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I've been rather lucky lately regarding books, having liked - to varying extents - most of what I had read. All of these, for instance:

Jane Austen, Emma (1815) (audio)
I think I may like Emma even more than I like Pride and Prejudice, and my respect for Jane Austen has just increased again. Sense and Sensibility, which I remember finding oversentimental, did not serve to increase it; not so Emma, where the characterizations - of the delightfully annoying (and, at the same time, likable) Miss Woodhouse herself and of every other character - are brilliant, the plot complex, and every detail beautifully crafted. Mr. Woodhouse with his "Poor Miss Taylor!", Mr. Elton and, later on, Mrs. Elton, Emma's attitudes towards Miss Bates and Jane Fairfax... "Romantic fiction" this may be, but the tapestry into which the romance is woven, with its social commentary and sympathetic study of women in different circumstances, makes for a very interesting read on more levels than just the romantic one. ("Duh," I can almost hear someone say, "this is Jane Austen!")

Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1908) (audio)
On Prince Edward Island, a brother and a sister, Matthew and Marilla, decide to get a little boy from an orphanage to have him help them on the farm. Due to some confusion, they end up getting a girl and have no heart to send her back.
Canadian and surprisingly endearing :).

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
A good book. Though I was never like Holden, I understand, and I sympathize. In this story, he is a 'watcher in the rye' who may, or may not, yet become a 'catcher'.
The "don't ever tell anybody anything" part rings true, as do many others.
As a side note, I should have taken breaks in reading this - got quite tired of the slang-to-speech translation by the end :)

Philip K. Dick, "The Minority Report" (1956), "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" (1966) (audio)
Philip K. Dick is, I have to say, a cheater - take the way he holds up suspense and adds plot twists by constantly producing, out of his authorial sleeve, items of information that are perfectly ordinary for the world he is describing but unknown to and unexpected by the reader.
More to the point, I like him. Good solid science fiction, perceptibly 'of its time' and also, of course, something that shaped that time. I am not sure if I actually read anything by him before (would have been years ago and in Russian), but watching Blade Runner and The Scanner Darkly a while ago were enough to make me remember his name. Now, I am embarking on a path of (re)discovery; next up (after a few more short stories) will have to be The Man in the High Castle.

Jack London, Martin Eden (1909)
Very much liked. An incandescent book, filled with passion and of contagious fervency. Also unintentionally amusing at times, like when the author repeatedly points out the 'virility' of the main character - yes, yes, we get it already! The image of Martin, young, capable, and dangerously fond of ideas, is very recognizable at any time; here, it placed here against the backdrop of the budding twentieth century. And it's too bad that I didn't come across this book until now; reading it seven or eight years ago would have been perfect.

Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1951)
My feelings on this one are mixed, though they do tend towards 'like'. I probably shouldn't have started reading Hemingway with The Old Man and the Sea, and certainly not in this edition (though, of course, I had no way of knowing). The trick with the edition I got is that it contained an introduction from Charles Scribner, Jr, who gave the original newspaper column Hemingway based The Old Man and the Sea on. I shall refrain from quoting it here. Suffices to say that the original story I found more poignant then Hemingway's rendition of it; the original triggered compassion, while Hemingway's interpretation changes the focus to dignity in suffering. That's fine, of course, and the story remains strong, but I feel a trace of artificiality in the change. That feeling is further promoted by the rather unnatural (so it seems to me) dialogues between the boy and the old man.
Well worth reading in any case.

Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic (1983), The Light Fantastic (1986), Equal Rites (1987), Mort (1987), Sourcery (1988) (audio)
Listened to Terry Pratchett on long bus and train rides and rather enjoyed the experience. His writing is a good mix of sarcasm, poetry, irony and just pure lighthearted fun, with a LOT of personification thrown into it. Eventually, planning to listen to all of the Discworld series.

Clifford Simak, The Goblin Reservation (1968)
A few haunting images. I liked the book on the whole, but, interestingly enough, I expected to like it more. Am now wondering if it'd read differently in translation, or if this is science fiction too classic and therefore bound to be too familiar...



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Jan. 4th, 2011 12:37 am (UTC)
Clifford Simak's set of "City" short stories left a lasting impression on me.
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