Saturday, December 24, 2011

32. The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia
Samuel Johnson

Three posts in two days.  I am on a roll!  Actually, these books have been really short lately but I prefer to attribute my success to my extreme awesomeness. The next book is pretty expensive and unavailable so I am going to read Moby Dick first.  Wish me luck!

This novel was similar in style to Candide but carried a completely different message.  While Voltaire was saying that life sucks because horrifying things will always happen to you, Johnson communicated a more relatable message.  Johnson's message was that even if you live a life of fortune and pleasure, you will still be unhappy because human beings themselves are unhappy.  You don't have to be raped, tortured, or robbed to be miserable; you simply have to exist.  Johnson's story followed a prince and a princess who were tired of living a life of isolation and pleasure and wanted to see the world (something I can really relate to).

Like I said, this book is often compared to Candide and often loses.  Though I think they are both great, Rasselas carried a more unique message.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

I need some more pronunciation help here.  Raze-ul-lay?

Johnson wrote the book in order to provide for his sick mother.  Awww...

Rasselas, Pennsylvania was named after a guy who was fond of the story.  U S A!

Referenced in Mansfield Park, Jane Eyre, and Little Women.

It was quite a relief to not have to read about another ridiculous love story.

Friday, December 23, 2011

31. Candide


Look at me, doing two book posts in one day.  I actually just finished Candide; it took me about an hour.  I was listening to the Beatles White Album and didn't even finish the album.  You have to admire Voltaire's directness.

I found this novella extremely startling.  For one thing, I have become accustomed to reading happy, light novels on the list that all end in harmony.  This book was really disturbing.  The characters in this book are raped, tortured, killed, robbed, and enslaved.  I was also surprised because my prior knowledge of the book was flawed.  In high school, my world studies teacher said that by praising England in Candide, Voltaire was able to simultaneously condemn France.  Do you guys agree with that?  Voltaire seemed to attack England as well.  Actually, Voltaire pretty much attacked everything that had mass.

Like I said, this story was really depressing.  However, I really liked it.  Candide slowly loses his optimism as he experiences complete calamities.  His mentor, though, thinks that everything turns out for the best and that a preestablished philosophy is the best kind.  Something to think about.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

It is pronounced like Can-deed, right?

There are so many for this one that I might as well give you the link to the Wikipedia.  Click here for some interesting reading.

30. The Female Quixote

The Female Quixote
Charlotte Lennox

This is a really light and comedic read.  I will try not to compare it to Don Quixote too much because even though the books are similar, comparing any novel to Don Quixote just sets it up for failure.

This novel is about Arabella, a beautiful rustic who believes that romance novels are fact.  She fakes swoons, believes that it is a grave crime to tell someone you love them without first attempting suicide, and dresses in retro fashion.  The secondary characters, however, are what really makes the novel shine.  Mr. Glanville is in love with Arabella and is often mortified when she goes on ridiculous tangents.  Sir George, a friend of Glanville's, realizes that Arabella is a little bit insane and plays that part of the chivalrous knight, presumably to get in bed with her.

I was surprised that this novel was so hilarious.  Up until now on the list, the books by women have been mediocre and only placed on this list because they were written by females.  I particularly liked this novel because I had read a couple of Greek romances for the purpose of the 1001 journey (see Chaireas and Kallirhoe) so I was able to understand what they were making fun of.  Highly recommended.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

This novel was used as a model for Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey.

Henry Fielding and Samuel Richardson both "approved" the novel.

This novel was a comment on the power women held over men.

Monday, December 5, 2011

29. Amelia

Henry Fielding

Before you think that we have another Clarissa in our hands, I want to tell you that my long hiatus is due more to my infidelities than the length of Amelia.  I read the newest Sue Grafton and Tenant of Wildfell Hall since Peregrine Pickle (both were pretty amazing novels).  I am back with a vengeance, though, and will hopefully churn out more than one a month.

