07 February 2012

'Vive le Livre!' January - February

Happy first Tuesday of the month and welcome to our very first 'Vive le Livre!' get together!

You've probably noticed that it's been a quiet couple of weeks on the blog.
This has been on account of the fact that there's been a frantic flipping of pages on my part to complete the mammoth "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.
In fact, I even found myself dividing the book into 100 page segments & attempting to read one of these each day during the last week in my quest to reach my target.

There are 1168 pages in this most incredible book and although I pride myself on being a fairly fast reader, the nature of the content meant that I often found myself pausing for reflection, doing that most wicked of things 'earmarking' corners on pages where the writing really 'found its mark' and quite often reflecting on the characters and their actions even when the book wasn't in my hands.

I know this book won't be for everyone, but I relished it and am going to return to the bookseller who recommended it to me and give her a little pressie as a thank you for sharing the gift of Ayn Rand's writing - that's how much I loved it!

My only error was to type in "Atlas Shrugged" into a Google search as I neared the end of the book, and watched a snippet from the movie which was released last year.  Ayn Rand had drawn the characters so beautifully in my imagination that it was startling to see actors who looked nothing like what I'd envisaged and I found myself grappling with the mismatch as I completed the book- don't you hate that?
I'm not sure whether I'm going to watch the movie in full or not, perhaps in a month or two.
I won't spoil the plot by trying to explain it, but if you like a big book with a strong philosophical bent, terrific characters and a great storyline - then this might be a 'goodie' to pop onto your reading list for 2012.

This was only one of the books that I managed to tick off my list however.
The second was a present sent to me by my special friend Jane, who is a fellow 'lover of language' & reading.

There is so much that I love about this book.
1. Its presentation - a cream and gold embossed hardback with burgundy embellishments.
2. It's a celebration of the etymology of phrases - love that!
3. It taught me something new.
4. It's something that I could share with Captain V, the 'Gifts', students I teach, and perhaps even you.

The title of the book?
"Opening Pandora's Box - Phrases Borrowed From the Classics And The Stories Behind Them" by Ferdie Addis.
Here's a little excerpt to give you a taste of some of the delights contained in this book:

Times of happiness and prosperity

"In Greek mythology, Alcyone was a daughter of Aeolus, the god of the winds.
She was married to Ceyx, son of the Morning Star, and they enjoyed such a happy marriage that they claimed to be as lucky as the ultimate couple, Hera and Zeus.
This of course, was a mistake. If there was one thing guaranteed to get the gods in a mood, it was hearing themselves being compared to lowly mortals. 
To punish Ceyx and Alcyone for their pride, Zeus changed them into birds: Ceyx became a diver, and Alcyone became a kingfisher, or alkuon in Greek.
Ovid had a different version of this story, where Alcyone changed into a bird after her husband dies in a shipwreck. At any rate, both versions agree that the newly feathered Alcyone soon found a kingfisher's life to be far from straightforward.  Every winter she would lay her eggs in a nest by the sea, and every year storms would sweep the nest away. 
Finally Zeus, taking pity on the unfortunate woman, decreed that for seven days around the winter solstice the seas would always be calm. These tranquil days in the middle of winter are the halcyon days, which have come to stand for any period of peace and happiness."
There is actually a little bit of a cryptic connection between this quote and "Atlas Shrugged" but I'll keep you guessing so as not to spoil the plot.

So there are my two books for 'Jan - Feb' and now to check in on my reading goals, here's how they look:

* I'd like to read two books per month [Tick! It was close but I made it.]
* I'm keen to read at least one Australian novel
* I'd like to complete a classic eg: "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky [Started Yesterday]
* At least two biographies or autobiographies will be in my selection
* One informative non-fiction will be in my list [Tick - thank you Jane x]
* Inspired by Gifters' recommendations I'm going to try new authors & titles [for me]:
~ "When God Was A Rabbit"Sarah Winman;
~ "Before I Go To Sleep" SJ Watson;
~ "Shakespeare's Wife" Germaine Greer;
~ "Stasiland" Anna Funder;
~  One Gerald Durrell title - am open to suggestions here;
~  The first book in the "Mistborn" series by Branden Sanderson;
~ "The Tiger's Wife" by Tea Obreht; [I'm thinking that this will be a co-read with Dostoyevsky this month]
~ "Foals Bread" by Gillian Mears;
~ "Past The Shallows" by Favel Parrot;
~ "The Weight of Silence" by Catherine Therese and finally
~ "Five Bells" by Gail Jones.
~ "Enjoy Every Sandwiche" by Lee Lipsenthal
~ "Autumn Laing" by Alex Miller
~ "The Heart Garden" by Janine Burke
How about you? What have you read over the past month?
Do you have reading goals that you'd like to keep? Any great recommendations for the rest of us?

