Tag Archive: Cloud Atlas


End of Year Book Survey: 2012

Book Survey 2012Jamie is hosting the End of Year Book Survey again and I thought I would have a go this year, as it seemed a good way of reflecting on all the amazing books I have read in 2012.  My own quick wrap-up and goals for next year will follow shortly, I expect, but for now….


Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? 

I read several books in 2012 that I awarded 5/5 to but my absolute best book of 2012 has to be To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.   Yes, it was a re-read, but it is my favourite book of all time and was amazing this year as well!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I read The Great Gatsby back in January before I started book blogging and was expecting great things from it – so many people study it, I thought it must be really good.  However, I couldn’t get into it and I was relieved that it was so short!  I did put it on my re-read list though, as I assume I missed something.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 

I was very surprised (in a good way) with Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: I didn’t know what to expect from this book but it was so amazingly intricate and imaginative that it quickly became a firm favourite of mine.

 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

I am going to split this one: the book I recommended most to book bloggers, I think is a tie between To Kill a Mockingbird and Cloud Atlas.  Secondly, the book I recommended most to non-bookish people was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, as I thought them a great series for non-readers to enjoy reading with.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

I didn’t really discover many new series, which is a shame; 2012 seems to be a year where I read a lot more standalones and classics compared to normal where I really enjoy reading series.  I hope in 2013 I will read more of the series I have already started over the past few years.
I did discover The Hunger Games for the first time and also I enjoyed re-reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.

 6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Well, I could ramble on this one!  I definitely enjoyed my first Jane Austen (Emma) and my first Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm).  I also discovered that I love Simon Singh‘s way of writing about maths/science too when I read Fermat’s Last Theorem in October.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I wouldn’t say this is out of my comfort zone, but in 2012 I did start reading science/maths novels for the firs time so I guess that counts (again Singh’s Fermat’s Last Theorem and E=mc² by David Bodanis).  Also I read my first books in French – Harry Potter 1 and Fantastic Mr Fox, which was totally new but great.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

I could say either book 1 0r 2 but I will go for book 2: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – I just couldn’t put it down at all.

 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

I try not to re-read books within 18 months of their first reading so here are the 2012 books that I put straight on my re-read list: The Great Gatsby, David Copperfield, Wuthering Heights, To Kill a Mockingbird, Dracula, Cloud Atlas.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

Well a lot of the books I read had really nice covers but here are my favourites:

Emma

Great Expectations

Fermat-Last-Theorem

11. Most memorable character in 2012? 

I think this would have to be Lisbeth Salander from Larsson’s books; who is more unique and interesting than Lisbeth?

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

I think I would go with David Copperfield by Charles Dickens for this – amazing writing by Dickens.  (My second choice would be Great Expectations anyway, so good on you Charles!)

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 

I will say To Kill a Mockingbird again, as I just loved it and liked all the characters and felt as though I really knew them. 

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 

This is one is definitely The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: everyone went crazy about this book a couple of years ago, so when I saw it in a charity shop in summer 2011 I bought it…then it took me until summer 2012 to read it!  Although, I do quite like the tradition I seem to have developed of Dan Brown as summer reading…

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing.”  16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?”    Scout Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.  Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”     Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

The longest was David Copperfield at a whopping 1263 pages!! The shortest was Fatastique Maître Renard at only 118 pages.  Numerically, my average book length was about 400 pages, which is pretty good, I think.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

There were definitely lots of gruesome and upsetting scenes in The Kite Runner, which was the first book I read this year (before I started book blogging).

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

I think that the relationship between Clare and Henry in The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is very unique and also very touching and changes and develops throughout the book.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

The Kalahari Typing School For Men by Alexander McCall Smith was definitely the highlight of January 2012: I adore those books and I am very sad that I haven’t read one since then (I have all the way up to book 10 on my TBR shelf, they just haven’t come around yet).  Watch out for lots more of AMcCS in 2013!

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Lots of the classics I’ve read this year have been due to various bloggers and lists on websites, but there are some books that I was bought by my friends: And This is True by Emily Mackie, The Shadow of the Wind by Carol Ruiz Zafón, Submarine by Joe Dunthorne and The Crow Road by Iain Banks.

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?