This was Fielding's last novel and I am sincerely sorry to see him go.  While this book certainly does not hold up against Tom Jones, it was truly great.  The story centers on a young couple, William and Amelia, who are very poor but very much in love.  Amelia is so charming and beautiful (we should count how many women have fallen under this category so far) that many men fall in love with her, much to her chagrin.  I think I have said this before but characters who are absolutely perfect often bore me, and Amelia is one of those characters.  However, the rest of the characters more than make up for her perfections.  Possibly the most interesting two characters are Colonel James and his wife who mutually hate each other.  Colonel James falls in lust with Amelia and comes up with really evil schemes to make her his mistress while Mrs. James loves William Booth.  This has the makings of a great romcom!

Henry Fielding's writing style is, as always, flawless.  Women are insulted a bit too much for my liking but it comes with the times.  I wouldn't recommend this as your quintessential Fielding but it is certainly a great novel.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Fielding became involved in a "paper war" because of this novel.

John Cleland loved this novel.  I am sure Fielding was glad to have his support...

Many allusions to literary works were about books that I have on the list (Metamorphoses, Clarissa, Tom Jones, Fanny Hill).  I felt so smart!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

28. The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle

Adventures of Peregrine Pickle
Tobias Smollett

Honestly, I did not take much away from this book.  It was so dull that my eyes went on automatic and read while my mind wandered.  The novel tried desperately to imitate both Don Quixote and Tom Jones and it failed miserably.  It actually ended up being a carbon copy of Roderick Random which was just as boring.

My version of the book was around 800 pages.  Like I said, Smollett was obviously trying to one up his rival, Henry Fielding.  However, the main character is nowhere near as lovable as Tom Jones.  Likewise, Smollett tried to be charmingly random like Cervantes.  There was a random novella inserted into this book titled Memoirs of a Lady.  This was mildly entertaining but completely unoriginal (it read almost exactly like Moll Flanders).  It also had no place in the book; at least Cervantes gave some reasoning for inserting The Impertinently Curious Man.

Altogether, this book was a sloppy composite of more popular books from the era.  What's worse, this isn't the last Smollett on the list.  Ugh...

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

I read Howard's End during this which was also a yawn.  I hope the next book is really good.

Henry Fielding, David Garrick, and Fitzroy Lee were all models of villains in the book.

I love reading comments!  Thanks everyone for putting them up!

Monday, October 17, 2011

27. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (popularly known as Fanny Hill)
John Cleland

Believe me, I had a hard time finding an appropriate picture for this post.  My mother reads this blog, for goodness sake.

Sex, sex, and more sex.  That is what this novel is about.  Fanny Hill has lots of sex, she watches people have lots of sex, and sexual encounters are descibed in detail.  This, of course, makes for an incredibly dull novel.  After the first couple of times Cleland described sex, he really didn't have anywhere else to go, and so it became very repetitive.  Unless you are really immature or horny, this novel really won't interest you.

That being said, I do appreciate the stark constrast between a novel like this and a novel like Clarissa.  Sex is the worst thing that could ever happen to a woman according to Richardson and yet according to Cleland it is just plain fun!  I always appreciate influential novels.  I think, though, that books like Tom Jones (where sex is casually mentioned as an activity people do without having their lives revolving around it) probably did more for the progression of modernism rather than pure porn.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

In 1749, Cleland was arrested for "corrupting the King's subjects".

In a huge Supreme Court case, Memoirs vs. Massachusettes, the ban on the book was lifted.

The history of this book is really interesting so if you want to read more about it click here.

The female Tom Jones?  I don't think so!

Monday, October 10, 2011

26. Tom Jones

Tom Jones
Henry Fielding

This is one of those happy occasions when I get to review one of my favorite books.  Tom Jones is like nothing I have ever read before.  It combines the wit of books like Clarissa with the hilarity of novels like Don Quixote.

This book follows the shenanigans of an illegitmate rake, Tom Jones. many ladies, but then falls in love with Sophia Western.  Sophia is a very Pamela-like character. This makes her less interesting then say, Ms. Fitzpatrick, who is a liberated woman who runs away from her husband.  Fielding controls who you hate, love, or laugh at and I completely submitted myself to him.

