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The 2009 Classics Challenge ended on October 31st.
2009 that is. Hence the title :\
And only today I got to write a short wrap-up post in which I have some good news, and some bad news to share…

Let’s start POSITIVE. I finished reading my 5 classics for the Entree Level of the challenge in time! I did tweak the list of my admittance post a bit (substituting titles), but that’s allowed. So below you’ll find the books that made it to the finish line.

The cover pics are links to the posts about the books here on Graasland. Well… that’s how it’s supposed to be anyway. Because the BAD news is that I still haven’t reviewed all of them! Baaaaaad Gnoe. I hope to make it up by stating a short (ha!) opinion right here, followed by a quick recap of the other reviews. And you never know; once the fuses are blown (is that the correct phrase?), when the pressure is off — I might actually get to writing a full-scale evaluation of Brideshead Revisited and Revolutionary Road ;)

Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
I saw the 1981 tv-series of Brideshead Revisited twice, so I couldn’t help seeing — and hearing! — Jeremy Irons in my head whenever Charles Ryder entered the story. (Likewise with the Sebastian Flyte character, although I didn’t know that the actor was called Anthony Andrews. It’s just Sebastian.) I loved the book and I got to understand the story better than I did before. Everything seemed to go SO much quicker than on the telly! I seemed to have forgotten big parts, like all that happened after Sebastian went abroad… But what I enjoyed most is that I understood why the novel is called Brideshead Revisited. I had never noticed it before and I think it’s grand. Maybe it was left out of the television series? Gosh, now I need to watch it a third time! ;)

After reading Brideshead Revisited with my online bookgroup, the Boekgrrls, some of the women came over to watch the 2008 adaptation on dvd. Of course we had a fun night, but I didn’t like the film at all. It was way too explicit about the homo-erotic motive that was so subtly hidden in the book. Maybe Waugh would have liked that if he had lived in our era. But for me it took the edge of the story. Also, I hated that ‘they’ had tried to find clones of the original actors — Matthew Goode even sounded like Jeremy Irons. Well, of course with a voice like Sir Irons (really, when is he going to be knighted?), such a thing is not really possible, but they obviously tried. Shame.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird was a quick and entertaining read ad I’m glad to have read it. The story immediately grabbed me and I liked the atmosphere of doom, suggesting that ’something was going to happen’.
Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates
Revolutionary Road got under my skin, but in a different way than Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (see below). After I had picked it up I immediately got immersed in the story. But it’s quite depressing… The feeling of doom hardly left me during the day, even when I was not reading! It’s obvious from page 1 that something bad is going to happen. And still, the end came as a painful surprise.

The story revolves around image. “The important thing, always, was to remember who you were.” Frank and April Wheeler think they’re special, even though they live in the suburbs, like their peers, and Frank has a job in an advertising agency that is not much of a challenge. It is shockingly recognizable: don’t we all think we’re different? I kept seeing Jon Hamm = Don Draper in Mad Men, as Frank Wheeler btw. But that might have something to do with the cover picture ;)

Again, I watched the movie adaptation afterwards. Unlike Brideshead Revisited I really liked it — although I’m not sure if I’d have appreciated it as much if I hadn’t read the book.

I Am a Cat (vol.1), Natsume Soseki
After reading volume 1 of I Am a Cat I wasn’t sure yet what to think of it. I’m not much of a person for satire and I preferred the parts concentrating on the cat over sections digressing on humans. Reading the 2nd volume helped me form a clearer opinion — but only the 1st tome counts for the Classics Challenge ;) The fun thing was that while reading I Am a Cat I came across several parallelisms with graphics I read at the same time; Coraline and Mutts. That must mean typical cat tricks are pictured lifelike!
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath ended as my favourite read of 2009. I had been holding off this classic for a long time, not knowing what to expect, and even for about a 100 pages into the book I had my doubts. But after a while it really got under my skin — and I still can’t get it out of there. Heart rendering. A Must Read for anyone.

You know what? I believe reviews are not even required for the Classics challenge! Phew, three things to cross off my to-do list in one go. I am so relieved! I might even join the new Classics challenge in February/March… Or I may not ;) Let’s see what the future brings.


Today’s Booking Through Thursday question is soooo easy I can’t resist replying shortly during my lunch break.

What’s the biggest book you’ve read recently?

We just talked about that while having a Bookcrossing OBCZ maintenance meeting during dinner on Monday (that’s what happens when booklovers meet ;)

  • Think ‘volume’: With No One as Witness, by Elizabeth George (774 pages; it took me 2 weeks).
  • Think ‘fame’: Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh (post upcoming), followed shortly by The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro (post also upcoming).
  • Think ‘size’: Falling Angels, by Tracey Chevalier (352 pages of hardback; not extraordinarily huge).
  • Think ‘biggest hype’: books by Haruki Murakami — I recently read Dance dance dance and South of the Border, West of the Sun.

