Thursday, April 30, 2015

Murder on the Orient Express - REVIEW & The Ws

Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Without a doubt, I saw the movie adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express as child, but it never occurred to me that I would remember anything about the book. Although I didn’t recall anything specific, I knew, without a doubt, “whodunit.” My knowledge of the ending, pretty much, ruined the experience of the book. I kept reading for two reasons: 1) to make sure that I wasn’t crazy and that I really did know the outcome, and 2) to get a feel for Agatha Christie’s writing.

I don’t know if this book is reflective of Christie’s overall style or not. I loved the main character, but I didn’t think that I got enough of his investigative process. There were many interviews and an elucidation at the end. I don’t read many mysteries, so I don’t know how common that style is, but personally, I think that I would enjoyed the book more if I were given more access to Poirot’s thought process before the big reveal.

Given the circumstances, it is difficult for me to give this book a fair rating. If I hadn’t known the ending, I might have rated it four stars. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to read another of Agatha Chrisite’s book.

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The Ws

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I can’t remember a time of not knowing that this book existed.  I, probably, saw a movie adaptation before the age of ten.

WHAT Makes It A Classic
Agatha Christie books have sold over 3 billion copies.  Christie took the lead from authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but she has been influential in her own right.  Murder on the Orient Express is her most famous dealing with the universal themes of justice and judgment.

WHY I Chose to Read It
It was chosen as group read in a group that I’m in on Goodreads.

WILL It Stay A Classic
It was written in 1934 and has never been out of print.  That is a pretty good start. 

WHO I’d Recommend It To
I’d recommend this to anyone who expressed interest in reading a mystery.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky REVIEW & the Ws

Crime and PunishmentCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have read some amazing classics, this year, so I had no reason to think that Crime and Punishment wouldn’t be another winner. Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate what a drag it would be. Hours and hours of my life dedicated to exploring the mind of an insane person. If only Dostoyevsky could have done it in 250 pages, it might have been tolerable. Sometimes it was oddly compelling, but, mostly, I just wanted the punishment to end. (view spoiler)

Sometimes if I don’t like a book, it is really that I just don’t understand the book. For a while, I read a chapter analysis after each chapter. I hoped that thoroughly understanding the book would help me appreciate it more. I gave that up by part three (about ½ through). The chapter analyses weren’t adding much to comprehension of the book, and it was prolonging the experience.

I’m giving Crime and Punishment two stars instead of one, because Dostoyevsky, in some respects, is an excellent writer. I, truly, felt that I was inside the mind of a mad man.

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The Ws

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I must have been in high school.  I don’t quite remember.

WHY I Chose to Read It
It was chosen as a group read for a group that I am in on Goodreads.

WHAT Makes It A Classic
Crime and Punishment examines universal themes:  primarily societal alienation and the psychology of the criminal mind.  Crazy is crazy whether it’s the 19th century of 2015.  Anyone interested in crazy will, probably, like this book.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I think that books like this are the reasons people hesitate to read classics.  In my opinion, it was long and boring.  I didn’t like the characters, so I didn’t care much what happened to them.

WILL It Stay A Classic
Since it was written in the early 19th century and it is still going strong, I think that there is a good bet that it will continue its domination of any list of Russian classics.

WHO I’d Recommend It To

A psychology student

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe REVIEW

Things Fall ApartThings Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My feelings about this book are mixed. On one hand, I found it interesting and challenging. I utilized many resources, while reading this book, to help me better understand the background information and literary allegories. One valuable resource was a study guide prepared by Heather DuBois Bourenane from the University Wisconsin‐Madison. I became engrossed in the plot, and I appreciated the literary devices used to examine various themes. On an academic level, I was very impressed with the book.

On the other hand, if I consider Things Fall Apart outside of any historical significance, political importance or literary appreciation, I was underwhelmed. The main character was, too, vilified in the first chapters. I didn’t care much what happened to him, nor did I feel empathy for any of the other characters. I didn’t feel anything while reading the book. Reading a novel shouldn’t be an academic pursuit but one of the heart.

That leaves me in a quandary as to what rating to give Things Fall Apart. I have settled on 4 stars. Although I didn't find the novel emotionally riveting, Achebe seamlessly incorporated African storytelling with a western style of writing, and he tackled difficult themes in a way that was stimulating and thought provoking.

Most of the answers to the Ws are found in my previous post about this book.

Things Fall Apart – 1987 Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation mini‐series.