Books I Read in 2003 - Final List

Author Comments: 

Comments invited.

The dates shown are the dates completed, though I usually only read one book at a time, and finish it before starting the next (usually).

Currently reading: (carry forward to 2004)

Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon.


Do It Yourself ... House Buying, Selling, and Conveyancing (Law Pack guide) -
by Joseph Bradshaw
. Although it's only 158 pages (plus sample forms at the back), it is an A4 textbook that requires studying and note-taking of every subject. This is packed full of useful information, and my yellow highlighter should help speed up the note-taking task. Much as I hate to write in or mark any of my books, I decided that a book can always be replaced but my time cannot.

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Finished it today:
Primo Levi - If This Is A Man / The Truce

The true story of his year in Auschwitz (If This Is A Man) and his journey home after liberation (The Truce). Very good, but I expect to be moved a lot more by literature, particularly by a true story on such a subject. He has quite deliberately gone about it dispassionately, without blame or hate. Very admirable, of course, and extremely interesting, but I was hoping for more.

I've only read Survival in Auschwitz by Levi, which also relates his experiences in the concentration camp. How does the If This Is a Man section differ? Do the two books emphasize different aspects of the experience? For what it's worth, Survival was a lot shorter, so it might fit well into your current strategy...

Johnny Waco

Thanks for your posting Johnny. I have not read Survival in Auschwitz by Levi, and I doubt that I shall be reading any further Levi as I was slightly disappointed I wasn't moved more by If This Is a Man / The Truce, although it was, nevertheless of interest from a historical perspective.

I have just checked on Amazon and 'Survival in Auschwitz' and 'If This Is a Man' are two different titles for the same book (I didn't know that either). I thought that the reviews for 'Survival in Auschwitz' looked rather too familiar. The Truce is another short book, often published with 'If This Is a Man' in a single volume. The Truce tells the story of his eight-month journey home to Italy across Europe, routed through Russia, following the liberation of Auschwitz by the Russians.

I also notice that The Truce has an alternative title - sometimes called 'Reawakening'.

I should have forewarned about Levi, I don't like his work, it pales in comparsion to other Holocaust writers.. at least I think

I have devised a new strategy for increasing my reading output - read smaller books.

My previous book (Primo Levi) was over 400 pages.

My next book, that I have chosen from a vast array of unread books on my bookshelf, is The Outsider by Albert Camus - 100 pages.

I am terribly sorry if this seems trite, chosing a book dependent upon the number of pages and how quickly I can finish it, but I hope you agree that the quality of the book is not compromised.

I have some other small books to follow (perhaps):

The Life and Times of Einstein by James Brown, measuring 8.5mm x 11mm of standard sized writing - 63 pages (I am a great admirer of the man, one of my interests being astronomy).

Achilles by Elizabeth Cook, 104 pages - I have read The Illiad and The Odyssey (the latter being one of my top ten all-time favourite reads), and I love the subject of Greek mythology.

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton - 170 pages. One of my all-time favourite films, a short book, and entitled similarly to the Albert Camus book above. Another two hopeless reasons, I agree, but it is a quality book and a truly great film (in which S.E. Hinton had a cameo part) - two excellent reasons also.

John Steinbeck - The Pearl - 85 pages.

My new strategy is so far an unbelievable and unqualified success. I went down to Dorset today on the train and spent approximately 3.1/2 hours reading, I finished The Outsider by Albert Camus (which I started just yesterday), and then read and finished the Albert Einstein book.

By the way, the Einstein book is not 8.5mm x 11mm as I stated earlier - but 85mm x 110mm. I am English and old and decrepid and I learned imperial measurements at school before decimalisation was introduced, so I still don't use metric measurements very frequently. My limited brain functions have great difficulty learning such complexities. Speaking of which, Einstein could not remember his own telephone number - he refused to clutter his mind with such insignficancies. He also once telephoned his university (where he worked as a 'professor') and requested the secretary give him Mr Einstein's address. The secretary explained that she could not give out private addresses, so he had to explain embarassedly that he was Mr Einstein but that he had forgotten where he lived and could she remind him. On another occasion he called his secretary to ask her where he was and what was he meant to be doing today. (A few anecdotes from the book.)

