King Solomon’s Mines

I said I’d get around to writing about this.  Don’t hold your breath.

  • Book:  King Solomon’s Mines
  • Author:  H. Rider Haggard
  • Publication year:  1885

King Solomon Mine coverThis book is supposed to be the genesis of all “lost world” genre books.  But, to me, it screams bigoted colonialism which pisses me off in any genre.  I don’t like the view (especially when it is author driven and not just character driven) that anyone–no matter race, gender, or beliefs–should be written off as a simpleton just because of a difference in technology and customs.

Yes.  I could be diplomatic and say Haggard was a creature of his time and values.  Well, times change.  Novels don’t.

If you can get around the arrogant “white man is the superior being” language in the text, the tale isn’t dreadful.  It does feel a bit simple–more like a teenage adventure tale–but there are still twists and turns to be had:  a lost brother, a treasure hunt, treachery, tribal civil war, witches, almost certain death, and stalagmite-bodies of dead kings.  Oh, and–in case you forgot where you were–the obligatory great-white-hunter scene of wanton destruction of animals.

But, as is to be expected to generate hope for any adventuresome reader:

So we left it. Perhaps, in some remote unborn century, a more fortunate explorer may hit upon the “Open Sesame,” and flood the world with gems. But, myself, I doubt it. Somehow, I seem to feel that the tens of millions of pounds’ worth of jewels which lie in the three stone coffers will never shine round the neck of an earthly beauty. They and Foulata’s bones will keep cold company till the end of all things.

Here lies the adventure of King Solomon’s Mines.

  • Did I enjoy this book?  Not in any particular way.
  • Will I read this book again?  That is highly unlikely without a specific reason for doing so.
  • Will I attempt to read more H. Rider Haggard?  I may give it one more shot.

PS.  If you do go digging in to this novel, you might hear the echoes of other adventure stories as you go.  While this book’s attitudes may rub me the wrong way, I do think this book has made serious ripples in the literary pond…

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The reading plan…which will be tossed away by February

I can’t stick to a plan for reading.  Why?  Because I read according to my mood.  However, I like to keep trying.  Maybe someday I will be able to do it!

This year I want to stick to the 19th century as much as possible with my Classics Club reads.  I’m not saying I won’t stray from the list, but I’m feeling a bit old fashioned today so these are winning out.

Classics  Goals

  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  • Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  • The Red and the Black by Stendhal
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  • Waverly by Sir Walter Scott

However, my main goal is to tackle a lot of science fiction and fantasy books this year.  I’ll talk about that in a different post.  But, a few of the newer contenders being published this year (2014) that I want to grab and will definitely be reading!:

  1. The Book of Life (#3 in All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness
  2. Words of Radiance (#2 in Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson
  3. The Crimson Campaign (#2 in Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan
  4. Skin Game (#15 in Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher
  5. Magician’s Land (#3 in Magician’s Trilogy) by Lev Grossman

 

After that…well, we’ll have to see.

Readathon…ummm…

Ok.  My performance was lackluster at best.

The Classics Club follow up:

What book(s) did I readTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

What book(s) did I finish:  None.  I managed about 150 pages in Verne and the first chapter of Tolkien.

What did I like about the event:  I love that it makes me make time for reading–even if I don’t actually get something completed, I do get further down the text than I might have done on a normal day.

I also like to see what others are reading and how they are progressing.  [This is how I ended up with The Hobbit on my reading schedule and how it snuck into the readathon!]

Suggestions for future readathons:  I like that the progress of the readathon is so relaxed and without pressure.  But I’d like to pitch in the idea for a themed readathon where people can look through their lists to find something that fits the theme and participate.  OR, perhaps choose a time period readathon where we can find a book written in a particular century or whatever.

Would I participate in future readathons:  Definitely.

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Random distractions while reading…

My participation in this readathon was not meant to be.  I can’t seem to sit still for more than a half hour at a time and even those are far apart.  And, since dinner…well, let’s just say I am procrastinating!

However, I did hatch a thought while looking through some of the CC comments and blogs…

Since my January reading plans are geared toward adventure books, why not tack on The Hobbit?  After all, Bilbo went on an adventure.  And, that logically means that I can classify Lord of the Rings in my February reading plans because, technically, Frodo and company do a lot of travelling!

What did I do instead of shuffling off to read more Verne?  I downloaded a copy of The Hobbit for my Kindle.  [I’ve already got LOTR.]

All I have to say in my defense:  at least I am thinking about books!

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I’m late, I’m late…!

So, today has not gone according to plan.  It is 3 pm and I am just now getting around to digging in for the readathon.

I’m gonna crack open my Kindle and read like the wind!  Fingers crossed that I can at least finish Verne today…!

For the Check In Post

  • Snack of choice:  homemade fresh guacamole on toasted french bread and a mini-thermos filled with iced tea
  • Where I park my reading carcass:  either the daybed in the office or a squishy chair in the living room–with a big red quilt for extra comfort
  • Book on tapTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • My goals for the readathon:  To relax and read without pressure

Book, here I come!

//

All better…

I am not sure what was going on yesterday.  But, I did a lot of wibbly computery mumbo jumbo and now it is behaving much better!

