Books I've read

Monday, August 13, 2007

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Saturday, April 28, 2007 – A Review

I discovered on-line booksellers (Fishpond) about six months ago and was quite initially impressed by the prices offered on new books, but also by the free postage on orders over $50.00.

Previously, I had bought most of my books from, but due to the expense of shipping, I usually waited until I had a bulk order. Another problem of ordering at was the excessive shipping time.

I saw Fishpond as a new way of buying lower cost books and having them delivered quickly, as Fishpond have a Tullamarine warehouse. However, although Fishpond claims that most of the items will be delivered within 3 to 5 days of ordering, in my experience, I have found their shipping to be excessively slow. In some cases, books that were to be delivered within a week have taken eight weeks to arrive. It is true that Fishpond emailed me to let me know of the delay, but their new time estimates were as wildly inaccurate as the original time estimates.

The best aspect of Fishpond is buying second hand books. Fishpond allows users to list their used books for sale to other Fishpond users. The service is allows users to purchase used books through their existing Fishpond account and therefore simplifying the payment process. I have found the service to be prompt, and so far each of the books I have order has arrived in the condition described by the seller.

However, I have sold several books via this method, and have not found the process as easy for seller of used books. Once the order has been placed, the seller has two days to post the book to the buyer. Selling second hand books on Fishpond allows sellers to ask a higher price than at conventional second hand bookstores, but payment is not immediate. Fishpond collects the sellers asking price, plus $4.95 postage, but then keeps 10% of the total price. In most cases, postage on novels is $5.00, but for hardcover and heavier books is usually $9.00. Potential sellers should factor this into their asking price

Under the standard conditions, Fishpond agrees to make payment to the seller within 7 to 14 days of the order being placed. However, in my experience, Fishpond’s payment schedule is as unreliable as there delivery. If, as a seller, you can afford to wait for payment, it is possible to recover a little more for used books than selling them to second hand book dealers.

In short, Fishpond sells a wide range of books generally at better prices than can be found in traditional stores. A further benefit is that Fishpond offers a service to buy and sell second hand items. However, if your purchase is time-sensitive, I would steer clear of Fishpond, unless purchasing second hand books which arrive within one week of purchasing. When considering selling, it is worth weighing up the time spent packaging the items and the time between the sale and payment being received. It may be easier to simply take your books to a second hand dealer.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Talented Mr Ripley - Patricia Highsmith

Well, I must be one of only a few on the planet who have not seen the movie 'The Talented Mr Ripley', so, before watching it I decided that I would read the book. Yes, I am one of those book-people as the blog might suggest.

Anyway, on with the show. The blurb for this book states (and I am quoting the Daily Telegraph here) "It is hard to imagine anyone interested in modern fiction who has not read the Ripley novels." Well, I consider myself as an interested party in modern fiction, therefore, no need to image Mr/Ms Daily Telegraph, there are plenty of us out there (I checked).

Having such a big rap like that from the Daily Telegraph, the Ripley novel might be feeling some anxiety as to its ability to meet the required level to attain the reralms of classic modern fiction. However, it should fear not as I concurcompletely with the Daily Telegraph.

This is a chilling novel, but, not so that it is off the bed time reading list. The protanganist, Tom Ripley has a very warped sense of worth which is evident from his actions in Chapter One. Such is Tom's mindset, that his self worth is nothing unless he considers he is outsmarting at least one other person. His need for power can be found in the smallest of lies to the grand scale of murder. Tom's intellegence puts him in the category of genius, but his execution 'friendship' makes him one of the most frightening people on earth.

The book was filled with a number of twist and turns, which kept me gripped until the very end. The plot is well constructed and each chapter skillfully written. There is a beauty in the detective ways of the 1950s and a sense that other crime fiction is now filled with DNA samples and scientific jargon. In my opinion, I much prefer this style of writing and will be reaching for the next in the Mr Ripley series (once I have gotten through my existing list of must-reads).

Saturday, March 03, 2007

In my Skin - Kate Holden

I found this book incredible and could not put it down. It tells the story of middle-class Kate growing up in a supportive family in Melbourne. Then it tells of her slip in the St Kilda drug scene and eventual prostitution to support her habit.

Kate is, at times, embarrassingly honest about her situation and gave me an amazing insight into how quickly drugs are able to take over one person's world. What is also great about this book is that Kate shows drugs don't just effect one persons world, they affect your family, friends and colleagues.

