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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 23

post #331 of 2053
Hey guys, I'd like in on this if you'll take a latecomer. Good way to track my reading, which I mean to ratchet up this year after severely lagging last year (Probably 20-25, when I usually end up more on the 50-end), and love reading the responses from last year.

So far I have read:

1) Backslider by Levi Peterson - Probably not well-known outside of Mormon intellectual circles, where it is noted as probably the best Mormon fiction around, in that it details faith in an honest way, warts and all. Really a great book about a 20-year old named Frank in rural south central Utah during the mid-20th century who constantly backslides into drinking, masturbating, cursing and sex while having inner turmoil and trying to come to grips with his faith and at peace with God. A very good book, especially for someone who grew up in Utah, in the faith. Many of the scenes were familiar to me in the sense that they were the stories I heard from my Grandpa who grew up in rural Utah much in the same way.

2) The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami - This was a gift years ago from a co-worker that I finally got around to reading. Now that I finished, don't know what took so long. My first encounter with Murakami and his fascination with U.S. culture -- the plot has strong, twisted echoes of Raymond Chandler. Basically, a guy whose wife leaves him abruptly and without saying why. He tries to track her down and meets many characters and obstacles along the way while confronting a blurring line between dream and reality. Fantastic and highly recommended. Music and fashion play a big part in the story, setting the scene, informing us of characters rather than in an ironic, brand-name dropping way to beat us over the head that consumerism rules our lives, as is more common nowadays.

3) The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach A big story last year, almost more around the hype of the book than the book itself (Harbach received something like 500 grand for this first novel after a bidding war. A very good book, a meditation on people having singular passion, others being adrift from purpose and trying to find it again. Part campus novel, part a sort of dysfunctional family book, with some great writing about baseball in between. Thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to more from Harbach.

I suppose I'm behind for the year so far, but WInd-Up was lengthy and I'm 550 or so pages into an 800 page non-fiction right now. After that, I plan on catching up on some of the backlog DeLillo and Cormac McCarthy I've been wanting to read, along with finally cracking The Pale King, which I've been holding off on because it grieves me to know it will be the last David Foster Wallace I'll get to read. Also on the list of probably's -- the old Gravity's Rainbow, which I've started twice before, really enjoyed, but gotten to bogged down into looking up all the early 20th century references Pynchon drops. This time around, I'll just read to enjoy it because damn, Pynchon can drop my jaw with creativity and wit.
post #332 of 2053
1) First Into Action: Dramatic Personal Account of Life Inside the SBS Duncan Falconer
About special forces operations in Northern Ireland mostly with a bit about life in the SBS and he talks about how the SAS are different from the SBS, quite funny in a few places, worth a read if you're interested in the Troubles or the SBS.

Next up (which I'll start in about half an hour or so): The Gurkhas: The Inside Story of the World's Most Feared Soldiers by John Parker
post #333 of 2053
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConcreteFiction View Post

Hey guys, I'd like in on this if you'll take a latecomer. Good way to track my reading, which I mean to ratchet up this year after severely lagging last year (Probably 20-25, when I usually end up more on the 50-end), and love reading the responses from last year.
So far I have read:
1) Backslider by Levi Peterson - Probably not well-known outside of Mormon intellectual circles, where it is noted as probably the best Mormon fiction around, in that it details faith in an honest way, warts and all. Really a great book about a 20-year old named Frank in rural south central Utah during the mid-20th century who constantly backslides into drinking, masturbating, cursing and sex while having inner turmoil and trying to come to grips with his faith and at peace with God. A very good book, especially for someone who grew up in Utah, in the faith. Many of the scenes were familiar to me in the sense that they were the stories I heard from my Grandpa who grew up in rural Utah much in the same way.
2) The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami - This was a gift years ago from a co-worker that I finally got around to reading. Now that I finished, don't know what took so long. My first encounter with Murakami and his fascination with U.S. culture -- the plot has strong, twisted echoes of Raymond Chandler. Basically, a guy whose wife leaves him abruptly and without saying why. He tries to track her down and meets many characters and obstacles along the way while confronting a blurring line between dream and reality. Fantastic and highly recommended. Music and fashion play a big part in the story, setting the scene, informing us of characters rather than in an ironic, brand-name dropping way to beat us over the head that consumerism rules our lives, as is more common nowadays.

Welcome. We are the intellectuals of the sartorial set.
3) The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach A big story last year, almost more around the hype of the book than the book itself (Harbach received something like 500 grand for this first novel after a bidding war. A very good book, a meditation on people having singular passion, others being adrift from purpose and trying to find it again. Part campus novel, part a sort of dysfunctional family book, with some great writing about baseball in between. Thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to more from Harbach.
I suppose I'm behind for the year so far, but WInd-Up was lengthy and I'm 550 or so pages into an 800 page non-fiction right now. After that, I plan on catching up on some of the backlog DeLillo and Cormac McCarthy I've been wanting to read, along with finally cracking The Pale King, which I've been holding off on because it grieves me to know it will be the last David Foster Wallace I'll get to read. Also on the list of probably's -- the old Gravity's Rainbow, which I've started twice before, really enjoyed, but gotten to bogged down into looking up all the early 20th century references Pynchon drops. This time around, I'll just read to enjoy it because damn, Pynchon can drop my jaw with creativity and wit.

