Book Reviews · Challenge · Reading

Mini Reviews: Books 80 – 71

Starting a challenge of 100 books, following a set list, no matter how long or boring the book is, seems daunting. I can’t believe I finished 30 of the books in total! Below is an overview and mini reviews of books 80-71 on the list.

(You can find the mini reviews of books 90-81 here and 100-91 here.)

#80: Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

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Grade: F
Favorite Quote:

“To know you will be lonely is not the same as being alone.”

Mini Review:

Tough novel to get through. Very confusing and I did not feel any connections to the characters whatsoever.

For a full review click here.

#79: Wide Saragasso Sea by Jean Rhys

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Grade: B
Favorite Quote:

“Unhappily children do hurt flies.”

Mini Review:

I really enjoyed this book that set out to humanize Bronte’s mad ghost, Bertha .. and truly achieved it.

For the full review click here.

#78: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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Grade: D
Favorite Quote:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? That depends a great deal on where you want to get to, said that cat.”

Mini Review:

I had high expectations of this classic but was very disappointed. To me, it was too crazy, too whimsical, to scattered, didn’t make much sense, and plain annoying.

For a full review click here.

#77: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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Grade: C
Favorite Quote:

“You know, that might be the answer – to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.”

Mini Review:

I could not stand this book for the first 100 pages and could not fathom how I will possibly finish it. Later on in the book I really like Yossarian and his logic, and really hoped he found his happy ending.

For a full review click here.

#76: The Trial by Franz Kafka

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Grade: F
Favorite Quote:

n/a

Mini Review:

**Closing the book** What in the world happened? Throwing it clear across that room wishing I can get back the time wasted on this book.

For a full review click here.

#75: Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

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Grade: F
Favorite Quote:

n/a

Mini Review:

A 200 page story with almost nothing happening .. and the “almost” was an attempted rape of a disabled girl. Enough said.

For a full review click here.

#74: Waiting for the Mahatma by RK Narayan

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Grade: B
Favorite Quote:

“Human beings have done impossible things to other human beings.”

Mini Review:

I really enjoyed this read. It was entertaining and taught me a number of things about India’s history and shed some light on Ghandi’s teaching. A recommended read from me.

For a full review click here.

#73: All Quiet on the Western Front

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Grade: B
Favorite Quote:

“The war swept us away. For the others, the older men, it is but an interruption. They are able to think beyond it. We, however, have been gripped by it and do not know what the end may be.”

Mini Review:

It clearly states on the cover of the book that this is “the greatest war novel of all time.” I agree 100%.

For a full review click here.

#72: Dinner at the Homesick Restaraunt

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Grade: B
Favorite Quote:

“When you have children, you’re obligated to live.”

Mini Review:

I really enjoyed this book. Her writing is comfortable to read and flows beautifully. This is the most “real” book I read so far in this list. Another recommendation from me.

For a full review click here.

#71: Dream of the Red Chamber by Tsao Hsueh-Chin

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Grade: D
Favorite Quote:

“When the unreal is taken for the real, then the real becomes unreal.”

Mini Review:

This is like an 18th century reality show.. keeping up with the Chia’s. A book full of gossip and scandal, and supposedly revolves around true love.

For the full review click here.

 

And there you have it. The mini reviews of the previous 10 books I read from the greatest book list. There were some memorable books but nothing that wowed me. The bad though was really bad.

Here’s to hoping for a much nicer and more exciting next 10 reads.

Till next time. Happy reading!

Book Reviews · Reading

Dream of the Red Chamber Book Review

Book: Dream of the Red Chamber by Tsao Hsueh Chin

Grade: D

#71 on the Telegraph’s 100 books everyone should read.

What is the book about?

The book is mainly about the Chia mansions and the people who live in them. They are divided into 2 households: the Ningkuofu and the Yungkuofu. The story revolves around almost all the people living there and mostly Pao-yu and all their love stories.

