Sunday, December 30, 2007

REREADINGS | Cyteen: Recollections

It's always a dilemma, isn't it? All these new books that we have not read –- but there will always be those special books we have read, loved, and promise to re-read. Yet, somehow we never get around to it. We make excuses for not re-reading. (It's complicated -- usually involves another book -- or more.)

Since 2008 shall be the year of reading more deeply, and slowly, I'm taking time to talk a little on one of the titles I'm looking forward to re-reading in the coming year:

1. Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh (which incidentally, won the 1989 Hugo award)

I first read C.J. Cherryh's Cyteen during my first (or was that my second?) year in the university. An undergraduate that reads outside the syllabus? Some of my lecturers would be shocked. Back then, I was reading harder than I was studying.

Cherryh has written several science-fiction novels, almost all of them linked in her wider, Alliance-Union universe. These stories are set far into the future where faster-than-light travel (FTL) has led to the development of space stations and merchant vessels –- as well as planetary colonisation. Humans manned these stations and merchant ships, but as generations spend their lives exclusively in space, they evolve, developing whole societies of stationers and merchanters culture -- with their own unique psychologies and problems.

Cyteen is similarly set in the Alliance-Union universe, but it focuses on the planet Cyteen, which was colonised about a century ago. The manpower for colonisation was bred out of womb-tanks, and each generation continued to breed and work. Education was through "tapes" -– learning through sublimation, which allowed skills to be learnt in sufficient depth and speed. All of these -- the breeding facilities and the education tapes -- all of them came from the Reseune labs, directed and devised by Ariane Emory -- who had stood in power for the past fifty years.

Ariane Carnath-Emory -- brilliant scientist, shrewd politician –- a larger-than-life power-player, dark and monstrous -- as much admired as she was hated. Was. Within a few brisk chapters Ariane Emory is assasinated by person unknown. The novel spins all at once into a political thriller, a murder mystery, and a psychological study.

Even as the society of Cyteen is shocked by the assasination, it is revealed in the details of Ariane Emory's will that she had prepared for her genetic material to be cloned after her death – but unaltered. Most importantly, the clone shall be brought up with childhood experiences as close to Ariane Emory's as possible. It is a brutal experiment –- all of it for the sole purpose of recreating a genius the likes of Dr Ariane Emory by replicating genetic and environmental variables in the clone's upbringing. In one of the many purposeful "abuse" -- Dr Ariane Emory was orphaned at a young age when her parents were killed in an accident. To recreate the childhood trauma, the clone's foster parents were taken away at the appropriate age and told her parents were dead. It was a horrific idea -- that all the most significant and painful moments of your life were all scheduled and executed with calculated efficiency: first birthday party at four, lose both parents at eight, lose virginity at eighteen to young man pre-checked by the doctors -- you get the idea. Imagine a childhood that is entirely fabricated; nothing is authentic or left to chance.

While the emotional part of me recognised the horror behind this sort of experiment, and the callousness behind the sytematic infliction of emotional pain on a child -- on an intellectual level, I also understood it. Without intending to, I have begun to identify with the dead Dr Ariane Emory.

Dr Emory left her clone a machine which contains a series of recordings in which she discusses with Ari II her experiences, and where she teaches Ari II what could not be taught by anyone else. Afterall, if Ari II's experiences are programmed to mimick Ariane's own childhood, who else would know what the clone is going through better than herself? It is in these recordings that a more human and compassionate side of the original Ariane Emory reveals itself – which further complicates the understanding of the character whose death precipates the entire plot.

I also believe, it is in these recordings where Ariane Emory refines the education of Ari II -– by drawing out the defining quality of Ariane Emory herself –- her will. As the state controls the circumstances of her upbringing and birth, they will eventually want to control her. It will be her own strength of will that frees her from her would-be jailors.

Towards the end of the novel, young Ari II matures, and destiny manifests itself. She makes her first step into the politicial limelight, showing herself a worthy successor to her legendary genetic mother. As Cyteen embraces her gladly -- such is the power of myth -- Ari II soon learns she has also inherited Ariane's enemies; there is still the mystery of Ariane's unsolved murder. Most of all, there is also a darker implication of the Machiavellian manipulator Ari II might become.

I was an earnest Psychology and English Literature double major then, back in my university days. I was intrigued by Cherryh's novels that uses science fiction as the metaphorical and imaginative template to explore ideas concerning human psychology and sociology. Cyteen was the novel that most fascinated me, because of the complexities of the characters of Ariane (the original) and Ari II (the clone). Our personality and character are "hardwired" into us through our genetic blueprints and environmental influences. But how far can we manipulate these facors to custom-make a desired human template? What about that elusive wildcard -- the human will?

Cyteen was the first novel that drove me to email an author to ask if there was going to be a sequel. (Was I geek or what?) The ending left one wanting more, as the destiny of Ari II had only begun.

Cherryh did write back. She said, yes, there will definitely be a sequel. She just needs to write it. That was about 10 years ago.

On Cherryh's "kind of" blog, there was an entry back in September 2007 where she wrote that the final draft for Cyteen II was finally finished. The draft was under-going editing and would probably need some re-writes. I really hope to be able to see it later part of 2008. Or 2009.

Note: I wrote this post earlier in December 2007, before Carl invited fellow book-bloggers to join him in reading science fiction for the months of January to February 2008. The timing, couldn't be more perfect. I wonder if there are any more C.J. Cherryh fans out there reading her books at this moment?

The Sci-Fi Experience 2008 is not a challenge in the traditional sense -- more a friendly invitation where everyone just share their experience of reading some science fiction related books. You don't need a book list -- though you're welcome to have one if you so desire. You can find other bloggers' reviews here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

CHALLENGE | Closing on the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge 2007

July 1 ~ December 31 2007

I changed a lot of the books in between. Thankfully, I managed to finish the six books for the challenge. The final book, The Spanish Bow, was completed on 27 December 2007.

Right now, I just want to go plunge into another book on Spain.

  1. Into the Wild Jon Krakauer [Alaska, USA] {Write-up}

  2. The Night Watch Sergei Lukyanenko [Moscow, Russia] {Write-up}

  3. Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud Sun Shuyun [China/Central Asia/ India] {Write-up 1, 2}

  4. The Art of Travel Alain de Botton [Amsterdam, London, Mt Sinai & Various other Places]

  5. Persepolis 1 & 2 Marjane Satrapi [Iran]

  6. The Spanish Bow Andromeda Romano-Lax [Spain]

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sleeping on the Blog Until 2008

Yet another excuse to post a picture of a cat!

<--- Yet another excuse to post a picture of a cat.

Is anyone exhausted from the holiday spirit yet? I am.

As of today I am officially taking a break from Christmas and the New Year (and it's not even Christmas or the New Year yet!)

The past few weeks I have been meeting up with friends for lunch, dinner and tea -- and my usually packed schedule have been overbooked. I am exhausted and I am not meeting anyone for dinner or lunch until 2008. I am also going to stay off my own blog until 2008.

Let's not even talk about shopping. Packing all that shoppers in enclosed space is a bad thing. There are too many people in the world. Really.

That's it. No more. We will still love each other, but I really don't want to see anyone or talk to anyone unless I have to. If I don't talk to you, that means I don't have to snap at you.

Instead, I'm just going to work, going for yoga, then I'm heading home to read. Or watch my DVDs. Or do my chores. I have a lot of ironing to do this week.

Meanwhile I'm re-posting my reading lists for 2008, to remind myself of what's coming up.

To all: Please remember the holidays are to be spent with your family. Forget the consumerism. Forget the shopping. Go home. Love. Forgive. Eat. Drink. Love somemore. But don't take any photos you will regret.

Happy Holidays to y'all. See you in 2008.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Why Intentions?

Sometimes, a teacher will remind us to start our yoga practice by setting an intention. It could be anything: an intention to be stronger in balancing poses, to stay with the breath more or to be more mindful. When I first tried Hot Yoga, I was not used to the heat. So my intention was often simply to stay in the room until the end of class. Sometimes, right before a challenging class, my intention is just to try my best. Perhaps the poses are not available to me today. That is fine. I just want to try my best.

I find that setting an intention can serve as a reminder to what is important. It has helped me keep focus.

Some call it Goals, others call it Resolutions – but these words feel too "checklist" to me -- as though the ends is all it matters. I prefer intentions.