Let me guess: next week’s question will be What’s the smallest book you’ve read recently?! Where can I place my bets?

Ja, ik ben op de helft van mijn huidige boek (What came before he shot her, van Elizabeth George), maar dat is niet waar deze post over gaat. Het is 1 juli! Tijd om kort terug te blikken op de 17,5 boeken die ik in de eerste helft van 2009 las.

agendaBoeken die eruit springen:
The Remains of the Day van Kazuo Ishiguro
Brideshead Revisited van Evelyn Waugh
Dans dans dans van Haruki Murakami
Zo God het wil van Niccolò Ammaniti

Maar nog niets waarvan ik nu al weet dat het zéker in mijn top-3 favorieten van dit jaar terechtkomt. De volledige lijst kun je vinden op mijn Bookcrossing boekenplank. Was ik nou ook maar halverwege met wat ik dit jaar nog moet lezen voor mijn persoonlijke challenge..! :(

Voor de tweede helft van 2009 kijk ik érg uit naar de volgende boeken op mijn Mount TBR:
Revolutionary Road van Richard Yates
Away van Amy Bloom
The Wasted Vigil van Nadeem Aslam
The Mapmaker’s Wife van Robert Whitaker
To Kill a Mocking Bird van Harper Lee (als de Bookcrossing boekenring op tijd binnenkomt)

Wat hebben jullie in het vooruitzicht? En wat las je dat ik, als het even kan, nog dit jaar te pakken moet krijgen?

Classics reading challenge 2009 buttonAs you may have read in my earlier post, I also joined the 2009 Classics Challenge.

I entered the Classics Entree level, which means I have to read 5 classics this year. Plus I want to go for the bonus by reading a book of the ‘Future Classic List’, since I’ve got some of those titles piled up on Mount TBR!

I think I can manage this additional challenge because I planned to read some classics already. Here’s my list:

Let’s see how things go: I consider Revolutionary Road a classic already so I might change my level to Classics Feast at the end of 2009 and read another bonus book ;)

To be honest, by joining this challenge I hope to help myself accomplishing the task I had set myself already. Now the hard part is really to blog my reviews!

What's in a name 2(009) buttonAfter stumbling upon it in Puss Reboots Weekly Geeks post, I decided to join the ‘What’s in a Name?reading challenge (2nd edition): 6 different ‘themes’ requiring a fitting title.

It’s a bit sneaky of me that I can already cross of five of them but hey, it is supposed to be fun right? I just hope I won’t be castigated for taking the categories too loosely… :\ No need to add extra stress to my reading life!

So, here’s the list!

  1. A book with a ‘profession‘ in its title:
    The Little Emperor (Dutch title: De kleine keizer), by Martin Bril
    read in May
  2. A book with a ‘time of day‘ in its title:
    The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro
    read in January
  3. A book with a ‘relative‘ in its title:
    The Mapmaker’s Wife, by Robert Whitaker
    awaiting bookring
    This title also fits review theme 1: profession!
  4. A book with a ‘body part‘ in its title:
    Grey Souls (Dutch title: Grijze zielen), by Philippe Claudel
    read in January
    In Cold Blood
    , by Truman Capote
    read in November
  5. A book with a ‘building‘ in its title:
    Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh — I could have put this one at 3 (‘bride’) or 4 (‘head’) as well LOL
    read in April
  6. A book with a ‘medical condition‘ in its title:
    What came before he shot her, by Elizabeth George
    reading in June

M03m mentioned that The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of a top list of 100 books. I’ll take up the challenge reprinting the list in my blog so that those people who’ve read only 6 can be tracked down and forced to read our favourites!
Title page of Cloud Atlas signed by author

The rules that I followed…

  1. Look at the list and bold those you have read.
  2. Italicise those you intend to read.
  3. Underline the books you LOVE.
  4. Reprint this list in your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee >> part of 2008’s personal challenge!
6 The Bible >> most of it anyway, when I was a kid
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott >> I did read her book Eight Cousins and that was enough…
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller >> it’s on the bookshelf so I’ll probably read it someday
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger >> I’ve started and stopped but plan to try it again someday
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger >> loved it!
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens >> I saw the tv-series… does that count? ;)
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck >> also part of 2008-2009’s personal challenge!
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens >> because of it’s role in John Irving’s The Ciderhouse Rules
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden >> waiting patiently on my bookshelf…
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown >> wouldn’t recommend it though!
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez >> a long, long time ago
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan >> one of my alltime favourites!
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel >> didn’t expect much of it but was possitively surprised!
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov I especially recommend the audiobook read by Jeremy Irons…
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell >> of course: Mitchell is one of my favourite authors!
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro >> part of my personal 2008-2009 challenge
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert (but saw the movie)
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks >> great book but to say I loved it would be inappropriate…
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams >> several times!
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

That sums up to a total of 37 that I’ve read. Phew, nobody will force their favourite books upon me! But… would that be such a crime?

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!


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