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Posts tagged ‘1% well read’

Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe (Modern Library Classics) Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would more accurately give Robinson Crusoe somewhere between 3.5 and 4 out of 5 stars.  It is one of those classics that I am glad that I finally read, but that I wasn’t wowed by.  Robinson Crusoe was originally published in 1719 and is considered by some to be the first English novel. The novel shows it’s age in the language and mind-set of the narrator, Robinson Crusoe.  The book is set in a time when British colonialism was at its peak and the British didn’t think to highly of people who were not white Anglo-Saxon Christians.  The novel appears to be an adventure story on the surface but there is a religious undercurrent throughout. Crusoe time and again mentions Providence, destiny, and God’s role in his adventure.  I found it interesting more for getting a glimpse into the mind of a typical 18th century Englishman than for the story itself.

While I enjoyed reading Robinson Crusoe, it definitely wouldn’t be amongst my top ten books to bring with me to a desert island.

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Another 1%

Last year, I signed up for the 1% Well Read Challenge, which set the goal of reading 10 books from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. I ended up surpassing that goal and reading 16 books from the list.

Well, as you may know, I LOVE lists, so I am signing up for the challenge again this year. In the past year, the publishers have revised the 1001 list to take away some of the original books and add some new ones. If you include all the books from the original list and the new list that’s over 1300 books. These people must want me to spend every waking minute of my life reading! 😉  Thus far, I’ve read 158 of the books from both lists, so, yes, I have a ways to go.

So, I am signing up to read 13 books from the complete list over the next year. (end date March of 2010) Some of the books that I plan on reading are (subject to change, of course):

  1. The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien
  2. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moshin Hamid (new list)
  3. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (original list)
  4. The Razor’s Edge by William Somerset Maugham 
  5. The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by José Saramago
  6. The Double by José Saramago
  7. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  8. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  9. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre
  10. Vanishing Point by David Markson
  11. That They May Face the Rising Sun by John McGahern
  12. In the Forest by Edna O’Brien
  13. Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee

ALTERNATES (because I have no shortage of books on my shelf)

  1. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
  2. A Prayer for Owen Meany  by John Irving
  3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  4. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  5. V. by Thomas Pynchon
  6. The Master by Colm Toibin
  7. Snow by Orhan Pamuk
  8. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  9. Great Apes by Will Self
  10. How Late it Was, How Late by James Kelman
  11. Remembering Babylon by David Malouf
  12. The Dumas Club by Arturo Perez-Reverte
  13. The History of the Siege of Lisbon by José Saramago
  14. Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
  15. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

Have you read any of these books?

December: A month in books

I didn’t get as much reading done in December as I would’ve liked, but it was a great month regardless.

  1. Across the River and Into the Trees by Ernest Hemingway
  2. A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas
  3. The Music of Chance by Paul Auster
  4. Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
  5. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  6. Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore
  7. The Boat by Nam Le
  8. Malinche by Laura Esquivel

Reading Challenge Progress:

1% Well-Read Challenge
GOAL: read 10 books in 10 months from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list
DEADLINE: February 28, 2009
COMPLETED SO FAR:

  1. Junky by William S. Burroughs — September ’08
  2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath — September ’08
  3. The Accidental  by Ali Smith — October ’08
  4. Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons — October ’08
  5. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami — October ’08
  6. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka — October ’08
  7. Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion — November ’08
  8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain — November ’08
  9. The Music of Chance by Paul Auster — December ’08
  10. Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho — December ’08
  11. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle — December ’08

REMAINING: COMPLETED!  –into bonus round: +1 book

Book Awards II Challenge
GOAL: read 10 award winning books in 10 months
DEADLINE: June 2009
COMPLETED SO FAR:

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman– September ’08 —WON: Hugo Award, Nebula Award and Bram Stoker Award
  2. The Accidental by Ali Smith — October ’08 — WON: Whitbread Prize for Best Novel
  3. Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons — October ’08 — WON: Hugo Award for Other Form
  4. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami — October ’08 — WON: World Fantasy Award 2006
  5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz — November ’08 WON: Pulitzer Prize 2008

