callistahogan: (Default)
Book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Genre: Fiction
Length: 215 pp.
Grade: B

Amazon Summary: Join Douglas Adams's hapless hero Arthur Dent as he travels the galaxy with his intrepid pal Ford Prefect, getting into horrible messes and generally wreaking hilarious havoc. Dent is grabbed from Earth moments before a cosmic construction team obliterates the planet to build a freeway. You'll never read funnier science fiction; Adams is a master of intelligent satire, barbed wit, and comedic dialogue. The Hitchhiker's Guide is rich in comedic detail and thought-provoking situations and stands up to multiple reads. Required reading for science fiction fans, this book (and its follow-ups) is also sure to please fans of Monty Python, Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, and British sitcoms.

My Thoughts: I've been wanting to read this book for ages, having heard so many great things about it that it was impossible for me not to read it. Also, it's on my summer reading list and the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list, so I had even more incentive to read it. Unfortunately, this book slightly disappointed me. Not because it wasn't well-written—it was, very much so—but it just didn't... connect. I originally started reading this in hopes that I could somehow be able to pick out quotes to "analyze," but having finished reading it, I can't think of any quotes I'm able to use. So, that means that reading this book won't count as the three books I've read over the summer, even though I did read it and enjoy it.

However, like I said, this book was very well-written. I didn't find it as funny as some, nor as true to life in a sort of indirect, unmeaningful, coincidental sort of way like some others have. It was good for what it was, but it's far from being one of my favorite books in the world.

This book is incredibly hard to explain, I think. To me, at least, it's one of those books that's incredibly hard to form an opinion on. One minute, you think it's really great, the next you think it's mediocre, and then the next you wonder what the entire point of reading this book was, but on a whole, your subconscious is telling you that you enjoyed the book, but you can't pinpoint why.

'Tis confusing. Let's see if I can try and pinpoint some of this.

Firstly, I liked the writing style. It was hilarious in a dry sort of way. Not dry as in boring, but dry as in deadpanning. For example, some things would have seemed a bit more hilarious if it had been "fluffed" up, but Douglas Adams just said it as if he was saying "hey, the sky is blue" or "it's a nice day today, isn't it?" And sometimes, that was hilarious, but other times, I skipped right past it without realizing what was so funny about it. 'Course, most of the funniness (is that even a word?) came from Douglas Adams turning the science fiction cliches on its head, and I haven't read many science fiction novels at all, so... yeah, wasn't as funny as it could have been for me.

Secondly, the characters intrigued me. Especially Marvin. *giggles slightly* I don't know why, but the idea of a depressed robot amuses me so much. And the scene near the end was so cute and hilarious. That was one of the few times I actually laughed out loud during this book and I adored it. Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and the rest were also great, but Marvin was just... so CUTE. 

Oh, and I liked the idea of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I liked it when we could see the little snippets from the book. I have no clue why, but having excerpts from books in books keeps me entertained. As do emails, letters and other things like that inserted into books. 

Hmm. It turns out I liked more in this book than I thought, and if I say anything else, I probably wouldn't be able to stop, so I'll just say I liked it, although not as much as other people did and, if you can look past a few nitpicky things involving quotation marks, it was a really good book. Recommended, although not as highly as some other books I've read.

Currently Reading:
Nothing. Need to go to the library soon (preferably tomorrow), so I prolly won't be able to finish the other three books taken out from the library. But I might be able to finish one more, which will probably end up being Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.
callistahogan: (Book Addict)
Book: Possession by A. S. Byatt
Genre: Romance
Length: 605 pp.
Grade: A

Amazon Summary: Roland Michell, underpaid English research assistant, is on a search for nineteenth-century poet Randolph Henry Ash's copy of Vico, in the hopes that Ash will have written something enlightening in the margins. The book is brought up from the vaults of the British Museum, and in it Michell finds far more than Randolph Ash's thoughts on Vico. Hidden between the pages, unknown to anyone, are two rough drafts of a love letter to an unknown woman, written by Randolph Ash—a man scholars believe was eternally, faithfully married. From here on, the plot thickens, as they say, to include romance, poetry, parodies of feminist and Freudian criticism, trips to old houses and foreign countries, thefts, deceptions, and true love. Possession is a novel about literary scholarship—a hymn of praise and an attack—a book about modern romance and the lack of it. It is a novel of many voices and about the difficulty of knowing anyone's voice, even one's own. It is a magnificent read—thick and engrossing. A favorite with book clubs, this book elicits great discussions; readers either love it or hate it, but everybody has an opinion.

