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Christmas? Bah! Humbook they say : THE COME BACK

December 1, 2013 19 comments

Bah! Humbook, they say

 

Humbook

Hello dear copinautes!

December has arrived and Guy and I would like to invite you to another edition of the Humbook Christmas Gift event.  The idea is to virtually give another blogger two books as a Christmas present. It’s a way to exchange gifts in our virtual and international literary salon. So, let’s review the rules together.

  • Choose the copinaute you will give books to,
  • Leave a comment saying you’re in and giving the name of your copinaute,
  • On December 25th, publish a post in which you reveal to your copinaute the two books you have selected for them.
  • In 2014, each copinaute reads the books and reviews them.

In addition, Guy and I will choose one book for each participant and reveal our virtual books on Christmas Day as well.

For practical reasons, each participant shall purchase the books they receive and not the books they give. This is to avoid sending books abroad, experiencing delays in delivery or whatever other problem. This means that you need to pay attention to a few things when you pick a humbook for a copinaute: check out that it’s available in their language at a reasonable price.

FAQ, in French, Foire Aux Questions

What’s a copinaute ?

Copinaute is made of the word copain/copine (friend) and internaute (Internet surfer) Copinautes are friends who know each other through the Internet. Don’t look for it in the dictionary; it’s not in there…yet. I find this word lovely and very appropriate to our friendly little book blogging community.

What if the copinaute has already read the book before?

That’s a risk and part of the game. It happens when you offer books to bookworms! Good news: the book hasn’t been purchased yet. So, you just pick another one.

What if I don’t feel like reading the book I was given?

It can happen. But we don’t always like the books we pick for ourselves, so give your copinaute the benefit of the doubt. It may be a good surprise and a way to step out of your comfort zone. I’m sure your copinaute will avoid vampire stories if they know you’re not into fantasy.

I’m not at home for Christmas, how am I supposed to post a billet that day?

If your blog is on WP, you can write it earlier and schedule it for Christmas. I suppose the same option exists on other blog platforms.

How long does the copinaute have to read the books?

You have all 2014 to read them. No pressure of any kind, reading is a pleasure, not a duty.

If you have any other question, just ask in the comment section or on Twitter (@Bookaround). All the questions are welcome. Check on Guy’s blog for more information.

I do hope you are tempted to join us. I’m looking forward to hearing from you in the comment section.

Cheers!

Emma

I is somebody else

April 10, 2013 18 comments

A Virtual Love by Andrew Blackman 2013. Not available in French.

Dear Andrew,

Right now, I’m very happy that you and all the regular readers of this blog are familiar with the word billet. After turning the last page of A Virtual Love and putting down the paper book on the table, the last thing I want to do is write a blog post. And I’m glad the word billet covers the good old-fashioned letter I’m going to write. I hope you don’t mind. It seems more intimate than a usual blog entry but I don’t feel like slipping into the blogger’s shoes. I’m also glad I had a paper copy of your book and not a kindle version, A Virtual Love made me want to distance myself from virtual things.

Blackman_Virtual_LoveNow, hopefully, readers who don’t know your book are curious. Allow me to tell them a bit about the plot. Jeff Brennan is a nobody who works as an IT consultant, not the space-age ones who implement complicated systems but the ones you call in the office when the report you’ve been typing since three hours without hitting the save button, suddenly goes AWOL. As a total geek he spends his Saturday nights with his equally geek friend Jon playing video games, drinking. His score with the ladies is approximately of zero. So when he accidentally meets Marie and she mistakes him for his homonym, the famous political blogger Jeff Brennan, it seems easier not to correct her. This is how a relationship starts on a lie, a lie that stays, grows larger, invades the smallest corners of his life and turns it into a living hell. How will he get out of it?

