Timbuktu (by Paul Auster) Review by David Corell

Paul Auster (born in New Jersey (USA), February 3rd 1947), is a well-reputed novelist thanks to some excellent novels such as “The New York Trilogy”, “Oracle Night” or “The Brooklyn Follies”, and Timbuktu is on a par with all of them. Since 1982, Paul Auster has written almost 20 books, including fiction, poetry and screenplays, and a common feature of most of them is that they deal with ordinary people and their daily routine, and so does Timbuktu. Just a few characters and a slow-moving storyline make a sweet story narrated from a dog’s point of view.

William Gurevitch is a brilliant but unsuccessful poet who lives in Brooklyn with his mother (a Polish immigrant, as were Paul Auster’s parents) and with Mr. Bones, his faithful, smart and anything but a pedigree dog. When his mother dies, William, who is alcoholic as well as schizophrenic, loses all his belongings and becomes homeless together with Mr. Bones. Like Don Quijote and Sancho Panza before them, they travel all around their country, having all kinds of adventures. And the book begins with the last one, their journey to Baltimore to find Bea Swanson, William’s beloved mentor, who was his teacher in high school and has not been in touch for years. William, who feels ill himself, thinks he is about to die and wants to give Bea his poems and persuade her to find a new home for Mr. Bones.

But the dream of finding Mrs. Swanson never comes true, and Mr. Bones has to start a new life without hisbeloved owner, master and friend. And in this new life, Mr. Bones finds a couple of new owners: firstly, a Chinese boy, with whom it lives several weeks, until his father discovers Mr. Bones in its hiding-place in the garden of the house; and secondly, a wealthy and well-structured family with two lovely kids, who make Mr. Bones almost forget those days full of miseries together with William. But despite everything, it never forgets its former owner and “every thought, every memory, every particle of the earth and air was saturated with Willy’s presence”. So, its last wish is to join his master in Timbuktu, that great hereafter in the sky, where “you were at one with the universe, a speck of antimatter lodged in the brain of God”.

With no doubt, it is worth reading this novel, which, even though being simple, has a tender and sweet story in the background. But also, as the novel is narrated from a dogs perspective, the story is full of funny situations. The novel is short (200 pages) and suitable for young and adult readers.

2nd Reading Assignment NI-1 and NA-2 2011 – GLOGSTER

Any of you know about “Glogster”? It’s a social network which allows you to create interactive posters and upload them to your blogsite or webpage. You can insert text, images, photos, audio (MP3), videos, special effects and other elements into your glog to generate a multimedia online creation.  Glogs can also be exported and saved to computer-compatible formats. It is fantastic!

Here’s an example from one of my previous year’s students. THERE ARE A LOT MORE ON THE STUDENT BLOG, IF YOU NEED INSPIRATION. JUST WRITE THE WORD GLOGSTER IN THE SEARCH BOX AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG AND CLICK ON THE ENTRIES THAT APPEAR TO SEE MORE GLOGSTERS.

Here is a tutorial so you can see how it’s done.

(Click here if you need a tutorial by Marisa in Spanish.)

YOUR TASK is to make one of these about the book

your are reading. You will have to use it to give a presentation of

MAXIMUM 5 MINUTES.

ALTERNATIVE FOR THOSE STUDENTS WHO THINK THIS IS TOO DIFFICULT FOR THEM – you can do a presentation of the same length without using this tool! (You may use a Powerpoint Presentation if you wish, but bear in mind that the school computer HAS ONLY “OPENOFFICE”.) Alternatively, ou may bring your own laptops for the presentation to avoid any incompatibilty problems – we have all the necessary cables in the classroom for sound and projecting images.

Another option is to use PREZI http://prezi.com/ a fabulously entertaining and visually stimulating online presentation creator. You can create and save your presentation online – NO MORE PENDRIVES OR INCOMPATIBILITIES! CLICK ON THE PIC TO GO TO THE SITE AND LEARN HOW IT’S DONE!

PRESENTATION DATES ARE THE FINAL WEEK BEFORE THE EASTER HOLIDAYS 14th and 19th APRIL FOR TUESDAY/THURSDAY GROUPS, AND 18th and 20th APRIL FOR MONDAY/WEDNESDAY GROUPS.

MAKE SURE YOU SIGN UP TO RESERVE THE DAY AFTER FALLAS.

Acknowledgements: , Marisa, for allowing me to use your idea!

The Gift (by Cecilia Ahern ) Review by Rus López

Published by Harper Collins 2009, ISBN: 978 0 00 7 326334 Price:9,95€

The authoress of this book is Cecelia Ahern. Her first book was the famous “P.S. I love you” which was adapted into a film and was an international bestseller.

