Like a lot of people I’m always looking for something good to read. I often ask friends and associates for recommendations but that hasn’t been very successful. Possibly because I have a policy of killing anyone who suggests a book that I end up hating. Lately I’ve been downloading a lot of books off of the Amazon Top 100 ebooks and Top 100 Free eBooks lists but that has been very hit or miss. I’ve read some that I like but quite often I get a quarter to half way through a book and quit in disgust. But one thing I noticed on the free list is there are usually a lot of classics available. A part of my brain kept nagging me that people must still be reading them for a reason and that if I want something good to read there they are right in front of me. But to be honest I found the idea of reading a lot of them intimidating. And then one day while surfing the web I came across a list of the United Kingdom’s 200 “best-loved” novels. It was call The Big Read. Continue reading
- Black Sabbath
- The Doors
- Led Zeppelin
- Steely Dan
- The B-52’s
- No Doubt
- Rolling Stones
Yeah I know, I left off the Beatles. I like them well enough. I just like those 10 more.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
(#18 on The Big Read. My combined total: 25.5)
Book one was first published in 1868 followed by book two in 1869.
I had no idea what this book is about. I don't know why but I thought there were going to be 10 sisters not 4.
Story: 7.5 (9 for book 1. 6 for book 2)
Total: 25.5 out of 30
Overall: I'm really pissed at Alcott for killing the character she did. As soon as I started book two I knew it was going to happen. Other than that though I loved the book. I think it might even be magical. When ever I got engrossed in it I could swear I was young and reading in my room and hearing my brother and sister running around playing in the house while mom was in the kitchen cooking.
Recommendations: I highly recommend book 1 to anyone. Book 2 less so but if you like the first I don’t see how you could not read the second.
Available on Amazon.com
Free Kindle Edition: Little Women
DVD: Little Women (1994 starring Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder and Christian Bale)
1/10 You would think with the people starring in this movie that it would HAVE to be good. Well you would be wrong. This is an awful, terrible, bad, bad, bad adaption. If you haven't read the book it may be okay. That at least would explain why the movie has a 4.5 star rating on IMDB. But if you have read the book, this movie is a huge disappointment. All the spirituality is gone. The relationship between Beth and Mr. Laurence is gone. Christian Bale seemed to think he was playing Lennie Small instead of Laurie. And I'm sorry, Winona Ryder is simply not Jo.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
(#41 on The Big Read. My combined score: 30)
First published in Canada in 1908.
I guess I was confusing this book with Anna Karenina or something because I thought the book was going to be much weightier. I was not expecting a kids book or anything near this funny.
Total: 30 out of 30
Overall: As close to a perfect book as I have ever read. Also one of the funniest, maybe only surpassed by The Hitchhiker’s Guide books. I loved everything about it.
Recommendations: Everyone. Read it right now if you haven’t already. If you have, read it again.
Available on Amazon.com
Anne of Green Gables: (1934 starring Dawn O’Day, O.P. Heggie and Helen Westley)
8/10 Marilla and Anne are prefect and so much of the dialogue is taken straight from the page. It might be hard to track down this version but I recommend it.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
(#51 on The Big Read. My combined score: 26)
I have no idea what this book is about. I’m pretty sure I never heard of it.
Total: 26 out of 30
Overall: A really wonderful book. I can’t say enough good things about it. The only flaws were that Dickon is too good and that I got bored with the magic/power of positive thinking stuff.
Recommendations: Anyone but especially very young teens.
Available on Amazon.com
Free Kindle Edition: The Secret Garden
Free on YouTube: The Secret Garden (1987 TV movie starring Gennie James and Barret Oliver)
5/10 Production values like you would expect in a made for TV movie and the music score is truly horrible. There are story changes that just make no sense, for example Craven takes in Mary just because he was friends with her father and not because he was related, they’ve turned Medlock into a Nurse Ratched instead of someone who just doesn’t want to be bothered and very little of the dialogue comes out of the book. In other words, the director thought he could write a better story than Frances Hodgson Burnett. He was wrong.
DVD: The Secret Garden (1993 starring Kate Maberly, Heydon Prowse and Andrew Knott)
8/10 A much better adaption. The casting of the kids is prefect and Medlock is played by Maggie Smith.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
(#1 on The Big Read. My combined score: 27)
I’ve read these three books multiple times. First when I was probably 14 or 15 years old and again every 10 years or so. Without question in the top 3 of my favorite books of all time.
Total: 27 out of 30
Overall: Love it. I will admit though that on each rereading I get a little more bored by all the descriptions of hills, trees and rivers. Why were the three books combined into one on the list when others like Harry Potter are listed separately?
Recommendations: Anyone. Everyone.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
(#24 on The Big Read. My combined score: 21)
Total: 21 out of 30
Overall: It was probably a mistake to read the first three Harry Potter books back-to-back. At this point I’m pretty bored with them. I will take a break and read the fourth book later to give it a fairer assessment.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
(#23 on The Big Read. My combined score: )
Total: 21 out of 30
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
(#22 on The Big Read. My combined score: 22)
Total: 22 out of 30
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
(#58 on The Big Read. My combined score: 8)
Going in I was vaguely aware of the story. I was pretty sure it has something to do with a horse.
Total: 8 out of 30
Overall: I had no idea this book was written from the horse’s perspective. But that is it’s only redeeming feature. I can understand young girls liking this but what adult is enjoying reading the account of a happy slave describing how terrible his life is and how wonderful it is when he gets a good master? This book pulled off one feat that I did not expect, I hated it more than I did The Twits.
Recommendations: No one. I suppose at one time the book served a purpose in pointing out how people might unintentionally mistreat their horses. But since hardly anyone has a horse now and if they did there are a lot of better sources of information on their care and upkeep I would not recommend this book to anyone.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
(#91 on The Big Read. My combined score: 23)
This is a book I have intended to read for years after having seen and loved the movie.
Total: 23 out of 30
Overall: I wasn’t disappointed at all but was surprised that other than the story of Johnny Fontane there wasn’t a lot of extra material in the book. I guess that’s a testament to Frances Ford Coppola and what an outstanding job he did with the movie.
Recommendations: Anyone who likes mob/crime stories or who likes the movie. And who doesn’t like the movie?