What did YOU read for ‘the Reading Hour?’

One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is the love of reading. As stated by the National Year of Reading promotions, “Even just 10 minutes a day, an hour over the week, will give most students the chance of becoming a better reader, with all the social and educational benefits that brings.” (From http://www.thereadinghour.org.au)

The Reading Hour was officially held over this weekend, 25th August 2012, nominally from 6-7 pm, encouraging families to pick up a book at that time. With lots of variations to that timing, and lots of different activities promoted by public and school libraries, there must have been many pages turned.

It is hoped that we can try to move towards some of the aims of the National Year of Reading which include:

    • Sharing a book with your child for 10 minutes a day
    • Restoring some of that work-life balance by taking a break with a book at lunchtime
    • Getting together with friends to read and talk about your favourite books
    • Incorporating a reading hour in the school week

Personally, I picked up the classic, The Great Gatsby, which I was drawn back to having recently reviewed the graphic novel version by Nicki Greenberg. (It was interesting that I still envisioned many of the characters in the forms drawn by Greenberg!)

What did you read, either on Saturday night, or for an extended period of time in the last week (excluding the weekend papers…)?


With lots of time on my hands, I’ve discovered lots of wonderful things on the Internet – including the GoodReads website. So how do you use it? (This is what I did…)

To begin:

1. After a simple signup, I selected some the genres of books I like reading.

2. Then, I added some of the books I have read, both recently and in the past – a reminder of what I have enjoyed reading.

3. I also added some of the books I am currently reading to another list.

4. From this, I have been given recommendations for other books similar to these – which I might like or already have (and I tagged them appropriately).
Then I compiled an ever-increasing ‘to-read’ list, which is good to remind me of the the piles (both physical and virtual) of books I am yet to read.

5. Finally, I sent invites to friends to let them know about GoodReads because it also has a social element to it, in that you can invite other readers you know to create their lists, and share their love of reading too. Just send email invites to friends and colleagues, or simply choose them from your FaceBook or Twitter contacts, and get them started. Of course, it helps if you have something to show them on your lists, so that they get the idea of how thngs work from your example.

This will sit quite well next to LibraryThing, which we already use for new additions to our school library – with the added benefit of a personalised network of people with whom you can share great books.

You can see in the side bar, a list of books I intend to read, or view my GoodReads here.

Why not try compiling your own lists, invite your friends along also – you may be surprised at how much you have read – and how much more is out there!

the Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai

the-inheritance-of-loss1As mentioned in an earlier post, I have been ‘reading’ (via a CDs-and-book combination) ‘the Inheritance of Loss’ – a book by Kiran Desai which won the Man Booker Prize in 2006. I had picked it up in my search for books reflecting issues of globalisation.

Set mainly in the foothills of the Himalayas, it tells the stories of several characters interwoven by family and work relationships, amid the legacies of post-colonial India, and the local struggles for political independence. Position, power and politics all play a part in this tale – with some predictable outcomes – and a perspective into cultures quite different from my own.

Since finishing (and enjoying) this book, I have searched to see how others had reviewed and found a mix of praise and criticism for the prize winner. Some reviews were quite effusive in their compliments, while others decried Desai as using too many stereotypes and betraying the culture of many Indian people groups.

Comments used in reviews include:

  • a series of parallel stories… each quixotic
  • ‘literature of tourism’ – a fascinating introduction to a particular time and place
  • overwhelmed by detail
  • gripping stories of people buffeted by the winds of history, personal and political
  • the book gets under your skin
  • a bleak view of the clash of the ‘first world’ with the ‘third world’

(Most of these comments from: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/95186.The_Inheritance_of_Loss)

It’s interesting to see the polarisation of reviews which often occurs with awarded books. These also made me wonder how the book might be received differently based on your ethnic background – would people who lived in, or knew the ethnic cultures, be accepting as I was of the way characters were portrayed and acted in the tale? Is that where the acceptance or rejection of the novel diverges greatly? Perhaps based on our own cultural baggage?

‘Reading’ using an audio production may have had an input to my enjoyment of the novel, read as it was by experienced narrator, Sam Dastor. This gave accents and voice to the characters which my personal reading-from-the-page may have missed. It certainly gave me things to laugh at in the car, as humour was interwoven with the daily struggles of Sai, Biju, Noni and Lola, and the Judge. And the language Desai uses is, at times playful, at other times precise, reflective and colourful. Perhaps that is why I also felt the need to purchase a physical copy of the book – and to see the shape of her words, and to see the names of the people and places in the tale.

I recommend picking up either copy (audio or book), or, as I did, try both! As usual comments and feedback welcome!


‘Reading’ in the car

I’m currently reading as I drive – by using an audio book version of ‘Inheritance of Loss’ by Kira Desai.

It’s an interesting exercise with these being my observations so far:

1.I need to have a fair way to drive (at least a half-hour journey or more…)

2. It’s great to have a book where the accents are acted out

3. It’s sometimes hard to catch a name (and guess how it’s spelt)

4. A talented narrator / reader makes all the difference (this one is a Penguin audiobook)

5. You can’t easily flick back to check your understanding

6. It’s probably best when you are alone! (Unless you regularly share interests with your passenger…)

inheritance-loss-bkpauk000086That said, I have enjoyed the experience – there would even be times that I would be tempted to stay in the car to continue with the story. And I am sure people have wondered what I might be laughing at as I drove by!

However, I have also found a copy of the book at a second hand bookshop (Brown’s Books in Springwood) so that I can check the place and character names I have been hearing. I can now ‘hear’ the voices of the characters as they ‘speak’ from the written page! I can still feel the book.  

And I don’t have to wait till I am in the car!

What have been your ‘reading’ experiences with audiobooks?