REMAINING: 5 more books to read in 6 months

Reads: The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles (Penguin Classics) The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

rating: 4 of 5 stars

 I went through a phase in junior high were I read every single Agatha Christie that I could get my hot little hands on. That was the last time that I seriously read much from the mystery genre. I had never read any Sherlock Holmes books by Arthur Conan Doyle. Sure, I had heard of Sherlock Holmes (after all I don’t live in a cave) but I had never read any of his adventures.

I got a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles from my local library when I decided I wanted to read another book from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. Sure I had completed my “obligation” for the 1% Well-Read Challenge, but I’ve never met a to-read list that didn’t make me want to check off every item. It’s a sickness, I tell ya. If they say I MUST read those 1001 books before I die, I am going to try my hardest to do just that.

The Hound of the Baskervilles finds Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Watson investigating the death of Sir Charles Baskerville, who was found dead on the moors near his manor. Many superstitious folks believe that Baskerville was killed by a large devil-hound that according to legend haunts the Baskerville family.

He said that there were no traces upon the ground round the body. He did not observe any. but I did – some little distance off, but fresh and clear.

 “Footprints?”

“Footprints.”

“A man’s or a woman’s?”

Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered:”Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”

I enjoyed my first venture into reading the stories of Sherlock Holmes.  Conan Doyle did a good job of building suspense and showing the logic and genius of Sherlock Holmes as he pieced together the seemingly disparate clues.  Holmes was a background character throughout most of the book. he book is narrated by Watson who spends his time bumbling around gathering info for Mr. Holmes.  The book was an enjoyable escapist read on recent snowy December days where I could read it safely indoors with no threats of giant devil-hounds trying to kill me.

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Reads: Veronika Decides to Die

A Novel of Redemption (P.S.) Veronika Decides to Die: A Novel of Redemption by Paulo Coelho

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alright folks, here is the point where you throw rocks at me. Don’t worry, I am prepared. I read Coelho’s Alchemist a few years ago and didn’t think it was as moveing and life-changing as some people say it is. I thought that it was trying to hard to stuff its message down your throat. That being said, I didn’t HATE it. It didn’t make me say “I am never going to read another word written  by this author”.  A couple of my friends had read Coelho’s Veronika Decides to Die and enjoyed it so I decided to give it a read.

Veronika Decides to Die was much more up my alley than The Alchemist.  In this story, the title character Veronika has– you guessed it– decided to die. She is sick of life. It is not that her life is horrible and miserable. She is a beautiful young woman with a normal life. But that’s just it, she thought her life was too boring and had no excitement. So she decides to overdose on pills.  She wakes up in a mental hospital where the doctor tells her that the pills have damaged her heart and she only has about a week left to live.

This news causes Veronika to reconsider her life and her desire to end it all. As she interacts with the other patients she has a profound effect on them and they on her.  Her impending mortality causes some of the other patients to question what they are doing with their life and prompts them to start making changes for the better.

This little book (under 300 pages!) kept me engrossed from page one. Coelho’s writing in this book has a touch of magic. The book has a good message that can be appreciated by almost anyone.  It had an inspiring theme that made me consider my own life and how I am living it. I need to add at least a few tablespoons more of spice and adventure to my life.

The danger of an adventure is worth a thousand days of ease and comfort.

Pardon me while I go sky dive out of that plane over there.

Veronika Decides to Die is yet another book that is included on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. This is the last book that I need to meet my quota for the 1% Well-Read Challenge. Cue the fanfare! That reading adventure is complete.

View all my reviews.

Reads: The Music of Chance

The Music of Chance The Music of Chance by Paul Auster

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Warning: If you are the sort of reader who likes your novel’s endings to be wrapped up nice and neat with a bow, then Music of Chance may not be the book for you. Music of Chance leaves an abundance of questions unanswered.

