Thursday, 21 March 2013

Back on Track?


20 books from Lord of the Flies to date. I've gotten a Kindle since I last blogged (I'm also 2 years older *cough*) and I love it. So many of the older books are free once they're out of copywright and I've had a couple of sessions where I've stocked up on free books from the list.
The books I've read in the last 2 and a bit years are: 

Choke- Chuck Palahniuk (6/10)

Life of Pi- Yann Martel (8/10)
 American Psycho- Bret Easton Ellis (6/10) 
The Sea, The Sea- Iris Murdoch (8/10)
 Lolita- Vladimir Nabokov (9/10) 
1984- George Orwell (9/10) 
The Hobbit- JRR Tolkien (8/10)
 The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald (9/10)
 Crome Yellow- Aldous Huxley (4/10) 
The Age of Innocence- Edith Wharton (8/10)
 The Thirty Nine Steps- John Buchan (7/10) 
Ethan Frome- Edith Wharton (7/10) 
The Island of Dr Moreau- HG Wells (6/10) 
Diary of a Nobody- George Grossmith (7/10) 
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes- Arthur Conan Doyle (8/10) 
The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde (5/10) 
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde- Robert Louis Stevenson (9/10)
 Little Women- Louisa May Alcott (7/10) T
he Sorrows of Young Werther- Johann Wolfgang van Goethe (6/10)
Aseops Fables (6/10)

 I was planning on doing a review on the most recent book I read which was Crome Yellow. However, the book was utter tosh and had no plot whatsoever so I've scrapped that idea! The characters weren't developed and Huxley used so many words I didn't understand I started a notebook of all the naff words he used. I'm now part of the way through Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf, and applauding myself on having chosen another book with zero plot.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

31. The Lord of the Flies

When I had heard that American had banned this book in many of its schools I was a little surprised. I remember several classes in school reading this, pupils who were 14/15. I knew the general plot of this book; a group of boys crash land on a desert island. What I was not aware of was just how dark this book would become, and how quickly; so it was not long before I had an idea as to why the US banned this book. Golding moves quickly from fun and games for a bunch of young boys to murder and savagery.

Golding tells the story through Ralph, the main protagonist of the book who takes it upon himself to lead the group. Ralph isn’t a smart boy but with the help of Piggy- a myopic fat youngster with a quick mind-, he is able to establish some order within the group. The reader however, soon finds out that things aren’t going quite the way that Ralph hoped and it all goes awry within the group quite quickly.

The title of the book refers to a pig’s head on a stick teeming with flies, which the boys have hunted. The ‘Lord of the Flies’ sends one of the boys into a manic episode and ultimately many of the other islanders complete uncivilized savagery.

While Ralph tries his best to keep order on the island with the help of Piggy, Jack, Ralph’s rival for chief quickly removes many of the other boys from Ralph’s civilized world including Roger whose transformation from choirboy to reckless savage is terrifying.

As Ralph and Piggy try their hardest not to fall, there is glimpses of them almost turning before guilt drives them back. The ending of the book finds Ralph remorseful of his actions on the island; will the others join him?

I must admit I didn’t enjoy this book at first, and it was only the story that gripped me until the end. I found Golding’s writing style a bit heavy and wordy at times. However, it did give me a lot to think about and I enjoyed thinking about a lot of the symbolic and allegoric nature of the book.


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

30. What A Carve Up!

I pick up a lot of my books at charity shops. Obviously I can’t recall all 1001 books off the top of my head-although sometimes I wish I could! - So I keep a short list of books that look interesting in my handbag. ‘What a Carve Up!’ was one of those random books that I picked up for about £1 and has sat in my bookcase for about 2 years…I wish I’d picked it up sooner.

Coe borrows the title and the structure of the book from a 1960’s camp horror film. I needn’t have worried about watching the movie; the book is more than accessible and stands alone from the film.

The book chronicles the life of the Winshaws, a bunch of philandering, insane, unscrupulous, greedy…the list could go on lets just say they’re a bunch of ‘rich ne’er do wells’!

