January 18, 2012

2012 Reading Challenges

I am a bit of a reading challenge addict.  I love the organization and strategy involved in trying to find books that I both very much want to read and can fit into tasks across various challenges - and preferably multitask those books to fit in to more than one challenge at a time.  Perhaps it's a bit fussy, but I've read so many wonderful books through challenge task choices that I might not have ever read otherwise.

This year, I am being conservative regarding my challenge choices.  I am going to steer clear of many challenges I know I would really enjoy but which are very specifically thematic (historical fiction, classics, debut authors, non-fiction, etc.) and focus on speculative fiction.  I know this will help me not only to read more of the books sitting lonely on my home bookshelves patiently waiting for me to finally get to them, but also to review more of what I read and more consistently update this blog.  Sometimes I need to find little tricks to help motivate myself, and this is one such trick.

January 17, 2012

[Book Review] Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

by Patrick Süskind

Published (edition):  2001 Knopf Publishing Group
First Published:  1985 (Germany)
Awards Won:  World Fantasy Award, PEN Translation Prize
Notes:  English translation by John E. Woods
My rating:  5 out of 5

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer isn't the sort of book that will be everyone's cup of tea. What book is? But this book is likely to polarize its readership into the "loved it completely" camp and the "ugh...no thanks" group. I fall firmly into the former, as I found the story wonderful in so many ways. 

I read a lot of unconventional fiction, including a lot of things that some folks might find disturbing or overly bizarre. I love it when an author surprises me, and it doesn't happen nearly often enough. Perfume was surprising, but not so much for the plot or characterization as for the language. The language of Perfume is unabashedly sensual. There isn't a single sexual situation in the book (barring one very strange event near the end which is not described in any sort of explicit detail but is only suggested), but nearly every line is verily dripping with descriptors, with wording so florid and visceral you can almost (pardon the wordplay) smell it. Clearly this is intentional, and Süskind has really done a bang-up job.