Literary Mumblings

A few words about the books I’ve read…

Archive for March, 2009

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Posted by Amanda on March 30, 2009

American GodsAmerican Gods is one of those books that people seem to be simply ga-ga for.  I have never really even heard anything negative about this one.   One of my friends heard that I was thinking about reading it and said that I had to read it as soon as possible and that it could save my life.  I still don’t know what he meant by that one but clearly, this book has many admirers and I had very high expectations for it.

Unfortunately, this one just didn’t live up to the hype for me. I feel like every Gaiman fan is growling at me for saying this but I really didn’t think it was all that great.

The story is about a man named Shadow, which I still don’t get. I mean, can’t Gaiman at least give the guy a last name? Anyway, Shadow has just got out of prison and he is expecting to come home and be with the wonderful wife that he loves and work for one of his friends. Unfortunately, he leaves jail to find out that his wife and friend both died in a car accident, and now, he has neither wife nor job. Except that a strange guy named Wednesday has offered him a job as a sort of body guard as he begins to gather the old gods of America.

The idea was interesting and there were a few twists that certainly caught me off guard but I didn’t think it was that great.  I mean, the writing was okay and some of the characters were cool, especially some of the modern incarnations of the old gods.  Still, something about it was just really unenjoyable to me.  I suppose part of that can be attributed to the oddity near the end.  I just didn’t enjoy it for some reason.  I wish I could explain it but sometimes, a book just isn’t your cup of tea.

2009-8

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I’m joining up.

Posted by Amanda on March 28, 2009

Oh goodness. The addicting qualities of challenges. They are wonderful and terrible at the same time. They are one of the joys behind book blogging but when you have joined 268 challenges and have 279,047 books to read for the year… Things can get a bit crazy.

Still I am addicted and to fuel that addiction, I am choosing a few challenges to take part in for the time being.

The first challenge is a personal one and that is to simply read 15 books from the Guardians’ “1000 novels everyone must read.” My list for this challenge includes:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Blindness by Jose Saramago
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzenitsyn
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Possession by A.S. Byatt
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh

I have a few more books that I can add to this and I hope to read more than 15 but this is just a start from which to move.

onceuponatimeThe next challenge I am joining is the Once Upon a Time Challenge from Stainless Steel Droppings. I love fantasy as it is so this is just an excuse to read even more and the challenge extends from now until June 20. I figure I will go with Quest the First:

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time III criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

I am not going to make a list for this one. Instead, I’ll just go with whatever I find between now and June.

classicschallengeThe next challenge will be the Classics Challenge, hosted by Trish and going between April 1 and October 31. I am going to go light on this one for now and I am just signing up for the Classics Snack, which requires four classic novels. For this challenge, I think I am going to go with the following:

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe
A Tale of a Tub by Jonathon Swift
Humphrey Clinker by Tobias Smollett

For the Bonus new classic, I am going to go with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

With that, I think I had better quit for the moment. I know I am going to add to this list sooner or later but let’s work on the books I have here first…

Posted in Challenges | 3 Comments »

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Posted by Amanda on March 27, 2009

Please, sir, I want some more.

Please, sir, I want some more.

My latest goal has been to read a number of the books from the Guardian’s “1000 novels everyone must read”. The list has many great books on it but when I saw that Charles Dickens was there (as he seems to be on every list of great literature) I found that childish distaste rising from memories of beating Great Expectations into a sad little pulp in high school, after which I have never been able to bring myself to read another book by him. Squashing down those feelings, I figured it might be time for me to give the poor man another chance and try reading Oliver Twist; after all, high school was a long time ago and I have (theoretically) matured a bit since then.

As most everyone knows, even if you have never so much a seen a copy of the book, Oliver Twist is about a poor orphan in England, immortalized by the phrase “Please, sir, I want some more.” After this terribly wanton request at the workhouse, Oliver is given as a apprentice to an undertaker who shows him kindnes but he soon finds his way to London, where he is drawn into a den of thieves, led by “the Jew,” also called Fagin.

I am terribly glad I gave Dickens another chance because this was a great book. Even while exposing some of the most horrendous hypocrisy and cruelty, Dickens shows a great, dark sense of humor. He mocks those that he found revolting. Of course, I love that even while showing the dark side of life in London in this time period, Dickens still works in a happy ending for all the good guys. The characters were great and Dickens makes you care, he draws you in to the story. I found myself avoiding the book at times, only because I didn’t want to see another terrible thing happen to the poor orphan Oliver.

All in all, this was a great book and I think I will be much more willing to open another of Dickens’ novels in the nearby future.

2009-16

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Can we try this again?

Posted by Amanda on March 27, 2009

I have always been fascinated with books.  I love them.  When I was a kid, my mom never bothered trying to take away the TV because she knew it wouldn’t bother me.  Instead, she would try to take my books.  Of course, this was never very effective since she wouldn’t bother to take the whoel shelf-full – just the book she had last seen me with.  I usually just went and got another and was more careful to listen for when she might be coming toward my room…

Anyway, books are so much a part of my life that when I saw that people actually kept blogs about their reading, I was amazed and thought that this was a great idea!  Challenges and sharing books and being able to discuss my thoughts on a book with others: all of this seems to me to be a great idea.  Unfortunately, I got a bit over-ambitious the first time around and it ended up falling to pieces with me not posting anything for months.  Thus, I am trying this game over again, with a few changes.  I am not 100% sure I will manage this time around but we shall certainly give it the old college try. 

With that said, I think I will get to posting about some of my books that I have read and I hope you enjoy the random mumblings tumbling out of my poor book-addled head.

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