I haven't created a formal 'Linky' for this first get together as I wanted to see what each of you had to say to each other about the books you've read.
I'd like you to see this as your own space for encouraging the love of reading in yourself and others, so please take the time to comment and reply to each others' notes just like you were having a chat at a reading group.

If you've written a 'Vive le Livre!' post - yippee! Please include the URL in your note so that we can all have a read. Visit and reply to each other, get busy with words, in short - celebrate the love of books and reading.

If you'd like to share the fun with your own readers, I'd be thrilled if you included the button (which is just to your right in the sidebar) in your post to spread the word...sorry dreadful pun, I hope you can get past it.

Until the first Tuesday in March, happy page turning!


  1. I didn't know there was a movie. As is always the case with us, I picked up what I think is a first edition Atlas Shrugged for my daughter last month - little Valentine's Day present I think :)

    1. You really must have a peek at the website J - click on the hyperlinks in my post or on 'Atlas Shrugged' under the heading "In 2012 I've Read" and you'll find some interesting things for sure. If you think you might read the book though perhaps don't fall into my trap and watch the movie trailer.

      You have one lucky daughter to be receiving a first edition copy - it really is a classic to treasure.

      Happy day to all in your happy home.

  2. Atlas shrugged is one of my all time favourite books. I have had my copy for over 50 years!!!!!! I think I would like to see the film but will probably wait until part 2 is out. Reardon looked alright I wonder who is going to play John Galt, who ever it is will have to be pretty dynamic to make the speech work properly!
    I have read this month.. You'll be sorry when I'm dead by Marieke Hardy (confessional, voyeuristic, painful, hilarious and heartfelt it reveals the acerbic wit, unflinching gaze and razor-sharp insight of a writer at the height of her powers - or the unhinged fantasies of a dangerous mind with not enough to do.) So says the cover blurb..correctly!! Reread One for the Road by Janelle McCulloch because I just love, love her blog. These are both Australian writers. The fiction I read this month was library rubbish but thoroughly enjoyable and entirely forgettable.
    Will link next month and your button is on my sidebar.

    1. Julienne it is such a treat to receive your note and I'm thrilled to find someone else who has enjoyed Ayn Rand's writing as much as I did, I'm sure my book will be shared many times amongst family & friends.
      I know exactly what you mean about finding just the right actor to play Galt, I keep thinking about whom I'd choose..."Who is John Galt?", at this time my answer is elusive - hopefully we'll be pleasantly surprised.

      I've heard snippets about Marieke's book and am intrigued, it may make it to my list this year once I've tackled the 'biggies'.

      As for Janelle, I'm ashamed to say this is a name I don't know but thank you for the introduction, I'm off to explore now.

      Happy reading and thank you so much for joining in.

  3. Gerald Durrell - Rosie is my relative?

    Stasiland is great.

    And Ayn Rand - well have never read Atlas shrugged, so can't comment. But I can comment that Ayn Rand's ideas has seriously impacted our society, and to the detriment of community, social responsiblity, and public infrastructure.

    1. As always Andrea I appreciate your insight.
      It seems like a clear pattern is emerging for my reading list after Dostoyevsky & 'The Tiger's Wife', Gerald Durrell & Stasiland.

      As for Ayn Rand, I can understand your comment completely as I found myself thinking hard about how I felt about her philosophies and know that it won't be for everyone.
      I'm particularly 'taken' with the concept that all of our current achievements are building upon the thinking, creativity and successes of those who've gone before us and think that there are some real implications for viewing the changes in our current world changes 'flagged' in the book.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving this note.
      x F

  4. My lovely friend Charmaine has emailed this note through so that she could play along....

    "I am not as planned with my reading as you Felicity.
    I try to be spontaneous with what I read throughout the year wait for books to cross my path.

    I will have have to put 'Atlas Shrugged' on my To Read list.

    I am half way through a book my mother in law gave to me 'Pearl in a Cage' by Joy Dettman. I wouldn't have bought it but I am enjoying it. It is the first of a trilogy and is an epic, love, tragedy, etc. Reading this book is like putting on a comfy pair of slippers, sit down and relax and it will take you far away.

    I am also working my way through ' Rissotto with Nettles' by Anna del Conte.