Intention guides the action. It conveys purpose, direction and deliberation. Intention is not about achievement or ends. Rather, it is asking yourself why you do what you need to do. There is no deadline, no failure – just working towards a purpose, a mission.

Most importantly, it states an active choice in our actions. That I, out of my own free will, chooses to practice yoga on a regular basis. I choose to be kind. I choose to let go. I choose to be vegetarian. I choose to forgive.

I choose my life.

Every time I reaffirm the power I have over my own life, the difficulties and obstacles that are part and parcel of everyday life becomes just that little bit more bearable.

What are your intentions for 2008? What are your intentions for your life?

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I have the habit of looking to my teachers as my motivation for coming to class. Since B and H (my yoga teachers) left the studio a few months back, I have allowed my practice to slack. I take more days off, choosing to stay in and read, listen to music or just to daydream. There are positive sides to this of course -- I'm allowing myself more rest and quiet time. However, I find it harder to come back to the mat after a prolonged period of inactivity. Rest is also supposed to reinvigorate you, but I'm feeling more sluggish instead, with less energy.

In a way, it feels like trying to get out of bed in the morning, just after the rain. The room and your bed is nice and cool. Your alarm clock is buzzing and you have to get to work -- but -- always the "but" -- it feels so good to just sleep in.

Yoga should be a personal practice and not a "cult of personality" -- you practice for yourself, no matter who is teaching. But we all appreciate a teacher who is compassionate and still able to motivate us to try a little harder, who walk with us as we explore and grow.

So, my intention for 2008 for my yoga practice is this: I renew my commitment to a regular practice. Should I skip class occasionally because I feel lazy, I promise to be kind to myself -- I will just show up the next day without the usual self-recrimination.

January 2008 will be a difficult month to practice, as M, my current yoga teacher -- will be in India advancing her own yoga practice. So, WoYoPracMo is a timely challenge indeed.

M is one of the teachers that joined the studio recently. In his last Anusara class, B said to us: those looking to further our practice in the Anusara tradition should look to M, who had studied under John Friend. I did, and I have found in M a teacher who is strong and kind, and who humbles me with the strength and focus of her classes.

Since I started practicing with M last month, I have regained my momentum for regular practice. Alas, she will be away for 6 week from this Saturday.

I will try to attend other teachers' classes. Most importantly, I will work harder at building strength. M has highlighted how I am more flexible than I am strong, so I tend to over-stretch myself on certain poses that requires flexibility. This explains my occasional strains and pulled muscles.

So, to add to my intentions for 2008: I shall work on building the strength to support my flexibility.

I will also incorporate more Yin Yoga into my practice. My injuries is a reminder that I need to develop the softer side of my practice, to balance the more dominant Yang side of my personality.

QUIZ | Which Narnia Character Are You?

As Jill, you are confident, respectful, and a little bit bossy! You have an acquired taste for adventure, and love any challenge that you have to face.

I need help here, because I have not read any Narnia books besides The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe -- who's Jill? Would I be ashamed to be associated with her?

Anyone seen the Prince Caspian trailer yet? It looks a little darker than The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and I caught glimpses of Tilda Swinton -- who will be THE reason for my watching the film.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Into the Wild" Soundtrack

The nominations for the Golden Globes are out. That time of the year when we allow people whom we do not know to decide for the world what counts as the best films of the year.

A few things caught my eye. One of them is the nominations for Best Original Score:

Michael Brook, Kaki King, Eddie Vedder, Into the Wild;
Clint Eastwood, Grace Is Gone;
Alberto Iglesias, The Kite Runner;
Dario Marianelli, Atonement;
Howard Shore, Eastern Promises.

How did Kaki King sneak in there without my notice? And it's for the soundtrack of Into the Wild?

I find myself slowly warming to the Into the Wild soundtrack, which has Eddie Vedder (remember Pearl Jam?) playing a variety of acoustic instruments over 11 short tracks. He also covers Indio's "Hard Sun," which also features backing vocals by Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker. (Did I mention I love Sleater-Kinney?)

This soundtrack is screaming my name. But never just take my word for it. Play the Youtube "official video" for "Hard Sun" and judge for yourself:

I love Eddie Vedder's clear, strong vocals on this track. The album will be playing on repeat for a while.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New Addition to My TBR Piles

Just a short note today on new additions to the mountains of TBR books.

I've finally picked up my copy of The Paris Review Interviews, Volume 2. It collects interviews with Philip Larkin, James Baldwin, Harold Bloom, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Graham Greene and even Stephen King.

With anthologies, collections of short stories and interviews like these, there are different approaches to reading them. Sort of like how different people eat Oreo cookies -- some twist the biscuit off and lick the creamy goodness first, some bite into the whole cookie, and some dunk it into milk before the bite.

I digress, as always -- though it's a fun question to ask: how do you eat your Oreo cookies? I stuff the whole cookie into my mouth. So if any kid is going to fight me for the cookie, it has my spit all over it. Ha!

Yes, I am one kid that don't play well with others.:p

Back to topic at hand: I bought one book, but ended with two free Uncorrected Proof Copy to bring home.

Some of you may have read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan has a new book out this coming January, In Defence of Food. As he described the thesis of the book so tersely, "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

It's about how our concept of what is food have evolved through generations -- how complicated and warped the idea of "real food" has become because of the distortion of marketeers from the food industry. Who knows if this would be a good read? Knowing the truth about the food industry -- will we still be able to eat in peace anymore? I guess we owe it to ourselves to find out as much as we can, and then make informed decisions.

Next freebie is the English translation of Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong, which won this year's Man Asia Literary Prize. But you know what's the irony? I have a copy of the original Chinese edition still unread. Oops.

Wolf Totem was inspired by Jiang Rong's (a pseudonym) journey to Inner Mongolia where he lived for 11 years during the Cultural Revolution. In the story, a young intellectual, Chen Zhen, witnesses the complex relationship between nomads, living simply and maintaining their livestock herds, and the wild wolves of the plains. There is a rich spiritual relationship between native and wolves, until the arrival of fellow Han Chinese from the cities. The city dwellers with their imported ideas of modernity and progress destroyed the fragile balance between wolves and humans.

Did you guys realise I just talked about books I have not read? Heh.

I'm keeping my hands off them at the moment though. I'm trying to keep the Books In Progress down.

Meanwhile, picture of the books in a stack. Click to enlarge.

Monday, December 17, 2007


As I type this, a part of me is saying to myself: What is she, crazy? It's only the middle of December! But today seems as good a time to lay down your intentions for the coming year as any.

For 2008, I intend to stay more focused on my readings.

I often start too many books on impulse, so much so that at times I have ended up with 15 titles half-read and unfinished. For the coming year I am going to try to reduce that number. I shall make an effort to finish up most of these half-read books.

I shall also try my best to resist starting new books on impulse. Hopefully I can control the number of Books In Progress to a maximum of 3~5 titles at any one time. This may still seem like a lot – yet, still a healthier figure than 15!

My purpose is to allow myself to slow down and better appreciate the books I am reading. I think my usual approach to reading has been a little misguided. It's what Robertson Davies calls "end-gaining" – where I am reading a book just for the sake of being able "to be done" with it.

So for 2008, let's see if I can take time to read more deeply and thoroughly, if not more. Will I have more fun, or will I learn more? Who knows?

I will also need to look into writing more on my readings. Not just the usual pooterish, descriptive posts -- or maybe not even a blog post. Besides this blog, I also keep a handwritten journal where I write everything inside. Sometimes, I use it just to keep notes of my readings, how my yoga practice went, how things are like at work. I would like to write more, and who knows - maybe they would make it as blog posts eventually.

The purpose is just to be more reflective about the things I read.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Secret Santa

As usual, I'm tardy with my post. ;p

I received my Christmas gift from my Secret Santa a while back. Imagine my surprise when I came home from work and I saw a package from New Orleans. I was like, "Who do I know from New Orleans?" Then it hit me. Oh. I do know someone from that part of the world: Chris. As it turns out, he's my Secret Santa.

The beauty of the internet is how you get to connect with people from all over, even places where you've never visited in your life.

Click the picture to enlarge.

As I am interested in yoga and Buddhism, Chris was spot on with the Buddha journal. The greatest thing is -- it's a blank journal! I have a thing against lined journal -- I have always preferred blank ones, where I can sketch and vary the size of my writing the way I like. (It's a quirk of mine)

He also threw in a bookmark with the Erasmus quote: "When I have a little money, I buy books...if any is left over I buy food and clothes." This is so true, I just laughed when I saw it. (I suspect this describes a lot of book-bloggers I've met online. You know who you are. :))

Then there is the very pretty bookplates of a cute fairy reading a book. Chris, I promise I'll put it to good use. And I will think of you everytime I open a book and sees this bookplate.

