This first post will be long as I'm going to review all the books I've read off of the list so far...so sit back and get comfy...
The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
Some adventure, Augie. The universe gave our friend Augie several chances to be wealthy and happy, but he chose to be overly existential about life and make it through the hard way. This essentially leads him to marry a girl who wants to move to Mexico and train an eagle. Basically, his life sucks because he was too stubborn to be gracious about the opportunities he was given earlier in life. This nonsense continues for a whopping 557 pages and at the end we are left with no resolution and Augie has done nothing useful with his life. Good call, Time Magazine.
This was the first book I chose to read off the list and I immediately began to regret my decision...
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Yes! Mr. Chandler renewed my faith in the list. This book was awesome. I am firmly against modern mystery novels because they're usually too easy to figure out or the resolution really makes no sense. Also, they tend to be too cheesy. Not The Big Sleep. This book is sexy, captivating and incredibly well written. 5 stars!
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
I started off thinking this was the funniest book I'd ever read. I was laughing out loud and having a grand old time. But then....it just kept going. And the jokes get kind of old. And while you appreciate Yossarian's plight, and the brilliance with which the book is written and Heller's point is brought forth, one has to wonder why, at the end of the day, is so damn hard to get into this book? I kept thinking I should want to read it, but I could never muster the strength to do it unless I forced myself.
So, it's not an easy read, despite it's obvious brilliance. I'd definitely say it's worth challenging yourself.
The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
What. The. Heck. This book had some funny parts, but for the most part it was terrible. Everyone was selfish and childish and their behavior was detestable. Poor little Portia. Will no one love this poor child? Matchett, the snarky maid, is there to bring some heart to the story, but not enough to redeem the novel overall.
The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
This is a goodie. Sarah Woodruff, our protaganist, is also known around town as the "french lieutenant's whore" or for those of us who have more feeling hearts "Tragedy". She is the most complex heroine I've ever come across and I thought she was written brilliantly. At time you sympathize with her and other times, as her character unfolds, you come to realize that you may hate her just a little bit. The structure of the novel is interesting as well, as Fowles sort of discusses through the novel his difficulty in controlling the characters. He also offers three different endings to the novel.
A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
No. This book is terrible.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
While I was reading this, I felt dirty. I wanted to tell little Dorothy Haze to run the other way. When I would discuss this with people who had read the book, they would all say the same thing "just remember, it's a love story".
Is it? Because I read it in its entirety and I never saw the love story part. I mean, Humbert really does think he loves Lolita. Maybe he does. But is it real love if she's 12 and is scared and confused and all too aware of her sexuality? All in all, I thought this novel was horribly depressing. Possibly more depressing for me than most, because I expected it to be strangely sexy and it was just terribly sad.
But I feel compelled to say that it was really good and you should read it too!!
1984 by George Orwell
How I went this long without reading this book, I'm not sure. I'm also not sure how to describe it other than brilliant, terrifying and much too relevant for comfort. Everyone should read this book.
Watchmen - Alan Moore
This is the only graphic novel on the list, and the first graphic novel I've ever read. It took me much longer than it should have, because I would just skip over the pictures half the time, not realizing how important they are to the story. (Example: when the movie was coming out, Andrew was complaining about how they weren't using the giant squid and i said, "what giant squid?). The story is great, the artwork is pretty cool as well and it really opened up my mind to the fact that graphic novels are actually an option for me. (I've since started reading Buffy and Angel graphic novels...)
I haven't read a book on the list in a while. I've started both Gravity's Rainbow and The Moviegoer and quit about 20 pages into each. I'll need a study guide for Gravity's Rainbow and The Moviegoer will just need another attempt when I'm not in the middle of moving.
So that's that. I'm currently reading an advanced copy of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (who wrote Time Traveler's Wife), and will definitely share my thoughts once I'm finished...but I'm not sharing the book.
I hate sharing.