Dec 17, 2012

Dance, Dance, Dance: Chapters 11 - 22

The Sheep Man arrives to the scene, what does this mean? Dance, dance, dance? Our hero, if we can call him like that, however seems to be finding his way. Is it all in his head? Is the writer playing with us? What could be the story behind the Dolphin Hotel?

Dec 1, 2012

Dance, Dance, Dance: Chapters 1 - 10

Acclaimed Murakami takes us to Sapporo, a city that sounds exotic to those of us non Japanese because it's not Tokyo or Kyoto, and for that original setting, we already start to like the book. So we enter the world of a lonely freelance writer that lives in a, surreal? fantasy? setting around the memories he has of the Dolphin Hotel.
And he decides to go back to chase his dream, is it the girl he mentions, Kiki? is it the insatisfaction with his current life?
The Dolphin Hotel is there, but has undergone major plastic surgery, it only has the same name, but where is its spirit? Why the same name? The shiny, rejuvenated Dauphin Hôtel presents new characters, the nice-glasses receptionist, the nervous manager, but mainly we are looking for what is not there, and then, everything is pitch black! What does this mean?

Nov 3, 2012

Our Winner: Dance Dance Dance, by Haruki Murakami

Let's get ready for a Nobel prize-to be author and a "tense, poignant, and often hilarious ride through the cultural Cuisinart that is contemporary Japan".
In which language are you going to read it? Maybe the original Japanese version "Dansu Dansu Dansu"?

Suggested reading schedule coming soon.

Oct 31, 2012

End of the book (full of spoilers)

Bonjour my cookies,
Regarding “Red Brazil”, I finally made it on schedule, and I have to say that I have enjoyed the book quite a lot. Not only because of the adventures of the main characters, but also because I find it very well documented in the historic facts that the book describes; it introduces some interesting things I didn’t know: the (early) influence of France in Rio, the beginnings of colonialism in Brazil and I had no idea about the religion wars in France.
I think that the author makes a nice blend of characters (real and fictitious) to introduce an interesting moment of time in history. He is describing at the same time the boat trips (boring as they were, as Arantxa said :), the situation of the “indians”, the miseries bore by the colonizers and even the situation in Europe.
The end of the book is rather surprising: I expected the two main characters to go back to Europe and recuperate their inheritance. I expected Villegagnon to come back and a hard fight against the Portuguese. But the author seems to be wise enough to avoid this kind of fanfare and to give an unexpected but realistic end (not the typical fight based in blood, honor and patriotism that are abundant in so many books/films). I find the epilogue also interesting, although not as deep as the one in the book “Adan’s parfum”. It’s been nice to learn that many of the characters are real.
I have to say that I have not been disappointed by the book, I find it entertaining, interesting and well written (although I expected more in this last regard, mainly because of the Goncourt prize -BTW Monica, which one is this year's?-). I have found myself looking for Villegagnon Island in Google Maps (it still exists!) or reading about religion wars or Calvin in wikipedia.
My predictions were partly true only: I have realized that the two main characters were not brother and sister, but I failed to see that their father was indeed dead.  That’s why I’m not rich on the lottery! J
Hope you have enjoyed the book as I did, and looking forward for your comments!

Oct 14, 2012

Brazil red: Chapter 3 “Bodies and souls”

The structure of this book really obeys to major breaking points in the story, and at the end of "Bodies and souls" the situation is far from ideal in the new colony.
Some questions to open the discussion: Is Colombe leaving forever? Is she becoming one cannibal? What do you think of the prank on Aude?

What do you think of Aude? Is she honest, or is she hiding something?
What about the war of religions? Is Just going to become a protestant after he has been left aside by Villegagnon?
And the most important question, has Arantxa abandoned the book or did she gave it a second opportunity? Enjoy reading and enjoy the discussion! 

Oct 1, 2012

Brazil Red: Part II "Guanabara"

So how is it going? Are we still with Colombe and Just? Building a fort, anyone?
What do you think of the new characters? How is life on earth after traveling the seas? Do you find it very realistic that Colombe can still pass for Colin? What about the new intriguing character presented at the end of the chapter, Pays-Lo? What about the first interactions between the colonialists and the tribes? Share your thoughts!

Sep 10, 2012

Brazil Red: part 1 "Children for the Cannibals". Contains spoilers...

To be honest, I wasn't such a big fun of the book when we voted... I don't know if it was the title, the fact that it was long and french... But right after I opened it and read the title of the first part, I was intrigued "children for the cannibals"? What is he talking about? And since then, I have been hooked! Old style adventures, and that I felt like reading! 

If you haven't finished the first part, what are you waiting for? 

Do you identify yourself with the children Colombe and Just? What is the best element in their characters so far? Do you like the excuse the author finds to put them on the ship, to be translators? And finally, did you expect that their father was dead? That was quite a surprise element for me at the end of part one... Any other thoughts?