Welcome. We are the intellectuals of the sartorial set.
post #334 of 2053
14. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd 1926 Agatha Christie
My Dad has always been a big Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers fan, but I've never read any of their books. But this one is on the vaunted 1001, so I figured what the hell.
I couldn't put it down. Many twists and turns, great fleshing out of characters. The denouement comes way out of left field! HIGHLY recommend it.
post #335 of 2053
Steve B, you are making great progress towards the 1001. Did you make a conscious decision to exclusivly pick books from that list from now on? And you are on track to make the 50 by midsummer. A true intellectual. icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif

ConcreteFiction, Windup Bird is a great book. I am currently reading Murakami's latest 1Q84, which is close to 1,000 pages. For anyone who has yet to discover this remarkable and entertaining author, I recommend his earlier stuff rather than the latest, which is considerably more light-weight.

I am parallel reading 4 books now, one for each mood. Still confident of making the 50. smile.gif
post #336 of 2053
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Steve B, you are making great progress towards the 1001. Did you make a conscious decision to exclusivly pick books from that list from now on? And you are on track to make the 50 by midsummer. A true intellectual. icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif
ConcreteFiction, Windup Bird is a great book. I am currently reading Murakami's latest 1Q84, which is close to 1,000 pages. For anyone who has yet to discover this remarkable and entertaining author, I recommend his earlier stuff rather than the latest, which is considerably more light-weight.
I am parallel reading 4 books now, one for each mood. Still confident of making the 50. smile.gif

Almost exclusively, although I have 1 in my next batch recommended by a friend not on the list.

I have Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy queued up on my desk. It's kinda long- has anyone read it? Is it any good?

Murakami is on the list several times, so I'll be certain to read at least 1 this year. Which one in particular do you recommend?

Re: Progress- Thank You! Once I hit 50 I will probably read more. If I stay motivated. I am definitely enjoying this year's books better than last. Must be the list.
post #337 of 2053
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

14. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd 1926 Agatha Christie
My Dad has always been a big Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers fan, but I've never read any of their books. But this one is on the vaunted 1001, so I figured what the hell.
I couldn't put it down. Many twists and turns, great fleshing out of characters. The denouement comes way out of left field! HIGHLY recommend it.

Proof to any primary school teacher that planning the plot before you start writing is pointless.
post #338 of 2053
See also: The Big Sleep
post #339 of 2053
Clockwise counting 10/50: Michel Houellebecq - The Map and the Territory (2010)

This is an absolutely brilliant novel, the French Prix Goncourt winner of 2010. Houellebecq is a bit of an acquired taste: heavily criticized for his shocking misanthropic and cynical worldview, I must admit that I read all his earlier four novels with the combined sense of disgust and utter fascination. 

His latest novel is in my opinion also his best to date. It is a combination of Houellebecq's typical scrutiny of how modern life ruins our humanity (or the other way around, I am not sure) and a bizarre murder story. We get an insight into the distorted mind of one of the key characters, a successful but criticized novelist, an alcoholic and recluse called Michel Houellebecq; we also get to study the modern art market through the main character and typical Houellebecq anti-hero Jed Martin and we get to follow how the French police tackle a particularly grisly murder. 

I am happy that I am not living in Houellebecq's head but equally happy to get a glimpse of what is going on there through his very unusual writing. For the uninitiated I would probably recommend The Possibility of an Island (2005) as the right place to start reading this future Nobel Prize winner but The Map and the Territory is a less repugnant, somewhat toned down and in the end better Houellebecq. Oh, this one will definitely be one of the 1001 in a later edition of the list. smile.gif
post #340 of 2053
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

I have Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy queued up on my desk. It's kinda long- has anyone read it? Is it any good?
Murakami is on the list several times, so I'll be certain to read at least 1 this year. Which one in particular do you recommend?

I tried Hitchhiker's Guide many years ago but got bored and gave it up at around 1/3 of the book. I am one of those who was also bored by the Tolkien trilogy, I guess it comes down to taste. I have learnt that not all cult classics are for me. I may however try Hitchhiker once more, it could (should?) be better than I remember it, especially if I combine it with good beer.

In my 2006 edition of 1001 (there is a more recent edition with changes / updates), there are four Murakami books. My personal favorite of these four is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1995) but both Sputnik Sweetheart (1999) and the short story collection After the Quake (1999-2000) are superb. I didn't like the more recent Kafka on the Shore (2002) as much and found it less original and almost had the sense that Murakami was plagiarizing himself. The newest one which I am reading now, 1Q84 (2009), is an even faster paced and cliched Murakami which could have been written by a team of competent Japanese-American ghost writers. Nevertheless entertaining.