Finally, also from Chris, a Build Your Own Stonehenge set! I've tried taking several pictures of this cute Stonehenge model from several different angles, but I just can't seem to get the focus right. So, just pretend it's misty and mysterious. (Maybe I should have burned some incense to get a smoky effect.)

I have wanted to visit the Stonehenge since I was a child -- because it seems like a place surrounded by such deep mysticism. Now I just need some druids dancing around to complete it...

Thank you again, my Secret Santa. And hugs to our host, Nymeth, for taking the time and trouble to organise this.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Comics & Manga Read 2007

64. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8: The Long Way Home
Joss Whedon et al
63. Persepolis 2 Marjane Satrapi
62. Persepolis Marjane Satrapi
61. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neil
60. 52: Volume 4 Geoff Johns et al
59. Bleach: Volume 13 Tite Kubo
58. Bleach: Volume 16 Tite Kubo
57. Bleach: Volume 15 Tite Kubo
56. Bleach: Volume 14 Tite Kubo
55. Bleach: Volume 12 Tite Kubo
54. Bleach: Volume 11 Tite Kubo
53. Bleach: Volume 1 Tite Kubo
52. Bleach: Volume 10 Tite Kubo
51. Bleach: Volume 9 Tite Kubo
50. Bleach: Volume 8 Tite Kubo
49. Bleach: Volume 7 Tite Kubo
48. 52: Volume 3 Geoff Johns et al.
47. Fallen Angel: To Rule In Hell Peter David & J.K. Woodward
46. Manhunter: Origins Marc Andreyko et al
45. Checkmate: Pawn Breaks Greg Rucka et al.
44. Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others Mike Mignola, Richard Corben & P. Craig Russell
43. Fables: Arabian Nights (And Days) Bill Willingham et al.
42. The Pulse Vol. 3: Fear Brian Michael Bendis et al.
41. The Pulse Vol. 1: Thin Air Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley
40. Strangers In Paradise 19: Ever After Terry Moore
39. Fallen Angel: Back In Noire Peter David et al.
38. 30 Days of Night Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith
37. Birds of Prey: Blood and Circuits Gail Simone et. al.
36. 52: Volume 2 Geoff Johns et al.
35. Trinity Matt Wagner et al.
34. 100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call Brian Azzarello et al.
33. 52: Volume 1 Geoff Johns et al.
32. Astonishing X-Men: Torn Joss Whedon & John Cassaday
31. Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon Greg Rucka et al.
30. Astonishing X-Men: Gifted Joss Whedon & John Cassaday
29. Ms Marvel: Best of the Best Brian Reed et al.
28. Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall Bill Willingham et al.
27. Eternals Neil Gaiman & John Romita Jr.
26. Global Frequency: Detonation Radio Warren Ellis et al.
25. Global Frequency: Planet Ablaze Warren Ellis et al.
24. The All New Atom: My Life in Miniature Gail Simone et. al
23. Secret Six: Six Degrees of Devastation Gail Simone et al.
22. The Sandman: Dream Country Neil Gaiman et al.
21. Batman: Death and the Maidens Greg Rucka et al.
20. Manhunter: Trial by Fire Marc Andreyko et al.
19. Checkmate: A King's Game Greg Rucka et al.
18. The O.M.A.C. Project Greg Rucka et al.
17. Villains United Gail Simone et al.
16. Batgirl: Destruction's Daughter Andersen Gabrych et al.
15. Batgirl: Death Wish Kelley Puckett et al.
14. Batgirl: A Knight Alone Kelley Puckett et al.
13. Manhunter: Street Justice Marc Andreyko et al.
12. Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch Gail Simone, et al.
11. Fables: Legends In Exile Bill Willingham et al.
10. Outsiders: Wanted Judd Winick, et al.
9. Batman: Officer Down Greg Rucka, et al.
8. Outsiders : Sum of All Evil Judd Winick, et al.
7. Birds of Prey: The Battle Within Gail Simone, et al.
6. Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn Gail Simone, et al.
5. Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood Greg Rucka, Rick Burchett & Terry Beatty
4. Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student Gail Simone, et al.
3. Fallen Angel: Down To Earth Peter David, David Lopez & Fernando Blanco
2. Fallen Angel: To Serve In Heaven Peter David & J.K. Woodward
1. B.P.R.D. The Universal Machine Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis

New Dark Knight Teaser Posters

Fpr the first two, click to enlarge. I have not yet founda hi-res picture of the final picture.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Films Watched 2007

  • 32. Elizabeth: The Golden Age

  • 31. Factory Girl

  • 30. The Brave One

  • 29. Day Watch

  • 28. The Dead Girl

  • 27. Death at a Funeral

  • 26. Tokyo Marigold

  • 25. Ratatouille

  • 24. Black Sheep

  • 23. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • 22. My Wife Is A Gangster 3

  • 21. Spider Lilies

  • 20. Black Snake Moan

  • 19. Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End

  • 18. Blades of Glory

  • 17. The Secret Life of Words

  • 16. Spider-Man 3

  • 15. Prague

  • 14. Fay Grim

  • 13. Khadak

  • 12. The Journals of Knud Rasmussen

  • 11. Still Life

  • 10. The Messengers

  • 9. 300

  • 8. Volver

  • 7. The Fountain

  • 6. Hannibal Rising

  • 5. Big Bang Love: Juvenile A

  • 4. .45

  • 3. Apocalypto

  • 2. Pan's Labyrinth

  • 1. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  • BOOKS | 2007 Readings In Review

    [As of 14th December 2007]

    Books Bought from 19 Dec 2006~ 13 Dec 2007
    129 (That explains so much about the state of my bookshelves)

    Books Bought from 19 Dec 2006~ 13 Dec 2007 Actually Read
    36 (I would like to say I make good use of the library, but this is still pretty bad.)

    Books Completed in 2007
    51 (Not including comics or manga, because those I usually finish within the same day)

    Authors Whom I Read Multiple Titles
    5 (With 3 titles each from W. Somerset Maugham, Robertson Davies & M.F.K. Fisher)

    Authors I Am Reading For the First Time

    Books Re-read
    1 - A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare (Heh. This deserves to be looked into)

    Non-Fiction Titles Read

    Authors Outside of USA and the UK
    Greek – 1 (Euripides counts, yes?)
    Polish – 1
    Chinese – 2
    Australian – 1
    Canadian – 2
    Russian – 2
    Italian - 1
    (That makes it 10 non-USA or UK authors, which I think is pretty bad.)

    100 Books To Read 2007
    24 out of 100 (I finished 44 titles for 100 Books to Read 2006. This year I allowed myself to stray from the list a lot more. Maybe I should try to stay more focused in 2008)

    My Best Read of 2007
    The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies. Without a doubt.

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    BOOKS | Books Read 2007

    53. Sabriel Garth Nix
    52. The Spanish Bow Andromeda Romano-Lax
    51. The Man Who Was Thursday G.K. Chesterton
    50. The Moon and Sixpence W. Somerset Maugham
    49. Fathers and Sons Ivan Turgenev [translated by Richard Freeborn]
    48. Sodom and Gomorrah Marcel Proust [translated by John Sturrock]
    47. At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays Anne Fadiman
    46. The Bacchae Euripides
    45. The Art of Travel Alain de Botton
    44. Dracula Bram Stoker
    43. Away Amy Bloom
    42. Twilight Watch Sergei Lukyanenko [translated by Andrew Bromfield]
    41. The Razor's Edge W. Somerset Maugham
    40. The Mistress's Daughter A. M. Homes
    39. The Last Wish Andrzej Sapkowski [translated by Danusia Stok]
    38. Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud Sun Shuyun
    37. Yoga Beyond Belief Ganga White
    36. A Perfect Hoax Italo Svevo [translated by J.G. Nichols]
    35. The Night Watch Sergei Lukyanenko
    34. Into the Wild Jon Krakauer
    33. The Stone Gods Jeanette Winterson
    32. The Essential YogaSutra: Ancient Wisdom For Your Yoga translated by Geshe Michael Roach & Christie McNally
    31. Sleepless Nights Elizabeth Hardwick
    30. Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady Florence King
    29. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows J. K. Rowling
    28. The Painted Veil W. Somerset Maugham
    27. The Cold Moon Jeffrey Deaver
    26. This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland Gretel Ehrlich
    25. The Color Purple Alice Walker
    24. A Midsummer Night's Dream William Shakespeare
    23. The Winter King Bernard Cornwell
    22. Threshold Caitlin R. Kiernan
    21. Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes
    20. How To Cook A Wolf M.F.K. Fisher
    19. Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee Charles J. Shields
    18. The Book of Ballads Charles Vess & other contributors
    17. Stardust by Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess
    16. The Lyre of Orpheus Robertson Davies
    15. After: Poems Jane Hirshfield
    14. Yoga For People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It Geoff Dyer
    13. Desolation Island Patrick O'Brian
    12. What's Bred In the Bone Robertson Davies
    11. The Rebel Angels Robertson Davies
    10. The Last Unicorn Peter S. Beagle
    9. Consider the Oyster M.F.K. Fisher
    8. The Petty Details of So-and-so's Life Camilla Gibb
    7. Wintersmith Terry Pratchett
    6. Serve It Forth M.F.K. Fisher
    5. Twilight of Love: Travels With Turgenev Robert Dessaix
    4. About Alice Calvin Trillin
    3. The Art of Detection Laurie R. King
    2. The Mauritius Command Patrick O'Brian
    1. Stick Out Your Tongue Ma Jian [translated by Flora Dew]

