25 July 2010
So the BBC reckons that most people have read only 6 of the books on their 100 Greatest Reads of All Time list. I've read 69 of them, and plan to read them all. How about you? Which ones have you read? Which ones do you plan to read? Let me know in your comments! 1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen x 2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien x 3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte x 4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling x 5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee x 6 The Bible x 7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte x 8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell x 9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman x 10 Great Epectations - Charles Dickens x 11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott x 12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy x 13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller x 14 Complete Works of Shakespeare x 15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier x 16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien x 17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks 18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger x 19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger 20 Middlemarch - George Eliot x 21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell x 22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald x 23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens x 24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy x 25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams x 26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh 27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky x 28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck x 29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll x 30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame x 31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy x 32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens x 33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis x 34 Emma - Jane Austen x 35 Persuasion - Jane Austen x 36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis x 37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini 38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres 39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden 40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne x 41 Animal Farm - George Orwell x 42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown x 43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving 45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins x 46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery x 47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy x 48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood 49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding x 50 Atonement - Ian McEwan x 51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel 52 Dune - Frank Herbert x 53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons 54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen x 55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth 56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon 57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens x 58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley x 59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon 60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck x 62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov 63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt 64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold x 65 Count of Monte Cristo - Aleandre Dumas x 66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac 67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy x 68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding x 69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie 70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville x 71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens x 72 Dracula - Bram Stoker x 73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett x 74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson 75 Ulysses - James Joyce x 76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath x 77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome 78 Germinal - Emile Zola 79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray x 80 Possession - AS Byatt x 81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens x 82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell 83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker x 84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro 85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert x 86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry 87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White x 88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn 89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle x 90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton 91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad x 92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Eupery x 93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks 94 Watership Down - Richard Adams 95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole 96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute 97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas x 98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare x 99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl x 100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo x x = read
19 July 2010
13 July 2010
I just finished The Choice, by Og Mandino, and wanted to share my thoughts on it. From Goodreads: Choice! The key is Choice. You have options. You need not spend your life wallowing in failure, ignorance, grief, poverty, shame, and self-pity. But, hold on! If this is true then why have so many among us apparently elected to live in that manner? The answer is obvious. Those who live in unhappy failure have never exercised their options for a better way of life because they have never been aware that they had any Choices ! This is really one of the best books I've read in a long time. It's a self-help book hidden inside a great story, and one that makes you stop and think. I actually burned the chicken tonight trying to finish the last two chapters! Mandino takes what is usually a preachy subject (how to live our lives) and turns it into an introspective feast. By setting his advice to a fictional story, he makes it interesting without being trite or lightheaded. I appreciated that. I can't handle the self-help books that take an idea and pound it into your head until you've got a migraine. This one is subtle. The things that I'll take away from this book are life-altering. It's all about taking time to stop and smell the roses (pardon the cliche). It's about living your dreams. It's about being present in your own life. And we come to that conclusion along with Mark. I love that we are, in a sense, taking the journey with him. There were also some twists along the way that I liked. I thought I had things all figured out and nicely wrapped up. Turns out, I'd come to the wrong conclusion completely. I didn't see it coming. And then Mandino threw another twist at me and surprised me! I love it when a book does that. Though this is an older book, I really believe everyone ought to read it. It's good for the soul. I give it a 'Pick Me' rating.
12 July 2010
I wanted to do another favorite today, but since I decided to put this book down without finishing, I figured I'd review it. It's one that I won in a Goodreads giveaway last month. From Goodreads: The fate of humanity lies in the webbed hands of sixteen-year-old Du who must leave his isolated mountain home in California to save modern civilization. To stop the great flood, Du must find the family who abandoned him as a baby. Freakish looking, he discovers he has great gifts. But whoever comes near him is in danger as Du finds himself in the middle of warring gods. The stars told the Maya that the Fifth World, our World would end on December 21, 2012. Can Du save us? I tried to like this book, I really did. I just couldn't get into the story and I couldn't care about the characters. I yawned each time Du found himself in a new predicament, looked the other way when characters died, and found myself wishing that the bad guys would just get him and get it over with. I don't know if it was just that I couldn't relate at all to Du (the frog/boy hybrid) or if he was just not developed enough to engage the reader. I got annoyed with him rather than sympathetic. I just couldn't like the book, and didn't end up finishing. I can't justify spending my time on something that isn't engaging. (I gave it 300 pages to speak to me, but when it didn't, I put it down.) With that however, Oshins does a brilliant job with the mythology involved. I cheered for the Mayan gods as they went to battle over the fate of the earth. Those guys were menacing, nicely written, and believable. I'm an archaeologist (okay, not practicing, but still!) and MesoAmerica was my specialty. So I know this stuff. I know the legends, the myths, the gods, the culture. And Oshins delivered and kept the spirit of the Mayan culture alive. I appreciated that. I just wish it had been enough to override my intense dislike of the main character!
05 July 2010
Today, I decided to review a more recent favorite. Princess of Glass, by Jessica Day George (I went to high school with her!), is one that I read a couple of months ago. It is a retelling of "Cinderella" and uses characters first seen in Princess of the Midnight Ball, a retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." From Goodreads: The engrossing companion novel to Princess of the Midnight Ball, with a wicked twist on Cinderella. Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other’s countries in the name of better political alliances—and potential marriages. It’s got the makings of a fairy tale—until a hapless servant named Eleanor is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince. Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way. I really liked that Jessica brought back one of the princesses from Midnight Ball. I loved that book, and hoped that I'd see those characters again. It isn't common (in fact, it might never have been done) for fairy tales to cross over like these retellings do. Poppy is a strong female character and is determined to right a wrong. She's able to overcome several rather distasteful encounters and see beyond to what's really going wrong here. I really liked that she wasn't the typical 'girl' we see so often now, out for revenge or to get ahead. Poppy is sincerely concerned and is willing to do whatever is necessary to save someone...even though that someone appears to be her arch-nemesis at times. It's kind of how I wish I was. Here's what works for me: Crossing over characters: Brilliant! I loved it! Somehow, it made the stories more real to me and made me really care about the characters. Generally, in a fairy tale or retelling, I'm good for the story, but I don't really think much beyond it. After reading "Princess of the Midnight Ball" I was left wanting more from the characters, and I got more with this! Strong female characters: There are plenty of these in literature, but sometimes the 'strong' characters are also kind of nasty (to avoid using another word, which would have fit better, but that I am trying not to use...). I don't need that as an example of female strength, so I appreciate having a strong female who is good and kind, but also resourceful and smart. Just-right descriptions: Lately, some of the books I've been reading spend WAY too much time describing the outfit or the scenery or the guy...Jessica describes her stuff without miring one in the details and making us feel like we've been there for ages. It's just right. Just enough to create a vivid mental picture without overwhelming us. The guys: they don't rush in and save the day, but they're not doormats either. They do fall under the spell of the arch-nemesis, but considering that she's putting off some pretty powerful vibes, it's no wonder! When the spell is broken, they're right there working with Poppy and the rest to solve the problem without being all 'knight in shining armour'. I like that they let the gals do their part to fix things. What didn't work: Um...pretty much nothing. It meshed together so well that I can't think of a single thing that didn't really do it for me. That's the mark of a great book!! I give "Princess of Glass" a PICK ME rating.