book club: september 2018

Time is trickling by seemingly faster than ever before.  Already it is September 2018?  How?

The ninth month of 2018 seen myself embarking on my third (and hopefully final) year of university.  This means the months are soon to be chock-filled with plays, essential reading and books I probably despise once again.  Hurrah.  Crack out the cava.

Despite returning to uni, I managed to squeeze in 4 pleasure reads alongside two core texts this month, which is nice.  These include King Lear by the people’s poet, Shakespeare, The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett and  The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie.

You can keep up with me day-to-day via Goodreads, where you can also see my star ratings for all the books mentioned in previous book club posts.

Mythos by Stephen Fry
5*

While Stephen Fry’s speaking voice is both eloquent and revered in audiobook heaven, would you believe me if I told you his narrative voice is even more glorious?  Putting a beautiful spin on Greek mythology by pitting well-worn, dutiful tales against lesser trodden paths; Fry’s Mythos is a comedic, lighthearted and knowledgeable body of work.

Veering away from the respected epics written both by Homer and Virgil, Fry aims his bow and arrow instead at describing the birth of the earth, the Olympians, the creation of women and men as well as detailing Zeus’ unrivalled infidelity.  There is cunning; there is secrecy; there is humour, and there is a lot of Zeus fucking up the lives of mortals and immortals alike.

Mythos lends itself as the perfect companion for those who want to indulge in mythology.  There is a story for everyone to fall head-over-heels with.  Whether you can connect with the demands of Artemis or are wanting to humorously discover who your narcissism was born from, there is a flavour for everyone in Mythos.

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
4*

The first of two Pratchett books read this month, The Light Fantastic picks up where The Colour Of Magic dropped Rincewind, the wizard and our protagonist, off.  Saved from plummeting into the unknown below the disc by the spell, our hero rejoins his old pals Twoflower, Coan The Barbarian and the roaming luggage to visit mysterious gingerbread houses in the woods, canoodle with travelling shopkeepers and, once again, save the disc (and himself) from sudden death.

While I personally believe The Light Fantastic and The Colour Of Magic would do well to be combined into a single novel, it is no matter.  Sublime, insanely funny and above all gripping – The Light Fantastic is a triumph.  I love Discworld ever so much.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
2*

Proclaimed as the father of modernism, James Joyce is an extremely influential author who has staked a serious claim in the history books of fame for good reason.  His novels are masterpieces – whether you find pleasure in them or not.  His modernist novel, ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ is a writhing, slithering narrative which jumps characters, dramatically crosses time periods within sentences and leaves the words “what the fuck?” carved across your eyelids.

While I am in no hurry to tuck my nose into this Joyce novel again any time soon, his simple structure and cunning ability to make the reader question the reliability of the author is applaudable.  The story?  Not so much.  Drab, confusing and not-all-that-rewarding, ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ is a book to take snippets of knowledge from before discarding the remainder in the recycle bin.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
2*

A plunge into one of the more treasured literary detective figures, Hercule Poirot, is never going to be a regret.  While I have watched more television episodes of the adventures of Poirot than I will care to admit, I do believe it has tainted the original written version of the Belgian detective for me.

While Poirot is portrayed as polite, generous and sharp in both the televised adaptation and the original literature; I felt I had been shortchanged in The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  Poirot ran around like a headless chicken with no method to his madness while being neither feared nor really respected.  Have ITV4 re-runs spoiled the original Poirot for me? Say it is not so!

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
3*

Third, in the Discworld series, and the first to not feature the pesky Luggage nor be fronted by Rincewind – Equal Rites sees Pratchett sicking with the theme of wizards, as well as introducing the idea of feminism and making a serious case for witches.  Considered to be the first witches novel of the Discworld series, Equal Rites follows protagonist Eskarina Smith – the first-ever female wizard – and Granny Weatherwax (a witch) as they travel across the disc to enrol Smith at the Unseen University.

Out of the three novels I have read so far, Equal Rites is the weakest.  Smith and Weatherwax are neither likeable nor charming enough to rival Rincewind and Twoflowers, and the story itself lacks depth.  A read if you want to dominate the entire collection, but perhaps one to skip if you are searching for the best of compilation.

King Lear by William Shakespeare
1*

The ultimate Shakespearian tragedy.  To strike a long play short, the king and father of three, Lear, goes crazy while being swindled out of his kingdom and power by two-out-of-three of his daughters.  All three daughters and the king eventually die, as well as some secondary characters. The end.  A university read, rather than a pleasure browse, King Lear is a hard bout.  I simultaneously conferred with Sparknotes’ act/scene breakdowns to discover what the hell was happening.  Shakespeare is not my forte, sorry.

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