Well, I only started book blogging this year so any book blogs are new to me!  I love them all and I am going to try and be a bit more proactive and discover some more in 2013.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 

Oh um maybe my review of Great Expectations where I rave about re-reading as well.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

Some of my non-bookish posts had lots of discussions – notably my posts about my exams, results and holidays; I think it’s important to share other parts of our lives too.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

I can remember discussing why books in translation or books in other languages aren’t as popular over at Amanda’s blog.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I don’t think there are many book blogger events in England?  And probably none outside of London so I haven’t been to any, however The Classics Club is definitely a main feature of the book blogging world that I am proud to be a member of.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?

For me, it would have to be the 1st March 2012 – the day I wrote my first post on adamsbibliomania!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My most popular posts by views are often those that people come across when searching on the internet, for example The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.  My most popular post in terms of comments and activity was my original sign-up to The Classics Club.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Actually my Reading Habits post didn’t seem to get read much…maybe it was a bit text-dense or something.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Definitely the new Penguin English Library books this year – very addictive and attractive!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I wanted to read a classic a month after signing up to The Classics Club in March and in 10 months I have read 8.  That’s not too bad and it’s only November and December that I didn’t manage.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

Oh so many!  But I am halfway through Villette so I am determined to finish that in 2013.  Also I really need to read The Hobbit.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

I’m really looking forward to loads of books in 2013: Pride and Prejudice, more AMcCS…

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

I really just want to improve – so that means do better than last year!  Who knows if this is a possibility or not with my heavier workload in sixth form etc but I think 35 books in the year is a good target to have 🙂

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Yes, I realise that it is already the 9th of December (how did this happen?!) but I have only just now had time to wrap up for November!  Of course, I am very busy at the moment and will only get busier, but nevertheless, I read 3 books in November.

Here’s what I read in November 2012:

E = mc² – David Bodanis

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

The Visible World – Mark Slouka

This is good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is the same name number as I read in October.  It is a bit of a mix with a science book, an absolute favourite and a let down!  However, my target of at least one classic every month was not fulfilled in November.

Challenge Progress in November 2012:

The Classics Club :  8/60 books read  (None this month)

The Victorian Challenge 2012:  4/6 books read  (None this month)

The Literary Classics Reading Challenge: 6/15 (None this month)

Still need to read Middlemarch and Villette for The Victorian Challenge but I think Villette alone will be enough of a challenge!

Currently In Progress:

Currently in progress is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams, which technically I haven’t read before, but I have listened to all of the radio series countless times so it is kind of a re-read I guess. I also have lots of science magazines on the go.

December Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are Middlemarch still, Villette by Charlotte Brontë and The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz.  I have already mentioned I am leaving Middlemarch until I can focus on it, but I do hope to get to Villette.  I did want to read Pride and Prejudice this Christmas as well…this may become an early January read.

Challenges:  If I do get round to Villette, it would both count towards all 3 challenges.  Pride and Prejudice would count towards two (not Victorian) and I hope to read at least one of these two books.

I am actually reading every day, but when you are busy it is hard to read more than a few pages – you don’t have time for more!  I am really hoping that I can do my usual balancing of revision and reading in the Christmas holidays this year, as I have exams (again) in January.

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

Title: Cloud Atlas

Author: David Mitchell

Date Finished: 17/11/12

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely fantastic

I have had this book for just under a year, after it was recommended to me by the conductor of one of the ensembles I play in.  He said he had conducted the music that inspired the book, which in itself was fantastic and he subsequently read the book himself.  He was definitely right when he said it was a great read.

The novel contains 6 different narratives arranged in the structure: 1,2,3,4,5,6,5,4,3,2,1 with the 6th story being the only one uninterrupted.  Obviously this is already quite a unique idea and what’s more is that each story is set in a different time period AND each one has links with the previous story too.  Sound like Mitchell bit off more than he could chew? Well he manages to tie everything together perfectly.

My favourite stories were 2,3 and 5 which were a story of a broke aspiring composer set in Belgium, a murder mystery in 60s USA and an interview with a clone set in Korea in the future.  You can tell already that this book is an eclectic mix of plots but I was especially impressed by how much detail Mitchell managed to write into a relatively few number of pages.  It felt more like 6 short books – each plot was rich and completely unlike anything I had ever read before.

