Book Reviews · Reading

The Golden Notebook Book Review (#89)

Book: The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

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

Grade: F

What is the story about?

This book is very complicated but I will try my best to describe it. It follows the life, or is mainly about Anna Wulf, a disgruntled, divorced, communist writer who is dealing with, among many other things, writer’s block.

She has 4 notebooks: 1) a black notebook (about her past in Africa), 2) a red notebook (mainly about the British Communist Party), 3) a yellow notebook (to write fictional stories in), and 4) a  blue notebook (her diary). At the end, she tries to combine the four notebooks into one golden notebook.

Verdict:

Wow Ms. Lessing, I hope you have found the peace you deserve because I honestly don’t believe you were 100% ok while writing this book.

I imagine Ms. Lessing was brainstorming what styles should she write in: should it be a memoir? A novel? A diary? A short story? Let’s just do them all so I can show the world I am capable of each.

Then she brainstormed topics: should it be about politics? Communism? Race? Feminism? Relationships? Mental state? Depression? You know what, Let’s just do it all in one big book because hey why not?

But having all these loaded topics all in one book just makes it so messy and actually takes away from whatever message she was trying to make in all these topics. (I’m sure there’s a lot more topics she tackled but throughout the 620 page mess of a book I forgot them).

This takes me to another point, this book is so freaking hard to read! There are no chapters. It is sectioned off in parts that supposedly should free women (free women 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). What is ironic and hilarious is the greater you get into freeing these women, the crazier it all gets until Anna comes close to a complete mental breakdown.

The build up to this mental breakdown is so intense and described in such scrutiny that you can’t help but get sucked into the darkness as well.

But low and behold, at save the women number 5, it took an American wanderer 3 days to magically heal her by pulling down all the crazy newspaper cuttings on her wall. This “healing” took place over a max of 4 pages, while the complete and utter breakdown took 600 pages to build up and explain. (This is why I believe Ms. Lessing was not in a very healthy state of mind while writing this as she described anxiety, depression, and the breakdown of reality so realistically, but did not realistically write down how this woman got out of it).

So each section (except saving #5) starts with a ‘real’ scene in Anna’s current life, mainly with her daughter Julie and her friend Molly. Then it goes through the four different notebooks, which to me where as follows:

  • Black notebook –> complete degeneration of society & disregard to any morale code anyone follows.
  • Red notebook –> hypocrisy of politics; lies people on all sides of the political spectrum say and do for their individual gains.
  • Yellow notebook –> relationships; mainly being the mistress; the ‘other’ woman (progressive, unbound by social norms yet they all define themselves by their men).
  • Blue notebook –> mind numbingly boring conversations between Anna and her psychiatrist; oh and a list of her ‘meaningful’ dreams.

But, Doris Lessing did stay true to one main theme throughout the entirety of 630 pages: sex. This includes: extra-marital sex, homosexuality, female orgasm, endless sex-capades, and last but not least, a detailed study into an insect sexual encounter.

If I come across as angry throughout this book review, yes I have to admit I am angry. This book was a complete waste of my time. I even googled why the heck this book won a Nobel Prize.

Bottom line is, if you have a choice whether to read this book or not, my advice is: run! Run as fast as you can in the other direction. Do not waste your time on this insanity.


Next book on the list: Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin. Hope this one is good after two disappointing reads.

Happy reading!

Book Reviews · Reading · Uncategorized

Under the Net Book Review (# 90)

Book: Under the Net by Iris Murdoch

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

Grade: D

What is the story about?

The story starts with Jake Donaghue being kicked out of his current living arrangement. He is almost broke and doesn’t hold a steady job as he is an ‘intellectual’, as he puts it. He sometimes translates book as a way to get money.

He then goes on a crazy journey that is filled with past loves and acquaintances, skinny dipping in the Thames, stealing a dog, some politics and some philosophy, only to find himself coming full circle and ending up where he started off: homeless and almost broke, just with a dog.

Verdict:

Why does one read books? To learn something? To be entertained? To follow an interesting story? To tick a title off a list?

Well I did tick the book off my list.

Was I entertained? For the first 100 pages yes, then it became very slow, and picked up a little at the end.

Did I follow an interesting story? It was a really crazy storyline with a lot of different episodes; but it might’ve been too crazy for me.

Did I learn anything? Not really. No wonder the philosophical book Jake published was a complete flop as the philosophy in this book was a bore to me and without any real substance or meaning.

Maybe the whole point of the story is to not be a lazy, immoral, opportunistic bum and to actually get a job (Jake decided to get a job at the end of the story).