So, tomorrow is the Classics Club readathon.  Instead of all the books I proposed as potential reading material in December, I think I’m going to stick with what I am currently reading:  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.  And, since I am likely to finish that, I might take a leap into one of the remaining 3 on my January Adventure List:

I’m kinda liking my little theme so far.  May my second choice be as fun as the first!

Now I am off to the library to pick up a few cookbooks and then on to the grocery store for celery and beets!

Plotting out the New Year

Smaller committment things signed up for in 2013 (so far):

The Classics Club

Because I really need to get my butt in gear with reading the classics, I want to really splash into it this year!  I’ve decided to give each month a theme so I can feel more excited about my progress.

While I will be reading more modern novels and other things besides classics, I thought I would try to finish at least two of the classics listed each month.  This will give me choice and flexibility…which, as a flibbertigibbet, is key to a good plan.

January (Adventure Month)Treasure Island (Stevenson), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Verne), The Three Musketeers (Dumas), King Solomon’s Mines (Haggard)

February (Travel Month)Gulliver’s Travels (Swift), The Time Machine (Wells), Around the World in 80 Days (Verne), Robinson Crusoe (Defoe)

March (Fight Month)The Nibelungenlied (unknown), Beowulf (unknown), The Last of the Mohicans (Cooper), Les Misérables (Hugo)

April (Anything Goes Month)Moll Flanders (Defoe), Madame Bovary (Flaubert), Eugénie Grandet (Balzac), Vanity Fair (Thackeray)

May (Maybe Mystery Month)The Complete Sherlock Holmes vol 1. and vol 2. (Doyle), The Moonstone (Collins),  The Big Sleep (Chandler)

June (Ah, Love! Month)Adolphe (Constant), Wuthering Heights (Brontë), Evelina (Burney), Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)

July (16th/17th Century Play Month):  Plays by Marlowe, Shakespeare, Ford, Molière, and Webster

August (Hot as Hell! Month)Journey to the Center of the Earth (Verne), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wilde), The Divine Comedy (Dante), Paradise Lost (Milton)

September (The Dickens you say! Month)A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist

October (The Creeps! Month)Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Stevenson), Dracula (Stoker), Frankenstein (Shelley), In Cold Blood (Capote)

November (Forgive me, it’s Nanowrimo! Month)The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

December (Punishment Month)Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky), The Mayor of Casterbridge (Hardy), The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne), The Count of Monte Cristo (Dumas)

Counting up the reading year

I’ve been wretchedly lazy this year about reading, but I thought I’d take a look at what has been accomplished.

Breakdown

Total books:  40 (+1 that will be finished before the New Year)

Rereads:  17

Classification:

  • Classics from my list:  8
  • Scifi:  31
  • YA:  12

Total pages read:  18,676 + 759 = 19,435

Average book length:  474 pages

  • books above: 17
  • books below:  24
  • longest book:  The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time #4) by Robert Jordan
  • shortest book:  Why Read? by Mark Edmundson

Books begun in 2012 and not yet completed:

  • Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • In the Kingdom of Men by Kim Barnes
  • A Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
  • Letters by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Red and the Black by Stendhal
  • The Kingdom of Gods by N. K. Jemisin
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • A Scream Goes Through the House by Arnold Weinstein

Why were these books not completed?  Mostly the problem stems from sheer laziness on my part.    Two are not complete because I have a bee in my bonnet about them and am irritated with the writing and the content.  Two are not finished because I had to return the book to the library for another patron and have not checked it out again.

What am I most pleased about?  Nothing really.  I didn’t manage to get through all of Austen this year.  I can’t seem to finish Sense and Sensibility and I haven’t begun Mansfield Park.  I’m mad that my list for “not finished this year” is ten books long!  I am a bit grumbly about only finishing 41 novels…and 17 of those are re-reads!  Geez.  My 2012 was not a year for books.

What do I hope for 2013?  I really want to get on with my Classics Club list.  I am going to make a tentative goal to complete at least 30 classics next year.  No more waffling!

CC December Meme: A Christmas Carol

What is your favorite memory of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? Have you ever read it? If not, will you? Why should others read it rather than relying on the film adaptions?

My mom always used to watch the old 30’s version of A Christmas Carol every year.  She said it was the best version of the film.  So, I grew up watching that and I’ve probably seen most of the film versions since at least once.  Who could miss them?

But, last December was the first time I ever sat down to actually READ the book!  [I know, I know.  Shame on me.]  And guess what I found?  It read mostly like the movies with the exception of a few exposition points for clarification here and there.

Why should someone read the book?

  • It is a quick, easy read.  For not being a 20th/21st century novelist, Dickens presents a fairly modern style for book pacing.
  • If you’ve seen the movies, they will–for the most part–play right along in your head as you read the book.
  • There is more feeling in the pages than you ever get onscreen.
  • A read-through will acquaint you with characters you *think* you already know.
  • It is something you should do for yourself as a Christmas treat.  Or, maybe as a read-aloud to your family as a new tradition!

I’m not sure if I will get to it again this year, but definitely next year as I want to tackle all of Dickens in one go!