The Gift is a fiction book which makes us think about our lives and who we are. After reading this book we realise the importance of time in our lives .Currently we live very fast, we are always in a rush. And as the authoress said in the book “Time can’t be given. But can be shared”.

The main characters of the book are: Lou Suffern who is an important business man. He is extremely ambitious, very selfish, hard working and self confident. He is always busy and he has too many things to do at the same time. For this reason he doesn’t spend much time with his family. Ruth is his wife, intelligent, beautiful, generous and patient. She is housekeeper and she looks after their two children. Finally, Gabe is a homeless man who appears in Lou’s life suddenly. He is mysterious, but nice. Lou doesn’t know that he is going to give him the best gift at Christmas; however it could be too late for him.

This is a good book to make you reflect on your life. Lou’s life could my life or your life. This book appealed to me in an emotional way, now I think I should spend more time with my family and friends.

From my point of view I strongly recommend you to read this book. As the “Irish Times” said“Cecelia Ahren is queen of the modern fairytale. Ahern has given her readers exactly what they want: love, magic, happy endings. And most of all, hope”.

It is written to read it easily and if you read it you will laugh, cry and think. Almost all the feelings you could have. The main characters of the book are stereotypes, but this makes it easier to understand the story.

As a conclusion,I would like us to think about this sentence from the book “Time is more precious than gold, more precious than diamonds, more precious than oil or any valuable treasures”

New Moon (by Stephanie Meyer) Review by Yolanda Jareño

“New Moon” is the second book of “The Twilight Series” written by Stephenie Meyer. Although, it’s a vampire romance store written for people who love vampires and fantasy books, anyone can enjoy it.

The second book of this series is named “New Moon” because of the main character, who tells us the story and whose name is Bella. In this book she will go through a very dreadful situation full of anguish, she will suffer a deep depression, so the author chooses the darker phase of the moon to show Bella’s pain.

The book is printed by Little, Brown and Company in September 2006.

Bella tells us the story from her point of view. She’s an eighteen-year old human girl, who was saved by Edward Cullen, a vampire that decided to show his condition of vampire to her instead of leaving her to die.

Edward, who is the second main character, is a vampire that lives with other vampire as a family. This strange adopted family eats only animals to survive.

Another character is Jacob black, a childhood friend of Bella, who fells in love with her even though, he knows that they will only ever be friends. He’s hidden a secret that nobody, including himself, knows.

Finally, there are two vampire clans. The first appeared in the first part of the series and one of them will appear in the next book.

This clan was formed by three vampires, two of which were a couple, James and Victoria. Victoria is a mad vampire who’s looking for revenge because Edward killed James in the first book. She wants to kill Bella to produce the same pain that she has in Edward.

The other clan, the Volturi, is the oldest clan of vampire that rules them.

I would to highlight two parts of the book as the most important ones, trying not to spoil the plot.

On the one hand, the most distressing part is when Edward splits up with Bella, telling her that he doesn’t love her.

As Bella is the narrator, you are able to feel her pain and read her thoughts during these difficult moments. The author wrote in her web page that she wasn’t able to write down how painful it was for Bella. This is why she introduces blank pages with only the name of the month that was passing during Bella’s depression. [Chapters 3 to 5, blank pages in chapter 3]

On the other hand, the most entertaining and intriguing part is when Edward, Bella and Alice (Edward sister) are in Italy confronting the Volturi. In this part, the mystery is palpable because you don’t have any idea of how the struggle is going to end or if our main character will escape alive without punishment.

Everything’s Eventual (by Stephen King) Review by Juanjo Hernández

Everything´s Eventual, first published in GB in 2002 by Hodden and Stoughton, is a fiction book written by the international bestseller Stephen King, another of more than forty books. His most recent are Dreamer Catcher, On Writing, Hearts in Atlantis, The Girl Who I Loved. Our book includes one O. Henry Prize, two other awards and Riding the Bullet, an e-book that attracted over half a million on-line readers and became the most famous short story of the decade.

We have 14 short dark tales with many different, but also dark characters. These tales are intensive because of the plot itself, they are fiction but sometimes King is not so far away from reality even it sounds crazy.

The characters are mysterious, pensative and strong people, without fear; not afraid to investigate or to go to the “limit”. Most of the characters leave their imagination free and they fly with it.

The book is easy and impulsive reading. If you want,….if you are for it…it makes you feel like one of the characters; it makes you part of the story, sometimes it is even difficult to distinguish between fiction and reality.

Whenever you are scared, you know it is going to finish a few pages later, that is what makes such intense reading.

