Monday, September 13, 2010

52 Books in 52 weeks: More Moby Dick and some reviews

My reading list continues to be very eclectic -- a few “great books”, some good books and fluff and some non-fiction. I’ve slowed down a bit thanks to Moby Dick, which I’m still enjoying but isn’t quite the page turner of an epic that I thought it might be. But I’m past that “wall” that marathon runners describe, that point where you feel too fatigued to go on and realize the end is still so far away. At least now the end is in sight, the white whale is almost in sight and I’ll have a terrific sense of accomplishment when it’s all done.

But I was going to write about what else I’ve been reading.

First up, some light but entertaining fantasy. A friend lent me a copy of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson promising it to be a fun read, and indeed it was. Fantasy is one of those hit or miss genres, too often a miss for my taste. Mistborn started off leaning toward the “miss” category because of the expository rush at the beginning of the book. There is nothing that kills a sci fi or fantasy novel like heavy handed explanations -- the world should be revealed through the story. But, the exposition wasn’t too clunky and the characters and plot soon caught and kept my attention.

My son and I attended a reading and signing with Sanderson just last week, and in a serendipitous coincidence he happened to mention Moby Dick, describing it as a kind of fantasy novel. I liked that analogy. What my son and I find quite amusing is that Sanderson’s newest book, in audio format, clocks in at a whopping 45 hours! Moby Dick was only 24, and is a self contained book whereas Sanderson’s book is the first in a planned 10 book series!!! 10 books! I can’t imagine a story that warrants 10 books of 400,000 words each! And yet the author was engaging, Mistborn was readable, so the 45 hour marathon may be worth a try.

Another recent read was Moonstone, a Victorian detective novel by Wilkie Collins. What a delightful read! The story is told from several viewpoints, each of which is a very distinct and entertaining character. The loyal and funny servant and the fundamentalist spinster aunt are the two best, but the detective and secondary characters are fun too. There are some terrific red herrings and a solution that works even though it defies reason.

I had never heard of Wilkie Collins until some of the ladies on the Well Trained Mind high school forums started talking about his books. I looked him up either on Wikipedia or Sparknotes (can’t remember which) and was surprised to find out he and Dickens were great friends. I assumed he is an author slipping into oblivion (because, of course, I hadn’t heard of him!) only to discover there is an essay contest for teens sponsored by Penguin books on the Moonstone, and a local bookstore’s book club is discussing the book later this month.

It seems the more I learn the more ignorant I feel! There are clearly more wonderful titles and authors out there that I’ve never heard of and so many literary references that still go over the top of my head.

1 comment:

  1. Wait, he said it was going to be ten books? Crap. I already started reading it... uh... listening to it. Assuming he takes two years to write a book... that's eighteen more years... How did I become old enough that I have to start wondering if I'm going to survive long enough to finish a series?