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Thing #50: Books that are Good For Me March 16, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in 101 Things, random stuff, What we're watching.
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Boy, am I a slacker, or what?  I mean, I start out all gung-ho with this 101 Things List, then I start getting bogged down and. . . kind of forget about it.  You do know that I’m probably not going to get all this stuff done, right?  But that certainly doesn’t mean I should give up – perish the thought!

So. . . back to my Thing.

I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm – some of my youngest memories are of my neighbor and me riding our bikes to the library during the summer, then coming back and just hanging out on the porch, or under the big tree in the back yard, reading.

50. Read at least three of Time’s all-time best novels (that I haven’t read already)

When I came across TIME’s list of the 100 Best Modern Novels, I was not surprised to see several that I’d read (I did ace my Modern Novels class in college, after all!), and, of course, there were several more that I had not read.  And since I had enjoyed most of the books I’d read, I knew this would be just the challenge for me!

I could do something that’s good for me and enjoy it, too!  It would be like. . . like. . . eating fresh vegetables!

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What with my discovery of the public library full of i-Pod books, and at least an hour every morning of dog-walking time, I knew now was as good a time as any to get reading!  (And by now, I mean, you know, a couple of months ago.)

First, I thought I’d start at the beginning of the list and just grab something I hadn’t read before.  After all, you don’t know until you read it how you’ll like it, right?

So I went ahead and downloaded the first book on the list – The Adventures of Augie March.  The library describes this novel:

This grand-scale heroic comedy tells the story of the exuberant young Augie, a poor Chicago boy growing up during the Depression.

They lie.

With all due respect to Mr. Bellows and all, this book was horrible.  It was rambling and nothing happened.  Ever.   (And the protagonist was, quite honestly, a simpleton.)  When it got to the point where I dreaded walking the dog – even more than pre-dawn, sub-freezing temperatures would warrant! –  I gave up.  I could not finish it, not and keep my sanity, anyway.

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Ah, something a little different.  I’d never read any Kurt Vonnegut, though Peeps is a fan of his writing.  (Though he did warn me that Slaughterhouse Five has never been one of his favorites. . . )

The beginning of the story caught my attention – “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.”

Intriguing.

It seems that our protagonist had been, at some point, abducted by aliens who are able to see time, well, simultaneously.  There is no past, no future.  Well, there is, but it’s all happening now.  Nothing is truly gone – it just changes for a bit.

And meanwhile, as Billy is unstuck in time, we see vignettes from his life – time in Dresden during the war, days and months on the planet Trafalmadore, an airplane crash, his wedding, his time in the mental hospital, and, of course, meetings with his hero, the science fiction author Kilgore Trout.

And so it goes. . .

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And finally, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was actually the first of the three novels I read for this undertaking, and, honestly, my favorite.

Not that there was anything pleasant about it – oh no!

I’m sure I’m probably one of the few people over 40 left who hadn’t read this book by, well, by 1984.  I guess it’s a case of, I don’t know, teachers and professors assuming the class has read it previously, so let’s do something else.  And I just sort of missed it.

So we follow Winston Smith in the dystopian universe of Oceania – if you’ve read the novel, you’re already familiar with Big Brother, the Ministry of Truth, the Thought Police, doublethink and the like.

I’m just going to say this:  reading listening to this book gave me chills.

Remember the Apple ad that aired so many years ago?  That was brilliant, wasn’t it?

Of course, from just a few years ago, the parody of the parody of this novel is. . . downright eerie, isn’t it?

All in all, I’m glad I chose to (finally!) complete this challenge, and you know what?  I think I’ll hang on to this list.  You just never know what other gems may be hidden in there, you know?

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Comments

1. judy - March 16, 2011

Good job Kris. It is always nice to get something finished! What are you “reading” now on your walk?

Hi, Judy Right now, I’ve been catching up on pod-casts – America’s Test Kitchen does one that I’m enjoying at the moment, plus I’ve found a couple of others I like. That shouldn’t take long, though – I can get through one in about a walk-and-a-half! 😆

2. anne - March 16, 2011

If you get bored with the Times list, google “college bound reading list.” I think it’s a (very) lengthy list of what well rounded students should be reading. Every once in a while I’ll pick one from there, just to feel intelligent.

Although I still don’t get the hullabaloo over The Great Gatsby. I have a copy, so I read it again. Meh, nice little story. Not sure what constitutes a classic?

I read Gatsby for two different classes (and I turned in, essentially, the same paper, too!) – mostly, what I took away from it was “there’s no place like home.” 😕


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