Challenge: 50 Books discussion

Finish Line 2012! > Aubrey's 50 in 2012

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message 1: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) I was successful last year, despite severe procrastination. Let's do this again.

message 2: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 1.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

First one done!

The book is always better than the movie. In this case, movies. Now, I watched both the Swedish film and the American remake, and they were both excellent renditions. But they both cannot compare to the original novel. Both movies covered the riveting plot in the bare bones sense, while the novel wonderfully fleshed out both the story and the characters. It made the dive into the intricate and fascinating world the book creates all the better. It's gratifying to see that mass popularity doesn't always mean lack of quality. This is definitely a series that you can sink your teeth into, and it's a shame that the author is no longer with us to give us more of his talent at engaging story lines and characters as heart wrenchingly beautiful as Lisbeth Salander.

An excellent start, if I do say so myself.

message 3: by Aubrey (last edited Jan 11, 2012 05:33PM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 2.

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

Most appreciated reread. Ever.

I'm so very glad that I had realized that I had been in neither the right mood nor the right mind to appreciate this lovely gem when I first read it. Otherwise my previous one star rating would have continued its miserable existence, without much insight to its reasons. I have never grinned so much while reading something, nor laughed out loud so frequently. Yes, it is the soap opera of soap operas. But it is so delightful and witty and Elizabeth is the most entertainingly heartfelt person to ever relate to. Not to mention Mr. Darcy, whose complete turnaround was the most adorably efficiently thing I have ever seen. It was like 'Constant Wife', but with a happier ending. And yes, I have a guilty pleasure for happy endings, so long as their progress is done well and without ridiculous amounts of emotional frippery. I have to pay a certain due to the less loved characters, as the joy of a happy ending can only be matched by the satisfaction of seeing such characters getting their comeuppances. And boy did Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine get what they deserved. I'm suddenly tempted to reread everything that I gave a low rating. Well. Maybe just the ones whose average review is rather high. Or at least the ones with no satisfactory review to explain my decision. Gah. Never mind that. Too pleased with myself for deigning to reread this.

Four star jump in rating is nothing to sneeze at. Let all my rereads be this successful! Leaving some success for my first time reads, of course.

message 4: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 3.

Schindler's List - Thomas Keneally

A long time coming, this book.

This one bridges the gap between reality and fiction in a way matched by few. The circumstances of extraordinary cruelty are only equaled by the unimaginable courage it took to defy it. It's fortunate that the account is written in such a straightforward and clear manner, for the depth of emotion in some of the scenes described is so vast that any obvious attempt of connecting the reader to the emotions would be trivial, if not horribly superficial and presumptive. There need be no high flown words nor creative turns of phrases to convey the grief and gratitude felt by the people within the pages. They have their stories laid out here in an effort to show others what happened in as informative a manner as possible, and if there is emotional output, then the reader is human, nothing more, nothing less. Overall it is the story of the right man at the right time, a happenstance so unlikely and so amazing that fate must be considered, at least for a moment. It should be mentioned that the movie in contrast played heavily on the emotions, a haunting score playing throughout while certain scenes were embellished in order to draw the readers fully into the tragedy of it all. These changes were acceptable in movie form because the aim was towards making a work of art out of a story, whereas the book sought to inform as much as possible. Like every other case of an excellent book made into an excellent film, I recommend experiencing both; the differences between the two are just as valuable as the similarities, and taking the time for both is worth it.

Next is a less lauded book by the same author. Hopefully the quality carries through.

message 5: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 4.

The Playmaker - Thomas Keneally


Well. Not exactly the kind of thing that I'm interested in. I will admit that it was a joy watching the play come together in the midst of the wild outback situation filled with criminal lags and wild natives. As well as watch Ralph figure out his situation and his feelings during the course of putting together of the performance. I learned a great deal about the initial stages of Britain sending its criminals to Australia, the difficulties entailed as well as how the great physical and temporal divide affected both Marine and criminal. So, a decent read.

It was okay. Fair warning for me when picking out books solely for fulfilling a contest, rather than fulfilling an interest.

message 6: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 5.

Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood

It went as well as I could have hoped.

**spoiler alert** I have quite a few Margaret Atwood books on my TBR shelf. This is the first that I've read, and as such this is the reading that will determine what I will expect from her writing. My overall impression: deceptive. First hundred pages or so, a nice little historical fiction with dashes of brutality and psychology, along with the faintest tinge of madness. Nothing unexpected from past viewpoints in that era. Halfway through, things start to shift. Don't look at Grace for the telltale signs though; she doesn't give up her secrets till the very end, if you can't already gather what's happening from her memory gaps and her strong connection to her childhood friend. Dr. Simon Jordan on the other hand. What a piece of work. Fondling the maids, savaging the landlady, not to mention having his daydreams that so easily slip into fantasies of sexual violence. I would have to say that he speeds up the pace of the novel dramatically; the future of this psychological journey is no longer certain, as who can say how the doctor will react to the patient's revealings? Nothing happens, but the thoughts of what could have happened are undeniably intriguing. And Grace. Her viewpoint really isn't all that telling. Who knows how much of Mary Whitney's has bled into her own by the time Dr. Jordan is the latest to want her story. The very definition of an unreliable narrator, when there's another soul twisting the words down to suit its covert needs. Overall, I can say that I wasn't disappointed, and need not worry that adding other books by the author was a waste. I'll definitely have to pay attention while reading; I was startled at how I nearly skimmed over some particularly brutal passages of a character's point of view. Tricky tricky. This should be fun.

Yaay. I can look forward to her other ones. Awesome.

message 7: by Diane (new)

Diane | 53 comments Love Margaret Atwood! The Blind Assassin and The Handmaid's Tale are my favorites.

message 8: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) Diane wrote: "Love Margaret Atwood! The Blind Assassin and The Handmaid's Tale are my favorites."

Yaaay. I plan to read The Handmaid's Tale this year, and am very much looking forward to it.

message 9: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 6.

The Book of Disquiet - Fernando Pessoa

A subtle reminder of where my life can lead if I'm not too careful.

