3 Months in Books: Quarterly Book Recap 4/2015

3 months in books

Oh yay, I’m trying a new thing! I decided I needed to do more book reviews and monthly recaps aren’t worth it cause I’m the slowest Literature student there is … but I’m doing quarterly book recaps of the books I loved, hated, dropped and finished in one go! Everything will include links to Goodreads and The Bookdepository (an awesome site to buy books from!), and if you wanna follow me on Goodreads, go right ahead. Enjoy!

The Good Soldier | ★★★☆☆ 3/5

3 months in booksAuthor: Ford Madox Ford
Publisher: Alma Classics Limited
Pages: 179
Published: 1915
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Ford’s novel revolves around two couples: Edward Ashburnham–the title’s soldier–and his capable if off-putting wife, Leonora; and long-transplanted Americans John and Florence Dowell. The foursome’s ostensible amiability, on display as they pass parts of a dozen pre-World War I summers together in Germany, conceals the fissures in each marriage. John is miserably mismatched with the garrulous, cuckolding Florence; and Edward, dashing and sentimental, can’t refrain from falling in love with women whose charms exceed Leonora’s. Predictably, Edward and Florence conduct their affair, an indiscretion only John seems not to notice. After the deaths of the two lovers, and after Leonora explains much of the truth to John, he recounts the events of their four lives with an extended inflection of outrage. From his retrospective perch, his recollections simmer with a bitter skepticism even as he expresses amazement at how much he overlooked. (Goodreads)

One of the books that I read for my Unreliable Narration class. As it often goes with an unreliable narrator, he confused the hell out of me, then annoyed the hell out of me. Once you get the hang of it that he’s constructing his own reality, I kind of got sick of him. He’s constantly contradicting himself and has a wavering opinion of his wife, himself and other people. That being said, the novel is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do and it was very interesting to discuss it in class. The disconnect between the protagonist and his own life story seeps through the lines, starting on the very first pages, and offers lot of material to talk about.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep | ★★★☆☆  3/5

3 months in books

Author: Philip K. Dick
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 193
Published: 1968
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Goodreads | Bookdepository

World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalked, in search of the renegade replicants who were his prey. When he wasn’t ‘retiring’ them with his laser weapon, he dreamed of owning a live animal — the ultimate status symbol in a world all but bereft of animal life.

Then Rick got his chance: the assignment to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But in Deckard’s world things were never that simple, and his assignment quickly turned into a nightmare kaleidoscope of subterfuge and deceit -and the threat of death for the hunter rather than the hunted… (Goodreads)

Another class read (for a class that I actually dropped over the semester). A great discussion on morality, what it means to be human, compassion, reality, and, well, post-apocalyptic scenarios. Another main character that I really couldn’t empathise with much, until he got into turmoil about his own morality and sense of right and wrong.

The Martian | ★★★★★  5/5

3 months in books

Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: 387
Published: 11 Feb 2014
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure
Goodreads | Bookdepository

[…] After a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark Watney finds himself stranded on Mars’s surface, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

Armed with nothing but his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–Mark embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? (Goodreads)

Oh my god. Fave read of these months, definitely. I’d heard about the book in one of Sanne’s videos and knew that there was an English language showing of the film adaptation at my cinema on Sunday – so on Saturday morning I bought the book and started to read. Terribly slow reader, so I got about half-way through before I left for the movies. But this was the first time in quite a while that I binge read a book! Mark Watney is the sassiest asshole to ever sass and it’s absolutely glorious. Most of the book is told through Watney’s logs, which honestly made me howl with laughter more often than not. The movie is a lot more serious in that respect, which is plausible when you think how the logs are filtered and a documentation of events after the fact, whereas in the film you see his immediate reaction to impossibly devastating scenarios. Although the book is sometimes a bit technical for the not-so-scientifically-inclined (e.g. me), I’d say it’s a must-read for everyone who likes a good laugh. And space. And potatoes.

