dimarts, 29 de desembre de 2015

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2015

I haven't updated in a long while but at the beginning of the year I started to take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I set myself a goal of 24 books as I thought that it was realistic (2 weeks per book sounds realistic to me, at least), and I completed it with a total of 25 books. Here is the list of the books that Goodreads counted for the Challenge:

1. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green. I already reviewed this one, so I'm not going to talk about it for long. Temporary perspective and watching the film has not changed my opinion.
2. 1Q84 - Haruki Murakami. I had wanted to read this book (these books, technically) for a long time and when I finally got to it, I didn't really know that I was in for more than 1200 pages of a constant state of "WTF is going on?", but I couldn't really put it down, partly because I wanted to know what happened in the end. I wasn't disappointed but I'll admit that Murakami's books always kind of confuse me. I'm told it's the way Japanese novels are written: it's not so much about the plot as the writing itself.
3. Eighty Days White - Vina Jackson. I knoooow... I finished the original trilogy and read the two companion books because, as far as erotica goes (in my very short experience, at least), I like that the novels actually have a plot that's not only a couple getting together to have very kinky sex. There is a lot of that, don't worry. I find White the stronger of the two companion novels (I really don't like Luba, the main character in Amber) even though I still think Yellow (the first one) was the better of them.
4. Bridget Jones. Mad About the Boy - Helen Fielding. I knoooow... A friend of mine is an even bigger fan of the Bridget Jones universe and I borrowed the book from her. And I was really, really disappointed with this one, not only because of the lack of a certain main character, but also because what I thought could work in a very interesting way simply don't because the author tries to repeat the formula that made the first book popular. 
5. Himmelweg - Juan Mayorga. During the summer semester, I took several literature courses at university. This one was for Contemporary Spanish Literature as a look at drama. It is conformed by 5 acts, two of which are monologues. The play takes us to a concentration camp in WWII era and shows us the experience from several points of view: a Red Cross representative, a Nazi officer, the prisoners... It is really worth reading. I wish I can see it on a stage in the future. 
6. Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett. This one was for the Drama Analysis course. I didn't know what to expect from it, I found it really weird (I know it's the point of the text) and I don't really know how to judge it. There is genius in the absurdity of everything, I like that everything is open to interpretation. But I'm not sure I enjoyed reading the text. Maybe on a stage it works better.
7. Si te dicen que caí - Juan Marsé. This is the novel I read for the Contemporary Spanish Literature. It's long, it's complicated... and I loved it. The reader might need some context about the early years of the Franco dictatorship. The edition I read has all sorts of academic annotations, which really helped, and is the uncensored version. It is beautifully written, it is a very powerful text.  
8. Uncle Vanya - Anton Chekov. Another one for Drama Analysis. My only problem with Russian literature is that I get lost with the character names. Other than that, the play was fine by me. I kind of expected more, though.
9. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro. I read this book in my Contemporary British Literature as part of the block on literature written by non-British authors within the British literary system. I had heard positive things about another novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go, so I expected to like this book, but it took me forever to finish and I feel completely uninterested.
10. Poeta en Nueva York - Federico García Lorca. I love Lorca's plays but I had read very few of his poems. Actually, I rarely read poetry books voluntarily. But I was positively surprised with this book.  
11. A Streetcar Named Desire - Tennessee Williams. The last one for the Drama Analysis course that you'll find in the list. This one is also one that I should have read for one of my American Literature courses, so two birds with one stone. I loved it. I'm looking forward to watching the movie with Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando soon. 
12. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë. I watched the latest movie adaptation with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender with a good friend of mine and something rubbed me off the wrong way. I had the feeling there was more to the book than the movie showed, and since I know I'm supposed to read this for one of my English Literature courses in the future anyway, I gave it a shot expecting something along the lines of Pride and Prejudice (the book bored me more than my love of the movies might lead you to believe) and I was positively surprized.
13. Los dioses mienten (神様がうそをつく) - Kaori Ozaki. I had practically stopped reading manga but then one day I came across a blog with manga reviews and since it's only one volume, I thought I might give it a shot. Seeing the cover, you'd think this is a sweet love story about two little kids and, in a way, it is, but it's way more dramatic than I was expecting. I'd definetely recommend it if you're looking for a more mature manga. Since I read the Spanish translation, I'm copying the Japanese title from Goodreads.
14. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak. Remember how I said I was disappointed in the author because he said The Fault in Our Stars was a good book and because of that I might not read his novel in a long while? Well... In summer, the book jar (of course I have one, some times I need destiny to choose for me - mine is not color-coded, though) said the time was right to check this one out. And if I had a euro for every time that I've been wrong because of prejudice, I would have won one euro this time.
15. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling. I'm going to blame Pinterest on this one, and with no shame whatsoever. You see, I started using Pinterest for cooking ideas and one day some random posts about Harry Potter started to appear out of the blue. Nostalgia invaded me and in summer I decided to re-read the whole series (because having a list of 97 pending books is not incompatible with re-reading seven quite long books). The first Harry Potter is pure nostalgia, everything is sweet and magical (pun not intended). As a re-reading, you start to notice little details that you missed the first time. It's nice.

16. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling. This is my least favorite in the Harry Potter series and I when I was younger I couldn't quite tell why, but as an adult I think it's because it repeats a pattern and some of the magic of the first book (again, pun not intended) is lost or less present. It's not bad, but it's not that great either, in my opinion.
17. 28 Tage Lang - David Safier. Every time I read or watch something WWII-related I tell myself it will be the last time in a long while, but the while doesn't last that long. Safier, best known for romantic comedy novels, writes about the Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto. It doesn't really lose the romantic touch that made his previous novels popular, and it is not as dramatic as other novels, but I think it's a nice introduction to the topic for younger readers in a similar way as The Book Thief is.
18. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams. I watched the movie adaptation a couple years ago and a copy of the book found its way to me, and I'm glad I read the book because it's infinetely better (aren't they always?). 
19. Gone Girl - Gilian Flynn. I usually avoid overhyped best-sellers like the plague, but the movie trailer convinced me to take a look at this thriller. I couldn't put it down despite the fact that both narrating voices are very dislikable, but you really want to keep reading to find out how they came to their situation, how they can keep up with their lies and keep hurting each other. Definetely read it before watching the movie.
20. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson. In October 2014, I found myself in a huge bookshop in London that usually offers 2x1 deals. This was my "half-price" book. I'll admit it: I fell for the hype like an idiot. For that and for the promise of a road trip from coast to coast in the USA which is something I've been wanting to do for years. The point of the road trip narrative is to show us the development and growth of the characters, but I really disliked Amy as a character and as a narrator, and Roger shouldn't even be in the title, in my opinion, because he's more in the background. This book suffers from that terrible disease that many YA books suffer from: the secondaries are more interesting than the protagonists but their stories are conveniently ignored.

21. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: the Graphic Novel - Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith, Tony Lee, Cliff Richards. I couldn't avoid it, sue me. The character design makes it difficult to follow because you're trying to figure out who is who. However, I liked the "sketchy" style. If you're a P&P purist, you might want to avoid this graphic novel. I thought it was a funny twist.  
22. Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I'm not sure what drew me to this book, it was more of an impulsive purchase with the 2x1 thing in London. The girl at check-out told me I had made a very good choice and I decided to start reading the book on the plane back home but I didn't because of reasons that I'd rather not remember. And the book was left to gather dust on my shelves for a whole year before the book jar reminded me that I even had it. I wish I had read it earlier because I loved every single bit of it, I didn't want it to end. I want more by this author. I wasn't aware of many of the issues she brings up concerning race in America (it's not that big of a thing in Europe... I think... I'm so ridiculously white you might call my skin colour transparent) and I related to Ifemelu's culture shock issues (at a different level, of course, but still). I definetely recommend it.