And definitely get a dog (but not steal one). The only character I liked in this book is Max, the handsome loyal dog. Makes me kind of think of saying yes to my son when he keeps nagging to get one. On second thought, I don’t think I’m ready to take care of a fifth baby lol.

I can’t really say much about this book. It was a light read. It was entertaining for the most part. But will I recommend it to my loved ones? No.


Next book:

# 89 on the list: The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing.

The Telegraph explains it as having some communism, women’s liberation, and “inner space fiction.” No idea what that means .. should be interesting.

Till next time ❤

 

Book Reviews · Reading

Mini Reviews Books 100 – 91

Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating and happy holidays!

I finally finished the first 10 books on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time. (well not really I stopped reading 2 books based on principle, more on this below).

So here it is: an overview and mini reviews of the first 10 books on the list.

# 100: Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

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Grade: A
Favorite Quote:

Some believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I’ve found. I found it is the small things. Every day deeds by ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. – Gandalf

Mini Review:

I usually hate anything too whimsical and unrealistic. I need to be able to relate to something to love it so imagine my great surprise when I LOVED this book. Tolkien is a genius! Amazing read!

Click here to read the full review.

# 99: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Grade: B
Favorite Quote:

The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.

Mini Review:

Great book, wonderful moral and very powerful message. That being said, I understand why the book is studied at middle school (high school) levels. Can’t wait till my kids get to read it!

Click here to read the full review.

# 98: The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore

homeandtheworld

Grade: C
Favorite Quote:

What I really feel is this, that those who cannot find food for their enthusiasm in a knowledge of their country as it actually is, or those who cannot love men because they are men, – whose needs must shout and deify their country in order to keep up their excitement, – those love excitement more than their country.

Mini Review:

It is an honor to read a book written by a man who wrote the Indian National Anthem and get a greater understanding of the political struggles in the region at that time. But, its philosophical writing made it a bit of a hard read for me.

Click here to read the full review.

#97: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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Grade: C
Favorite Quote:

This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

Mini Review:

This to me is a one liner book. On the book back cover, the Washington Post Book World calls it “inspired lunacy.” I think it’s more of lunacy with some inspiration scattered through.

Click here to read the full review.

# 96: One Thousand and One Nights by Anon

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Grade: n/a (stopped reading based on principle)

I honestly can’t believe this book is so popular and considered one of the classics. The racism, sexuality, and vulgarity in it is repulsive. I not only refuse to continue reading it, but refuse to actually have it in my home.

# 95: The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang Goethe

werther

Grade: D
Favorite Quote:

All the high-flown schoolteachers and tutors agree that children do not know why they want; but that grown-ups too tumble around like children on the face of the earth, not knowing where they come from or where they are going, acting as little from true purpose, and just as ruled by biscuits and cakes and birch rods: no one really wants to believe that …

Mini Review:

The story was very sad; not as in heartbreaking sad, but pathetic sad, Young Werther, Come on! Be a man, get over it and move on.

Click here to read the full review.

# 94: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

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Grade: A
Favorite Quote:

… where the truth is what it is instructed to be, reality quite literally ceases to exist

Mini Review:

Beautiful. Amazing story where history comes alive and emotions are so raw, your heart aches for them. Loved it!

Click here to read the full review.

# 93: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre

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Grade: A
Favorite Quote:

“We’ve had enough.” He took back the report and jammed it under his arm. “We’ve had a bellyful, in fact.” “And like everyone who’s had enough,” said Control as Alleline noisily left the room, “he wants more.”

Mini Review:

This is not an action filled spy story but a gripping psychological thriller that is so beautifully written. It will keep you engaged and intrigued from beginning to end.

Click here to read the full review.

# 92: Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

cold-comfort-farm-673x1024Grade: C
Favorite Quote:

Here was an occasion, she thought, for indulging in that deliberate rudeness which only persons with habitually good manners have the right to commit…

Mini Review:

Apparently, this book is a satire. And going through this book, you really do feel like the writer is trying to make a joke, but you don’t really know at who or why you should laugh. So yeah, I don’t get the joke really.

Click here to read the full review.

#91: The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki

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Grade: n/a (stopped reading; based on principle .. again)

Second book from this list (and ever) that I decide to stop reading. I approached this list with an open mind, just like I approached this book. I was adamant on finishing all the books I read, no matter how ‘boring’ they are.

But, I realized, there are books that I can’t read based on what I personally believe and my principals.

Just like the 1001 nights, I stopped reading this book when Genji kidnapped a child from her home and forced her to sleep next to him even when she was crying for her nanny. That was it for me really.

