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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 27

post #391 of 1978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

27. The Hunger Games v.1 2008 Suzanne Collins
I saw the movie, thought it was excellent, and decided to read the book. Set in a future dystopia where the Capitol of a country made up of 12 provinces had to put down a rebellion 75 years or so ago. Since then every year 2 representatives, 1 male and 1 female, from each of 12 districts fight to the death every year in a pageant called The Hunger Games. The book tells the story of how the protagonist wins.

This is my list so far. I've slowed down considerably because after hours of editing and writing I have less of a desire to read confused.gif

1) Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

2) Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

3) 11/22/63 by Stephen King

4) Headstone by Ken Bruen

5) The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly

6) The Confessor by Daniel Silva

7) The English Assassin by Daniel Silva

8) The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

9) Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

10) A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva

11) A White Arrest by Ken Bruen

12) The Drowning City by Amanda Downum

13) Killer Year edited by Lee Child

14) Tower by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman

15) Rilke on Black by Ken Bruen

16) Every Dead Thing by John Connolly

17) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

18) The Long-Legged Fly by James Sallis

19) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

20) Walking the Perfect Square by Reed Farrel Coleman
post #392 of 1978
28. The Hunger Games, v.2 2009 Suzanne Collins
I don't think I can really do a summary of this other than to say it's the further adventures of Katniss Everdeen. Anything more would spoil the next movie when it comes out. Great book, even better than the first.
post #393 of 1978
29. Mocking Jay (v.3- Hunger Games) 2010 Suzanne Collins
Last saga of Katniss Everdeen. Lots of plot twists and more characters. Again, can't give away too much. Especially in this one as there are a so many unexpected plot twists.
post #394 of 1978
30. The Postman Always Rings Twice 1934 James Cain
Early example of the roman noir. A drifter wanders into a roadside diner, begins to work there, and decides he wants the proprietor's wife. They kill the proprietor, get off for the murder, and receive insurance $ to boot. From there everything spirals downward and he winds up on death row for her murder. Short read. Mediocre Read. Another off the list.
10 books a month so far. 50 by end of May?
post #395 of 1978
Clockwise counting 16/50: Kazuo Ishiguro - Never Let Me Go (2005)

In an alternative dystopian British reality, clone children are being brought up in boarding schools only to become donors of their vital organs in adulthood. This is a terrible story about how these children look for an answer to the meaning of their existence and we get to see how they view their life situation with a mixture of acceptance and sadness. 

Never Let Me Go is an unsettling and thought-provoking novel but I am not fully convinced that this should be rated as a modern classic. The language is quite flat and often reminds me of literature for "young adults". The point of the story, beyond the shock value, is not all that easy to see. Of the 5 Ishiguro novels included in the 2006 edition of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, this is the only one that didn't make the cut for the 2008 and 2010 editions. 

My life time scores:
151/1001 (old edition)
160/1294 (all editions)
post #396 of 1978
since i've got some catching up to do i'll post a month’s reading at a time.

1. American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin 4.0/5

Not so much a fantastic book as a subject of historical importance (and one i find interesting). The prose doesn't sing, but the very detailed overview of J. Robert Oppenheimer's life is comprehensive, and it digs into far more than his flirtation with communism (and later persecution for it) or his crucial role in the development of the atomic bomb. to my eye Oppy is one of the most important historical figures of the 20th century and therefore the book can't help but be interesting (at least to me).


2. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller book 4.0/5, audio book 2.0/5

I've been a fan of the movie since i was a kid, but i'd never read the book. well, now i have. or at least listened to it. or, actually, alternated between the audio book and the printed book, primarily because i didn't like the reader’s (Jim Weiss) performance too much but was unwilling to forsake the convenience of listening. maybe i'm too much under the sway of Alan Arkin's Yossarian, but i think the story plays better deadpan than as over-the-top, broad comedy and Weiss read dialogue in a hammy way that i found really annoying.

still, the book shines. it's a great novel, with a very strange sort of holding-pattern, circling structure. also, in spite of the poor performance by Weiss, the comedy still works 5 decades later.


3. Serve it Forth by M.F.K. Fisher 4/5

A series of brief essays about the history of gastronomy, written just before World War 2. i suppose if you eat merely to fill up space you would not take much pleasure in this book, but i enjoyed it. there are no recipes really, but i did find myself trying to imagine what an ancient Greek or Roman feast might taste like. oddly enough, i read this entire book about eating while on the crapper. it’s a short book but nonetheless i didn’t read it all in one sitting.


