Advertisement
How to add spoiler tags, edit posts, add images etc. How to - a user's guide to the new version of Boards
Mods please check the Moderators Group for an important update on Mod tools. If you do not have access to the group, please PM Niamh. Thanks!

Forty works of fiction - 2012

2

Comments



  • It is a great read. The 17 page description of hell is amazing - there isn't enough room to move your eyelash if a worm was gnawing on it !!!!

    I found the arguments about Parnell fascinating at the beginning of the book. The pro & anti supporters fighting over the Christmas Day dinner.




  • Queen-Mise wrote: »
    I found the arguments about Parnell fascinating at the beginning of the book. The pro & anti supporters fighting over the Christmas Day dinner.

    Yes that scene was one of my favourites. I liked the part where the old Fenian tells the anecdote about the old lady screaming in his face and how he responded to her! I found Stephen's father pretty funny in that scene. He was stirring it up it seemed.




  • 200px-Life_of_Pi_cover.png


    A very ambitious and admirable book. I had different feelings on different sections.

    I did not really enjoy the first part of the story too much. I felt there was a lot here that cut have been omitted. I enjoyed the second section a lot more but felt near the end of the second section it got a bit too silly (which I guess should not be a criticism in light of the final section). The third and final section was very interesting and I appreciated how everything was handled in the end.

    Much more thought-provoking than I expected and I can forgive a lot of the flaws that bothered me in the earlier part of the story. Worth checking out.




  • I really like your choice of books, particularly the Stephen King, Steinbeck, Salinger books. As Queen-Mise says, try some of the other modern American writers, post 1920s - 1960s. I really liked "Slaughterhouse 5" by Kurt Vonnegut, though wasn't so crazy about "Breakfast with Champions".

    Another writer I've just discovered is Mary McCarthy - "The Group". I like how the book is so realistic, a potrayal of 1930s New York, and women setting out in the world (like "Mad Men). This also reminds me of "The Best of Everything" by Rona Jaffe, another favourite of mine.

    Richard Yates is good too, I liked his short stories.

    I will definitely track down that follow up to Cannery Row, I didn't realise there was one.




  • I really like your choice of books, particularly the Stephen King, Steinbeck, Salinger books. As Queen-Mise says, try some of the other modern American writers, post 1920s - 1960s. I really liked "Slaughterhouse 5" by Kurt Vonnegut, though wasn't so crazy about "Breakfast with Champions".

    Another writer I've just discovered is Mary McCarthy - "The Group". I like how the book is so realistic, a potrayal of 1930s New York, and women setting out in the world (like "Mad Men). This also reminds me of "The Best of Everything" by Rona Jaffe, another favourite of mine.

    Richard Yates is good too, I liked his short stories.

    I will definitely track down that follow up to Cannery Row, I didn't realise there was one.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I've managed to get hold of Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. I'll try to have that read by the end of the month. Working my way through a Poirot novel at the moment.


  • Advertisement


  • Death_in_the_Clouds_First_Edition_Cover_1935.jpg


    This was my second Agatha Christie novel and my first involving Hercule Poirot. As the title suggests, an aeroplane is the setting for this one and Poirot is, quite literally, along for the ride.

    I found this to be a very engaging story. I was captivated by the manner in which it unfolded and I found Poirot to be a very likeable character (I found him far more enjoyable than Marple).

    Once again I failed to figure out the culprit, but I was again left satisfied and with the itch to check out another Christie story.




  • 180px-RevolutionaryRoad.jpg


    This is one of the greatest novels I've ever read.




  • Hickory_Dickory_Dock_First_Edition_Cover_1955.jpg


    I didn't really like this one. I thought it became a bit of a mess by the end.




  • ElevenKindsOfLoneliness.jpg


    This is a collection of short stories by Yates which depicts the lives of New Yorkers during the 1950s.

    I thought this was a really nice book and there were several stories that I would have been glad to continue reading if I could. Yates has a great knack for leaving you wanting more from his stories, and I have become a fan of his writing style.




  • 175px-PKD-high_castle-penguinclassics.jpg


    The Man in the High Castle takes place in an alternate reality where the Axis Powers have prevailed in the Second World War. We get to experience the points of view of several characters based in the US.

