I try not to turn this into a blog just about my reading, so lately most of the reviews have been my BookSneeze books. But I have continued in my effort to read more classics. Here’s a summary of progress made so far in 2010.
Just last week I read Utopia by Sir Thomas More. It is interesting to see that even now people can’t quite tell if he was serious or sarcastic. It is fascinating to see that things we struggle with and argue over today were being discussed in the 1500’s. The writing is easy to read and the book isn’t overly long, so I recommend it. I read it for free on my Kindle. One thing that struck me was that the perfect society was on an island with some separation from other countries and was not suffering from a gigantic population.
Related, and from 1976 so not an old classic, I read The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. LeGuin. This is Utopia with a science fiction spin on it. A good story showing the differences between a socialist society and one man’s experience in a more capitalist society and how the two relate to each other. The socialist society is on a barren planet which the idealists populated so they could begin with a society set up the way they wanted. I am still struck by how the geography and origin play into the concept.
I also read Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville. This is a novella, so a much quicker read than Melville’s Moby Dick. I’m not sure most people even know what a scrivener is, but this story of an assistant to a lawyer who stops doing more and more until he is doing nothing is really interesting.
One of my favorite reads this year is Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. What a fascinating, and sad, story. I had heard of it but never read it. I recommend it highly. The chapters are short, but that is necessary to absorb what just happened in each one. Wow.
I did read my planned classics – Pilgrim’s Progress for book club discussion, and Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini. This last was a great swashbuckler pirate story.