Author Topic: 2015 Reading Challenge  (Read 2407 times)

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Re: 2015 Reading Challenge
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2015, 02:12:15 PM »
1Q84 Vol 2 by Haruki Murakami.
1Q84 Vol 3 by Haruki Murakami.

I never wrote up stuff about the second section of this giant book, so here's the full thing all together.

I talked in my review of Vol 1 about how slow moving the story was and how well it served the characters. Well, that kinda ran its course. These second two volumes (again, the whole shebang is usually sold in the US as one big book) feel way too long for the amount of things that actually happen. For every exciting event - and there certainly are a few here - there are endless pages of characters thinking to themselves about what happened three chapters ago, or planning what's going to happen three chapters from now. While there's something to be said for getting very deep into a character's mind (and the third volume expands the POV characters out to three, which provides something new and interesting in the late stages of the story), these particular characters just don't have quite enough going on, internally, to support such a page count. It's too bad, because what events do happen are among Murakami's most cleverly devised. The story also builds to a climax that never happens, and the characters have spent so much time contemplating the eventualities that when they actually happen it is neither exciting nor revelatory. Murakami often builds to a certain kind of epiphany and here is just feels perfunctory, which is about the opposite of what you want from him. It's an interesting exercise and what it has to say about religions and cults is pretty interesting, it just lacks the pizzazz for which I usually love Murakami.

4/5.
3/5.
4/5 overall


Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

This is one of the greats of modern-ish sci-fi and for good reason. Dan Simmons crafts an updated version of the Canterbury Tales and allows each of seven traveling pilgrims to tell his or her story, each of which indulges in a different kind of storytelling, though not quite to the spectacular degree of those found in Cloud Atlas. But then, what book is quite as great as Cloud Atlas? Anyways, the main sticking point here is the titular world of Hyperion, a planet soon to be inducted into the Hegemony of Man, the diaspora of humans who abandoned Old Earth as it ate itself and became a network of teleporter-connected worlds and peoples. But Hyperion is a little different, it is home to the Shrike of legend, the manifestation of death shrouded in blades upon blades and with the ability to kill a person in an instant. Its lives among the Time Tombs, a bunch of vaguely Egyptian monuments which seem to be traveling backwards through time, and it is to him (it?) that the characters are traveling, hoping to finally gain an audience with him so he can grant them a wish, basically. So there are a lot of big ideas happening here, but it's not the inventive universe Simmons created which kept me reading raptly, its the characters.

For the majority of the story, the character we follow closest is referred to only as the Consul, and basically all we know about him is that he's big into the piano. The other characters start just as sketched in, but as each tells his or her story, they quickly become fully fleshed out people. There's a religious man who takes on the suffering of others, a PI whose noir story involves artificial intelligences and romance, and a father whose daughter is suffering from a terrible affliction, among others. Rarely does a character's backstory overstay its welcome, a feat accomplished in part thanks to the focus on Hyperion. John Keats is a big player here, too, and his voice echoes through the other characters often. Simmons rewards a well-rounded reader as he references Romantic poets and the deep-thoughts sci-fi of Blade Runner and Star Trek. But his universe is not one glued piecemeal together, it is its own thing, full of fascinating technology and ideas and, most importantly, people.

5/5.
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Re: 2015 Reading Challenge
« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2015, 07:08:18 PM »
01. A book with more than 500 pages
13. A book set in a different country
29. A book set somewhere youíve always wanted to visit
42. A book you own but have never read
44. A book that was originally written in a different language

     Foucault's Pendulum (Umberto Eco, 1988)

I blame this book for a recent spell of depression. Foucault's Pendulum is, in large part, a satire of academic masturbation, wherein the infinite meanings available to those who look for them add up to utter meaningless. Ignorance is the only true knowledge, and this sole truism only comes to light in death. It's all very bleak and nihilistic and fóking sad, as satires go. Or maybe I was just too worn out by the litanies of proper names and the general avalanche of esotericism ó because it's really a rather playful book, sort of The Da Vinci Code filtered backwards through The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. Like Eco's earlier novel The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum is an impressive literary synthesis of wide-ranging scholarship. Again, though, Eco's narrative is just one big MacGuffin ó an excuse to travel through the highest stacks of the library and extract random tidbits from the dustiest volumes there. The plot, as described on the back cover, doesn't really kick in until about page 300 of this 500+ novel. Not that those pages aren't interesting; but at certain points, I definitely wondered why I wasn't just reading a non-fiction account of the Knights Templar instead.

