Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Written Word Wed - So, I'm Slightly Better Read Now . . Slightly

Several months back, I filled out one of those "how many of these books have you read?" surveys on Facebook, once again confirming that in terms of The Classics I'm a pretty poorly read English major, having read only 27 of 100. I asked for suggestions for which of the 73 unread books I should tackle; these are the ones I've gotten to so far.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon: Suggested by a friend of PigPen and Cap'n Peanut. Story told from the P.O.V. of an autistic teenager who becomes fixated on solving the mystery of who killed his neighbor's dog. Really enjoyable book, which I have since heard referenced by at least three different people in different situations.

The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
: The one book from the list that I decided on all by my lonesome because the synopsis caught my attention. Story of a book-dealer's son who is introduced to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where he is tasked to select a book at random to become a caretaker for; his choice is The Shadow of the Wind, a choice which will have huge implications as a shadowy figure begins to stalk him -- a shadowy figure reminiscent of the book's version of the devil. And that just barely scratches the surface of the many plot threads suffusing the book; sometimes funny, sometimes maudlin, but always engaging.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck:
Suggested by Redneck Diva, who wanted to know what was wrong with me that I hadn't read it yet. To be honest, I had never read any Steinbeck before this one, mainly due to my mother's long-standing dislike of his work filtering down to me. However, I found that I enjoyed this tragic tale quite a bit. Enough to try some of Steinbeck's other work? We shall see.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:
Read this one largely thanks to Flunky Lover's prodding, although I have to admit that the then-upcoming release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies helped encourage my decision. Out of the books I read for this little exercise, this was by far my least favorite; I can see why people enjoy it, and there were sections that amused me greatly -- particularly any scene with Lady Catherine -- but overall, the plot's focus on Lizzy misinterpreting Darcy's motives and actions just wore me down. Yes, you can add that to the list of things that I don't particularly care for in my fiction: misinterpreted actions. All in all I'm glad I read it, though -- it made Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that much more enjoyable when I read it a month or so later.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving: Suggested by Cap'n Disaster and one of my co-workers. My favorite of the books listed here, this novel is the story of Owen Meany, whose brilliant mind is stuck in an underdeveloped body, a fact that doesn't keep Owen from deciding that he is a servant of God with a special mission to fulfill. I think I would have to do a full-blown review to really do justice to this book; suffice it to say that the Christmas pageant sequence in the book was one of the funniest things I've ever read, and that I really wish I could have used part of it for a prose piece back in my Competitive Speech days -- although, how I ever could have done justice to Owen's voice, I couldn't possibly tell you. Anyway, highly recommend this one to any and all.

And that's it so far; I plan on picking up one of the complete Sherlock Holmes collections next time I'm on campus, since Coronela has been championing those stories for almost as long as I've known her. But after that, it'll be time to ask for more suggestions.


Flunky lover said...

After you read Sherlock Holmes which is good then you can catch an episode of the spin off show on tv: House!

Although since you didn't like Pride and Prejudice you may be more determined than ever not to watch something I recommend.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

To be fair, your recommendation for P&P did say "You probably won't like it, but should read it anyway," so it's not like I was totally mislead :)

Besides, I really enjoyed "The Mount," which you suggested, so you're not totally batting zero . . .

anna said...

I'm reading "Owen Meany" right now also. I hope it is better than "The World According to Garp" which I just finished.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

It's been years since I've read Garp -- think I was in Jr. High or High School when I did -- but I remember liking it well enough at the time, although I kept comparing it to the movie. That being said, I think Owen Meany is populated by more likable characters.