This novel is extremely well-written.  I had to read out loud certain quotes to random people because the lines were so eloquent.  I am pretty sure no one cared, but it was worth it.  The most enjoyable parts of the novel came from Fielding's introductions to each new book.  He pretty much talked about whatever the hell he wanted to at that moment and I drank in every word.  Fielding challenged virtue (he just can't stop criticizing Richardson!), critics, plays, and other writers.  His very last preface almost made me cry.  He compared the reader and the author to two people that accompany each other in a carriage and though we will probably never see each other again, we enjoyed each other's company and will depart cheerfully.  Truly an amazing experience and you own it to yourself to read it.  I am going to be foisting this book on everyone I know.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

This novel was turned into a movie in 1963.  I don't know if I should rent it, or if I should just avoid the inevitable disapointment.

The topics that were included in this novel (protistution, class discrimination, illegitimacy, etc.) made critics pan the book for its "lowness".  Henry Fielding told the critics at the beginning to mind their own business so it is their own fault.

Trailer for the movie version:

Monday, September 26, 2011

25. The Adventures of Roderick Random

The Adventures of Roderick Random
Tobias Smollett

I had a really weird experience getting this book.  I ordered it off Amazon and the book that was delivered started on chapter 47.  It doesn't say anywhere that it was a two volume set but whatever.  I ended up having to read the first half electronically (yuck!).  So just be warned if you want to buy this.  I have no idea why you would want to though.

This book is described as being quixotic so I was super excited.  The main character, Roderick, is completely unlikable.  I have read good books with anti-heroes but I think you were supposed to like him.  The author didn't seem able to make up his mind on that front.  The adventures that he partook in were just as frivolous as Don Quixote's but not funny at all.  I just kind of felt like I was reading pointless, boring trash.

Roderick was a major womanizer and yet you were supposed to be utterly enthusiastic about his love story.  Smollett also snuck in some random stories like Cervantes did but they were a lot less entertaining.  This whole book was a hit and a miss.  It was also a waste of my time.  The next one is supposed to be great though...

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

This is partly based on Smollett's own experiences as a naval surgeon.

Amazon can no longer be trusted.

No videos, aren't you used to it?

Monday, September 5, 2011

24. Clarissa

Samuel Richardson

Yeah, I just read the longest real novel in the English language, what of it?

So the version I read was a nine volume set averaging on 390 pages a volume.  I felt like I had always been reading that book and would be for the rest of my life.  That is what I hate about really long novels.  I probably won't remember much of the story in twenty years, but I will remember the length.  It becomes an endurance test and then you never read it again.  Also, you get sick of it rather easily.  And I am proving my point right now by only talking about the enormity of it!

This book is like a really long version of Pamela but better.  While Pamela ends happily and the creepier parts are sugar-coated, Clarissa is much darker and tragic.  Clarissa Harlowe is, of course, beautiful, smart, and loving.  She is an object to pretty much everyone.  No one (besides her best friend) seems to care about her feelings or happiness.  All they care about is her looks and fortune.  Clarissa is not okay with this, and dreams of living a single life, which makes her very modern for her time.  Unlike Pamela, her family doesn't care at all about her and continually tries to make her marry Solmes.  She then is tricked into moving in with supervillian Lovelace to escape from marital doom.  Lovelace is like Mr. B 2.0.  He is smarter, darker, and meaner.  He reminded me of the Terminator.  He just couldn't be stopped.  Hint for what happens: unlike in Pamela, fainting doesn't save Clarissa.

This book is absolutely exhausting.  So is it worth it?  I would say, yes.  You should probably space it out and read something else during it if you are going to attempt this.  It is a great feeling to say you finished the longest book EVER!

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The third edition of this book had over a million words.

There was a 1991 television adaptation of BBC.  I have had enough of these stories for a lifetime though.

I really enjoyed the character Anna Howe.  She was kind of like Elizabeth Bennet.  She was really witty and always said what she was thinking.

Very excited to see all my new followers:).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

23. Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded
Samuel Richardson
Richardson pamela 1741.jpg
Well, that was weird.

Let me start by explaining the kind of surreal story.  A fifteen-year-old servant named Pamela is kidnapped by her master after several failed attempts to rape her.  She is kept prisoner and subjected to all sorts of horrors.  For instance, he insists on reading all her letters and her diary.  She is also called a bunch of names like "slut" or "sauce-box."  Finally, she realizes (who wouldn't?) that she is in love with him.  Um, okay.  The second part of novel recounts their marriage and her attempt to fit into high society.