A trifecta of absolute favorites? Well, not favorites. Existence definers, then. I'll have to say though, this self discovery wasn't nearly as enjoyable as it was with Of Human Bondage or The Magic Mountain. I'd turn a page, and there was one of my innermost thoughts, laid out on the page in all its proud solitude. Solitude. It takes one intimate with this word and all its facets of life to appreciate this book. The author created an entire world of characters in himself, seeing no journey more important than that of the one into oneself. I have not created my own host of fellow souls, but I am intimately familiar with the ever present malaise, the hesitance toward human interaction, the constant worry over ones reputation with others (strangers on the streets to valued friends to all levels of knowing). Ever present dreaming, ever present distraction, ever present evaluation alongside analysis of the self. Proclaiming the useless of all, yet never making the final step. Dreaming of the novel yet knowing that the novel will never happen so long as the familiar remains itself. Playing mental games to deal with the thinking, the feeling, the hopes and desires suffocated in a soul with myriad reasons for not chasing them. What is the cause of this? What chemical pattern of brain influenced by the combination of genes sinks the self down into introversion, into deep safe waters, always craving yet disdaining yet loving yet loathing the concept and existence of the sun. Who knows. I have not gone as deep as Fernando Pessoa though, and I would have to say that this is better. I don't envy his existence. I see what he has written and can claim multitudes of passages as original thoughts, made by myself upon analysis of our similar existences. There is a quote that says loneliness conveys the sorrow of being alone, while solitude expresses the joy. I look at this book, twenty years of solitude, and I see no solution beyond that of a mindset that I am unwilling to embrace. Falling back on religion is not something I plan on doing anytime soon. Nor will I turn the pain of loneliness into pleasure. I am not so vindictive against humanity as of yet. This book defines a patch of my soul, but I will not let that patch define me; reading this is just another milestone in my path of figuring out my self, and how to allow myself to live as I desire. A wake up call, of sorts. It will be worth rereading if I ever start sinking into this train of thought; it'll definitely be a sign that I need a change, a vacation of such. I haven't yet lost the appreciation of the novel, and I'll be using this book as a reminder of what can happen if I ever do so.

Yes...definitely a lonely topic. Very effective though. Well. Enough of that. On to the next!

message 10: by Aubrey (last edited Jan 24, 2012 12:45AM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 7.

The Waves - Virginia Woolf

I enjoyed that a lot more than I thought I was capable of. There's hope for me yet.

What is that quote, that one that says that you cannot read some books, you can only reread them. Here is one. Rampant poetry that you ride, crest in and crest out of the waves of words that flow in such a way that one sentence is one of many, a social construct like the bees and the birds flocking in the sky. Fluidity does little justice to this book. One word does not exist without all the rest, and it is better to float through the sentences rather than tear them down and open into some semblance of meaning. Reread to your pleasure until the meanings flow through without excessive force on your part, otherwise they'll drip through your fingers as fast as thought. Oh Bernard, you and your phrases, ones that at the end did not show your friends to the world in the way that they have melded together and to you. They cannot convey Neville's love, Susan's hate, Louis' past lives, Jinny's aesthetics, Rhoda's water, your story. Virginia herself may not have accomplished it, for who can say they have compared and contrasted between these pages and her mind. We do get a small insight though. And that is worth everything.

Really looking forward to Orlando now. This kind of fluid text combined with fluid sexuality. What's not to love? Have to get up my next book up first though. I'm on a roll.

message 11: by Aubrey (last edited Jan 26, 2012 02:10AM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 8.

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

Wow. Just. Kazuo. I love your stuff. I love you even more after this.

**spoiler alert** Sucker punch. Just. You start off with recollections of this school, and it takes on this tone of Harry Potter. No magic of course, just a lot of kids with varying teachers and no real parental presence. Classes. Games. Sales. It clears up later, the lack of parents. But in the beginning pages it's like growing up again in that kind of educational environment, the shifting friendships, the fads, the rumors, the topics all either avoid or joke about because it's what you're supposed to do. Not to mention the silent fury at those who break the rules invisible to all the teachers but plain as blood on the wall to the students. I remember those times. But all throughout you can sense this idyllic bubble being stretched, squeezed, as more and more facts pin slip through the membrane, every additional one coming close to bursting it. And the bursting. It's not that mind blowing, taken out of context, really. Clones are a reality this day and age. I've been hearing about them and all the ethical quandaries that could result out of advancements in the field for as long as I can remember. I suppose I can thank my bioengineering major for that. But it's so different, being immersed in the world and taking only bits and pieces of the entire picture granted, and suddenly it's thrust upon you. The reality of Kathy and Tommy and Ruth and all those others who were Hailsham students. And that shadowy presence of so many years of these arrangements of donations and carers, and knowing that that was the best that it was ever going to be. Knowing that the arrangements will probably not last much longer. And the weight of it. The unspoken tales of those beings considered soulless, beings frightening to those who were not bred for a single, augmentative purpose. Safe to say, this book sucks you in and crafts you this world, this world so normal to us and such a facade in the end. I have to say, I prefer this type of science fiction to others. I mean, you have to classify it as SF, with the clones and what not. But this shows a possible future not filled with overextended technology and aliens and all those ridiculous outer space tropes. This is a warning. I should be thankful for my ethics class; the alternatives caused by the lack of it are so easily slipped into, and there's no telling how horrific it would have to get for something to change.

Needless to say, I was very impressed. I love it when authors go above and beyond the call of duty. Too often I'm let down. This is a very nice change. Off to find more!

message 12: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 9.

If Not Now, When? - Primo Levi

Going on.

This in many ways was a breath of fresh air in Holocaust literature; reflective of the horrors yet focusing more on WWII itself and all the other things that were happening to the Jews outside of the camps. It was nice learning about the partisans and the underground survivors, and how Italy drew all the Jews from everywhere in preparation for a new life. In a way, it was a period that I already knew a lot about from previous literature, but delivered in a different way, focusing on a different perspective. It was also surprisingly balanced for a book by a Holocaust survivor; Levi didn't sink too deeply into despair, or condemn everything for the rest of time for what happened. His style of writing is very straightforward, and spends just as much time on the good as on the bad. Surprisingly pleasant, as well as informative.

Yep. And now to read a book from the enemy perspective. Fun.

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Aubrey (Korrick) 10.

The Kindly Ones - Jonathan Littell

Well, it's been a while. For shame. I'm still ahead though, knew that my buffer would be a good investment.

**spoiler alert** Madness. Despicably disgustingly amazingly crafted madness. The ability of authors to write out these scenarios, diving into and drowning in the minds of the most horrific human beings imaginable, without completely losing their minds astounds me sometimes. Maximilian Aue is just a byproduct of this whole history, if you can believe it. He starts out with horrific tendencies, to be sure: incest from an extremely young age, coprophilia, murderous inclinations. And then comes the war and its horrible mesh of insane procedures combined with genocide in the name of a logic that only exists in minds blinded by 'the bigger picture'. The motto of the war? It's someone else's responsibility. Every bit of it. And the sheer idiocy of it: setting out to wipe out entire races while simultaneously saving them for an efficient work force? The entire war effort of the Germans degenerated into a paradox along these lines; at the end it became nothing more than an atrocious mess of confusion and futile attempts at maintaining order, and above all rampant killing. You look at Dr. Aue, and you look at a microcosm that contains a good deal of the horrors. The thing is, even he wasn't enough of a monster to fully appreciate them; the war machine around him combined with his bullet to the brain tormented his conscience into complete insanity. One of the more completely fucked up characters of literature. You have to appreciate the detail of the book; it's so easy to sink into the world described from every aspect of cultural/political/societal context. Of course the sick taste of madness never fully leaves the pages; the aim of the book is not to leave you comfortable. Yes, quite a bit of this book will turn your stomach. But if you condemn it solely because of that, you're missing the entire point that Germany in WWII was not a nice place. It would sicken you then, so there's no point if it doesn't sicken you now.

