Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Books, books, everywhere ... but what the hell should I read next?

I just finished Nicholas Nickleby, which is episodic and melodramatic, with a shiny perfect hero, doll-like heroines, daffy comic characters, warmhearted philanthropists, and dastardly villains of deepest dye.

So naturally, I loved it. I really don't understand why all the Thinking Individuals I know look down on Dickens. I mean, sure, he's sentimental, but he was agitating for social change, so his fiction resembles Social Justice propoganda. And it worked. And it inspired other writers to do the same thing, which is how we got Uncle Tom's Cabin and eventually, FINALLY, emancipation of the slaves. And yes, Dickens' stories are unrealistic, but hey! So are Gabriel Garcia Marquez's and Kurt Vonnegut's, and they seem get away with it.

So, Nicholas Nickleby, yay. But what to read next? Let's look at an updated list, with all the stuff I've read removed.

From the Rory list:

1] Daughter of Fortune, Isabelle Allende
2] Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol 1, 1884-1933
3] I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie
4] The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
5] The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition, Donald Kagan
6] Quattrocento
7] The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age
8] War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

from the BBC list:

9] Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
10] The Time Traveler's Wife
11] The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
12 ] Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernières
13] The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
14] Life of Pi
15] A Suitable Boy
16] The Shadow of the Wind
17] Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
18] The Secret History, Donna Tartt
19] The Lovely Bones

The 2015 Read Harder Challenge:

20] SwitchFlipped (Read a book from an independent press)
21] Half-Breed (Read an author who is a member of an indigenous people)
22]The Princess Bride (Read a romance novel)
23] Lays of Ancient Rome (Read collection of poems)
24] Imperial Spain, 1469-1716, J. H. Elliott (Read a book recommended by someone)
25] Go Ask Malice: A Slayer's Diary (Read a guilty pleasure)
26] I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (Read a self-help book)

and 37 other titles to be determined, one of which will be

27] The Color Purple, Alice Walker

And now, to fill out my 75 titles, additions from the 2016 Read Harder Challenge. This is a draft of my early picks, selected because they're either already on my list, or are on the Rory Gilmore reading list:

Task 3: A collection of essays
28] A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays, Mary McCarthy (Rory)

Task 4: read a book out loud to someone else

Task 7: Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel
13] The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (BBC booklist)

Task 8: Read a book originally published in the decade you were born
29] Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg (Rory)

Task 11: Read a book under 100 pages
30] The Year of Magical Thinking: A Play by Joan Didion (Rory)
The Art of War, Sun Tzu (Rory)
The Little Prince (BBC)

Task 13: Read a book that is set in the Middle East
31] Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1, Naguib Mahfouz

Task 14: Read a book by an author from Southeast Asia
32] Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Sijie (Rory)

Task 15: Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900
8] War and Peace (Rory)

Task 17: Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years
33] TBD

Task 19: Read a non-fiction book about feminism, or deals with feminist themes
34] Backlash, Susan Faludi (Rory)


The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir (Rory)

Task 20: Read a book about religion
35] The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels (Rory)

Task 23: Read a play
36] Henry IV Part I (Rory)

Task 24: Read a book about a character who has a mental illness
37] Girl, Interrupted (Rory)

I've decided to go with Girl, Interrupted, because I can get the Kindle edition right away ... and I'll probably finish it by dinner tomorrow. But I've been digging through the books in my house in New Hampshire. There are lots of titles left by the previous owners, and I found a collection of plays by Noel Coward. I'm thinking of reading one of those instead of finishing Henry IV Part One. I've only managed to slog through a couple of acts of it .... I don't know; there's just something about Shakespeare's history plays that gives me the pip.