What misscurly read in 2012...

Tags: 
  1. January

  2. Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel
  3. Finished: Jan 23
  4. Opening Line: Henry's second novel, written, like his first, under a pen name, had done well.
  5. Rating: 5/5
  6. Paradise by Toni Morrison
  7. Finished: Jan 31
  8. Opening Line: They shoot the white girl first.
  9. Rating 3/5
  10. February

  11. White Fang by Jack London
  12. Finished: Feb 8
  13. Opening Line: Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway.
  14. Rating 3/5
  15. Camp Nurse by Tilda Shalof
  16. Finished: Feb 17
  17. Rating: 4/5
  18. Harm Done by Ruth Rendell
  19. Finished: Feb 22
  20. Rating: 3/5
  21. March

  22. The Sea Wolf by Jack London
  23. Finished:March 26
  24. Opening Line: I scarcely know where to begin, though I sometimes facetiously place the cause of it all to Charles Furuseth's credit.
  25. Rating: 3/5
  26. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
  27. Finished March 29
  28. Rating: 3/5
  29. Opening Line: The wind howled.
  30. April

  31. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  32. Finshed: April 10
  33. Opening Line: The Swede.
  34. Rating: 1/5
  35. Tales of the North Jack London
  36. Finished: April 27
  37. Rating:3/5
  38. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  39. Finished April 27 (Audiobook)
  40. Rating 2/5
  41. May

  42. Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott
  43. Finished: May 8
  44. Opening Line: I call our world flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.
  45. Rating: 3/5
  46. What Casanova Told Me by Susan Swan
  47. Finished: May 15
  48. Opening Line:Wrapped tightly in a pink plastic raincoat, the box of old documents lay snug in the bow of the motoscafo.
  49. Rating: 3/5
  50. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
  51. Finished: May 21
  52. Opening Line: Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.
  53. Rating: 3/5
  54. June

  55. Dancing Girls by Margaret Atwood
  56. Finished: June 11
  57. Rating: 3/5
  58. Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
  59. Finished: June 13
  60. Opening Line: having written 'The End' to this story of my life, I find it prudent to scamper back here to before the beginning, to my front door, so to speak, and to make this apology to arriving guests: 'I promised you an autobiography, but something went wrong in the kitchen.'
  61. Rating: 4/5
  62. Amok by Stefan Zweig
  63. Finished: June 14
  64. Opening Line: In March 1912, when a large ocean-going liner was unloading at Naples, a strange accident happened.
  65. Rating: 3/5
  66. Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck
  67. Finished: June 18
  68. Opening Line: When the war came to Monterey and to Cannery Row everybody fought in it more or less, in one way or another.
  69. Rating: 4/5
  70. The Celebrated Cases of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  71. Finished: June 26
  72. Rating: 4/5
  73. The Lambs of London by Peter Ackroyd
  74. Finished: June 30
  75. Opening Line: 'I loathe the stench of horses.
  76. Rating: 2/5
  77. July

  78. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  79. Finished: July 2
  80. Opening Line:
    Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by comtemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt as her turned over the almost endless creations of the last century; and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed.
  81. Rating: 4/5
  82. Esther by Henry Adams
  83. Finished: July 16
  84. Opening Line: The new church of St. John's, on Fifth Avenue, was thronged the morning of the last Sunday of October, in the year 1880.
  85. Rating: 2/5
  86. Two Plays by George Ryga
  87. Finished: July 24
  88. Rating: 4/5
  89. Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker
  90. Finished: July 26
  91. Opening Line: Never having known a mother, her mother had died when Janey was a year old, Janey depended on her father for everything and regarded her father as boyfriend,brother, sister, money, amusement, and father.
  92. Rating: 2/5
  93. Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus
  94. Finished: July 29
  95. Oedipus the King by Sophocles
  96. Finished: July 30
  97. Rating: 2/5
  98. August

  99. The Oresteia by Aeschylus
  100. Finished: August 8
  101. Rating: 2/5
  102. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  103. Finished: August 12
  104. Opening Line: Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting with her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once of twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," though Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"
  105. Rating: 3/5
  106. The Face of Another by Kobo Abe
  107. Finished: August 25
  108. Opening Line: At last you have come, threading your way through the endless passages of the maze.
  109. Rating: 4/5
  110. Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
  111. Finished: August 31
  112. Rating: 3/5
  113. September