Now obviously nothing is ever perfect in a book and I did find it quite hard to get into the first story.  Also the sixth story really did nothing for me, especially the way humans have resorted to primitivism in the future.  That upset me a bit.  But these were just minor difficulties I had – I still rated the book 5/5!

The characters are quite hard to write about generally, as there were obviously more main characters than normal, due to the six different stories.   Adam Ewing was a bit silly but Henry Goose was a brilliant villain.  I thought quite a few of the characters weren’t particularly realistic, but then it didn’t seem to matter.  Timothy Cavendish and to be frank, almost all the characters in that particular story (number 4) were all totally unrealistic but I really didn’t care – they were hilarious!  Sonmi-451 was brilliant but my favourite set of characters have to be from the second story; I just found them all so memorable.  I really looked forward to reading the recapitulation of story 2 much more for the characters than the plot.

The settings are all vibrant and I loved the way we jumped all over the world and all over time too.  I must sound like a stuck record but this book is just so unique for this!  The way we were suddenly in Belgium after being deep in obscure Pacific Islands and then quickly into the US and then catapulted into modern day Britain followed soon by futuristic Korea and then Hawaii and back through them all again.  Brilliant.

I looked on Wikipedia after I had finished Cloud Atlas just to see what were the ‘official’ interpretations of the book and interestingly I didn’t really agree.  The main themes detailed on the website were: the number 6 and ascent and descent.  Now both these themes do feature but I was really shocked because the theme I observed most was struggle.  Adam struggles against his ‘illness’, Robert struggles with having no money, Luisa struggles against Seaboard, Timothy struggles against his imprisonment, Sonmi struggles against Unanimity and Papa Song’s and Zachry struggles against the Kona people and to an extent himself.  You get the picture.  You can understand how I was surprised that none of this even featured on the ‘linking themes’ section!
If any of you have read this book, I would be really interested on how you reflect on the themes!  Let me know!

Anyway, as you can tell, this book has become one of my favourites and I have put it straight on the re-read list (that doesn’t happen very often).  I am sooo excited to see the film when it comes out next year and I predict that in 10, 20, 30+ years, students may be studying this book for their English lessons – I think it’s a modern classic.  If you are looking for a really great read then seriously look no further; I cannot recommend this book enough.

This week has been very busy!

I know I say that every week but it seems that I have barely been at home since the holiday as I’ve had lessons, badminton, musical things and driving lessons after school every day.  (Not all on the same day of course!)  So I haven’t really had much chance to read, which is a shame, as I was on a reading kick during half term (last week) and I was reading a lot.  I have still finished one book – E = mc² by David Bodanis and I am making my way through Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

I didn’t write a post on E = mc² because I figured it was a bit too sciencey for this blog.  I don’t think I would be able to write about anything more than just how I learnt some new concepts in physics and science in general and so I thought it wasn’t really worth a whole post.  Anyway, I did enjoy reading it and gave it 4/5, but not as much as I enjoyed Fermat’s Last Theorem (5/5).  I would recommend only if you are actually interested in what E = mc² actually means and its applications over the last century or so because there is really nothing else in this book.  If you are interested in that, it is a great read.

Cloud Atlas is a very powerful book already (I am only just halfway through) and I can safely say I (almost) really love it.  There are  6 different stories and the first five, especially 2, 3, 4 and 5 were amazing but I am just not really connecting that well with the last story.  This combined with little reading time means that I’m not really progressing very much…but never mind; there is the weekend now so I may be able to read a decent chunk.  Have a good weekend everyone and do lots of reading!

October Wrap-Up and November Plans

Wow it is actually ridiculous how quickly these months are going by; how is it November already?  Anyway October was good fun for me – we had our school charity RAG week and a sixth form social (I think I am still recovering even now!) and this week’s holiday was definitely needed.

October was a pretty good reading month for me considering how poor September was!

Here’s what I read in October 2012:

Fermat’s Last Theorem – Simon Singh

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest – Stieg Larsson

Macbeth – William Shakespeare

This is good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is 2 more than I read in September!  It’s also a good variety as it’s one non fiction, one fiction and one classic.  Also, my target of at least one classic every month was fulfilled in October by Macbeth.

