OscarWilde87's reading log 2020
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Hi there and welcome to my thread!
This is going to be my seventh year on CR and I just love being part of this group. So, thanks for having me.
I'm a teacher of English and mathematics at a German high school and I'm in my thirties. I tend to read more fiction than non-fiction, but I generally enjoy both. My reading is all over the board and I'm interested in a wide range of topics. You'll probably find me reading classics as well as popular fiction. I finish every book that I start and I will be reviewing everything I've read here.
Each year I set some reading goals for myself and my challenge for this year will be this:
1. Read a book with more than 1,000 pages. This is something I do every year and there have been so many amazing recommendations for which book that could be that I intend to read (at least) one of the books on that list.
2. Read at least 7,500 pages. In past years this goal read "read 25 books", but as I tend to read lots of bigger tomes I'm going for a change this year.
This post will serve as my reading summary and provide some stats about my overall reading.
Reducing the TBR pile: This year's challenge (to be updated)
Finished in 2020
#1: Tom Jones by Henry Fielding ()
#2: The Why Are You Here Café by John P. Strelecky ()
Books read: 2
Pages read: 883
Books read: 20
Pages read: 12,414
Books read: 17
Pages read: 9,373
Books read: 18
Pages read: 6,403
Books read: 28
Pages read: 10,426
Books read: 20
Pages read: 8,280
Books read: 27
Pages read: 7,164
Books read: 26
Pages read: 11,618
Happy new year, OsxarWilde87! I hope all is well with you. I look forward to checking in on your progress.
>3 brodiew2: Hi there and a happy new year! Will you be having a thread as well? I couldn't seem to find one just now.
>4 NanaCC: Welcome! I'll be lurking around your thread as well! Happy to see you again! :)
Now that's unfair! I just painstakingly posted on your 2019 thread about Steinbeck, mentioning The Ballad of Tom Joad, and I pop over here to see Springsteen staring me down in the first ten seconds! And you will never believe that I knew nothing about it!!! Hells bells. Fluke or fate? To be determined. =)
And I got Omerta and The Dark Arena for Christmas, since they're the only two Puzo's I haven't read yet, so there! My favourite is The Fortunate Pilgrim: A Novel because it describes his mother to a tee, and it's an unapologetically realistic NYC immigrant story. My back-to-back binge of The Godfather, The Sicilian, The Last Don was a family frenzy years ago. (Speaking of which, The Family was an oddity, having been finished by someone else when MP died. Brother/sister way too chummy, if you get my drift. There's enough of that nonsense in Faulkner, ugh.) Long after the films of course. Enjoy! I love Puzo's writing style, journalist that he was, reminded me of a pasta-loving hand-waving Hemingway. ; )
Star intact. All the best in your epic travels, both by book and blacktop! (slang for paved road fyi)
PS - My year began with The Happy Prince and Ben-Hur.
Happy New Year Wilde. I’m curious about Tom Jones and how it will go for you.
>9 frahealee: Ha! And I just answered in my 2019 thread without having seen your post here. I love on how many channels communication can work here. I actually hadn't thought of the fact that the Springsteen book is on my to-read-list for this year. I seem to be wanting to go at it in summer, but then again, I can't only read in summer. I get most of my reading done in summer, though.
It seems you're way ahead of me with Puzo. I just saw the book in a second-hand book store (Barter Books in England, which is actually very amazing and the source of the "Keep calm and carry on" slogan, if you want to check it out online, go here. They have pictures and a video that gives you quite a good impression. Going there from Canada would be too long, I guess.)
The Happy Prince! Haven't read it so far, but as a big fan of the author (who woulda guessed, right?), it's certainly on my list. Interested in your thoughts. Ben Hur does not seem to be my cup of tea, but my tastes seem to change every couple of years, so who knows?
My travel plans for this year are not completely fixed, but I am planning to go to Florida in summer. Lots of people say that summer is a bad time for Florida, though. As I can deal with heat and humidity quite well, I still tend to want to go. But planning is still in its early stages.
>10 dchaikin: Happy New Year to you too, Dan! I am curious about how I'll like Tom Jones, too, actually. I like it so far...
I can't find your 2020 thread. Have you set it up yet?
Happy New Year! Looking forward to hearing about the big books read and the other reviews as well.