I shied away from the reviews I came across and started it with a fresh mind. I was hooked from the first chapter; I really enjoyed your novel, Andrew. I had a hard time putting it down, my mind drifted to it when I was driving to work, pondering the different possibilities for an ending. Of course, the identity quest made me think, and think twice since I’m also a blogger. I felt a bit self-conscious as I was reading these pages while tweeting to people I’ve never met. It made me pause and think about the web of lies created out there. I liked the description of Jeff’s identity jungle. It’s so simple to recreate yourself on the internet, be the one you want to be but also say out loud all the things you’d never dare to say in so called “real life”. It’s easy to criticize this side of the Internet and social networks, so let me be the devil’s advocate. Thinking of real life vs virtual life is a reflex from people who weren’t born with the internet. For younger people, it is life. There’s no dichotomy. Their internet identity is another side of their personality. Other people always see a side of you, the one you show them in the function they know you into and the one conjured up with the assumptions they make about you. Think about it. As a child, would you have imagined that your schoolmaster could play in a rock band during his free time? Probably not. You had him pigeonholed in the role of a schoolmaster and he couldn’t have any other activities, other functions than this one. Well, for me it’s the same on the Internet, people see one side of you and make their assumptions according to what you show. The difference is that you can cheat on an exponential scale and if you do it right, nobody can recoup the lies. But even the lies are yours and tell about who you are. The lies differ from a person to another.

Then there’s Marie. Marie loves someone who is not who she thinks he is but doesn’t she deserve the deception? After all, she loves the idea of dating the famous blogger more than the idea of loving a man. She’s living with someone she would have looked down on if she hadn’t assumed he was a celebrity. You show us a whole love relationship based on a wrong assumption. But I don’t think it is new, you know. Only the means differ. Swann’s love for Odette is kindled by an assumption: she looks like a painting he loves. The Odette he loves is not the real one but the one he created in his imagination. Marie finds all kinds of ways to eliminate all doubts that creep into her mind. She rationalizes and her brain finds consistent explanations for everything. Anything not to admit that this man isn’t as wonderful as she wants him to be. Loneliness is too frightening. I’ll spare you the quote by Romain Gary that came to my mind when I mulled over this.

Have you read or seen Cyrano de Bergerac? I think Jeff genuinely loved Marie. Your novel is a bit like a modern Cyrano, with Jeff borrowing someone else’s identity to have Marie fall in love with him. The difference is that technology speeds things up, widens everything and there’s this underlying thirst for fame which is a trademark of our Western societies. I think it always existed because it’s a human trait. Now, cheap technology allows everyone to act upon it.

On the form side, I thought your style flowed more freely, less constrained than in your debut novel, On the Holloway Road. I felt you more confident in your writing and it sounded effortless. Either this book poured out of your head or you sweated on this novel but managed to make it sound effortless to the reader. Describing the events from different points of view except Jeff’s was a good idea. I loved the grandfather’s voice, he’s my favourite character, the one who keeps in touch with his values. The imposter never has a chance to explain himself and he was a multiple personality through his friends, family or lover’s eyes. He remains elusive. What do they know of his real motives, his insecurities? What do I know? What’s my picture of Jeff?

The title of this billet, I is somebody else is simply the translation of a phrase by Arthur Rimbaud, “Je est un autre”. I want to add something about what you read on this blog: I’m the real thing just a lot less shy than in flesh-and-blood life; I can’t invent a personality far away from mine, lying is too much work. Moreover, when you click on a “like” button or leave a comment, what worth would it have if I knew you were actually talking to a mirage?

I hope your book will be a success and invite other readers to discover more conventional reviews on A Virtual Love here.

All the best,

Emma

Merry Christmas! Humbook! They say

December 25, 2012 34 comments

Dear Copinautes,

I wish you all a Merry Christmas from France. For New Year’s wishes, you’ll have to wait for my first post for 2013. In France, we don’t wish a Happy New Year in advance.

Many thanks to regular readers and commenters for your steady reading of my rambling, babbling, prattling or whatever word suits best to my billets. Thanks to readers who don’t dare to comment but click on the Like button to say “Hi, I’ve been there”, it’s much appreciated. I’m still surprised you devote part of your precious free time to read Book Around The Corner.