  114. The Odyssey by Homer
  115. Finished: Sept 18
  116. Opening Line: Tell me, Muse, the story of that resourceful man who was driven to wander far and wide after he had sacked the holy citadel of Troy.
  117. Rating: 3/4
  118. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  119. Finished: Sept 21
  120. Opening Line: When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.
  121. Rating: 5/5
  122. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  123. Finished: Sept 21
  124. Opening Line: I clasp the flask between my hands even though the warmth from the tea has long since leached into the frozen air.
  125. Rating: 4/5
  126. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  127. Finished: Sept 23
  128. Opening Line: I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather.
  129. Rating: 5/5
  130. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  131. Finished: Sept 28
  132. Rating: 3/5
  133. October

  134. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
  135. Finished: 23/10
  136. Opening Line: A surging, seething, murmuring crowd, of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem to be naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate.
  137. Rating: 4/5
  138. November

  139. Veracity by Laura Bynum
  140. Finished: Nov 11
  141. Opening Line: The deeper I get into the prairie, the more I realize that what I've been told about the wastelands is false.
  142. Rating: 3/5
  143. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  144. Finished: Nov 13
  145. Opening Line: It was four o'clock when the ceremony was over and the carriages began to arrive.
  146. Rating: 3/5
  147. Silas Marner by George Elliot
  148. Finished: 26/11
  149. Opening Line: In the days when the spinning wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses -- and even great ladies, clothed in silk and threwad-lace, had their toy spinning-wheels of polished oak -- there might be seen
  150. Rating: 3/5
  151. December

  152. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
  153. Finished: Dec 9
  154. Opening Line: It was seven o'clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee Hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day's rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in their tips.
  155. Rating: 3/5
  156. Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
  157. Finished: Dec 12
  158. Rating: 3/5
  159. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  160. Finished: Dec 22
  161. Rating: 2/5
  162. The Body Artist by Don Delillo
  163. Finished: Dec 23
  164. Rating: 2/5
  165. Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
  166. Finished: Dec 31
  167. Rating: 3/5
Author Comments: 

* I hate it, don't even bother looking at it
** I don't like it, but I might reccomend it to the right person
*** It was OK, but I won't ever read it again
**** I liked it, I would read it again
***** I loved it, I will buy it for sure

Every time I read something, I ask myself, "is this a good book?" and then "is this the best of this type of book I've read?". If it is a good book, and one of the best of its type, then I buy it to reread. If it's a poorly written book, but one of the best I've read, then I've found a gap to fill in my reading.

Last year was a busy exciting, and trying year, and I was only able to finish 17 books. This year I'm setting a goal of 24, or 2 books per month. I think it can be done, but I'm already off to a poor start (it being near the end of January, and having only just finished my first of the year). Wish me luck!

A new thought: of the two goal books each month, one from the "Ultimate Reading Compilation", and one from my personal list.

White Fang
I've read it before, as a child. I had a set of "abridged" versions of classics, and since I no longer have them, I can never be sure if the stories I remember reading were the complete or abridged-for-children versions. I came a cross a nice hardcover in the bookstore a few months ago with this and London's other most popular stories, and I could not resist. Even if I don't love the stories as much as some others that I have, at least I can confidently share with my someday-children.

White Fang, as the introduction in my version explains, is one of the first forays into realism-writing, taking the literary world away from flowery (and sometimes confusing) Victorian style. I can imagine Mr. London really set hearts racing when his audience read descriptions of little White Fang battling for his life (over and over and over). I liked how he described the dog's (excuse me, the wolf-dog's) thoughts without humanizing him. It's obvious canines think and plan, but until I read this, I never really considered what might be going on in their thoughts.
I wonder how many Victorian ladies read this and then decided to "adopt" a wolf? :)

American Pastoral
I just couldn't get into this book. I didn't feel captured by the prose like I do sometimes, and I didn't feel captured by the plot either. I didn't empathize or sympathize or understand any of the characters; they felt one-dimensional and fake.
It felt like an "end-of-life-review" story, which is one of my least favourite topics. It also dealt with adultery, which is another of my least favourite topics.

