2016 Book List (A Review) – First Quarter

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I read a lot.  I’m a fast reader; read books I love over and over and over and have books in both print and digital.  My favorite genre is romance, although I also love biographies, auto-biographies, historical fiction and true crime.

One of the things I have not taken the time to read over the course of my life is what many would term as classic literature.  I have read some classics like “Atlas Shrugged” but struggle with Dickens and Austen.  Just too much imagery and unfamiliar language for me to keep up with the story.

There are several lists of “Classic Literature” out there, including:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/oct/12/features.fiction

and http://www.listchallenges.com/100-classic-books-challenge

So this year, I’ve decided to read some of the classics that, previously I’ve not read.

 

First book I finished was Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  This was an interesting, but slow read.  I’ve seen several movies of “Tarzan”, including Greystoke.  I wouldn’t say that Burroughs has a writing style that captured me; but I wanted to know how much of the story the movies get right and how much they left out.

 

I then re-watched Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984); the acting was as horrible as I remembered and the movie veered from the book about 1/3 of the way through.  It was also interesting that the movie story continued past the first book, so I’ve decided to read The Return of Tarzan, the 2nd book in the series.

 

13 Hours:  The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff.  This is not a genre I usually read, although I like factual accounts of historical events.    I wanted to read this book before seeing the movie.  I enjoyed the book because of the story and the perspective it offered; HOWEVER, it’s a bit slow getting started and it was pretty technical unless you’ve got some idea of military procedure, terminology, etc.

 

It was interesting reading about the story from the men involved in Benghazi, plus all the behind the scenes politics.  The author makes it very clear that it’s not a political telling of the story, only as factual as possible from interviews and recollections of the men and women involved.

 

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy  I watched this movie last year with Carey Mulligan and fell in love with it.  From reading the credits I was shocked that it was a Thomas Hardy novel; so I put it on my list of classics to read.  I’ve tried for 6 weeks to get past page 11.  Thomas Hardy writes like Charles Dickens; that’s to say that he uses 25 words when 3 would have done.  Here’s a great example of what I mean:

He had just reached the time of life at which ‘young’ is ceasing to be the prefix of ‘man’ in speaking of one.  He was at the brightest period of masculine growth, for his intellect and his emotions were clearly separated: he had passed the time during which the influence of youth indiscriminately mingles them in the character of impulse, and he had not yet arrived at the stage wherein they become united again, in the character of prejudice, but the influence of a wife and family.  In short, he was twenty-eight, and a bachelor.

 

Page after page of that type of writing.  Too much for my brain to decipher, draw, put together and enjoy all at the same time.  I have only barely made it to the part where he meets Bathsheeba (except we don’t know it’s “her” yet) by the end of chapter one and I’m exhausted.

I know there are a great many people who enjoy Dickens, and that style of writing.  No criticism intended at all; it’s just not for me.

One quarter of the year gone; and four books (not all classic but none in my usual genre) off my list.  I’m not sure what I’ll read next; I’ve got several hundred ebooks on my Kindle Fire which will keep me busy through our vacation next week and I’m currently obsessed with SimCity BuildIt on the Fire, so I’ll have some time to pick my next book.

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