One of those books where you read the last hundred pages or so at a frantic pace with a slightly sick, slightly impressed feeling in your stomach. I can't be the only one who feels that sometimes. Now. Let's retreat to calmer waters, although Ulysses on the horizon begs to differ.

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Aubrey (Korrick) 11.

Island - Aldous Huxley

I keep getting these five stars and it's absolutely lovely.

I'm on a roll. Or rather I've finally figured out how to find lots books that I'll love. So many five stars, and it's only February. Anyways. This book is like a savory meal that is extremely good for you. Or any activity that is rewarding in all the right ways. Hardin's 'Tragedy of the Commons' comes to mind, or more a massive extension on its logic into a world where that fully accepts it. Will brings enough cynicism into the utopia to put up a good fight, but his acceptance and appreciation was inevitable. His main issue was jealousy; from this stems his desire to bring the place down to the level that he has been forced into acclimatizing to for his entire life. You can't keep that attitude up for long though under these circumstances. At least, I definitely wouldn't be able to. And oh Huxley. He took his amazingly keen analysis of human nature and applied it to success, rather than mindless continuous as he did in 'Brave New World'. 'Brave New World' is more inevitable. But oh I wish this story would come to pass. In some way, some form, somehow. Far after I'm dead, that's for sure. The world is too bogged down by those who don't see the logic and genius reasoning behind all this. Of course there are probably flaws that I don't see, ones that inspire contempt and disgust from those who have also read. It's a shame, really. I can't see any reason to dim the brilliance of this book in order to acknowledge its imperfections. It's again like Hardin says. People are so used to rejecting any imperfect reform that comes around, in favor of maintaining the status quo. Perhaps it's a bit much to apply it to book reviews. But hey, I love this book. And I get to apply recent learning. I love being able to do that.

Wheeee. Still need to get in more pages tonight. Let's do this.

message 15: by Aubrey (last edited Apr 10, 2012 07:10PM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 12.

The Bone People - Keri Hulme

Language master here.

** spoiler alert ** 4.5/5
A rare mix of characters and languages and emotions indeed. Gripping. Kerewin is one of my all time favorite characters; she's everything I am and so much more. The talent and the energy and the drive. Simply beautiful. I can't forgive Joe though. I can't. I don't see any justification for his violence. Is this how male's get? Is this how their logic works? It has no place in society, whatever their excuses and reasoning and past horrific experiences may be. What he did to Simon was unforgivable, and the way the book kept pushing them together was unbearable. No one should go through that much torture and horde the blame for themselves. Moving on though. The story builds and builds and then the ending. Hardly satisfying, especially given all the hinting and foreshadowing. It was all too easy, really. A happy family reunion, after all that? Unlikely. The flow of words was nice, I have to admit. The Maori language has a certain running quality that makes the sprinkling through tolerable, almost pleasant, despite the lack of understanding. So, a four star. I don't agree with all of it. But I can't deny its unique beauty.

The Man Booker list hasn't failed me yet. Onto yet another book from the 1000 books to read before you die!

message 16: by Mekerei (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments I tried to read The Bone People back in 1985 - mainly because I was doing my OE, I was homesick and it was a book about HOME (didn't see many of those in England in pre-internet days).

I was too young to appreciate it. Reading your review has made me want to read it again. If you are curious about what the Maori means in the story heres a link to a Maori Dictionary

message 17: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) Yay, I'm glad my slightly rantish review made you want to read it again. It's a bit difficult to tell that I really like the book from how much I complain about it, but it's definitely there.
Also, thanks for the link. I'll have to go through the book again with that in hand. It's such a lilting language, I wouldn't mind picking up a few of the terms.

message 18: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 13.

The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov

Another classic under my belt that I enjoyed. Sweet.

This book was so much fun. Really, it's been too long since I've been able to say that. And of course it would be Russian. That combination of comical absurdity and grave circumstances is unmatched by any other culture of literature. And what more fit character is there for such a setting than Satan himself? Devilishly good fun, no pun intended. Yes, there were people who died, and a an even larger number who survived but suffered unneedlessly due to the activities. Lots of psychological repercussions there. But the ending was heartwarming and the henchmen were the most beautifully random things and Woland was the archetype of the highly menacing yet extremely entrancing Prince of Darkness. Not to mention the fact that Margarita was fantastic. I love it when people know full well that they're making a deal with the devil, but do it so well that they come out on top. Simply marvelous. If there's a movie adaptation, I have to watch it, for the cat's antics if nothing else. I also liked the alternative retelling of Pilate's story; it was much more logical and thus much more enjoyable than its biblical counterpart, but I suppose that's a given. Nonetheless, it was good. As was all of the book. Definitely entertaining, and very demonstrative of the madness of corruption. It helped that it explicitly showed how many are chewed up in the wake of the success of a chosen few. A sober lesson delivered in a very entertaining manner. Very nice.

Next up is some not so classical literature, but it looks entertaining nonetheless.

message 19: by Susan (new)

Susan (Chlokara) | 650 comments Aubrey wrote: "13.

The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov

Another classic under my belt that I enjoyed. Sweet.

This book was so much fun. Really, it's been too long since I've ..."

This book is on my TBR list. Thanks to you review, I think I'll move it up a notch or two.

message 20: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) Susan wrote: "This book is on my TBR list. Thanks to you review, I think I'll move it up a notch or two."

Awesome :D

message 21: by Aubrey (last edited Mar 01, 2012 12:24PM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 14.

Zoo City-Lauren Beukes

I was somewhat entertained at least.

** spoiler alert ** 3.5/5

Well. I won't deny the fact that I didn't expect to love it. It may be that the recent trend of reading classics has left me suspicious of anything modern. Unfair, I know. But my reasons for this particular rating are sound enough for me. The writing was pretty typical: caustic wit, descriptive passages, hints at the unknown until they are dragged into the light. You know. But it didn't help that I had the overwhelming urge to reread 'The Golden Compass' during the first half of the book and the fervent desire to rewatch 'Ghost' during the second. Because that's essentially what the main creative sparks were driven with. That and the whole African music scene, which I didn't understand much of; bit difficult to enjoy pop references when you can't tell what's real and what's fiction. The book would be a plain three star if it wasn't for the interjections of reality between chapters: spam email, news articles, excerpts from scientific articles, even the webpage of an IMDB style movie article. Those were refreshing, and indicated some real thought into the universe. If only the main framework wasn't so obviously inspired. And the ending wasn't the greatest either. I didn't see any mention of a sequel in the book itself, but I think it could do with one, if only to give the author a chance to expand the universe a bit more with ideas of their own. And avoid having that ending being the end.