This is my first and my last King book, trying be neutral in the way it is, the kind of story is not revelant. They are too close to death, too close to the big question: ” and then, what?” Maybe these days the news is full of crimes, wars, attacks, there is no need for this kind of “literature”. Whenever so many people read this kind of book you can tell it is literature, but with a big business behind. Anyway, to these who love scary / fiction books, enjoy it!

Cradle to Cradle. (by William McDought and Michael Braungart) Review by Elena Valero

Author: William McDought, an architect and Michael Braungart, a chemist.
Genre: Environment and design.  Published by: Dura ISBN-13:978-0-86547-8

It is a book for people fond of environmental issues and concerned about global warming. Nature is based on a cradle to cradle model, everything taken from nature returns to nature, not what happens in industry. It has createda cradle to grave model where resources are extracted, shaped into products, sold and eventually disposed fo in a “grave” of some kind. The title supports the main idea of the book: remaking the way we produce things into a cradle to cradle model.

This book is based on eco-design, the authors propose a different way pf producing things.
They suggest that there are two different types of materials: biological nutrients, designed to return to the biological cycle and technical nutrients, designed to return to the technical cycle.
The objective is not to mix them in a way that in the future, when the product’s life is over, they cannot be separated and recycled in an ecological way.
“Cradle to cradle” tries to concern people about how important the environment is and why they should contemplate a product as part of a service that is going to be reused by generations and generations rather than in a object.
In this way, we will use fewer raw materials, w will exploit fewer natural resources and we will avoid disastrous global warming.
All this information is treated in an enjoyable colloquial way, full of examples and facts about how exciting and viable it could be to put eco-effectiveness into practice and how everyone could be involved in it the process.
The way the authors expose such difficult information is involved by one of the most practical and ecological advantages, from my modest point of view, which is publishing the information in a book that isn’t made from a tree. It is printed on synthetic paper, it does not use any wood pulp or cotton fibre but is made from plastic resins and organic fillers.
This turns the book into a service: a product that can be broken down and circulated infinitely in industrial cycles, made and remade as paper or other products.
It is obvious that this book is the perfect book to read, to analise and to buy.
To read in order to learn more about ecology and environment.
To analise in order to explore a world unknown by lot of people.
And last, but not least, to buy in order to promote a new way of producing books.

How To Be Good (by Nick Hornby) Review by Rebeca Rodríguez

Publisher: Penguin Fiction

How To Be Good was published in 2001, it was “The No. 1 best seller”. It was written by Nick Hornby who also wrote High Fidelity, About a Boy, A Long Way Down, and so on. He won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, the E.M Forster Award and the Writer’s Writer Award.

This book is fiction but it can be understood as if it was based on real life, it is about a standard couple and the relationship between all the members of the main characters’ family.

The author writes in an amazing way, he uses a lot of swear words. Sometimes the vocabulary is extremely colloquial. However, the grammatical structures are advanced.

The main character is Katie who is also the narrator. She is married to David. They have two children, Molly and Tom.

They have been married for around 20 years and they are not a happy couple. They are accustomed to each other, but they are not actually in love. They make love as if they were parts of a machine.

Katie talks about her life without wanting to be courteous, polite, moral or accurate. She is very honest. She talks seriously about her deep worries and vital questions. She is suffering from an existential crisis. Katie questions her behaviour as a mother.

Katie is a doctor and she says this is enough to be considered a good person, but she is actually very concerned about her behaviour. She analyzes anything she does and she feels guilty most of the time. Her marriage does not work and she has many doubts about it.

Her husband, David, is a writer. He writes a column in a newspaper, called “The angriest man in Holloway”. His taste is to criticize everything he wants to. Katie does not like her husband’s work because she considers David usually behaves as if he was really “The angriest man in Holloway”. He is always fed up with many things, he is too arrogant and unkind.

However, at a given moment Katie has an affair, which introduces new points in the story. Things will never be the same. Katie feels bad. She does not understand why things have developed as they have done. She starts to think she does not want to live the life she has.

When David finds out Katie has had a fling, he changes completely. But he changes thanks to Good News. Good News is a kind of healer who cures others by putting his hands on the pain. He gives David good energy, positivity and strength to make a better world. David is very much influenced by Good News. David gives up writing and starts to think and to behave as a good person.

This disturbs Katie a lot, because she is not able to understand that someone can change so much in a short space of time. Katie does not like Good News and she does not believe that he is really able to cure.

By working together, David and Good News decide to write a book called How To Be Good in order to state their criteria about how to become a good person.

The intended audience is any adult wanting to reflect about who we really are and how to be better human beings.

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