Back on topic, my next book will be The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton - 170 pages. I have the movie on video somewhere, so I might just track that down for a repeat viewing after I finish the book - one of my all time favourite movies.

Note any co-incidencies so far ?
Albert Camus/Albert Einstein.
The Outsider (by Camus) and The Outsiders (by Hinton).
Professor Einstein/my nickname professor.

More on Einstein for those interested:

Born a German Jew in 1879.

Moves to Switzerland in 1895 to study, and stays on to work.

Becomes a Swiss citizen in 1901.

Publishes his four thoeries on Physics in 1905, amongst many other amazing things, includes thoeries which laid foundations for the atomic bomb, but he plays no active part in its development, and feared it.

1911 moves to Prague.
1912 moves back to Zurich.
1914 moves to Berlin.

Awarded the Nobel prize for Physics in 1922.

Leaves Germany in 1932 to work in the USA, and when Hitler took power in 1933, vows never to return. Lives in the USA for the remainder of his life.

Offered the Presidency of Israel in 1952, but declines.

Died in USA in 1955.

Today finished The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, and as usual, the book is better than the film, although the film is great and a favourite.

Next book (start tomorrow morning on the train commuting into London)
will be Achilles by Elizabeth Cook (the poet) - 105 pages.

Hey, I'm going to London tomorrow! Where do you work in London, professor?

Bon voyage!

Have a blast!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I work Monday to Friday at Albert Embankment (Vauxhall tube station on the Victoria tube line) on the south bank of the Thames, opposite the Tate Gallery (across the Thames), just down the river from the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye and Waterloo railway station, and next door to the MI6 building. But it is very easy to get anywhere around London on the Underground system (‘the tube’ - for whom I work). If you fancy a burger one lunchtime you can e-mail me from my homepage - click on the link below.
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Finished Achilles 06/25

Finished "Way Station" (183 pages) - Clifford D. Simak 06/29

Next Book (tomorrow on the train):

"Candide" by Voltaire (137 pages).

This will probably be a much slower read, because I am (in parallel) re-reading/studying book on buying and selling property, that I first read last year.

The new strategy is working great, but I am getting a hankering to read something a little more substantial. A long, slow, deep, involving read certainly has its own (different) attractions, I now realise. I have plenty of longer books on my bookshelf, which I must get to anyway, even if I were to continue favouring a short-book strategy.

I might go for "Lord Valentine's Castle" - Robert Silverberg (ca. 500 pages), or "Northern Lights" by Philip Pullman (ca. 400 pages, but the first book in a trilogy), or "Homicide" by David Simon (ca. 600 pages - the TV series 'Homicide: Life on the Streets' was based on this true story/report), all of which are currently high on my list.

I can heartily recommend Homicide to any fan of the TV series (or anyone else, for that matter).

How did you like Way Station?

Way Station was excellent throughout, except that a stronger ending would have been good. Four out of five.

Being a great fan of the TV series originaly drew me to the book - thanks for the recommendation. I might now just bump it even further up the list.

So glad you liked it! It's my favorite Simak book (although I haven't read that many).

The other Simak book I have on my bookshelf is: &nbsp Why Call Them Back From Heaven &nbsp which I haven't read yet but has great reviews. &nbsp Have you read this one? &nbsp I have bumped this one fairly high up on my list to read because it is only 151 pages - I bought it as a cheap secondhand hardback.

No, I haven't read that one. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it!

I'm reading it now ! I shall let you know what I think when I have finished it.

Finished it today on the train from London. See my review below.

Thanks for the review!

I finished Candide by Voltaire today. The philosophy was more interesting than the satire - amusing, but not particularly funny as such. An average 3 out of 5.

