Challenge: 50 Books discussion

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Finish Line 2011 > Lauli's reads in 2011

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message 1: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Taking this challenge for the third consecutive year. I managed it on the two previous years, so I hope to be able to keep up.


message 2: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Last Orders by Graham Swift 1) Last Orders by Graham Swift
I found this book a bit hard to get into, but once I got the hang of it I just had to keep going. While fulfilling their late friend's dying wish, four men revisit their past and stir some of their sleeping dogs. The narration is subtle, poetic at times, and very insightful. I enjoyed it very much.


message 3: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk 2) The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
I loved this book about the dilemmas of command and insubordination. Wouk's character portrayals are wonderful, and it is hard to tell who's a hero, who's a villain, who's right and who's wrong. Plus, there is a bit of everything ranging from battle action to romance, and even courtroom drama.


message 4: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Surfacing by Margaret Atwood 3) Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
A very disturbing book, as all books dealing with the subject of madness and trauma. The protagonist goes on a trip to her parents' deserted house and revisits her childhood, and also reflects on profound issues such as animal nature vs human artifice, gender differences, nationalism, and cultural colonisation. The writing in the first person and in the present tense makes the action and the voice very vivid and striking. Very well written, too.


message 5: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments I, Robot by Isaac Asimov 4) I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
A wonderful collection of interlinked stories illustrating the evolution of robotics and man's increasing dependence on machines as pictured by Asimov in the mid-20th century. I found it very hard to put it down, as Asimov's prose moves quickly and keeps you wanting to find out what happens next.


message 6: by Ann A (new)

Ann A (Readerann) | 702 comments Good luck with your challenge! It looks like you're reading some interesting books.


message 7: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Perto do coração selvagem by Clarice Lispector 5) Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector
This is the third book I've read by Clarice Lispector and have become something of a fan. She is wonderful at capturing the thought processes of her characters and finding deep interpretations and consequences for apparently meaningless, everyday events. She is also a great spokeswoman for women caught in chauvinistic societies. And it was especially nice to read it in Portuguese while spending my holiday in Brazil!


message 8: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis 6) The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis
A wonderful novel displaying a very witty, scathingly honest narrator speaking from beyond, and analizing his life and deeds mercilessly. Reminded me of some great works of the XVIII century. Also a harsh criticism on Brazilian society at the end of the XIX century, including the treatment of slaves.


message 9: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments El idiota by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 7) The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I was a bit underwhelmed by this one. I had great expectations about reading Dostoyevsky for the first time, but I found the novel too long and too crowded with characters, and many parts of it, I think, could easily have been removed to enhance the main story. Having said that, there are four or five moments in the novel that make it worth reading and show why Dostoyevsky is who he is in the literary world. All in all, three stars.


message 10: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments What Maisie Knew by Henry James 8) What Maisie Knew by Henry James
I'm seriously beginning to doubt whether I'll be able to finish this challenge this year. Going back to university is taking its toll on my reading.
So, after a whole month, I'm done with this one. I struggled a bit with James's endless sentences and paragraphs, but I did enjoy the story, and the depiction of a selfish, cruel society where self-satisfaction surpasses parental responsibility. Well ahead of its time.


message 11: by Heather (new)

Heather I'm in the same boat, Lauli! Uni is far too busy this year, so I've only managed to finish five books. At the rate im going it's highly unlikely I'll make it, but I didn't really expect to this year. Hope the study is going well!


message 12: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Sula by Toni Morrison 9) Sula by Toni Morrison
This is my shortcut to getting books read: going back to favourite authors. Toni Morrison never lets me down. Of course, I have my favourites, and there are better and worse books written by her, but at least she guarantees impeccable prose and fascinating, complex characters. Sula is no exception. I really liked it.


message 13: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments El arrebato de Lol V. Stein  by Marguerite Duras 10) The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Marguerite Duras
I was drawn into this novel in a sort of hypnotic way. I didn't feel I understood everything that was going on all the time, but the music the language (even in the translation, which is rare) created some sort of spell on me. It reminded me of a film by Duras that I have seen called "India Song", where the characters interacted in apparently meaningless ways on a grand scenery, but the atmosphere and the cadence of the narrative are suggestive of things not said in so many words.


