1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou ****
2. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom ***
3. Mary Called Magdalene by Margaret George ****
4. Adult Development and Life Assessment by Gary A. Witt- A textbook, but I'm still counting it, as I'm behind.
5. Countries and Concepts by Michael Roskin- Another textbook
6. Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome: I read this expecting something lighthearted, entertaining and humorous like Jerome's Three Men in a Boat. Instead I found somewhat depressing musings and sexist commentary. There were a few good bits, but if you come into it expecting a sequel you will be disappointed. **
7. John Barleycorn: Alcoholic Memoirs by Jack London- Concerning London's alcoholism which he refers to as John Barleycorn. An interesting read for anyone who's ever been addicted to anything. Also serves as an interesting autobiography.
8. Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett
To live in interesting times is somewhat of a curse, but Rincewind is used to ill luck. No sooner is he saved from a desert island approached by beautiful women than he is pulled back to Unseen University and notified that he has been summoned to a continent resembling Asia. Barbarians, the Red Army and would be assassins abound as Rincewind pursues his primary motivation- running away. As fate would have it, however bad things may seem, events seem to come out of the woodwork to leave Rincewind not only still maintaining all his appendages, but coming out ahead of the game. I think when I begin my Discworld adventures again I may just skip ahead to the next Rincewind novel to see what happens to him in the land XXXX, in The Last Continent. ****
9. Eternals by Neil Gaimain- An interesting graphic novel about an immortal race and their struggle to save humanity. Good, but not as good as Sandman. ***
10. The Big Trip Up Yonder by Kurt Vonnegut- An interesting story about the future perils of overpopulation. ***
11. Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
I always find that it takes extreme difficulty to explain the plot of a Vonnegut novel, so I’ll try for a brief synopsis instead. The book is written in third person omniscient, so although the characters are often oblivious to what has happened, due to multiple cases of memory loss at one point, the reader is at least clued in somewhat. Foremost among the characters are Malachi Constant, Rumfoord, and their mutual wife Beatrice. Rumfoord seems to have a time and space displacement problem which puts him in phase with the Earth every 59 days. Due to flying his ship into a chrono-synclastic infundibulum he drifts throughout space with the ability to read minds and generally foretell the future.
The story skips around through multiple settings- from Earth to Mars, to Mercury, back to Earth again and finally to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, where it turns out that Rumfoord’s time is quickly growing short and he is soon to evacuate this solar system forever. As the plot meanders through these settings the twists and turns of the novel take some unexpected leaps. Like other Vonnegut novels that I’ve read I devoured this one voraciously only to come to find that accidents do happen, and one man’s luck can turn so drastically as to become a scapegoat for an entire league of Earthlings. This book is Vonnegut at his best, and human nature at its worst. ****
12. The Talisman by Stephen King
Jack soon finds out that the land of Daydreams, to which he has retreated as a child is actually an alternate reality called the Territories, existing side by side along with this world. As he makes the trek across country, through two different worlds he is beset with many obstacles. Sloat is on his trail and seems to be trying everything he can to prevent Jack from reaching his final destination- the Black Hotel where the talisman is, which will save his dying mother. As he makes his way through child labor in gritty circumstances, sentient trees, werewolves and twinners (the Territories equivalent of yourself) he slowly learns to accept this quest that has been bestowed upon him by Speedy Parker (aka Parkus) and to learn about his unique condition that allows him to travel at will from this world to the Territories world. Having read a sample of the novel following this one, The Black House, I’m a bit reluctant to buy it, as it doesn’t seem to contain nearly the engrossing intrigue that this one has. ****
14. The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith- A very funny account of daily life at the end of the 1800s if you like dry English humor. ****
15. Blackout by Connie Willis
In 1940s London three time-traveling historians become stuck in the past, during the Blitz of all times. I'd never done much research on WWII or how it effected day to day life, so that was interesting to me. My only complaint is that the characters seemed sort of static, they really had no quirks that placed them as individuals to me, or rather they all had the same quirks: worrying about if their drop would open. The only thing that seemed to distinguish them was towards the end when they all started adopting different theories regarding why their drops wouldn't open. I nevertheless found the book riveting as the concise description of settings and characters really brought home how devastating it was to be stuck in their predicament. It's amazing how the contemps could accustom themselves to the daily raids and life in the shelters. I'm looking forward to listening to the next book in audible form. ****
16. All Clear by Connie Willis
This is the sequel to Blackout. I was honestly sad for this book to end, I so enjoyed spending time in the historical period of England in WWII. The characters became more real to me in this book and seemed to adapt their own unique idiosyncrasies. ****
17. Told After Supper by Jerome K. Jerome- A collection of short humorous ghost stories. ***
18. Lyra's Oxford by Phillip Pullman- A short following the His Dark Materials series. I wish it was longer. ***
19. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
First off, Shelley is a superb writer for her time, a time when women weren’t writing much other than romances and social dalliances. Her writing is descriptive and exceptionally florid. I do have a problem, however, with some of her characters. The main character Frankenstein seems to have no empathy for this pitiful creature he’s created, and perhaps it is hard to have much empathy for someone who’s killed your brother and friend. But he seems so emotionally stunted as to not realize that the reason for the direction the creature’s taken is neglect and loneliness. Inasmuch as this, the story seems to revolve around the role of creator. The creature claims he is even lonelier than Satan, being that even Satan had his fellow outcast angels to commiserate with and admire him. All he wants is a mate, but Frankenstein is so worried that the two might fill the land with a species to rival humans. Frankenstein seemed to give no forethought to the creation of this specimen of existence, only doing it because he had the faculties to do so. As such it’s not just a portrait of a creator, but a warning to a science that does things simply because they can.