Aug 11, 2012

Reading schedule published

Check it on the blog section! Did you realize this is the 10th book that we are reading? Wow! We've gone through so many different books! Thank you for sharing it with us!

Aug 6, 2012

Our next book, Brazil Red

So after the first tie, some strong argument and some more votes, we have a winner: "Brazil Red" sounds really exciting and exotic, can't wait to begin it!
We'll be back in the following days with a reading and discussing schedule, but we have to get the book first!

Jul 31, 2012

Why I have selected Brazil Rouge? By Jorge

Well, here you are some of the reasons:

 - First of all, this book won the Goncourt Prize in 2001. The prize is supposed to be awarded to promising beginning authors, age being unimportant, (therefore we can still win the prize, if you manage to write an interesting book in French :). To know more about this prize:

- But more importantly, because I have read another JC Rufin´s book (le parfum d´adam) and I got immediately hooked, it was the kind of novel that is very entertaining with a nice blend of adventures, traveling in different places and an interesting end (and I don´t say the end of the story, but rather the epilogue). Therefore I want to read again a book that is supposed to be even better, and also entertaining and instructive...

- I also find the life of the author quite interesting (copied from wikipedia from now on): Jean-Christophe Rufin (born 28 June 1952) is a French doctor and novelist. He is the president of Action Against Hunger and one of the founders of Médecins Sans Frontières. He was Ambassador of France in Senegal from 2007 to June 2010. In 1977, after medical school, Rufin went to Tunisia as a volunteer doctor. He led his first humanitarian mission in Eritrea, where he met Azeb, who became his second wife. As a doctor, he is one of the pioneers of humanitarian movement "without borders," for which he has led numerous missions in eastern Africa and Latin America. In 2003, Rufin was commissioned by French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin to write an in-depth report on the upsurge of anti-Semitism in France.
That are several reasons why, my dear cookies, I propose to read now this book: it will probably be good literature, probably entertaining and indeed coming from an interesting author with a deep and wide knowledge of the world... What else do you need to go now and buy the book? :)

Jul 26, 2012

Direct to Mark Stevenson, An Optimist's tour of the Future

Do you have any questions about the book you would like to ask the author? Any comments you would like to share with him? 

Let us know and we will ask Mark Stevenson to stop by the blog in the next few days!

Jul 23, 2012

Book suggestions, vote, vote!!!

Just in case you didn't get the mail with the information, or just because you want to re-read the options, there they go, our candidates for the summer reading:

From Arantxa:
Here you can find the newThings The Grandchildren Should Know, Mark Oliver Everett

How does one young man survive the deaths of his entire family and manage to make something worthwhile of his life? InThings The Grandchildren Should Know Mark Oliver Everett ,also known as E, front man for the alt-rock EELS, tells the story of what it's like to grow up the insecure son of a genius in a wacky Virginia Ice Storm-like family. Left to run wild with his sister, his father off in some parallel universe of his own invention, Everett's upbringing was 'ridiculous, sometimes tragic and always unsteady.' But somehow he manages to not only survive his crazy upbringing and ensuing tragedies -- he makes something of his life -- striking out on a journey to find himself by channeling his experiences into his, eventually, critically acclaimed music with the Eels. But it's not an easy path. Told with surprising candor, Things The Grandchildren Should Know is an inspiring and remarkable story, full of hope, humor and wry wisdom.

From Jorge:
Brazil Red by Jean-Christophe Rufin

A dazzling combination of daring adventure, bravery and treachery, greed and intrigue, of old loyalties put to the test and new loves discovered Just and Colombe are brother and sister, heirs to the Clamorgan estate. A scheming aunt and shortage of suitable interpreters, however, means the children soon find themselves aboard a ship bound for the Bay of Rio. As they embark on the journey of their lives, they encounter a world they could never have imagined, a world marked by uneasy alliances and illness, by double-dealings, lies and spies. Amidst fanatics, zealots, cannibals and villains, Just and Colombe can no longer be sure who is friend and who is foe, and soon learn they can take no-one for granted - not even each other. As the story builds to its dramatic climax, conquerors and conquered are - like Just and Colombe - forced to reconsider the nature and future of their relationship.

From Macarena:
Don’t Cry, Tai Lake: An Inspector Chen novel. By Qiu Xiaolong

Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department is offered a bit of luxury by friends and supporters within the Party – a week’s vacation at a luxurious resort near Lake Tai, a week where he can relax, and recover, undisturbed by outside demands or disruptions. Unfortunately, the once beautiful Lake Tai, renowned for its clear waters, is now covered by fetid algae, its waters polluted by toxic runoff from local manufacturing plants. Then the director of one of the manufacturing plants responsible for the pollution is murdered and the leader of the local ecological group is the primary suspect of the local police. Now Inspector Chen must tread carefully if he is to uncover the truth behind the brutal murder and find a measure of justice for both the victim and the accused.