Now, don’t forget today is the day for our virtual exchange gifts, the most famous Humbook event.

Humbook

Follow the links to check on the participants’ blogs to discover what they picked for each other and of course, have a look at Guy’s entry. As promised, Guy and I picked one additional book for each participant:

For Lisa, from ANZ Lit Lovers: The Murderess by Alexandros Papadiamantis. Its feminist side should suit you and the descriptions of the Greek countryside are gorgeous.

For Tony, from Tony’s Reading List : Le Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac. Here you are, Tony, Balzac is waiting for you!

For Himadri, from The Argumentative Old Git: Novel With Cocaine by M. Agueev. Some said it was written by Nabokov. Give us your opinion about that.

For Brian, from Babbling Books: Rasselas Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson. Historical and thought-provoking; it sounded right in your alley.

For Stu, from Winston’s Dad Blog : The Pets by Bragi Olafsson Funny and non-English, isn’t it the definition of great book for you?

For Sue, from Whispering Gums: Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar

We’ll be checking out your blogs to read the reviews but it’s nice if you leave a link here, in the comments. As mentioned in our previous entry, we also picked two books for Tom, from A Common Reader and they are:

  • A Slight Misunderstanding by Prosper Mérimée
  • The Road to Los Angeles by John Fante.

We’ve also picked two books for Leroy, who doesn’t have a blog (yet?) but will review the books anyway and I’ll publish his thoughts as guest posts here. It was tricky to find ideas, I realize I’m blind without a blog to refer to and also because Leroy is really well read. So, I hope you haven’t read these two ones, Leroy, and that you will enjoy them:

  • In the Absence of Men by Philippe Besson. It’s on Max’s best reads of the year and it will be on mine too.
  • The Chatelet Apprentice: The First Nicolas Le Floch Investigation by Jean-Francois Parot. It’s crime fiction in Paris in the 18th century. Refreshing and entertaining.

Don’t forget to send me you reviews for publication!

Last but not least, I picked two books for Guy. Thanks Guy for sharing the organization of this little literary event with me, many thanks for all the comments you left, for the support and exchanges along the year. You almost got your first Romain Gary this year. I was about to give you White Dog because it has lots of things you’d enjoy (A dog, L.A. and cinema, first hand info on the Black Panthers and their movement.), but I wasn’t sure of the translation; I thought it might have been bowdlerized for the American public. So, I went for two books you’ve heard of but haven’t read:

  • Thérèse Desqueyroux by François Mauriac. A new film version with Audrey Tautou has just been released. As you’re fond of watching films versions of books, I thought you’d enjoy this one.
  • The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas. She’s someone you’ll like, I think. And it’s the first one of a series featuring Commissaire Adamsberg, so if you like her, there’s more for you to enjoy later.

That’s all, folks! I had fun with this event. I’m curious to find out what you chose for each other and I’m looking forward to reading the reviews in 2013. I hope you’ll enjoy your gifts, that you’ll discover new writers. Now I’m curious to discover what my virtual gifts are!

Humbook Christmas Gifts: the participants.

December 1, 2012 21 comments

Hello everyone,

HumbookThat’s it, we’re December 1st and it’s the day Guy and I sum up the participants to our Humbook Christmas Gift Event. Check Guy’s introductory post here and mine here. As promised in these billets, here are the participants:

Himadri from The Argumentative Old Git and Brian from Babbling Books will play together. Himadri’s blog is full of thoughtful entries about Russian literature, British classics along with argumented and thought-provoking rants. Brian has eclectic tastes in literature and is highly interested in history. Have a look at their blogs to discover them if you don’t know them already.

