Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Kind of Reader I Am

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Book Snob
Dedicated Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
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I'm labelling this in books because I don't think this meme is that accurate, based on the questions that was posed, and also I'd like to make use of this opportunity to talk about the kind of books that interests me.

I have a weird taste in books. I like wuxia novels as much as I like manga and as much as i enjoy (academic) history related non-fictions as much as I enjoy crime novels as much as I enjoy some other crappy stuff. I'm a fan of Harry Potter but I don't really like all fantasy novels per se, nor children's books. I've never read any of Dan Brown's books even though I can't say I never will. I think I'm more of a free-reader, I read things that I want to read and not things people are reading or things that people think I should read. Hence even though I like reading about history stuff, and can read a book by Stephen J Lee for fun, I don't bother going about doing my assigned readings. I think I'm the only person in the world who can claim that my favourite authors are "Liang Yusheng and Donna Leon". I don't think anyone else can be so much in love with these two people's writings than me because these two styles of writings differ so much.

For quite some time now, I think the best book that I've read so far is The Angels of Russia. My favourite Chinese book would be 萍踪侠影录. I have certain tastes about these stuff and more specifically, I have certain tastes for authors.

I usually start off by reading a book and if I like it, I'd continue and read other books by the same author and if I like them all I'll read them all and read more of them. I also like reading books that come in a series but each have their separate story line. Donna Leon books are feature the same main character but a different crime happens for each book, there's a whole slew of supporting whose characters and personalities are built up over the many books and their significance there, but unlike Detective Conan, there isn't a main holding plot or big secret that one has to uncover.

I like reading wuxia novels. I usually have trouble reading large chunks of Chinese because they make my head pain, but I can lap up to those Chinese wuxia novels and just read them. Because of reading wuxia novels, I'm able to read traditional Chinese, and able to read in the up-to-down style of writing. I remember the very first wuxia novel I read was Louis Cha's The Return of the Condor Heroes because of the corresponding period drama starring Fann Wong and Christopher Lee. From there I started reading other Louis Cha's wuxia novels but all of them failed to impress me more than The Return of the Condor Heroes. I don't know when was it that I also started reading other authors of the wuxia genre, Gu Long and Liang Yusheng. I hated the former more than Louis Cha, but I fell in love with the latter.

Gu Long takes a very condescending stand regarding the use of women in his novels. All of Gu Long's women are either prostitutes or have been/will be raped by some lesser character, either that or they are plain slutty, their presence in the novel is mainly for sex. The kind of protagonists of Gu Long are also not the kind of protagonists I like. I started out with The Return of the Condor Heroes, hence I always use Yang Guo as the benchmark. I like young dashing protagonists who learns a whole slew of skills are the story progresses, meeting a whole range of good and bad people are his adventures continues, he falls in love with a woman and is true to her until the end of the story. I hate Gu Long's protagonists in that the men never fall in love with only one women. In this respect, I also hate Zhang Wuji of The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Slaying Sabre even though Zhang Wuji fulfills all my other criteria for an endearing protagonist. Okay, I do like Zhang Wuji, but he frustrates me a lot. In fact, everytime I meet an indecisive man, I'd call them as having the "Zhang Wuji syndrome", especially when their indecisiveness is pertaining to relationships.

There is however on Gu Long book that I like a lot. The only Gu Long book that I like. 流星.蝴蝶.剑 attracted me because of the style of writing is interesting. If translated to English, it would read as a piece of writing writtn entirely in present tense which makes it so engaging. I first caught the movie by TOny Leung Chui Wai, Michelle Yeoh and a cameo by Jimmy Lin. But erm... The movie doesn't do justice to the book. Other than this exception, I seriously dislike all other Gu Long's novels, including the famous Lu Xiao Feng stuff and Xiao Yu'er stuff.

I'm trying to think which is the first book of Liang Yusheng that I read, but I can't seem to remember. But a couple of his more famous books that have been adapted to screen includes 白发魔女传 and 云海玉弓缘, both of which never fail to bring tears to my eyes when I read them. ***spoilers*** Both do not have a happy ending. Sometimes I wonder if I prefer happy endings or sad endings. Because I list these two books as my second and third most favourite after 萍踪侠影录, I thought that perhaps I prefer happy endings to sad endings, but of course, I must admit there is a certain sense of beauty in a sad ending, be it Lian Nishang's utter disappointment in Zhuo Yihang, and Zhuo Yihang's eternal pining for Lian Nishang, or Li Shengnan's death and her very beautiful last line (from here "只望你将来在鸳鸯枕畔,月下花前,能偶尔的想我一下,想起曾经有过一个非常爱你的人,那我就会感激你不尽了!"), and Jin Shiyi's corresponding revelation that it was her that he loves most. But well, let's just say that, it's nicer that Zhang Danfeng got together with Yun Lei in the end. ***spoilers end***

I was reading an article about Liang Yusheng some time back, in that article he stated that his favourite novel was 萍踪侠影录 and Yun Lei was his favourite female character because he wrote her based on his love for his girlfriend (or was it his wife). I think this is also what attracted me to the writings of this novel, everything seemed so emotional and fill with feelings.

Another thing that I enjoy reading are memoirs. Okay, I don't just read everybody and anybody's memoirs but I like reading memoirs of people I like. As a discerning historian, I understand that memoirs are self-serving and completely biased, but to me it doesn't matter since I like them and I'd be glad to lap up on everything that blows the people I like out of proportion. One of my favourite memoirs would be that of Chin Peng. I'm currently in the middle (okay, in the beginnings) of the memoirs of Otto von Bismarck. I'm slow in reading that because I bought the German version and my German is still quite bad, but I promise I will slowly improve it and complete that book before I die. wahaha~

I'll really like to talk more and give a greater in depth overview of the books I like to read some other time, but I guess my attention span can only bring me this far.

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