Challenge Progress in October 2012:

The Classics Club :  8/60 books read  (Macbeth)

The Victorian Challenge 2012:  4/6 books read  (None this month)

The Literary Classics Reading Challenge: 6/15 (Macbeth)

Need to read Middlemarch and Villette for The Victorian Challenge but I doubt I will manage both – Middlemarch beat me when I tried at the beginning of September.

Currently In Progress:

Currently in progress is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, which I thought would be a bit of a struggle but so far I am really enjoying it and keeping on top if it.  Also I am reading E=mc² by David Bodanis as my current science book; his prose is not quite as good as Simon Singh’s so far.

November Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are The Visible World by Mark Slouka, Middlemarch still and Villette by Charlotte Brontë!  Cloud Atlas is pretty big and I am reading two books at the moment so I can’t see myself getting much past The Visible World after them.

Challenges:  If I do get round to Middlemarch or Villette, they would both count towards all 3 challenges.

September was such a dismal reading month for me that I didn’t even bother with a monthly wrap-up so I am glad that I am out of my reading rut.  I am just cautious of pushing myself back into it by forcing Middlemarch upon myself again.  It just seems too big and obscure (I don’t know anything about it and people don’t seem to talk about Eliot as much as say Dickens or Austen) for my life at the moment – maybe it will be something I adore but only if I get time to appreciate it properly; a holiday read next year?  Who knows but I don’t want to completely discard it yet as so many people love it.  Don’t judge a book by its cover size?

August Wrap-Up and September Plans

Hello everyone…I can’t believe it’s September! 2012 seems to be flying by.  I like September because starting back at school is quite exciting and it’s my birthday!  Also, the Autumnal weather is a  favourite of mine.  Anyway, in August I really enjoyed the Olympics, a holiday to Majorca and brilliant results.  It has been great but I am ready to go back to school and have some structure returned to my life!

August was a great reading month for me, but not quite as good as last year…there was just too much going on!

Here’s what I read in August 2012:

The Crow Road – Iain Banks

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

Harry Potter à L’École des Sorciers – J.K. Rowling

Dracula – Bram Stoker

This is great as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This was the same number as I read in July.  Also, my target of at least one classic every month was fulfilled in August by Dracula.

Challenge Progress in August 2012:

The Classics Club :  7/60 books read  (Dracula)

The Victorian Challenge 2012:  4/6 books read  (Dracula)

The Literary Classics Reading Challenge: 4/15 (Dracula)

Really good progress in all the challenges this year.

Currently In Progress:

Currently in progress (as of yesterday) is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  I read one page late last night and then put it down as I was exhausted…I just hope this isn’t an indication of how I will respond to all 800+ pages of it!

September Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ NestMacbeth, and Cloud Atlas.  Middlemarch is so vast that I very much doubt I read anything else this month…and maybe next too!

Challenges:  Middlemarch will count for all 3 and Macbeth will count for 2 challenges.

Just though I would mention that it has been 6 months since I started blogging!  That is shocking – I still feel very much like a newbie and I would just like to say thank you to all subscribers/readers/commenters for your insight, support and welcome; you have all made book-blogging a very enjoyable experience for me, which is what I hoped for when I started out back at the start of March.  Thank you all 🙂

Every week, The Broke and The Bookish poses a category for book bloggers to post their ‘Top Ten’ in that week’s category.

This week the category is ‘Top Ten Books on Spring TBR List’ with the guidance basically to list the books you are most looking forward to reading this Spring.  Since I am participating in The Classics Club and The Victorian Challenge 2012 this year, I hope to make a significant dent in these lists this Spring so there are quite a few classics on today’s list.

For me, the year is divided equally into its four seasons: June, July & August are Summer; September, October & November are Autumn; December, January & February are Winter; leaving March, April & May as Spring.  I don’t know why I have always though of seasons this way, maybe it’s to do with how school is structured, by for today’s list, I am focussing on books I am really looking forward to reading in the remainder of March, April and May.

Oh, and these are not in order – that would be much too difficult!

