Sunday, October 4, 2009
It seems like a lot of people are way ahead of me in getting through their 100 books. But I was pleased this past week to finish the tenth on my list. So far, I've finished: Infinite Jest, Velocity, The Princess of Mars, The 8th Habit, The World is Flat, Siddhartha, Woman to Woman and other poems, Mortician's Tea, poemcrazy, and Rip Van Winkle. I've put up some thoughts on Infinite Jest and The World is Flat on other blogs (and I did Siddhartha too, but the post was lost). I thought I'd just include a few thoughts here on 3 others that I finished this past month. I think with my recently improved internet access, I should be able to post more updates to this site in the future too.
The Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1912
Yes, it is dated. Yes, there is much that doesn't pass with the politically correct crowd. But it is a good story.
I enjoyed the adventure tale that took me to an imagined Martian landscape with warriors, princesses, and a weird code of chivalry and bravery. It was fun to follow John Carter into this strange world, and to at least pretend to believe that he really did act with all the courage that he tells us he did. I'm glad I put this one on my list, so that I finally got around to reading it. It won't, however, crack my list of top 100 books I've ever read.
Overall result: B
Velocity, by Dean Koontz, 2005
I've seen Koontz's name around a lot, and heard lots of good things about him. That's why he made my Fill in the Gaps list — well, that and because I found Velocity in a second hand shop for a good price.
I was surprised with how well-written the book is. There are several spots that caught me off guard and made me laugh out loud. I didn't expect to find such a good mix of humor in the novel, but it was a good break from the rather graphic telling of violent murder after violent murder.
I thought the story held together pretty well, and was told in a neat and tidy way that reflects disciplined writing. It was a good way to spend a lazy weekend, reading Velocity, and I was unexpectedly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I gave it to a friend after I read it, and he had almost the exact same thing to say about it.
Overall result: B/B+
Rip Van Winkle, by Washington Irving, 1819
This is a fun little short story. I can't believe I've never actually read it before, because the story seemed like something that was so familiar, so much a part of my subconscious mind. I was surprised when I found out how skewed some of the details I thought I knew were.
Actually sitting down and reading "Rip Van Winkle" is a good reminder of why this story is so much a part of the collective consciousness. It is well written, and very amusing. I really enjoyed the character, and loved the writing, the way the story unfolded, and the whole air of sarcasm (but with good humor) of it all. It's a very fun read.
Overall result: A-
Of the others that I've finished so far, G. O. Clark's poetry collection Mortician's Tea was my favorite, along with Siddhartha. These two were the best of the 10 I've read. The 8th Habit was my least favorite.