Robinson Crusoe | not finished

3 months in books

Author: Daniel Defoe
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 337
Published: 6 Dec 2012 (first published 1719)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Here is the novel which has inspired countless imitations by lesser writers, none of which equal the power and originality of Defoe’s famous book. Robinson Crusoe, set ashore on an island after a terrible storm at sea, is forced to make do with only a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He learns how to build a canoe, make bread, and endure endless solitude. That is, until, twenty-four years later, when he confronts another human being. First published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe has been praised by such writers as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Johnson as one of the greatest novels in the English language. (Goodreads)

Another class read (sensing a pattern here?). This time on 18th Century Novels. I started this book well in advance, before the semester started, and what can I say … I still haven’t finished it. I made it about halfway through when we finished discussing it in class (and when I tossed it aside to finish it at another time, because I had more books to read for more classes). Haven’t picked it up since.
To be fair, that Goodreads blurb is wrong in so many ways … a knife, tobacco and a pipe? Defoe spends about ten pages describing the many trips in which Crusoe manages to bring back oh-so-many supplies from the wreck. Gunpowder, tools, clothes … and at least three bibles. Humph.

Joseph Andrews | not finished

3 months in books
Author: Henry Fielding
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 416
Published: 28 June 2012 (first published 1742)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Henry Fielding’s first full-length novel, Joseph Andrews depicts the many colourful and often hilarious adventures of a comically chaste servant. After being sacked for spurning the lascivious Lady Booby, Joseph takes to the road, accompanied by his beloved Fanny Goodwill, a much-put-upon foundling girl, and Parson Adams, a man often duped and humiliated but still a model of Christian charity. The novel anticipates Fielding’s great comic epic Tom Jones, with its amiable good humour and pointed social satire. (Goodreads)

Also for the 18th Century Novels class. Um. Yeah I gave this up a lot quicker. Damn, 1700s authors are hard to get into. I think since a lot of this book is one big reference to Samuel Richardson’s “Pamela”, it would have been incredibly useful to actually have read that book in class as well, instead of just having a short presentation of it. Sooo … had a hard time getting into this book and just ended up reading the sparknotes on it so I could still try to participate in class discussions. Yes, I do that. Everybody does that.

The Vicar of Wakefield | in progress

the vicar of wakefield

Author: Oliver Goldsmith
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 197
Published: 1 Dec 2008 (first published 1766)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Oliver Goldsmith’s hugely successful novel of 1766 remained for generations one of the most highly regarded and beloved works of eighteenth-century fiction. It depicts the fall and rise of the Primrose family, presided over by the benevolent vicar, the narrator of a fairy-tale plot of impersonation and deception, the abduction of a beautiful heroine and the machinations of an aristocratic villain. By turns comic and sentimental, the novel’s popularity owes much to its recognizable depiction of domestic life and loving family relationships. […] (Goodreads)

Well, “in progress” means I’ve read about … ten… ish pages? The third installment of the 18th Century Novel TBR list. Yeah. Just mentioning this here real quick. I’ll hopefully have finished this next quarter (or it might be tossed aside like the last two … oops!)

The Remains of the Day | in progress

3 months in books

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Pages: 258
Published: 2005 (first published 1988)
Genre: Historical Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro’s beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House.

In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside and into his past. (Goodreads)

And another one for uni! No, I don’t read much for pleasure at the moment, and yes I’m very upset about it don’t look at me. Again this is for the Unreliable Narration class, and it’s super interesting at the moment. If I’ve figured this out correctly, it takes place in 1957, but consists of a lot of flashbacks from between the wars, and whenever I think about the narrator, I picture Mr Carson from Downton Abbey, the old-fashioned, serious butler who tries to keep the househould together despite everything changing around him. I’m about 80 pages in and the “unreliable” part of the narrator is starting to emerge. It’s fascinating. Again, will hopefully have finished this by the time the next update comes around.

So what did you think? Did you read any of these? Do you intend to? What about your woes about British classics? xx

in Books.