Verdict:

To me this is very like a reality show .. keeping up with the Chia’s. It’s mostly just scandal and gossip of their everyday lives. This is the only reason I gave it a D and not an F. It was not a boring read.

But I had trouble most of the time keeping up with who’s who. Some of the characters names are: Chia Chiang, Chia Gen, Chia Jui, Chia Chung. Most of the time I found myself guessing who they meant. For a person who is not familiar with the Chinese culture it might be confusing.

Also this book is described as a Chinese Romeo and Juliet, between Pao-yu and his cousin Black Jade. Black Jade did really die from grief when she knew Pao-yu will marry another. But how about Pao-yu? He got sick at first wanting to see his love, but he snapped out of it quick when his new wife told him that she passed away. He became better very quick and lived his life normally after that.

Also there are alot of things that don’t make sense. Maybe it’s because this is an abridged version, like the brick that wanted a taste of the “red chamber” (the mortal world) and came to the world as a jade around Pao-yu’s neck. What happened to it? Because it was introduced for quite a bit in the beginning, thought there will be something about it in the end (maybe with some lesson of his experience in the red chamber) or something. Also whats the deal with the Pao-yu look alike?

Anyways it wasn’t a tough read but I won’t really recommend this to anyone.. maybe the full longer version is better?

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Next read:

I usually like to read the books following the list in descending order. But due to the Corona virus and everything shutting down and not delivering, i will stick to the ones i have and might jump around the list and not go by order.

So next read is #66 on the list: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Book Reviews · Reading

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant Book Review

Book: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

#72 on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: B

What is the book about?

The story is about Pearl’s life: her marriage, her 3 kids, their ups and downs, until her death.

Verdict:

I really enjoyed this book. I think out of all the books i read so far on this list, this is the most realistic life story so far. Any of these kids can be any one of us today. It was just so relatable, so very real.

Tyler’s writing is so comfortable and flows in such a beautiful way that it was really comforting picking up the book late at night after being locked up with my kids at home and the craziness of this lockdown.

True there wasn’t alot of things or action going on in this story, except life itself. A beautiful look into a family trying to make sense of life.

I honestly think more than the story itself, I loved Tyler’s writing and the comfort of it. I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.

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Next book on the list:

The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin.

Book Reviews · Reading

All Quiet on the Western Front Book Review

Book: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

#73 on the Telegraph’s 100 books everyone should read.

Grade: B

What is the story about?

The story takes place in WWI, the deadliest and bloodiest of all wars. Paul Baumer and his friends were only 19 years old when enlisted, and they saw, lived, and endured the unthinkable.

Verdict:

Only a person who lived through combat can write such a realistic story as this. Even though it was such a heavy topic, I really enjoyed the thoughtfull conversations and discussions of the idea of war.

Paul explains that after the war, they will be a lost generation. The generation before them saw the war as a mere distraction. Even though they lived through the atrocities of war, they had a life they were attached to before. They had a job, a wife, a house, and maybe kids that they hope to get back to after the war.

The generation after them will only live with the aftermath of war. But Paul’s generation are lost. As they have nothing they were really attached to before the war. All they know is war. After it, what will they do? Where will they go?

There were alot of meaningful discussions and ideas about war and the rationale behind it. Though I didn’t enjoy the visual description of the many deaths and injuries, I did enjoy this book alot.

And i do agree with the statement written on the cover of the book. This is “the greatest war novel of all time.”

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Next book: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

Book Reviews · Reading

Waiting for the Mahatma Book Review

Book: Waiting for the Mahatma by RK Narayan


#74 on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: B

What is the story about?


Sriram is an orphan raised by his grandma in South India. He became infatuated with a girl, Bharati, who happens to be one of Gandhi’s pupils. He leaves the comforts of his grandma’s home to join the Mahatma’s calling. Their love story intertwines with the historical facts of the Indian Continent at that time till the country got its independence from the British and the end of Gandhi.

