Wednesday, December 31, 2008

[43] Of Mice and Men

I love this book, purely and simply, do.  John Steinbeck is great and now I'm not so wary of his work.  You know those authors that you see, and their books look a bit dull so you're a bit apprehensive to read anything by them.  Such authors included in this could be Fitzegarald, Dostoevsky, and a whole range of others.  Everyone has an author of whom they dread to read, and Steinbeck was mine. 

Now, I've been living in this new year of 2009 for 14 hours now, and I have already read a book, so things are going pretty well in that department.  I started this book just after midnight, got about eleven pages read, decided I needed some sleep, got up and since about 10am, I have been reading this book.  Not constantly, but for the most part.  

It's a great book, much in the way that books like The Great Gatsby are great.  I know that some people have sheer dislike for Gatsby, mainly because they were forced to read it during school, at a time in their life when they just couldn't enjoy it.  That was the time of life I read Great Gatsby, and I loved it at school, but I appeared to be one of the few. 

This book deserves its spot on the list, and if it were ever to be removed, I would say there will be hell to pay for Dr Peter Boxall who is basically the one who edits this book all together, and goes through it etc etc.  You know what I mean.  Perhaps.

Basically the book centers around two guys who go to work at a farm.  One of them is mentally disabled, and so has trouble understanding exactly what is going on, the other looks out for him, and makes sure he doesn't get into trouble.  The book is short, and moves quickly, so it won't take you very long.  My version was 120 pages.  I recommend getting the version printed in "Popular Penguin", the cheap ones with the orange covers.  If you're in Australia (or New Zealand), you'll know the ones. I'm not sure if they're printed elsewhere.  The font in this one is extraordinarily good.  The size is just perfect.  I'm the kind of person who doesn't particularly enjoy small fonts.  Not those oversized large print ones, but the sensible size 12 fonts, those are good. 

Anywho, that's really all I had to say on this book, hope you have a great reading year! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2009: The year for achievement

So I figure this year I could get a fair few books read.  To begin with I've got two months of holidays before I go back to University, so I assume this means I have plenty of reading time.  Therefore, I'm making a list of 50 books, from this list, that I would like to read in 2009.  I should have read more in 2008, but only got about 15 from the list.  

1. American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis
2. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley 
3. Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky 
4. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
5. Breakfast At Tiffany's - Truman Capote 
6. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (Own)
7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey (Own) 
8. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (Own)
9. The Plague - Albert Camus 
10. Notes from the Underground - Fyodor Dostoevsky 
11. The Honorary Consul - Graham Greene 
12. Cutter and Bone - Newton Thornburg
13. What Maisie Knew - Henry Janes
14. Watchmen - Alan Moore 
15. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole 
16. Tender is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald 
17. Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut 
18. The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien (Own)
19. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley 
20. Atonement - Ian McEwan (Own)
21. The Line of Beauty - Alan Hollinghurst 
22. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro 
23. Animal's People - Indra Sinha
24. The Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai
25. Measuring the World - Daniel Kehlmann
26. The Heart of Redness - Zakes Mda
27. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson 
28. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou 
29. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick 
30. Junkie - William S. Burroughs 
31. The Talented Mr Ripley - Patricia Highsmith (Own)
32. Casino Royale - Ian Fleming 
33. Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger
34. The Graduate - Charles Webb
35. In True Blood - Truman Capote 
36. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke
37. Empire of the Sun - J.G. Ballard 
38. The Sea - John Banville 
39. Oscar and Lucinda - Peter Carey
40. Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquivel
41. War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells 
42. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne 
43. The Lonely Londoners - Samuel Selvon 
44. On the Road - Jack Kerouac 
45. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
46. Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy 
47. The New York Trilogy - Paul Auster 
48. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rys
49. Lady Chatterley's Lover - D.H. Lawrence 
50. Homo Faber - Max Frisch 

Finally! That took quite a while to find 50, out of so many choices.  I'm happy with this list, and if I read a majority, if not all, I assume I will be much better read. Some of these are shocking, by the fact that I haven't read them yet.  Tomorrow, I begin. 


Friday, December 26, 2008

[42] The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Hmm, Muriel Spark, I would have to say you are quite the genius.  Miss Jean Brodie is a strange character, a teacher of whom you wouldn't really want teaching your young girls, especially as her influences lead a teacher sleeping with one of the students, or newly graduated ones, at least.  
A strange book, but nonetheless a good one, with interesting characters.  The way this book flows is a little odd, but it's definitely a classic of its time.  Whilst Muriel Spark doesn't have the household name in the way that Jane Austen or Emily Bronte do, she is well worth a read. 