This is an absolutely insane, sexist novel.  In one part, Mr. B. claims that the greatest thing a wife should fear is the disapproval of her husband.  Like hell.  Anyway, I feel we have to put all this aside (it was the 1700s after all) and focus on the writing.

I will start with what I liked.  It is an epistolary novel which I love (Dracula is one of my favorites).  The writing is actually quite clever and some of Pamela's conversations are extremely witty and interesting.  On the other hand, some of the writing is elementary.  It is one of those things where the good characters are attractive and the evil characters are revolting.  Also, Richardson lays it on a little thick when it comes to Pamela.  She is virtually perfect: beautiful, smart, virtuous, innocent, kind, etc.  No depth. And it is not enough that we figure that out, every other second someone is complimenting her on her wit or beauty.  Still, this novel was very entertaining and I was rarely bored with it (although some events seemed to repeat themselves).  Don't expect a daring tale about escaping from prisons.  She doesn't really do anything about her imprisonment.  A good read, nonetheless, despite logic and reason having gone out the window.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The book messed up!  This came before Joseph Andrews (it had to have because Joseph Andrews is kind of a spoof off this).

The next book is a real whopper.  Clarissa is 1500 pages of pretty much the same story but I am still looking forward to it.

Widely read and debated in its time.

Henry Fielding and Eliza Haywood both wrote Pamela spoofs.

I cannot imagine that this would be a movie.

22. Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus

Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus
Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, John Arbuthnot, Thomas Parnell, and Henry St. John

Don't get the wrong impression from how long it took me to put up this post.  This book took like three weeks to get here but I was able to read it in one sitting.  But I have been reading ahead so more posts are going to be up shortly!

This book was written by the Scriblerus club (I wonder if they had jackets).  Is that not the most pretentious name of a club that you have ever heard in your life?  The story follows Martinus Scriblerus and includes a story about him being in love with himself and his failed marriage. Each member wrote a different chapter.  The foreword of my edition showed how cocky there were.  They called themselves "the greatest wits of their age."  Gees, guys show some humility...

If you have read my previous reviews, you know how I feel about Swift.  I expected to really hate this book.  However, I only ended up sort of hating it.  It is extremely pretentious.  The kind of book that rich, snobby people would describe as drole.  I didn't think it was funny at all.  I mean, I don't have a scathological sense of humor by any means but it was still way too uppity for me.  However, it was understandable and short so it didn't bother me too much because I didn't waste much time with it.  I would skip it.  You wouldn't miss much.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

This was an incomplete satirical novel.  They said in the ending that they would continue with more volumes but apparently they all died before they got the chance.

Martinus Scriblerus was a pseudonym of Pope's.

No video.  Surprisingly enough, this hasn't been made into a movie!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

21. Joseph Andrews

Joseph Andrews
Henry Fielding

I was astonished by how much I enjoyed this book seeing how no one I know has ever heard of it.  Including me.  However, this has been my second favorite book so far (second of course to Don Quixote). The books are actually quite similar and there are numerous references to my old favorite in the text.

This novel is about a handsome fellow named Joseph Andrews (who I pictured as Ewan McGregor from the description).  He is in love with, get this, Fanny Goodwill.  He has many adventures which include really interesting and unpredictable twists.  It is really hard to surprise the audience when your book is almost 300 years old but old Henry does it.

I really loved this book but to be fair, I should address other people's complaints about it.  For one, I have read that people thought it was boring.  I did not get that at all and this book is really short.  How come this is short but Gargantua and Pantagruel was like 700 pages?  But I am digressing.... The book is also pretty sexist but you cannot expect much from a book from the 1700s.  It also is really Christian which always annoys the shit out of me but it is worth it.  Definitely worth it.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

One of the characters is named Lady Booby. HEHE!

Fielding develops one of the first London police forces.

Sorry about the serious post.  Rough day...

Friday, July 15, 2011

20. Modest Proposal

Modest Proposal
Jonathan Swift

If you read my last review, you probably think I am going to tear this apart. I liked it though.  This is the first book on the list so far that I had read before I attempted this crazy goal.  It is a mere eight pages and actually conveyed meanings rather than just packing punches like other Swift novels.

