Books

Book 509: The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

You’re welcome in advance for my not just writing “What a load of horse-shit.” However, as you read keep in mind that’s pretty much what I’m thinking. I’ll try to write something a bit more PC, but I’m not sure how successful I will be.

I picked up a copy of this a little over four years ago and who knows why I did this. I’m sure part of it was just that The Communist Manifesto is one of those books/works that EVERYONE has heard of but that so few have actually read, especially outside of a history course. For me though this book didn’t feel like it was meant to be read, it felt like it should have been an incredibly long and boring speech given at some sort of rally. Basically you’d be incredibly energized at the very beginning, fall asleep in the middle and then energized again at the end.

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Books, The Classics Club

Book 358: The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka

Kafka, Franz - The MetamorphosisThis isn’t the first Kafka I’ve read. I read Amerika way back in 2011 and my opinion is pretty much the same: the man is a bit weird but he writes well.

I can, with utter confidence, say I have no idea what in the hell I just read. I mean, I know exactly what the words said and can tell you the story pretty much verbatim, but as to the meaning behind it, I haven’t got a clue. (Don’t worry, I’m going to look it up in a minute and see if it in anyway makes sense to me.)

I honestly thought it was some sort about sickness and loss of health, but no one seems to agree on that. There was a lot of talk about dependence and the family needing to learn how to care for themselves and that his metamorphosis resulted in the family being more productive and less lazy. Honestly, I don’t really know.

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Books, Coursera, Personal Project

Book 308: Household Stories – Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm

Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm - Household StoriesI haven’t written about it yet, but I will in the near future, but I signed up for my first Coursera course! It is called Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World and so far I’m enjoying it. Household Stories was our first reading and looking at Goodreads, EVERYONE who reads the Lucy Crane/Wlater Crane version seems to have taken that same Coursera course! I’m seriously looking forward to the other books and stories we’ll read for the course and this was a great start.

What I found most interesting about the collection was the obsession with food and with fallen females. Every story was somehow related to food (needing food, wanting food, having too much food, etc.) or dealt with a female character (human or anthropomorphic) who caused troubles for other characters (the adulteress Mrs. Fox and the numerous wicked step-mothers among others).

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2013 Challenges, Books, The Classics Club

Book 248: War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy, Leo - War and PeaceAnd with this book I completed ALL of my reading challenges this year! I will do a wrap up post (year, challenge and month) on either the 31st or 1st, but for the record this was the 11th book of the Back to the Classics Challenge, the 6th book (but 8th counted – two were double) for the Tea and Books Reading Challenge and the 25th Mount TBR book!

But what is MOST shocking is how much I enjoyed this novel. There were portions I hated that I think were decisions of the translator and there were definitely parts that were beyond boring (the war parts, obviously), but overall I actually am glad I read this book and the investment of just over three weeks was definitely worth it. I’m not going to lie and say that I was excited about this novel and I won’t even say that it was easy, but I was a bit confused after reading this in the forward:

“The first readers of War and Peace were certainly surprised, but often also bewildered and even dismayed by the book. They found it hard to identify the main characters, to discover anything like a plot, to see any connection between episodes, to understand the sudden leaps from fiction to history, from narration to philosophizing. There seemed to be no focus, no artistic unity to the work, no real beginning, and no resolution. It was as if the sheer mass of detail overwhelmed any design Tolstoy might have tried to impose on it.” (loc. 140)

I didn’t think that the novel was that confusing. I can definitely see where the characters names are confusing! The introduction discusses the multitude of ways a character’s name can be modified and that did cause me to stop a few times but if I kept reading the context clues almost immediately told me who Tolstoy referred to.

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Books

Book 60: Amerika (The Man Who Disappeared) – Franz Kafka

The American dream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in this Franz Kafka novel.

As an introduction to Kafka I thought it was decently well written and had an interesting story line. I can only imagine the improvements of the work had Kafka finished the novel in his lifetime and had time to rewrite and edit the novel. As it is the novel has a few interesting quirks pointed out in the preface, like a bridge between Boston (whoop) and New York City, and what appear as the Rocky Mountains just outside of New York City (between NYC and Oklahoma). I’m definitely interested in reading more of Kafka. I have The Metamorphosis on my Kindle, so maybe I’ll get to it soon.

Without knowing how Kafka meant to end the book, one can only surmise on the lessons the novel appears to teach. From the hardship of his forced immigration to the US by his parents, to the abandonment by his uncle, and the indentured servitude to his friends, the protagonist, Karl Rossman has a tough time in America.

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