Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

100 Books by 40: Rebecca

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I am sitting here with my cup of French-pressed Ethiopian Harrar, trying to isolate why I didn’t enjoy Rebecca. As is often the case, a combination of effects is at play. The narrator is a sniveling child for a large portion of the novel. I would find this irritating regardless of other ambient factors. I happen to be reading Great Expectations and Catch-22. The whiny narrator of Rebecca cast against the arbitrary slaughter of war and the crushing effects of abject poverty is so shrill.

This effect has made me ponder the unavoidable comparisons that I will make on my journey to 100 books by 40. It gives me pause to consider if this method of consuming books is a favorable one. My reading experiences aside from this effort have been much more haphazard. I would go so far as to say that books found me at pivotal moments and not vice versa. This structured approach to reading seems to demystify my experience; I haven’t any clue if this evolution is positive or negative.

Regardless of my distaste for the narrator, I enjoyed Mrs. Danvers. Daphne du Maurier makes the mundane feel ominous. Plus, Du Maurier sticks the landing on the final plot twist and the end of the book. I will not read Rebecca again, but I am happy that I read it.

Here’s a sneak preview of my thoughts on my next book. Catch-22 has far more political and personal relevance than I anticipated. While I will write more on this topic when I finish the book, I will leave you with a quote that is so relevant in today’s politics.

“Major Major’s father was a sober God-fearing man whose idea of a good joke was to lie about his age. He was a long-limbed farmer, a God-fearing, freedom-loving, law-abiding rugged individualist who held that federal aid to anyone but farmers was creeping socialism. He advocated thrift and hard work and disapproved of loose women who turned him down. His specialty was alfalfa, and he made a good thing out of not growing any. The government paid him well for every bushel of alfalfa he did not grow. The more alfalfa he did not grow, the more money the government gave him, and he spent every penny he didn’t earn on new land to increase the amount of alfalfa he did not produce. Major Major’s father worked without rest at not growing alfalfa. On long winter evenings he remained indoors and did not mend harness, and he sprang out of bed at the crack of noon every day just to make certain that the chores would not be done. He invested in land wisely and soon was not growing more alfalfa than any other man in the county. Neighbors sought him out for advice on all subjects, for he had made much money and was therefore wise. `As ye sow, so shall ye reap,’ he counseled one and all, and everyone said, `Amen.’

Major Major’s father was an outspoken champion of economy in government, provided it did not interfere with the sacred duty of the government to pay farmers as much as they could get for all the alfalfa they produced that on one else wanted or for not producing any alfalfa at all. He was a proud and independent man who was opposed to unemployment insurance and never hesitated to whine, whimper, wheedle, and extort for as much as he could get from whomever he could. He was a devout man whose pulpit was everywhere.”

Reading list update:

Reading now:

11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller

17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks

 

Finished reading:

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling

6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne

8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis

10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier – this will need to come from the library or second hand books

15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger – – this will need to come from the library or second hand books

16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling

23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling

24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling

42. Watership Down, Richard Adams

43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

46. Animal Farm, George Orwell

53. The Stand, Stephen King

60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens *I read this when I was too young to appreciate it; I would like to read it again as an adult. I will do so if I have time.

70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time.

87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time. I have the unabriged unedited version and will probably take on that if time allows.

 

Pending reading:

18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy

27. Middlemarch, George Eliot

28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving

29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck

30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson

32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez

33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett

34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute

38. Persuasion, Jane Austen

39. Dune, Frank Herbert

40. Emma, Jane Austen

41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery

44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy

49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian

50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck

54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth

56. The BFG, Roald Dahl

57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome

58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer

61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman

62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden

64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough

65. Mort, Terry Pratchett

66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton

67. The Magus, John Fowles

68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett

71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind

72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell

73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett

74. Matilda, Roald Dahl

75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding

76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt

77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins

78. Ulysses, James Joyce

79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens

80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson

81. The Twits, Roald Dahl

82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

83. Holes, Louis Sachar

84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake

85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson

88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

89. Magician, Raymond E Feist

91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo

92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel

93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett

94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

95. Katherine, Anya Seton

96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer

97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez

98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson

99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot

100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

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