    Pratchett, He Aten't Dead

    Terry Pratchett released this letter via


    I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".

    We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet :o)

    I felt my heart sank when I read about Pratchett's Alzheimer's. Pratchett is one of those authors that has never failed to entertain me with his books. I have read most of the Discworld series (I've stopped around Fifth Elephant, but I'm hooked on the Tiffany Aching series). I've loved his acerbic sense of humour that show us truthfully as the absurd creatures of whims and desires that we are.

    Pratchett reminds us this letter is like Granny Weatherwax with her "I aten't dead" sign. He still has a few books left in him yet, he tells us -- he's not yet ready to surrender.

    I think I'll go read The Last Hero, like Nymeth.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    DVDs Watched 2007

    30. Bones Season 2
    29. The Closer Season 3
    28. The Closer Season 2
    27. Battlestar Galactica: Razor
    26. Bones Season 1
    25. Imagine Me & You
    24. Batman Begins
    23. Weeds Season 1
    22. Dexter Season 1
    21. House M.D. Season 3
    20. House M.D. Season 2
    19. The Closer Season 1
    18. David Starkey's Elizabeth
    17. House M.D. Season 1
    16. Nina's Heavenly Delights
    15. Gray Matters
    14. The Missing
    13. 200 Pounds Beauty
    12. Brick
    11. Beowulf & Grendel
    10. Mango Kiss
    9. Tru Calling Season 1
    8. Dog Soldiers
    7. Fried Green Tomatoes
    6. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 6
    5. Richard Freeman's Ashtanga Yoga Collection: Introduction to Ashtanga
    4. Lady In the Water
    3. DOA: Dead or Alive
    2. Blade: Trinity
    1. Stick It

    World Yoga Practice Month 2008

    Does this sound great or what?

    Yogamum will be hosting WoYoPracMo -- where participants make the commitment to practice yoga every day for the month of January, 2008. This is open to yoga practitioners of all levels, so you don't have to be Yes, I've cast aside my usual shyness and signed up.

    I had been thinking about setting my intentions for the coming year, and one of them is the renewal of my commitment to a regular yoga practice. This challenge is just the way I want to kick off 2008.

    If you're interested in knowing more about it, you can also visit last year's site. Or, just hop over, sign up. See where it takes you!

    100 BOOKS | 100 Books To Read 2008 PRIME

    For 2008, along with the literary classics, I am adding more fantasy and science-fiction, some books on Japanese culture, some biographies into my reading list. As always, this is an aspirational list - the key is just to try to read as many as I can.

    1. A Voice From the Attic: Essays on the Art of Reading • Robertson Davies
      [13/11/2007 ~

    2. In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust
      Swann's Way
      In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower
      The Guermantes Way
      Sodom and Gomorrah

      The Prisoner & The Fugitive • Marcel Proust
      [Translated by Carol Clark & Peter Collier]
      [26/11/2007 ~
      Finding Time Again
      [Translated by Ian Paterson]

    3. The Histories • Herodotus
      [24/04/2007 ~

    4. Kristin Lavransdatter • Sigrid Undset
      [Translated by Tiina Nunnally]
      [27/08/2007 ~

    5. The Three Musketeers• Alexandre Dumas
      [Translated by Richard Pevear]

    6. The Book of Disquiet • Fernando Pessoa

    7. The Awakening • Kate Chopin

    8. Good Morning, Midnight • Jean Rhys

    9. After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie • Jean Rhys

    10. Mrs. Dalloway • Virginia Woolf

    11. Orlando • Virginia Woolf

    12. The Napoleon of Notting Hill • G.K. Chesterton

    13. Rebecca • Daphne Du Maurier

    14. Jane Eyre • Charlotte Bronte

    15. The Masterpiece • Emile Zola

    16. The Plague • Albert Camus

    17. The Myth of Sisyphus • Albert Camus

    18. Cheri and The Last of Cheri • Colette

    19. Earthly Paradise • Colette

    20. Temptation of Saint Antony • Gustave Flaubert

    21. Flaubert In Egypt • Gustave Flaubert

    22. Bel-Ami • Guy de Maupassant

    23. Gargantua and Pantagruel • François Rabelais [translated by M. A. Screech]

    24. Don Quixote • Miguel De Cervantes

    25. Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book I) • Robin Hobb

    26. Royal Assassin (The Farseer Trilogy, Book II) • Robin Hobb

    27. Assassin's Quest (The Farseer Trilogy, Book III) • Robin Hobb

    28. The Stress of Her Regard • Tim Powers

    29. A Canticle for Liebowitz • Walter M. Miller Jr.

    30. Riddlemaster Series • Patricia McKillip

    31. Cyteen • C. J. Cherryh

    32. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever • James Tiptree, Jr.

    33. Chronicles of Amber • Roger Zelzany

    34. The Once and Future King • T.H. White

    35. The Book of Three (Chronicles of Prydain, Book I) • Lloyd Alexander

    36. The Black Cauldron (Chronicles of Prydain, Book II) • Lloyd Alexander

    37. The Castle of Llyr (Chronicles of Prydain, Book III) • Lloyd Alexander

    38. Taran Wanderer (Chronicles of Prydain, Book IV) • Lloyd Alexander

    39. The High King (Chronicles of Prydain, Book V) • Lloyd Alexander

    40. Bloodchild and Other Stories • Octavia E. Butler

    41. Slow River • Nicola Griffith

    42. The Art of Peace • Morihei Ueshiba

    43. Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers • Leonard Koren

    44. In Praise of Shadows • Junichiro Tanizaki

    45. The Book of Tea • Kakuzo Okakura

    46. Vermeer In Bosnia: Selected Writings • Lawrence Weschler

    47. Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D.H. Lawrence • Geoff Dyer

    48. The Last Temptation of Christ • Nikos Kazantzakis

    49. Pashazade [Arabesk Trilogy Book I] • Jon Courtenay Grimwood

    50. Effendi [Arabesk Trilogy Book II] • Jon Courtenay Grimwood

    51. Felaheen [Arabesk Trilogy Book III] • Jon Courtenay Grimwood

    52. Fledgling • Octavia E. Butler

    53. Bloodchild and Other Stories • Octavia E. Butler

    54. The Fortune of War • Patrick O'Brian

    55. The Surgeon's Mate • Patrick O'Brian

    56. The Ionian Mission • Patrick O'Brian

    57. Treason's Harbour • Patrick O'Brian

    58. The Far Side of the World • Patrick O'Brian

    59. 三国演义

    60. Under the Volcano • Malcolm Lowry

    61. Love Medicine • Louise Erdrich

    62. Molloy • Samuel Beckett

    63. Love • Stendhal

    64. The Red and the Black • Stendhal

    65. The Charterhouse of Parma • Stendhal

    66. Walden and Other Writings • Henry David Thoreau

    67. Essential Writings • Ralph Waldo Emerson

    68. The Twelve Caesars • Suetonius

    69. Candide • Voltaire

    70. Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape • Barry Lopez

    71. The Little Prince • Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    72. An Unexpected Light • Jason Elliot

    73. The Carpet Wars • Christopher Kremmer

    74. The Shadow of the Sun • Ryszard Kapuscinski

    75. The Worst Journey in the World • Apsley Cherry-Garrard

    76. The Places in Between • Rory Stewart

    77. Between the Woods and the Water: On Foot to Constantinople: From The Middle Danube to the Iron Gates • Patrick Leigh Fermor