There it is. Overviews and mini reviews of the 1st 10 books on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

It only took me over a year to finish these. At this rate, it will take me 10 years to finish the list lol. Hopefully now that my almost one year old boy is staring to sleep better, I can get more reading done.

Next read:

Under the Net by Doris Lessing. I always get excited when its a book I know nothing about. Hope it is good and I get to write the next 10 reviews in less than a year.

Happy reading!

Adulting · Life · Parenting

Failure

I feel like a total failure…

You see my DD came home today with an assignment to write about a role model from her family. I was honestly secretly wishing it was me. Then I saw the questions she has to fill out: the person’s gifts/talents, the person’s accomplishments…

And I half joked to my husband, I don’t think DD should choose me, what talents or accomplishments do a stay at home mom like me have? He said: maybe how fast you can finish a McDonalds large fries haha..

I get that it’s a joke, and I get that I was asking the question while laughing so he didn’t know the insecurities behind that question, but it honestly got to me.

What did I accomplish in the last 10 years?

How many projects did I try to start and never actually finished?

Wanted to lose weight? Nope didn’t, gave up and made a Nutella sandwich instead.

Joined a gym? Went 3 times only.

I don’t even remember how many business plans I thought of and wrote down but never did anything about or saw anything through.

Started a blog? Don’t remember the last time I posted.

Started a journey to read a 100 books? Couldn’t even reach number 20 and I love reading books!

Today is just one of those days ..

Hopefully tomorrow I can see my 4 kids smiling faces and know what I accomplished

Hopefully, when I see my son’s teacher and when she tells me how polite and nice and helpful he is I know what I accomplished

Hopefully, when I see my oldest daughter, who turned into a beautiful young lady, reading quietly in her reading spot I know what I accomplished

Hopefully, when I see how articulate and smart my two year old daughter is I know what I accomplished

Hopefully, when I see my healthy baby crawling all around and laughing .. I will know what I accomplished

But not tonight .. tonight I will allow myself to mourn all those unfished business .. all the times I said I can when obviously I couldn’t ..

Tonight .. I feel like a complete and utter failure..

School

Our School System has to Change!

Amazing video that all must see.

Whats going on in schools is crazy!

I have two kids in school, with two different temperaments and two different abilities. They are expected to take the same exams at a certain age and get it right .. or what? They are .. inadequate? Special needs? Or just unworthy?

Everyone reaches goals and milestones at different times, when they are ready. That’s why we don’t expect all babies to flip by 4 months and walk by 1 year.

People don’t say things like: “he didn’t achieve the required ability” if a kid doesn’t walk by 1 year. Then why do it to an 8 or 10 year old?

Hope the world wakes up and creates “a world where fish are no longer required to climb trees.”

Till then, i will always tell my kids they are good enough, no matter what their scores on a test says.

Challenge · Reading

3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge: Day 3

I was tagged by an amazing book blogger, Abhinav’s Reads, to do the 3 day 3 quotes challenge. Go check out his blog, it’s wonderful!

Again, as with my first quote, my selection will come from the 100 books everyone should read.

My third and final quote comes from book # 100 from the list: Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien.

Some believe that it is great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what i’ve found. I found it is the small things. Everyday deeds by ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.

Be the change you want to see in the world. If a small hobbit can save a world filled with witches, monsters, and nazguls, we can also cause change and ‘fight evil’.

I nominate:

David Harris

Joyroses13

See Mama Read

to complete this 3 days 3 quotes challenge.

Rules of the challenge:

  • Thank the person who challenged you. Thank you Abhinav!
  • Post one quote each day for three consecutive days.
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

For more quotes on books I am reading from the Telegraph’s 100 list, please visit my instagram.

Happy reading!

Uncategorized

3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge: Day 2

I was tagged by an amazing book blogger, Abhinav’s Reads, to do the 3 day 3 quotes challenge. Go check out his blog, it’s wonderful!

Again, as with my first quote, my selection will come from the 100 books everyone should read list.

My second quote comes from book # 97 from the list: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

Do you think these ‘small green pieces of paper’ make people happy or miserable? No doubt though, they rule the world.

I nominate:

Pensitivity

justjase79

Dee’s Rad Reads and Reviews

to complete this 3 days 3 quotes challenge.

Rules of the challenge:

  • Thank the person who challenged you. Thank you Abhinav!
  • Post one quote each day for three consecutive days.
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

For more quotes on books I am reading from the Telegraph’s 100 list, please visit my instagram.

Happy reading!