Friday, 19 February 2016

Read the Classics (another update)

This time two years ago, after reading 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell, I challenged myself to "Read the Classics".

You see, I've never been much of a reader. I have always enjoyed a good book but it's just too easy to find something else to do. Something that takes less effort. Which led to the fact that there were many, many books that I was quite frankly, a little embarrassed not to have read (most of which I still haven't read).

So I set myself the challenge of reading the classics and how did I get on? Well for a lazy reader like myself, last year I thought I did OK. I've always been a lazy reader and that wasn't really about to change. I wasn't about to start reading at home - not when I have a laptop and a tv to keep my mind occupied - but throughout those 12 months, I always made sure that I had a book with me where ever I went. So no reading at home but I always made good use of any train, bus or plane journey and at the end of the 12 months, I had read 7 books which I was fairly happy with. The last 12 months however, well they have been slightly less successful. Here are the books I read between Feb 2015 and Feb 2016:

(in chronological order)

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

I loved this book. It's a bitter sweet tale of male ego and stupidity. Maybe this book was of particular significance to myself as I am a man in my early thirties - and single when I read it - who has spent a significant amount of time in the past looking back, scrutinising previous, failed relationships but who is also hopeful and hopefully spending more time looking forward than backward these days. This really is a great, great book and I couldn't recommend it enough, to everyone! As Harry Enfield put it: "... If you are male you should read it and then make your partner read it, so they will no longer hate you but pity you instead."

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison

It was a good start to the year. I instantly fell in love with this book and it's wonderful hodgepodge collection of eclectic characters. It's a lovely heartwarming tale of personal growth, centred around a bereft carer, an introverted, insecure disabled teenager and the road trip of a lifetime. It is a wonderful book and a film 'Fundamentals of Caregiving' starring Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez is set to be realised very soon (it had it's world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival at the end of Jan 2016).

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

I'm not sure if I have a favourite book? If I do, I would say that although towards the top end of the list, Pigeon English would probably narrowly miss out on the top spot. However, without a shadow of a doubt, if I were to order my favourite characters from the books that I have read, Harrison from Pigeon English is by far and away my favourite character of all time! I absolutely fell in love with Harrison, he is the most wonderful, innocent, imaginative and loving young man, with such a brilliant turn of phrase and a unique way of looking at the world. I fell in love with this character so much so, that towards the end of the book I had to take a break from reading it. I did't really want to but I had to for two reasons. 1. I didn't want the book to ever end. 2. As the story unfolded it became more and more apparent that the book could be heading towards a dark and distressing ending. I won't spoil the book for you. Maybe I guessed wrong? But I was too nervous to read the end because I didn't want anything to happen to Harri, a fictitious young man I had become so emotionally involved with. Hats off to the writer Stephen Kelman for capturing my imagination and manipulating me into being so emotionally involved, in a way that very few other books have ever managed before.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The year had started off quite strongly. But then with the Kite Runner I hit something of a brick wall or maybe that should be border control. I started reading The Kite Runner back in the summer (2015). I took it on holiday with me to Croatia last August and although maybe I wasn't to know before hand, it didn't exactly turn out to be the ideal holiday reading. 

The thing is that I think The Kite Runner is a great book. Or at least the first half is definitely worthy of the title "Modern Classic". As I have yet to read it, of course the second half of the book could be terrible. I mean, I doubt it but you never know. However, as great as it is, it is something of a tough read. The themes are quite heavy. There have been a number of times while reading it that I have stopped. Each time I have started reading again at some point but have then found it hard going again and have had to stop. I really want to persevere with this book because despite my difficulties in finishing it, it is a very good book. Not just that though, but also because while I have been struggling so much to finish The Kite Runner, I have also failed miserably to read anything else. Which means little to no reading for the past 6 months! Or at least no reading towards the 'Read the Classics' challenge. Unless you count "Krav Maga: An Essential Guide to the Renowned Method for Fitness and Self-defence" as a classic?

Wish me better luck for the coming year.


PS. If you have any reading suggestions please place them in the comments section below.

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