Yells attempts to organise the mess.
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Needed a place to organise my various threads/challenges and this fits nicely :)
The focus is to read what I own because while new/used books are nice and pretty and wonderful, the aim this year is to de-clutter the house a bit so I really do need to read/purge a few. Hopefully I can read more than I bring home and restore some balance to my little slice of the world.
I joined the Orange/Baileys group so will try to read one of those each month as well as plug away at the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. I would also like to make more of a dent in my CanLit section. And of course all the other monthly reads/challenges etc. that I join with good intentions.
1) House of Leaves by Danieleski (1001 Books list).
It's definitely one of the more unique books I have read and a rather interesting way to start the new year. It was kind of like Murakami meets Lost (with a little Dr Who thrown in for good measure). Basically, there may/may not be a house that contains some kind of labyrinth/portal inside. It may expand/contract at will and could possibly be alive/dead. The story could be told by someone reading a real manuscript or by someone lost in a drug-addled fog. And when you finish, you may or may not know what the hell happened. Confused yet?
Did I like it? Surprisingly yes. This isn't my usual cup of tea but I was totally sucked in. It does get rather complicated over time and the different narrators took some getting used to but figuring out the puzzles within puzzles was a lot of fun.
2) The Three Musketeers by Dumas (1001 Books list).
What fun this one was! Lots of action, adventure and intrigue. Though I had to laugh at the notion that no man could resist the allure of Milady. I was starting to think that she had Jedi training or something.
3) I'm Not Stiller by Frisch (1001 Books list).
Very interesting premise and well written. I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised.
4) Wind / Pinball by Murakami.
I love Murakami and these were the first two short stories that he wrote. Apparently the story continues in Sheep Chase so I will have to find my copy and continue on.
5) The Glass Key by Hammett (1001 Books list)
I had never read Hammett before but started with The Thin Man and then read this one (and also read some Sayers/Doyle on the middle - I think I may have OD'd on mysteries a little). Good but there wasn't anything spectacular about it. A good, average mystery.
6) The Valley of Fear by Doyle (I am trying to read the complete Sherlock Holmes)
I am definitely OD'ing on Doyle but I want to finish reading all the SH stuff in order. Two more short story collections to go I think.
7) The Luminaries by Catton (Orange/Bailey).
The story was cool with lots of twists and turns but I think she got bogged down with the details and at 837 pages, it was a tad too long.
Well done! Reading The Luminaries as one of seven books in January. What did you think about the book?
I loved the Luminaries. It made my top reads in 2014. I hope you enjoyed it.
I found it to be a fascinatingly complex novel and I loved the storyline with all the twists and turns but I think she could have chopped it a bit and still had it work. It took forever for me to get into it but once it got going, I was hooked. She is an awesome writer.
That is quite the January list! I'm starring your topic with great interest in seeing what you read next! How did you enjoy Dumas? He's one of my favorite authors and one I pull out every time I feel like having fun with my reading.
It was my first Dumas and I loved it! Lots of action, humour and suspense. I would like to tackle Count of Monte Cristo at some point this year when I have time.
The Count of Monte Cristo is a much quicker read than it looks. I think because of the "Lots of action, humour and suspense." I think you'd love it.
Welcome over here in CR, Yells. I was going to ask you how Moby Dick was going, but I'm afraid you might have already finished it by now. Lots of interesting books for one month.
>10 NanaCC: - I found Three Musketeers flew by so glad to hear that CoMC is a good, fast read as well.
>11 dchaikin: - Moby Dick stalled a little because I was trying to read book one of War and Peace for an on-line read. But that is finished so I will try to finish MD this weekend. It's a rather odd book but I am enjoying it a lot. Part is your typical adventure novel but then there are chapters dedicated to things like the history of whales, other books written about whales, whale anatomy... There were even a few chapters on the difference in head shape of the sperm whale vs right whale (he has some strong opinions on these things!).
1) Moby Dick by Melville (1001 Books list)
Finished and while I enjoyed it immensely, I was rather surprised that it took so long for Moby to make his big appearance. The ending was rather rushed unlike the rest of the book so that was a bit weird. But, I have now learned more about whales than I ever wanted to know.
2) Hector and the Search for Happiness by Lelord.
A short , feel-good novel about a hapless man travelling around the world on a quest to define happiness. Similar to Forest Gump (The novel).
3) War and Peace by Tolstoy (1001 Books list) - just starting book eight.
4) Wild Sheep Chase by Murakami
Wow, a Murakami that I didn't like... I generally like his weirdness but this one didn't work at all.