>11 OscarWilde87: I get the urge to read Ben-Hur each time I watch my Pacino/Any Given Sunday (1999) dvd! Fallout of the literary variety.
I have been to Florida twice; once as a teenager to visit a cousin in Sarasota, once after college with a gal on vaca with her parents at Fort Meyers Beach. I am not the Miami Beach/Spring Break type so my regrets would be missing Key West where Hemingway's house is, and Key Largo from my dvd of the Bogart/Bacall/Barrymore film. Love the awesome effect of nature on Edward G. Robinson's arrogance. Claire Trevor is heartbreaking and set me on my film-noir path. So, Florida has significant ripples in my own life! Hope you love it, off-season rates and all. You are wiser than your years! Always get the most mileage for that poor travel buck.
>13 ELiz_M: Happy New Year! I have just discovered your thread and dropped my star there! :)
>14 dchaikin: Happy to hear that you liked the Springsteen memoir. I am really looking forward to reading it! I'll also be on the lookout for your thread. It's been really interesting to follow in recent years. :)
>15 frahealee: I don't know yet whether it's wise to go to Florida in summer or not, what with the rain and the risk of hurricanes. I am planning on seeing the Keys and Hemingway's house so I'll probably risk the adventure of Florida the summer. I'll keep you posted.
Happy New Year! Dropping off my star for this year. Look forward to your 2020 reading. A visit to Hemingway's house sounds like a great plan!
Greetings! Looking forward to seeing how your reading goes this year. For some reason, the links to the .jpgs you've posted up top are broken for me. The Springsteen autobiography is very good (I'm a huge fan of his music and have been since the mid-1970s) though it has some flaws. I don't know if you're a Philip Roth fan at all, but in one of the last interviews of his that I read, when talking about his recent reading, he mentioned how much he'd enjoyed Springsteen's book. Both are/were Jersey boys, of course (as am I).
>21 rocketjk: the links to the .jpgs you've posted up top are broken for me.
Broken here as well until you accept the Amazon certificate.
>22 AnnieMod: Ah, that explains it. I try as much as possible to avoid connection to that company.
>16 brodiew2: I had to research that title since it wasn't familiar to me, and I think I'd remember Mitchum in anything, so on my list it goes. Thanks for the new oldie.
>11 OscarWilde87: That Barter Books link was stunning! Happy to go there in my mind's eye. Thank you for revealing its intrigue. Northumberland County in Ontario is just east of Toronto so a road trip may be in order. I wonder if they have any noteworthy used bookshops?... which would be a grand fluke! This visual makes for a lovely 'happy place' the whole year round.
>20 AlisonY: Happy New Year to you too! I have just found your thread and starred it, too, so the following will go both was.
>26 frahealee: It's a really fantastic bookshop. I actually hadn't known that they had a website with videos but I was also delighted to see it when I checked ot to show you. A used bookshop in Canada's Northumberland County just as in Britain's Northumberland? That would be too much. :)
#1: Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling was written by Fielding in 1749 and is regarded as one of the first novels. As a blend of bildungsroman and picaresque novel it follows the life of Tom Jones from conception to a point towards the middle of his life. The book only features a small set of characters that often surface and resurface throughout the book as Jones grows up, leaves home and finally ... well, see for yourself, no spoilers here. The second most important character in the novel is Sophia Western, the love of Jones' life. She is a very well-educated upper-class girl whose beauty Fielding describes in great detail and probably hyperbole. As Jones is a foundling who has come into the well-reputed house of Mr Allworthy, the novel can also be read under aspects of class differences and whether ones birth or ones upbringing determines the class of someone.
I found the novel not as hard to follow as other 18th century books once I got attuned to the language used. My edition also had a glossary and notes, the former of which I did not make any use of. The notes helped in understanding allusions to Fielding's contemporaries and putting events in perspective and context. Also, as my Latin is somewhat rusty, I found the translations from Latin into English quite helpful at times.
The novel is divided into eighteen books, each of which is prefaced by the omniscient narrator. This preface sets the tone and establishes a moral framework to interpret what is to come in a light the narrator sees fit. At times the preface treats the novel itself on a meta level. For example, there is a preface about the use of prefaces that is actually quite entertaining. Both the structure and the comments the narrator makes throughout the story provide 18th-century moral guidance for the reader and at the same time can be regarded in an ironic way that entertains by contradicting auctorial comments and actual motives of the characters. This contradiction can also be seen in the way the narrator treats his story as a 'history', that is a narrative based on facts, and the narrated events that sometimes require a certain degree of suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader as events do not always seem as coincidental as they are portrayed.
