Posts Tagged 'reading'

Project: Big Read – update

So a little while ago I embarked upon a project to read all of Britain’s best-loved books. I started out having read 78 out of 200 hundred books. I’m now happy to report that I’ve reached 88 out of 200. The ten I’ve knocked off of the list are the eight books pictured above, Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and Winnie the Pooh.

Unfortunately I still haven’t gotten through Moby Dick, despite my intention to start with it. In point of fact I did start with it, I started it and I soon lost the will to continue. On occasion, between other books, I’ve gritted my teeth and ploughed another few pages on, but in general it sits like a guilt-inducing, useless lump of woodpulp on my bedside table.

Of the books that I have read most have been enjoyable. My least favourite was Lorna Doone, it was a pointless and predictable melodrama. I enjoyed The Day of the Jackal, although I had seen the movie and knew what to expect, the book kept me on tenterhooks throughout as the Jackal’s plot unfolded methodically and almost without challenge until the final moments. Others of the books I had read were spoiled my the fact I had seen the movie. In the case of Atonement because it had nothing to offer me in terms of story surprises I was left to rely upon the writing style and characterization – which I felt were lacking. For Emma, I had seen the movie Clueless, so I already knew the plot. Jane Austen’s writing style is good and engaging, but not my cup of tea. Also the heroine irritates me immensely – which was slightly distracting.

Next up: another crack at Moby Dick, and when that fails maybe Captain Corelli’s Mandolin will be next.


Project: Big Read

A friend just sent me links to the BBC’s Big Read top 200 best loved books. (1-100, 101-200).  This was the huge poll they did in 2003, asking people to vote for their favourite books. From the results they created this list.
My friend is using this list as a suggested reading list – he’s up to 140/200 read. As I’m always looking to find new things to read I thought I’d follow his example.
My starting point is that I’ve already read 78/200. Leaving me 122 to go. If I read about 1 a week I could finish by the end of 2010, but I doubt I’ll be able to keep that pace. This will be a task that takes me years! On the plus side there are quite a few kids books on the list, which I can usually read in a couple of hours (judging from my average time to read Artemis Fowl novels).
I’m going to start with Moby Dick, because I have owned it for so long and have never read it. Then move on to Winnie the Pooh, which was the only book in the Top 10 that I haven’t read. From there I’ll probably work through them in their ranked order as best I can.
I’m not looking forward to the lashings of Dickens on the list. I’ve read Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol, and (I think – A Tale of Two Cities) but I can’t say that I really enjoyed any of them. But by far the most unhappy experience of this project will be when I’m called upon to read a book on the list which looks suspiciously like it’s about football.

Books: Just Like Tomorrow

Today I was reading my feeds and came across an article in the Guardian about Faiza Guene.
I read and enjoyed her first novel, Just Like Tomorrow (or Kiffe Kiffe Demain in the original French) and was happy to hear that she’s written another: Dreams from the Endz. It’s already on my BookMooch wishlist.

Just Like Tomorrow is set in a neighbourhood only really known of outside of France for the riots in 2005. But because of how matter of fact and upbeat the narrator is about the failings in the school system and the employment system, all of the problems that may have been factors in those riots seem diluted and everyday.
I suppose that’s the point. This is everyday life for everyone in the novel. Things are what they are: same s*** different day.

As well as an upbeat book Just Like Tomorrow is a very humorous book, full of quirky descriptions of characters and generally quite clever with words. A lot of this came from the youthful style and slang terms, though occasionally the slang in the English version jarred with me a little. This made me wonder how much was lost in translation, whether the French read with verlan (or backslang) in it was a more fitting/nuanced/friction-filled.

Reading a novel that’s been translated from another language is always interesting for me, I always wonder if I’m missing something. Effectively it’s not the same book – having been filtered through another consciousness. I was quite happy to see that the same woman has translated Dreams from the Endz and Just Like Tomorrow. I like the idea of there being a continuity. Though one of my favourite authors, Haruki Murikami, has two translators – and I’ve never overly noticed the difference between the two. So perhaps I’m assigning too much importance to it.

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