The central character in Music of Chance is Jim Nashe a former fireman in his early thirties. His wife has left him, his young daughter is living with his sister in the Midwest, and Jim blows through a small inheritance by driving all over America in a Saab.  His money is almost gone and he is confused about what to do next when he meets a 19 year old kid, Jack. Jim decides to back the kid in an epic poker game that Jack assures him is a sure thing against 2 older eccentric rich guys who are not very good poker players. Jim sees this as an opportunity to get more money to further fund his roadtrip.

For one whole year he did nothing but drive, traveling back and forth across America as he waited for the money to run out.  He hadn’t expected it to go on that long, but one thing kept leading to another, and by the time Nashe understood what as happening to him, he was past the point of wanting it to end.  Three days into the thirteenth, he met up with the kid who called himself Jackpot. It was one of those random, accidental encounters that seem to materialize out of thin air—a twig that breaks off in the wind and suddenly lands at your feet.  Had it occurred at any other moment, it is doubtful that Nashe would have opened his mouth. But because he had already given up, because he figured there was nothing to lose anymore, he saw the stranger as a reprieve, as a last chance to do something for himself before it was too late.  And just like that, he went ahead and did it.  Without the slightest tremor of fear, Nashe closed his eyes and jumped.

I really enjoyed reading Music of Chance and don’t want to give away too much of the plot.  Music of Chance touches on several themes such as fate, choices, and freedom.  How much of Nashe’s fate is due to the choices that he’s made and how much of it is due to chance?  Does he have to be resigned to his fate or can he do something to change it?  The book made me ask these questions about my own life (see what I mean about questions??). 

I’ve read several other books by Auster: The Book of Illusions, Oracle Night, and Timbuktu. Auster’s writing is captivating and intriguing.  All of Auster’s books that I’ve read have a thread of the bizarre running through them that I thoroughly enjoy. I found all of the books to be page turners and I just wanted to know what strange thing was going to happen next. Basically, Austers books are successful at transporting you to an off kilter sort of world that makes you question your own world.

Music of Chance is one of the books included in the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.  It counts towards the 1001 Books Challenge (1% Well Read Challenge) that I am participating in. After this book I only have one book to go to meet my challenge goal. WooHoo!  Go me!

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November: A Month in Books

In the super busy & hectic month of November, I finished the following books.

  1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Waoby Junot Diaz
  2. Don’t Get Too Comfortableby David Rakoff
  3. A Carnivore’s Inquiry by Sabina Murray
  4. Play It as It Laysby Joan Didion
  5. Meeting Evil by Thomas Berger
  6. Waiter Rant  by Steve Dublanica
  7. La Cucina by Lily Prior
  8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

 Reading Challenge Progress:

1% Well-Read Challenge
GOAL: read 10 books in 10 months from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list
DEADLINE: February 28, 2009
COMPLETED SO FAR:

  1. Junky by William S. Burroughs — September ’08
  2.  The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath — September ’08
  3. The Accidental by Ali Smith — October ’08
  4. Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons — October ’08
  5. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami — October ’08
  6. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka — October ’08
  7. Play It as It Laysby Joan Didion — November ’08
  8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain — November ’08

REMAINING: 2 more books to read in 3 months

Book Awards II Challenge
GOAL: read 10 award winning books in 10 months
DEADLINE: June 2009
COMPLETED SO FAR:

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman– September ’08 —WON: Hugo Award, Nebula Award and Bram Stoker Award
  2. The Accidental by Ali Smith — October ’08 — WON: Whitbread Prize for Best Novel
  3. Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons — October ’08 — WON: Hugo Award for Other Form
  4. Kafka on the Shoreby Haruki Murakami — October ’08 — WON: World Fantasy Award 2006
  5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Waoby Junot Diaz — November ’08 WON: Pulitzer Prize 2008

REMAINING: 5 more books to read in 7 months