My Thoughts: This is the first book read for the 1% Well-Read Challenge and so far, it seems like completing this will be a piece of cake. If all of the books I read for the challenge are even half as good as Possession, I'm certain they'll be very good.

This book was a pleasant surprise. I had heard that a few people hadn't liked it, and had never really heard much about it other than a brief mention on a few LJs, but then, as I got into the book and began reading it in earnest on Monday, I began to see why it's on the list of 1001 books to read before you die. From the first very chapter, this book pulled me in and didn't let me go until I pulled out, gasping, a few minutes ago. I am so glad this is the first book I read for this challenge.

In the first chapter, we met Roland Michell, one of the "modern-day" characters that help the story along (and, obviously, I mean present-day as meaning the people living in the time period this book was published, around 1990). He is soon joined by Maud Bailey, a feminist scholar intrigued by the works of poet Christabel LaMotte. They embark on a "quest," you could say, after Roland finds two love letters tucked in Randolph Henry Ash's copy of Vico, as said in the summary above.

These two characters were the main things that kept the story running, and I adored both of them. The way Roland and Maud interacted with each other was very well-portrayed, and I enjoyed how they worked together. Roland and Maud took a back seat, you could say, to the poets, Randolph and Christabel, and their story, but in the end, I felt like I grew to know them as well as Randolph and Christabel. 

Unlike the last book I read, A Thousand Splendid Suns, this book was predominantly geared toward the plot and, like the second to last book I read, The Name of the Wind, a lot of what happens in the book is centered around the past. The "unearthing" of the past is handled in a different way—in this book, it's through various letters, poems, journals, and books, and in The Name of the Wind, the main character was telling his story, but in both ways, the story moved along quickly, and it never seemed boring. 

I do have to say that I enjoyed the retelling of the story through letters, poems, and other literary tools a bit better than the oral retelling of The Name of the Wind. I enjoyed reading the letters of Randolph and Christabel—through them, I learned to truly care about those two characters, and grew to know how they thought and why they thought it in a great way. I also got the opportunity to see things from other characters' perspectives, from their journals and thoughts, and that gave another level to the story.

Pretty much everything in this book kept me engaged. There were some things I didn't quite like, such as the oddness of A. S. Byatt making every single prominent female in her story a lesbian, or at least a character thought to be a lesbian. That sort of jarred me out of the story a bit, making me wonder why she didn't just have one or two characters thought to be a lesbian instead of every single prominent female, but... what can you do? No book is perfect, and this book was intriguing enough even with those faults. I enjoyed the plot, the characterization, the structure... nearly everything.

There are a lot of things I want to discuss but don't have time to, because I'm reeling about what happened near the end of the book, so I'll probably write a post in the morning about some more spoilery stuff placed beneath a cut. If people felt like discussing the last thirty pages or so with me, of course...
callistahogan: (Books)
I am a shameless book addict.

Whenever I come across a good book that people have recommended to me, I can't help immediately wanting to go out and buy it. Whenever I see challenges to get you to read more, I jump at it. I've already joined the [profile] 50bookchallenge, which is already going quite well—I expect I'll have reached my goal by the end of the summer—but I'm always interested in taking up new challenges. So, when I came across this, I couldn't help jumping at the opportunity.

The rules for this challenge are really quite simple: All you have to do is read 10 books from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list from May 1, 2008 to February 28, 2009. Those ten books are roughly 1% of the list, hence the name 1% Well-Read Challenge.

It's so hard to choose books from that list, because you know that if they're on the list of books you should read before you die, they're bound to be incredibly well-written. However, these are my first ten choices:

1. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - This is also one of the books I need to choose from for my summer reading list, so this is one book that I'm hopefully going to be able to read. I'm really looking forward to it, and expect this book to be amazing.
2. Vanishing Point by David Markson
3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
4. Atonement by Ian McEwan
5. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
6. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
7. The Human Stain by Philip Roth
8. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
9. The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie
10. Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq

And here are my alternatives, in case my library doesn't have them or if I decide to drop them:

11. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
12. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
13. The Untouchable by John Banville
14. Silk by Alessandro Baricco
15. The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald
16. Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker
17. Amongst Women by John McGahern
18. Possession by A. S. Byatt
19. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
20. The Afternoon of a Writer by Peter Handke

Of course, I could easily read every single one of these books and still want to read more of this list, or I could even drop all of my planned books to read and start from scratch. This is just a basic "outline" of the books I want to read. If I actually do read them is still to be determined, though...


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