystopian/apocalyptic, so this may not be the book for you…

    Posted by Shellie | October 15, 2012, 4:22 pm
  11. I’m sorry to hear you’re not well. I’m ill as well seems to be the time of year for illness. Hope you feel better soon!

    Posted by jessicabookworm | October 15, 2012, 4:44 pm
  12. great collection of penguins there ,all the best stu

    Posted by winstonsdad | October 16, 2012, 4:34 pm
  13. I had chicken pox twice. Once on the outside, once on the inside (inside of eyes, throat). Poor you! Feel better soon!

    Posted by Ti | October 18, 2012, 2:12 am
  14. I hope you’re feeling much better now! I had the worst case of chicken pox out of everyone I knew, I was covered all over, all of them too close together that it lasted almost 2 months! I lost a lot of weight because of that since I had no urge to eat due to the fever accompanying it.

    I’ve heard good things about the Meg Rosoff, though I haven’t read it. Foer’s Everything is Illuminated is sooo wonderful! That’s a keeper! I have English Passengers on hand but I haven’t read it yet. But your cover is much more nicer than mine. 🙂

    I love how you read Mishima and Kawabata both on the same month as Leanne Shapton! That’s a dreamy reading month. And congratulations on finishing A Suitable Boy, looking forward to your thoughts. I loved that novel so much.

    Posted by claire | October 21, 2012, 3:57 am
    • Claire,
      Thank you so much Claire… I thought Leanne Shapton was an interesting find. I love her books. Very original and quirky. I think we have so much in common in reading taste. My review for A Suitable Boy out soon, I’m glad I find a few more people who actually read the book! 🙂

      I’m sorry to hear about your chicken pox experience. It expel the myth that it doesn’t happen to adult if you had it before!

      Posted by JoV | October 22, 2012, 7:34 pm

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
Share book reviews and ratings with JoV, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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