Friday, September 9, 2022

That's all folks!

The library challenge is complete. It ended with two classics books: Dark Tales by Shirley Jakson, and Summer by Edith Wharton. The first was yet another collection of short stories and was quite good. The second a novel I never really got into. And so I have read 150 books, one from every bookcase in the library. Farewell.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Forgotten books

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler is very much in keeping with the Library Challenge, containing a long list of books to read (and I have already read one of them since I finished it, not included here). I like the idea of The Book of Forgotten Authors, and I had never heard of 96 of the 99, and I think only read a book by one. However, the date range of the forgotten authors was very narrow. Almost all of them were active in the first half of the 20th century. Barely a book from the 19th century was mentioned, and nothing before that. There must be loads of Victorian authors whose works are perfectly readable to the modern reader, the same applies to most of the 18th century too. It seems to be the books mentioned would still be recalled coming out by people alive today, or at least owed by them or their families when they were growing up. So the title is a bit of a misnomer. What's more nearly every book mentioned is available on Open Library for free, there's no need to go hunting for a physical book.  6/10



Friday, April 1, 2022

Fiction is finished!

The final general A-Z fiction work was The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer, a historical time travel fable when the protagonist escapes the plague in a series of six days set 99 years apart living in the future, gradually moving forward in time. This time sequence is fairly arbitrary and I imagine has been picked to coincide with key historical events, it's a literary detail that is unexplained. In each era there were great changes in technology but not in human nature, and the hero is left wondering if not the fate of mankind was ruined by the "improvements" he had seen. Bearing in mind that every generation thinks the next one is terrible then he has a point - if taken to its natural conclusion! Enjoyed it though, 7/10.

Just a few non-fiction books left and I finish on the classics shelf at the very centre of the library.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Two More

The Golden Age by Joan London was a love story between two teenagers suffering from polio in Perth, Australia just after the war. It's in the Romeo and Juliet mould of love between "unsuitable" individuals, in this case as one of the families are recent immigrants. I didn't think much of it. 4/10

You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik promised to be like The Secret History. There are similarities, being set in a school, and set largely in tutorials discussing literature. There's a lot less death and not as much secrecy. The main event is the relationship between pupils and teachers, one relationship in particular. It's supposed to be based upon the author's experience as a teacher, and there was a lot of controversy about the book. I enjoyed it as I read, there were some great young characters in it. It's not as highbrow as The Secret History, and much less strongly plotted, but still enjoyable. 9/10

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Vegetarian

The Vegetarian by Han Kang won awards and you can sort of see why. It's about a woman who suddenly becomes vegetarian and is ostracised by her conservative husband and family. There it begins to get silly as she is eventually institutionalised and refuses to eat altogether, believing she is a plant. The people around her don't help and she is left to basically rot and die by the people who supposedly love her. 5/10

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Eleanor Oliphant Is Pretty Good

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a great book about a woman who has a troubled past and suffers probably from Aspergers. It's funny in places and touching in others. Effectively it's a coming of age story in an older person, who was abused as a child and is lost and confused in the adult world at the start of the book. Slowly she begins to discover aspects of life that she has neglected or been unaware of before. I don't like the title I must admit though, but otherwise, it's good. 9/10

Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Western Wind

The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey is a historical novel set in the middle ages. It is not written sequentially so jumps around timewise, although it is entirely written from one viewpoint. Historical novels seem to me often an excuse to show off how much the author knows about the period, with the story more of an aside. This book definitely does have more literary aspirations, and the characterisation is not bad but, in truth, not a lot really happens and it just goes round and round. 6/10.