Tales of the North
A compilation of some of London's best loved novels and short stories, including Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Sea Wolf. Before this, I had no idea he worked so much with sea adventures. After finishing the compilation, I found the Sea Wolf to be my favourite of all the stories, although Call of the Wild and White Fang still hold special places in my canon and my heart. :)

Flatland
Social commentary based in a 2-dimensional world of geometric figures. Amazingly creative idea, but I thought the writing was a little dry.

Bluebeard

Now It's The Women's Turn

Amok

No link for this title. Amazon has mostly Spanish and French versions available (or not). I read the story in a collection of others titled 'Royal Game', if you would like to read it also.
A fantastical story, but not one of my favourites.

I've set a new goal for the year, to read 10% of the books on the Ultimate Reading List. I am currently at 8.84%, so I have another 29 books to read this year. You'll notice this is more than my original goal, and the year is halfway over. Wish me luck, and suggestions of shorter books that are on that massive list would be appreciated. Greatly appreciated!

Holmes

Included in the collection: The Adventures, The Memoirs, The Return, Sign of Four, Study in Scarlet, Hound of the Baskervilles. A fairly comprehensive collection, and a very exciting read.

Lambs of London

Poor kid attempts to make his way by "discovering" some forgotten manuscripts of Shakespeare. Drama ensues, kid is eventually ousted. Female is led on, devastated and heartbroken, goes crazy.

Persuasion

The best Austen I have had the pleasure of reading. Interestingly, it was also her last piece.

Glad to hear you liked Persuasion. It's my favourite of her books and that letter at the end kills me everytime.

Two Plays

Includes Paracelsus and Prometheus Bound

Some of the most interesting and enjoyable plays I've read

I just can't get into these ancient Greek dramas! I'm finishing them to finish them, but I can't say I am really enjoying most of what I'm reading.

Oresteia

According to the version I picked up, this is the only trilogy of Greek drama that has survived since antiquity. It is interesting to think that some of the other ancient Greek dramas we have today are actually part of a larger story. They might make more sense or ring more true if they were in their correct frame. Taken as pieces, the stories of Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides aren't really all that interesting, but as a complete story we learn of the death of a father, the return of the son, and the father's post-mortem revenge. It is a good story.... if it wasn't for all of that tedious Chorus stuff!

Alice

Honestly, it seemed like a bunch of nonsense. I intend to finish Through the Looking-Glass, and then pick up The Annotated Alice , which is apparently the last word on Mr. Carroll's work.
I prefer annotated editions with the original text on one page, and the annotations on the facing page. It feels more natural. I hope Annotated Alice uses that principle...

Hunger Games 1 & 2

I finally jumped on the bandwagon to read this trilogy. The first novel was both emotionally charged and full of plot-driving action. The scene with the young tribute's death was very heart-wrenching, and this was one of the few books I've ever read that actually brought tears to my eyes. I am not a crier.

The second attempts to develop the choice between two lover too much, so that I feel like I'm reading Twilight again. In fact, I frequently wondered if Suzanne Collins had read the Twilight series before finishing her work, because she's clearly jumped on the young-teen-in-love-with-two-boys-trend. While Katniss is a stronger female than Bella and thus a better role model for young readers, she still vacillates between Gale and Peeta to a sickening extent. This ridiculous indecisiveness drives action in the plot, but I cannot relate to someone who appears strong, but doubts herself and her ability to make choices to such an extent. It simply doesn't ring true with Kat's other character traits.
Although the action in the Districts really starts moving in this part of the trilogy, it seems more filler than anything. A bridge from the start to the finish.

Mockingjay

By far the best and most well-developed piece of the saga. While the initial book drew in the audience with the "sweet moments", this one uses emotionally-charged highs and lows to complete the story, and bring Katniss through the trials to resume the life she'd lost. And finally, the girl made a choice!

Tempest

Despite having one of my favourite Shakespearian lines ("O brave new world..."), I felt underwhelmed by this play. The action didn't have that exciting under-current that I've associated with Shakespeare's other works, where things seem to be balanced on the edge of a knife, and Fate is more in charge of things than the characters. Not so with this play.

Jungle Book

This reminded me a lot of some of Jack London's works, in that it is a collection of stories with animals as subjects. Mr Kipling changes things by allowing the animals personification, while Mr London seems to prefer more savage, wild and animalistic animals.

The story of Rikki-Tikki is one of my personal childhood favourites.