And now as a change of pace, some nonfiction.

message 22: by Susan (new)

Susan (Chlokara) | 650 comments What are you reviewing, Aubrey?

message 23: by Aubrey (last edited Mar 02, 2012 02:03AM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) Oh man. That was fail. Thanks for catching that.

message 24: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 15.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope - William Kamkwamba

I fully admit to having a penchant for heartwarming stories of technological prowess. So bias. But hey, it's well deserved bias, you have to admit.

** spoiler alert ** Uplifting, inspiring, astounding. They all pale in comparison to the reality, and it is such a rare opportunity to be able to say that. There was so much standing in William's way. He could have been satisfied with his small successes and not thought about much larger dreams. He might have become discouraged by the ridicule and setbacks, given up on the project when it was only halfway there. There was a huge chance of him simply dying before his idea ever got off the ground. It took an amazing combination of persistence, effort, and assistance from his friends and family to even raise the windmill; it took complete strangers to show his accomplishment to the world. The rate at which his success took off after so many years of painful trial and error was well deserved. Those are the facts of the matter. For the book itself, it reminded me of books of my childhood, with simple language and straightforward recounting of events. Although I don't think as a child I would have understood all the technology that went into the William's work, so I can be grateful to my college courses in physics and electrical engineering in that respect. It was funny though, seeing this book surrounded by thick textbooks that were surely much more dense and much less enjoyable. The library sorting system is funny that way on occasion. But back to the book. I especially enjoyed the mention of the TED conferences, whose videos are always extremely interesting as well as technologically innovative. I'm going to have to go find the videos that involved William; seeing him up there in front of a big crowd that fully appreciates his efforts and fully understands the reasons for his presentation difficulties will be a delight.

There's hope people. Take it or leave it. Now, conspiracy time.

message 25: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 16.

The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco

I feel like I should reread the book in order to get a clearer view of the rating. But that'd be overkill.

I have never been so undecided as to what a rate a book. The oscillation from three to four stars was dizzying, and made worse by the fact that I felt that a 3.5 would be a cop out concerning this particular novel. The writing was a mix of excellent logical processes and long trains of theological meanderings. I'd find the words blurring before my eyes when the author kept up his lists for too long, or when one of the characters was especially verbose on religious concerns. At least I have some familiarity with the Bible and its related texts, or I would have been completely lost. It was odd, though. It seemed almost that the author planned it that way, as detective monk William of Baskerville would give insights into how ridiculous the whole concept of religion though. This ridiculousness was very apparent in the debates over laughter, heresy, and the differences between the countless denominations. So perhaps it was intended. Made for some very boring passages, I will admit. But the flashes of common sense and brilliant passages of thinking were enough to tide me over. I only wish more of the book was like that. But I must say, blatant inspiration is blatant. It's been a while since I've read the Sherlock Holmes books, so I'll be modeling my observations after my more recent watching of the BBC series (unorthodox, I know, but it illustrates my point). The overwhelming powers of observation and subsequent deduction, the use of drugs to ameliorate thinking, the meditative states that heightened these neurological processes to a sharp focal point, and especially the final relationship between William and the revealed villain. That heady mix of moral antagonism and intellectual respect was very, very familiar. It's a shame that it didn't last, the intelligent state of mind at any rate. William's novice had only flashes of insight when in the presence of his mentor, and the manuscript he writes shows how far back he has slipped into the comfort of religious ignorance. He saw the sense of writing down what happened, at any rate. And his discomfort with his state of mind in view of his memories shows that he isn't completely resigned to the sheep state of blind faith. But that doesn't really matter. What matters is that I have a couple more books by this author to get through, and the reading should be interesting if they are as filled with convoluted and contrasting passages as this one.

Yeah. Um. I'm hoping the next book causes less mental debate. Going through Ulysses is giving me enough of a headache as is.

message 26: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 17.

The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler

I'm going to have to read all of these. There's no avoiding it.

People. They pass through your life, your mind, your heart, bundled in their own worlds with their wants and needs and feelings. And they'll tangle you up and drag you with and leave you with a lump in your throat and a weight in your gut. That's the best case scenario. Worst case scenario you end up broken, jailed, dead. Philip avoids the latter with an insight into the human condition so instinctive and accurate it is frankly terrifying. Doesn't help him at all with the former though. Besides all that, he is a singular character with singular motives. He would have been an excellent knight in the medieval ages, but I have a feeling that he wouldn't have been drawn to such an auspicious living. His inherent moral code is tempered by a fixation on the seedier side of living. He craves the city, a filthy machine that rests on a vicious underbelly and is topped with a slathering of sickening gilt. Guilt? Same difference. He lives to solve the problem without regard to both those he affects and those who affect him; he must have an indifference to life made of steel, if not a mental complex the size of the city he resides in. I'd have to read more into him to find out. Which I think I shall. All discussion of the main character aside, the crime was tantalizing, the plot moved at a compulsively readable place, and you have to love witty banter, even if much of it was bluffing and bullshit. That's why we have Marlowe though, to carve through all the things people say and find what they actually mean. You know, I think he would've made a cool English professor. I'm not sure how well street smarts would have translated to character and plot analysis, but humans really haven't changed that much in the past millennium or so. Different words, but our motives and thought patterns still follow stupidly predictable patterns for those who can see it. Raymond Chandler can definitely see it, and shows it to the rest of us in a way that leaves us craving more. There's no greater escape from the bullshit of your own life than through a novel that cuts through its own, and it is inherently addicting.

I am fascinated with Philip Marlowe. Can you tell? Anyways, I'll leave him for later. Still tackling Ulysses, although I've run out of my current batch of books, which means I need to go get a new one. That's always enjoyable.

message 27: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 18.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer - Patrick Süskind

Delicious. Not intellectually delicious. Just delicious. Which is nice every once in a while.

