"When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around"


By Shanathalas
I can't remember if I made any New Years resolutions, but if I had, I'm sure "read more books" was one of them. I use to read like mad, but over the past few years my reading time has dwindled. Moving to Vancouver where I first had no work and now have a job with considerable commuting time, had given me the opportunity to get back into reading.

I will update this post each time I finish a novel this year. I am going to write about my impressions of novels, but not the details, just in case any of my reading few plan to read any of these stories and do not wish to have their enjoyment ruined by spoilers.

Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
(October 2006)

"Tess" had been sitting on my bookshelf for about 15 years, so I thought it was high time I actually read this book. I had seen the bbc movie in 1998, but couldn't remember that much, except how terribly sad it was. This was not an easy book to read, in two ways. The first is Hardy's biblically and classically-laden high english, the second is how hard it is to read all the horrible circumstances poor Tess is forced to endure. It is a very moving book and I really felt Tess's plight. The book offers an excellent insite into the desparate living conditions of the rural poor in Victorian England, particularly for woman. I am glad I finally read this book, but it is very depressing and I feel I need to now find a light and uplifting novel to restore me to a happier mood.

Appropriate accompanying music: "White Flag", Dido
Etoiles: 4/5

Voyage of the Dawntreader by CS Lewis
(September 2006)

This was not actually a reading but a re-reading. I had read this short novel when I was a child, and it has always remained my favourite of the Narnia Chronicles. Though I had always looked back on this book fondly, I couldn't actually remember much of the story, apart from the ship itself. As moving to Vancouver reunited me with many of the books I left at home with mum, I thought I would give it a re-read (something I rarely ever do). It took me only a few days to go through this story again. Having just read Stardust, I could recognise how much Gaiman had borrowed from CS Lewis (something he freely acknowledges in his notes in Stardust). The simplicity and originality in this fantasy from a more innocent time is comforting. Its like reading the adventures of Lucy, Edmund, Eustace and Caspian as if one was sitting in a sunny window, with a nice cuppa tea and a comfy blanket.

Appropriate accompanying music: "Enigma Variations", Edward Elgar
Etoiles: 3.5/5

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
(September 2006)

As a rule, I try not to read the same author consecutively. I am trying to vary my reading material, and try not to "use up" good writers too quickly. But having just read the very long American Gods, I thought the shortness of Stardust looked appealing. This is a beautifully written fairy tale with great characters and a terrific pace. With so much fantasy having been written over the past 100 years, it is hard to find something original, but Gaiman pulls it off. The language is perfect for visualising the story; so much so that I feel almost as if I had watched a movie rather than having read a book. In fact they are currently filming the movie version of this story. But I have my doubts that the movie could be anywhere as good as the film.

Appropriate accompanying music: "Magik", Hallucinogen
Etoiles: 4.5/5

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
(July - September 2006)
It is surprising that it has taken me quite sometime to start reading the novels of Neil Gaiman, as I had read and thoroughly enjoyed the Sandman graphic novels many years ago. I did get to Good Omens last year, as I am such a Pratchett fan. But I finally got to American Gods as it was my "flightbook" for our long planetrip from Sydney to Vancouver at the end of June. Even though this managed to capture my interest from only the first couple of pages, it took me several months to read, probably owing to the fact that its a bloody big book, an unfortunately, about 100 pages too long. I found this story about shadow and his adventures with Mr Wednesday very readable, particularly as I have studied mythology and find it facsinating. But this novel suffers from a common fault of books of modern times: a poorly realised ending. The climax is no where as tangible as the first 3/4s of the book is, and after such promise, it is quite a disapointment.

Appropriate accompanying music: "The End", The Doors
Etoiles: 3/5

8 comments so far.

  1. Hulles 11:45 AM
    Thanks for reminding me of Tess. I now plan to reread it soon. It is just depressing enough for a gloomy October. And it's nice to join your "reading few."
  2. evelyn 2:02 PM
    I agree with American Gods, I really enjoyed the first three-quarters then it just fizzled out.
  3. Kass 2:11 PM
    I love how you put accompanying music to your book reviews, fantastic. I haven't read Stardust (nor even seen a copy) but I have read American Gods. It took me a good few months to get through that book as I was book hopping and generally not that interested at first, but it is well worth reading. As for Good Omens = Genius. Have you read Neverwhere? If you haven't, READ IT. Seriously.

    Oh! And have you read Terry Pratchett's "The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents"? I really enjoyed that one too :)
  4. Kass 2:22 PM
    PS: Your husband has just found out I'm mental. Did you not inform him earlier? lol.
  5. Beppie 5:16 AM
    Heh, if you think Tess is depressing (and it is) then be very wary before you tackle Jude the Obscure-- also an excellent book, and probably the single most depressing novel I have ever read.
  6. Hulles 12:37 PM
    I enjoyed Neverwhere as well, and also recommend it. I find myself thinking about the book every once in a while; it seems to embed itself into one's consciousness. In this way it's similar to Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, which I also strongly recommend.
  7. Shanathalas 1:21 PM
    Yes, I actually really want to read Jude, cause then I can see the movie with Christopher Ecclestion.
  8. Beppie 2:59 PM
    Ah, a fine reason for reading any novel. ;) And as an added bonus, David Tennant has a cameo appearance too.

    Just be warned that you will require major cheering up after both movie and book.

Something to say?