4th Quarter Reading, Done!

Here with only a few days left of 2014 I’m proud to report that I finished the last book of the year this morning at 2:45 am. Now I’m not saying that I stayed up reading all night, although I liked the last read enough that I could have – my youngest woke at 1:30 throwing up and I couldn’t turn my brain off afterward. Ahh, the joys of too many ideas and not enough time.

Here are this quarter’s books-

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee: Somehow I escaped reading this in school, and it’s a shame too because I’ve heard references to parts of this book and it’s characters all my life and never realized it.  If I were to pick a favorite element I would chose the character of Atticus Finch, the father of Scout and Jem and also the town attorney. He is a brilliant example of what it means to lead by example.  His high standards and sense of morality are enviable and something that is lacking from much of the world today.

Dune, Frank Herbert: Ok, I’ll admit, I cheated a little here.  Dune is a massive tome of dense writing that even the most seasoned writer needs to pick through carefully.  It’s fascinating and a good read, but time consuming. I read the first section, which still was over 300 pages and intend to read the rest at my leisure later. This is one of those books that has redefined what is possible in the world of science fiction and is a prime example of how to do world building right. I only wish I would have picked it up earlier, this would have been a perfect example when I was creating my own fantasy world.

A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute: At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, the story didn’t take off right away and for the first twenty or so pages the reader has to wade through the narrator helping a gentleman settle the articles in his will. Not too exciting. Things pick up when we get into the story of Jean Paget, who inherits the estate. We first learn about her experience as a prisoner of war to the Japanese in Malay where she, and a group of women and children, was forced to travel by foot from town to town because no one wanted to take them in. I love stories of survival against the odds, so this was great. The rest of the story is devoted to how she spends her inheritance by first digging a well and washing house for the town that finally took them in at the end of the war, and then making improvements in a derelict town in Australia where her love interest has a cattle station. It is a story of perseverance and grit and one that I truly enjoyed.

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I had a great time reading these books off of the BBC Book Challenge and hope to find equally good reads for the coming year.

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Did you have a favorite read this year? Tell us about it in the comments!

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1st Quarter Reading – Done!

Back in the beginning of the year I set forth to read 12 books from the popular BBC Big Read list.  Now the first quarter is over and three of those books are complete. Here’s  here are my reactions to each book –

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens: I wanted to like this book, I like the story and have enjoyed the different movies from Patrick Stewarts down to Albert Finneys versions.  It’s a classic and I don’t regret reading it.  What better way to invite a feeling of Christmas than to read about Scrooge and his magical transformation from miserable miser to generous soul. What I do regret is that I couldn’t find quiet alone time to give it the attention and focus it deserves.  Dickens is not the easiest reading even for experienced readers. I wanted to be sucked in and be able to live through the story in the same way I enjoy modern fiction but it wasn’t to be.  The words refused to come alive for me and I didn’t have the patience to force them to do so either. This book is best enjoyed in front of a fireplace with a glass of wine and time for quiet contemplation – not from one’s phone while holding a wiggly toddler who is watching one of their obnoxious TV shows.

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte – Somehow I escaped reading this in High School and perhaps it was for the best that I did.  Along the same lines of Christmas Carol, this book requires lots of attention to keep track of what’s going on.  I had more quiet time to work on reading this time, which helped, but in the end I can honestly say I didn’t enjoy the experience.  The characters are not likable which makes it hard to empathize with their multitude of plights.

conradjoetext96hdark12aHeart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad – Once again, this was a harder read, although it seemed easier than Wuthering Heights. Maybe I’m finally getting the hang of 18th century literature, who knows? Then again, Heart of Darkness takes place deep within the Congo, a setting I find fascinating.  It also deals with more urgent matters than Wuthering Heights, such as life and death situations and slavery, which I prefer over stories where the main plot question revolves around the question, “Does he really love me?”

So far I’ve been enjoying the challenge of reading books that fall far outside my preferred reading bubble.  The language of these books is distinct and delicious and meant to be savored, like foreign chocolate. I can’t wait to get a taste of the next one!

Here are the remaining books left on my personal list for this year –

  1. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving200px-PrayerForOwenMeany
  2. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
  3. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  4. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
  5. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
  6. Dune – Frank Herbert
  7. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  9. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

What are you reading this year?  Share in the comments!

This Year’s Reading List

One of my resolutions is to read more books from the BBC Book List Challenge, specifically one book a month.  As of today I’ve only read 27 of the 100 listed and there are some terrific books on there that I’ve been meaning to read.  Here are the twelve that I’m planning on tackling this year.

  1. 200px-PrayerForOwenMeanyA Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens.  Admittedly I cheated and started this one during the last week of December, but it still counts!
  2. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
  3. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
  4. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  5. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  6. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  7. conradjoetext96hdark12aThe Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
  8. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
  9. Dune – Frank Herbert
  10. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  11. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  12. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

What are you planning on reading this year?  Let me know in the comments!