message 14: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments The Symposium by Plato 11) The Symposium by Plato
I'm not a great fan of reading philosophy, but I must say Plato is one of the reader-friendliest philosophers I've come across. It's quite amazing to see how homosexual love was taken for granted, and how unashamed these people were to discuss their sexuality in public!


message 15: by Lauli (last edited Apr 30, 2011 02:30PM) (new)

Lauli | 343 comments My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk 12) My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Great novel about the change of paradigm between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and the function of art and artists. Also a gripping murder mystery, beautifully written by Pamuk. Highly recommendable.


message 16: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments A Room with a View by E.M. Forster 13) A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
I really liked this novel, not only because it gave me a chance to experience once again Forster's wonderful gift for storytelling, but also because it was much more lively and refreshing than some of his other books I've read. The characters are quite endearing, there's comedy, romance and psychological insight, and it's quite short, so the action really keeps you going.


message 17: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Principios de filosofía. Una introducción a su problemática by Adolfo P. Carpio 14) Principios de filosofía. Una introducción a su problemática by Adolfo P. Carpio
A well-written, reader-friendly introduction to the major philosophers that make up Western thought. I had to read it for university, but really enjoyed it.


message 18: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments La Tierra del Fuego by Sylvia Iparraguirre 15) La Tierra del Fuego by Sylvia Iparraguirre

A fascinating novel dealing with an obscure part of Argentine (or should I say British?) history: the seizing of the Falkland Islands and the intention of the British of colonizing the southernmost part of Patagonia. Sylvia Iparraguirre unearthed a wonderful real-life story of a Yamana indian taken to Britain to be civilized, and then taken back to Tierra del Fuego to act as a bridge between the two cultures, with disastrous consequences. Well-written, quick-paced... highly recommendable


message 19: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Betrayal by Harold Pinter 16) Betrayal by Harold Pinter
A short but powerful play about adultery, deceit and the moral and psychological consequences entailed.


message 20: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Poetics by Aristotle 17) Poetics by Aristotle
Not exactly fascinating to read (nothing to do with Plato's Symposium), but a must-read nonetheless for anyone interested in the history of writing. Aristotle prescribes rules for poetry and drama that are still being considered and respected, and it's quite awesome to see him coin terms and concepts which we take for granted and never stop to think where they originated.


message 21: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 18) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
A great novel by the great Atwood. I love her take on science fiction. Medieval science fiction? Is that even possible? She manages to put together a chilling tale of oppression, submission, rebellion and resistance, creating an alluring narrative voice, and drawing the reader in to the point where you realise you had to get off the subway three stations ago (yeah, it happened to me!)


message 22: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Nietzsche para principiantes by Marc Sautet 19) Nietzsche For Beginners by Marc Sautet
I confess I turned to this book because we were given some texts by Nietzsche himself and I was quite puzzled by them. This introduction is quite entertaining and comprehensive, as it deals with the historical context, biography and main theories by him. However, he did not come through as a very agreeable subjects, and his theories sound quite fascistic in it. I guess I'll have to read the man himself...


message 23: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller 20) Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
I think I may have gone back to an old love of mine: reading plays. I hadn't been reading them much, but it is really a very enjoyable experience. This play by Miller is wonderful, subtle, complex and disturbing. There are so many layers of meaning, and the characters are so intricate, that it gives much food for thought.


message 24: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Ciencia incierta by Mario Heler 21) Ciencia incierta by Mario Heler
"Uncertain science" is a very interesting analysis of the scientific field and whether ethics should be taken into account or not when assessing scientific contributions. Heler draws from sociological and epistemological sources to develop a history of scientific discourse and peel off some of the "truths" we have assumed to show them as artificial constructs. Very interesting indeed.


message 25: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Vanity Fair (Konemann Classics) by William Makepeace Thackeray 22) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
This may be this year's wow novel for me. I was really caught in it, and I've been looking for excuses to read any time any place for the last week or so. A compelling narrative voice, full of irony and satire, wonderful characters and social comedy. No wonder it's a timeless classic...