What a heady mix of disgust and pleasure, outrage and ecstasy, spartan existence and orgiastic frenzy. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is as close to a deity as you can get; so removed from the human sphere of existence, and yet can easily shift the sphere in the most drastic ways. His reasoning behind committing these actions that cause such violent repercussions throughout the world is no more logical than addiction is, and he cares not about the hoards that are dragged along in his wake. I have never given much thought to smell, but the overwhelming sway it holds over mankind and life in general is undeniable. Perhaps it is so powerful because it is both omnipresent and intangible; it is very hard to resist or formulate reasons for resistance when under the influence of such a pervasive, invisible influence. Now, the book. Beginning was a bit slow, and the mental pictures (I guess they'd be odors in this case) were hardly the most attractive things. But once Grenouille sighted his first victim, the pace immediately went into breakneck descriptive bliss. I haven't read something with so many delightful descriptions in a long time. In fact, it's one of those books that makes you want to go out and track down all of the beautiful objects and scents and just absorb them all. Grenouille's addiction seems to be catching! He certainly does give new meaning to the phrase 'burn the candle at both ends'; whether urchin, ascetic, perfumer, murderer, or god, his race towards fulfilling his internal pleasure never ceases, not even upon consumption. A powerfully precocious devil of a being, that one.

Now I'm hungry. So much wonderful imagery and sensory stimulus. It's probably a good thing that I have a stuffed nose, otherwise I'd be disappointed with the current odors. Ulysses, I will conquer thee yet!

message 28: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 19.

Ulysses - James Joyce

Oh man. Just. Not going to deny the headache. Definitely not. But so worth it.

Phweeeeeeeee. Success. This has been the only book to date that I have viewed with trepidation. Blood and guts I can deal with. Dryness I will tolerate and breeze on through if need be. This though. This was intimidating. It was sophomore year? Yes, sophomore year of high school, when I heard tales of this vicious beast of a mindtwisting hazard to health. All in literary form. Amazing. But the book. Perhaps in ten or twenty years or so I'll settle down and drag out the definitions and footnotes and explanations to every single little bit Joyce throws out. This time round I just read and understood what I could. And I have to say, this man was a genius. He could take any literary from known to man at that time and extend it beyond all possible reason, while keeping true to the inherent character at all times. Amazing. You have to have that kind of mentality I think, to get through it, if you lack the cultural knowledge and appreciation. The fact that he knew so much and saw so much of it as ridiculous, and spent the time and immense effort (going blind while writing something does not sound pleasant at all) of conveying exactly what he felt about all of it is just. Well. Read the book. And for all those who read it and hated it and refused to attempt some grasping of meaning, your loss. If that was your viewpoint on the matter, you were either taking the book or yourself way too seriously. The only reason why you'd read the book was if you knew what you were getting in to. Joyce distilled all this as experimentation and parody, and in a few brilliant cases some serious reflection on life and its meaning. So. I liked it. Barely understood one word in twenty, probably, if not fifty. But it wasn't all like the last chapter, and frankly I didn't mind the pure stream of conscious so much as the multitudes of references that I didn't get. Besides that. I have triumphed, and plan for a more through triumph in the future. But for now. A rest.

The fact that I'm still reading words says more about my masochistic tendencies than anything. I think sleep is in order.

message 29: by Aubrey (last edited May 16, 2012 08:09PM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 20.

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Yes. I know. Stop looking at me like that. Just bear with me here, it's for a good cause.

This is one of those books that I read so that I'd have the experience to back up my opinions on a series that has been hyped up to a ridiculous extent. I have to say, I didn't have to work at all at being unimpressed. The idea wasn't all that novel, the writing was mostly telling instead of showing, and wasn't even that good to boot. Too many awkward phrasings and grammatical errors. And maybe it was the lack of description and minimal emotional conveyance, but Katniss' narration was very underdeveloped, in that she wasn't nearly as angry or scared or mindful of her horrible situation as she should have been. Peeta seemed to have more complexity to him, but it's unsure how long that will last. And the rest of the characters barely get five pages to them before disappearing forever, so it's near impossible to judge them. I know it's YA, but I've read much better YA. If you want a dystopia, go read The Giver or something. Much better use of your time.

It's a bit depressing when I predict something won't live up to its reputation and I end up right. Sigh. On to better things.

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Aubrey (Korrick) 21.

The Red and the Black - Stendhal

Redemption. Yay.

I really like this Stendhal character. He may have written in the 1800's, but his prose is far easier to grasp and enjoy than other authors of the period. His writing is bold, emotional, and unafraid to speak its mind truthfully on many of the matters society chooses to ignore in order to benefit itself. It reads like an intellectual rant at times, angry and scathing and ultimately delightful in its keen critique of the hypocrisies that riddle the world of the novel. And what better way of exploring these issues than through Julien, a peasant from the province who rose to prominence, capturing not one but two of the most elevated hearts among the nobility. And what contrast between the two women! What is amazing about these love affairs is that the actions of the lovers are no less ridiculous than those of many literary romances, but Stendhal explores the reasoning behind them so thoroughly that it reads not like silly interactions, but like logical results of the characters' upbringings and educational experiences. It makes the ultimate conclusion that much more sorrowful, to know the characters were well and fully trapped in their reasoning taken mostly from books of historical prowess as well as philosophical teachings. They never had the real world experience to know that what works in writing rarely works in practice, and it takes an unfortunate end to teach them this. Plot points aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this social critique, one that didn't bother to fully hide behind its story, but thrust out its opinions in a manner that would stir the heart of any reader.

Another classic down! So many to go...still, the important part is the fact that I enjoyed it. Constant improvement in my taste in literature is always a plus.

message 31: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 22.

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

I'm going to use the words 'morbid' and 'fascination' a lot concerning this book. Get used to it.

Margaret Atwood has such a way with metaphors. Give her a calm pond filled with normal plant life, and she'll make you see corpses floating in their own blood. An addictive sort of morbidity. Anyways. It seems like every time I turn around there's another dystopia floating by in all its screwed up glory. Well. That depends on the quality (cough Hunger Games cough). Here we have one that doesn't explain itself as much as others do, at least not very consistently. I enjoy this kind of writing if it is done well, as it feels like you sink into the world so much more if you have to feel your way around in ignorance for a while before getting the big picture. Atwood's style is uniquely suited to this, as she can wrap you in such disturbing visualizations that you're always trying to catch your balance from yet another normal scene gone twisted and stunningly grotesque. You can feel the main character succumbing to these horrible waves brought upon by her unthinkable situation; never have I sympathized more with her tenuous hold on sanity, or felt more mentally threatened by words on paper. It doesn't help that current politics are so concerned with women's bodies and many of the resulting problems the dystopia sought to solve. Definitely put my teeth on edge. In summary, this book will disturb you with its overt sexual power plays and Old Testament viciousness. It's unsettling in a good way though, in that it gives you plenty of food for thought. And as I said previously, Atwood has a way with words that gives new meaning to the phrase 'morbid fascination'.

If I ever reread this it will be for the chills. Seriously. Good stuff.

message 32: by Aubrey (last edited Apr 05, 2012 12:18AM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 23.

Nine Suitcases: A Memoir - Béla Zsolt

You know what. The Diary of a Young Girl is great and all, but this book deserves just as much attention, if not more.

