Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

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100 Books by 40: THE COLOR OF MAGIC

Book: The Color of Magic
Author: Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett took me on a romp through space and time. I flew on dragons. I contemplated the implications of a multidimensional universe. I was confronted with the enormity of our world and how this vastness is at once terrifying and comforting. He sharpened the truth that all control is an illusion. Fear and anxiety fall impotent, useless at its steely feet.

My plate is filled with high risk and high impact decisions that spring from big disappointment. And now more than ever, I needed constant whispering in my ear… “The present is always enough.” “Control is an illusion; worry serves no purpose other than to spin a web of suffering.”

Thank you, Terry Pratchett, for your words. Thank you for sharing your playful yet profound mind. Thank you for bringing me comfort at a time when it was scarce.


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

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100 books by 40: GOOD OMENS

Book: Good Omens
Authors: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Published: 1990

The writers of Supernatural, the TV show, seemed to borrow many of their idea from this book. The similarities are so close that I looked to see if one of the authors also write for the show. When I came up dry there, I checked to see if the show credits Gaiman or Pratchett. My less-than-exhaustive research came up dry.

What I did find is that rumors of Good Omens becoming a movie have been swirling for some time. These rumors have been persistent enough that the actor that plays Crowley in Supernatural was asked if he has been approached to play Crowley in the Good Omens movie. The actor denied this.

I wonder what’s up with the intellectual property here? Perhaps the authors or the publishing company lack the motivation to file suit. Maybe the publishing company and authors see the fan fiction that has sprouted merging the two story lines and sense that this is good for all involved. Or maybe the similarities relegated to side characters, aren’t significant enough for a claim.

In the book, an angel and demon join forces to postpone the apocalypse. The unique picture of good and evil that this book paints is reason enough for me to recommend reading this book. The book’s take on the banality of evil is communicated effortlessly; a feat that isn’t lost on me due to my past experience with numerous psychological texts that struggle to convey the same.

The shimmering, dry British humor, also reason enough to recommend the book, is a welcome diversion from the weighty premise of the book. That being said. This book is great for divergent interests; moralists and humorists can unite. If a book can be described as a romp, this would be the book. Read it.

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100 Books by 40: GUARDS! GUARDS!

The book: Guards! Guards!
Author: Terry Pratchett
Published: 1989

This is my second Terry Pratchett read. When someone asked me to describe the author’s books, I suggested science fiction with a British sense of humor. This resulted in a, “Oh like Douglas Adams” (author of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), response. After consideration, I responded with, “No more like if Monty Python were to rewrite Star Wars and tackle broader questions around the nature of our existence.”

My first Terry Pratchett experience happened while on a train from San Francisco to Seattle. That ride was nearly 36 hours, and I don’t sleep well in new surroundings. I was nearly delirious when I read all of Mort. I suspected that the book was funny. I suspected that I was too tired to appreciate the dry wit. Suspicions confirmed!  Gaurds! Gaurds! was a delightful read. So, Terry Pratchett, I’m sorry for those exhaustion powered reflections on Mort. If Terry Pratchett has any good sense, he’s not reading this blog though.

The storyline centers around the medieval equivalent of the red shirt guy on Star Trek, the guy who doesn’t have a name and is the first to meet his doom in the episode, night guards. The city in which the guards keep watch has established an equilibrium between criminal and legitimate activities by normalizing crime. The thieves guild and the assassins guild ensure that only people without the proper money or connections are victimized. This is the first of many instances that Pratchett provides commentary on our current environment via satire.

While I do enjoy Pratchett’s humor, it’s the satire that will drive me to read more of his books. There’s wit and searing clarity in Pratchett’s satire that I didn’t find in Douglas Adams’ writing. Pratchett’s satire reminds me of the scene in The Holy Grail in which King Arthur is thwarted by a peasant refusing to recognize him as King due to the peasant’s rejection of feudal rule. The argument devolves to, “Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”

Pratchett dispenses with just as many moral lessons if not more than Suzanne Collins does in The Hunger Games trilogy. But Pratchett sneaks it in with less horror and violence. Darkness is much easier to swallow when it’s wrapped in British humor.

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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.