I would be surprised if you had never read this in high school, but if you haven't, here is the premise.  Swift suggests that we should eat children to solve the problems of poverty and overpopulation.  He is, of course, not being serious (apparently when it was published people really did not get that).

Few books up to this point have been laugh-out-loud funny but this one certainly was.  The size also helped.  I get sick of Swift and his smarminess after over two hundred pages of pointless rants.  Definitely worth the ten minutes it takes.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The milestone of twenty has been reached!

Swift's novel made fun of all the illogical solutions that people were coming up with during the times.

Parts of this were read on The Colbert Report which is indeed worth mentioning.

19. Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels
Jonathan Swift

Ugh, Jonathan "The Ultimate Armchair Analyst" Swift.  That smarmy son of a bitch. Another book that is known by almost everyone since childhood.  When you reread it as an adulthood, however, you see that there is a powerful politic message!  The message is complete bullshit and is not interesting in the slightest, but hey: it is there.

This book is about a man who travels around the world because he has an insatiable need to go to sea (that is said in almost the exact same phrasing as it was in Sinbad the Sailer; really, Swift?).  In his most famous adventure, he is big and everyone else is small.  He also goes to a place where the reverse is true.

Swift had many messages that he wanted his book to convey (you can just picture his smirk).  First off, he was making fun of the success of Robinson Crusoe. This is why I hate Swift so much.  You can feel the punch but afterwards you are like: what was that for?  He was probably just jealous that it was more success than Tale of a Tub (cannot imagine why).  Swift also mocks religion and power and human nature.  After reading it though, I didn't feel like I had read a clever way of looking at things.  I was just kind of wondering what his point was.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

I read this book on my trip after a particularly mean French waiter started doing nasty imitations of us to the other waiters.  Maybe that is why I hate this book so much.

New adaptation starring Jack Black came out in 2010:

18. Roxana

Daniel Defoe

Well, I am back from my total calamity of a trip to France (we are talking lost luggage, rude French people, liitle sleep, and around 300 embarrassing moments).  There will be no more interruptions in my posts from now on so hopefully I will not be in my eighties when I finish this list.

Roxana is very similar (a little too similar for my liking) to Moll Flanders. Roxana goes through her life being wicked and benefits from it.  Of course, like in Moll Flanders, Roxana would not have been as horrible of a woman now as she was back then.  Sure, making your maid sleep with your lover and watching is a bit awful. She also abandons a lot of her children.  But some of her other "crimes" were having sex without being married and refusing to marry a man because she didn't want him to take her money. I don't blame her for a lot of her life.  Woman could not exactly support themselves back then and Roxana knew she had what men, ahem, want and made use of it.

I enjoyed this novel more than Moll Flanders, but again I do not think that an author should have two novels that have basically the same plot.  It came across as a little lazy.  So we say goodbye to Defoe.  Nice finish.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Roxana was avant le lettre. That means that she was a feminist before there was a word for feminists.

The only movie version of this book is some dramatic dance.  I think I will pass.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

17. Moll Flanders

Moll Flanders
Daniel Defoe

I am back!  It has been an extremely long time since I have updated this.  Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, it was more like two weeks.  Every summer, I reread my favorite series so I have not gotten to work on the list for awhile.  But now full steam ahead (until the next summer, of course).

Moll Flanders is a fictional, auto-biography about a woman who lives a "wicked" life.  Some of her exploits include incest, thievery, bigamy, prostitution, and abandoning all her children (she had like over ten!).  Of course, everything that she considered "wicked" is not in today's society.  For instance, Moll had sex before getting married a lot.  She considered this whoring while most people consider it a first date (just kidding)!

I have several grievances with this book that I just want to get out of the way right now.  First off, this novel is known as having a strong female character.  Moll is strong in her own way, I guess, but not in a cool, feminist way but more like in a "don't do this way."  It almost gives the impression that you cannot be an independent woman unless you are a horrible woman.  This novel also got a little repetitive sometimes.  Moll recounts like seven different thefts she pulled that really are the same regurgitated event.

