In a follow up to the Book to Movie reading challenge, I finally got around to watching the movie version of Steve Martin’s Shopgirl last night. I enjoyed the movie, but I liked the book better.

Mirabelle’s interior life was much clearer in the book, and since this is what made her relationship with a much older man believable, I did find that a bit lacking in the movie. Also, I hate to say it, but I see Steve Martin, and I expect him to break out into the King Tut song at any moment, and that seriously effects my ability to watch him in dramatic roles. This is not to say that he wasn’t good in this movie, I just had a hard time getting past my preconceptions of him in order to buy him in this role, and that’s even knowing that he wrote it.

One think I think I did enjoy a little but more about the movie was the character of Jeremy. It was fun to actually see someone behaving like that much of an idiot.

Completed 2007 Reading Challenges

With less than half a month remaining until 2008, and having now completed the last challenge I signed up for in 2007, I think it’s safe to post a list of the challenges I completed in 2007 so I archive them from my main page. I only started doing challenges in July, and managed to fit the following in this year:

The Armchair Traveler’s Reading Challenge, July 1, 2007 – December 31, 2007

The Book to Movie Challenge, September 1, 2007 – December 1, 2007

The R.I.P. II Reading Challenge, September 1, 2007 – October 31, 2007

Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge

I’m done with the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge!

For the challenge, I read the following books:

I’d made a point of picking books from different parts of the world (though the Sahara and Yemen are probably a bit too close, even if they are in different continents, but oh well.) I really enjoyed reading about these different places, and I’d totally sign up for round two and pick a whole new list of new locations.

Sahara – Michael Palin

0e29ac003f6e4c25970396a6d41434f414f4141Read for the Armchair Traveler’s Reading Challenge

This book is the companion to the Sahara travel series that Michael Palin filmed in 2001. I’ve seen the last half of the series, so I had a certain visual frame of reference for some of the book that I didn’t have for the rest. (Though there were a number of photos included in the book that served to fill in a number blanks.)

The book follows a vaguely circular journey beginning in Gibraltar and moving through Morocco, the Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia before returning through Morocco to Gibraltar.

Anyone familiar with Michael Palin from his Monty Python days will expect a degree of humor in this book, and it’s definitely there, in understated form. His observations of the local cultures are pointed and interesting. I’ve enjoyed all of the travel shows he’s done, and definitely recommend them to anyone. This is the only companion book I’ve seen for any of the shows, but I’d definitely consider picking up any others if I saw them.

I think I enjoyed the inclusion of Libya in this journey the most of any section of this book, not because it’s necessarily the most interesting part of the journey, but because he makes a point to go there and describe it, and I seriously doubt any American in his position would have done so. Secondarily likewise for the Western Sahara. I doubt many people would have given a second glance to such a political no man’s land.

Frontiers of Heaven – Stanley Stewart

1592284019-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_Read of the Armchair Traveler’s Reading Challenge.

This book follows the author’s journey westward from Shanghai along the old Silk Road. There are many interesting glimpses of Chinese and other minority cultures along the way.

I’d not realized that the Chinese had long considered a trip along the Silk Road a form of exile. Xinjiang, the province at the furthest western reaches of China has long been settled by Islamic tribesman, and is only recently being settled in any great numbers by Han Chinese, as China seeks to maintain a dominant role in the province. It was long a place of exile, continuing even to this past century, during the Cultural Revolution.

There are any number of interesting vignettes throughout the journey, from the boat trip through the Three Gorges, a fling the author has with a woman in Xi’an, his extremely atmospheric train rides into the hinterlands, visits with the various nomadic tribes in the furthest west, and a final bus trip in a Pakistani bus over the Karakoram Pass into Pakistan.

It’s somewhat of a hard book to describe beyond a description of the places that the author travels. It’s a very atmospheric story, traveling lightly along the Silk Road, briefly touching the places he passed through. I find it hard to even decide if I was entirely pleased with the book. There are so many hints of lovely, hidden details, and at the end of the book, I find myself wanting more.

Weekend Notes so far

I have one and 2/3rds pair of socks! Which leads into the fact that my Nanowrimo novel is pretty much dead in the water. I decided to start with this story idea because I’d finally refined it to the point where I figured it was focused enough to pound out. Turns out I’ve focused it too much. I need a couple of side stories, and I need some time to let that idea percolate in my brain. I’ll still try to write on it, but I know there’s pretty much no way I’m going to get to 50k words this November. Oh well.

I’m finally to the point in my reading where I was ready to head to the library again. I was smart this time, and picked two books for the Armchair Traveler’s Reading Challenge, so if I hate one of them again I’ll have immediate backup. I also picked up some fun fiction (in my books in progress list, since I tend to read those right after another due to the library’s oppressive only one renewal policy).

I have all of next week off, but that’s because my sister is coming in from CA, and my older brother is coming in from MI. I really need to get some garden clean up done, and I have to go to the dentist on Monday, but other than that, I have no idea what I’ll actually be getting accomplished this week.

Book to Movie Reading Challenge

The Book to Movie Reading Challenge is done!

I read the following:

I had a good time reading these books. They were a nice counterpoint the RIP II challenge, where I’d chosen to read some much larger tomes. My only slight regret is that two of my choices were books where I had not seen the movie, and I’m finding that fitting a movie into my schedule isn’t working as well as I’d intended. (Which actually strikes me as a rather amusing, since a move is less of a time commitment than a book, but then, I clearly have my priorities.) I’ve added both Shopgirl and Watership Down to our Netflix queue, but I’m really not sure when I’ll finally get around to viewing them. Still, this was a great challenge, and I’m sad to see it over.