Friday, 25 June 2010

The FRIDAY book review

A new feature here on Braveheart… I am inspired by two events: the movie Julie/Julia – which I highly recommend, where a young woman cooks her way through the Julia Child cookbook. Is there nothing Meryl Streep cannot do? And the purchase of 1001 Books YOU MUST READ BEFORE YOU DIE.

I intend to make my way through the book, commenting on each selection. Obviously there are 1001. There are 52 weeks in a year, with each having only one Friday, so the project will most likely have a span of at least two to eight years. Stay tuned…

I am a veracious reader and fortunate to be a rather fast one. I am, as was coined by a writer on Power Room Graffiti this week, “a literary whore”. I will read anything if it can hold my interest. I will be honest and tell you when I have not read an entire tome or not at all and am merely reviewing the review which I can see happening in the case of anything listed written by James Joyce. I read Ulysses and that was it for Joyce and me. I am on firmer ground with the old dead Russian writers as I think I read all of Tolstoy and Chekhov.

I am not firm on the format yet. I may well review more than one book at a time and throw in whatever I am reading on the side. I tend to read three to five books at a time, jumping from one to the other until done and then incorporating new books into my flow. I like to have one non-fiction, one murder (preferably serial, argh), one science-fiction (military over fantasy), and a really, really, good spy thriller (hard to find). I’m not much of a romance girl but I will read an occasional Sandra Brown or Christine Freehan – both consistent writers of
“whoo, hand me my fan” hot love scenes. I recommend them both if you like that sort of thing (she said ahem….)

So we shall see and let it evolve as I go shall we? Suggestions welcome!

First up: Aesop’s Fables by Aesopus
I believe we all had to work our way through this at sometime during school years eh?

“Aesop, according to legend, was a tongue-tied slave living on the Greek island of Samos, who miraculously received the power of speech, and subsequently won his freedom, only to be thrown to his death by the citizens of Delphi for insulting their oracle. (tough crowd) Aesop’s Fables is in reality a body of work from a huge variety of sources. Among the earliest recorded narratives, these stories have become embedded in the Western psyche…”

Included are the best known, “The Hare and the Tortoise”, “The Boy who cried Wolf”, “Jupiter and the Frogs”, where “the frogs ask Jupiter for a king. Not content with the king he sends them at first, an easy-going log, they ask for a more powerful ruler, only to be sent a water-snake, who kills them off one by one.” And bada bing, “careful what you wish for” enters the vernacular of the masses.

The Fables have been translated into languages around the world and many other bodies of work have evolved from the stories – The romance of Reynard the Fox, and Kafka’s The Metamorphosis would not have come to fruition without this background of literature. “There would be no Just So Stories by Kipling, and Orwell would never have written Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

When people talk about the fact there are no “new” ideas in literature, plays, or the movies – this tome comes to mind.

Lifespan: b.c.620 BCE (Greece), d. 560 BCE
First Edition: 4 BCE, compiled by rhetorician
First Published: c.1475 (L. Symoneli & other, Paris)
Original Title: Fabulae Aesopi

If you got through school without reading it, I do recommend it; or if you have children about the place, it is a great entertainer while teaching life lessons.

The adorable husband is a big reader as well, he tends more toward biographies so I shall try to include his reviews on whatever he’s reading.

On my reading table at present; after reading everything John Ringo has written by himself; I am now reading everything he has written in collaboration. He is a military science fiction writer of the first order. I have already finished all the series: Troy Rising, Paladin of Shadows, The Legacy of the Aldenata, The Last Centurion, and Ghost ( the adorable husband’s favourite as it made me randy as a goat in heat – go figure).

I have the same two words for John Ringo that I have for the military/spy fiction writer Vince Flynn – write faster. I recommend everything Flynn has written and read them in order, more fun that way. He creates a main character it is impossible not to root for and his cast of supporting characters is very strong. He lays out a believable plot line in the political climate of today’s world with just enough unbelievable heroics to leave you cheering.

I’m also reading Storm Prey by John Sandford – the king of serial killer thrillers. This one is off to a bit of a slow start, I’ll let you know.

And Gideon’s Spies by Gordon Thomas – “the secret history of the Mossad”. It is really fascinating I must say. Also in the non-fiction arena I am started on Lions of Medina by Doyle D. Glass – “The Marines of Charlie Company and their Brotherhood of Valour”. I’m just opening this one up..

On the non-fiction front I think everyone should know something about economics even if it is the most nebulous of subjects, and the best book I can recommend for the novice is The Mystery of Capital by Hernando De Soto (Published in 2000, still valid). I will tell you truthfully that I had to read through it twice, but I think I got it and it is mind blowing. I found it right after it came out in hardback, and have loaned it out and recommended it ad nauseam. Read it.

Remaining in the non-fiction vein, I recommend as well The End of Poverty by Jeffrey D. Sachs – another mind bender/opener to the economy of the world; included in this tome is what we might do to change it for the better.

Also The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman gives a look at the global economy and what that means for all of us on a daily going-about-our-lives basis.

These three can all be found in paperback now I’m sure.

Now I must give my little lecture (you just knew one was coming didn’t you?) that every thing we read, be it modern or ancient, was written by a person, in a particular political, cultural, religious, and economic atmosphere – that affects what people write about and how they write it. WE are all influenced by our upbringing, our education, and the lives we live; so as we read we inject our own opinions as well. I try to remember where the words came from and when, and keep my own mind open for new ideas. I’m just saying…


hofjo said...

Dr. Zhivago was written by Boris Pasternak. He was the youngest son of Cy and Mildred Pasternak who lived over on Elmcrest in Passaic. Remember them? I think they went to our Temple.

lady macleod said...

Thank you love, now I can stop wringing my brain! thank you for coming by.

Ian Lidster said...

Your new look is marvellous, as I said on FB. As for reading, something I do voraciously and eclectically, I can relate to what John Barrymore said about beautiful women (like you) -- "So many women, so little time." Same thing with books.

I Beatrice said...

"Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel. That is the book which has excited me most of all this year.

As one reviewer said "It says something for a book of 650 pages that you come away from it longing for more."

I read it, then listened to the audio version - and still I couldn't bear to let it go. Now I wait impatiently for the sequel, which is under construction, but won't appear until this time next year.

Arukiyomi - the spreadsheet guy said...

I look forward to seeing your progress with the 1001 books list.

I guess as you know about the list, you're aware of the 1001 Books spreadsheet and have a copy of the new v4 edition, right? If not, head over to the spreadsheet page on Arukiyomi.

lady macleod said...

Thank you love, and thank you for coming by.

I Beatrice
"Wolf Hall" sounds intriguing; I shall have to check it out. I love it when I find a volume that I find that fascinating.
thank you for coming by.

thank you and thank you for coming by.

I Beatrice said...

May one - dare one I wonder? - add another small category to your booklist?

The category I have in mind is "The book/or books I'd most like to have written myself".

I adore and admire many books, but there are only two that I wish I had actually written myself.

The first is "The Great Gatsby".
(Ok, you dislike it I know, but I won't hold that against you! Nor does it in any way diminish its perpetual charm for me.)

The second (and I agree it has little obvious connection with the first) is Balzac's "Eugenie Grandet".

I won't burden you with an account of what these two books mean to me - but I'd be fascinated to learn which book or books you perhaps wish you'd written yourself?

(I never got far with Joyce by the way - but I did stagger through all five volumes of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past" (in English I fear).

Some of it bored or irritated me, but there were passages - and long ones too! - in which I simply exulted.

There's a little game you play when reading Proust, besides. It's called "getting all the way to the end of the sentence without once looking back to see how it began"!

Great fun, that.