Verdict:


Let me say, I really enjoyed this book. The story flowed beautifully and was very easy to read. Not just that, but it was very interesting too.

Sriram is very likable. He is an impressionable young man who fell for a beautiful woman and followed her into Gandhi’s service. At one point in the story, he wishes that she wasn’t a political activist and just a normal girl so he can easily marry her without obstacles.

This shows you that people can join a political movement or cult (not that Gandhi is a cult, far from it, I’m just saying in general), for different reasons, like a girl, and not just pure belief in the political agenda of that group.

Also when Sriram joined Gandhi, he was so adamant and committed to the non-violent nature of the movement but as soon as both Gandhi and Bharati were in jail, and he didn’t have a clear guide, he got influenced by others and became violent to reach the goal of “Quit India.”

But the best and most meaningful part to me in the story is the end.

I love how when things in the country were not going very well after the British left, Sriram said: “We ought to rejoice that it’s our own people that are blundering, isn’t that so?”

Then after the country’s independence, you can feel the start of the religious segregation. Like when Sriram was confronted by two thugs on the train going to Delhi. They were looking for Muslims to throw out of the train and he was spared because he was a Hindu.

But as the book goes on to describe, you can’t say that it’s this group who are aggressors or the other.

As Bharati explains: “what one community did in one part of the country brought suffering on the same community in another part of the country.”

I also loved how Gandhi changed the names of the refugee kids they took in to unbiased names such as fruit and flower names. “Even a number would be better than a name, if a name meant branding a man as of this religion or that.”

I really enjoyed this book. It was entertaining and was easy to read. It taught me a number of things about India’s history and shed some light on Gandhi’s teaching. But mostly, it made me think.

” Human beings have done impossible things to other human beings.”

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Next book on the list:

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque
Book Reviews · Reading

Cider with Rosie Book Review

Book: Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee


#75 on the Telegraph’s 100 novels everyone should read.

Grade: F

What is the story about?

Cider with Rosie is an autobiography. It is the first part of a trilogy covering Laurie’s life since birth, till he was about a teen.

Verdict:

Before reading this book, it was hard for me to imagine a 200 page story where almost nothing happens at all. There’s a first for everything I guess.

I didn’t realize the book was part of a trilogy until later, which kind of makes sense in a way. The entire book was an introduction to the trilogy.

So if you really like reading a 200 page introduction where things rarely happen, or like to listen to the older generation rambling nostalgically about the good old days, or would like to learn about Laurie Lee’s family, including 5 uncles, the color of his rooms wall or the length of the grass in their fields, then this is the book for you.

The only thing that happened in this book was the attempted rape of a disabled girl by Laurie and his gang. As there was no remorse after that whatsoever, it would’ve been better for him to just stick to the grass length of the hills and the color of mold on his school’s walls.

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Next read:

Waiting for the Mahatma by R.K. Narayan
Book Reviews · Reading

The Trial Book Review

Book: The Trial by Franz Kafka

#76 on the 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: F

What is the book about?

The book is about Joseph K, who was arrested for reasons unknown. The story follows the case, the “trial”, and finally the verdict.

Verdict:

You know when you write a looong text with a lot of details and explanations, send it off and the only reply you get back is: “k”

It is so annoying. . Isn’t it?

Now keep that feeling of annoyance in mind because that’s exactly how I feel reading this messed up “trial” about “k”.

How on earth can I relate to a character who is identified by one letter throughout the book?!

To me, the book had no point and no meaning. There was no real trial, most of the things that happened were hardly connected, and all the discussions were pointless.

I wouldn’t say I hated the book. Hate is too strong of a feeling for a book like this.

I was mainly just annoyed.

Just like recieving K as a text message, I was mostly annoyed with K, didn’t get the point of K, didn’t understand the logic behind K, didn’t care what happened to K, annoyed that my time was wasted by K, relieved to finally reach the end of K.