    I have mixed views on this one. Dealing with my criticisms firstly, I was a bit disappointed the various characters didn't really interact with one another. It was like a sampling of their various lives whereas I suppose I was hoping they would all come together, a la The Stand. I also thought the novel got bogged down in a lot of details at points, especially the internal squabbles of the Nazis. I had hoped too that the differences of the alternate reality and the actual reality would have been dealt with more.

    On a brighter note, I very much enjoyed Juliana's storyline arc. I thought she was the most interesting character by far and it seemed to me like more care was put into her part of the story.

    Overall it was a decent story. If it sounds like the kind of plot you'd find fascinating then give it a go.


  • Advertisement




  • This was my second Agatha Christie novel and my first involving Hercule Poirot. As the title suggests, an aeroplane is the setting for this one and Poirot is, quite literally, along for the ride.

    I found this to be a very engaging story. I was captivated by the manner in which it unfolded and I found Poirot to be a very likeable character (I found him far more enjoyable than Marple).

    Once again I failed to figure out the culprit, but I was again left satisfied and with the itch to check out another Christie story.

    Poirot is the only fictional character to get his own obituary in the New York Time & Agatha couldn't stand him :D:D A friend of mine this year did their dissertation on Agatha Christie so I know more than I ever wanted to know about her... Try Patricia Cornells (sp) Body Farm - the woman who did the dissertation said that this was one of her best books and is a modern writer in the vein of Christie. I will state that I haven't read any Cornell, Christie type books, so it isn't a personal opinion - the closest I got to this is Sherlock Holmes. Another useless piece of info - Agatha Christie also intensely disliked Sherlock Holmes.

    Why was Revolutionary Rd so good?

    EDIT: Do you have any interest in the fantasy/science fiction genre?




  • Queen-Mise wrote: »
    Poirot is the only fictional character to get his own obituary in the New York Time & Agatha couldn't stand him :D:D A friend of mine this year did their dissertation on Agatha Christie so I know more than I ever wanted to know about her... Try Patricia Cornells (sp) Body Farm - the woman who did the dissertation said that this was one of her best books and is a modern writer in the vein of Christie. I will state that I haven't read any Cornell, Christie type books, so it isn't a personal opinion - the closest I got to this is Sherlock Holmes. Another useless piece of info - Agatha Christie also intensely disliked Sherlock Holmes.

    Why was Revolutionary Rd so good?

    EDIT: Do you have any interest in the fantasy/science fiction genre?

    That's interesting to hear she didn't like Sherlock Holmes because in the few Christie books I've read I did notice her characters criticising the stories.

    As for Revolutionary Road, it was a real eye opening book. It's about a young married couple in fifties America that are trapped in this suburban lifestyle that neither of them really want, but their fears and doubts have them trapped there. As the novel unfolds they make efforts to change their lives but the characters are so deluded that you feel despair for them. I'd strongly recommend this one.

    I quite like the fantasy/sci-fi genre. I hope to add some more books like that in the coming weeks. At the minute I seem to be going through a phase of 20th century American literature. I am on to Ernest Hemingway at the moment. Never read him before now.




  • Slaughterhousefive.jpg


    This is a satirical war novel - with aliens and time travel thrown in for good measure - about events in the crazy life of Billy Pilgrim.

    I thought this was novel was fabulous fun. I was laughing aloud on several occasions and Billy is a very endearing character. The themes touched upon in the book, particularly about the nature of the past, are themes I've often wondered about myself which is probably another reason why I liked this so much.

    It's not a long read and I think there's something in here for everyone.




  • That's interesting to hear she didn't like Sherlock Holmes because in the few Christie books I've read I did notice her characters criticising the stories.

    As for Revolutionary Road, it was a real eye opening book. It's about a young married couple in fifties America that are trapped in this suburban lifestyle that neither of them really want, but their fears and doubts have them trapped there. As the novel unfolds they make efforts to change their lives but the characters are so deluded that you feel despair for them. I'd strongly recommend this one.

    I quite like the fantasy/sci-fi genre. I hope to add some more books like that in the coming weeks. At the minute I seem to be going through a phase of 20th century American literature. I am on to Ernest Hemingway at the moment. Never read him before now.

    If you are doing 20th century American lit at least one Philip Roth is essential. If you liked Revolutionary Road try American Pastoral.