Basically this book is about a teacher, Miss Jean Brodie, who is apparently in her 'prime' and so she has a set of girls she teachers who she takes under her wing, and nurtures them into what she wants them to be.  We hear both the story of the girls, as they grow and develop, and the story of Miss Jean Brodie.  

Apart from this, I don't have much else to say.  It's not a long book, at only 128 pages, but it still takes a little bit to get through.  Definitely worth the read, if you're into that kind of thing, and I can see why it is on the list.  

Saturday, October 25, 2008

[41] Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi Longstocking wasn't in the original version of the list, but has since been added to the updated version. I can see why something else was thrown out, and this one thrown in. It's a great children's book, and one that can still be enjoyed by adults who may not have read this yet. I didn't read it during my childhood. I am not sure why I didn't, but somehow I managed to skip past it.

As everyone SHOULD know, Pippi Longstocking is a girl who lives on her own, and has the ability of super strength. It's not a long book, at 128 pages it is probably one of the easiest books to read on the list. Which is a brilliant thing, because it needs to balance out the likes of Infinite Jest and War and Peace.

I don't think much else needs to be said about Pippi Longstocking. It has sold 40 million or so copies worldwide in its 50 or so years of being published. If you haven't read it yet I suggest that you do. At least in reading it you'll be able to say you've read another of those books one should read before they die.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

[40] I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov, hats off to you. This is a pretty good Science Fiction novel by one of the top men in the genre. Will I read anything else by Asimov in the future? Well, if there's another book of his on the list. Otherwise, probably not, due to the other 961 books I have left to read from the list.

While this book is good, I have another topic to speak on. The movie. Where did the movie come from? It has nothing to do with this book whatsoever. You could 're-make' it, and it would be an entirely different movie. It infuriates me. The movie would be quite amusing as well, especially if they put Speedy in it. My favourite robot in the book was probably Speedy, because what he does is hilarious. I laughed out loud several times.

I've got not much else to say on the topic of this book, read it for yourself, especially if you're interested in robots, science-fiction or space in general. Although a little dated, it is still a great story.

Next up: Not entirely sure, going to work that one out about now.

Also, woot 4% done! Well, pretty much. Why did it have to be 1001? Was 1000 not enough for you? 1000 would at least make the percentage even.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

[39] Falling Man by Don DeLillo

It's not the cover on the version I have, but this is probably the standard American version I have posted. The cover I have is the UK version. I think you get the idea though.

Falling Man is the story of a family and the impact that 9/11 has on their lives. Keith, the father in the family, worked in the first tower to be hit by the planes, and managed to get out, turning up at his wife's home, of whom he has been separated from for a year or so. The events that follow bring them back together, in a rather unconventional way.

The story allows one to see into the minds of both Keith and his wife, Lianne. It's interesting to see the different perspectives they both share, and how they overcome the trauma and disbelief they felt when witnessing/being a part of 9/11.

I haven't really read or watched anything relating to 9/11. I've tried to avoid the movies, (United 93, World Trade Center) because I don't really want to watch them. This book was somewhat different though. An eye opener in a way. It's different now though. If I'd been 18 when 9/11 happened, rather than 11, I would have understood things differently, seen more of the horror I suppose.

The book is named after the 'Falling Man' one of the first men to jump from the upper floors of the building, taking his life into his own hands before the tower took it instead.

All in all, it's a good book from Don DeLillo, not my favourite by him, that'd be The Body Artist, but still, Falling Man is a great way to see into the minds of those affected by 9/11.

Next up: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

[38] A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

This book makes me glad, because I could have started with any number of books that I may not have enjoyed. This book, however, I enjoyed on much the same level as most of the books seen in the previous list.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is a book about an old 84 year old Ukrainian man, of whom has lived in Britain for 50 years, who wishes to marry a 36 year old Ukrainian woman, names Valentina, because he believes she needs help with being allowed to stay in Britain.

The story is told from the viewpoint of his 47 year old daughter (and youngest daughter) Nadia. Nadia, combined with the help from her sister, of whom she hasn't spoken to for two years, helps to uncover the scheming, selfish woman that Valentina is.

It's a very interesting book and has some quite funny moments, funny being on a similar level to say, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Which is most certainly another book you should have already read. If not, I will have to shoot you.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is a very recent book. First published in Great Britain in 2005, and the edition I read, published by Penguin Australia in 2006. Being this recent, it wasn't actually on the first edition of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. I hope in all hell that this book is never removed from the list, in possible future editions.

All in all, this was an excellent book to start with, in this 'little' project of mine. Hopefully the next book will be just as good.

Next to be read:

Falling Man by Don DeLillo - a book that revolves around 9/11. So, it's a very very different book from the one I just read. I've read two books by Don DeLillo though, so it should be alright. The Body Artist by Don DeLillo was my favourite of his so far, but was removed from this edition of the list, sadly.

