Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Literary Discussion, Part Two..

It was a bit of hit and miss for my reading time this quarter, but I still managed to get some good books in....

Links to First Quarter and the Challenge List

#45.  Candide by Voltaire

Oh what a fun read!!!  A little over 100 page satire about suffering, it was a hilarious and quick read.  I knew nothing about it going in and couldn't of been more surprised and happy about this book.   Voltaire accomplished in such a short amount of pages something that I'm not sure that no one else could of, he left out all of the fluff and left only substance.

#18 . Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

One of the hardest challenges of reading books that are so well known and have adaptations of them is to let go and not try to put parts of a movie into a book, having said that, however, this short first entry into the Alice series was enjoyable and confusing, easy yet deep, fun and thought provoking.  I will be continuing on with Alice as soon as I have time.

#35 . Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Prepare to be uncomfortable, really uncomfortable, but just buckle down and read...Make it through the violence of the first chapter and take a breath and continue and read...Cringe at the cruelty both in your face and the more subtle but just as damaging cruelty of not seeing someone...Read on, and make it through this heartbreaking book about a man who becomes invisible due to the fact that society only sees one thing, the color of his skin.   This is probably a book that needs to be read more than once to truly appreciate everything in it, but I'm not sure I can read it again, but I'm glad I made it through once.

#32 . Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

When is an adventure book not just an adventure book?  When it's a top 50 book....then it becomes a satire on travel books (everything is perfect, even though we are stranded in a strange land), politics, society, education, and religion.  It's short but packs a lot in as Gulliver starts out as an idealistic travel and ends up a bit bitter and having little faith in people.

#33 . Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Absurd, yet entertaining...  This is either the most brilliant book I've ever read or the dumbest and I'm not sure I'll ever make up my mind about it.  There is a crazy cast of characters and a plot that takes a while to figure out and you are introduced to the origin of a phrase that I'm pretty sure that you've used before...Catch-22...

#21 . The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

My first thought about Holden Caulfield is that he is a spinning top reaching the end of its run and is wobbling trying to hang on.  You know it's all about to fall apart and even Holden is aware that sometimes he is a bit too much.  The book is a fascinating read of teenage angst and pain that made me react in two very distinct ways.. first, I was drawn back into my teenage years and struggling to find my way and I was right there with him, although my experiences were quite different from his....and then second, I wanted to look him in the eyes and tell him to for just a second breathe and realize it may not be as bad as it may seem...  This book has been loved and controversial since it was published, and I found that I am a fan of this coming of age story....

#23 . Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

War is Peace.  That line alone scares me the most, because it was written a long time ago, yet it is the phrase that is used over and over again to justify wars today.  War is the path to Peace.  No, not really.  Somehow peace isn't popping up after the bombs drop.  This book is just chilling because it show what happens when you just go with the status quo and follow like sheep.  Pay attention and speak up!  Horror flicks don't scare me, but books like this do....

#25 . To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Chaotic beauty describes the first 30 or so pages of a dense, yet never boring, 200 page novel.  It's a novel of detail of the mundane, yet never boring, lives that we live, and the unexpected consequences of losing someone.  I LOVED the beauty of the prose, it almost read like a poem and the celebration and understanding that life is truly lived in the little moments of life....

#36 . The Stranger by Albert Camus

What an utterly baffling book for me.....  The main character is both sympathetic and completely dislikable.  It's a weird balance of feeling sympathy and wanting him to be anything other than he is.  It's also a book about the meaning of life and finding peace where ever you might be and what ever your circumstances are, but the theme that is resonating for me the most is this, 'what happens when you don't react in a way that society expects?'  Are you judged and condemned for simply not following societal norms?  A short novel of less than 150 pages that packs a punch.

#6.  War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Well, I finished it... By the end, I felt like I was reading two separate books, one I really enjoyed and the other, I could not wait for it to be over.  Tolstoy said back in the day that he did not consider this a novel, and I agree with him.  There were aspects of a novel, but the other part was like a droll, boring history teacher....  Ironically, it's not a hard read, so don't let that intimidate you when you see that it has over 1300 pages.  I'm glad I read it, but doubt I'll read it again.

#28 . The Trial by Franz Kafka

What would you do if you were arrested for a crime, but never told what you are accused of?  What would you do if the people that are charging you with that crime are not a normal court, but have the power to destroy your life?  What would you do with the unrelenting pressure that goes along with all of this?  Would you give into paranoia?  All of this and more are brought into question into this dense novel.  I had always been a bit intimidated by Kafka, but found 'The Trial' to be deep and thought provoking, but readable.

#15 . Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

DID NOT FINISH...  I couldn't read this book.  I gave it 100 pages, but felt sick to my stomach as the narrator, Hubert Humphrey laid out his reasoning for finding a 14 year old girl sexually attractive.  .  ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME?  Life is too short to feel like you need to take a shower after you read.  The ironic part in all of this, Nabokov's writing is amazing and I am going to find another of his books to read, but I can not stomach Lolita.

#1.  In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
       Swann's Way (book 1)

I had never heard of Proust or this book, so I am immensely grateful for this challenge for bringing it to my literary life.  I ADORE this book!  And the more French authors I read, the more I come to realization I love their writing style.  This is a subtle, slow moving novel about memories and time.  I cannot recommend it enough.  I cannot wait to continue this 7 part series of novels...

#29 . One Thousand and One Nights by India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt

I read it over the span of a month and really liked taking a tale or two a night.  I loved all the creative and smart women who outwitted arrogant, and sometimes mean, men.  I loved the learning that both the men and women did.  Fables and tales hold a great place in our history and it was fun to read ones from another part of the world.

It was an interesting 2nd quarter of reading.  I was introduced to authors I had never read before, books that challenged me, and once again, books that I fell in love with....

Still reading,

1 comment:

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed your short book reports. And I completely agree with you about Lolita.


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