Thank You and Slight Change to Book Marks

Thank you so much to the bloggers and others who have decided to follow my blog.  It’s awesome to see that people actually want to read what I write and like it enough to hit follow.  I truly appreciate every single follower and will keep adding you to my “Friends” page.

I wasn’t really sure about my vision for this blog when I started it last September.  I initially thought it would be fun to turn it into a book club, but that hasn’t really caught on.  Or, at least people who have read any of the books haven’t really commented on them.

I’m sure I could do more, blog more about the book club books – but, it’s becoming more stressful than it is fun.  So, I will no longer be doing a book club at Book Marks.  I will keep blogging about the books I read as well as other life-as-related-to-books topics I may wish to ponder.

Thanks to those who have read the books and I will be putting out my summer 2012 reading list soon – feel free to follow along with that and watch out for the reviews.

Thanks and happy reading everyone!

WWW Wednesday

This is a weekly meme hosted by shouldbereading.wordpress.com.  I came across it at enchantedbybooks.wordpress.com.

To play along, answer the following three questions:

  1. What are you currently reading? I am still reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle…it’s taking me longer than expected.  I need to absorb it in small chunks.  And, I just started Fruit by Brian Francis.  I think I’ll like it, but it’s hard to relate to a twelve year-old boy.
  2. What did you recently finish reading?  Everything was Goodbye by Gurjinder Basran for the Book Marks Book Club!  I can’t wait to post my review on it tomorrow.
  3. What do you think you’ll read next? Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2012.

Everything Was Goodbye Makes Me Feel Bad for Women

Everything Was Good Bye by Gurjinder Basran

Reading Gurjinder Basran’s Everything Was Good-bye is making me feel really sorry for my sex.  I mean, I know women have struggled throughout history…to have equal pay, to work, to vote, to feel safe at home and out on the street…but, most of the time, the framework in which I have studied and read about these issues is about breaking down staunch, patriarchal institutions and the cultural beliefs that these institutions create.

This novel brings forward an entirely different issue – how patriarchal institutions and hegemony can infiltrate a women’s subconscious so much, that it causes the complete betrayal of women by other women.

courtesy of askmissa.com

The most sacred bond in a woman’s life should be the bond with  her mother – but in this novel, it is the older women, the mothers, aunts, grandmothers that keep younger women in line.  It is the older women that ensure that younger women are so weighed down by the expectations of tradition and culture that they are not allowed to express their true selves.  The main character has to change her first name in order to be considered a good match for the rich, handsome single young man!

I keep reading…hoping that Meena will finally stand up for herself.  I keep reading for the moment when she will free herself of the guilt and the responsibility that has ruled her life.

Basran shows that this betrayal is experienced in every relationship in a young woman’s life.  The mothers “Bollywood-ing” up their daughters to impress the mothers of bachelor sons, the aunts spying on the girls and gossiping about their behaviour creating ghastly rumours, the young married women insulted by young unmarried women because it is not fair that they have not followed suit, a mother negotiating the return of her daughter to her extremely abusive husband, a mother beating her daughter because she was sexually harrassed by a carful of young men because she must have instigated it…the betrayal is endless.

I don’t wish for this to come across as a criticism of Punjabi culture, because it isn’t.  These scenarios happen across cultures – where women are not there for other women.  We are ready to criticize, condemn and outcast all too often.  Even though Meena is surrounded by women she loves, most of the time she is so isolated and lonely.

courtesy of diapersanddivinity.files.wordpress.com

I keep reading for the moment when these women unite and together help each other out of this vicious cycle that seems unbreakable and impenetrable. I don’t know that it will happen – my faith in these characters coming together supporting each other isn’t that strong. There are sporadic moments of understanding in a look, a touch, a hug…but these are meant to sustain the women in the roles that are created for them…not to encourage a break from those roles.  I am so very intrigued by Meena and her story.  So far, I am really enjoying this book.  For those of you reading Everything Was Good-bye, what do you think about the characters and their relationships?  Am I being too harsh on them?  Am I relating to them with too much of a Western mentality?  How are you relating to this novel?

