Yeah, I know, I should have read this years ago. Just got done reading Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. A very quick read – I started it yesterday. I’ve not read much Steinbeck, and now I’ll probably try to read more. I’ve not often read something that packed so much depth in so few pages.
Apparently there’s a movie with John Malkovich in it that’s really good.
Next stop, Mona Lisa Overdrive, by William Gibson.
The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan, picks up immediately after the first Percy Jackson series leaves off, and introduces a new set of characters. Riordan has improved his writing style – or perhaps he’s aiming at his same audience, who are now a little older. Either way, the characters are more believable, and the story was better.
However, I get tired of the “I know something you don’t know” plot device. Pretty much every character in the entire book has some secret. In every case, if they would just say what they know, it would make everything better, and wouldn’t have any negative ramifications, but they keep the secret for some deeply personal and poorly articulated reason.
Everyone from Tolkein on uses this technique. Some wise old codger knows something, and won’t tell you, for your own good. Galdalf. Alanon. The three fairies in sleeping beauty. But Riordan goes overboard with this. Everyone in the whole book does this, and one grows weary of it.
In spite of that, and in spite of the chapter at the end where everybody spills the beans, I actually thoroughly enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to the next one.
I’m now reading “Of Mice And Men”, and I’m not sure what will come after that.
River Teeth, by David James Duncan, was wonderful. The book alternates between memories (the river teeth) and short stories. I won’t spoil it by telling you the definition of river teeth, which is the first memory.
His writing of memories – even brief flashes of memory – inspire me to write my memories, even when they aren’t full stories. His short stories, inspired by those memories, are wonderfully written, and while there’s no common thread, they are all well worth reading. Highly recommended.
Next on the list, I’m reading “Of Mice And Men” (Steinbeck) and “Tower of Glass” (Silverberg). I think I might give up on “Persuasion” for now. Jane Austen is always an awful lot of work.
One of the many Disc World books I missed on the first time through, Small Gods follows the last believer of the Great God Om on his journey to Ephebe and back. Om is about to cease to exist, due to nobody believing in him any more, and, due to a small miscalculation, or perhaps the universe’s sense of humor, is in the form of a small tortoise.
Although bordering on blasphemy much of the time, the book manages to be both very funny, and rather insightful about religion – or, more accurately, the organizations that surround religion.
A must if you’re a Pratchett fan, but probably give it a miss otherwise.
At the Back of the North Wind, by George MacDonald, came highly recommended by someone who loved it years ago. I found it tedious and poorly told, as though Mr. MacDonald had awoken from a dream, and tried unsuccessfully to get it all down before the memory faded.
I have not enjoyed MacDonald’s other things that I’ve read, so I suppose this wasn’t a surprise. I think he has good stories, but is incapable of telling them.
Next on the list is Persuasion, by Jane Austen, although based on the first few chapters I’m hoping to get through it quickly. I’m also still reading River Teeth, but I’m almost done.
Yes, that’s right, I’ve never read Macbeth before. Now I have.
And later this week, we’ll probably watch Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth. Reading plays is always difficult for me. I have trouble following what’s going on. Hopefully seeing it acted will help.
The fourth book this year is Swordbird, by Nancy Yi Fan. I read this because my son thought it was wonderful and has been bugging me for probably a year to read it.
The story was written by a 12-year old, and this lack of experience shows in the writing, but I have to admit that it was a little better than I expected. While the story is simple and the characters are a little shallow, it’s told well and keeps moving along well.
I think I could recommend this for 8 or 9 year old readers.
The next thing on the list is River Teeth.
Book 3 for 2001 – The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. I read this on my Kindle.
Here’s another book that I finished because 1) it’s on The List, and 2) I’m stubborn that way and don’t like to leave a book unfinished. A book has to be pretty awful for me to not finish it. And if it’s really and truly awful, sometimes I’ll finish it just to show that I can’t be beaten. 🙂
Anyways, I suspect that when he wrote this, there weren’ many books in this genre, so it gained a degree of notoriety just because of that. It’s an interesting concept, but, mired as it is in proper 19th Century English high society, it takes an awful long time to get there.
18th Century English literature is frequently *all* about high society, and so doesn’t apologize for it. It’s tedious, but honest. 19th Century English high society likes to pretend that it’s part of the modern world, but also likes to pretend that it’s better than the modern world. So it’s just tedious.
I really need to find more books worth reading, some time this year. This wasn’t it. And I’m afraid that the next one – Swordbird – which I’m reading because my son keeps bugging me to read it – isn’t going to be a big winner either. At least it will be a fast read.
Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to River Teeth, which I think will come immediately after that.
Book 2, 2011 – The Boy Who Dared, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.
Written from the perspective of a young man during Hitler’s regime, this paints a picture of the Nazi years that I hadn’t thought of before. It’s very easy to look at Nazi Germany and condemn it, but this book lets us see the faces of the people who endured those years and didn’t support the regime, and what they endured.
S read this in school and encouraged me to read it. It’s a quick read, written for the 10-12 audience. It took me two weeks mostly because it’s been a busy two weeks. It give a very good overview of what was involved in Hitler rising to power, without the demonization of the German people that is in so many stories about this era. If anything, it errs a little far on the “I was only doing my job” attitude that was so much a part of Nuremberg, absolving many people who just did what they thought they needed to do to make it from day to day. It also implies that most people had no idea what was going on.
… which makes me wonder …
How much do we really know about what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do we, and should we, believe what we are told about what’s going on there? To what extent should we be suspicious of the extreme reaction to the rather vanilla revelations that came out of Wikileaks?
Definitely worth reading. I think we lose perspective, and have a 20-year (tops) view of history, and tend to forget more than we remember.
Inspired by my sister, I’m going to try to write something about each book I read this year.
Book 1: The Catcher In The Rye. This is, by many lists, a classic that everyone is supposed to read. I can’t imagine why. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t even bad. It wasn’t anything but a rambling stream-of-consciousness blah blah blah about several mostly-uneventful days in the life of a very unpleasant young man.
I recommend that you read it, not because I thought it worth reading, but because I endured it, and so I think you should, too.
J.D. Salinger died very recently, having spent more than 40 years pretty much in hiding. According to that article, at least, the book remained popular because it was offensive. And, as I’m sure you know, kids want to read books that are full of foul language and sexual references, mostly because it’s forbidden. I honestly can’t figure any other reason that anybody’s still reading this book all these years later.
Or maybe it’s famous for being famous. That’s certainly why I read it. And now, no doubt, some of you will read it because I’ve mentioned it. I’ve become part of the perpetuation of this drivel. Just great.
Next on the list is The Boy Who Dared, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.