I have a one week holiday from work at the end of July (Centreparks at Elvedon (UK) - reopened/revamped after a major fire). I shall probably take 'Homicide' with me for a long, slow, involving, relaxing read, although I am not sure it is the right subject for that.

I finished &nbsp I Am Legend &nbsp by Richard Matheson - excellent. However, throughout I had a picture in my mind of Charlton Heston (and heard his voice) from the film &nbsp Omega Man &nbsp which was based on the book, except with a different ending. Although it was a super film, I preferred the book. &nbsp &nbsp

The Omega Man was on TV tonight.

Whilst it acknowledges and gives credit to "From the book by Richard Matheson", it deviates significantly from the story, including a very different ending.

Great movie, nevertheless, but not as good as the book.

I finished &nbsp Lord Valentine's Castle - by Robert Siverberg &nbsp (503 pages). &nbsp This is a great book. &nbsp Although it is a little slow to start, it must rival Frank Herbert's Dune in many respects, and is better in some (although it is many years since I read Dune).

I loved it. &nbsp I shall add it to my list of favourites.

I finished Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man (22/Aug/03). It was OK, but I was disappointed considering the reviews it normally receives and his other 'great' novel:
The Stars My Destination (which I read earlier this year).

I finished Ken Grimwood's Replay (310 pages). This is a great story, well told. It is about a chap who dies in 1988 in middle age and re-awakens in 1963 to find that he is reliving (replaying) his life, with full consciousness and memory of his previous experience, and able to change the course of his new 'replay'. He relives his life a few times, attempting to correct mistakes he previously made, gambling on sporting events and the stockmarket, attempting to prevent his own death and the assassination of Kennedy, falling in love again at 18 with his wife but correcting events that previously turned his marraige sour, discovering by accident another 'replayer', making a few new mistakes along the journey, and with an interesting ending (no spoilers here, I think).

I bought this hardback on the internet as a signed first edition. I'm not sure if I should have then proceeded to read it, but I have kept it in fine condition with a vinyl covering over the dust jacket.

Since I read this book, it has often re-entered my thoughts ('replayed' it) - great story. Highly recommended. Worth a second reading.

I finished today Why Call Them Back from Heaven by Clifford D. Simak . It was a good story, perhaps a little dated, with not particularly engaging characterisations, but OK nevertheless. I preferred Simak's other book that I read in June (Way Station).

It just ocurred to me - I did not mean it is dated, but that it is reminiscent of another book - Alfred Bester's 'The Demolished Man' (which I read last month). A man in the future who is an important part of an organisation that virtually controls the world, who then falls from grace and becomes an outcast.

17-October-2003. Finished reading Thomas Hardy's Jude The Obscure. This is a truly excellent book, about the relationship between two cousins and the affect upon people's lives of being constrained by the social and religious pressures of respectful society. It can be a slow read due to Hardy's prose style and detailed explanations/motivations, but the characterisations are totally engaging. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I thoroughly recommend it.

I had eagerly wanted to read this since I saw the the 1996 movie (starring Christopher Ecclestone and Kate Winslett) on TV approximately two years ago, when the tragedy of it struck a chord in me - truly shocking (read it to find out). It did not disappoint. As soon as I finished reading the book I watched the movie again which I bought recently on DVD.

I also have on my bookshelf waiting to be read "The Mayor Of Castorbridge" and "Tess Of The D'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy, and shall certainly consider bumping them up closer to the top of the list.

A new two-part drama was on TV last week of
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy,
starring Ciaran Hinds, Juliet Aubrey, Jodhi May.

I finished reading 'Son Of Man' by Robert Silverberg (06/Nov/03). An interesting fantasy of a man who wakes up on an Earth in the future (perhaps millions of years) when man has evolved into a number of different species, including a group with god-like powers whom he befriends.

Very profound. The age of man is but a blink of the eye in the life of the universe, and will probably take up less time.


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