 

1. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë.  I am so looking forward to this book and I am reading it next after I’ve finished And This Is True.  I really loved Jane Eyre, which was my first Brontë, and even though I’ve had good advice from Caro that the Brontës were all very  different, I just can’t wait to get back to 19th Century rural England.  Also, Wuthering Heights count for The Classics Club AND The Victorian Challenge so I am killing multiple birds with one book-shaped stone!

 

2. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafón.  I got given this book for my birthday last September by a friend who had heard it was good.  My friend went on to buy his own copy and read it before I could (my book backlog is rather ridiculous) and has said that it was absolutely amazing.  With that kind of recommendation I am expecting great things from this book and am looking forward to sinking into Barcelona!

 

3. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins.  Well there is certainly a lot of hype surrounding this series at the moment – I had a free period in the library on Monday and of the roughly 15 people in there, three people were reading (one being me) and the other two were both reading one of The Hunger Games books.  With the film coming out in 3 days time, no wonder people are going crazy.  My sister borrowed the first book from her friend and read it in one weekend, which is quite unusual for her, and we are both eagerly awaiting the delivery of our own copies of the trilogy! I just can’t wait to find out what is all the fuss about?!

 

4. Emma – Jane Austen.  I haven’t read any Austen before (shocking, I know!) and so I am really excited about getting into this, my first.  I chose Emma because my music teacher said that this was her favourite Austen so it seemed as good a place to start as any.  I don’t really know anything of the story and nothing about the characters, so it should be really fun to read a book without any previous knowledge (something quite rare for me).  It has been on my TBR shelf for a good six months or so, and has finally worked its way to near the top and it also counts for The Classics Club, so all in all I think it deserves to be read now!

 

5. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown.  I have already read Digital Fortress and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and I enjoyed them both (solid 4 / 5).  However, this seems to be the novel that took the world by storm so I am looking forward to reading it.  I read Angels and Demons (the preceding novel to The Da Vinci Code) whilst on holiday last summer, so it seems right that this one might tie in nicely with my holiday to Vienna this Easter, although that means getting through a couple of other books pretty quickly!

 

6. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens.  This is a re-read for me – I read it in 2010 but I think I missed something as I found it hard to get into and nothing special.  To be fair it was my first Dickens and I was quite young, so now that I am more experienced with Dickens (I’ve read Hard Times, Oliver Twist and David Copperfield since then) I am hoping to enjoy this much more the second time around.  I enjoyed the BBC adaptation at Christmas and I am intrigued to see if the new film that is being made will bring something new to a story well known by so many.  Another bonus is that it will also count towards The Classics Club and The Victorian Challenge!

 

7. The Girl Who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson.  This is another re-read.  I absolutely loved the Millennium Trilogy when I read them for the first time back in summer 2010 and I have already re-read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last December and loved it again!  Insanely gripping plots – I can’t put these books down so I am really looking forward to reading the second instalment of Lisbeth’s life again.  If you haven’t read these books yet then I seriously seriously recommend them – such vivid characters and instantly captivating plots!

 

8. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell.  I really don’t know much about this book, aside from the fact that it has several different plots (?).  It was recommended to me by the conductor of the regional wind ensemble I play during the holidays as one of the other ensembles he conducts played a piece of music composed to accompany it and he said it was a great read.  If anyone has read this, I would love to know what you thought of it!  I have put it on this list as I know nothing about the book or the author and that is scary but also exciting!

 

9. The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman. I really loved the His Dark Materials books when I first read them due to the inventive plot, great characters and the way they deal with serious questions.  I re-read Northern Lights in December and really enjoyed it again, so I am looking forward to getting into the second in the trilogy, The Subtle Knife, a lot.  It is quite a short and easy to read book so I am hoping to polish it off relatively quickly!

 

10. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee.  This is (probably) my favourite book ever!  For my GCSE in English Literature we had to study this book as our novel and it was so great for me – I loved reading it and learning all the quotes was a pleasure!  This book says so much and says it so well, it a must read for everyone!  I think this will be the 3rd time I have actually read it through as a book, but I have listened to the audiobook many times and when I was studying for English I just kept it around and dipped in and out, reading whichever bit was relevant to the area I was revising.  If you have not read this book you must buy it and read it now!!  On top of all that, it counts towards The Classics Club too – what’s not to love?