message 26: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments The Fixer by Bernard Malamud 23) The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
Although this was a bit of a slow read for me, and at times it dragged on, it is one of the most vivid accounts of imprisonment and its consequences I've ever read. You really feel as confined as Yakov, the protagonist, who awaits a trial that keeps being delayed for a crime he did not commit in the anti-Semitic Tsarist Russia of the pre-revolutionary days. Very well-written.


message 27: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee 24) Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
A quick and interesting read. The book tells a moving story of a fall and redemption by a character who I hated at first, but ended up taking to. It's my first Coetzee, and I look forward to reading more by him.


message 28: by Greer (new)

Greer | 28 comments Thanks for the mini-reviews -- it's nice to see not just a list, but thoughts on the books...


message 29: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell 25) Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
I wanted to love this book, but ended up feeling lukewarm about it. Yes, it does have some amusing scenes, and it does portray a world that was already dying as Gaskell was writing, but there's not much more to it than that. The narration is episodic, and I didn't really feel compelled to keep reading as there really wasn't a story to keep up with. Amusing, but that's it.


message 30: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Lord of the Flies by William Golding 26) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
This book blew my mind! Not only is it one of the most gripping and chilling stories I've ever read, but the prose, the rhythm of the storytelling, and Golding's extraordinary use of language, make it one of the most memorable pieces of writing I've come across. It's been haunting me ever since I finished reading it.


message 31: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson 27) Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
I feel good about putting classics behind me, and this was certainly pending business for me, but I was not as excited about it as I was by other Gothic books like Frankenstein or Wuthering Heights. Maybe because the story has become a bit trite by now, there was nothing new or surprising in it for me.


message 32: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Cannery Row by John Steinbeck 28) Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
Although it didn't do half as much for me as Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden did, this is still a very nice novel to read. It's very humorous and humane, and it makes you feel warm towards people you wouldn't have expected to sympathize with, such as whores and bums. A short, sweet read.


message 33: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments One of Ours by Willa Cather 29) One of Ours by Willa Cather
It took me long to read, but not because it was boring, but because I had lots of other things to do. The story really gripped me, as it's about a young man trying to find a sense of purpose in life and failing miserably, to finally find himself in the WWI battlefield. It is beautifully narrated by Willa Cather and the character of Claude Wheeler especially comes alive for the reader.


message 34: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Justine (The Alexandria Quartet Book One)  by Lawrence Durrell 30) Justine (The Alexandria Quartet: Book One) by Lawrence Durrell
I really wanted to love this book, and I did at times, but I just wasn't drawn into the story. Too many characters, not clear who's who, maybe has not aged well... But there were some sublime moments there - definitely the beginning and the ending, and also all the passages related to love and sexuality; not to mention the sublime descriptions of the city. So that makes it even for me.


message 35: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Charles S. Pierce El Extasis de Los Signos by Roberto Marafioti 31) Charles S. Pierce: El Extasis de Los Signos by Roberto Marafioti
This book was quite didactic in its attempt to explain the semiotics of Charles Sanders Peirce to young university students. The problem is the task they set out to accomplish was absolutely utopic. There's no making Peirce's theory digestible. Every chapter gave me a headache, and that is after reading it at least three times. Awful.


message 36: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments The Jungle by Upton Sinclair 32) The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
I don't think I've ever found myself wincing as many times as I did with this book. Like most readers, I was shocked by the description of the packing industry in Chicago, but even more so by the tragic story of a Lithuanian family coming to America and falling little by little in the abyss of degradation. What killed the book for me was how Sinclair devoted the final chapters to socialist propaganda and forgot all about the main character. But for that, it would've been a great book, I think.


message 37: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy 33) Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
I loved this book against all odds. When I picked it up, I braced myself against another bleak naturalist book, but found it surprisingly light-hearted and populated with marvellous characters, especially the protagonist, Bathsheba. I basically couldn't put it down for the last couple of days, and it's one of my best reads this year.


message 38: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields 34) The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
I gave four stars to this one based on the wonderful narrative style, which shifts from letters to stream-of-consciousness to recipes and shopping lists to piece together a rather ordinary life in all its wonderful complexities. I was not that hooked on the story, but there were some memorable bits, and the writing alone makes it worthwhile.


