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review 2018-03-14 21:34
Reading the Ceiling by Dayo Forster
Reading the Ceiling - Dayo Forster

I agree with the other reviews that this is a fine option if you are doing a world books challenge and need a book from the Gambia – this is why I read it, and it’s certainly readable – but there isn’t much to recommend it beyond that.


Reading the Ceiling has an interesting premise: the narrator, Ayodele, is turning 18 and determined to get initiated into the mysteries of sex, so she needs to choose a partner with whom to do the deed. The three sections of the book follow alternate versions of her life as it unfolds along three different trajectories depending on whom she chooses: Reuben, an awkward classmate who likes her much more than she likes him; Yuan, a friend of Chinese descent in whom she is interested; or Frederick, the sexually experienced father of her best friend.


I was curious to see how the different stories played out, and there is a sense of place, though oddly for African fiction, Ayodele lives a middle-class life in terms of both values and material comforts, and there’s not much of a sense that she and her classmates are better off than those around them. Tracking the similarities and differences among the stories and the different ways characters relate to each other based on different lives and choices was interesting, and the author does a good job of showing different sides of those events that occur in multiple stories, avoiding repetitive content. I didn’t always believe the author’s choices, though: a character will die in a motorcycle accident in multiple stories despite having lived two different adult lives, or Ayodele will get a scholarship for London in one story but only for Dakar in another even though she submitted the applications before making her choice.


More to the point, though, the book is on the dull side. Ayodele’s feelings about events are often left unclear; instead we get bland descriptions of her surroundings, lacking in emotional content. And she’s not a particularly interesting character or one who inspired much emotion in me. While a character doesn’t need to be pleasant to be compelling, Ayodele doesn’t balance her lack of resilience or less-than-admirable choices with a strong or complex personality to keep readers engaged. In two of the stories she folds emotionally at the first blow, allowing an early failure or tragedy to shape and define her life, while in the final one she chooses to carry an unexpected pregnancy to term, though it derails her life, apparently just to spite her mother. She doesn’t seem destined to be happy regardless of her choices, though it’s hard to tell when the last two end without reaching a conclusion, leaving readers wondering what happens next.


Overall, this isn’t one I would recommend, though if you too have reason to read a book from the Gambia, then go for it. I’ve certainly read worse.

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review 2017-12-16 00:00
A Room with a View
A Room with a View - E.M. Forster Meh... I had a tough time convincing myself to finish this book. It was ok, but seemed rather vapid, or something. I'm not even sure I can summarize it.

So we have a young woman, Lucy Honeychurch, who is vapid, but who grows less so over the course of the book. She is supposed to marry Cecil Vyse, but doesn't really love him, and besides, he's pretty vapid. So she ends up with George Emerson, whom she might love, only he once made improper advances toward her in Italy. But his father, who is extremely weird, convinces her to set that aside. Something like that.

I had a hard time forcing myself to finish this book. It definitely deserves a minus (-) appended to the 3*s. I thought Forster was supposed to be a good author, and I vaguely remember having read A Passage to India in college, and thinking it was ok. But after this example, I'm not sure I'll dabble with him again.
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text 2017-07-31 22:36
Booklikes-Opoly - BrokenTune's Final Game Wrap Up
Making History - Stephen Fry
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea Wulf
A Single Man - Christopher Isherwood
Die So Geliebte. Roman Um Annemarie Schwarzenbach - Melania G. Mazzucco
The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough
Howards End - E.M. Forster
Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum - Richard Fortey
Journey to the Center of the Earth: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry - Jules Verne
The Day Of The Jackal - Frederick Forsyth
Around the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne, Brian W. Aldiss,Michael Glencross

July 31st:


Bank account: $215


Many thanks to Obsidian Blue and Moonlight reader for hosting this game. It was so much fun! Both playing and watching everyone else's updates - a special shout out to Magnetic Monkey and Penni, who have been quite the entertaining duo.


My personal goal for this game was to tackle my TBR shelves, both physical and electronic, and try and read as many books that I already own as I could. 


In that, I think it has been a resounding success. I managed to read 


40 books. Which added up to an amazing 12205 pages! And I loved many of them. Even ones that were outside of my normal reading comfort zone - Hello Sci-fi! and time travel. 


In fact, I managed to re-connect with one of my favourite childhood authors - Jules Verne. Not that Verne is a children's author. I just happen to have had my first encounter with Verne when I was a child. Now I want to read more of his works. They are just amazing!


Overall, not all of the books I have read over the game have been impressive. There have been 3 DNFs, and all the books together averaged a 3.36 rating.


However, there were some honourable mentions which I have linked above.


The Thorn Birds, Howards End, and Journey to the Centre of the Earth were re-reads, so the most surprising or best discoveries of the last three months have been Making History by Stephen Fry and The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulff.


Again, many thanks to OB and MR and to all the other BLikers who have taken part or cheered from the sidelines. You all rock!



Below (after the page break) are all my game updates.


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review 2017-07-14 03:51
A Room With a View (Audiobook) - DNF @ 38%
A Room with a View - E.M. Forster

This is partly my fault, and partly the book's fault.


My fault - For some reason I thought this was like Rear Window, and that the movie was an adaptation of this book??? The movie has a guy with view outside his room, okay! I've never seen it, I just know about it through pop culture and the last time I heard anything about it was years ago, so I forgot the title. So I saw this book, and went hey! I should read that and then I can watch the movie, or rewatch that episode of Castle at least. Hahahaha! Nope. There is a murder, but that's about the only thing these two have in common. So incorrect expectations are totes my fault.


Book's fault - Bored now. Women were repressed in ye olden times. Did you know that? This is complete news to me. *sigh* Just a bunch of talking heads, characters are self-important and annoying (well, I guess Lucy's alright) and NOTHING HAPPENS. Walk around the countryside and talk. Next day: walk around the countryside and talk. Next day: Drive around the countryside and talk. Talk talk talk talkety talk talk. This is a British romance so boring even Hugh Grant wasn't in the movie adaptation. It's that bad!

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text 2017-06-26 22:06
Howards End - E.M. Forster

"It will be generally admitted that Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated into the ear of man. All sorts and conditions are satisfied by it. Whether you are like Mrs. Munt, and tap surreptitiously when the tunes come— of course, not so as to disturb the others—; or like Helen, who can see heroes and shipwrecks in the music's flood; or like Margaret, who can only see the music; or like Tibby, who is profoundly versed in counterpoint, and holds the full score open on his knee; or like their cousin, Fräulein Mosebach, who remembers all the time that Beethoven is “echt Deutsch”; or like Fräulein Mosebach's young man, who can remember nothing but Fräulein Mosebach: in any case, the passion of your life becomes more vivid, and you are bound to admit that such a noise is cheap at two shillings. It is cheap, even if you hear it in the Queen's Hall, dreariest music-room in London, though not as dreary as the Free Trade Hall, Manchester; and even if you sit on the extreme left of that hall, so that the brass bumps at you before the rest of the orchestra arrives, it is still cheap."

Oh! Was Forster a fellow Beethoven fan? How fun!

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