The bravery of this man. It's near impossible to comprehend how he was able to devote his life to the betterment of his beloved country and suffer such horrors as compensation. He didn't even make it to the camps, you know. He didn't need to in order to endure the worst of the atrocities that WWII had to offer to mankind. And then he was able to recount it in the most minute detail, but wasn't able to finish writing it. The irony of it all is sickening. People should be grateful that he went through such trials with his mind intact, as it is hard to think of a more fit person suitable for the task of descending into hell and coming out of it to tell the tale. It never stopped either. Months home from grave-digging in Ukraine, he's then thrust into prison, and is barely recovered from his experiences when he makes the decision to go back to Hungary, and subsequently its ghettos. To put it simply, the guy could never catch a break. And yet he kept going, despite the failure of his country, despite the failure of his people, despite the failure of mankind to give him the life that his efforts should have brought him. And in the process he brought us this memoir that exemplifies the fact that reality is stranger than fiction, and even the most fantastical story pales in comparison to the truths of what humans are really capable of. Horrifically evil, infuriatingly neutral, altruistically beautiful. All are showcased in the author's recounting of the fate he suffered during one of the worst times of the history of the world.

This book made me angry because more people need to know about such an amazing person whose life never stopped throwing the worst of itself at him. Ever. And he kept firing back through his words and his actions. Just. This is the Holocaust in its purest sense, and no one knows about it. Going to stop now because this is turning into a rant and rants are never flattering.

message 33: by Aubrey (last edited Apr 10, 2012 02:02AM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 24.

Moll Flanders - Daniel Defoe

I need to clean my brain out a bit with something that doesn't backtrack and apologize for itself every sentence. Egh.

I liked the credit Defoe gave to the heroine, I really do. He was able to see clearly into the plight of women during a time when their only source of living was either to marry well, or find work through less than savory means. Moll's time period as a thief was also greatly entertaining. But ultimately, the plot plodded for most of the book, and Defoe's writing style didn't help that at all. The circumstances were also slightly unbelievable at parts, especially near the end; it all ended a little too easily and much too well. Also, I had expected her life to be much worse in the beginning, along the lines of growing up in the streets. Not having a mother is a shame and all, but her life could have been much worse. Her misfortunes really had more to do her choice of bed partners than anything else. That may be an unfair statement, but it is true.

And another classic bites the dust. What's done is done. Onward march!

message 34: by Naomi V (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 498 comments Aubrey wrote: "22.

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

I'm going to use the words 'morbid' and 'fascination' a lot concerning this book. Get used to it.

Margaret Atwood has such a ..."

i recently read this book for the second time. so much of what's in The Handmaid's Tale makes me think of what's going on politically in the US right now. i'm afraid there's a faction of our society that wouldn't mind seeing things go that way. it's one of the most frightening books i've ever read. thanks for your excellent review.

message 35: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) Naomi wrote: "i recently read this book for the second time. so much of what's in The Handmaid's Tale makes me think of what's going on politically in the US right now. i'm afraid there's a faction of our society that wouldn't mind seeing things go that way. it's one of the most frightening books i've ever read. thanks for your excellent review. "

Your thanks is much appreciated. I'm also glad that I'm not the only one who's noticed the parallels. The book's universe may be extremely disturbing, but it is no more disturbing than current talk of a new law in Arizona that would mandate pregnancy began two weeks before conception. At this point, if politicians started pushing for laws that were reminiscent of the book, I wouldn't be able to say if they'd be met with disgust or applause.

message 36: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 25.

Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter - Simone de Beauvoir

Looking at my last post, this book did an excellent job of sweeping out the refuse from the last one.

Well written discourses on growing up are amazing. The clarity with which the author described her years from infancy to childhood and beyond was astonishing; it was as if the babies in Mary Poppins had retained the eloquent speech which which they used to discourse with birds and other nonhuman entities. It made for some serious misunderstandings on my part at the beginning though, as I was originally very annoyed with Simone at the beginning of her life. Her tantrums and her taking of her blessed life for granted were very frustrating, at least until I realized that the way she was conveying her emotions and thought processes made her seem much older than she actually was. It was easier to forgive her then, and actually made the reasons behind her outbursts as a child fascinating instead of insufferable. Once my annoyances her cleared up, her life was one of the more intellectually stimulating biographies that I have had the pleasure of reading, to the extent that I will have to find more works by deep thinkers of the period. I'm especially looking forward to reading Jean-Paul Sartre; the way she describes him makes me wish I had met him, and if given the chance I would gladly give my right arm in order to do so. Many of the people she interacted with were interesting, but what shone clearest through her time with them is how it was normal for her to quickly fall in with them, discourse for a while, and then fall out just as quickly. This resonated deeply with my own experiences with others, along with the fact that she had multiple periods of stagnancy that overwhelmed her body and soul. To want for everything, yet be limited to a repeating daily life barred on all sides by both physical walls and ignorant people! There is no greater torture than this. Reading this book doesn't help my own dissatisfaction with my short term goal of settling down to a career, but it was satisfying in my long term goal of figuring out exactly what my existence is supposed to consist of. I think there's a little too much personal reflection in here. Darn. Going back to the book, it was a heady mix of descriptive elegance and intellectual stimulation in a never ending journey of self discovery, and Simone honed the process of its creation down to a science. Not sure if I'll ever look into any of the books that she devoured in the course of the novel, but as said previously, I definitely need to read Sartre. Someone who was described as always thinking definitely deserves some attention.

This is the first time that I've wanted to go back to the past in order to be able to see someone famous. Since it's impossible at the moment, the next best thing is to read their entire bibliography. Sounds feasible.

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Aubrey (Korrick) 26.

The Age of Reason - Jean-Paul Sartre

It has been far too long. For shame.

Soap opera with brains . Yes, I can agree with this. Caring about other people in their little lives and dramas is so much more fulfilling when they prove themselves to have so complex despair behind their everyday actions. It never ends, really. The constant proving to oneself that this life is worthwhile, that the hopes of the past and the dreams of the future won't go to waste. Mathieu keeps to his belief of freedom, to be capable of anything, no matter what constraints have been laid across his living by emotional bonds and societal dictations and past history. In the end he achieves this freedom, and finds that he no longer believes in it. He has reached the age of reason, when he sees that the ideas that once characterized him can no longer be applied to him, unless he wishes to be a hypocrite. In achieving his freedom, he sacrificed for nothing, a nothing that provides a clean a break from everything that had been forcing him into a situation that was no longer; and for what? He may have found a small satisfaction in not being free, now that he had realized that he was waiting for a moment of a lifetime that would never come. Everyone around him either spins out delusions of the future or chases desires that had died long ago, joining him in his everlasting goal of not sinking into regret and despair. A satisfyingly realistic portrayal of the tightrope walk that daily life really is.