message 39: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments The Go-Between (Penguin Classics) by L.P. Hartley 35) The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley
A beautifully-written story about a young boy who has a life-altering experience in his coming-of-age years, and unearths it after fifty years have passed.


message 40: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood 36) Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
I must say I did not find the book as interesting as the film that was made from it ("Cabaret" is one of my favourite films EVER) but I did find it very interesting to read an account of pre-Nazi Berlin and its gradual decline into totalitarianism. The nouvelle "Sally Bowles" is the best part of the book.


message 41: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments ESTRATEGIAS DE LECTURA Y ESCRITURAS ACADEMICAS (Spanish Edition) by Sylvia Nogueira 37) ESTRATEGIAS DE LECTURA Y ESCRITURAS ACADEMICAS by Sylvia Nogueira
This was academic reading, but I found it very useful. It's basically a study on textual analysis and basic techniques for writing. Very useful indeed.


message 42: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments ARGENTINA. LA CONSTRUCCION DE UN PAIS (Spanish Edition) by Various 38) ARGENTINA. LA CONSTRUCCION DE UN PAIS
An interesting collection of articles spanning Argentine history from 1880 to 2001.


message 43: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments They Shoot Horses, Don't They?  by Horace McCoy 39) They Shoot Horses, Don't They? by Horace McCoy
A very quick read, but tremendously deep, complex and ahead of its time. As early as 1935, McCoy was presenting the readers with the complexities of life lived under the public eye, the limits of morbosity and exposure, and the devastating psychological effect of a shallow life lived not for oneself, but according to someone else's rules. Might well be a treatise on Big Brother or Survivor!


message 44: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Arrowsmith (Signet Classics (Paperback)) by Sinclair Lewis 40) Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
I found this book incredibly boring. I actually had to force myself to finish it. I admit that my dislike may be connected with the fact that I'm not in the least interested in science or laboratory work, which is what the book is mainly about, but I found the characters dull and the plot merely annecdotical.


message 45: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Los Patrones de La Argumentacion by Roberto Marafioti 41) Los Patrones de La Argumentacion by Roberto Marafioti
I suffered through this book, and I'm so glad it's over! This was, of course, academic reading, but Marafioti managed to make Aristotle, Toulmin and Perelmann much more difficult than what they wrote themselves.


message 46: by Lauli (last edited Nov 18, 2011 07:17PM) (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Sin nombre, como la muerte by Hernán A. Isnardi 42) Sin nombre, como la muerte by Hernán A. Isnardi
A beautiful first novel by Isnardi which takes us into the territory of pain, loss and mourning. With a similar topic to "As I Lay Dying", the turn of the screw is that here we have a father burying a baby son, which makes the novel emotional and striking.


message 47: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments The Heat of the Day (Vintage Classics) by Elizabeth Bowen 43) The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen
This novel is about London during WWII and the lives of its citizens who share the city with the ghosts of those away fighting or altogether gone because they were killed in action or their houses were bombed. I think that's the best part of it. The story itself did not quite hold me, and I don't think it particularly memorable.


message 48: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments The Time Machine by H.G. Wells 44) The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
This is the second novel I've read by Wells, and I found them both incredibly far-sighted and complex. What fascinated me most about this one is how Wells presents a dystopic society in the future which is the direct result of social stratification, oppression and exploitation (lots of socialist undercurrents!). Very gripping, too!


message 49: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Ethan Frome (Dover Thrift Editions) by Edith Wharton 45) Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
I really enjoyed this nouvelle about New England rural life. I think Wharton depicts the characters and the environment (these bleak, chilly winters that seem to drain the inhabitants off their energy) in a masterful way.


message 50: by Lauli (new)

Lauli | 343 comments Emma  by Jane Austen46) Emma by Jane Austen
This was the last Jane Austen novel I had to read, and I must say it's not her best, in my opinion. Nothing much happens, and I didn't particularly like the way Austen justifies social hierarchy in this one, celebrating the fact that people marry others of their same station, and that those who don't belong to it don't aspire to belong. I prefer Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice, where there's a lot more social criticism. Still, Austen's writing always makes her novels worth reading.


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