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Thursday, March 01, 2007

"Thinking About..." and "Booking Through Thursday"

I'm about half way through Palace Walk. The writing is beautiful, flowing; as a reader, I am swept along with the characters in their ordinary, day to day lives. There are moments of humor and wonderful characterization and detail, but there is also a great deal of stress for a modern, Western woman reading about not only a patriarchal culture, but one in which women can remain secluded their entire lives, a culture that allows the man all the power and decisions, and in which most females are subservient and obedient. Mahfouz pulls you into the lives of this family in Cairo, explaining the thinking of each one, seemingly objectively. Raised in an entirely different culture, I find the concept of considering women as objects and creatures with less "than half a mind" frightening. And yet, because Mahfouz handles everything so adroitly, I'm entirely intriqued by this family.

I'm almost finished with Paglia's Break, Blow, Burn -- it so easy to read one or two poems and Paglia's comments and put it down again, but I am enjoying Paglia's explication/analysis of each one.

When the tension in Palace Walk begins to feel stressful , I retreat to something else... Paglia's poetry analysis or The Shape-Changer's Wife, letting the tension release.

Booking Through Thursday

1. How many books would you say you read in an average month?

Last year, I read an average of about 12 books a month. So far this year, I've read more nonfiction and the average is about 9 per month.

2. In a year?

Last year 146. Normally, around 120+.

3. Over the last five years?

Using an average of 120, it would be around 600. I'm not going back through my old journals to count them.

4. The last 10?

Using the same average...about 1200.


  1. Wow, I am so totally impressed with anyone who can read over 100 books in a year! That's just incredible to me :)

    Loved reading your answers. Hope you have a great Thursday and Happy Reading!!!

  2. I am impressed too. I enjoy reading about your impressions of books, it helps me consider reading them myself.

  3. Given that in a good month, I can read four whole books -- well, you can understand why I am a little envious of someone who is managing somewhere between 9 and 12 per month.

    I find that Palace Walk is actually quite memorable. I only remember the characters -- not necessarily their names -- but the book stays with you.

  4. Stacy -- I'm a retired English teacher. What else would I do? :) I only watch television if I'm sewing or doing handwork of some kind.

    meeyauw -- Thanks. I like sharing my thoughts on different books.

    Jill -- I read, on the average, at least 4 hours a night. Except on Monday and Thursday when I watch television and sew.

    Palace Walk is fascinating, but the book makes me thankful that I was not born a woman in that time and culture.

  5. Oh wow! I'm so impressed!!! I wish I can read as many books like you...LOL! Happy reading and Happy BTT!

  6. I have been meaning to read Palace Walk for ages, and was actually slated to read it for January, but I never even ended up borrowing it out of the library.

    Off to rectify that now!

  7. WOW, that is a lot of books!

  8. Melody - It is embarassing that I don't have a real life!

    Marg - I'm enjoying it (when I can keep my frustration at the treatment of women in control). Mahfouz is a fine writer with an eye for detail. Must give credit to the translation, too.

    Stephanie - I'm an escapist! Really, I've always been this way and would be physically ill if deprived of books.

  9. You are one of the most prolific readers I know!! I wouldn't ever feel at all bad about it! I am ver curious about the mahfouz book and have mooched a copy. What is the time period of it? I'm not sure how I feel about Camille Paglia--she certainly has her opinions, but I like the idea of a book of poetry with the explication along with it--I have been looking for something like that!

  10. Danielle - the book opens in about 1916-1917, I'd say. The Muslims have been rooting for the Germans and are angry with the Australians (part of the Allied forces stationed in Cairo). I've just gotten to the end of the war and the general disappointment that the Germans lost. So far there have been only occasional references to the war; mostly Yasmin's (older son) anger that it has put the entertainment district out of bounds. Now, however, there is a rise in nationalism and the second son is showing great interest in expelling the British. Up until this point, the focus has been on the immediate family and the war has not really affected them, but Fahmy is showing signs of becoming politically active.

    I didn't care for much of Paglia's feminist criticism of novels. Her approach to poetry is very different; her poetry criticism is traditional and unpretentious, easy to understand, and a great tool for those who think poetry is too difficult. Really good.

  11. That's a lot of books! How fantastic.

  12. Jenclair, do you think you'll read the entire trilogy or stop after you finish Palace Walk? I'm trying to decide if I ought to have the other two on hand before I start the first. . .

    And I hope I can manage to read as many books as you some day. You rock.