Thursday, 31 March 2011

Book Thoughts for March

This month was incredibly stressful so I made it a point to find lots of time to read - consequently, I have a lot of books I want to talk about with the world.
I finally finished Winston & Clementine: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Churchills written by Richard Hough. Oh my gosh, it was a struggle. A huge part of Winston's life was war and the author went into way more war detail than I wanted. (It didn't help that I didn't have the necessary background knowledge to appreciate all of the details and if he gave me all of the necessary background knowledge the book would have been doubly long.) The writing style was also somewhat pompous and difficult to understand. Never have I struggled so much with unknown words as I did with this book. Some words I thought I knew, but the author used them in such a different context that I realized I only had partial knowledge of the word. (For example, look up the definitions for mandarin.) After page 250 and until the end of the book (pg. 557)I started keeping a running list of all the words I didn't know or were used in a context I was unfamiliar with. Unfortunately, I cannot find my completed list, but here's a gist (If you actually read every word in this list, I am concerned about you.):
Abstruse (p.413) – hard to understand; recondite; esoteric
Acetylene (p.306) – a colorless gas, having an etherlike odor, produced usually by the action of water on calcium carbide or by pyrolysis of natural gas: used especially in metal cutting and welding, as an illuminant, and in organic synthesis
Ambrosial – exceptionally pleasing to taste or smell; worthy of the gods; divine
Aphorisms – a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation
Astrakhan (p.259) – a fur of young lambs, with lustrous, closely curled wool from Astrakhan
Bellicose (p.446) – inclined or eager to fight; aggressively hostile; belligerent; pugnacious.
Billet (p.325) – to provide lodging for; quarter
Bucolic (p.318) – pertaining to or suggesting an idyllic rural life; pastoral
Cataleptic (p.252) – a physical condition usually associated with catatonic schizophrenia (catalepsy)
Caviling (p.456) –to raise irritating and trivial objections; find fault with unnecessarily (cavil)
Chukkas (p.421) – an ankle-high shoe, laced through two pairs of eyelets, often made of suede
Clarion (p.406) – clear and shrill
Desiderate (p.351) – to wish or long for
Dilatoriness (p.346) - tending to delay or procrastinate; slow; tardy
Duchy (p.317) – the territory ruled by a duke or duchess
Equerry (p.277) – an officer of a royal or similar household, charged with the care of the horses
Excoriating – to denounce or berate severely; flay verbally (excoriate)
Execrable – utterly detestable, abominable, abhorrent; very bad
Eyrie (p.321) – any high isolated position or place
Importunate – urgent or persistent in solicitation; troublesome, annoying
Invective (p.351) – vehement or violent denunciation, censure, or reproach; an insulting or abusive word or expression
Limber (p.338) – a two-wheeled vehicle, originally pulled by four or six horses, behind which is towed a field gun or caisson
Mandarin (p.409) – a member of an elite or powerful group or class, as in intellectual or cultural milieus
Moribund (p.322) – in a dying state; on the verge of extinction or termination; stagnant
Naif (p.382) – a naive or inexperienced person
Obdurate (p.287) – unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubbornly resistant to moral influence
Obstreperous (p.370) – resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner; unruly; noisy, clamorous, or boisterous
Penury (p.383) – scarcity; dearth; inadequacy; insufficiency
Percipience (p.367) – having perception; discerning; discriminating
Pilloried (p. 322) – to expose to public derision, ridicule, or abuse (pillory)
Portentous – ominously significant; marvelous, amazing
Purloined (p.464) – to take dishonestly; steal; filch; pilfer (purloin)
Purview – the range of operation, authority, control; the range of vision, insight, understanding
Sinecurists – an office or position requiring little or no work, especially one yielding profitable returns (sinecure)
Stertorous – characterized by heavy snoring; breathing in this manner (respiration – see stertor)
Stricture (p.470) – a remark or comment, especially an adverse criticism; a restriction
Truculence – fierce; cruel; savagely brutal ;scathing; aggressively hostile
Untrammelled – a hindrance or impediment to free action (trammel)
Yep. I should feel smarter, right? Anyways, I would never recommend this book to anyone unless they were familiar with intense background knowledge of Winston's wars or had some creepy, obsessive love with the man. I found enough of the book interesting for me to finish it, but not everyone is an Anglophile like me.

The next book I read I actually read with Mr. Mitchell. I convinced him to read me to sleep every night with it and it is seriously the best sleeping medicine ever. We decided to get hip with what the kids are reading these days and settled on Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief written by Rick Riordan. The book is aimed for children in their upper elementary years so the book is very fast and easy to read. Something we didn't quite jive with is the fact that his hero is supposed to be 12 years old but he talks like a high schooler. At the same time, it makes for funny dialogue which is half the reason the books are fun to read. Something we really like about the books is all of the mythology that kids are introduced to by reading them. Plus, the little adventures are just fun. If you have seen the movie, the book is actually very different and I would recommend reading the book if only to see how much Hollywood changed it.

The next book was also a joint read with Mr. Mitchell because we decided to continue with the Percy Jackson series. The next one is Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters. Something that I should mention about the books, is that there do seem to be frequent typos, unfortunately. (That is what makes me hesitant to purchase them for our own library for our kids to read someday: the stories are fun, but the writing is not that high-quality.) However, it is fun to see how the characters develop and grow and what sticky spot they'll end up in next. I also feel that this book would help children consider how they treat people, especially those that are "ugly," "unpopular," "stupid," etc.

The fourth book I read was The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. This book is meant for young adults and is another one that I read to 'stay hip' with the kids. On the back of the book it says that it is based off of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, so I decided I should read that first. Mr. Mitchell and I read it together and agreed that it was stupid and were not surprised that it is a fairytale that nobody has heard of. Well, I read the book anyway and at first I hated it despite the fact that, even now that I've finished it, I have no idea how it was based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale. (Similarities: the term 'goose girl,' she started out as a princess, she married a handsome man.) The book was just weird and I wasn't really into it, but I fought it and finished it. About 3/4 of the way through I finally reached a point where I was excited to get a chance to read it to see what would happen next. Now that I have finished I have decided that I would read it again, but I would probably wait until I had difficulty remembering events in the book.

The fifth book I read this month was, once again, read with Mr. Mitchell. We read the third in the series called Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Titan's Curse. This book was a little more emotionally intense than the first two and a somewhat unhappy ending. If it's a hook meant to get people to read the next book, then it has definitely worked on me. This book really shows the depth of the conflict that Riordan was surfacing in the first two books, and while it answers a couple of questions, it raises so many more that make me want to continue.

And the sixth and final book I read was The Maze Runner written by James Dashner. It's categorized as a young adult book and I would keep it that way. The book can be slightly disturbing and somewhat graphic. It never got to a point where I thought it was messed up to be reading it, but I do think that a certain maturity level is needed to read the book. The first few chapters of the book were weird and frustrating, but as I read on I realized I was probably feeling similar to how the main character of the book felt throughout the whole thing. In the end the book ended up being very intriguing and hard to put down and I will definitely read the sequel.

My next read is Incarceron by Catherine Fisher which Mr. Mitchell assures me I will like.

1 comment:

  1. Uh... you know Annie and I are obsessed with the Percy Jackson books, right? Because we definitely are. They bring joy into my life.


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