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Posts Tagged ‘Book Club’

Where would we be in this life without books?  T’is a question I ponder often.  I for one would be completely lost if it weren’t for some of the great literary works of man.  Then I think how the majority of our population has completely discounted the act of reading for pleasure almost all together.  This fact saddens me deeply at the imbecilic future the masses are doomed to live.  If this is the case then it is a bleak future we all are to face.

For those of us who do still enjoy the written word and if you are reading this I would assume you must not hate it for this blog is still more content then visual or audio.  Every so often I like to share what I have been reading and what is worth your time.

Book XXXI: Fates Worse Then Death, Kurt Vonnegut, Putnam 1991, 240 pages.
“Why should they behave well, quite certain as they were that neither heaven nor hell awaited them? Virtue was its own reward.”  Kurt Vonnegut just may be one of the more important writers of the twentieth century.   Definitely one of the best to come out of the world wars camp. For myself this was actually my first reading of his and it so happened to be one of his last works.  It was enough to spark my interests.  Fates Worse Then Death was more of a collection of random thoughts and memoirs for the author looking back over his exceptional life and career then an actual novel.  The book reminded me of a more sophisticated and educated version of SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  Its a fast easy read and worth the time.

Book XXXII: A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, 1859, Wordsworth Classics Edition, 1993, 321 Pages.
Ah yes what may have been Dickens’ greatest novel and one of my all time favorites has been inspiring audiences for years.  If I had to pick three novels to be stuck on an island with this would surely be one.  The plight of one of literature’s infamous anti heroes, Sydney Carton is presented.  A man one can’t help but to both love and despise at the same time.  A man who despite all evil manages to love better then every seemingly decent character in the story.    In the end he redeems himself beautifully.  I have read this work 10 times and have at least another ten in me.  “When you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love besides you.”
taleoftwocities

Currently I am reading The Ambassadors by Henry James.  I am about half way through and at the moment have not had the most time for reading with all the usual distractions in my life.  Happy reading.

 

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Book XX: Zadig, By Voltaire, 1747, 65 pages
“That the things of this world did not always answer the wishes of the wise and that men were in the wrong to judge of a whole, of which they understood the smallest part”. Ah satire and 18th century satire at that.  I must admit I have soft spot for this type of narrative.  From Gulliver’s travels, to the later Peer Gynt, to Voltaire’s own Candide I just cant get enough of them.  The funny thing is all of these stories are poking fun at the political and cultural environments of their time, yet are somewhat still appropriate today.  Times change, but people don’t and that is exactly what these stories show to me.  Like Candide  the story of Zadig is that of a promising good natured, honest, genuine, young man who is scorned in love, in knowledge and in moral.  despite all his hardships brought upon by following his heart he stays true to his own integrity of belief.  One must admire such.  I for one a lover of Candide may actually consider Zadig a better work.  It had me laughing out loud at times and out raged at others.  A definite read.

How about lets return to British Literature with the 20th century transcendentalist/stream of consciousness writing of Virginia Wolf and her ground breaking novel Mrs. Dalloway for book XXI.

With a mug like this I must say Voltaire had to be a pimp back in his time!

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Book XIV: Measure for Measure, William Shakespeare, 1604, 205 pages

“Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall”.  Finally a new book. Those Hemingway short stories took me forever to read. Talk about the most depressing collection of writings I have read since Oliver Twist (see blog Chris’ Notes, Oliver Twist).  At the time I was in the mood for such.  Being its summer now and feeling rather nostalgic for NYC’s Shakespeare in the park free play series I thought why not read Measure for Measure.  I actually have never read this play.  I scored it for a quarter at a garage sale a few months back.  Its time.  The last book took me nearly 7 months to read, which in my opinion is completely disgraceful.  My goal is to finish this one by the end of the month.  Feel Free to pick up a copy and read a long with me.

If you missed the Book XIII The First Forty Nine Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway click this link.  I will not be doing a Chris’ notes entry on this book cause it was a collection of fifty stories and I am not about to take that on.  There were some really insightful entries and serious introspection to be had.  I think it is definitely worth picking up for a read.  There are few authors as powerful as Hemingway.

I don’t even know.

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Book XI: Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens, first published serially 1837, 601 pages

It always comes back to Dickens for me.  By far I would have to say he is one of my favorite authors to ever hold a pen.  His wit and portrayal of characters is unsurpassed.   I really did want to wait a while before introducing another Dickens novel to the club with Great Expectations only just recently being entered, but my desire to read more of his work overtook my zeal for variety.  Oliver twist is one of his darker novels as far as looking into the despicable nature of the human soul.  Go out grab a copy and lets wrap out minds into yet another literary masterpiece.  I lost my tattered thrift store copy and had to go out and buy one at a real book store and still it only costs me $5.  I bought that and a blank journal and the blank journal cost thrice a great work in human literature.

Summary of Book X: Lord of the flies 

If you missed Lord of the Flies I would definitely recommend picking up a copy, although from the feed back I have gotten it appears that I am the only person in the America who did not read the book in 8th grade.  All I can say is it is a powerfully disturbing tale of human nature in its ugliest form.  Its all of 200 pages, you can read that on two train commutes, pick up and see for yourself.

This has nothing to do with Charles Dickens, Lord of the Flies or Oliver Twist but I thought it was a pretty thought provoking picture. "Talk amongst yourselves".

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Book X: Lord of the Flies, William Golding, first published in 1954, 202 pages

I know I should have read this book back in like the eighth or ninth grade.  Some how though it slipped by me being it probably was not required reading and at which time I was all about the dime novel series The Hardy Boys.  Lord of the Flies is a work that I have avoided reading for a long time mostly because  I had a pretty good notion of what the plot was about thanks to various TV and movie spin offs of the novel.  Whenever such is the case I am always hesitant to read the book for fear of my imagination being corrupted by one of these aforementioned sources.  Ade’s found a copy being thrown away at the local art museum where she teaches at risk kids art two nights a week.  I figured it was about time to give it a read.  its fairly easy reading similar to our last book Peer Gynt, which I can only hope any one who keeps up with the book club has long since finished.

Summary of Book IX: Peer Gynt

I went into Ibsen’s Peer Gynt not quite knowing what to expect from the renowned Norwegian playwright.  Turns out I found the play to be a great read borderline profound.  The book’s take on the afterlife is very interesting and its guidelines on living as well.  At times a bit tough to follow Peer Gynt keeps you guessing on the outcome all the way till the end where you will never expect what happens.  If you missed it the first time around I strongly recommend picking it up.  Its a 160 page play that is an easy read.  Give it a shot I promise you wont be sorry.

Where is the Lord of theses Flies?

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Book V: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, First Published 1847, 320 pages

After a brief foray into American Literature we will take a turn back into British Lit with Wuthering Heights. This novel is considered by many to be one of the greatest romantic stories ever written.  At the time of publication Bronte was highly criticized for writing it on subject matter ahead of its time.  She died only a year after the publishing of the book.  I just started this one today and at my current rate of finishing you should have no problem keeping up.

Summary of Book IV: The Morgesons by Elizabeth Stoddard

When I first picked this one up I did not know what to think having very little foresight on the author, but she was highly acclaimed so I figured what could it hurt especially at 50 cents.  For the first hundred pages or so the novel was fairly slow going and truthfully if it was not for my “The Captain goes down with the ship” attitude I probably would have put it down.  Soon after though the story and the characters begin to take shape.  Upon completion of the book I believe that the characters and their interaction with one another may have been more the focus then the actual story itself.  Whatever the case everyone is rather peculiar making it more then worth a read.

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