Friday, 26 December 2008

Reading list

I currently have an extremely long reading list, but it mainly comprises of history textbooks, science textbooks, Ancient Greek epic poems and infuriatingly allegorical novels which require a whole set of highlighters at the ready to disect, analyse and really butcher.
Apart from that, I also have quite a few classics which I ought to read, including the Bible. I'm getting a bit fed up with all the religious references in books, art and films going completely over my head due to a lack of religious upbringing.

But I'd quite like something a little more entertaining to follow up my latest read, the puzzling Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (which I'm planning on posting about in the next few days). I have a little list of books currently at disposal, but unlike normally, none are jumping out at me. Here is my potential reading list:

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
In 16th-century Istanbul, master miniaturist and illuminator of books Enishte Effendi is commissioned to illustrate a book celebrating the sultan. Soon he lies dead at the bottom of a well, and how he got there is the crux of this novel. A number of narrators give testimony to what they know about the circumstances surrounding the murder. The stories accumulate and become more detailed as the novel progresses, giving the reader not only a nontraditional murder mystery but insight into the mores and customs of the time. In addition, this is both an examination of the way figurative art is viewed within Islam and a love story that demonstrates the tricky mechanics of marriage laws. Award-winning Turkish author Pamuk (The White Castle) creatively casts the novel with colorful characters (including such entities as a tree and a gold coin) and provides a palpable sense of atmosphere of the Ottoman Empire that history and literary fans will appreciate.
I got this out from the library a while ago and started it, but I was reading it really slowly so stopped and decided to go back to the beginning at a later date. It's now shamefully overdue but the multiple narrator identities and Turkish background mean that I'm determined to read it.

Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac
An an 1835 novel by French Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). Set in Paris in 1819, it follows the intertwined lives of three characters: the elderly doting Goriot; a mysterious criminal-in-hiding named Vautrin; and a naive law student named Eugène de Rastignac. Originally published in serial form during the winter of 1834–35, Le Père Goriot is widely considered as Balzac's most important novel. It marks the first serious use by the author of characters who had appeared in other books. The novel is also noted as an example of his realist style, using minute details to create character and subtext. The novel takes place during the Bourbon Restoration, which brought about profound changes in French society; the struggle of individuals to secure upper-class status is ubiquitous in the book. The city of Paris also impresses itself on the characters – especially young Rastignac, who grew up in the provinces of southern France. Balzac analyzes, through Goriot and others, the nature of family and marriage, providing a pessimistic view of these institutions.
I got this as a gift a few months ago, and delayed it because I'd just finished an old European classic and wanted a break. My list of French classics which I have read shamefully clocks in at exactly 1/2 a novel but I am always left wondering if I should wait until I am fluent enough to read them in the original language... yeah right.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The second historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. It depicts the plight of the French proletariat under the brutal oppression of the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, and the corresponding savage brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution. It follows the lives of several protagonists through these events, most notably Charles Darnay, a French once-aristocrat who falls victim to the indiscriminate wrath of the revolution despite his virtuous nature, and Sydney Carton, a dissipated English barrister who endeavours to redeem his ill-spent life out of love for Darnay's wife, Lucie Manette.
A long while ago I received a pretty set of English classics from an English teacher who had bought them for her son, who preferred JK Rowling to Dickens; she assumed I might appreciate them more. I still haven't read a single one (Wuthering Heights also features) but when I decided that it was time for some Dickens a few weeks ago, I couldn't get past page 5. But I should probably try harder.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
A psychological thriller and satirical novel. The story is told in the first person by fictitious serial killer and Manhattan businessman Patrick Bateman. The graphic violence and sexual content generated much commentary at the novel's release
I read Bret Easton Ellis' Less Than Zero and the Rules of Attraction a few years ago, and I was probably a few years to young (I must have been about 13). They scarred/scared me a little but now I'm sort of intrigued by this one sitting on the bookshelf. Plus Christian Bale is sexy and I don't want to watch the film before reading the book.

Which one would you choose, and what are you reading right now?


  1. But if you don't want to read, you shouldn't have to....

    Read only what you're interested in :)

    For me, I guess I'd be more interested in A Tale of Two Cities if I had to pick, but I've found that I generally only like biographies, personal finance books, chick lit or stuff like harry potter LOL!

    Fabulously Broke in the City
    Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver...

  2. Really interesting list, the Balzac especially sounds good.
    I just started the Northern Lights trilogy, I some how missed it as a child.. I also read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, brilliant sensation novel, long and Victorian