Wednesday, February 27, 2013

1001 Books: Saturday, Timbuktu, Turn of the Screw, The Monk

When I first found out about the 1001 Books list, I was unduly thrilled because it brought together two things I love best—books and lists! To be honest, I never actually bought the book itself, and I have read only a few of the commentaries contained therein. I felt that if I learned too much about why someone else thought the books were important my mind would not be sufficiently open when I read the works myself. Instead, I found an online copy of The List and set to work.

The List is organized chronologically, starting with the twenty-first-century titles, but I felt it would get dull to read my way backwards into history—why not mix it up a little and read a book from each of the centuries in turn, and then start over again with the present day? As I mentioned in my previous blog, I decided to forgo the ancients in favour of reading from the seventeenth century forward. I also resolved that on my first run through The List that I would only read titles we had in stock at the Bookshelf, so I wouldn’t have to wait a single day between finishing one book and starting another, time being of the essence.

The first book I read was Ian McEwan’s Saturday, and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed with it. It was the first McEwan novel I’d read and I was immediately impressed with his eloquent style and the story’s tensely-paced ending. Loving Saturday was a great way to start my reading project and it made me optimistic for what other literary treats lay in store. I will say, however, that despite my initial enthusiasm for McEwan, he has failed to impress me with some of his other titles from The List—Amsterdam and Enduring Love didn‘t capture my interest like I‘d hoped. Perhaps when I get around to reading Atonement, McEwan will at last redeem himself (nyuk nyuk nyuk).

After Saturday, I picked up Paul Auster’s Timbuktu with no small amount of excitement. I’d read Auster’s New York Trilogy years earlier and had loved it! Regrettably, Auster’s attempt to write from the perspective of a dog was simply underwhelming.
The List made up for its Timbuktu misstep when I started Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. I was familiar with James. I’d always thought his characters unique and his use of language remarkable. Yet, however much I admired James, I would not have described his novels as enjoyable, let alone exciting—until I read The Turn. What a fun little ghost story! I finished up my first round of books with M. G. Lewis’ The Monk, a book so awesomely creepy that, in hindsight, I’m surprised I’d never heard of it before. Seriously, this man was writing horror before Bram Stoker was a gleam in his mother’s eye! Highly recommended!

My first round of The List completed, I was happy to note that I’d happily give a thumbs up to three out of the four books. Would round two be so satisfying? That is a question to be answered in another blog….

- Steph

No comments:

Post a Comment