    Instead of cook books I would like to read more memoirs with food this year.

    By early March I am hoping to get a start on two books I have on my kindle, 'Autumn Laing' by Alex Miller and 'Alfred and Emily' by my all time favourite Doris Lessing.

    Thank you for letting me contribute.

    Until next month.

    1. The only reason I've become so 'planned' Charmaine is because I know that there's a wealth of fabulous literature 'out there' and I had to buckle down and dive in rather than spending so much time on magazines and wandering aimlessly around the Blogosphere [that's not to say that I don't love my regular blogs, but it's easy to get distracted and 'piff!' there goes another hour into the ether!].

      Joy Dettman sounds like the kind of author whom I could snuggle up with during the cooler months and it's nice to have a trilogy to really immerse yourself in.

      Perhaps someone could suggest some 'foodie' memoirs for you - Stephanie Alexander's is the only one that comes to mind but I'm sure other's will have some tips.

      Alex Miller is one of my alltime favourite Aussie authors and I'm surprised I didn't have one of his titles in my list - will remedy ASAP.

      So great to have you here my friend,
      x F

  5. Hello Felicity
    I've read heaps this month - was lucky to have 3 weeks at the shack with little else to do.
    My favourite was Wanting by Richard Flanagan - set partially in Tassie and partially in Dickensian London - and beautifully written.
    I've got a lovely long reading list for the year that includes Alex Miller, Dickens and now Atlas Shrugged.
    Re foodie books - I can recommend "the last Chinese Chef" by Nicole Mones (I think) - a novel abut a great foodie one.
    I've also got a few books on the kindle - but no case for it yet - so they'll be waiting a while!

    Will be back to check others recommendations as well!

    1. Ah Ally - 3 weeks of uninterrupted reading time = bliss!

      The Flanagan book looks like a great read and has reminded me that today is Charles Dicken's 200th birthday!

      Charmaine will be pleased to read your recommendation re: "The Last Chinese Chef" and I totally concur, actually I love all of Nicole Mones books, I think I read three in a week a couple of years ago!

      So great to have you as part of the gathering Ally - happy page turning or finger sliding [not sure how the kindle works] for the month ahead.

  6. Hello Gorgeous I'm *so* delighted you enjoyed 'Opening Pandora's Box so much. It's still sitting by my bedside, waiting to be read fully ☺. Oh, I really want to participate in this fabulous idea. I'm certain I can't commit as much as I'd dearly like to. I might aim for one a month - that sounds doable with our 3 pixies under 7! J x

    1. Your gifts are always generous and full of thought dear friend and I know that 'OPB' will a book that I refer to, gain pleasure from and share forward forever.

      It would be incredible if you were able to participate in 'Vive le Livre!' as I'm sure you will enjoy the gift of reading and sharing with others immensely. Whatever you can, whenever you can - it will be a treat to see you smiling face here.

      x F

  7. Hey Sweetie!

    I have been away from the computer
    with my nose in a book, as well! After
    I finished The Tiger's Wife, I jumped right
    into The Snow Child, which I can't put down.

    I have decided to read one book a month
    minimum in 2012, as it really does bring
    me such joy. I was able to do that in January
    {the other book was a light but enjoyable
    read called Major Pettigrew's Last Stand} and
    since I'm already halfway done with The Snow
    Child, should be able to hit the mark in Feb.

    One of these months I will attempt to do a Vive
    Le Livre post! I've decided not to be as regimented
    in my number of posts this year {twice a week, down
    from more the previous year} and be more free-
    form, so it will just be a matter of inspiration and

    Not sure I can scale Atlas Shrugged, but sounds
    like the movie might pale in comparison. Hmmm,
    what's a girl to do??

    Happy Day,
    xx Suzanne

    1. I imagine you snuggled up somewhere cosy in your home and being swept away in your reading this month - one of the joys of cooler weather must be the turning of the page in a warm room.

      How apt then is the title of your first book 'The Snow Child'?
      The fact that it's unputdownable is a great recommendation for those of us who live in the Southern Hemisphere to consider for later in the year.

      A book per month is a great goal and I look forward to finding out what you think about 'Major Pettigrew's Last Stand' this time in March.
      'Atlas Shrugged' the movie might be a great view (particularly if the book itself is a bit daunting in its great volume) but I'm strictly of the school of thought which prefers to create the characters in my own imagination as I read a book BEFORE I watch the movie, but I know not everyone (Captain V for example) shares this view.

