|50 Books Challenge: 26 out of 50
||[Nov. 2nd, 2009|09:17 am]
My reading list for September and October. Apparently university is eating away at my precious non-school reading time. I actually have to read dictionaries for some of my classes. I suppose I will add them to my December reading list when the semester ends and boost my final count by 6 or 7 books.
The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling: This was a collection of short stories, which I'd not expected. It includes, obviously, the story of Mowgli raised by the wolves, which I don't think I need to go into detail about (although it much differs from the Disney movie,again obviously). The other short stories in the collection are mostly set in India and starring various native animals, and dealing with English colonialism. One story stands out: a young white seal searching for a place where his kind don't get butchered by men for their skin. I remember reading that one separately as a child and having no idea it was related in any way whatsoever to Mowgli. I'm assuming that last story makes PETA very happy.
The Folklore of Discworld, by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson: I'm not exactly sure why Terry Pratchett is listed as an author here, as the writing seems to be mostly done by Mrs. Simpson. I'm guessing you just can't release a Discworld book without Terry Pratchett's name on the cover. This was very interesting in that it explored the real-earth inspiration for Discworld myth; Terry is apparently very knowledgeable when it comes to myth because his sources seem to stem from traditions the world over, and not just the Norse and British folklore as is common in most English-language fantasy books. It was a nice way to revisit the Discworld universe while at the same time learning about myths from cultures I was not familiar with.
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters: Awesome. Just awesome. Please read this.
October Dreams: A collection of Halloween-related short stories by a myriad of authors. The quality and originality of the stories varies greatly. Also, apparently vague sort of endings are popular in horror fiction; I'm guessing the idea is to leave the ending open to interpretation so that readers can draw their own conclusions and imagine whatever ending is scariest for them. To me that smacks of laziness/uncertainty on the part of the author: Well, I didn't want someone thinking my ending wasn't scary enough by their standards so I let them make up their own. In between the short stories are also a few non-fiction accounts (Halloween memories, movie recomendations, history of Halloween, etc.). Some of these are very interesting, but some of which are, well, it's not because you're a well-known writer that you've had fantastically interesting Halloween experiences. But there is enough quality stuff (Ray Bradbury and Poppy Z. Brite spring to mind) to make the book interesting, but overall I think it would have benefited from a stricter selection process.
Empire of Blue Waters, by Stephan Talty: The jacket's description seems to imply that this book is about Captain Morgan when in truth it's really a history of Jamaica and the Caribbeans. Morgan did play a huge part in the English struggle for the Caribbeans, but he shares the starring role with many other very interesting people. The book seems very thoroughly researched and gives great insight into the real lifestyle of the privateers/pirates (also explaining the difference between the two: Morgan would have been very insulted to be called a pirate) as well as the European political struggles of the time. Also, I'm guessing whoever wrote the script for Pirates of the Caribbeans looked up the same references Stephan Talty did; it was fun to find out that for all its fantasy, it wasn't a completely romanticized portrait and that there was some historical research done.