From Rocio:
Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown, by Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux is a great travel writer, I have already read his interesting journey on the trains around China and I really enjoyed his entertaining way of telling what he saw, who he met, what he felt, and pass on a lot of information. I lived in China after, and I recognized many things that I had read. Theroux really allows you to travel with him from your own couch, so that's my ambition for the next reading, to go from Cairo to Capetown on a road trip!!!

So which one do you prefer???

Jul 15, 2012

An Optimist's Tour of the Future: Part 4 Reboot

So we have followed Mark in his world tour looking for the future, optimistically, and have had the chance to meet though him very interesting, intelligent, controversial, geek, fantastic people... And we have got to the end, what do you think now? Do you see the future as a better place? Or a more scary one? Do you picture yourself living 1000 years and talking to your robot friends? Will the Amazon survive? What are you doing to make it better? Glad to hear your views! We hope you are enjoying the summer so far!

Jul 3, 2012

An Optimist's Tour of the Future, part 3

It seems the summer and the increasing heat are slowing down our reading pace… Still, here we are! 
We hope you keep enjoying learning about what is going on in different places of the planet that could make our lives in the future better.
Though, like almost with everything, there are different ways to understand challenges, innovation, changes and experiments. For instance, when it comes to global warming, what is your approach? Sceptic, pessimistic, optimistic, hesitant…
Let us know how you see it!

May 22, 2012

An Optimist's Tour of the Future, part 2

With humor and an easy tone, Stevenson keeps telling us about interesting and surprising facts about what the future could bring, for the good... and for the worse.

What are your thoughts about this second part? Can you see a scenario with robots claiming their rights or becoming our masters? What about the nanotechnology manufacturing? Do you see yourself spending your summer holidays in a hotel in Mars?

As always, looking forward to reading your comments!

Apr 24, 2012

An Optimist's Tour of the Future, part 1...

Sorry we are late, but we've been so busy lately that is hard to find time for everything... so does anyone want to start with comments on part One? I promise I'm catching up in the next few weeks... shame on me but something called "War and Peace" from this Tolstoi guy got in the middle and it's not exactly the kind of book that you read in a weekend,  (but great book, sure I can see why is more than 100 years old and still there!). So any optimists out there that want to lead the discussion?

Apr 2, 2012

An Optimist's Tour of the Future: reading schedule is ready!

Check it out on our reading schedule page. Ready to take the optimist ride? We hope so!

Mar 28, 2012

Next book!

Since we are done learning about thin-slicing and how to read facial expressions, it is time to look into the future. After having Mark Stevenson's offer to talk to our reading group, some of you told us that you would be willing to read his book, "An Optimist's Tour of the Future". A book that has been defined as sharp and fascinating by the Wall Street Journal. 
So, time to go to your corner, online, huge or small bookshop or library and get your copy!

Suggested reading schedule coming soon.

We want to take this opportunity to thank you for being there and keep reading and sharing with us!

Mar 11, 2012

Blink. Final Discussion

In the last part of the book, Gladwell keeps providing us with examples that illustrate the theories about rapid recognition.
Because decisions are mostly based in personal experience, most time that experience interferes with the capability of making (good?) decisions. For instance, in the cases of Kenna’s music or the Aeron chair, in which it seems there was mistrust, rather than dislike, for something new and different. Have you ever felt that you were confused about disliking and at the same time being attracted by something? And if we could be confused by our own feelings, are we better off leaving it to the “experts” to tell us what we should and will like?
According to the author, we all have unconscious reactions that come from a locked room we can’t access. Therefore, can we ever know ourselves wholly and understand the reasons and motivations behind our moves? Have you ever found yourself reacting towards something or somebody in an unexpected way even for your own self?
Regarding Eckman and Friesen’s theories about facial expressions, do you think it does apply to everybody? What about politicians? Have you ever watched someone else speak badly about another individual only to then turn around and greet them with a warm, gushy hello? Is that 'friendly' expression false or an attempt to make amends?
What about “mind-blindness”? Have you ever experienced it?  Do you have any trick to control your reactions in extreme stressful moments? And, as the book concludes, are you ready to listening with your eyes?
Finally, our own likeness thermometer: in the blink of an eye, would you say "yes" or "no" for another book of Gladwell?

Feb 26, 2012

Blink, chapters 3 and 4

So why do we fall for tall dark handsome men? What about Paul Van Riper's victory? What are your views on the Blue Team and Red Team strategy? What do you think of the excess of information as an obstacle to making the right decision? I'm a little overwhelmed by so many theories, because I'm not really sure of the fact, can we actually find the reasoned answer to all these questions? Or we just go with our gut (our blink moment) and sometimes we get lucky and sometimes don't? Really willing to hear your views!

