Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Great Novel project

As if I had too much time on my hands, I have undertaken yet another project for the year! After one of my solo camping trips (which should have been a blog post and may make it into one yet) I stopped in Nanaimo at the Chapters and looked at books. I discovered a book called The Novel 100: A ranking of the Greatest Novels of All Time. by Daniel S. Burt. When I first picked it up I thought, "Pshh who would read a book, about other books" Then I realized that I was the idiot that would read a book about other books. Sadly, I didn't realize that until I was safely at home in Courtenay. I decided this would make a great blog project since I haven't travelled much this year at all. Sooooo, dear readers I have undertaken the project to read each of the 100 novels in this particular list of 100 greatest novels. There are many others lists including the BBC one, but for some reason this one struck a chord with me. I'd love company if any of you feel so inclined to fill your time with some classic novels....or at the very list follow my blog about them as I read them. *Cough. Shameless plug. *cough.... magic-and-mystery.blogspot.com I think is the address if you want to check out my actual blog rather than the facebook note that populates there a few days after I write it.

To make a long story short, after my second solo camping trip, I drove back to Nanaimo to pick up the book. Thanks to Project Gutenberg (I think that's what it's called) most of the books on the list can be found for free in digital editions or on my ibooks account. So after my initial purchase of the list of books for 6.99 I am hoping most of these books can be read for free. Sooooo here it goes guys. I am sure I will hate some of these classics, some of them I have already read (including book number 2 War and Peace) but I am determined to get through as many as I can. Perhaps, I will be a more cultured person at the other end, but chances are my sieve-like head will only retain a few details from each book. Ah well..if nothing I will entertain myself for a year, or two, or 5!!!!

Book number one is Don Quixote. Should be fun....wish me luck.

Under the Dome Review

Soooo, after slaving away on this book since just before Christmas I am finally finished it. Stephen King's Under the Dome is a massive 1000 page monster that was chosen by one of the members of my three person book club...I am sad to say this book was also the death of our book club!!!! Of the three members I am the only one to have finished the novel. One person never finished any of the books we read, the second person hated it so much she decided not to finish it, and I, being stubborn decided to persevere. So almost a year later I finished it!!!

Why did I have such a hard time?

1) the book is way too gory. Stephen King is a graphic writer and he wrote in excruciating detail of bones snapping, noses breaking, pace makers exploding out of chests etc.
2) the book is psychologically traumatizing. This book is about what happens when you cut an entire town off from the rest of society with no hope of ever getting out. For those of you who have read Lord of the Flies we all know how THAT ends!!
3) the book weighs a lot!!! So for a girl who loves to read while travelling, it gets left behind a lot

I wanted so badly to like this book because I thought the idea of cutting off a bunch of people under a dome that was invisible was brilliant. Sadly, however I could not get past how violent it was. For those of you who have ever watched a violent movie with me you will know this is a major problem. While you can hide behind your hands during a movie, it is not so easy to escape the imagery that words call to mind in your head.

I kept trying to tell myself that this stuff could really happen, and I had seen glimpses of the behaviour described in the book in real life, but that didn't make me want to read it any more. In fact, I kept feeling like I was pointless subjecting myself to torture since I was already aware of the fact that power with out checks and balances could destroy a person. Essentially that is one of the points of the book. That, and the heroism of standing up against the tide of popular opinion and fighting for what you know is right and true.

The second point in the book had which comes to light in the last 50 pages is that there is a difference between pity and feeling ashamed. I can't say too much about why this comes up without giving away the ending so I will just say that I actually loved the ending. Each of the heros at the end has to face a time in their lives when they were so ashamed of something they had done that it changed their life forever. They saw what happens when people are cruel and malicious to another life and never wanted to behave that way again. The villians on the other hand have many examples of senseless torture and group think or mob-like behaviour. (Its those parts that I had a hard time stomaching and I have read some pretty harsh books before, and I work with some pretty traumatized people). The dome eventually lifts because whatever held it in place felt pity towards those trapped in place. One of the characters says something to the effect of "well if pity is all they can feel, at least its a starting place". That's all I will say.

Honestly, despite the fact that I appreciated the book's ending I don't know that I would actually recommend anyone actually reading this book. The only reason I finished it was because I was stubborn and wanted to finish what I started. If you want to read a book with a similar message or feeling to it I would recommend Stephen King's other apocolyptic type novel The Stand. I LOVE that book despite its huge size too. I have even watched the 8 hour long made-for-tv series of that one! Go early 90s television!!!