Now to what I liked.  This novel is really interesting.  Moll herself is rather detached but you still find yourself rooting for her.  I have to hand it to Defoe, he is really good at stepping into other people's shoes.  You would think he would be less racist.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

I am going to be traveling for awhile.  I am taking the next book on the list with me.  I will also be taking The Count of Monte Cristo which is on the list but of course further along.  I will not be able to update for awhile but I will be reading!

There is an American movie adaptation of this novel but it takes a lot of liberties but I figure it cannot be that bad considering it has Morgan Freeman in it. Here is the trailer:

Monday, June 6, 2011

16. Love in Excess

Love in Excess
Eliza Haywood

First of all, I want to apologize for taking so long on this post.  I had a hard time finding this book and I ended up having to buy the textbook edition and it took like two weeks to get to my house.  I read some list books in between but I will not blog about those until we reach them chronologically.  So on with the book.

This novel is divided into three parts which were published at different times.  At first, I liked this novel.  It is written in a very Jane Austen-like style which I loved.  It also had a relatively interesting plot line.  Granted, it had a very big build up for an abrupt ending, but I still enjoyed the first part.  The second and third parts, however, were just ridiculous.

This book is about Count D'Elmont who has "fatal attractions" which pretty much means that you will fall in love with him whenever you first see him which hinders a lot of the characters, particularly his wife.  D'Elmont marries Alvoisa and then falls in love with another woman and they both whine about it for the rest of the book.  This novel opens you up to a world where no one cares about anything but looks, women are stupid and senistive, and people kill other human beings and don't give it another thought.  There is little to no characterization and everything is extremely over the top.  This is the kind of junk book you would read as a guilty pleasure.  In my opinion, it has no place in a list of classics.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

My theory is that this is on the list because it was written by a woman.  The book is not exactly feminist and I have not enjoyed the female writers at all so far.  Way to represent, ladies...

This was one of the most popular books of its time along with Robinson Crusoe.

There are numerous references to both Metamorphoses and Oroonoko so you can feel really cool if you have been reading these books chronologically.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

An Announcement!

Just wanted to announce that I will be participated in two more 1001 blogs.  I will be blogging with my best friend, Brie, and tracking the 1001 Paintings and the 1001 Albums.  I think I have a clinical obsession with these books and should just embrace it.  Those blogs will be up and running shortly, and if you are interested, you can reach them by clicking the links under "My Other Blogs" section.  But if you are strictly in this for the books, I will be updating this blog with Love in Excess shortly.
Until then,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

15. Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe

Well, I learned three things from this novel:
1. If someone is not Christian they are savage and can be treated like tamed animals.
2. If you are watching someone be killed you should not intervene.  It is none of your business because they are not hurting you and the murderers will be punished by a "higher power."
3. If you save anyone's life, they are your slave for life.
I loved how this novel started out.  After Robinson Crusoe gets shipwrecked on a desert island (if that spoiled anything for you I do not know where you have been for the last three centuries), it is really interesting to see how he survives.  He does all sorts of interesting things to built an abode on the island.  He even tames wild animals.  However, when Crusoe starts training people, that is where I draw the line.  Crusoe has some sort of weird complex where he believes that he is king of the island and anyone else he comes across is his servant.  This is particularly sickening when he meets Friday (a name he bestows on the man) and starts to not only make the man his slave but also starts to shove religious jargon down the guy's throat.
After all this though, I must say that this was one of the most engaging books on the list so far.  I mean, I know it was disgusting (at some points my whole body tensed) but it was really interesting which cannot be said for most of the novels so far (I am looking at you, Euphues).

RATING: ***-- (----- for the message)

Interesting Facts:

This novel has been adapted a countless amount of times from Swiss Family Robinson to one of my favorite movies Castaway.

This book marked the beginning of realistic fiction as a genre.

Often thought to be the first English novel but we list-lovers know that that was Oroonoko.

This is a trailer for the 1997 film Robinson Crusoe.  It has Pierce Brosnan in it and who doesn't love him?

Monday, May 23, 2011

14. Tale of a Tub

Tale of a Tub
Jonathan Swift

Wow.  That "novel" was a piece of shit. When you read a book it is supposed to be edited!  You should not be subjected to everything that may enter the author's mind at that time.  This book was stupid and boring and just altogether the worst.