      As for paring down blog posts - I can totally relate and will relish what you share when you share it.

      Happy day lovely You!

  8. I'm not sure if I will get time to read 'Atlas Shrugged' this month but I will put it on my someday list!
    My January reading has been very light! - The Potter's Field by Ellis Peters - a Cadfael mystery, which I always find oddly comforting. Shall we Dance - by Maggie Alderson - which was a very light and enjoyable romp and 'A Mermaid's Tale - a Personal Search for Love and Lore - which I've written about here http://dragons-from-the-deep.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/books-books-books-vive-le-libre.html and which was lovely!
    I know I'm a little late - I will try to be more organised next time!

  9. You're not late Kirsty - in fact you have all the time you need to play along with this little get-together.
    In fact you're the first to write a 'vive le libre!' post and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
    Looking forward to learning all about your reading choices for Feb-March.

    Happy day!

  10. In May last year I picked up a little known book at the quaint Swindon's book store in Hong Kong. Thanks to your wonderful initiative I've finally got around to reading it! Liel Leibovitz & Matthew Miller's book Fortunate Sons is a gem, quite academic & dry, yet fascinating. It follows the epic true story of 120 young Chinese boys sent to study in the U.S. by the Qing dynasty in 1872. The hope was that the boys would absorb innovation & modernity & return to China to modernize a moribund imperial society. Set in my very favourite region of New England,Connecticut the boys experiences at Yale & of being treated as almost circus freaks by the local gentle folk instead of the young, scholarly gentleman they were, provide an insight into the strained US/China relations of the time. It was a history lesson like none I've had in a long time. Now onto something lighter!
    Millie xx

  11. What a brilliant storyline Millie.
    I'm so pleased that 'Vive le Livre!' (which I will forever think of as inspired by you) gave you a gentle nudge to open this book.
    Can't wait to find out what your next selection will be.

    Happy day!

  12. Hi Felicity

    Have got my act together amongst the chaos and I really want to try and read a book a month. Wish I could keep up with your pace of turning the pages.
    Have done a post today to trigger me off.


    1. Oh Jill what a delight your post was.
      I'm so thrilled to have found a fellow admirer of Sunday Reed and I've popped "The Heart Garden" on my list.
      This book will enable me to check off a reading goal to read a biography - thank you so much for the recommendation.

      Happy day Lovely, enjoy your crafting and page turning amongst the nurturing and loving.

  13. Oh Felicity my middle girl is a mythology guru, she would love the Pandora book. She'll tell me all about how Zeus ate his children, except one - then we saw it reinacted on Horrible Histories on ABC3, in a "This is Your Life Zeus" special where he had to regurgitate his children for a family reunion. Bizarre i know, but so are the amazing tales. Love Posie

  14. Your middle girl would love this book Posie and I'm be keeping my eye out for 'Horrible Histories' on ABC iView to share with our youngest.

    Happy weekend, x

  15. Felicity, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post! I have placed 'Atlas Shrugged' onto my reading list! I am afraid to have to say that I have not read anything other than a thousand Dept. of Education documents so far this month. I hope to join in for March, once all this teaching chaos settles down. I did read 'The Help' in January and LOVED it! So much so, that I missed the characters terribly when I reached the end...always a sign of a good story ;) I am avoiding watching the film though! Have you seen it? Thanks for the recommendations and I look forward to next month. Huge hugs sweet lady ~ Txx

    1. It's a busy busy time for you Tina and I'm not surprised that dry curriculum documents are the mainstay of your reading at the moment. However this too will pass and I look forward to learning about what you dip into as the year progresses.

      I've got conflicting thoughts about "The Help". Posie has recommended it as an excellent family movie but I after reading my post you know how much I dislike watching a movie prior to the book - maybe I should shuffle it up the list a bit...after a Russian classic of course - sigh.

      Happy Sunday!

  16. Hi Felicity so sorry I haven't been to say hi for ages I am so glad you have got some reading done, I feel so bad I haven't been able to start my book yet it still hasn't arrived I ordered it so hopefully it will turn up so I can join in for the March one so sorry hope you are well & enjoying the weekend Lainey xx

    1. Hey Lainey, So great to see you here I'm guessing that returning the kids to school + your new job have left you very few hours left in a day.
      Fingers crossed that your book arrives soon and you'll be able to play along in March.

      Huge happy hugs,
      x F


Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.
Each new comment is a gift - unexpected and lovely.
Although I'd love to reply to each and every one, this isn't always possible, but know that I read and appreciate them all.

Felicity x