Friday, March 3, 2017

100 Best Novels Roundup

Today I'm doing something a little different. I'm trying to push through the remaining books on the 100 Best Novels list. I don't always have time or feel like writing a full post about each book. So, since this is my blog and I make the rules, I'm not going to today. Here's a quick roundup of the three 100 Best Novels I read in February. 

Sophie's Choice
Title: Sophie's Choice
Author: William Styron
Publication Date: 1979
Pages: 562
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 2/11/17

What I Thought: This is one of those books that is all over the cultural zeitgeist. I'm sure you've heard of making a "Sophie's choice." I knew the term, but was unfamiliar with the story. It's a love triangle between a Holocaust survivor (Sophie), a Southern writer, and a Jewish drug addict. There was a lot more sexual content than I expected - enough to make me uncomfortable, but I did feel it served the story in most cases. Ultimately, Sophie's infamous choice did not surprise me, although it does take Styron all the way to the end of the novel to reveal it. Mostly, this book was just heartbreaking and too long.

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely

Midnight's Children
Title: Midnight's Children
Author: Salman Rushdie
Publication Date: 1980
Pages: 647
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction 
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 2/16/17

What I Thought: The premise is this: the children born in the first hour of India's independence (midnight to 1am on August 15, 1947) were imbued with special powers. Our narrator, Saleem, is one of them, having been born precisely at midnight. He is gifted with telepathic abilities that help him to find the other 1,000 children who share in the magic. I like the concept of this book, but I didn't love Rushdie's writing style. A controversial statement, perhaps, since he is so popular and well-known. Yet, it just didn't resonate with me. I like that the 100 Best list has opened me up to more works about India and its peoples (thanks to British colonialism, no doubt), but this was not my favorite. 

Quote I Loved: "Children are vessels into which adults pour their poison."

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Probably not

The Alexandria Quartet
Title: The Alexandria Quartet (Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, and Clea)
Author: Lawrence Durrell
Publication Date: 1957 / 1958 / 1958 / 1960
Pages: 884
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction 
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 2/18/17

What I Thought: Alexandria, Egypt. The years before and during WWII. Darley, our narrator, shares the events of the city and the tangle of relationships amongst its occupants. Overall, I found this series of novels too loquacious and philosophical. People love these books, so I feel a little badly not loving them, but I just didn't. I really struggled to connect to the characters and follow the storyline. I see the skill behind the writing, for sure. I do not question that it is a literary masterpiece. Just one I didn't particularly love - or at least was not in the right frame of mind to fully appreciate. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Doubt it

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