“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.” – Lewis Carroll
I’ve reached the point in my recaps when I began writing book reviews of some of the books I was reading from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. The recaps for these will generally be shorter as a longer analysis is available elsewhere (and I will have additional links to those longer reviews) and they will generally focus on why I chose to read a certain book or what I was looking forward to about it (beyond crossing it off the list, though admittedly, that’s the only thing that I look forward to with some of them).
Since these recaps will be shorter, I will include more of them on a post when they occur. I have never read exclusively for my book reviews, so there are some books here and there that I read without the intent of writing an extensive review (in fact, some of the posts I continue to write for this reading challenge are on the shorter side rather than full reviews). Additionally, I had to take a break from my blog during the whirlwind year that was graduate school and working towards my MA degree. That proved to be particularly helpful in my progress on this reading challenge as many required reading titles showed up on the 1001 Books list. Basically, the recap posts from here on out will be less like what’s come before. It also means I’m getting closer to the end of these recap posts and soon my posts on my 1001 Books reading challenge will only be reading updates. Hooray for making progress.
Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I don’t recall as much about this story as other works by Dostoyevsky (of which Crime and Punishment remains my one of my all-time favorite novels). I think it’s because it’s one of his shorter works and it was so heavily political; it was more a treatise than a story. I do remember that I was on vacation while reading it. I get so much reading done on long road trips (thank heavens I don’t get carsick). Actually… that might also be a reason why I don’t recall more of the details; vacations are too much fun for such heavy reading.
Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass to my niece when she was a baby. Granted, I only got through a few pages at a time and she was more interested in the pictures but it was always one of my favorite things to do when she stayed over. To this day she loves story time (though I don’t know that she’s particularly fond of Alice in Wonderland; lately we’ve been working on Baum’s Oz books but not as often as we used to).
Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
I finally went ahead and read this book after starting Mad Men and enjoying their depiction of the “scandalous” book being passed around. I didn’t get much further through Mad Men than those early episodes at the time (they expired on our On Demand but they’re sitting in my Netflix queue for a later date). I remember being impressed with the depth of the themes themselves considering so much is made of the sex aspect of the novel. I enjoyed the prose more than I had anticipated as well (again, as I work my way through more Thomas Hardy, my appreciation for others’ writing increases); I look forward to reading more of Lawrence’s work from the 1001 Books list.
The first of the books from the list that I read specifically to review for my blog, I was interested in Middlesex because I had enjoyed The Virgin Suicides several years earlier.
I had heard so many good things about this book before finding and buying a copy at our library’s annual book sale. I was not disappointed.
After having had my Dickens seminar senior year of college, I was still on a bit of a Dickens kick and Hard Times was significantly shorter than David Copperfield or Oliver Twist. I was also trying to work more classics into my reviews. I had to re-read it in graduate school as one of Dickens’ more overlooked texts (it was actually for a class where we read famous nineteenth century writers’ less-famous works). It was nice to have my review as a reference of my first impressions to compare with reading it under more specific circumstances and in another context.
Another book I read in an attempt to add more classics, I didn’t enjoy Madame Bovary as much as I’d thought I would.
This was one where I’d put off watching the movie until I’d had a chance to read the book and it had been sitting on my shelf for a while before I finally went ahead and read it. I still haven’t gotten around to seeing the movie but the book was great. I find I do that a lot; I put off watching cinematic classics until I read the books they’re based on only to neglect watching the films once I know the story. I’ll have to work on remedying that my raiding the movie shelves at my local library.
Having read the second book in Atwood’s Maddaddam trilogy with a while to wait before the next book was due out, I needed my Atwood fix and The Handmaid’s Tale is probably her most famous novel so it was only logical I not only read it but review it for my blog.
This was one where I felt like I cheated a bit. I borrowed the audiobook from the library and listened to it in the car on my commute to and from work. It was before I got my adapter kit to be able to listen to my iPod in the car and I was getting sick of listening to the same CDs over and over (I also loath fiddling with the radio to find something else to listen to, especially when driving). I enjoyed the story itself, particularly the revelations at the end, but it solidified my distaste for audiobooks. I like them as an aid when I’m struggling to get through a particular text or when I’m pressed for time/concentration (audiobooks came in really handy for grad school when I had about four books a week to read and most of my reading time spent on public transportation where distractions abound). On my own, though, I’d rather read a text at a pace I set.