This loose story which maybe is about 20% of the book (the other 80% being his ramblings) is about three brothers who are actually allegories for the Church of England, the Catholic Church, and the Baptist Church.  First of all, can you think of a more boring allegory?  I mean seriously, I LOVE talking about religion but this is ridiculous!  When the writer was actually on task with the book (which was very rare) it felt like I was reading a text book.  Furthermore, he added this second part which isn't even part of The Tale of a Tub.  It is called the battle of the books and I actually read like 20 pages.  It was not even part of the fucking book.  That's right, I actually read more of this than I had to.  FML.

RATING: -----

Interesting (that is NOT the word for this book) Facts:

The word "tub" is actually a pun on Swift's position in the clergy.  I know you are cracking up right now.

Queen Anne found this book very offensive and it damaged Swift's position in the Church of England.  He deserves it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

13. Oroonoko

Aphra Behn
This book reminded me of The Pilgrim's Progress.  If you have ever been unfortunate enough to read The Pilgrim's Progress, you know what my opinion is going to be.  This book sucked!  It was offensive to all sorts of people: there is something for everyone!  First off, the main character is an African (unclear as to where in Africa) prince who is actually quite attractive, according to the author, because he does not look like a black person.  Oroonoko gets sold into slavery, slavery being something he is okay with unless it happens to him.  The novel also centers around his lover, who is supposed to feel incredibly guilty for being raped.  I will not give away the ending, but suffice to say it is really offensive to women as well.  That was awful but the good news is we are starting the 1700s. Don't read this unless you are an alien because you are going to be offended if you are from our species.

RATING: *---- (it gets one star because it is short)

Interesting Facts:
The author actually worked as a spy for Charles II but was not paid properly so had to make a living writing.  For some reason, her writing was very successful and she was able to have a rewarding career.

There have been claims that this is the first English novel but they are widely disputed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

12. Princess of Cleves

Princess of Cleves
Madame de La Fayette

I thought this book was a very pleasant past time.  Not a lot of energy or time is needed to read this book and it is always nice to read a simple romance.  This book is about a woman who is married to a man she respects but does not love.  She then falls in love with a duke (mostly because he is attractive) and subsequently laments over her misfortune for the rest of the book.  It was very enjoyable and it was interesting because you were in the character's heads which was not usual for the time.  However, I felt the lovers in this book didn't love each other based on each other's merit, but rather that they craved what they clearly could not have.  The first half of this book is available on Google Books but to find the other volumes you must find a different program.
RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

This novel brilliantly reconstructs the court of Henry II.  The main character is fictional but mostly everyone else were real figures.

During the time this novel came out, there were a huge amount of long romance novels that were highly unrealistic unlike The Princess of Cleves which has a very believable plot line.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

11. Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan

I could give you all the reasons I hate this book but you have probably heard them already.  I mean seriously who likes this book?  No matter what religion you are this book is offensive and a waste of time.  I did enjoy meeting the characters Atheist and Passion.  They seem like pleasant company and I think I will try to get their number.
RATING: -----
I will not be updating this at a rapid fire pace anymore because I am officially current with what I am reading now.

Quick Break from the Action

Hi everyone!
Just wanted to let you know that I am branching out soon.  I have the movie list book too so I might start a blog featuring those.  The only reason I haven't yet is because I have been watching them randomly and I wanted to wait until I watched them chronologically.  My other dream is to see the 1,000 Places You Must See Before You Die and blog about it.  It is just a pipe dream but maybe one day I will do it.  Pourquoi pas?  Also, if you are reading this can you leave a comment so I don't feel like a loser?  Thanks!