Grade: B-

Next up: Kafka on the Shore.

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DarkeningHumour

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Re: 2015 Reading Challenge
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2015, 02:07:25 AM »
01. A book with more than 500 pages
02. A classic romance - romance as in romantic or as in a novel ?
03. A book that became a movie - does a TV series count ?
04. A book published this year
05. A book with a number in the title
06. A book written by someone under 30
07. A book with nonhuman characters
08. A funny book
09. A book by a female author - tss, women can't write...
10. A mystery or thriller
11. A book with a one-word title - I am not counting the "the"
12. A book of short stories
13. A book set in a different country
14. A nonfiction book
15. A popular authorís first book
16. A book from an author you love that you havenít read yet
17. A book a friend recommended
18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book
19. A book based on a true story
20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list - but I don't have an ordered to-read list...
21. A book your mom loves
22. A book that scares you
23. A book more than 100 years old
24. A book based entirely on its cover
25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didnít - I read them all...
26. A memoir
27. A Book you can finish in a day
28. A book with antonyms in the title
29. A book set somewhere youíve always wanted to visit
30. A Book that came out the year you were born
31. A book with bad reviews
32. A trilogy - the entire thing or just part ? I don't read entire trilogies in a year as a rule.
33. A book from your childhood
34. A book with a love triangle - well, sorta
35. A book set in the future
36. A book set in high school
37. A book with a color in the title
38. A book that made you cry
39. A book with magic
40. A graphic novel
41. A book by an author youíve never read before
42. A book you own but have never read
43. A book that takes place in your hometown
44. A book that was originally written in a different language
45. A book set during Christmas
46. A book written by an author with your same initials
47. A play
48. A banned book
49. A book based on or turned into a TV show
50. A book you started but never finished
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Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: 2015 Reading Challenge
« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2015, 08:08:09 AM »
Time to catch up on my progress:

Below is a count of the books that meet the criteria. 27 of the criteria I have not met, but there is at least one missing from that as I have not worked out if any of the books I have read were written in the year I was born. Also most days I will read 2 to 8 books, but they are children's books. I have included 2 of those in my counts, but I did not add another 70 to 100 (a lot I have read many many many times).

Count
01. A book with more than 500 pages 4
02. A classic romance 0
03. A book that became a movie 4
04. A book published this year 2
05. A book with a number in the title 3
06. A book written by someone under 30 1
07. A book with nonhuman characters 10
08. A funny book 1
09. A book by a female author 7
10. A mystery or thriller 3
11. A book with a one-word title 2
12. A book of short stories 0
13. A book set in a different country 16
14. A nonfiction book 0
15. A popular authorís first book 0
16. A book from an author you love that you havenít read yet 0
17. A book a friend recommended 4
18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book 0
19. A book based on a true story 0
20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list 0
21. A book your mom loves 0
22. A book that scares you 0
23. A book more than 100 years old 0
24. A book based entirely on its cover 1
25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didnít 0
26. A memoir 0
27. A Book you can finish in a day 2
28. A book with antonyms in the title 0
29. A book set somewhere youíve always wanted to visit 0
30. A Book that came out the year you were born 0
31. A book with bad reviews 0
32. A trilogy 3
33. A book from your childhood 1
34. A book with a love triangle 2
35. A book set in the future 4
36. A book set in high school 3
37. A book with a color in the title 0
38. A book that made you cry 0
39. A book with magic 5
40. A graphic novel 0
41. A book by an author youíve never read before 4
42. A book you own but have never read 0
43. A book that takes place in your hometown 3
44. A book that was originally written in a different language0
45. A book set during Christmas 0
46. A book written by an author with your same initials 0
47. A play 0
48. A banned book 0
49. A book based on or turned into a TV show 3
50. A book you started but never finished 0

 

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