Off to the next book on the list! Hoping it will be a story I can follow, and maybe even enjoy.

Happy reading!

Book Reviews · Reading

Catch-22 Book Review

Book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

#77 on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: C

What is the story about?

The book follows the story of Yossarian, a WWII American fighter plane pilot, and his many adventures and dilemmas along the way.

Verdict:

Me the first 100 pages or so:

I HATE this book! How will I possibly remember all these characters and their stories! How can anyone read 500 pages of a war satire?!

Me the rest of the book:

What do you know, I kinda like this kid. I kinda get what he’s feeling in this upside down world we’re living in and I must admit.. I am kinda enjoying this read.

I appreciated the moral battleground along with learning combat phrases like “milk run.”

Yossarian was “one good apple that can ruin the rest.” I enjoyed the moral predicament he was placed at the end .. what was the “right” thing to do and how he was tempted to take a “wrong” turn when everyone was telling him it was the correct thing to do. Haven’t we all faced situations like those?

This book wanted to show how messy war really is. Not just by death tolls, but how it distorts reality, how the lines are blurred, how opportunistic and greedy people can really be .. and the hypocrisy of it all.

** Spoiler **

Though a dense book to read, with many characters and many upside down conversations and events, I closed the book with a smile.

I hope Yossarian does reach Sweden and lives it up there with Orr .. living a straight forward, long, and peaceful life.

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Next book:

The trial by Franz Kafka.. looks like its going to be a dense read.

Book Reviews · Reading

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Book Review

Book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

# 78 on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: D

What is the story about?

Follows Alice’s crazy adventures in her wonder land.

Verdict:

Very disappointed with this book. Had high expectations but it didn’t live up to its rep. I should’ve known .. I don’t usually like anything too whimsical.

You know I’m sure the book has a lot of hidden messages and a lot of morals and lessons.

Just like Lewis Carroll explains when Alice said to the Duchess that she can’t see the moral of her story .. the Duchess replied, “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.”

So I’m sure Alice’s constant change in size has a moral, and the caterpillar with the hookah has a moral, and the smiling cat has a moral and the queen and her pack of cards have a moral .. even the trial about the tarts, I am sure, has a moral.

But to me, it was too crazy, too whimsical, too scattered, didn’t make much sense, and mostly just annoying.

Without any moral that i can find.

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Next book:

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Another classic that I never read and look forward to reading. Hope I’m not dissapointed again.

Book Reviews · Reading

Wide Sargasso Sea Book Review

Book: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

#79 on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: B

What is the story about?

The story follows the life of Antoinette Cosway, beginning with her life in the West Indies to her marriage to her demise. It is supposed to be a prequel to Jane Eyre. Antoinette is Rhys’ attempt to humanize Bronte’s mad ghost, Bertha, from Jane Eyre.

Verdict?

The book was a short and easy read, even though it covers a dense subject like mental health. Now i don’t feel so bad for giving the last book an F because this book, in comparison, flows so nicely and easily.

I do remember that I enjoyed reading Jane Eyre but I forgot a lot of it as read it maybe 15 years ago. I was worried that I wouldn’t ‘get’ this book because it’s meant to be a prequel.

But that was not the case at all. This can be read as a stand alone book and you don’t need any prior knowledge about Rochester, Bertha, or Jane Eyre to enjoy it.

To be honest, I enjoyed reading the book. Maybe because it’s within the classic genre that I am comfortable with or is connected to a classic that I remember I loved.

I do realize it’s not for everyone but I liked it. It was a breath of fresh air after reading such dense and difficult novels. Weird to say this about a book that revolves around mental illness. So i guess Rhys did exactly what she intended to do .. she humanized the insanity of Bertha.

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Next read:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Believe it or not I haven’t actually seen the entire cartoon, so this will. E the 1st time I will be introduced to Alice’s story.

Looking forward to it!