New Book Club Selection!

Hope you had a good time reading the last book of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.  I’m really excited about the next book club selection.  It’s a first novel for a female writer from British Columbia.  Here’s the info:

Everything Was Good Bye by Gurjinder Basran

http://www.gurjinderbasran.ca/everything-was-good-bye/

Everything Was Good-bye centers around Meena, a young Indo Canadian woman growing up in the lower mainland of British Columbia and traces her life as she struggles to assert her independence in a Punjabi community. Raised by her tradition bound widowed mother, Meena knows the freedoms of her Canadian peers can never be hers, but unlike her sisters, she is reluctant to submit to a life that is defined by a suitable marriage. Though a narrative moving between race and culture, it is ultimately a story of love, loss and self acceptance amidst shifting cultural ideals.

I met Basran recently at my local Chapters book store and she was just lovely.  I don’t know much more about the book than the summary provided on her website, but I can’t wait to dive in.  Considering we live in a cultural mosaic and so many of us have to navigate dual cultures, it seems a fitting choice.  I also love that it’s a Canadian novel.  Happy Reading!

End date: May 24th

So. Many. Layers. The Girl Who Played With Fire

Image courtesy of welloflostplots.wordpress.com

I devoured this book.  Okay – the second half of the book.  I was feeling a little duped at the beginning.  Not much really happened – and I was surprised when it didn’t pick up exactly where The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo left off.  (As does the third book of the trilogy).  But, I refused to put it down because it started with Lisbeth Salander and she truly intrigued me.

So, I trudged along, knowing that at some point, unbeknownst to me, I would be hooked.

Larsson’s original cast of characters was joined by a whole new crew that were well developed – at times, as I felt with the first novel, too well.  I was actually pretty impressed with Larsson’s ability to juggle so many characters with so many plot lines that were virtually all part of the main plot – without giving anything away prematurely.

Salander and Blomkvist were back – and it was awesome to follow their story again, even though they weren’t actually working together.  Salander disappears for several chapters from the novel (as she does within the novel – there is a massive hunt for her when she is accused of committing a triple murder) – a very clever move by the writer.  And, in the meantime, more mystery about her character is created, more layers to be unpeeled are provided – and this was where I was hooked.

I wanted to know more.  So, I read voraciously (which really means a few pages a day between being mommy to a three year-old and English teacher to IB students who are nearing their final exams – all while trying to live my own life, but I digress).

The mystery that surrounds Salander was finally unveiled – but it was a frustratingly, and deliciously slow process.  Every word and every conversation answered a question and created three more.  It was wonderful.  Finally learning about “All the Evil”, about the truth of her upbringing and parents, about the involvement of the Swedish government in her life was well worth the many interrupted conversations and cryptic messages she kept sending Blomkvist to keep him busy.

What was even more wonderful was to see Salander in action.  Her ability with computers is both fascinating (she can literally, run the world) and eerie (because we know that there are people out there who can do what she does).  I literally laughed aloud when she single-handedly brought down two large, brawny motorcyle gang members.  I felt her confidence surge as she battled for her life when she confronted two extremely dangerous and powerful men.

Once again, Larsson’s book is imbued with commentary about the kind of violence women experience – systemic violence that can only be stopped when women like Salander fearlessly stand up to abusers and men like Blomkvist are ready to expose perpetrators, letting abusers know that this is not tolerable in a civilised society.

Yes, it is repeated throughout the novel that Salander is not mentally well, that she is extremely violent and that she is not normal – but, it doesn’t seem to matter because she only harms those who have seriously harmed others or have physically threatened her and she is just so good at kicking ass.

If you enjoy a good thriller, with a variety of well-developed characters and strong protagonists, a novel that does not shy away from criticising politicians, lawyers, the police, the media and that has lots of action (and violence) – this is the novel for you.  A great read that will not disappoint and that will instantly have you looking for book three of the Millenium Trilogy.