5) The Goldfinch by Tartt (Orange/Bailey)
Long but interesting story with a weird ending. I loved all the talk about art and antiques and really wanted to see how things were going to turn out with the painting but ultimately, I think she took the easy way out. It was a little to 'pat'.
6) Them by Oates (1001 Books list)
This is apparently one of the books that Oates wants to be known for and I can see why. It is based on the real life of one of Oates' students and pretty unbelievable at times.
7) So Long a Letter by Ba (1001 Books list)
A short but powerful novella that is basically a long letter written from one friend to another after the death of her husband. The introduction states "Senegal is a Muslim country, and the issue of negotiating the passage to modernity without renouncing a Muslim identity has been at the heart of much Senegalese literature..." The letter writer, a Muslim woman named Ramatoulaye, questions her faith and her increasing need for independence and autonomy as she recalls the days before and after her husband's death.
8) Hour of the Star by Lispector (1001 Books list)
Another short but good one. I spent most of the novel feeling sorry for Macabea because she was poor, uneducated and misunderstood by those around her. But as it went on, I realised that she was totally unaware of her situation and didn't feel sorry for herself at all. She had a tremendous innocence and inner confidence that was quite refreshing to read. Very well done.
9) The Things They Carried by O'Brien (1001 Books list)
Wow, my first 5-star read of the year. How do you find fault with prose like this:
The truths are contradictory. It can be argued, for instance, that war is grotesque. But in truth war is also beauty. For all its horrors, you can't help but gape at the awful majesty of combat. You stare out at tracer rounds unwinding through the dark like brilliant red ribbons. You crouch in ambush as a cool, impassive moon rises over the nighttime paddies. You admire the fluid symmetries of troops on the move, the harmonies of sound and shape and proportion, the great sheets of metal-fire streaming down from a gunship, the illumination rounds, the white phosphorus, the purply orange glow of napalm, the rocket's red glare. It's not pretty, exactly. It's astonishing. It fills the eye. It commands you. You hate it, yes, but your eyes do not. Like a killer forest fire, like cancer under a microscope, any battle or bombing raid or artillery barrage has the aesthetic purity of absolute moral indifference - a powerful, implacable beauty - and a true war story will tell the truth about this, though the truth is ugly.
10) The God of Small Things by Roy (1001 Books list)
Her language is beautiful and it really catches you off-guard when she writes about some not-so-beautiful things. It's a slow burn of a novel. She sets the scene slowly and then, once you start to get complacent, she slips in something shocking and you almost can't believe what you have just read.
11) Smut by Bennett
I am usually a fan of his but this was a little too far out there.
12) The Man Who Was Thursday by Chesterton
What a strangely compelling book! A mystery where nothing is what it seems and an adventure story that trumps anything put out today.
13) The Sea, The Sea by Murdoch
What does one say about this one? The main character was a self-absorbed, controlling ass to everybody but by the end, you almost like him. Charles is a semi-retired theatre/film star who decides to run away from his problems so he buys a small house outside London and hides. But what he never seems to realise (well, maybe a little at the end) is that he is the cause of all his problems so he can't escape them. When he was a teen, he fell in love for the first time but she ended it when he became a little too obsessive. Ever since, he has blamed her for all his relationship failures. His real failure though is his ego -- he treats people like they are actors in his play of life and tries to manipulate their movements to suit his needs. He runs into his first love again and the obsession comes back full force with some comical and some tragic consequences.
This was my first Murdoch and I can't wait to read more.
14) The Magus by Fowles
Wouldn't you know, I take a week off from work to get things done around the house and end up sick. The up side is that I have a lot of time to read. The down side? Chores just aren't getting done :)
Take care of yourself, chores can wait. Hope you feel better before your week off ends.
Wow, I find that very hard to believe from someone as well read as you, edwin! I also highly recommend O'Brien. Always a wonderful read. Just now imagining reading him I can see myself pensively looking through a window with the book in my hand. That's the type of mood he puts me in. Really wonderful.
>23 ELiz_M: - I do believe that you were the one who put that book on my radar. It's pretty good so far!
Love your comment about reading Moby-Dick That you have learned more about whales than you ever wanted to know.
War and Peace by Tolstoy - finally finished and I was genuinely surprised at how accessible it was. I read the Maude translation and it was lovely. My only criticism is that Tolstoy really doesn't care who knows exactly how he felt about war and Napoleon and Alexander. Sometimes it made me chuckle but other times, it took me out of the story. The two epilogues at the end really weren't necessary either.
