Current Release

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The Warrior's Viking Bride

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More thoughts on reading

First of all, the Big Read list is nowhere near definitive.
I suspect that there are so many books on there that people have seen as movies for precisely that reason -- movies can give a distorted view of the book.
Who do you see as Mr Darcy?
Or to name a book not on the list --The Scarlet Pimpernel. Percy Blakeney is fair haired but Richard E Grant who played him in the most recent television adaptation is dark haired.
Or perhaps they are books that people talk about.
or books that people think they know.
I did not say that I loved all the books. Some of the books I had problems with. But that is down to my own tastes. And the books are often very different to the movies/television/popular culture verision. Gordon Brown as Heathcliff anyone?
Second, it depends who compiles the book list. For example there is no Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne or even Ernest Hemingway. You have one Steinbeck.
There is no Willa Cather or William Faulkner. Where is Henry James? Graham Greene? Sir Walter Scott? I could go on and on but you get the picture. The intriguing thing for me was that I had read so many of the books. But I suspect that is more serendipity than anything.

Third, I like Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favourites, but it does take awhile to get into. What it is interesting is that until about the 1930s, he was simply held to be a popular rather than a great writer. In other words, he was writing for the commercial market and it was a very particular commercial market. He does not suit everyone, but I do think he is a good story teller.
But the main message should be to read and to read widely.

8 comments:

Amanda Ashby said...

Wow, you really have read a lot of the books on that list!!! I did English at University but I think there was only one book on there that I read as course work (1984 by George Orwell) and the rest I just read for one reason or another. A lot I can hardly remember but others I re-read regularly.

Oh, and I love Tale of Two Cities as well - it has one of the best opening lines and then the ending always makes cry, plus I like everything in the middle as well!!!!!

Donna Alward said...

Yes, so many left out! No Hemingway! What about George Eliot? THe only one listed was Middlemarch. Daniel Deronda was one of my favourites ever (and the miniseries got my stamp of approval as well). And your mention of Faulkner got my eye....The Sound and the Fury was one of my favourite novels in uni. No Scarlet Letter. And a dearth of Canadians on the list...Barometer Rising is a brilliant book.

It almost makes one want to list THEIR top 100.

Carrie Lofty said...

I don't know if you ever noticed it, but there's a very weird trio of paragraphs in AToTC where Dickens slips into first person plural. WEIRD. It's when they're escaping Paris and fear that they'll be caught at any moment. The slip into the more personal first person makes the peril all the more intense, ramping up the energy of the scene. I've always thought it must be intentional, but it's such a strange example of writing conventions being messed with.

Kate Hardy said...

Yup, similar views on mine today - we're doing the twin thing again, Michelle :o)

Donna - absolutely on the Canadians. Robertson Davies. Margaret Atwood (I would've listed more than just The Handmaid's Tale, though I found her last two disappointing and I've stopped buying her in hardback). And WHERE is Carol Shields, whose writing is just so beautiful?

Kate Hardy said...

Yup, similar views on mine today - we're doing the twin thing again, Michelle :o)

Donna - absolutely on the Canadians. Robertson Davies. Margaret Atwood (I would've listed more than just The Handmaid's Tale, though I found her last two disappointing and I've stopped buying her in hardback). And WHERE is Carol Shields, whose writing is just so beautiful?

Michelle Styles said...

I had to go back and reread the escaping from Paris scene,Carrie but you are absolutely right. Werid but works. Really works. There again Dickens just played around with convention and the omniscent authorial POV.
Of course then I had to read all the way to end and cried...

Yes, we are twin on theis Kate H, even though you have read a few more. There again I figured you would have:)
And I do agree about Robertson Davies. He should have been there.

Nell said...

I think I've read 83 of those books but they are what I class as 'good for me' reading. I've only read a few of them for pleasure. This was probably why I decided not to do an English lit degree.

Donna Alward said...

LOL Nell!

And yes! Carol Shields. Joyce Carol Oates. Farley Mowat. Timothy Findley. Northrup Frye. Michael Ondaatje.

It all just goes to show how much is really out there.