It’s been a fair while, but I still exist. I’m just recovering from burn-out.
1815, ~269 pages, Completed.
Finishing off the works of Jane Austen with one of the more light-hearted pieces (not that there aren’t characters that get your blood-pressure up). Typically witty and satirical.
The Hunger Games
2008, ~454 pages, Completed.
(Catching Fire, 2009, ~472 pages, Completed.)
(Mockingjay, 2010, ~455 pages, Completed.)
I started reading after seeing the first two films (which I enjoyed), and found the books equally interesting, though the third went in directions I wasn’t expecting. It also serves as a good illustration of how to adapt a work — the differences between book and film are less in plot and more in presentation. Both use the right sort of tools for the medium.
His Dark Materials
Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass), 1995, ~399 pages, Not completed.
(The Subtle Knife, 1997, and The Amber Spyglass, 2000, Not attempted.)
I was expecting the sticking point to be the anti-religious sentiments of these novels (though it may be more accurate to describe it as anti-Catholic), but I didn’t get far enough for that to matter. I just wasn’t engaged by the plot, and found Lyra (the protagonist) wholly unlikable, and thus was unwilling to spend any more time with her.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
1841, Completed (as well as the other Dupin stories, The Mystery of Marie Rogêt, 1842, and The Purloined Letter, 1844).
I found a copy of this at the library when I was looking up other books and swiftly added it to the pile, as I am a fan of brains-over-brawn protagonists (e.g. Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who) and of mysteries and puzzles in general. I was slightly surprised at the length of the piece (a short story, as opposed to a novel), but more so that the mystery was revealed by both the picture on the front cover and the blurb on the back. They seem a bit quaint (though with the expected “That Poe was a troubled man!” vibe), but you can certainly see the germination of the modern detective story.
The DaVinci Code
2003, ~593 pages, Completed.
(As well as the rest of Dan Brown’s thrillers: Digital Fortress, 1998, Angels & Demons, 2000, Deception Point, 2001, The Lost Symbol, 2009, and Inferno, 2013.)
Again, a series I read after having seen (and generally enjoyed) the films. From the book, however, I can see why people get annoyed at the author. They are works of fiction, and if left in that context, could be accepted as not to be taken too seriously. However, because they are presented with disclaimers of the “all secret rituals are REAL!!!” variety, they become a lot more irritating (especially if a particular detail is something you know about — Rose Red was amused by me occasionally ranting “That’s not how encryption works!” or similar at the books).
That said, I have to acknowledge two things. One, even though he produces some truly cringe-worthy sentences, and his research isn’t as good as he thinks it is/claims it to be, the author is very good at compelling the reader to keep turning pages. Second, there are definite signs of improvement in the writing from the earlier books to the later ones.
Up next … I’m not going to stop reading things, but I’m not going to be making a conscious effort to work through the list. Occasional advancements will pop up. I’m also starting a more general blog to capture thoughts on a wider range of topics. Watch this space.