Friday, January 25, 2013

Booklist 2012

It's not a competition.

James: 34  Jacelyn: 52

She won. Of course I work 3.5 more hours per day than she does... and I fill my schedule with too many hobbies to shake a stick at. I digress.

For those who were able to be at our wedding this comes as no surprise, we both like to read. I think I was the one who suggested the list. It was a lot of fun.


We read some of the same books this year, one after the other, The Hunger Games trilogy which I bought for her in hardback last Christmas, The Maze Runner which I hope doesn't become really lame in the sequel, The Hobbit in preparation for the movie that came out this past December, and The Westing Game which I was really quite surprised at.


I also took a swing at the Vancouver Sun Children's Classics Collection. 32 books, and I have no clue who decided that they were children's classics! It starts with The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I've read Kipling a bit before and I have to admit he never pulled me in with his court intrigue a' la Colonial India. The Jungle Book didn't really do it for me either, though I can understand the draw for kids, I loved animal stories as a kid.

Next is The Secret Garden, I almost called it quits there, but Jacelyn pushed me and once I actually opened the book I found that it was really well written, and thankfully only the opening chapter takes place in my favorite locale: Colonial India.

#3 is Frankenstein. Seriously? I can understand now how it became a classic, but half of Shakespeare's stuff is more kid friendly than this.

The fourth is Anne of Green Gables, and here I balked again. Armed with good memories of The Secret Garden I plowed on. It wasn't bad. Anne is terribly annoying at first, and I wished it would turn into one of those mock ups, like Anne of Green Gables and Self-Replicating Killer Nano-bots. It got better as Anne grew up though, and I am glad I powered through.

#5 is Gulliver's Travels and just like Frankenstein I wondered how it ever came to be classed as children's literature. It is full of era-specific social and politcal introspection, and completely lacking in all aspects that would make it a wonderful children's adventure story. It might not have been Jack Black's fault that the movie was terrible (I haven't seen the movie, and it probably still was his fault).

#6 is Swiss Family Robinson. Disney did a great job. If there was ever a book made to be made into a movie it is this one. Not because it's that cinematically awesome, but because it's about 40% too long. So the screen writers chop a bunch out and the plot moves like it should. Oh, and I am still convinced that it is an allegory about purgatory.

#7 is Alice In Wonderland. Classic, childish, and fun to read.

#8 is Peter Pan, and it was as enjoyable this time around as it was the last time.

#9 is A Christmas Carol. It is thin, and I hoped to be done it quick. Let's say I don't have terribly fond memories of the black and white classic movie that my Dad made us watch at Christmas. The book, however tainted by childhood nightmares, is actually very compelling. I think it applies as much today as it did however many hundreds of years ago when it was written. A veritable classic.

#10 is Grimm's Fairy Tales, no greater staple of my childhood wrapped in two covers and a binding can be found. There were duplicate tales (Ashputtel and Cinderella), and tales I'd never read before (The Mouse, The Bird, and The Sausage), all with valuable, albeit nonsensical, life lessons.

I hope to finish off another 11 this year, but the last batch has some doozies in it for sure, we're talking Moby Dick, Ivanhoe, and The Scarlett Pimpernel. Yikes.


Among the other 24 books last year I also read most of The Dark Is Rising series, a good portion of the Game of Thrones series, a pair of Little House books (Big Woods and Prairie), a pair of Neil Gaiman books (Good Omens and Fragile Things), some thrift store purchases (A wizard of Earthsea and Caravan to Xanadu), I even read a non fiction book, yup. It was called Infamous Aircraft. I got it from the Library! Yup, I got a Library Card!


There are still a whole lot of books on our shelves, and the floor, that I haven't read yet but I have time. I will get to them all eventually. This years list already has three books on it, next is Little Women, *sigh*

4 Comments:

At 6:09 am , Blogger Grandma J. said...

Intersting topic, classic literature. Do you have a simple definition of what makes a book a classic? We have been highlighting classics in the elementary library and giving the kids prizes once they've read 5, but like you, it is sometimes hard to define which book falls into that category. Great Illustrated Classics is a wonderful hardcover series for young readers, lots of them at Hemingways, but you probably want the unedited versions. Happy reading, you two!!

 
At 2:09 pm , Blogger Miranda said...

How were the Neil Gaiman books? I've been wanting to read some of his for a while, but I dont know where to start.

 
At 12:21 pm , Blogger heidi said...

oh, little women is wonderful! as is the scarlet pimpernell. josh enjoyed moby dick as a child, though we watched the movie recently and i found it utterly horrifying. good on you for plowing thru the secret garden and anne! your future daughter(s) will be ever so proud!

 
At 12:26 am , Blogger James Abrahams said...

I feel that Classic literature is something that is applicable and relate-able regardless of how long it has been around. That said I doubt many children today, in the target demographic that James Barrie had in mind, would be able to understand the language used in Peter Pan. Other classics suffer a similar problem, and the problem is with us.

Neil Gaiman, oh my yes. We invited him to our wedding you know. Anyway, I would start with Anansi Boys or Neverwhere, but something like the graveyard book would be a nice frolic into his world too.

 

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