Monday, March 30, 2009

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

Last night I finished Neverwhere as part of my quest to read every book Neil Gaiman has written (with the exception of the graphic novels). All good stories contain a journey, and Neverwhere contains my favorite type.

In the vein of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, Neverwhere introduces Richard Mayhew who finds himself stumbling along an ordinary existence when he is suddenly plopped into the midst of a life he never imagined existed. This is not a children's fantasy adventure, taking a Gaiman-esque turn for the dark and violent underground as opposed to mad tea parties and wicked witches. Instead we have our protagonists running from hitmen, beasts, sewer people, and beautiful women in velvet dresses. His guide into this life is a girl named Door, the eldest daughter of a powerful family, on her own quest to discover the truth behind her family's brutal murder.

In London Below, the lines of allegiance are blurred and every character seems to owe another a favor. When he is continually learning who to trust and who not to trust, Richard Mayhew must confront his fears and find a strength he had never known. He is on a journey to regain the old life that he once knew all while coming to terms with the fact that this life he had never known might be the one he cares about most. Instead of the nobody Above, he has become the Somebody below and this will make all the difference

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Book Thief

I have stolen this from another. I have made a list of almost 100 books to get through in a year but realize that is being overly ambitious. So to span it out over five years is an awesome idea. Here is what she says (beginning with describing the directions as she also stole the idea from another):

"She collected a list of 100 books that she wants to have read in her life to fill in some of her reading gaps of classics and great contemporary fiction. She knew it was a monumental task ahead of her--we all tend to choose fun things instead of things we should read, right? At least I do--so she gave herself 5 years to try to get through the list, and gave herself 25% accident forgiveness, meaning if she finishes 75 titles in 5 years, she'll consider herself to have been victorious."

My list was generated by the following criteria:-snobby classics I've always wished I could tell people I'd read, but would never read otherwise because I can't imagine enjoying them (these will probably end up making up the 25)-books that I've bought and owned for a long time, but haven't read because they're reeeeeally long and I am easily daunted by length at time of reading-and some books I've been curious about and keep forgetting to buy/read. Obviously, other books will be read as well, but I will mark each of these off and update my progress periodically. I've kept some of the ones Moonrat has, but edited most. I have not included anything I am predisposed to love. Not that these are all books I think I will hate or have no desire to read. I want to read them. I just keep putting them off in favor of others. But hopefully, over the span of five years, I will get to each.

1. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
2. Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
3. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
4. Watership Down, Richard Adams
5. Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
6. Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
7. This is Your Brain on Music, Daniel J. Levitin
8. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
9. White Teeth, Zadie Smith
10. After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, Aldous Huxley
11. Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon
12. The Art of War, Sun Tzu
13. Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland
14. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
15. Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell
16. The Curtain, Milan Kundera
17. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
18. The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell
19. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
20. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyoder Dostoevsky
21. White Noise, Don DeLillo
22. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe
23. The Trial, Franz Kafka
24. The Razor's Edge, Somerset Maugham
25. The Monkey Wrench Gang, Edward Abbey
26. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
27. Travelling Mercies, Anne Lamott
28. The Lake of Dead Languages, Carol Goodman
29. Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
30. The Professor and the Madman, Simon Winchester
31. Misfortune, Wesley Stace
32. The Divine Comedy, Dante
33. Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
34. The Areas of My Expertise, John Hodgman
35. Blink, Malcolm Gladwell
36. The Iliad, Homer
37. The Odyssey, Homer
38. The World is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman
39. Think, Michael R. LeGault
40. How Language Works, David Crystal
41. The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
42. The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell
43. The Fortress of Solitude, Jonathan Lethem
44. Going After Cacciato, Tim O'Brien
45. Survivor, Chuck Palahniuk
46. Cat's Eye, Margaret Atwood
47. The Immoralist, Andre Gide
48. On Beauty, Zadie Smith
49. The Plague, Albert Camus
50. Ulysses, James Joyce
51. Dark Tower, Stephen King
52. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
53. The Rainbow, D.H. Lawrence
54. The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
55. The Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford
56. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
57. The Chronicles of Narnia (whole series), C.S. Lewis
58. The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker
59. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
60. The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow
61. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tokien
62. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
63. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
64. Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
65. Rabbit, Run, John Updike
66. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
67. Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
68. Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky and Sandra Smith
69. Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik
70. Three Lives, Gertrude Stein
71. The Giver, Lois Lowry
72. The Collected Works of Lewis Carroll
73. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
74. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby
75. Nation, Terry Pratchett
76. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
77. Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor
78. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
79. The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles
80. Tobacco Road, Erskine Caldwell
81. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
82. Wrinkle in Time series (I've only read the first two), Madeline L'Engle
83. Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth
84. Fool, Christopher Moore
85. A Spot of Bother, Mark Haddon
86. The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery
87. Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
88. Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
89. Man Walks into a Room, Nicole Krauss
90. A Room with a View, E.M. Forster
91. The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
92. Black Boy, Richard Wright
93. Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, Tom Robbins
94. The Women, T.C. Boyle
95. World War Z, Max Brooks
96. Unaccustomed Earch, Jhumpa Lahiri
97. Netherland, Joseph O'Neill
98. Firmin, Sam Savage
99. The Ghost in Love, Jonathan Carroll
100. Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov

I'm pretty sure there are no doubles on that list...

Anyone else want to join in? :)

Hello Kindle

I have discovered that Amazon has free books for the Kindle. There are a few classics (Pride and Prejudice is one I should definitely own in both forms if it is free) and a few very random selections. These random selections are the ones I enjoyed most. The free books do not come with descriptions like the books we pay for so I am forced to choose by title alone. I now have 19 books on my Kindle, only two of which were paid for. There are titles such as:

Joe Strong The Boy Fire-Eater or, The Most Dangerous Performance on Record by Vance Barnum (obviously going to be awesome);
Trips to the Moon by Lucian of Samosata (who doesn't want to go to the moon?);
The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells (IN the moon? How have I not heard of this?);
The Wits and Beaux of Society by Grace and Philip Wharton (I have no idea what this is, but it looks like a sort of societal magazine from the late 1800's);
Memoirs of the Court of St. Cloud by Stewarton: Being Secret Letters from a Gentleman at Paris to a Nobleman in London 1805 (Again, no idea); and
Punch, or the London Charivari (looks to be another magazine with short articles of the time (that time being 1917).

There's a chance that a majority of these will be deleted immediately, but new items to read for free is always a good time. Reviews will be posted on an ongoing basis.