Feb 6, 2012

Blink - Till chapter Two included

Hello NoCookies,

I was a bit sceptical when I read the note on the author in the prologue: a journalist having written articles about “childhood, development and the flu, not to mention hair dye, Shopping and what it takes to be cool”… what could he say about neuroscience? Well, I must say I am enjoying the reading. It’s easy to read. He does not deepen into complicated explanations but he gives instead plenty of examples to prove the snap decision theory. That’s the point that I like most so far.

What I am curious about is the continuation, he has for the time being illustrated that we all have this unconscious intelligence and that we are capable of thin slicing information. But how can he train us to take advantage of it? Always following our guts? Let’s see…

If you are interested about this subject and how free we are to chose against our unconscious , you can watch the following Punset’s programs. It’s amazing how biological factors decide for us!

Redes - Sabemos que no sabemos lo que decidimos

Redes - Las decisiones son inconscientes

Jan 10, 2012

And the Winner is...

… Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell

Although it was a hard-fought competition, our winner for one vote is Blink, a book about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. What is going on inside our heads when we engage in rapid cognition? When are snap judgments good and when are they not? What kinds of things can we do to make our powers of rapid cognition better?

Many thanks to all the voters as well as the members who sent suggestions (the books that didn't make it for this poll will be the first in line for our next reading election). 

And now, as we always do, let's see what we find and how we feel with a book that, maybe, you might not have read or even know about without the encouragement of our club and fellow members.

Suggested reading schedule coming soon!

Poll Results:

An optimist's tour of the future, by Mark Stevenson
  3 (16%)
The Tiger's Wife, by Tea Obreht
  4 (22%)
Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell
  5 (27%)
Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, by Tristam Stuart
  4 (22%)
Auntie Mame, by Patrick Denis
  2 (11%)

Jan 8, 2012

Small(?) Death in Lisbon

Hi all my cookies, I’d like to wish you a very nice beginning of 2012!

I have made an effort to read the book on time and to post my comments also on time… let’s start the year on time! ;)

I have enjoyed the book in some ways, for example, the way the author guides us through the two stories, one in the past and one in the present, and how they converge into one at the end of the book. I do like how I got hooked reading the book as it was progressing. I also like to have some historic references or other place’s description, it makes me ‘travel’ being at home.

I have not enjoyed the book in some ways, because it has too much sex, too much violence (both too explicit). It is true that that’s related to the homicide police work, but I think that many of the scenes in this book could be avoided or, let’s say it in another way, could be written in a more elegant way. Sometimes I find that the story is a little bit forced in its development and outcome, as some of you have already said.

But I guess this is it, this is the book, with some things we like and some we don’t, and both together come to our final review of it. I find it very entertaining, but sometimes disgusting, I like some of the narrative resources the author has chosen but not others… If I have to say a single word about it I would say entertaining, that’s all. I think it is not a neither bad nor good book, but it is more for mass book consumers, it can be better in many ways, but in some parts I got addicted to it and wanted to know, wanted to see…

Regarding the story, I thought that the mastermind behind all this vengeance was Felsen himself. Has anyone had that in mind too? I thought that was him punishing Manuel, and Oliveira, I even thought that it was him the one that killed Pedro (remember the accident? There was a BMW involved!). My personal opinion is that the book may be better with this end; everything would be solved with the same characters, coming full circle. I think that this author has some potential… I’d give him a second chance! :P

And the title? Why is it Small death in Lisbon? Almost everybody is dead in the end!

Thank you for share your thoughts and for make us choose books that otherwise I'd never read!

Ps: I have to say that, as always, I totally agree with Nayra’s comments ;)

Jan 7, 2012

Two more days to vote!

If you haven't done it yet, you still got two days to vote!
We have very interesting books and for the first time, three non-fiction at the same time!!!
The discussion is going to be deeper this time...
See you all soon!

Rocio & Macarena
No Cookies Book Club Team

Jan 2, 2012

A Small Death in Lisbon - Final Discussion

After having skipped some middle discussion, we get to the end of the book and the scheduled Final Discussion post (although Rocio already posted a great final one previous to this - be sure to read it if you are done with the book!).

The last chapters and pages of the novel are intense and full of information. There are important clues and pieces of the story along the last chapters, however it is not until the very end that we know the why, who and how of the crime. Does this give the story more mystery? Does it make the book more exciting? Does it make the denouement more shocking or, on the other hand, too hasty?

One comment for a critic to consider: "But whatever the story suggests about the violent legacies of fascism, it is the story, the high drama and low motives, and the strong writing that make the story live". Do you agree?

What it seems to be a common feeling is that the book is a page-turner, as Rocio put it.

Looking forward to reading your comments to this or any previous post!