Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way


100 Books by 40: NIGHT WATCH

Book: Night Watch
Author: Terry Pratchett
Published: 2002

It’s an accident that I finished Night Watch a few days after Terry Pratchett passed away earlier this month. But I will call it a happy accident. Because I can’t think of a better way to celebrate him and his life. While I’m sorry that I didn’t get turned on to his books earlier in my life, I am thankful that I found them at all.

In the same way that I cannot resist any combination of chocolate and peanut butter, dry British humor in any form will delight me. The humor obscures the science fiction elements of the plot; since I am not a fan of sci-fi, that works for me. This is an excellent outcome considering that time travel is often a lazy plot device, a device that this book uses. Although, I don’t think time travel is used in a lazy manner in this particular book. This was a dazzling, funny whirlwind. Read it.

Time for an update on my list.

Reading now:
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel

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
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
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
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 – only 99 cents for Kindle edition
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens – have on Kindle
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy – have on Kindle
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
53. The Stand, Stephen King
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
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
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.
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
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time.
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
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
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.
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo

Pending reading:
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
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

1 Comment

100 Books by 40: MORT

I read this book while very sleep deprived. I was on a twenty-two hour train ride. The more fantastic aspects of the plot just rolled over my sleepy brain.

The story takes place on a planet other than Earth. A hapless apprentice is take by death for training. You read that right, Death. It’s what you think. He’s a skeleton and rides a horse.

Have I mentioned that I often dislike science fiction? Yes, well this is obviously science fiction. And I failed to connect with it, as I often do. The characters are never developed enough for me to feel engaged in what happens to them. I was supposed to care about Mort turning into death. I was supposed to care who Mort decided to marry. I know how all of these things ended, but I just didn’t care. The only character that I ended up caring for was death. *****************SPOILER ALERT***************** I love that all death wanted to do was be a short order cook that feeds stray cats. I love that death clearly has a thing for cats and India food. Otherwise, I just didn’t engage with this book. I know I am supposed to be intrigued by the idea of destiny, and if it’s possible to cheat it. I just wasn’t feeling it.

This read was so short. If you like science fiction, read it. If you don’t like science fiction, don’t bother.

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100 Books by 40: DUNE

The last few weeks have felt overwhelming. While I enjoy the time off around the holidays, I don’t enjoy that I am traveling so much. There are many reasons for this. I hate driving. I’ve reached an age where my back appreciates no beds other than my own. My separation from the gym makes my anxiety pool with zero outlets. Eating off my typical diet leads to a 5 to 10 pound weight gain that will need to be addressed come January. Clothes get tighter. I returned from Chicago six days ago. Yesterday I returned from Northern Ohio. Discomfort. That’s a good word to describe my holidays.

As a solid introvert, I lose control of my alone time while traveling. I like people. I like being around people, but it exhausts me. I need little recharging moments throughout my day. I peppered reading sessions throughout my 4-day trip to Chicago. Every day, I would sneak off for a couple of hours and read Dune. I had other books to read, like Treasure Island and David Copperfield. But I always picked Dune. Since my other two reading selections where snug on my Kindle, those books would have been more sensible reading choices. Dune was borrowed from my library was decidedly more bulky and less convenient for taking busses and the train around Chicago.

I picked Dune because it captivated me from page one. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I don’t like science fiction as a general rule. I wasn’t fond of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’ve struggled to put my finger on why I often don’t like this genre. My least wordy explanation is that lazy writers use the non-realistic setting to enable sloppy plots, although admittedly this wasn’t the problem with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

There were thing things that I loved about Dune. First, there wasn’t excessive creative license around what the creatures and characters looked like. Herbert seemed to save all his creative energies for developing classes of characters that come with specific sets of skills and abilities, the Bene Gesserit are an excellent example of this. I get the sense that sci-fi writers get carried away with describing the strange visuals of their creatures and then fail at adequate character development.

Second, Herbert revealed details around both these classes of characters and context information at an appropriate pace. The novel starts out with little to no description and jumps right into plot. He would mete out details and bits of back-story as he described action. This is one of the best paced novels I have ever read.

Third the political, ecological, and religious themes  are excellent. First, this is one of the first fictional books that I’ve ever read that considers the ecological implications on plot development. The interplay between religion, power, and politics resonates as being in line with our own history books.

I will be reading the sequels to this book. This is one of the few books that I just couldn’t put down once I started. I highly suggest that you give it a read.