Tom Jones did not always make me want to continue reading to see what might happen to Jones next, but it also had parts where it actually did make me want to read the next chapter instantly. On the whole, 3.5 stars for a novel that I would probably have to read again (and yet again) to grasp the full depth it can provide.
Hello OscarWilde87! I hope all is well with you.
I just want to drop and alert you to the fact that I am listening to The Institute by Stephen King. I am on the 5th disc (about a third of the way through) and enjoying it quite a bit.
>31 OscarWilde87: I'm sorry to hear Tom Jones fell short of your expectations. I have not read it or seen any screen adaptation.
I just started Mike Rowe's The Way I Heard It in print. Lots of fun already.
>33 brodiew2: Hi Brodie! I haven't read The Institute yet but I am really looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I might add it to my wishlist.
I wouldn't call Tom Jones a disappointment as such. It's just that there were many parts I liked but also quite a few things that bugged me. I feel there is more depth to it than what was possible for me to get in my first reading. A second reading will be unlikely, though. That might actually be the real disappointment. Too many books, too little time.
Glad you like The Way I Heard It. I have neither read it nor heard about it so far but I will make sure to read your review.
>31 OscarWilde87: Believe it or not, I thought you'd be harder on it than you were! I've heard from various corners that it's equally sharp/smarmy/sassy, but it's featured in Becoming Jane (2007) in a funny library scene, so on the list it went.
I've been mired in the 19th century lately, so am looking forward to a few 18th options; The Nun by Denis Diderot, Vathek by Beckford, Tristram Shandy by Sterne (satire?), The Vicar of Wakefield by Goldsmith, Fanny Hill by Cleland, Clarissa &/or Pamela by Samuel Richardson, Moll Flanders &/or Roxana by Defoe. Marquis de Sade can afford to wait (next year, next decade?).
Tom Jones was included in a bildungsroman ebook collection, so now no excuses! Unsure why, but I expect it to resemble Nicholas Nickleby?! Funny coincidence, Under the Volcano is lined up for this summer, and both film adaptations feature Mr. Albert Finney. Of course, I'll wait to see the films until after the novels are complete. Works best for me that way (usually).
>36 frahealee: Why did you think so? It's not like it's a bad novel, is it?
Interesting options for your 19th century reads you have there. Of those I've only read Tristram Shandy, which I found a little hard to follow at times but generally liked despite my temporary struggles. Defoe is certainly on my to read list.
I haven't read Nicholas Nickleby, so I cant really say whether it's similar to Tom Jones. What I can say is that Tom Jones can certainly be read as a bildungsroman as it follows the protagonist growing up and finding a viable space in society for himself. I also always read the novel first before turning to the film. Otherwise the film might ruin my imagination of the characters and places in the book. I love reading too much for that.
#2: The Why Are You Here Café by John P. Strelecky
At a mere 130 pages The Why Are You Here Café is a very short book that is easy to read at one go. Protagonist John is low on gas and on his way to find a gas station when he discovers the Why Are You Here café in the middle of nowhere. On the menu he does not just find food he would like to have but also three central questions that get him thinking: (1) Why are you here?, (2) Do you fear death? and (3) Are you fulfilled? Assisted by the waitress Casey, café owner Mike and a fellow patron Anne, John slowly starts to formulate answers for himself.
While the exploration of those three questions is certainly worthwhile and anecdotes related by the different characters give the reader food for thought, I found the book quite shallow and relatively simple. Sure, it got me thinking, too, which is why I did not read the book at one go, but paused at certain points so as to take time for myself to ponder those questions. Overall, though, the book did not really draw me in or inspire deeper insights than (I think) I would have had pondering those questions without ever having read the book.
Because of the length of the book I would recommend reading the book if you want to get started on pondering key questions for your life. It certainly does not make you lose too much time that could be better used another way. However, I would caution potential readers not to expect too much. 3 stars.