23. La mecánica del corazón (La méchanique du coeur) - Mathias Malzieu. I picked this one up because of the cover, I won't lie to you. I expected something Tim Burton-esque and I'm going to give this the number 1 spot for disappointment of the year. Thank god it's short, otherwise I might not have finished it. The original is in French but I read the Spanish translation.
24. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins. I didn't want to read this one initially because of the hype, but I took it from a book exchange point expecting nothing and I was positively surprized. The comparison to Gone Girl is unavoidable but they are different stories, both enjoyable.
25. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling. Growing up, this was my favorite Harry Potter book, and after the re-read, it continues to be so, even though I found more objections to it than the first time. I started reading it in summer but stopped and started again around Christmas. I think this is also the last book in which I don't find Harry insufferably annoying. 

There were a couple other books and manga that I read in 2015 but I didn't include them in the challenge either because Goodreads doesn't have them in their database or because I considered that manga collections were kind of cheating and it takes a lot less time to read a whole manga series than a single book. I might talk about them in another entry.

This was it for the 2015 challenge. I might try again in 2016 with more books (maybe 30, maybe more, I haven't given it much thought yet) or I might just continue reading without keeping track of what I've been reading. Either way, I know that books will be a big part of next year. Let's see what the book jar has in store...

divendres, 11 de setembre de 2015

diumenge, 23 d’agost de 2015

En ocasiones veo series (8): Welcome to the 60s

Últimamente, las únicas series que veo se ambientan en los años sesenta. Se trata, sin duda, de Mad Men (concretamente, las temporadas 4, 5 y 6, que devoré en menos de dos meses, y porque tuve que esperar a que estuvieran disponibles los DVD de la biblioteca) y de la tercera temporada de Masters of Sex, que ha vuelto a las pantallas este verano.

En Mad Men hemos presenciado como rehace su vida Don Draper tras el divorcio con Betty, que ahora es la esposa de un político importante. El publicista continúa metiéndose en tantas faldas como puede, aunque en la quinta temporada, después de casarse con su secretaria Megan, parece que sus días de adúltero llegan a su fin. En la sexta, sin embargo, descubrimos que la felicidad conyugal es relativa y tiene fecha de caducidad, especialmente a partir del momento que Megan demuestra que su sueño no era ser la mujer-florero de un hombre casi veinte años mayor que ella, sino convertirse en actriz. Veremos si el matrimonio Draper sigue en pie en la séptima y última temporada (no me hagáis spoilers).

Paralelamente, los otros dos personajes femeninos centrales en la trama reflejan las dificultades que supone la compaginación de la vida familiar con la laboral (Joan) y ascender y ser valorada en un puesto de trabajo dominado por hombres en una época como los 60 (Peggy). ¿He dicho alguna vez que soy una gran fan de Peggy y de Joan? Porque, para mí, son lo mejor de la serie entera.

Finalmente, otra mujer empieza a tomar posiciones en el argumento: Sally, la hija de Don y Betty, se está haciendo mayor y descubre que el mundo de los adultos es más complicado de lo que parecía. Aunque Don sea el hilo conductor de la serie, creo que el punto más fuerte de Mad Men es el retrato que hace de una época concreta gracias a los personajes femeninos, porque por muy gracioso que sea Roger y muy odioso que sea Peter, sin ellas la serie perdería todo el interés.

Joan is awesome. Period.

Algo similar le pasa a Masters of Sex, aunque creo que esta se beneficia del hecho de tener dos protagonistas muy claramente definidos. Sabemos, porque pasó en la realidad, que Bill y Virginia van a acabar juntos, y que su estudio tendrá repercusión y éxito en el campo de la ciencia. Esto es algo que juega en contra de la serie, desde mi punto de vista, porque desaparece la incógnita en el tumultuoso romance de los investigadores.

Lo que realmente interesa, para mí, es la evolución psicológica o emocional de Bill (su ineptitud aparente para el rol de padre, su falta de tacto) y el constante "techo de cristal" y las expectativas sociales con las que se enfrenta Virginia. De hecho, como en Mad Men, volvemos a encontrarnos con una mujer "avanzada a su tiempo" (no me gusta especialmente esa expresión; me gusta más "que no aguanta las gilipolleces ajenas") que lucha por lo que sabe que le corresponde al mismo tiempo que intenta adaptarse a lo que la sociedad espera de ella. Y espero que esta temporada nuestra protagonista finalmente mande gente a la mierda, especialmente después de la conversación con su madre cuando esta última se da cuenta del affaire con Bill. Y es que Mrs Johnson madre considera que es más importante que Ginny "caze" a su compañero de trabajo y consiga que deje a Libby por ella que no el gran descubrimiento científico que tienen entre manos. 