    78. A Time to Keep Silence • Patrick Leigh Fermor

    79. The Power and the Glory • Graham Greene

    80. The Heart of the Matter • Graham Greene

    81. The Solace of Open Spaces • Gretel Ehrlich

    82. A Match to the Heart: One Woman's Story of Being Struck By Lightning • Gretel Ehrlich

    83. Bleak House • Charles Dickens

    84. With Billie • Julia Blackburn

    85. The Looking Glass Wars • Frank Beddor

    86. The Iliad • Homer

    87. Three Bags Full • Leonie Swann

    88. Praeterita • John Ruskin

    89. The Stones of Florence and Venice Observed • Mary McCarthy

    90. Venice • Jan Morris

    91. Darkmans • Nicola Barker

    92. The Married Man • Edmund White

    93. The Salterton Trilogy • Robertson Davies

    94. The Leopard • Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

    95. River of Gods • Ian McDonald

    96. • Rebecca Solnit

    97. • Jorge Luis Borges

    98. House Rules • Heather Lewis

    99. Ghosts of Spain • Giles Tremlett

    100. Animals in Translation • Temple Grandin & Catherine Johnson

    Books Purchased But Are They Read 2007

    Tally: 37 Read/134 Purchased


    Books Purchased on 19/12/2007

    134. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A Long Way Home by Joss Whedon et al
    133. Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers Leonard Koren
    132. Daughter of the Desert Georgina Howell
    131. Sunflower Gyula Krudy

    Books Purchased on 17/12/2007

    130. The Paris Review Interviews, Volume II

    Books Purchased on 017/12/2007

    130. The Paris Review Interviews, Volume II

    Books Purchased on 03/12/2007

    129. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neil


    Books Purchased on 28/11/2007

    128. The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World Lewis Hyde

    Books Purchased on 27/11/2007

    127. 52: Voume 4 Geoff Johns et al.126. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home Joss Whedon & Georges Jeanty
    125. Girl Meets Boy Ali Smith
    124. Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences Lawrence Weschler
    123. A Time to Keep Silence Patrick Leigh Fermor

    Books Purchased on 26/11/2007

    122. Dostoevksy: The Mantle of the Prophet, 1871-1881 Joseph Frank
    121. Dostevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865-1871 Joseph Frank
    120. Rabelais and His World Mikhail Bakhtin
    119. Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics Mikhail Bakhtin

    Books Purchased on 13/11/2007

    118. A Voice From the Attic: Essays on the Art of Reading Robertson Davies

    Books Purchased on 12/11/2007

    117. Sakhalin Island Anton Chekhov [translated by Brian Reeve]

    Books Purchased on 07/11/2007

    116. My Life Anton Chekhov [translated by Constance Garnett]
    115. First Love Ivan Turgenev [translated by Constance Garnett]
    114. The Devil Leo Tolstoy [translated by Louise & Aylmer Maude]
    113. Ilario: The Lion's Eye Mary Gentle

    Books Purchased on 01/11/2007

    112. My Swordhand is Singing Marcus Sedgwick


    Books Purchased on 26/10/2007

    111. War and Peace Leo Tolstoy [translated by Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky]

    Books Purchased on 22/10/2007

    110. Oblomov Ivan Goncharov [translated by Stephen Pearl]

    Books Purchased on 19/10/2007

    109. The Shadow of the Sun Ryszard Kapuscinski

    Books Purchased on 05/10/2007

    108. 色 , 戒 张 爱 玲 {Lust, Caution Eileen Chang}

    Books Purchased on 02/10/2007

    107. First Love Ivan Turgenev
    106. The Kreutzer Sonata Leo Tolstoy


    Books Purchased on 29/09/2007

    105. In Praise of Shadows Junichiro Tanizaki
    104. The Cossacks Leo Tolstoy
    103. The Hall of a Thousand Columns Tim Mackintosh-Smith
    102. The Places In Between Rory Stewart
    101. Passage to Juneau: A Sea & Its Meanings Jonathan Raban
    100. Journey Without Maps Graham Greene
    99. The Lawless Roads Graham Greene
    98. The Temptation of Saint Anthony Gustave Flaubert
    97. The Married Man Edmund White
    96. The Collected Stories Grace Paley
    95. Foreign Devils on the Silk Road Peter Hopkirk
    94. The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia Peter Hopkirk

    Books Purchased on 28/09/2007

    93. The City In Crimson Cloak Asli Erdogan
    92. A Life Italo Svevo

    Books Purchased on 20/09/2007

    91. 52: Volume 3 Geoff Johns et al.

    Books Purchased on 18/09/2007

    90. The Music of Razors Cameron Rogers

    Books Purchased on 15/09/2007

    89. Manhunter: Origins Marc Andreyko et al.
    88. Fallen Angel: To Rule In Hell Peter David & J.K. Woodward
    87. Checkmate: Pawn Breaks Greg Rucka et al.

    Books Purchased on 14/09/2007

    86. Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others Mike Mignola, et al.

    Books Purchased on 13/09/2007

    85. That Summer in Paris Abha Dawesar
    84. Three Bags Full Leonie Swann
    83. The Looking Glass Wars Frank Beddor


    Books Purchased on 30/08/2007

    82. Novice to Master: An Ongoing Lesson in the Extent of My Own Stupidity Soko Morinaga

    Books Purchased on 24/08/2007

    81. 30 Days of Night Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith
    80. Strangers In Paradise: Ever After Terry Moore
    79. Fallen Angel: Back In Noire Peter David et al.
    78. The Last Wish Andrzej Sapkowski
    77. Seduction and Betrayal Elizabeth Hardwick

    Books Purchased on 23/08/2007

    76. Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden

    Books Purchased on 20/08/2007

    75. Birds of Prey: Blood and Circuits Gail Simone et al

    Books Purchased on 16/08/2007

    74. Owls Do Cry Janet Frame
    73. Out of Sheer Rage Geoff Dyer

    Books Purchased on 01/08/2007

    72. Where the Stress Falls:Essays Susan Sontag


    Books Purchased on 27/07/2007

    71. 52: Volume 2 Geoff Johns et al
    70. Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics Rebecca Solnit

    Books Purchased on 21/07/2007

    69. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows J. K. Rowling
    68. The Blue Place Nicola Griffith

    Books Purchased on 18/07/2007

    67. Sleepless Nights Elizabeth Hardwick
    66. Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady Florence King

    Books Purchased on 11/07/2007

    65. Non-Violence: The History of a Dangerous Idea Mark Kurlansky

    Books Purchased on 06/07/2007

    64. Liza of Lambeth W. Somerset Maugham
    63. The Confidential Agent Graham Greene


    Books Purchased on 22/06/2007

    62. The Illusionist Francoise Mallet-Joris
    61. The Dud Avocado Elaine Dundy
    60. 倾 城 之 恋 张 爱 玲

    Books Purchased on 21/06/2007

    59. Travels with Herodotus Ryszard Kapuscinski

    Books Purchased on 20/06/2007

    58. 52: Volume 1 Geoff Johns et al

    Books Purchased on 19/06/2007

    57. Daphne du Maurier Magaret Forster

    Books Purchased on 13/06/2007

    56. The Wisdom of Yoga Stephen Cope


    Books Purchased on 26/05/2007

    55. Bound to Please: An Extraordinary One-Volume Literary Education Michael Dirda

    Books Purchased on 21/05/2007

    54. Bamboo Palace Christopher Kremmer
    53. Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings Abolqasem Ferdowsi

    Books Purchased on 18/05/2007

    52. Europe: An Intimate Journey by Jan Morris
    51. Reindeer People by Piers Vitebsky
    50. Angels & Visitations: A Miscellany by Neil Gaiman

    Books Purchased on 17/05/2007

    49. Eternals by Neil Gaiman & John Romita Jr.

    Books Purchased on 05/05/2007

    48. Gargantua and Pantagruel Francois Rabelais [translated by M. A. Screech]
    47. Across Arctic America: Narrative of the Fifth Thule Expedition Knud Rasmussen

    Books Purchased on 04/05/2007

    46. The All New Atom: My Life in Miniature Gail Simone et. al.


    Books Purchased on 26/04/2007

    45. Lectures on Russian Literature Vladimir Nabokov

    Books Purchased on 25/04/2007

    44. Kristin Lavransdatter Sigrid Undset
    43. The Wisdom of Solitude: A Zen Retreat in the Woods Jane Dobisz

    Books Purchased on 20/04/2007

    42. Secret Six: Six Degrees of Devastation Gail Simone et al.

    Books Purchased on 18/04/2007

    41. Stardust Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess
    40. Manhunter: Trial By Fire Marc Andeyko et al.

