Saturday, December 31, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It'll be 2012 in a couple hours and I have completed my 50 book a year reading goal for this year. Just barely though and near the end I've had to read a number of young adult books just to get the numbers up. I haven't been writing reviews this last month either but I may go back and do little write-ups for each next week or so.
Here is the 2011 list:
Fiction:
  1. The Metamorphosis- Franz Kafka
  2. The Stranger- Albert Camus
  3. Fool- Christopher Moore
  4. The Art of Racing in the Rain- Garth Stein
  5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao- Junot Diaz
  6. Never Let Me Go- Kazuo Ishiguro
  7. Let the Right One In- John Ajvide Lindqvist
  8. Wolf Hall- Hilary Mantel
  9. Blindness- Jose Saramago
  10. The Road to Jerusalem-Jan Guillou
  11. The Templar Knight- Jan Guillou
  12.  Steppenwolf- Herman Hesse
  13. Empire of the Sun- J.G. Ballard
  14. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War- Max Brooks
  15. The Book Thief- Markus Zusak
  16. Life, the Universe, and Everything- Douglas Adams
  17. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove- Christopher Moore 
Non-Fiction:
  18. Night- Elie Wiesel
  19. Last Words- George Carlin
  20. Unbearable Lightness- Portia De Rossi 
  21. Assholes Finish First- Tucker Max
  22. Beyond Belfast- Will Ferguson
  23. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee- Sarah Silverman
  24. Maus I- Art Spiegelman 

Fantasy:
   25. The Blade Itself- Joe Abercrombie
   26. A Dance With Dragons- George R. R. Martin
   27. The Once and Future King- T.H.White
   28. The Magicians- Lev Grossman
   29. Acacia: The War with the Mein- David Anthony Durham
   30. John Dies at the End- David Wong
   31. The Protector's War- S.M.Sterling
   32. The Way of Shadows- Brent Weeks
   33. The Desert Spear- Peter V Brett
   34. The Wise Man's Fear- Patrick Rothfuss
   35. Assassin's Quest- Robin Hobb


Young Adult:
   36. Uglies- Scott Westerfeld
   37. Pretties- Scott Westerfeld
   38. Specials- Scott Westerfeld
   39. Extras- Scott Westerfeld
   40. Coraline- Neil Gaiman
   41. The Graveyard Book- Neil Gaiman
   42. The Giver- Lois Lowry
   43. The Bad Beginning- Lemony Snicket
   44. The Reptile Room- Lemony Snicket 

For School:
   45. King Harald's Saga- Snorri Sturluson
   46. The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail- Michael Baigent
   47. Norwegian Runes and Runic Inscriptions- Terje Spurkland
   48. A New Introduction to Old Norse: Grammar- Michael Barnes
Other:
   49. Eating the Dinosaur- Chuck Klosterman
   50. When You Are Engulfed In Flames- David Sedaris

Reading goals for 2012:
-again read at least 50 books. Read more history, read more modern fiction, read more "classic" novels.

Unrelated note: just wanted to say thanks to the commenter that said they found my blog inspiring. Glad you could find something to take from my blog, I do try and fulfill my own dreams as much as I can. Good luck in the new year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Night by Elie Wiesel

This isn't really a review because I don't think books like these can be judged on basis of writing skill or story-telling, not that this book suffers in those respects at all. What matters here is the story, the terrible horrible history of one of the darkest times in human history. A history that must never be forgotten. Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor and he fills the terrible role of a witness. This book is very short at only 170 pages or so yet it's very heavy and having just finished it there feels like there's a weight in my heart. The writing was very simple, straight-forward, and unsentimental which I felt highlighted the inhumanity of what was being experienced. I don't have much else to say other than- Read it!
A few quotes:
"But we were pulling into a station. Someone near a window read to us: 'Auschwitz.' Nobody had ever heard that name."

" I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people."

"Listen to me, kid. Don't forget that you are in a concentration camp. In this place, it is every man for himself, and you cannot think of others. Not even your father. In this place, there is no such thing as father, brother, friend. Each of us lives and dies alone."
"Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices. And then I explain to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human being endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must- at that moment- become the center of the universe." Elie Wiesel in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1986.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Review: The Magicians- Lev Grossman

So Lev Grossman's The Magicians has been lauded as an adult Harry Potter and the newest in the series is on bestseller lists and all that but I honestly don't know why. The story is about Quentin who is a depressed but very smart moron who finds out his dreams of a magic are real but that doesn't make him happy and makes him more of a jerk, and then not only is magic real but the alternate world described in his favourite childhood story books is also real and lo he's still a sad jackass. I think this is supposed to convey some message that if you don't love yourself it doesn't matter what events occur, you still won't be happy. But it largely failed. The book had pacing issues as 5 years of school take up the first half of this book. The problem with this pace is that there is zero character development- ZERO, and that is for all the characters. I think Grossman needs the essential writer's lesson in "Show, don't tell" because he just told us everything and that made all descriptions seem one-dimensional.
2/5 I will not be reading the sequels.

Book Review: Eating the Dinosaur- Chuck Klosterman

I just finished reading Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman. As I said on my review of Sedaris' When you are Engulfed in Flames I really don't read books of essays very much. I think this is mostly because the many of them won't interest or apply to me in any way and that was the main reason I didn't really enjoy this book. No fault of the author because he can't please everyone. I skipped the essay on football and wish I had skipped the one on basketball, I just don't care about sports. The essays I enjoyed most were '"Ha ha." he said. "Ha Ha."' which was about sitcom laugh tracks and 'Fail' which was about our relationship with technology and the Unabomber. It's difficult to say that a specific essay was about a specific topic because while that is what it is about on a very basic level Kosterman brings the topics much deeper and manages to make some comments on society, humanity, or something else equally deep in each of his essays.

Just because this type of essays aren't my thing I'm giving it a 3/5. I'll have to read his book about metal sometime though.
-AshtheViking