Para remarcar la rabia que me producen todos los esfuerzos por dinamitar el trabajo de Virginia (no de Bill, aunque también en cierta manera), los siguientes gifs ilustran a la perfección mi reacción cada vez que la madre de Virginia o su hija Tessa menosprecian su estudio porque no responde a las expectativas sociales:


En fin... Próximamente, más.

divendres, 26 de juny de 2015

50-book challenge

 With the start of 2015, I began this 50-book challenge I found on Pinterest. I'm combining it with the Goodreads Reading Challenge, which I set at 24 books. Here's my list (the titles are listed in the language in which I read the book, which is sometimes the original language):


... with more than 500 pages
... a classic romance
Jane Eyre
... that became a movie
A Streetcar Named Desire
... published this year
The Girl on the Train
... with a number in the title
28 Tage lang
... written by someone under 30

... with nonhuman characters
The Book Thief
... a funny book
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
... by a female author
Mad about the Boy
... a mystery or a thriller
Gone Girl
... with a one-word title
... of short stories

... set in a different country
 The Remains of the Day
... nonfiction

... a popular author’s first book
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone [re-read]
... from an author you love that you haven’t read yet

... recommended by a friend
... Pulitzer-Prize winner

... based on a true story

... at the bottom of your to-read list

... that your mom loves

... that scares you

...more than 100 years old
... based entirely on its cover
La mecánica del corazón
... you were supposed to read in school

... a memoir

... you can finish in a day
Poeta en Nueva York
... with antonyms in the title

... set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit

...that came out the year you were born

... with bad reviews

... a trilogy

... from your childhood
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [re-read]
... with a love triangle

... set in the future

... set in high school

... with a color in the title
80 Days White
... that made you cry
De un tiempo a esta parte
... with magic

... a graphic novel
Los dioses mienten [manga]
... by an author you’ve never read before
Waiting for Godot
... you own but have never read

... that takes place in your hometown
Si te dicen que caí
... originally written in a different language
Uncle Vanya
... set during Christmas

... a play
Don’t look back in anger
... written by an author with your same initials
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour
... a banned book

... based on / turned into a TV show

... you started but never finished

I didn't finish the challenge, I only got to complete half of it, so I will continue with this list during 2016. Here is a link to a short review of the ones I read in 2015.

(last update: January 6th, 2016)

dijous, 14 de maig de 2015

En ocasiones veo series (7)

Mad Men - temporada 3

Aunque no me pareció tan buena como la segunda, en esta temporada se cuece a fuego lento el drama que sale a la superficie en el último capítulo. Como siempre, este es el punto fuerte de la serie: mientras algunos personajes ascienden a nivel laboral o personal, otros descienden a los infiernos.

The Big Bang Theory - temporada 8 

En la última entrada ya había comentado que las aventuras y desventuras de los científicos más nerd de la televisión me parecían irregulares en los primeros episodios, opinión que mantengo para los últimos. Pero esa última escena del season finale... OMG.

A to Z - temporada 1 

Empecé a ver esta serie porque no tenía nada mejor que hacer cuando tuve la gripe y lo que podría haber sido una comedia romántica divertida, una especie de How I Met Your Mother desde el punto de vista de la madre (interpretada por la misma actriz, Cristin Milioti), ha resultado ser una sit-com bastante aburrida, con personajes poco carismáticos. No la voy a terminar.

dijous, 7 de maig de 2015

divendres, 24 d’abril de 2015

Booktag: Reading Habits

I found this booktag about reading habits, so, because it's quite short and qucik to do, here are mine:

Reading at home or everywhere?
I tend to read on the train or bus to work/uni/wherever, even in planes, but I honestly prefer to read at home. I also like to read in bed. I can read pretty much anywhere.
Bookmark or random piece of paper?
Bookmark, but I'll take the random piece of paper/bus card when a bookmark is unavailable. Anything except folding the corners of pages. It's a pet peeve. 