    Books Purchased on 10/04/2007

    39. Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Howard Chaykin et al.


    Books Purchased on 21/03/2007

    38. A Coney Island of the Mind Lawrence Ferlinghetti
    37. Black Lamb and Grey Falcon Rebecca West

    Books Purchased on 13/03/2007

    36. After: Poems Jane Hirshfield

    Books Purchased on 10/03/2007

    35. Vermeer In Bosnia Lawrence Weschler


    Books Purchased on 23/02/2007

    34. Arts and Letters Edmund White
    33. Manhunter: Street Justice Marc Andreyko, et al.
    32. Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch Gail Simone, et al.

    Books Purchased on 21/02/2007

    31. Ice Vladimir Sorokin

    Books Purchased on 07/02/2007

    30. The Prisoner & The Fugitive Marcel Proust

    Books Purchased on 02/02/2007

    29. About Alice Calvin Trillin
    28. Threshold Caitlin R. Kiernan


    Books Purchased on 30/01/2007

    27. The Ice Cave: A Woman's Adventures from the Mojave to the Antarctic Lucy Jane Bledsoe

    Books Purchased on 25/01/2007

    26. Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn Gail Simone, et al.
    25. Birds of Prey: The Battle Within Gail Simone, et al.
    24. Bloodchild and Other Stories Octavia E. Butler
    23. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever James Tiptree, Jr.

    Books Purchased on 22/01/2007

    22. Fledgling Octavia E. Butler


    Books Purchased on 20/01/2007

    21. The Red and the Black Stendhal
    20. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept Elizabeth Smart
    19. Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student Gail Simone, et al.
    18. Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood Greg Rucka, et al.
    17. Fallen Angel: To Serve In Heaven Peter David & J.K. Woodward
    16. Fallen Angel: Down To Earth Peter David, David Lopez & Fernando Blanco

    Books Purchased on 14/01/2007

    15. In Patagonia Bruce Chatwin


    Books Purchased on 13/01/2007

    14. As Meat Loves Salt Maria McCann

    Books Purchased on 12/01/2007

    13. A Winter In Arabia: Journey Through Yemen Freya Stark
    12. The Lycian Shore Freya Stark


    Books Purchased on 06/01/2007

    11. A Visit To Don Otavio: A Traveller's Tale From Mexico Sybille Bedford
    10. Portrait of a Turkish Family Irfan Orga

    Books Purchased on 02/01/2007

    9. B.P.R.D. The Universal Machine Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis


    Books Purchased on 22/12/2006

    8. Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects Vol 1 & 2 Giorgio Vasari
    7. The Story of Art E. H. Gombrich
    6. Finding Time Again Marcel Proust
    5. Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. Jeremy Mercer


    Books Purchased on 19/12/2006

    4. The Essential YogaSutra Geshe Michael Roch & Christie McNally
    3. The Paris Review Interviews Vol. 1
    2. The Reader Ali Smth
    1. Gotham Central: The Quick and the Dead Greg Rucka, Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano


    What is this about?

    100 BOOKS | 100 Books To Read 2007 Version 4.5

    1. The Man Who Was Thursday G.K. Chesterton
      [25/11/2007 ~ 07/12/2007]

    2. The Moon and Sixpence W. Somerset Maugham
      [03/11/2007 ~ 25/11/2007]

    3. Fathers and Sons Ivan Turgenev
      [translated by Richard Freeborn]
      [18/11/2007 ~ 24/11/2007]

    4. At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays Anne Fadiman
      [07/11/2007 ~ 17/11/2007]

    5. The Bacchae Euripides
      [04/11/2007 ~ 17/11/2007]

    6. Dracula Bram Stoker
      [20/10/2007 ~ 29/10/2007]

    7. Away Amy Bloom
      [18/09/2007 ~ 20/10/2007]

    8. The Razor's Edge W. Somerset Maugham
      [14/09/2007 ~ 07/10/2007]

    9. The Mistress's Daughter A. M. Homes
      [02/10/2007 ~ 05/10/2007]

    10. Ten Thousand Miles Without A Cloud Sun Shuyun
      [01/07/2007 ~ 29/09/2007]

    11. A Perfect Hoax Italo Svevo
      [Translated by J.G. Nichols]
      [06/09/2007 ~ 16/09/2007]

    12. The Stone Gods Jeanette Winterson
      [15/08/2007 ~ 26/08/2007]

    13. The Essential YogaSutra: Ancient Wisdom For Your Yoga Geshe Michael Roach & Christie McNally
      [27/12/2006 ~ 14/08/2007]

    14. Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady Florence King
      [18/07/2007 ~ 30/07/2007]

    15. The Painted Veil W. Somerset Maugham
      [06/07/2007 ~ 08/07/2007]

    16. This Cold Heaven : Seven Seasons in Greenland Gretel Ehrlich
      [01/05/2007 ~ 17/06/2007]

    17. The Color Purple Alice Walker
      [03/06/2007 ~ 10/06/2007]

    18. A Midsummer Night's Dream William Shakespeare
      [09/06/2007 ~ 10/06/2007]

    19. The Winter King Bernard Cornwell
      [23/04/2007 ~ 09/06/2007]

    20. Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes
      [18/05/2007 ~ 20/05/2007]

    21. The Cornish Trilogy Robertson Davies
      The Rebel Angels [1981]
      [26/03/2007 ~ 04/04/2007]
      What's Bred In the Bone [1985]
      [04/04/2007 ~ 07/04/2007]
      The Lyre of Orpheus [1988]
      [07/04/2007 ~ 22/04/2007]

    22. After: Poems Jane Hirshfield
      [13/03/2007 ~ 15/04/2007]

    23. The Mauritius Command Patrick O'Brian
      [26/12/2006 ~ 13/01/2007]

    24. The Last Unicorn Peter S. Beagle
      [03/03/2007 ~ 19/03/2007]

    25. Don Fernando W. Somerset Maugham
      [30/11/2007 ~

    26. My Life Anton Chekhov
      [Translated by Constance Garnett]
      [27/11/2007 ~

    27. In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust
      Swann's Way
      In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower
      The Guermantes Way
      Sodom and Gomorrah
      [Translated by John Sturrock]
      [31/12/2006 ~ 24/11/2007]
      The Prisoner & The Fugitive
      [Translated by Carol Clark & Peter Collier]
      [26/11/2007 ~
      Finding Time Again
      [Translated by Ian Paterson]

    28. A Voice From the Attic: Essays on the Art of Reading Robertson Davies
      [13/11/2007 ~

    29. The Idylls of the King Alfred, Lord Tennyson
      [05/11/2007 ~

    30. The City in Crimson Cloak Asli Erdogan
      [Translated by Amy Spangler]
      [03/11/2007 ~

    31. Journal of a Solitude May Sarton
      [01/09/2007 ~

    32. Zeno's Conscience Italo Svevo

    33. One Thousand Roads To Mecca Edited by Michael Wolfe
      [05/09/2007 ~

    34. Kristin Lavransdatter Sigrid Undset
      [Translated by Tiina Nunnally]
      [27/08/2007 ~

    35. The Southern Gates of Arabia Freya Stark

    36. Nightwood Djuna Barnes

    37. The Comedians Graham Greene
      [06/08/2007 ~

    38. Where the Stress Falls: Essays Susan Sontag
      [01/08/2007 ~

    39. The Dud Avocado Elaine Dundy
      [01/07/2007 ~

    40. King Lear William Shakespeare
      [29/06/2007 ~

    41. Freedom from Fear: And Other Writings Aung San Suu Kyi
      [28/05/2007 ~

    42. Bhagavad Gita Translated by Stephen Mitchell
      [07/06/2007 ~

    43. River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West Rebecca Solnit

    44. Don't Look Now and Other Stories Daphne du Maurier
      [07/05/2007 ~

    45. The Histories Herodotus
      [24/04/2007 ~

    46. In Patagonia Bruce Chatwin
      [14/01/2007 ~

    47. The Bone People Keri Hulme
      [11/03/2007 ~

    48. The Bastard of Istanbul Elif Shafak
      [21/01/2007 ~

    49. Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette Judith Thurman
      [09/12/2006 ~

