Friday, 22 January 2010

"The Rum Diary"

Considered a pioneer of American journalism, Hunter S Thompson has a style quite unlike anyone I had read before. Hoping to open my mind and learn from other writers, I decided to give him a second chance (after disliking "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for coming across as boastful) and picked up "The Rum Diary" as my third book of the year.

Mostly, I enjoyed the story (which follows American journalist Paul Kemp to San Juan where he works for a newspaper) and thought that the descriptions were very good. Unfortunately I found the book sinking down my priorities list during a busy few weeks as the story seemed to drag in parts - taking longer than I'd hoped to read the 200 pages. Despite this, I did find some quotes that I liked a lot, my favourite of which I have included below.

"Most people who deal in words don’t have much faith in them and I am no exception — especially the big ones like Happy and Love and Honest and Strong. They are too elusive and far too relative when you compare them to sharp, mean little words like Punk and Cheap and Phony. I feel at home with these, because they’re scrawny and easy to pin, but the big ones are tough and it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence." [Page 55]

My rating: (2.0/5.0)

Monday, 18 January 2010

Short Story

  Today I handed in a 12-page story about a young adult called Jack. Once it has been graded I plan to post it online but it is currently in the peer-review stage of the Creative Writing process and is not technically finished. Having never written a story before, I was amazed at how much fun it can be and really enjoyed picturing each scene as I wrote them.

This set me back a bit in my reading, but I'll finish and review soon.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Amazon Associates

This blog was recently approved to be an Amazon Associate, which means I can link to their website in my review posts and earn revenue from sales conducted via my blog. I will use this service to link to the relevant product and from this you can read other people's reviews as well as see the cover art and the year each book was published.

If you choose to buy any books via my blog, I would also receive a small percentage for linking to Amazon from my site. I don't expect this to come to much, but every little helps and it will be nice to discover that people are buying the books I've read.

This is the only "advertising" I will add to the site. Thanks for reading.

Monday, 11 January 2010

"Slaughterhouse Five"

A book I'd been meaning to read for a while, "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut was every bit as good as I'd been told to expect by the numerous people who had recommended it to me. Set towards the end of WWII, the book follows Billy Pilgrim, an American stationed in Germany, after he is captured and held as a prisoner of war. The story centres around the fire-bombing of Dresden in 1945.

I really enjoyed the book and enjoyed the intelligent writing, with it's scattered humour throughout - providing good comic relief from the horrors of war. I have included a quote below to illustrate the sort of dark humour that is used within the story.

"Billy coughed when the door was opened, and when he coughed he shit thin gruel. This was in accordance with the Third Law of Motion according to Sir Isaac Newton. This law tells us that for every action there is a reaction which is equal and opposite in direction.
    This can be useful in rocketry."
[Page 80]

My rating: (3.5/5.0)

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Used Book Store

Today I spent more than an hour looking through hundreds of books in a small shop in Steveston (south Richmond). As well as finding many of the books I'd been looking to own for a while, I also picked up some classics for this challenge and three beautiful leather-bound books (Shakespeare's comedies, Shakespeare's tragedies, Dickens' great works) in great condition.

In all I bought over $750 worth of books for $250, bringing my total book purchases for the year so far to over 60, which should help me complete this challenge...

Monday, 4 January 2010

"Oryx and Crake"

My first book of the year, which I finished reading on the 10-hour plane journey back to Vancouver, was the 1984-esque novel, "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the book follows the efforts of one man (Snowman) to survive, as he reminisces about his life and the people he knew in his past.

The book was very good and posed some interesting ideas about the future of the planet. I liked the dialogue and was generally interested throughout. The only real let down was the ending, but overall it was a solid read and I would recommend it.

My rating: (3.0/5.0)

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

Excited by the prospect of starting a Creative Writing course when I return to Canada in a few days, I have decided to increase the amount of time I spend each week reading - so that I may better my writing by learning from what I read. Therefore, my New Year's resolution this year will be to read at least one book a week for the duration of 2010.

Happy New Year Decade!