The Next Best Book Club discussion


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message 1: by Alex (last edited Feb 24, 2010 06:27AM) (new)

Alex I just heard about this challenge and thought it sounded really cool, but my reading list is too focused in other directions to take part...but just for the heck of it, I went back through everything I've read in 2009 and 2010 to see how close I got. I thought I'd be pretty close. I was totally wrong. Man, this challenge is hard.

Here's my list, not that you really care; I only made it to 21, and that's only after I totally cheated by pretending that Origin of Species counts for the Galapagos.

USA – A Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventurers in Early America, Tony Horwitz

Costa Rica – Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America, Adrian Forsyth
Peru – Last Days of the Incas, Kim McQuarrie
Mexico – The Maya, 7th Edition, Michael Coe
Brazil – The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, David Grann
Colombia – Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez
Galapagos – Darwin, Origin of Species (Er…this might sortof be cheating.)

Sudan – What is the What, Dave Eggers
Madagascar – The Aye-Aye and I: A Rescue Journey to Save One of the World's Most Intriguing Creatures from Extinction, Gerald Durrell
DRC – Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Egypt – Red Land, Black Land, Barbara Mertz

China – Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, Rowena Cooper
Borneo – Into the Heart of Borneo, Redmond O’Hanlon

Turkey – The Iliad (Ha! What? It counts!), Homer, tr. Fagles
Iraq – Gilgamesh: A New English Version, tr. Stephen Mitchell
Saudi Arabia – After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam, Lesley Hazelton

Greece – The Three Theban Plays, Sophocles
Italy – The Aeneid, Virgil, tr. Fitzgerald
Denmark – Beowulf, tr. Seamus Heaney
France – Song of Roland, I forget the translator (This is tough; it probably counts, since it’s France’s national epic and all, but much of the action takes place in Spain. Just to be safe: I also read Becoming Charlemagne by Sypeck, which definitely takes place in France.)
England – Idylls of the King, Tennyson
Wales - The Mabinogi, tr. Patrick Ford

Good luck, all; cool idea, Diane.

message 2: by Diane (new)

Diane | 464 comments Lol! Great list!

message 3: by Madeline (new)

Madeline | 293 comments I had to check this just because of the "cheater" headline lol. The Iliad totally counts! Since you already have a France you should just count Spain too. :) Love that you posted.

message 4: by Alex (new)

Alex Thanks, y'all. :)

message 5: by Cait (new)

Cait Poytress (caitertot) | 604 comments It is hard, isn't it? Love your post! :o)

message 6: by VMom (new)

VMom (votermom) | 42 comments Madeline wrote: "I had to check this just because of the "cheater" headline lol. "

Me too!
Very creative.

message 7: by Brenda (new)

Brenda | 266 comments Alex: Thanks for posting - I will be very pleased if I make it to 21. Next up for me is the Stephen Mitchell translation of Gilgamesh. I hope I enjoy it, did you?

message 8: by Alex (last edited Feb 24, 2010 11:22AM) (new)

Alex Oh, that's cool Brenda!

Yes, pretty much. Gilgamesh is a deeply weird poem. But it's interesting, and Mitchell's translation flows easily, though it lacks a certain oomph at times. The introduction is very good, too - but be aware that it sorta contains spoilers. You might already know the story of Gilgamesh, but I didn't - I had no idea what it was about - so I had to be careful with the intro.

It's not too terribly long, so it's not as big and scary a commitment as some other epics like the Aeneid.

I'd be psyched to hear what you think of it, as you get into it!

message 9: by Brenda (new)

Brenda | 266 comments Thanks for the intro. spoiler alert. The only thing I've heard so far is to keep an eye out for the lines "a gust of wind passed" and "a gentle rain fell onto the mountains." Now I'll know to read the intro and notes after the poem.

message 10: by Alex (new)

Alex You didn't need to be alerted to the gentle rain bit; that passage is breathtakingly powerful. Can't miss it. :)

message 11: by Alex (new)

Alex Hey Brenda, did you ever finish Gilgamesh?


Russia - Anna Karenina

Lilliput - Gulliver's Travels

message 12: by Brenda (new)

Brenda | 266 comments I'm sorry to be so long replying -( I've been on vacation, plus had computer problems). Also, my father in law (who has alzheimer's) went "missing" for two days but the police finally found him so all is OK.

But mostly, I have been too embarassed to reply because I still haven't read it yet. (But I still plan to - honestly) -Plus, did I mention that I'm a slow reader?

Seriously though, I have two translations, one by Stephen Mitchell and one by Derrek Hines. I've been told to read the Mitchell first.

message 13: by Alex (last edited Jun 21, 2010 03:04PM) (new)

Alex Hi, Brenda! Good to hear from you. Thumbs up for vacation; thumbs down for the temporarily missing dad. You must have been so scared. I'm glad he's okay.

Hey, you don't have to be embarrassed. One of the worst things is when you feel like you have to read something. It can kinda take the fun out of it. I don't care! :)

Mitchell's the one I read; it's certainly a pleasant, smooth read.

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