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?
Sometimes I have to stop reading: it's either that or missing my stop. Although I have missed bus stops because I was reading.

Do you eat or drink while reading?
Usually, no, but I do enjoy a cup of tea or hot chocolate while reading.

Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
On the train, I normally listen to music while I read, basically to keep external sounds from distracting me. Sometimes it's the music that distracts me, but it only happens if I'm not enjoying the book.

One book at a time or several at once?
I prefer to read one at a time. 

Reading out loud or silently in your head?
In my head, always. I only enjoy reading out loud when it's others doing it, as long as they're doing it right (so many people can't read out loud...).

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
Sometimes, towards the middle of the novel, I might read the last line of the book. But, as a general rule, I read the whole thing. 

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
Keeping it like new, of course! Seriously, what's wrong with you?

Do you write in your books?
Nope. I have only underlined textbooks, and with pencil, so I could erase it.

E-book or paper book?
Paper books whenever possible, but I'll admit that e-books are really practical, especially for books that are more than 400 pages, ergo, heavy.

dissabte, 14 de març de 2015

En ocasiones veo series (6)

Desde que cerraron muchos de los portales a los que acudía a ver series y gracias a que las webs desde donde podría ver dichas series de forma legal (es decir, las webs de las cadenas de televisión que las emiten) sólo tienen derechos de emisión para Estados Unidos, no llevo ninguna serie al día. Excepto una, que estoy viendo gracias a los DVD que tienen en la biblioteca: Mad Men.

Pretty Little Liars - temporada 5B (capítulos 13 a 24)

He dejado de ver Pretty Little Liars un poco por inercia: ya me salté el episodio especial de Navidad, así que esperé que hubiera un par más de capítulos para ver de la temporada 5B pero lo he ido dejando, la semana que viene se estrena el season finale y yo sin enterarme de lo que ha pasado a lo largo de los últimos diez o doce episodios. Aunque he leído recaps por ahí. Igual la semana que viene, por puro morbo, veo el season finale, pero quién sabe. Mi interés por esta serie, ahora mismo, es más bien nulo.

The Big Bang Theory - temporada 8

Sigo The Big Bang Theory de una forma completamente irregular. He ido viendo los episodios a ratos, en orden pero sin prisa. Vi los cinco primeros antes de Navidad, los otros, cuando necesitaba una dosis de risa más o menos fácil. La verdad es que en general sí que hacen gracia al momento y desconectas de la realidad esos 20 minutos, pero soy incapaz de recordar un solo gag memorable de todos los capítulos que he visto.

Lost in Austen 

En una entrada comenté que había visto varias adaptaciones modernas de Orgullo y prejuicio de Jane Austen por Youtube: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries y Emma Approved. Por recomendación de dos amigas, visioné otra modernización de este clásico de la literatura romántica (en ambos sentidos de la palabra). En ella, Amanda Price, una chica soñadora del Londres actual, acaba metida en su libro favorito como si fuera un personaje más. Los enredos están servidos porque, por un lado, su conducta del siglo XXI desentona en plena Inglaterra victoriana y, por otro lado, intentará manipular los hechos para que el libro termine como debe. Son solo cuatro episodios de casi una hora cada uno. De hecho, un capítulo o dos más no me hubieran importado.

Mad Men - temporadas 1 y 2

Es culpa de la biblioteca. Iba en busca de películas de Miyazaki para hacer una especie de maratón de cine de animación del estudio Ghibli cuando se cruzó en mi camino la primera temporada de Mad Men en DVD. Como coincidió con el cierre de series.ly y similares, me la llevé a casa. Es una de las mejores decisiones que he tomado. Me encanta este drama. Me encanta Don Draper, me encanta Peggy Olson y soy muy, muy fan de Joan Holloway. No soporto a Pete Campbell. No puedo con el machismo que se respiraba en esa época. Me encanta el retrato de la época, especialmente de los personajes femeninos. No entiendo el odio hacia Betty Draper en internet. Me fascina cómo han mezclado hechos históricos con la ficción de la serie. Me alegro de haberme llevado los DVD a casa. Quiero ver la tercera YA.

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