Monday, 12 October 2009

Goodbye Everybody

That's the end of my year of reading dangerously. Thanks everybody for all your support! Now for my next project ... wonder what it will be?

And so farewell then, loyal readers

... as I have finished my 366th book! (I didn't manage to finish 365 by day 365, but I did manage 366 by day 366, so that's still a book a day for (one day over) a year. Thanks to David for mathematical mentoring.

I finished up with:

Lanterns and Lances by James Thurber - amusing so long as he didn't wander into word lists

Ten Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino - very enjoyable (surprisingly so as I don't normally like folk or fairy tales)

She Wasn't Soft by T. Coraghessan Boyle - kind of dark and edgy, it fulfills all the requirements of the short story (even if it was presented as a little book).

Killing the Angel in the House by Virginia Woolf - beautifully written essays and lectures. Feminism from the early days.

Oops, forgot to add this one: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume - these must have seemed radical at the time (early 1970s). Open and honest children's book (quite funny too).


Friday, 9 October 2009

Books 360 and 361

The 27th Kingdom by Alice Thomas Ellis - beautifully written with interesting characters and with humour as well, but with a disappointing ending (to me).

Bon Voyage, Mr President and Other Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - I normally avoid this author because I don't like magic realism. However the first 3 stories were enjoyable and stuck (reasonably closely) to realistic possibilities. The 4th didn't so I didn't enjoy that one.

I thought I had only 4 books to go, but David (who knows about sums) tells me that to achieve an average of one book a day, I have to read 6 by the end of tomorrow (or 5 by the end of today). Fortunately I still have a collection of very short books.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Up to book 359

Jill's Pony Trek by Ruby Ferguson - more old-fashioned but funny pony stories for girls. Worth reading by adults for the funny bits.

The Queen and I by Jay McInerney - a very short book (a Bloomsbury Quid). Very dark, about the drug and prostitution subculture in New York.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Up to book 357

The Magician's Nephew by C S Lewis: a prequel to the Narnia stories, and one which I didn't really remember. It fits in nicely when you find out who Digory turns out to be.

The Fight for Barrowby Hill by Jan Dean: a children's book and one which looks as though it was written for a specific age group. It suffers because of this, because surely a book should be written first of all because the author has a great story to tell (cf C S Lewis, above, who does have a great story to tell. Not even his Christian analogies get in the way!)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

I'm glad I don't have a column to write everyday ...

because writing about a book a day is a lot harder than reading them! Here's what I've read recently:

Tiny books courtesy of Kim - The Kiss: a Romantic Treasury of Photographs and Quotes; Women's Wit and Wisdom; The Littlest Book of Scotland; The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch; Private Habits by Ivor Cutler. Also two Disney flip books, which I'm not counting - yet!

Pandaemonium by Christopher Brookmyre (his new book - exciting, horrifying and hilarious).

Just after Sunset by Stephen King (his latest book of short stories - a great read).

Three Sketches from a Hunter's Album by Ivan Turgenev (hard-done-by peasants).

Azazel by Isaac Asimov (amusing short stories, and not really science fiction).

Day ? (the counting has gone awry) - however I'm at book 355 and I've got 5 reading days left, so that's 2 books a day to read. I can do it if the books are thin enough!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Ecclesiastes, or, The Preacher

I'm glad I read this because it has filled a gap in my amazing ignorance of the Bible. I liked the language too (King James authorised version), and it was instructive to learn that this was the source of so many of those sayings we use today eg "all is vanity", and "one generation passeth away, and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth for ever". It's not something I'm planning to read in its entirety again though.

My other book was The Kiss by Kate Chopin, which was a small selection of short stories. I'd never read this author before but her work was amazingly modern (she died in 1904). I'd like to read more of her work; the New Orleans setting is fascinating.

Day 358; book 353

Thursday, 1 October 2009

More short books

The World According to Lucy by Charles M. Schulz - I had to sympathise with Lucy, who when she asks why her little boyfriend never calls her cutie and is told "Because I don't think you're very cute," says: "I hate reasons". Sometimes I hate them too.

Birds of a Feather by Ben Okri - you have to admire the self-confidence (however misplaced) of an author who begins by saying, "It sometimes seems to me that our days are poisoned by too many words" and then goes on with too many words himself for ANOTHER 14 PAGES! Next he writes an essay on story telling. He states that, "The great essays in story-telling are done in stories themselves". Despite this he continues with his essay on story-telling (and not as a story). I might have known I wouldn't like this because on the back it said it was "inspirational" - usually a warning sign for me.

A Model by Anais Nin - ooh, er, missus! Well-written and racy, although you sometimes long for the characters just to have a nice cup of tea instead ...

Scottish Names by Dougal McClintock (the short version given away by The Scotsman) - informative and sometimes witty guide to the origins and meanings of Scottish names.

Day 357; book 351