>37 OscarWilde87: Oh it was nothing specific, more a sense of overall malaise from many who struggled through the story. I plan to binge on 18th century options the same way I embraced Mark Twain. Once you get into the language, it's easier to progress. Also, my short story preference gets balanced out with longer novels. 1000+ pages is really tough for me, but bracing myself with 600-900 page books helps with the transition.
You, as a teacher, are taught to read analytically, whereas I read for pure entertainment. I might reflect on moral lessons, or not, but there's no pressure to dissect it specifically to produce an opinion.
>39 frahealee: That sounds like a good plan. I also read for entertainment. Sometimes, however, I can't help seeing things from a more analytic point of view. Sometimes it just ruins the reading process when you try and dissect everything. Sometimes it adds to the experience, though. I'm living cognitive dissonance, I guess.
>40 OscarWilde87: I'm confident that an early love of reading is what helped form your desire to become a teacher, and why you love doing both so much. =)
Having completed a few by Nathaniel Hawthorne recently, The Pilgrim's Progress was mentioned a few times in NYU lectures on Amercan Gothic, so that allegory plus Ovid are on my 17th century (1001bymrbyd) radar. Those will be a mind-over-matter mood thing. Not much of an open window for contemporary fiction, I'm afraid.
Your most recent read sounds like creative non-fiction, doing for cosmic knowledge what The Wealthy Barber did for financial investment. Not to be disrespectful to either author.
>41 frahealee: Oh, I quite liked The Pilgrim's Progress, actually. This is another example of where I had to get used to the language a little, but where I enjoyed the book as soon as I read longer stretches at a time.
Right now I'm off to pop fiction with Stephen King's collection of novellas, Different Seasons. I am a little more than halfway through the first novella (Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption) and I like it a lot. I haven't seen the Shawshank movie, though. Books before movies. I might not even go and see the movie, actually.
>42 OscarWilde87: Three of those four were really excellent stories. I think the one called "Breathing Lesson" wasn't as strong as the others.
>43 lisapeet: I just finished Shawshank and it was fantastic. With four stories in this one volume I'm thinking about writing up four reviews instead of just one to do each story justice. Especially since you say that one of them isn't as good this might make sense, I guess. "The Breathing Method" is the last story in the book and also the shortest one. Seeing King's usual page count that might be an indicator that he can't do short as well as he does longer stories?
>44 OscarWilde87: "Breathing Method," that's the one. And interesting thought about King and short form. I remember reading a book of his short stories, I think Skeleton Crew, in the mid-'80s—I was a big King fan in my teens and early 20s—and not being as impressed by them, though I was a less critical/careful reader back then. So I'm not sure where I stand on that thought, but suspect you're right. King is good at weaving together a lot of tiny details to make the fabric of his books/stories tight and believable, and maybe the short form doesn't give him the space to do that the way he writes? I'd have to go back and reread, though, and I'm not sure how motivated I am to do that.
>42 OscarWilde87: How on earth have you managed to not watch The Shawshank Redemption?
Despite having read a fair chunk of Mr King's work in the past I've not read Different Seasons because I've really only started reading shorter-form fiction more recently. I'm not sure whether I should read it now or not because the movie is so strong in my mind (I've seen it multiple times).
>47 rhian_of_oz: I take it you would recommend watching The Shawshank Redemption then? Whoopsie. In times of streaming services I might get my hands on it somewhere, although it might ruin my reading impressions. For me, movies always tend to be worse than the novels they are based on.
>48 OscarWilde87: I'm a big fan but I haven't read the original story so I've never had any expectations about the movie in relation to the book. Reading a couple of opinions online suggests the film captures the essence of the story well, includes all the scenes in the story, though combines some characters into one representative character.
I absolutely understand your reticence in watching a movie adaptation of a book you've enjoyed.
>47 rhian_of_oz: How on earth have you managed to not watch The Shawshank Redemption?
See, I was thinking the same thing. It's one of favorite movies of all time. I started Different Seasons once, but King and I don't seem to speak to each other well. He just talks and talks and thinking, "just get to the point, man. This is the stuff you're supposed write and then edit out." Sorry, point is, I adore the movie, haven't read the story.
>31 OscarWilde87: delayed congrats on finishing Tom Jones. Thanks for the sense of reading it you provide in the review. Some day, Fielding...
>38 OscarWilde87: The idea of the The Why Are You Here Café in the middle of nowhwere is cute. Too bad it didn't go too far.
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