Michael Owen- a writer with plenty of this own problems- is commissioned by elderly spinster and asylum resident Tabitha Winshaw to chronicle the life of her family. The book is wonderfully split between Michael and his depressing life, which crumbles as he becomes desperately obsessed with the life of the Winshaws, and that of the 6 Winshaw grandchildren. Michael discovers that each of the six is immersed in some shady dealings; there’s a banker, an arms dealer, a politician, a farmer, an art dealer and a journalist. Each one is more dastardly than the last, and each is willing to do anything to be Top Dog in an 80’s world of Thatcherite’s and yuppies.

As Michael delves deeper into the dynasty he discovers that his life is more than slightly intertwined with the Winshaws. The more he tries to move away from them the more they keep cropping up, ending with a bringing together of the Winshaw clan that ends on an oddly ironic note for each of the group.

Coe’s style of writing is wonderful. The satire so sharp you can feel it coming through the page; who cares if the Winshaws are such caricatures’ it doesn’t matter the whole story is so shocking and the Winshaws so blunt you don’t care. There’s comedy that makes you laugh out loud, sadness that tears at your heart, gore that makes you cringe, and mystery that really surprises you.

The writing is accessible, the genres distinct, and the 80’s made to look like a wasteland of ‘Thatcherite Wankers’- and I loved it!


Friday, 8 October 2010

29. On Beauty- Zadie Smith

It is difficult to right a proper synopsis of this book. Like White Teeth, Smith's first novel it is an explosion of characters whose lives intertwine. Where White Teeth was a more comedic effort, this is more of a traditional tale.

Howard Belsey is an academic working at the fictional Wellington College. He is a middle-aged white Englishman, with a Black wife. Kiki is a strong fiercely independent Liberal like her husband. Howard although a popular figure in the racially diverse town in which he lives is not without his prejudices. He has an inability to accept his eldest sons Christian beliefs.

Montague Kipps- Howard's arch-nemesis in the academic world is a Trinidadian born Brit living with his submissive wife in North London with their two grown up-children. He is arrogant, conservative and believes that handouts are for the weak, and people should strive to achieve. His large personality, and arrogance, squashes the character that we never get to see in Carlene his wife. Where Kiki Belsey is strong, Carlene Kipps is weak.

The story begins with the ill-fated romance between Jerome Belsey, and Victoria Kipps. This starts a number of affairs, crushes, and relationships between the families and the further cast of well-written characters. Although many of these affairs etc are short, their impact on the lives of the characters is immense.

It is a story of love, and lust as well as the dominant theme of beauty throughout the novel. There is fat vs. thin. Old vs. young. Black vs. white and strong vs. weak.

My only slight niggle with the book is the length, I found it a little on the long side and I found my attention drifting towards the end of the book.


Monday, 4 October 2010

Oh my

I'm not great at this blogging stuff clearly, I think the problem is that I'm too easily led astray by something else. I have too many hobbies. Reading went poorly this summer, too much to do but I will post the books I've read between No. 25 and now.

Middlesex- 8/10
A Clockwork Orange 8/10
Emma- 6/10

Currently reading: On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

25. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

This is one of the books that I knew I had to read. Regardless of whether I fully complete this list, this is a book I knew was a must-read. And I'm glad I read it.

The book is absurd beyond belief. It's far-fetched, over the top, and downright silly but it's also an awful lot of fun. I've heard that you either love Douglas Adams, or hate him and after this book I fall into the first category.

Sci-Fi is not a genre I'm a fan of, but this is such a cliche that it comes full circle and you really enjoy it.

If British humour is your thing, and you find Python hilarious then pick it up. I want to keep reading the 'trilogy'.


Monday, 12 April 2010

24. The Maltese Falcon

One of the great things about the list is reading books from genres that I wouldn't usually go near. Crime is one of those areas that I've never really had an interest in. I've read a few of the more modern crime books but not anything in the noir style.

My book promised that is was "one of the best crime novels ever written". Sadly I probably don't agree. I wasn't a fan of Hammett's style, and the book suffered from being overly confusing. So much double-crossing that I found it hard to follow at times. The characters-other than Sam Spade the chain-smoking, tough-talking detective- are pretty one-dimensional and I didn't feel like the story built up to as good a climax as I was expecting.

However, Hammett does have a way with words. His descriptions are great, and the dialogue is wonderfully authentic.

I wouldn't be in a rush to read another Hammett, but I'm glad I came across it.