Lisa from ANZ LitLovers decided to choose Tony from Tony’s Reading List as her copinaute. Tony agreed to reciprocate so we’ll see what they selected for each other. Lisa’s blog is a gold mine regarding literature from Australia and New Zealand. Despite his love for Trollope and other Victorian writers, Tony reads many non-Anglophone books, either in translation or in the original when they’re in French or in German. He’s also very fond of Japanese literature and will host the event January In Japan. Read more about it on Tony’s blog dedicated to this event, January in Japan.

I’m thrilled that Brian, Himadri, Tony and Lisa decided to participate. Brian will pick two books for Himadri and verse-versa and Lisa will select two for Tony and verse-versa. Guy and I will choose one book for each participant. I will also choose two books for Guy, I have a lot of ideas and my problem now is to narrow the list down to two books.

We also wanted to add a guest participant: Tom, from A Common Reader, was very interested in the event but couldn’t name a copinaute. So Guy and I will choose two books for him as well.

The gifts will be given in posts published on December 25th. So, pay attention to the activity on our six blogs that day. If anyone wants to come aboard now, let me know in the comments.

I hope Himadri, Brian, Lisa and Tony will have a lot of fun discovering the gifts and reading the books and that Tom won’t mind that we picked him as a Christmas guest.

Christmas? Bah! Humbook, they say

November 15, 2012 34 comments

Before starting this entry, let me introduce you to the word copinaute. It’s made of the word copain/copine (friend) and internaute (Internet surfer) Yes, we have a very nice French word for this, based on cosmonaute, which gives to internaute a nice feeling of a high-tech wandering into a structured void. So copinautes are friends who know each other through the Internet. Don’t look for it in the dictionary; it’s not in there…yet. I find this word lovely and very appropriate to our little book blogging community. Most of the time, we’ve never met and yet, a bond exists.

Last Christmas, Guy and I exchanged virtual Christmas gifts; I chose four books for him  and he chose four for me in return. I love surprises, I was quite excited to discover the books he had selected for me and I had a great time reading them afterwards.

This year, we would like to share this enchanting experience with others and organize the

Humbook Christmas Gift.

Here are the rules:

  • Choose the copinaute you will give books to,
  • Leave a comment saying you’re in and giving the name of your copinaute,
  • On December 1st, inscriptions will be closed and Guy and I will publish the official list of participants and copinautes with links to their respective blogs, 
  • On December 25th, publish a post in which you reveal to your copinaute the two books you have selected for them. 
  • In 2013, each copinaute reads the books and reviews them.

In addition, Guy and I will choose one book for each participant and give our virtual books on Christmas Day as well.

For practical reasons, each participant/copinaute shall purchase the books they receive and not the books they give. So, in your choice of book, don’t forget to make sure it is available at a reasonable price and in the right language for the copinaute you elected.

Now that you’ve read this, I guess you have some questions, like:

What if I receive more than two books, in other words, several participants decided to choose me as their copinaute?

I suggest that you read at least one book per participant.

What if the copinaute has already read the book before?

That’s a risk we’re taking if we want it to be a real surprise and not give away the book titles before Christmas. It’s like in real life; you can give someone a book they’ve already read. Of course, if you go for the obvious –like offering a Zola to Guy or a Romain Gary to me – the odds are high that your copinaute will have read the books…Good sense should prevail. And perhaps you can give another book instead; after all, no one has spent money on it.

What if the copinaute doesn’t feel like reading the books they were given?

If you’re both a participant and a copinaute, I suggest you try them anyway, that’s part of the game and who knows, you might have an agreeable surprise. And of course, no Humbook Police will check out that you’ve read them.

If the copinaute isn’t a participant, well, it’s like real-life Christmas presents: there’s no guarantee the book will be read.

How long does the copinaute have to read the books?

It would be nice to read the books before June 2013. But once again, no Humbook Police will give them a ticket if they don’t.

And from now on… Check on Guy’s blog for his introduction post to our event. I do hope you are tempted to join us. The more, the merrier, which is apt for a Christmas event, isn’t it?

Looking forward to hearing from you in the comment section.

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