4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 4.5/5
arguably Fitzgerald’s best, an intimate drama peopled with American archetypes. one of those books people keep saying you ought to read that’s worth the effort. as an added bonus, it’s very short. Fitzgerald doesn’t waste a single word, yet manages to write prose you can glide through without feeling like you’re doing homework.
post #397 of 1978
February

many of these were audiobooks. i'm finding i listen to audiobooks more than i read, mainly because it allows me to simultaneously do something else. unless the audio performance was one i loved (like Heaney's Beowulf or hated like that Weiss fella's reading of Catch 22 i'll tend to avoid commenting on the reader's performance.

5.A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking 4.0/5
when this book first came out, it fried my brain. trying to imagine the implications of what late 20th century/early 21st century physics implies still fries my brain. but in a good way.


6. Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku 4.0/5
Michio Kaku takes a look at all the various fantastic technologies imagined by science fiction writers and movie makers—with the eye of a theoretical physicist, and a purpose of assessing their plausibility. Kaku’s easier to read than Hawking (“friendlier” somehow) and the subject matter’s great fun without ceasing to be about real physics. it'd also make a handy reference for any science fiction writer who wants to make sure they put some science in their fiction.


7. Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney 5.0/5
absolutely brilliant. i'd read an older translation or two before, but Heaney's translation breathes life into the story. real life, not dungeons-'n'-dragons crap (in spite of the presence, effectively, of both). i listened to this as an audio book, read by Heaney himself. the book edition has proto-English on facing pages (which you can sort of read, but which will convince you very quickly you’re grateful for the translation into modern English).


8. Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis 2.0/5 audio book
the author stands accused of being biased and that’s fine by me. That’s not why i don’t like the book. the first thing I don’t like about the book is the title. i'm sure if you picked it up in a bookstore the cover would make it clear that it’s about American history and not world history, but that should be in the title. in fairness the title comes from a Sam Cooke song, but still.

that said, the primary reason I don’t like the book is that it tries to cover too much in too little space, and thus becomes like reading a very long outline (at times exactly like reading an outline, with page after page of what sounds on the audio version like a bulleted list covering the events of a given time period). the other thing i don’t like about this book is the prose. For example, Davis calls FDR’s ‘nothing to fear but fear itself’ line ‘old wine in a new bottle’. If you find nothing wrong with using a cliché to describe a cliché, you may enjoy the book more than I did. in spite of my reservations about the book, however, i think it’s worth reading if you are interested in a high-level overview of American History from the revolution to present, and it does highlight some recurring themes in American history nicely.


9. Nostromo (plus, Youth, a narrative) by Joseph Conrad 4.5/5
i've read quite a bit of Conrad, especially since moving to southeast Asia. however, i've tended to shy away from his longer works, because, well, long works tend to be… long. Nostromo is long. but Conrad excels at plumbing the grim depths of the human psyche on the front lines of Colonialism while at the same time managing to craft a ripping yarn.

March

i'll do March later, i read (or listened to) a lot of short books (11). April will be Lord Jim, Paradise Lost and Don Quixote.
post #398 of 1978
31. Saturday Ian McEwan 2006
Traces the events in an English neurosurgeon's life on a Saturday. They range from the ordinary- a game of squash, London demonstration against the Iraq war, preparing dinner, to an altercation over a minor traffic accident, to a home invasion robbery. Masterful prose, riveting book a must read (and another off the list)
post #399 of 1978
Glad to see you liked this one, Steve! Bad guy was all too real. As was the whole bad Saturday situation. McEwan is one of my absolute favorites. I believe he will survive and be even more appreciated a few decades hence. Can recommend Amsterdam.

Happy Easter reading! smile.gif
post #400 of 1978
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Glad to see you liked this one, Steve! Bad guy was all too real. As was the whole bad Saturday situation. McEwan is one of my absolute favorites. I believe he will survive and be even more appreciated a few decades hence. Can recommend Amsterdam.
Happy Easter reading! smile.gif

I think it's on The List. Right now I'm reading Unbearable Lightness and finding it surprisingly good. I remember seeing movie quite a while back and I don't think there's much of a resemblance.

Ordered a couple of offbeats from Amazon last night.
post #401 of 1978
Love Kundera. He's got 4 books on the original 2006 list but only 2 on the 2010 list. I have read all 4 and Unbearable is of course valid on any list. One of my great reading experiences!