    50. The Reader Ali Smith
      [19/12/2006 ~

    51. The Late Mattia Pascal Luigi Pirandello

    52. Weight Jeanette Winterson

    53. The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas
      [Translated by Richard Pevear]
      [16/12/2006 ~

    54. The Crusades Through Arab Eyes Amin Maalouf

    55. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Annie Dillard

    56. Earthly Paradise Colette

    57. Cheri and The Last of Cheri Colette

    58. Emma Jane Austen

    59. Leaves of Grass Walt Whitman

    60. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept Elizabeth Smart

    61. Beware of Pity Stefan Zweig

    62. Skating to Antarctica Jenny Diski

    63. The Garden of Departed Cats Bilge Karasu

    64. Mysteries Knut Hamsun

    65. Running in the Family Michael Ondaatje

    66. House Rules Heather Lewis

    67. A Match To The Heart Gretel Ehrlich

    68. Nine Gates: Essays Jane Hirshfield

    69. The Twelve Caesars Suetonius

    70. Candide Voltaire

    71. Out Of Africa Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen

    72. Venice Jan Morris

    73. The Leopard Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

    74. The Name of the Rose Umberto Eco

    75. The Power and the Glory / The Heart of the Matter Graham Greene

    76. Walden and Other Writings Henry David Thoreau

    77. Essential Writings Ralph Waldo Emerson

    78. 三国演义 [English Translation: Romance of the Three Kingdoms]

    79. Arabian Sands Wilfred Thesiger

    80. Love Stendhal

    81. The Red and the Black Stendhal

    82. The Charterhouse of Parma Stendhal

    83. Tigers in Red Weather Ruth Padel

    84. Color Victoria Finlay

    85. The Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri

    86. My Wars Are Laid Away In Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson Alfred Habegger

    87. Molloy Samuel Beckett

    88. The Plague Albert Camus

    89. Love Medicine Louise Erdrich

    90. Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdian

    91. The Ice Museum Joanna Kavenna

    92. A Pelican In the Wilderness: Hermits, Solitaries and Recluses Isabel Colegate

    93. Red: Passion and Patience In the Desert Terry Tempest Williams

    94. Travels With A Tangerine Tim Mackintosh-Smith

    95. Les Liaisons Dangereuses Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

    96. The Paris Review Interviews Volume 1

    97. Bel-Ami Guy de Maupassant

    98. 射 雕 英 雄 传 金 庸

    99. How To Read A Book Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren

    100. The Art of Eating M. F. K. Fisher
      Serve It Forth [1937]
      [21/01/2007 ~ 24/02/2007]
      Consider the Oyster [1941]
      [24/02/2007 ~ 18/03/2007]
      How To Cook A Wolf [1942]
      [18/03/2007 ~ 07/05/2007]
      The Gastronomical Me [1943]
      [07/05/2007 ~
      An Alphabet For Gourmets [1949]

    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    Sugar High Bear

    My colleagues are watching me with the anticipation of hyenas for blood this Christmas; They are hoping to be entertained.

    Let me explain: Last year on an impulse I piled on the candies, cookies, log cakes and brownies. It was too much too fast and the result was a mind firing on warp-speed. I couldn't stop talking and I was talking so fast no one understood what I was going on about. For two straight hours, I was running around the office like ADHD on speed -- I was on a sugar high and the entire office was there to witness the alarming comedy.

    Thankfully that didn't last forever. By 4pm they found me suddenly slumped at my desk, the hood of my jacket pulled over my head. I had crashed. Even this was funny.

    This Christmas, the office is speculating on whether I was going to ride on the sugar high again.

    I was at my desk yesterday, and I did this to my beanie bear.

    What do you think?

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    seven random and/or weird things meme

    I've been busy this December, trying to show up for daily yoga classes and trying to meet up with old friends for dinner -- because I am usually so lousy at staying in touch the rest of the year ;p

    Let's just do a pooterish meme today, shall we?

    If I understand the rules correctly, I just list 7 random or weird things about myself? Cool.

    1) The Most Astonishing Thing I Have Ever Seen? My Naked Face in the Mirror. It's not that I'm narcissistic. Really.

    I started wearing glasses when I was 10 years old; my eyesight is so bad that I have to put my face several inches away from the mirror to see my face clearly without glasses.

    Then one day I switched to contact lenses. I went into a public restroom and I caught my own reflection in the mirror. For a second I did not recognise my own face without glasses. I haven't really seen my own naked face properly for many years because of my eyesight. It was the most astonishing sight.

    2) I Look Like A Vampire On Photos. I have very fair complexion that tends to show up somewhat luminescent on photos. That, complimented by my black hair and a penchant for black clothes, I always end up looking like a vampire.

    3) I Do Not Step Out of the House Without Showering/Bathing. Really. If proper shower facilities are available, I am psychologically incapable of leaving the house without a shower. Even when I'm late for work I still take time to shower before I step out of the house.

    I think the world is a better place with me well-scrubbed and properly deodorised.

    4) I Am Scared of Pink. If a lady in pink is walking towards me on the streets, I would actually move to the side to avoid her. Pink is a colour I associate with bad tasting medicine and vomit. Not sure why.

    And Dolores Umbridge is EVIL.

    5) I HATE Chihuahuas. One of my ex, The Aquarius, had a nasty Chihuahua named Playboy, that used to bark at me EVERY TIME I visit. I hated that sorry excuse for a canine. I think toy dogs like Playboy suffer from low self-esteem and too much inbreeding. Why are their eyes so BIG when their bodies and heads are so small?

    That said, my favourite dog is the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Just looking at pictures of healthy Welsh Corgis makes me happy. Beagles, Jack Russells and Golden Retrievers are also excellent dogs.

    6) If You Feed Me, I'll Do Your Dishes. I'm better brought up than I allow people to believe. Growing up, my mother taught us to help wash up after meals -- especially if we're at someone else's place. It's so programmed into my system that I would feel uncomfortable if the host doesn't allow me to help with the dishes. Once, my friend WW invited a whole bunch of us to her place for dinner, I ended up doing the dishes for everyone.

    So, feed me. I'll wash up for you. Gladly.

    7) I Celebrated My 30th Birthday By Asking Someone Out For A Date. It's embarrassing now that I think about it. Several years ago, I had a major crush on G, who was dating my friend at that time. I tried to play it cool by acting aloof and even unfriendly towards G. When G and my friend broke up, we lost touch.

    Then several weeks before my 30th birthday I ran into G. We exchanged phone numbers, and later I invited G to watch Russian Dolls -- a movie about turning 30, and not being ready to grow up just yet.

    Nothing came out of it, and we haven't spoken to each other for a year now. But I was glad I finally asked G out after all these years. Even if it was in a moment of desperate panic about turning 30. ;p

    Sunday, December 09, 2007

    Random Stuff from the Clutter of Dark Orpheus

    Chris started it, when he posted the picture of his TBR pile/shelf. Then Jean Pierre went and posted his TBR shelf.

    So, now it's my turn -- *drumroll* -- welcome to the chaos that is my bookshelves, along with other random stuff. I can't even begin to separate the books read from the books unread -- so it's ALL there.

    I have to warn you though -- the pictures are not neat and pretty. What you have are some images of raw, gritty (and occasionally grimy and often dusty), (almost) uncensored Dark Orpheus living space.

    If you want to ask how often I dust my bookshelves -- the answer is: any time I happen to be holding the duster in the general vicinity of the shelves. Which is not a frequent phenomena.

    Saturday, December 08, 2007

    Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud II | Impermanence

    This is my second post on Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud because there is really a lot in this book that I want to share. I have mentioned earlier that Sun Shuyun's book really picked up for me when her narrative reached India.

    Sun tells the story of the destruction of the Sakya clan, ruled by the Buddha's own father. (The Buddha would have been king of the Sakya clan if he had not chosen the spiritual path):

    The Buddha sat in the middle of the road under the scorching sun. The king who led the attack stopped and asked him why he did not seek shade under a leafy tree nearby. The Buddha replied: 'My clan is like the leaves. Now you are going to cut them off, I have no shade.' Three times he managed to persuade the king to turn back. But the fourth time, the king swept past him. He killed all the men, buried all the women and burned down the capital of Kapilavastu. For all his power, the Buddha was powerless to prevent it. Nothing is permanent, he would say. A thousand years of Buddhism, a thousand years of Islam. The only inevitablity is change.