  • marienbad wrote: »
    If you are doing 20th century American lit at least one Philip Roth is essential. If you liked Revolutionary Road try American Pastoral.

    I don't know anything Philip Roth - but I think it would be criminal if you left the 20th American lit without reading something by Jack Keroauc...

    I am trying to think of books in the sci-fi/fantasy genre for the newcomer-ish.... Waylander by David Gemmell is an oldie but a goodie - it is the classic heroic fantasy novel. Series like Lord of the Rings are a serious commitment to read, but are worth it.

    I am going to suggest from this genre the Otherland Series by Tad Williams - they are four books in the series. It is one of the best series I have ever read and falls into the fantasy, sci-fi, futuristic, apocalyptic, horror & a few others that I can't think of at the moment.

    Thinking about it more I will also suggest the Empire Trilogy by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts. Both are very respected fantasy writers in their own right but these books are truly excellent. These are a standalone trilogy in the larger world of Feist - but it is not necessary to have read anything else of his to be able to read this trilogy. The trilogy is very political, with lots of intrigue and the world created is amazing.




  • Hemingwaysun1.jpg


    Fiesta - sometimes known as The Sun Also Rises - is a novel about a group of American and British thirtysomethings and their experiences in places such as Paris and Pamplona. There was no real plot as such. The main theme of the novel deals with the characters and their interactions with one another, and in particular the protagonist and the woman he loves.

    This was my first introduction to Hemingway and I did enjoy it. The atmosphere is well created, the bullfighting was well described (I believe Hemingway went to a lot of fights) and while the characters are not the most likeable, in fact many are self-destructive, they are believable.

    I understand that this is an important work in understanding Hemingway's style of writing. I wasn't really concentrating on that aspect of the novel so I can't really shed much light on that, other than to say I thought it was written in an effective manner. It's worth a look.

    I think I need to read some more of his works to get a better idea of him and I hope to do that. I'll try to check out some of the other suggestions made to me as well.




  • Bloomin' heck you have only 9 more books to go until you get to the forty. Are you going to keep reading some fiction or go back your usual non-fiction.




  • I intend to keep reading fiction, definitely. I haven't read much non-fiction the last couple of months though so I guess I do need to get the balance right. I'm going through this list quicker than I expected so I might pick up a long book to make things a bit interesting! :pac:




  • I intend to keep reading fiction, definitely. I haven't read much non-fiction the last couple of months though so I guess I do need to get the balance right. I'm going through this list quicker than I expected so I might pick up a long book to make things a bit interesting! :pac:

    Lord of the Rings would definitely class as a long book, if you don't count them individually.




  • ErnestHemmingway_ForWhomTheBellTolls.jpg


    My second Hemingway novel on this list, For Whom the Bell Tolls is set during the Spanish Civil War and centres around Robert Jordan, an American national working on the Republican side against the fascists, who has been assigned to link up with a small band of guerrilla fighters and blow up a strategically important bridge. The story covers the preparation and then the eventual assault.

    I thought this was a brilliant read. I very much enjoyed it. The description in the novel is fantastic, and particularly impressive when it comes to the action scenes. At times I felt I could see everything as clearly as if I were watching a film. The characters seem real too, as well as the jeopardy they face, and you get a strong sense that Hemingway knows what he's talking about (he had been a reporter during the Spanish civil war).

    As much as I enjoyed it though it's not without its faults. The romantic relationship in the novel feels a bit hokey, and one probably has to keep in mind that the story was written in 1940. Some of the text is also quite old-fashioned in its style which I believe stems from Hemingway's direct translation of Spanish. I could forgive that but was more annoyed about the censorship of swear words in the novel. For instance there are times when the word 'unprintable' is placed when characters - such as the foul-mouthed Agustin - are swearing. This would be a small quibble however.

    Probably my main annoyance was the protagonist Robert Jordan. I couldn't really warm to him and thought he treated others around him rather contemptuously for someone who required their assistance and courage. I found myself more of a fan of the guerilla leader Pablo, whom Jordan in the novel despises.

    Overall I think this is a story well worth reading. It holds up very well on the whole in this day and age and I can easily see how it would have rocked people's socks over 70 years ago.