The more fatalistic the book, the better I seem to feel. That's it. I need to read something happy next. Or at least something not so. Depressingly realistic.

message 38: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 27.

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

A good kick in the heart was exactly what I needed.

I've read WWII based novels to the point of excess. Fiction, memoirs, combinations of the two. Stories of blinding despair and atrocities beyond thought and hope as painful to hold onto as a garroting wire that you grip with your neck. And yet they still get me.
I have a penchant for incarnations of Death, and this one was as meticulously weary to the depths of its soul as Death should be.
'I am haunted by humans.'
I couldn't have said it better myself.
What fortune, then, that this Death should come across a Book Thief during a time when Death's workload would have reached a peak in both quantity and in variety. I'd like to think it influenced this recounting of the events, fleshed out the vernacular in more interesting ways than had the story been about, say, a soldier. Or a concentration camp survivor. Or one of the many who were left behind by the two.
Words did indeed play a part in the rise of Hitler and the beginnings of Nazi Germany, and it was words on paper that gave Death reason to carry around this story for so long. It is words that try to take the horrors and wonders of the Book Thief's life and convey them to others, illustrated words in the case of the fighting Jew.
They're not easy, words. Learning to read them is difficult, and after that's finished, there are certain combinations of words that will cripple the mind upon reading. And then the madness they can cause when enough of them are forced into enough ears. Why would you even bother with such horrible things?
Guess you'll have to read to find out.

Low and behold, breaks in the wall of text! And now, time to reread an old favorite.

message 39: by Aubrey (last edited May 13, 2012 10:17PM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 28.

The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman

My younger self had exquisite taste, I must say.

At first I was debating whether I would retain the five star rating in honor of my younger self's first loves, or adjust it accordingly.
I needn't have worried.
This is a masterpiece of world building and character creation and subsequent development. I love worlds that have so much depth and complexity in the believable sense, worlds that you could imagine living and growing and thriving in. What makes them even better is that hint of otherworldlyness, that small smidgen of magic and adventure and supernatural that takes realistic events and infuses them with a sense of wonder. Imagination is a wonderful thing, but knowing that there is potential in your dreams being realized is priceless.
And character creation. Lyra is brave, bold, and clever beyond belief. She is twelve, yes, so she is brash and childish as she should be. But you cannot deny the complexity and truth of her emotions, and there is never a time where she acts in a shameful or unrealistic fashion. Like many child protagonists, she grows up without real interaction with her known parents, but this was no ploy to attract the readers emotions or force the character's development to ridiculous heights. She finds her parents, and finds herself past them. There is no love lost nor overwhelming desire to cater to their whims. She has already found the love she craves with others, and is satisfied with loving them in return.
Not to mention all the other characters. The panserbjørne, the gyptians, the witches, the Tartars, the Scholars, the dæmons. It is a veritable feast of descriptive power, and there is no possibility of mixing up the many races and creatures with each other. Each have their own culture and creeds, characteristics so ingrained within that had Pullman made a mistake in describing them, the reader would have realized it immediately. But he didn't. And it is a pleasure to visualize these beings in their full physical form using the many descriptions Pullman so graciously provided.
It's not enough for Pullman to build an amazingly detailed world and fill it with beloved characters. No, he has to have a historical background to encompass it all, a feeling of the past that is fully realized in the descriptions of the political machinations of the Church and those who dwell within it. This may be a children's book, but Pullman does not stint on embellishment of theological arguments and shady dealings.
Finally, the concept of Lyra's destiny. The 'chosen one' trope is in as it says, a trope, but here, this trope is done beautifully. It is made clear that Lyra's future is not one filled with amazing power ups and ultimate happiness. She will suffer in ignorance of her potential, and in suffering she will save everything. An everything that started with her world, one that has been enriched to the point of magnificence, and yet is just the beginning. There are worlds upon worlds outside that of Lyra's view, and her quest is just beginning.

Screw Hunger Games. Just goes to show that most of the world wouldn't know good YA if it hit them in the face. Sucks for them. I'm off to bask in some more.

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Aubrey (Korrick) 29.

A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

My first downgraded rating. A bit disheartening.

Well, it had to happen. But that's what rereading is for, after all.
I can see why my younger self considered this a favorite. The story was an interesting blend of childhood and introduction to science that isn't common to the realms of YA. It's a bit unconventional, really, to bring in terms like 'tesseract' and famous quotes in a number of different languages into a story meant for children. But it made for some real enjoyment. That's what earned it the four stars.
Other than that, well. I'm afraid I require more descriptive turns of phrase and in-depth world building nowadays. As well as more cohesive characters and plot. Agh, this is horrible. Going to stop critiquing now, it pains my nostalgia too much.
I'd still recommend it for children, of course. It's a wonderful first taste of science and the outer bounds of human knowledge. A simple one, but still enjoyable.

I'm a bit concerned about the fate of the rest of my childhood rereads. So now, something new.

message 41: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 30.

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales - Kate Bernheimer

Karma for too many good books in a row. Or something. Blegh.

Well. That was disappointing.
I don't know what most of these people were thinking when they wrote these stories. I technically do, going by the end notes, but obviously something went very wrong between them detailing what inspired them and writing while inspired.
The first two stories weren't half bad. Actually, the second story 'The Snow Maiden' was the best of the bunch; it had a novel fantastical setting with an interesting plot and satisfying ending. The only other story I can say measured up near to it in terms of quality was 'The Color Master'. As for the rest of them, quite a few flat out disgusted me. Too many grotesque descriptions of gutted bowels and skinned cats and bodily excretions for my taste. And the ones that didn't make me feel nauseous were either trying too hard to be linguistically creative, didn't make any sense, or were just plain boring.
Does this mean I've outgrown fairy tales completely? I really don't think so. Magical realism is one of my favorite genres (emphasis on the magical), and I still have a healthy appreciation of supernatural YA as evidenced by my recent re-readings of some of my favorites. This collection was just bad, and the only reasons why it has two stars is for the title and the two decent stories that I mentioned. I'm hoping that when someone attempts this kind of thing again, they use this book as a reference of what not to do.

After this disaster, I need to read something that's guaranteed to entertain me. And I know just the thing.

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Aubrey (Korrick) 31.

The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson

Awesomely entertaining: check.

Like the first book, the second does a very good job of embellishing on what I had seen in the movie. My only regret is that I watched the movie first, as there wasn't much suspense to keep me completely enthralled, so it came off as more of a transition passage rather than a fully developed novel. It's not the book's fault that I remembered the major spoilers before reading it. Otherwise, the writing was breakneck compelling, and Lisbeth was amazingly badass as per usual. Only she could make math sexy, among other things.