    A part of me wondered: if the Buddha had been king, would he had been able to prevent the destruction of his clan in his own lifetime at least? For when the Buddha was still a child, old man told his fortune and said he would either be a great teacher or a great king - but perhaps it would only have delayed the process. Nothing lasts forever.

    India was the birthplace of the Budddha and Buddhism. Yet by the time Xuanzang reached India, Buddhism was already in decline. By the 11th century, the Afghan invaders dealt the final blow: jungles swallowed all the thousands of Buddhist monuments, and mosques or Hindu temples were built on their foundations.

    According to Sun, until 150 years ago, both the Indians and people in the West had little idea who the Buddha was. She cited the Encyclopaedia Brittannica from 1942, with its entry on Buddhism - it defines Buddha as "one of the two appearances of Vishnu". It baffles the mind that Buddhism could have been forgotten in the land of its birth - and yet it is. We imagine that society and culture advance naturally as time progresses, and knowledge is incremental. We are blind to the fact that as we push forward in some areas, many things are also lost through neglect.

    The story behind the rediscovery of the Buddha in India is remarkable, because it seems to bring the story full-circle to Xuanzang. In the 1850s, Fa Xian's Record of Buddhist Countries and Xuanzang's Record of the Western Regions were translated into French an English. The two accounts had always existed in China, and they were suddenly 'discovered' by European orientalists. The two books mapped out a thousand years history of Buddhism, with all the significant sites and their importance, with details of monastries and the monks who inhabited them. Heinrich Schliemann found the location of Troy through a close reading of The Iliad and Alexander Cummingham, the first Director of the Archaeological Society of India -- decided to use the Chinese monks' records as guide to shed light on the history of Buddhist India. So his quest led to the excavations of Bodh Gaya in Bihar, where the Buddha became enlightened; Sravasti, where he spent most of his life teaching and many other important sites in Buddhist history.

    When Xuanzang set out on his journey to India, his intention was to bring back to China the true teachings of the Buddha. He felt that over the years, Buddhism as it was practiced in China has been diluted and he had questions that had to be answered. How was he to know that one day the Buddhist faith itself would be erased from India, the land of its birth? Or that Xuanzang's records would be the catalyst to bringing back Buddhism to India?

    Nothing lasts forever. Yet paradoxically, nothing is ever truly lost.

    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    "...the point of travel is to come back changed..."

    From Worldhum's interview with Susan Fox Rogers:

    Somehow I don’t think tourism will diminish there. Antarctica has a powerful pull for some people, doesn’t it?

    Yeah. I saw a blogger ask why people have to go there. Well, it changes how you see the world. That’s why people have to go there. When you’re thrown into such extremes, at least where I was in McMurdo, the sensory deprivation is extraordinary. Colors are reduced to white, blue, and suddenly blue has 9,000 variations you didn’t see before. And there’s no sound when you’re standing on the Ross Ice Shelf. There’s always some kind of noise around us when we’re at home, even the hum of the refrigerator. Suddenly you can be in a place where there’s no sound at all. You realize that’s not an experience you can have many places in the world. It’s spooky. Now, I don’t know whether anyone on these cruise ships is having that experience.

    What’s more, all things are frozen so there’s almost no smell. And where I was the diet was really limited. So your taste is kind of reduced, too. When I left—I didn’t want to leave, but my time was up—and got to New Zealand, I was just assaulted by the warm air. I went out to dinner and ordered a salad and just chewed and chewed. I was so delighted and thought, how could I have not wanted to come back to this? I was on this sensory overload when I got back. It made me see the world differently.

    With anything that’s as extreme as that, you have to be changed. To me, the point of travel is to come back changed. I am a pilgrim. When I go out, I want to return to where I’m from and see things differently from when I set out. Antarctica does that to you.

    Susan Fox Rogers is the editor for the Traveler's Tales: Antarctica: Life On the Ice

    Yoga on Youtube

    For those interested in yoga, check out this YouTube video -- yoga against the wall -- with soundtrack. Can I do it? Of course -- the only thing stopping me is the fear of falling off and dying!

    Then there is Ana Forrest -- one of the strongest yogini I have ever seen. In the Youtube videos below (broken into 2 parts), you can see Ana Forrest demonstrating various advance yoga poses -- showing the kind of strength and flexibility that set me in awe.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Why am I posting these? The truth is, my practice has been flagging lately. My favourite teachers have left the studio where I practice, and it has been difficult trying to find the motivation to keep showing up for yoga classes. So I seek out these Youtube videos of some of the yoga teachers who inspire me, just to remind myself why I need to show up on the mat.

    Maybe it's a short-term fix, but I'm just giving myself a good kick out of my complacency. Inspiration to practice isn't going to just fall on my lap while I'm sitting here mopping.

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    The Dark Knight Teaser Poster

    Anyone seen the new The Dark Knight teaser poster?

    Elizabeth Hardwick Passes

    Elizabeth Hardwick -- critic, essayist, fiction writer and co-founder of The New York Review of Books, died on Sunday in Manhattan. She was 91.

    From the The New York Times:

    In a 1984 interview in The Paris Review, the writer Darryl Pinckney asked her about her feelings about getting older. “Its only value is that it spares you the opposite, not growing older,” she said, adding: “Oh, the dear grave. I like what Gottfried Benn wrote, something like, ‘May I die in the spring when the ground is soft and easy to plough.’

    Her titles published by NYRB Classics are Sleepless Nights -- a semi-autobiographical novel signified by "love and alcohol and the clothes on the floor" and her collection of essays on women and literature -- Seduction and Betrayal.

    I read Sleepless Nights earlier this year and it was a book I find difficult to write about. What do you say about a book that is inherent diffused in its structure? It defies the conventional narrative of coherence and meaning, more like a journal of a life lived in moments and memories -- but haven't I read enough Proust to realise that our lives are lived in intermittent memories?

    I was -- dare I say, impressed -- by Sleep Nights with its elusive, smoke-like narratives. I wish now to read Seduction and Betrayal. Why does the death of the author drive us to read their books more?

    Saturday, December 01, 2007

    Records for 2006

  • 100 Books To Read 2006 Version 4.0

  • 100 Books To Read 2006 [Original List]

  • Books Read 2006

  • Films Watched 2006

  • DVDs Watched 2006
  • Spain Readings and Other Library Books

    I know I've just returned from a holiday, and I should be well-rested. But my eyes are already scouting for possible travel destinations for 2008 (or 2009). Is it premature? Maybe. But the world is immense, and there will always be places we have not seen -- or might never see. (I would like to visit the Antarctica -- but everything I have read about it scares me. I guess there lies the appeal.)

    One of my colleague is saving for her Spain trip next year. I am envious, as Spain is one of those places I want to visit.

    Then I discovered something unusual on my library account yesterday: I had no books on loan -- AT ALL. I had returned all my library books because I wanted to avoid the overdue charges when I am on holiday, and I have not borrowed anything since.

    Still: no books at all? That is something I felt I have to rectify. So, I sauntered down to the library last evening and bagged myself some books:

    • DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Spain - I usually go for the Lonely Planet guides when I'm planning a trip. DK guides tend to be more expensive and they are also heavier -- less handy to carry around. That said, I still I enjoy looking at the pictures inside the DK guides. They give me a sense of what I might want to see in that country. I wouldn't buy them unless they are on sale, but I love the library for making them available.

    • Don Fernando by W. Somerset Maugham - I find myself addicted to Maugham's writings. It also helps that the blurb at the back says Graham Greene (another of my literary favourite) considered Don Fernando to be Maugham's best work.
      Don Fernando is a collection of essays by Maugham on Spanish culture and civilisation. It begins with the tale of Loyola, and moves on to discuss the writing of St. Teresa, the paintings of El Greco and other Spanish artists and writers.

    • The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax - Jenclair first wrote about this book, then Sharon. It has been on my radar for a while. Last night at the library, a copy of The Spanish Bow was sitting in plain sight on the New Arrivals Highlights. Fate had decreed I read this book. I obey.

    What else did I borrow? Edmund White's Hotel de Dream was sitting right next to The Spanish Bow, so I swiped it. I also picked up Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris and Re-readings because I thought it would be nice to re-read some of the essays.

    I am a happy puppy this weekend.