Anywho, this is enough book for me. Tune in next time.

A separate blog for a separate goal.

Not that has a goal, but I thought I'd start a blog for the purpose of reading the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. I think that if anyone becomes aware of this blog's existence, they will make sure I don't delete it in a heated argument between myself and any of the following books:

1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
2. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
3. Underworld by Don DeLillo
4. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Being the overly ambitious person that I am, (see if you don't believe me), I have decided to give this one a fair go. I have decided this is where I will review each book read, giving it a summary, my opinion, which, depending on the book, will be either very long or very short. I will start on this blog entry by listing the ones I have read. I'm not going to go back and review them all, but may make comment on certain ones as I list them here, if I loved them or not.

I will, however, neglect to put the latest one read, onto this blog entry, and review that in the blog entry above this one.

So, without further ramble, I present to you the short (not the shirt, as I had written) list of books already completed from this mammoth list:

1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon (Brilliant. Amazing. Read it)
2. Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer (Well worth reading)
3. Austerlitz - Paul Auster (Didn't really like it all that much)
4. Life of Pi - Yann Martel (Brilliance)
5. The Devil and Miss Prym - Paulo Coelho (I love this author. He is generally amazing)
6. Veronika Decides to Die - Paulo Coelho (Clearly a bit of influence came into the reading of these two. Fantastic authors get more reads from me)
7. The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy (Read it!)
8. The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides (Pretty much an amazing story)
9. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams (Hilariousness on a table spoon. The couch bit is the best! It's pretty much amazing in every way)
10. The Black Dahlia - James Ellroy (A bit of a drag, although better than the film version. Not hard though)
11. Perfume - Patrick Suskind (<33333 on a stick, with a piece of cheese, and such. This is amazing. I own it)
12. White Noise - Don DeLillo (Although still not sure what this book was entirely about at the time I completed reading it, it was interesting. Lol. That sounds weird.)
13. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (What do I say about this one? This is one of my favourite series of all time. You can't read just the first one. That's almost illegal.
14. Interview with the vampire - Anne Rice (As long I ignore the film version and never watch it, this will forever be a great book)
15. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath (I have much love for this book. Sylvia Plath is amazing. Or was)
16. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (If you are reading this blog, and are yet to read this book, get out, and don't come back til you have!)
17. The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway (Short, quick, good)
18. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger (If you've made it past To Kill a Mockingbird, but haven't read this, you must leave as well.)
19. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell (I very much loved this book. It was quick, easy and intersting to read)
20. Animal Farm - George Orwell (Not as good as Nineteen Eighty-Four, but perhaps that's because I had to study this one)
21. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery (A quick, beautiful story for children and adults. Wonderful!)
22. The Outsider - Albert Camus (I'm reading the ones I've read off a spreadsheet, but can't see author names, so I'm surprised that the only one I had to look at was the last one. The Outsider, yes, good book)
23. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien (Do you really need a review? I mean, really)
24. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (Studied it, and managed to love it. This book is awesome. I bought it because I loved it so much. Well, rather, saved it from a second-hand store.
25. A Room With a View - E.M. Forster (One of the best romance novels ever written)
26. Dracula - Bram Stoker (Remains amazing, although my opinion on vampires being so evil has changed since reading this. Edward Cullen is an influential man.)
27. The Time Machine - H.G. Wells (Only one of his I've read, but it's well worth it. Very different concept of time machines to what we have. With the TARDIS and all)
28. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde (The easiest classic I have ever been fortunate enough to read. I believe I bought it at some point. I don't remember when. Oh, yes I do. That was that day at that bookstore when the cute guy working there was all 'Finally! Someone's bought something of value!')
29. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson (The best bits of this book were the bits that you see in the Pirates films. Mentions of Davey Jones, and the songs. I didn't find it amazing, but it's still worth reading)
30. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (Probably one of the most brilliant books ever. This book is amazing, and you will find that is the case if you make it through its 820 or so pages.)
31. Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll (Must I review it?)
32. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott (Read it a looonngggg time ago)
33. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (Again, does it really need reviewing?)
34. The Pit and the Pendulum - Edgar Allan Poe (Something perhaps a little crazy. Poe was probably a madman)
35. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (Arguably the best romance novel. Perhaps)
36. A Modest Proposal - Jonathan Swift (Hilarious. Simply hilarious)

I have missed one. Now I must go back and figure out which ones.
I can't figure it out. Ok, I found it. I am ashamed.

37. Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut (Kurt Vonnegut is amazing. I can't believe I missed this one. Of all the ones to miss. Brilliant book. Really and truly brilliant.)

There you go, there is the list, with comments, of the ones I have read already. :D