10. Don Quixote

Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes  

First of all, to save yourself embarrassment it is pronounced "key-oh-tee."  I had someone ask me what I thought of Don "quiz-ox" and they sounded like a freaking moron.  
I practically did a dance when I read this.  It was wonderful.  So many different characters drifted through this book and I became attached to all of them.  I felt like something had been taken away from me when I finished.  It was very sad. 
RATING: ***** 

9. The Unfortunate Traveller

The Unfortunate Traveller
Thomas Nashe
I was rubber and this book was glue.  When I think back to what this book was about all I hear is white noise.  I remember the gruesome rape but that is about it.  That was awful.  This story is about a traitless character who just bounces around doing nothing.  I am boring myself so I will just give my rating and be done with this!
RATING: *----

8. Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit

Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit
John Lyly (aka my nemesis)

First Gargantua and Pantagruel and now this?  This is just getting cruel.  This book was a double whammy because not only was it really boring but it was hard to read too so you had to keep rereading pages.  I really want to know who is responsible for putting this book on the list and I want to kick their Golden Ass.
RATING: -----

7. Gargantua and Pantagruel

Gargantua and Pantagruel
Francois Rabelais
Words cannot even express how much I hated this book.  I read it while I was visiting London so I had given myself ample time to read (on planes, the tube, the flat, etc.)  and I hated myself for it.  It was gross, boring, crude, stupid, irrelevant, and just overall the worst.  I know it might be because I am a girl or that I did not grasp its significance but come on people!  The only theme I derived from this was poop.
RATING: -----

6. The Thousand and One Nights

The Thousand and One Nights
I probably did not do this book justice.  I read it in very long spurts with no interruption between stories.  It was frighteningly derogatory towards women (although pretty much all of them have been up to this point).  I won't go into that anymore or I will sound like my mother but the point is I thought it was hard to relate to.  I feel like I did not connect to any character and some of their emotions and actions baffled me.  Just kill the son of bitch before he has a chance to rape and kill anymore people!
RATING: *----

5. The Golden Ass

The Golden Ass
Lucius Apulies

Okay, elephant in the room, a woman slept with a donkey.  Not totally creeped out?  Think about it when you are in bed tonight and believe me, you will be.  This is actually the only Latin novel to survive in complete form which is random, not useful information but still cool.  I found it hard to like this book because the author does not really give you a chance to fall in love with the character and then you are stuck with him for the whole book.  My favorite part was actually the Cupid and Psyches story which is often ridiculed.
RATING: **---

4. Aithiopika

Not only did this one have a nonlinear plot (which was incredibly influential) but it also had a damn good one.  As I was reading the scene of destruction at the beginning, I could almost see it playing out on the silver screen.  This couple was also more likable than the Kallirhoe and Chaireas.  This book also makes you contemplate love.  Everyone instantly "falls in love" with these women because they are beautiful.  Can that really be deemed love or just mere infatuation?  I mean, come on, would you want to spend the rest of your lives with these people?  It would be exhausting!
RATING: ***--

3. Chaireas and Kallirhoe

Chaireas and Kallirhoe
I loved this one! Yes, I know it is overly dramatic and romantic but it also happened to be thrilling and intriguing.  I actually stood up and starting pacing during the trial scene.  
This book is about the troubled romance of Chaireas (who is a domestically violent lover), Kallirhoe (who for some reason thinks she can get pity because she is pretty), and Dionysos (a clueless sucker).  Maybe I was just desperate for something resembling romance that didn't involve rape after Metamorphoses!
RATING: ****-

2. Metamorphoses

Oh dear god (no pun intended)!  This book took every ounce of will power I had to finish.  First of all, my translator kept acting like this book was diverging from true Christian history.  I subscribe to no religion and that really pissed me off.  I came into this book so innocently because I usually enjoy myths but...yikes.  My immature interpretation of it is that is was long and boring.  On the upside, this book is referenced so many times in other works of fiction that I feel superior for having gotten through it.
RATING: **---

1. Aesop's Fables

Aesop's Fables

Things went very smoothly for me when it came to reading the first book.  This was at my very sparse library, it was short, and it was easy to read.  I was so caught up in my success however that I forgot to ask myself:  is this enjoyable?
The short answer is not really.  I mean it was pretty choppy and for someone who dislikes both poetry and vignettes, I could not get into it.  It is worth a read but when I look back at this book I only look at it with indifference.
RATING: **---

A Huge Undertaking

Hello everyone!
Like so many other internet bloggers out there, I found a book called 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. I have decided (I know you are stunned by my originality) to read the books and blog about them.  I genuinely believe that I will not stop to the very end.  Whether or not you choose to believe and/or follow me is up to you.  Let the painstakingly slow progress begin!