Only downside is that now I'm waiting impatiently to read the final book. Must distract self with other things.

message 43: by Aubrey (last edited Jun 16, 2012 12:04PM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 32.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America - Erik Larson

Finals. Gah. A poor excuse. But I'm finally back.


I have always viewed nonfiction as an extension of those horrifically tedious excerpts that are required reading in history classes and other subjects overflowing with facts and dates and whatnot. Accordingly, I read very little of it. Memoirs are fine, as the authors can be trusted to embellish their lives with interesting plot devices and tidbits. But historical events and biographies? Bah.
This book made me realize what I was missing out on. Granted, one of the topics was America's first notorious serial killer, so it would be hard to bore me with that. What I didn't expect was to be just as interested in the other half of the story, that of the Chicago World Fair, the so-called "White City". I was amazed by the priorities of the masses, the need they felt in matching up to Paris' exhibition, the pride they had in their cities. It's doubtful that a fraction of that feeling could be summoned up today, to meet the staggering demands this celebatory architectural feat required.
What also intrigued me were the moments when an especially important historical figure popped up on the fairgrounds. Mark Twain, Hellen Keller, and so many others helped me connect together the historical facts that I've amassed over the years into a far more cohesive picture. It's perhaps the first time that I realized that historical figures are all part of the same snapshot of the past, no matter the differences in how well known they are today.
Last but not least, H. H. Holmes, that serial killer of monumental proportions. He set the bar for evil at a level that thankfully has rarely been matched since his own horrific deeds ended. All that manipulation and murder was atrocious in its own right, but it was all the more compunded by the lack of informational networks that exist today. How much of his activity could have been prevented if all those companies he swindled realized they all had a common cause? Or if all those grieving family members had found each other and began to wonder if there was a connection between this striking young man and the disappearences of these young women? The world will never know.
In short, I'm willing to give nonfiction a chance if more of it is like this one. It makes history more enjoyable when the facts are as strange as fiction, and as well written.

Now it's time to finally finish off a series. Don't do that too often.

message 44: by Naomi V (last edited Jun 16, 2012 11:05AM) (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 498 comments Aubrey wrote: "32.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America - Erik Larson

Finals. Gah. A poor excuse. But I'm finally back.


I have always viewed nonfictio..."

i enjoyed this review! if you haven't read any of Erik Larson's other books, give them a look. i read his most recent, In the Garden of Beasts: Love and Terror in Hitler's Berlin, and found it just as interesting as The Devil in the White City.

message 45: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) Naomi wrote: "i enjoyed this review! if you haven't read any of Erik Larson's other books, give them a look. i read his most recent, In the Garden of Beasts: Love and Terror in Hitler's Berlin, and found it just as interesting as The Devil in the White City. "

I'm glad you liked my review! And while I'm sure that the book is good, I've gone through a lot of WWII/Holocaust literature recently, so it's time for a break. I'll get to it eventually though.

message 46: by Naomi V (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 498 comments Aubrey wrote: "Naomi wrote: "i enjoyed this review! if you haven't read any of Erik Larson's other books, give them a look. i read his most recent, In the Garden of Beasts: Love and Terror in Hitler's Berlin, and..."

i can understand that. there's a definite saturation point with that type of literature (or movies. most of those movies go in my "good but i never want to see them again" category.) that being said, i've been convinced by a colleague to try David Downings' books, which are set (at least the first two are) in pre-WWII Berlin. incredibly interesting view of 'normal' German people and what life was like in Berlin in the build-up to the war. (it's fiction, but seems well researched.)

message 47: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 33.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson

I've been aiming at finishing these books for so long, it feels odd now that I've succeeded.

And so the story of Lisbeth Salander comes to an end. It's a shame that the author died before he could write the seven other books that he was planning for the series, but the three that he gave us were more than sufficient in setting out Lisbeth's story, in addition to being high quality entertainment of the thriller novel type. I have to say, I'm going to miss his style of writing. He has a very succinct and practical way of laying out the storyline, one that manages to be both concise and thorough in a compulsively readable sense. He often goes off on trajectories when explaining different aspects, like protocols for security companies and details of political machinations, but these deviations never slow down the plot with unnecessary dribble. It's almost comforting, the way he delves into the backdrop so the reader can get a more enlightened sense of the world that they're maneuvering in. Of course, this consistent explanatory style makes the character transitions more subtle than in other novels, but each individual definitely has their own unique narrative thought pattern. Speaking of characters, I'm also going to miss Lisbeth. You don't get many stories that involve a main character who's equal levels of brutal eccentricity and admirable competence. I foresee rereading the trilogy in the future, as it has given me a craving for fast paced pieces of excellent writing, a combination that is difficult to find.

There's still two movies to look forward to, if the quality of the first American version is maintained. And now, a classic.

message 48: by Alison (new)

Alison G. (agriff22) | 533 comments i finished the series about 2 months ago and im still on Millennium series withdrawal. they are all so good!

message 49: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) 34.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera

I was two pages in when I knew this was going to be one of my favorites. Haven't had that happen in a while. If ever.

I have a weakness for intelligent discussion of the human condition. If an author can take normal situations and delve into the metaphysics in a detailed and impressive fashion, four stars are guaranteed. And if they pose an idea that forces me to sit back in silent contemplation for a while before reading on, well. Five stars is almost not enough, especially if this occurred less than five pages in. I know that's a very early time to decide on the rating, but my decision never wavered as I progressed through the prose. It always amazes me when an author can see so clearly how humans react to the ramifications of history and life, and yet retain the ability to distill the myriad facets into a cohesive, powerful story. Not only that, but to also every now and then dip into digressions concerning how humans as a whole cope with existence, and what these coping mechanisms mean in the long run. For example, I had heard of the word 'kitsch' in context with parody and overly saccharine cultural motifs, but never had I realized how pervasive this concept was in real life. It's inescapable, and it's almost terrifying. Of course, I didn't agree with all of the author's points, and one of them is a bit too uncomfortable for me to embrace wholeheartedly. But otherwise. It's always extremely satisfying when a book is aware of its potential for enlightenment, and is able to balance the story with the philosophy in a beautifully readable manner.
And to all those who finished this book thinking it was all about sex. If that's all you came out with, I highly suggest rereading it. Highly. You're missing out on way too much if you leave it at that.

So now I can either tackle another whopper, or reread a book from my youth. Decisions decisions.

message 50: by Susan (new)

Susan (Chlokara) | 650 comments Aubrey wrote: "32.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America - Erik Larson

Finals. Gah. A poor excuse. But I'm finally back.


I have always viewed nonfictio..."

You should try Simon Winchester. I recommend

The Professor & the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity & the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

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Books mentioned in this topic

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Authors mentioned in this topic

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Jane Austen (other topics)
Thomas Keneally (other topics)
Margaret Atwood (other topics)
Fernando Pessoa (other topics)