  • Advertisement


  • GetImage?Source=BERT&Quality=WEB&Component=FRONTCOVER&EAN13=9781844085934


    Another book recommended to me on this list, The Group is a novel published in 1963 which tells the story of a group of New York women in the 1930s - largely spoilt well-off women it must be said - who are fresh out of college and who have to deal with a difficult new phase in their lives. The novel is frank about topics like sex, contraception and motherhood and caused a lot of controversy when it was first released. It was even banned in Australia.

    I had mixed views on finishing this novel. On one hand I do respect the book's honesty. For example in the second chapter there is a fairly graphic depiction of sex which must have raised quite a few eyebrows at the time. I haven't read 'Fifty Shades' or any so-called 'steamy' novels so I don't know how it compares to them, but this book doesn't shirk from portraying accurate descriptions of things.

    What I didn't really like about the book was the way it switched between the different characters. I've no problem with novels that do this but I felt with this one when McCarthy jumps back to previous characters, we find that a lot has happened to them in the meantime. In one instance a character is struggling in a chapter to decide whether or not to marry, then later when we switch back to this character we find out what she eventually decided to do. This type of thing irked me and made me feel I was only getting snippets of the character's lives rather than the key issues. Maybe this was the point, to just give a small taste of each woman's lifestyle, but I found it hard to relate to the characters when so much occurs to them that you don't experience with them.

    Some of the male characters are a bit odd too. Ranging from the comically villainous type to the unrealistically heroic type. Maybe I'm being a bit too picky there though.

    For a novel from the sixties with the themes it discusses it's impressive. On the back cover of my version there is a quote that says without The Group there would be no Sex and the City. That was almost enough to scare me away but I found the characters here more likeable.




  • 200px-CormacMcCarthy_BloodMeridian.jpg


    This is the second novel by McCarthy I've read, having read The Road a few months back. This story - like The Road - features another protagonist without a name, a teenager simply called 'The Kid', and details his experiences with a bloodthirsty gang of scalp hunters who create chaos near the border areas of the U.S. and Mexico.

    I've seen this book being hailed as one of the best books of the 20th century and 'McCarthy's masterpiece' but I wouldn't personally subscribe to that view. On the plus side, it is clearly a very well written book. McCarthy has a knack for creating atmosphere and his use of language, though often dealing with grisly moments, is beautiful to behold. There are elements of the novel that are left to the reader to decipher and it does make you think and reflect, particularly near the end.

    On the minus side of things, I just wasn't all that impressed by the bulk of the story. At times it doesn't seem to be going anywhere and it's frequently a case of lots of riding through open country, then violence, then more riding, then more violence. It felt like a bit of a slog to read at times.

    Overall I'd recommend it as a book worthy of sampling, but of the two McCarthy books I've read I personally preferred The Road.




  • 200px-CormacMcCarthy_BloodMeridian.jpg


    This is the second novel by McCarthy I've read, having read The Road a few months back. This story - like The Road - features another protagonist without a name, a teenager simply called 'The Kid', and details his experiences with a bloodthirsty gang of scalp hunters who create chaos near the border areas of the U.S. and Mexico.

    I've seen this book being hailed as one of the best books of the 20th century and 'McCarthy's masterpiece' but I wouldn't personally subscribe to that view. On the plus side, it is clearly a very well written book. McCarthy has a knack for creating atmosphere and his use of language, though often dealing with grisly moments, is beautiful to behold. There are elements of the novel that are left to the reader to decipher and it does make you think and reflect, particularly near the end.

    On the minus side of things, I just wasn't all that impressed by the bulk of the story. At times it doesn't seem to be going anywhere and it's frequently a case of lots of riding through open country, then violence, then more riding, then more violence. It felt like a bit of a slog to read at times.

    Overall I'd recommend it as a book worthy of sampling, but of the two McCarthy books I've read I personally preferred The Road.

    I loved this book ( if one can say that of such a blood thirsty tale) and the Judge is one of the most astonishing character creations of recent decades. I read it when it first came out and have read McCarthy ever since and it convinced me he was the real deal . Great to discover someone before the hype .




  • marienbad wrote: »
    I loved this book ( if one can say that of such a blood thirsty tale) and the Judge is one of the most astonishing character creations of recent decades. I read it when it first came out and have read McCarthy ever since and it convinced me he was the real deal . Great to discover someone before the hype .

