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!