All Murakami books are good. One of the most popular is Norwegian Wood (1987) which I personally found to be average if judging by Murakami standard. Short story collection The Elephant Vanishes (1980-91) captures in my opinion the essence of Murakami and I loved A Wild Sheep Chase (1982), Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1985), Dance Dance Dance (1988) and South of the Border, West of the Sun (1992).

Also very good but completely different in style is Underground (1997-98), a non-fictional account of the Tokyo subway gas attack in which Murakami interviews victims.

It seems to me that the master has fallen a bit out of form after year 2000 but everything from the 80s and 90s is great!!
post #341 of 2053
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

I tried Hitchhiker's Guide many years ago but got bored and gave it up at around 1/3 of the book. I am one of those who was also bored by the Tolkien trilogy, I guess it comes down to taste. I have learnt that not all cult classics are for me. I may however try Hitchhiker once more, it could (should?) be better than I remember it, especially if I combine it with good beer.
In my 2006 edition of 1001 (there is a more recent edition with changes / updates), there are four Murakami books. My personal favorite of these four is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1995) but both Sputnik Sweetheart (1999) and the short story collection After the Quake (1999-2000) are superb. I didn't like the more recent Kafka on the Shore (2002) as much and found it less original and almost had the sense that Murakami was plagiarizing himself. The newest one which I am reading now, 1Q84 (2009), is an even faster paced and cliched Murakami which could have been written by a team of competent Japanese-American ghost writers. Nevertheless entertaining.
All Murakami books are good. One of the most popular is Norwegian Wood (1987) which I personally found to be average if judging by Murakami standard. Short story collection The Elephant Vanishes (1980-91) captures in my opinion the essence of Murakami and I loved A Wild Sheep Chase (1982), Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1985), Dance Dance Dance (1988) and South of the Border, West of the Sun (1992).
Also very good but completely different in style is Underground (1997-98), a non-fictional account of the Tokyo subway gas attack in which Murakami interviews victims.
It seems to me that the master has fallen a bit out of form after year 2000 but everything from the 80s and 90s is great!!

Thank you. I think that's the one I queued up on my Amazon cart. I'll have to check.

Have you noticed how many more people are participating this year? Hope it keeps up.

One thing I've noticed about the list is multiple entries from the same author. For instance, there's nothing there for Cormac McCarthy or Houellebecq, but 7 for Coetzee and 4 for Dashiell Hammett and 3 for LeCarre.
post #342 of 2053
If you want to try D Adams, I liked Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency better than Hitchhiker....but I couldn't finish that one either, heh.
post #343 of 2053
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

Thank you. I think that's the one I queued up on my Amazon cart. I'll have to check.
Have you noticed how many more people are participating this year? Hope it keeps up.
One thing I've noticed about the list is multiple entries from the same author. For instance, there's nothing there for Cormac McCarthy or Houellebecq, but 7 for Coetzee and 4 for Dashiell Hammett and 3 for LeCarre.

I loved Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland. Dance Dance Dance was good but I read it and passed it along. Norwegian Wood I started but abandoned, doubt I'll finish it. I read his running memoir and that too left me cold, waiting to pass that one along.
post #344 of 2053
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

Thank you. I think that's the one I queued up on my Amazon cart. I'll have to check.
Have you noticed how many more people are participating this year? Hope it keeps up.
One thing I've noticed about the list is multiple entries from the same author. For instance, there's nothing there for Cormac McCarthy or Houellebecq, but 7 for Coetzee and 4 for Dashiell Hammett and 3 for LeCarre.

You should buy the book 1001 insted of going by some list on the net. smile.gif

In the 2006 (original) version there are actually 11 books by Coetzee. Unbelievable! None by Cormac McCarthy as you mentioned but it does list all of Houellebecq's first three novels. I think his 4th and better The Possibility of an Island was not yet published in English at the time 1001 was edited.

Some years ago I participated in discussions on another forum about 1001 Albums you must Hear Before You Die and there were plenty of similar issues, too many albums by some artists / bands, too much or too little or certain music styles, criminal neglect of some classic bands / albums...

The list in 1001 Books is definitely very subjective and it does have some omissions, certainly too many books from the last decade and without the benefit of sufficient hindsight newer stuff may have a tendency to be overrated.

Yes it is really nice with more people participating and commenting this year. The more posters on this thread, the more inspiration to read more before we all die.
post #345 of 2053
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas View Post

I loved Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland. Dance Dance Dance was good but I read it and passed it along. Norwegian Wood I started but abandoned, doubt I'll finish it. I read his running memoir and that too left me cold, waiting to pass that one along.

That running book is one of the few Murakamis I never tried. Someone whose taste I don't trust told me it was great, so I never picked it up. The special magic of Murakami is definitely in his 80s and 90s stuff and it irritates me when I read his newer writing and find that it is just merely good.
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