2017 50 Book Challenge

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by edinatlanta, Dec 23, 2010.

  1. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    I've read that a few times and I Splurged on the Folio edition too. I really like it as both history and as a gripping read. It's obvious that Robert Graves relied heavily on Suetonius when he wrote I Claudius
     


  2. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 69/50: JM Coetzee - The Childhood of Jesus (2013)

    After his later more autobiographical works, Coetzee is back with one of those enigmatic allegorical novels that leaves you fascinated and with many questions in your mind. This book has nothing to do with Jesus as far as I can see but it is about a strange childhood experience and about a loving relationship between a middle aged man who is thrown into a guardian / father role and a child who has lost his parents. The two arrive in a mysterious Spanish speaking country, lacking memories of their past and they have to start life anew in a peculiar socialist type backwards country which is full of goodwill but lacking in deep emotions and meaning.

    The child turns out to be unusual, very gifted but also rebellious and hard to understand. His middle aged guardian is persisting in giving the child a good life but the Kafkaesque environment makes life very complicated indeed. I have read a few reviews of this book and while the reviewers praise Coetzee's language and obvious philosophical depth, no one seems to have a good interpretation of what the story is actually about. I loved it! This is, in my view, defintely one of Coetzee's best novels but possibly the hardest to understand.
     


  3. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 70/50: Cornell Woolrich - Night has a Thousand Eyes (1945)

    Reached 70 within 7 months so I feel moderately confident to do 100 within the full 12.

    I like these Crime Noirs from the 1930s to 1950s, even when they sometimes are full of gross simplifications and very doubtful psychology. This one is a classic but full of flaws. A reclusive old man has the magical gift of seeing future events and he predicts the death of a wealthy businessman "in the jaws of a lion" at the stroke of midnight a certain date in the near future. The police are amazingly convinced that the prediction will come true if they don't try to prevent the inevitable. A psychological thriller with a race against time. The ending leaves more questions than answers and is ultimately not satisfactory.
     


  4. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    87. David Baldacci The Simple Truth 1998

    Centers around a military man jailed for 25 years for a crime he didn't commit. Lots of juicy permutations and unexpected plot twists. I liked it.
     


  5. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    33. Questions of Travel, by Michelle de Kretser (2012)

    Michelle de Kretser's Miles Franklin winning novel uses travel as a lens to look at two drastically different protagonists: Laura, a footloose middle-class Australia; and Ravi, a Sri Lankan caught up in that country's brutal civil war. The book follows their life journeys, which ultimately intersect at a travel publishing firm (where else?).

    The first third of the novel mainly deals with the interminably boring Laura and her mundane roaming around the usual tourist spots of Asia and Europe. Just as the reader is about to nod off, de Kretser hits you with a head-snapping plot twist that transforms this novel into something very different. The pace and tension pick up from there but unfortunately de Kretser cannot sustain it. The story she tells of Ravi's experiences is emotional, nuanced and topical. However Laura's story is cliched and bathetic, unable to be saved by a surprise ending.

    The questions of the title are posed through the key characters' stories. One is "what am I doing here?". Another is "why does everybody have to leave in the end?", immediately followed by "when will it be my turn to leave?'. These deep questions are a great theme for the novel, but could have been much more tellingly explored by cutting Laura's character to the bare minimum and placing the focus on Ravi's more compelling odyssey. In the process, a good editor could have cut 150 pages from an unnecessarily long novel.
     


  6. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    Scathing review. Enjoyed reading the review.
     


  7. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    88. The Path to the Spiders' Nests 1947 Italo Calvino

    [COLOR=FF00AA]LIST[/COLOR]

    An adolescent in Italy is caught up in WWII and falls in with the partisans. He prefers the company of adults; his only talent seems to be ridiculing them and denying the pain he feels over losing his parents. His sister is a whore being kept by the German Army and that embarrasses him as well.

    The spiders' nests are his private place, and seemingly the only place he feels at home.

    I didn't see much point to the book and wouldn't recommend it.
     


  8. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    I just read Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and now reading his The Enchantress of Florence. Two of Rushdie's favourites and main influences are Italo Calvino and Gunther Grass, both of whom you have just read. I haven't read anything from Calvino and Grass but plan to. Have you read Rushdie?
     


  9. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    43. Spin

    Spin was an excellent read. It tells the story of three childhood friends (Tyler, Diane and Jason) who witness the start of the "spin". The Spin is an alien membrane that encapsulates Earth slowing it down dramatically - so that for every second that passes on Earth, several hundred years pass in the Universe.

    Faced with the prospect of galactic extinction in 40-50 years, many people turn criminal, many tuen religious and some turn to science - conducting experiments to repopulate Mars, etc, made possible only by the changed time.

    Tyler is the protagonist of the story, and the various quirks and curiosities that make up his experience are appreciated and thoughtful. No part of this story was rushed, and it was one of the better SF books I have read (recently, if not at all). Beautiful, unhurried, satisfying and realistic (in a sense) I recommend this for anyone.
     


  10. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    No- but I'll get to him sooner rather than later. Last time I went to the library the Rushdies there weren't on the list.

    89. The Winner 1997 David Baldacci

    A real stinker. I don't understand how Baldacci can write 3 good books, a stinker, and then 3 good books again. You'd think his publisher would refuse to pay for the stinkers.

    With all the crappy list books, I could use a good read. I have some more Calvino ordered and some obscure List books that have been on order forever. I hope the Calvinos will be better than Spiders' Nest.
     


  11. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    44. Werewolves in their Youth

    Michael Chabon's collection of short stories dealing with childhood, relationships, marriage, divorce, love and fear. Insightful, fun, pretty deep and fast paced.

    Enjoyed, but not as much as Yiddish Policeman's Union
     


  12. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    90. First Family David Baldacci 2009

    This was one of the 3:1.

    The niece of the president is kidnapped and Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, former Secret Service agents and PI partners are called in to find her by the First Lady. They do solve the crime, but there are many twists and turns along the way. Including the fact that they finally do each other. :)

    Still waiting for my list books to come in. At this rate I'll wind up reading Dickens. Or Jane Austen.
     


  13. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    34. Between Man and Beast, by Monte Reel (2013)

    Monte Reel's biography of the Victorian adventurer Paul du Chaillu is an eye-opener. du Chaillu was the first Westerner to see gorillas, and brought specimens back to London, just as Darwin's Origin of Species was fuelling an acrimonious debate about the relationship between primates and man. He was unintentionally caught up in this debate, and became the target of eminent men determined to destroy his reputation to further their cause.

    Reel paints a portrait of a man who was, in his way, almost a complete cypher, yet was the inspiration for many in science, literature and even film. He was a colleague of Richard Burton, Algernon Swinburne, Richard Owen, Conan Doyle and many other Victorian luminaries. Jack London, R.M. Ballantyne and other writers owed a debt to him, and even the movie King Kong was partially inspired by him. And yet his origin, his early life, his scientific expeditions and even his death remain shrouded in mystery and controversy. A really engaging read.
     


  14. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    45. Heart of Darkness

    Not much that I can say that's not already been said. Interesting book, though I found it unfocussed at points.
     


  15. Journeyman

    Journeyman Senior member

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    "Mistah Kurtz, he dead."

    Have you seen "Apocalypse Now", by the way? It has some interesting, and deliberate, allusions to Conrad's book.
     


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