Monday, November 27, 2006

Don Quixote

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) – This is the longest book in the world! It seemed to take me forever to get through it, but I finally made it. Part of the reason for taking so long was that the second part of the story is not as interesting as the first. Cervantes does a very good job creating an interesting story with many characters that are well intertwined in the first half. There are some characters that come repeatedly in the second half, but it seems like it was put together quickly and not as well thought out. Cervantes includes himself in the story as a translator a history written by an Arabic historian named Cide Hamete. In the first part Cervantes starts out telling the history of Don Quixote, but then fails to continue because he lacks the proper sources. He then “comes across” the histories written by Cide Hamete and uses that to tell the rest of the story. I really like the way he does this. It’s a little hard to describe but it is very creative. In the second part he again is “translating” Cide’s work, but at the same time includes writing against the false history of Don Quixote written a short time before Cervantes wrote his second part. In the story Don Quixote learns that there was a history written about him, by Cide Hamete. Many of the characters in the second part have read this history and were so entertained by it that they set Don Quixote up to do more hilarious adventures. Overall this was a very entertaining read. I laughed several times at the stupidities of Don Quixote and his loyal squire Sancho Panza. Put together they are a humorous pair and had many interesting adventures. I must say this book really is a piece of literature. There are many references to past people and events and also philosophical outlooks and religious influence. It isn’t just a novel filled with the madness of a man pretending to be a knight errant, but is full of historical importance and a great deal of learning comes from it.

Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) – This was very interesting. The first two parts were very difficult to read. I had a hard time understanding what was going on and who the characters were. Part of the problem was to understand the names of the characters. Each of them has five different names they can go by and I never found any rhyme or reason as to when they were used. But the story was very good. It takes you into the mind of a criminal and how he justified his actions. It brings you into his thoughts and his reasoning. I really could not relate to the character at all, but as I read into his thoughts I could understand his point of view. I really liked how the characters were all interwoven in some way. There was a complexity that brought them close together. A big part of this book was trying to understand why he did it and why he couldn’t handle the pressure of his secret. He was overtaken with the guilt, yet at the same time he convinced himself that what he did was not a crime. The action was merely to bring about a greater good and new ruling. In the end he realized that he was not one of the “Great Ones” that could step over into greatness. I particularly liked the ending in the epilogue; it really concluded the story and brought about the ending that any reader would want. (1860s)

The Four Feathers

A.E.W. Mason (1864-1948) – This book was ok. I don’t think I really like the author’s style. It seemed to be hard to read. The story didn’t flow very well. The plot was interesting. I did get frustrated with it. The main character, Feversham, was not always the one the story was focused on. There was more of the story being told through his friend Durrance. This just annoyed me because I wanted to hear first hand of Feversham’s adventures. The ending wasn’t my favorite either. I suppose this is because a man wrote it and couldn’t put a good romantic ending together. Overall it was a good read. I doubt I will read it again. (1850s-1890s, the Crimean Wars and the British Empire in Egypt and the Sudan)

My Ántonia

Willa Cather (1873-1947) – I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t know what to expect from the title. But I was pleasantly surprised. The story is about an immigrant girl that grows up in Nebraska. It doesn’t sound like it would be very interesting, but it was. I really didn’t know much about that time period or the people living on the prairie. This was based on a true story as well, which makes it a little more exciting for me as well. The story was well written and was easy to read. It was simply the story of a girl from the perspective of her neighbor boy. I very much enjoyed it. (late 1800s)

Little Women

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) – this is a classic tale of a family of girls living up in New England. I loved this book. It was so much better than the movie. The detail given of the girls’ lives really makes it come alive. I felt like I knew them. This book told me a bit of the family dynamics that were common during that day. Based on the life of Louisa May Alcott, I was very impressed with the honesty of what life was like. She did an outstanding job with it. It was also very easy to read and I didn’t want to put it down. (civil war)

A Little Princess

Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) – This little story was fun to read. I got a little angry at some of the characters because they were mean to the little girl that suffered so much. There was a good message to this book because the little girl had a very positive outlook on life, even with losing her father. It’s an easy read and definitely a children’s book. (Late 1800s)

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) – This book was a little weird. I think I had heard too much about the author’s homosexuality to really enjoy this book. It seemed to really present a message about that and also a very interesting outlook on life. The author wrote well and it was a good read, but I don’t agree with the message and what it had to say. There was a very strong homosexual message in the way the characters acted toward one another and in the way life was presented. Also it seemed to have a very hedonistic message to it. Life was just to live, and be happy with it. (Late 1800s)


Jane Austin (1775-1870)– Another classic Jane Austin. She is very good at creating romantic stories that girls love. This one seemed to drag a little, compared to some of her others. There was almost too much narration. I prefer a little more dialogue and action taking place. But it was good and I enjoyed reading it. (early 1800s)

Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) – There isn’t much too this story on first reading it. It only took me one day to get through it, it’s so short. I think if I were to look deeper into it and study it more I would find a message in it. But it didn’t impress me very much. It’s a classic and it was easy to read. I was a little surprised with the language in the book. I think I’m usually so sheltered in my book choices that I didn’t expect it. There was also the accent written into it. I don’t particularly like that. I prefer to read the actual words as they should be. Not with the hick accent that the characters speak in. (1930s)

The Three Musketeers

Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) – Adventure stories are probably my favorite and this is definitely a good one. There is adventure, romance, suspense and it’s just good. I like this author quite a bit and want to read more of his works. Although I don’t know many of the French words that are in it, it was easy reading and I like this author’s style. It’s too the point, but at the same time descriptive enough to give me a sense of what it looks like. Historical novels are also a favorite of mine, and now I want to travel to the Louvre and see the place that my story is set in. (1600s)

Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte (1818-1848) – This story shocked me quite a bit. I picked it up thinking it would be similar to Jane Austin. It’s set in a similar time period and it would make sense. But to my surprise it’s a very dark tale with a lot of angry people. I don’t like how it ends up. There is death and murder and it’s just dark. The whole time I was reading it I was angry at the characters and I wanted them to get along. There was a lot of arguing and fighting and vengeance. It just wasn’t the type of story that I like to read. I did get through it because I was curious about how it would go. (Late 1700s)

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) – This is probably the best adventure I’ve read about. This book is about a man’s quest to revenge his enemies. He does a very thorough job with it and succeeds in his revenge. I wanted the ending to be a little different and for the girl to return to him and his enemy to die, but it didn’t quite end the way I wanted. It was still wonderful to read and I will most likely read it again. Dumas is now a favorite of mine. (1600s)

Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austin (1775-1817) – This book was good. The characters are very different from one another and it makes a very interesting read. I liked seeing the way the sisters responded to different situation in different ways. There were of course many words that I didn’t understand, but Jane Austin is a wonderful author. (Early 1800s)

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austin (1775-1817) – Ah, what can I say about this book. It’s probably the best love story I’ve ever read. The details and the agony that occur in this story are so true. This book plainly sets out what girls and their thoughts on marriage are. The portrayal of women and their fickleness is really true in this book. If any man wants to understand the woman's mind better he should read this book. It really explains us a lot. After reading this I want to read all of Jane Austin’s novels. She was very talented in her ability to capture the reality and yet make it magical. (early 1800s)


Mary Shelley (1797-1851) – A great story of a crazy scientist that creates a monster. There is a sense of sympathy for the monster in most of the story. I felt sorry for him in most of it. He didn’t have a place in the world and because they rejected him, he turned to something bad. The book is very different from any movie I've seen of Frankenstein. He really is a victim in the book. The circumstances he falls into are not his own. People are terrified of him because he is so big and ugly. It was hard for people to see past that. When he was first created he was like a child. He had to learn everything. If someone took the time to teach him, he would have been kind. But since all he knew was rejection, he turned violent. I definitly recommend this for anyone interested in a good book. (1700s)

Lord of the Flies

William Golding (1911-1993) – I didn’t much like this book, but it was required. The boys in it were not my favorite kinds of characters. I know there is a lot of symbolism in this book, entire courses have been taught about this book. Perhaps I'm not very good at analyzing books, but I didn't understand much of the symbolism. It’s not something I’ll read again.

Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas

Fredrick Douglas (1818-1895) – This is simply this story of a man that escaped from slavery. It was not very exciting to read. He contained a lot of details that wasn’t very interesting, but it’s a good look into what life was like. It tells of the dangers of escape, but also he relates the wonderful life that he gained from escape. (1800s)

Gulliver’s Travels

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) – this is a fun book and well worth reading. I enjoyed it immensely. There are many strange worlds that Gulliver travels to. Each of them are unique and very interesting. Before reading this book all I knew was that there were Liliputians. Most cartoons about Gulliver's Travels only highlight that part of the story. But Gulliver goes on many other adventures. Most of which are very creative and wonderful to read about. I really liked it.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) – This book is quite different from the movie that is so well known. There is a lot more detail, as it is in most cases like this, and it tells a better story. It’s also interesting to see that Dorothy is quite younger than most imagine.

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte (1816-1865) – Although most people don’t like this book, I thought it was very good. There is a twist that is shocking and I liked it. I really wanted to know more of the details about it, but was left to speculation.


Here are my thoughts on the books I have read. I will update as I finish a book. Any suggestions on what books I should read would be very welcome. I'm not a professional, but I love to read. And I thought I would share my thoughts. I'm going to put up my reviews that I've already written in the future there will be only one at a time.