    The Road was a strange book. In one way I enjoyed it and it stayed with me for a few days. But it annoyed me too much for me to call it a classic. I would be very reluctant too read another one of McCarthy's book.

    There is a great critique of The Road on Goodreads, well worth reading (although I think it is great as I agree with what it is saying:D:D)




  • 200px-Hemingriver.jpg


    Across the River and into the Trees was published in 1950 and tells the story of a 50 year-old army Colonel who reflects on his recent experiences in Venice with the young woman he loves.

    I've found that a lot of critics are not so keen on this Hemingway novel. I believe the main complaints are that it's a bit soppy and that not a lot happens. I can understand the criticism but I found I liked the book.

    I thought the character of the Colonel was quite endearing in spite of his gruff manner and I quite liked the way the story unfolded. It does have faults and the emotional dialogue can be heavy, but I didn't find it a whole lot different to the type of dialogue one finds in For Whom the Bell Tolls.

    It's not a classic novel but I found it a nice story.




  • Oldmansea.jpg


    The Old Man and the Sea was published in 1952 and tells the story of an old fisherman and his struggle with a massive fish on the open sea.

    Unlike the last book I read, this one is one of Hemingway's most popular stories. It is a simple, beautifully written tale and though not a very long story it is one that takes you through many emotions and leaves you in full sympathy with the old man and his plight.

    This is one of my favourites by Hemingway and one I highly recommend.




  • And_Then_There_Were_None_US_First_Edition_Cover_1940.jpg


    I had not planned on reading more Agatha Christie works but I was given this as a gift. It turned out to be a fun read.

    The story centres around ten people, who have in the past been involved in the deaths of others, being lured to an island by a mysterious stranger. You can imagine what happens to them when they get there.

    I felt it was a bit tough to get into at the beginning. You are bombarded with a lot of characters. I thought it got better though and while it does get a bit silly at times, it's still an enjoyable read.




  • 200px-BRIDESHEAD.jpg


    This is a story set via flashback in the 1920s about a young undergraduate who befriends a wealthy, well-off young aristocrat who takes him to his family home, Brideshead, and introduces him to the rest of his family, who will come to play a big part in his life.

    I knew Brideshead Revisited was a widely acclaimed novel and I did enjoy it. For those looking for an exciting read they might want to look elsewhere; this is a fairly easygoing story about love with an undercurrent of religion involved.

    I was impressed by the way Waugh was able to weave the various strands of the story together in a way that came across believable. I was slightly concerned the romantic element wouldn't work but I thought it was well handled. A recommended read.




  • 200px-ArchangelNovel.jpg


    Archangel is a story about a historian of Russian history named Kelso who meets a man who claims to have been present when Stalin died and claims that a very important item belonging to Stalin was taken from him at the time. This leads the historian on a chase to find this item and get to the heart of the mystery.

    My thoughts on this story would be...take an interesting concept and two of the most annoying characters you could ever encounter in a novel and throw them together and you'll get an idea of what to expect here.

    On the positive side, some of the descriptive elements are good and the story was intriguing enough to make me want to finish it.

    On the negative side however, it is quite predictable at times and gets pretty silly at certain points. My main issue though was I really didn't like the two characters who make up the bulk of the story and I really didn't care what happened to them. In the case of Kelso, it felt to me like this character was an example of an author who has fallen for his own creation and expects the reader to feel the same way. Instead, he comes across as contrived and irritating. He's a historian who is a real ladies man - because that's what the ladies all love right? - he drinks heavily, he breaks all the rules like the time he leaves a rival's conference speech early, he is a real loose cannon yadda yadda yadda. His partner in the story felt even more annoying.

    I can't recommend this novel for the above reasons.


  • Advertisement


  • 200px-1984first.jpg


    I finish off my reading log for 2012 with one of the most famous works of literary fiction - George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. It tells the story of Winston Smith's struggle to come to terms with the dystopian society of Oceania where, as the posters proclaim, 'BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU'.

    I thought this was a fantastic read. While reading I was reminded of Brave New World, which I read earlier in this log, but if pushed I think I would say I found this novel more satisfying. I liked Winston Smith as a protagonist and the themes touched upon remain very relevant in this day and age. One thing that surprised me was how beautifully written the book was.

    It's a critically acclaimed work and well worth reading if you've never experienced it.


Advertisement