Saturday and Amsterdam were only on the 2006 list, both were taken off in 2008.
post #402 of 1978
32. The Unbearable Lightness of Being 1984 Milan Kundera
The unbearable lightness of being refers to the difficulties of life in the present. The story focuses around the life story of 2 men, 1 woman, and, to a lesser extent another woman. One man is unfaithful to his wife, the other an inveterate womanizer.Set during the time the Soviets occupied Czechoslovakia (late 60s)- Kundera is a Czech. Well written, but bleak. Wouldn't recommend it.
post #403 of 1978
Clockwise counting 17/50: Ryu Murakami - Almost Transparent Blue (1976)

Same surname as Haruki but a very different type of literature. This is some kind of violent and nauseating diary about drugged-out Japanese youth in the vicinity of an American military base. Not much of a plot and not easy to stomach but luckily a short read. I have heard that the author has written other novels which are considerably better but this one was his debut novel and it has been included in the later editions of 1001. Happy Easter!
post #404 of 1978
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Love Kundera. He's got 4 books on the original 2006 list but only 2 on the 2010 list. I have read all 4 and Unbearable is of course valid on any list. One of my great reading experiences!
Saturday and Amsterdam were only on the 2006 list, both were taken off in 2008.

I thought Unbearable Likeness was great, but I absolutely loved Immortality. I should probably read some more Kundera.

McEwan is someone I've never read, though I've always thought I should probably give a try. Same goes with Ishiguro.
post #405 of 1978
And now to check in, it's been a little while. Done a little traveling, and a bit of this and that. In between, these:

4. Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas

Lukas won a slew of awards (Pulitzer, National Book Award included, I think) with his previous book, Common Ground. I haven't read it, but am now interested. Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America is about the bombing murder of Idaho's former governor in late 1905, supposedly by a man or men ordered by the leadership of the Western Federation of Miners. The trial that came out of this was called 'trial of the century' by the press, and Lukas manages to not only capture the trial, but the state of nation as a whole around this time. Through the people involved one way or another in the trial or its periphery, including Clarence Darrow, Theodore Roosevelt, Walter Johnson, Ethel Barrymore, Eugene Debs, Upton Sinclair, and many others, we get a sense of the shaping of the West and mood of the country as a whole at the turn of the 20th Century. I can't say enough good about this book: every chance Lukas had to explore a different moment or path of American life at the time he took. An example is a brief, five-page history of mens social clubs like the Elks, Moose, and Odd Fellows. I picked this up in a gas station/restaurant that also sold some used books in Island Park, Idaho some years back and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.


5. Point Omega by Don DeLillo

A small book, shaped by the idea of a haiku, that is a meditation about how people deal with intellectualizing war and death. Plot-wise, it concerns a young-ish filmmaker who has gone to the desert cabin to convince the academic/intellectual who lives there to be interviewed. The academic was one of the architects in selling the Iraq War to the American public. Like much of DeLillo's work in the past fifteen years, this is less about plot and more about exploring BIg Ideas through short, dense work. I really enjoyed it and recommend it to DeLillo fans, though if you haven't read any (or much) of his work, I'd say start with my favorites: White Noise, Mao II, Underworld, and Libra.

6. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers tells the story of a New Orleans man, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a man who emigrated from Syria and stayed in the city during and after Hurricane Katrina. Zeitoun was a contractor who also owned many rental properties he wanted to look after. The flooding came and Zeitoun hopped in his canoe and saved many people and animals, until he disappeared a week or so after the flooding, arrested in a house he owned and jailed without charge or due process. Eggers does a great job giving the history of Zeitoun and his family while using it as an opportunity to tell the story of Muslim-American lives post-9/11, and a warning against a currently broken judicial system where people, Americans included, can be held without charge or due process. Again, highly recommended.

7. West of Here by Jonathan Evison

Set on the Olympic Peninsula, this book strives to capture the conquering of the West by people with big dreams and big ideas and what it did to the land and other settlers and natives at the time, and a hundred-plus years in the future. The story bounces back and forth between the late 19th and early 21st century. Evison has an adventurous spirit he injects in his characters, even those who are lost in how to deal with their lives and the idea of destiny. I liked this book, but didn't quite love it. Reading reviews, there are certainly people who loved this book, so if you enjoy frontier adventures, give this a shot.
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