Some of the living conditions and extreme lack of money told a take that I am sure is currently being lived by more than a few people. But I was more interested in how Kate eventually overcame addiction and restarted her life.

This is a great first book from Kate, and I look forward to her upcoming novel.

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

I found this Man Booker Prize Winner for 2002 to be well written, but, given the rave reviews I received from friends, I thought that it fell a bit short. I am open to the possibility that my expectations were just too high, but still I was disappointed.

Anyway, on to the story. I really enjoyed the first part of the book where India and the philosophy of religion are discussed. I found Pi's adherence to four religions enlightening and was interested by the science discussion and how Pi was lead to his career choice.

While I found the middle of the book imaginatively written, I did think that it dragged a little too long (Sorry to all you lovers of this book!). I was interested by the alpha male play-out but was totally lost by the digestive island!

The final part of the book, after Pi's rescue, contained an interesting twist and I was grateful for that. I believe that this was a great story, but not one I will be reading again. Having said that, I would recommend that everyone at least give it a go as so many other have loved it

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Marley and Me - John Grogan

Ok - I never judge a book by its cover, but if I did the cover of this book would tell you this is one cute story!

I was initially drawn to the book after the arrival of our two trouble makers - Toby and Elvis, four month old puppies. (OK, I admit the cover was really cute too!) I guess I was hoping to find secrets in dog wrangling from someone who had been there and done that. What I did find out was what not to do!

Marley is a lab retriever who went for a small cute pup to a massive, dopey handful of a dog. Marley was lovable though, and this was evident throughout the book. John wrote about Marley, but also included the most intimate details of his family's life that occur during the "Marley Period". This included the birth of his three children, a bout of post natal depression (which nearly saw Marley searching for a new home), relocation from Florida to Pennsylvania and the inevitable aging and passing of Marley.

This was a funny, touching story about a man and his love for his family and a four legged, neurotic beast! Although I didn't find out how to tame the trouble makers at my house, I was directed to Cesar's Way. Cesar is a National Geographic Star and Dog Psychologist. Let's hope he has some tips, because at the moment I am getting less sleep if we had a new born here!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Night - Elie Wiesel (Translated by Marion Wiesel)

Yes, I have to admit that Oprah led me to this book. I was watching her show one day and she interview Elie Wiesel and awarded college scholarships to the winners of her essay competition. (The students were required to write an essay on how 'Night' effected them.

The book is a memoir of Wiesel's time as a Jew in Europe during the second world war. The book follows Wiesel's journey from concentration camp to concentration camp as the end of the war draws near. We learn how Wiesel is unable to be shocked the the atrocities and why he is unable to sleep at night. The book is not a cheerful one, but I emensly enjoyed reading it.

The edition I have has only recently be translated from Yiddish to English by Wiesel's wife Marion. Wiesel tells us in the preface that this translation is much closer to the original text, that that which was translated some 45 years ago.

If I were to enter Oprah's essay compeition, I would write of emptiness that is Elie Wiesel at the time of liberation. He does not provide details of the months between his father's death and his own liberation. Horrors which I can not comprehend become a part of every day life for Wiesel and slowly, camp by camp, Wiesel is reduced to an emotionless human.

I recommend the reading of 'Night' simply for the amazing story of survival. Wiesel himself puts his survival down to chance, but he has used his chance to form some meaning of life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Running with Scissors - Augusten Burroughs

Well this one, Running with Scissors, came highly recommended from Anna and I can definitely vouch for its promising beginning. However, the subject matter turned a little(?) unsavoury somewhere around Chapter 3, and I must say that I didn't enjoy this book very much at all.

I did complete the book (as I always do) and it is true that the unsavoury subject matter is punctuated by hilarious moments, but overall I wouldn't recommend this one. If you are able to accept this as a story rather than a memoir, you might have more success than I.

It is wonderfully written, but just not my cup of tea. Needless to say, I won't be purchasing Dry, Burroughs second book.

I realised that I never actually told you what the book was about. The bare bones of the story is this: Augusten is 13 years old when his parents divorce and he is left to live with his mother who is battling her own internal demons. Through her battle, she has Augusten adopted by her psychiatrist. The story follows Augusten unusual life as he moves between his mother's house and the psychiatrist's house.

I also spoke with Anna today, and she tells me she has just completed Dry. Apparently, Dry is not as graphic as the first book, and follows Augusten through his drinking days and therapy. I may reconsider the reading of Dry.