Magus by Fowles. I have now read three books by Fowles and this is my favourite. It is a big old mess of psychologically twisted plot and you never really know what is real (or what is going on). I am still not sure that I could describe the plot to someone but would have fun trying.
1) Hero's Walk by Badami (Orange/Bailey)
2) Cement Garden by McEwan (1001 Books List)
3) Les Miserables by Hugo (1001 Books List)
4) In Cold Blod by Capote (1001 Books List)
5) Amsterdam by McEwan (1001 Books List)
6) I Am Legend by Matheson
7) On Beale Street by Kidd
8) Funny Girl by Hornby
9) Billy Budd by Melville (1001 Books List)
10) Harriet Hume by West (1001 Books List)
11) Under the Net by Murdoch (1001 Books List)
12) 120 Days of Sodom by de Sade (1001 Books List)
13) Enduring Love by McEwan (1001 Books List)
14) Tartar Steppe by Buzzati (1001 Books List)
Hero's Walk by Badami: An Indian family finds out that their daughter and her Canadian husband have died in a car accident and they are now guardians of a little girl. The story looks at how each family member dealt with their daughter leaving India and marrying a white Canadian. And how they each try to come to terms with her death and all their regrets. Nandana is a 7-year-old, raised in a largely Westernised household and now she is trying to adjust to a vastly different lifestyle. Badami does a pretty good job at getting into each character's head. I read Tamarind Mem years ago and really liked it as well.
Under the Net by Murdoch. I probably shouldn't have started with The Sea, The Sea because this was a bit of a let-down. It's an odd comical tale of misunderstanding. Rather like reading a more literary version of The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window.
Funny Girl by Hornby. I generally love his books but this one wasn't a fave. He failed to capture the spirit of Barbara/Sophie, the main character, and so I really couldn't get into it.
Harriet Hume by West. This one I quite liked. Harriet is dating a man and one day she realises that she can read his thoughts. They go their separate ways but he never forgets her and they end up running into each other over the next few years. He is an arrogant, pompous ass but rather unnerved that she knows how he really feels about things.
What a great reads you have and how many books you read! I did already follow you on the 1001 thread but I see you read a lot of other books as well (fortunately!).
I love reading your reviews!
120 Days of Sodom by de Sade. Some things are better left unsaid (or un-thought).
Enduring Love by McEwan. Hunh, a McEwan that I almost liked. It was somewhat straight-forward and had an interesting storyline.
1) Complete Tales of Beatrice Potter
2) Julie Naked by Hornby
3) Sons and Lovers by Lawrence (1001 Books List)
4) Cancer Ward by Solzhenitsyn (1001 Books List)
5) The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Tressell (1001 Books List)
6) Giovanni's Room by Baldwin (1001 Books List)
7) Contact by Sagan (1001 Books List)
Sons and Lovers by Lawrence. I have only read one Lawrence's short stories before so I wasn't sure what to expect. It is an odd tale about a woman who marries beneath her and spends her life struggling to make ends met. She slowly falls out of love with her husband and turns her attentions to her children. They grow up determined to make different choices than their mother did. Apparently Lawrence felt that his own mother married beneath her so that was the inspiration for the book.
Cancer Ward by Solzhenitsyn. Quite enjoyed this one (as much as one can enjoy reading about this type of thing). As the title suggests, the novel chronicles a brief time in a Soviet cancer ward in 1955. Solzhenitsyn writes from both the perspective of the doctors and the patients so you get a fairly well-rounded view of life in this place. It was rather surprising to see how different medicine was back then. Patients weren't told much about their ailments; in fact, some weren't even told they had cancer before they were sent here. The treatments were crude and often not very effective but they did manage to shrink tumours and some left with renewed hope. Solzhenitsyn spent time in a similar place so this was a bit autobiographical.
Contact by Sagan. Another enjoyable one. Very well written and I really liked the banter back and forth between science and religion. I saw the movie years ago and don't really remember too much about it so maybe I will have to check it out again.
Juliet, Naked by Hornby. Not my favourite but much, much better than Funny Girl. Duncan is obsessed with a rocker who quit the scene 20 years ago and hasn't been seen since. He is part of a small but loyal on-line community of other fans and they spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find out what happened 20 years ago to make Tucker Crowe disappear (hint: it may or may not involve a bathroom). When a CD of previously unreleased tracks surfaces, all hell breaks loose and Duncan finds that life isn't always as it seems. It was a cute, fluffy story and just what I needed for my commute to work.
A week off and I can finally finish some of the half-read books lying around. My tastes are rather fickle these days so while it's easy to start something, it's not quite so easy to finish.
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