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Book pick: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel


The Clan of the Cave Bear

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Being fully settled in the new house (sort of), I went back to reading, this time an actual printed book.

My current choice is The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel, another book from the 1000 books you must read list. I happened to have this one in my bookshelf. I started reading it probably five or six times but for one reason or the other I was never able to go beyond chapter one.

It’s definitely a strange book. Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, but I never read anything even remotely similar to The Clan of the Cave Bear. So far, it looks very interesting.

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Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: book review


If you think you don’t need to read the book because you know the story, you’re wrong. You are so wrong. And so was I.

I decided to start tackling the huge books-you-must-read list with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as I thought it would be an easy read, I knew what was going to happen and it would put me one book closer to 1000.

It was indeed an easy read, but not what I expected.

 

Let’s start with the fact that it’s not a horror story, it’s a mystery. And a very good one at that. The book is based on the premise of shocking the reader with its completely unexpected twist: that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person. Big problem: everyone knows that already! But if you read the book with the thought that you are not supposed to know that, then you can enjoy it.

Another thing I realized, and I’m not entirely sure why my brain didn’t make the connection before, is that this Stevenson is the same Stevenson who wrote Treasure Island. Two such very different books, it’s hard to see how they both came from the same author.

 

Back to the book (this is supposed to be a review after all) I was surprised at the physical appearance of the characters, especially Hyde. I’ve grown up knowing him to be monster-like, I didn’t expect what I found in the book.

 

Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is considered a novel, but it runs more as a longish short story. I didn’t read the book, I listened to the audio book and it came a few minutes short of 3 hours. Despite being so short, the pace is good, the story doesn’t feel rushed and you don’t get bored either.

Truth be told, I enjoyed the book more as a description of the Victorian society than anything else. Most books I’ve read of the era are either romance or adventure oriented, it was a nice change to come across what would now be called a paranormal thriller. The view of the world you get is completely different.

 

All in all Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a nice little book, it won’t change your world or bore you to death. Short enough that you can read in a couple commutes or on the plane to your holidays or whenever your husband decides that golf is an exciting sport and expects you to sit through the whole open of Augusta.
If nothing, it will show you how inaccurately classics are portrayed in our society, which is always a good conversation starter for the next Come Dine With Me session your husband drags you to with his new golf mates.

 

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Resources for Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Loius Stevenson


A bit delayed due to house moving, but here it is, reading guides and questions for Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:

 

It’s very hard to find book club oriented questions. Apparently this books is not a hit with book clubs, maybe because the story is so well-known that everyone thinks there’s no point in reading it.

 

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Friday Firsts: Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson


Today’s Friday First:

Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow lovable.

  • Book: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Genre: Gothic, Mystery, Classics
  • ISBN: to many printings to post just one ISBN
  • Publication date: 1886
  • Summary (from Amazon): The young Robert Louis Stevenson suffered from repeated nightmares of living a double life, in which by day he worked as a respectable doctor and by night he roamed the back alleys of old-town Edinburgh. In three days of furious writing, he produced a story about his dream existence. His wife found it too gruesome, so he promptly burned the manuscript. In another three days, he wrote it again. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was published as a “shilling shocker” in 1886, and became an instant classic. In the first six months, 40,000 copies were sold. Queen Victoria read it. Sermons and editorials were written about it. When Stevenson and his family visited America a year later, they were mobbed by reporters at the dock in New York City. Compulsively readable from its opening pages, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is still one of the best tales ever written about the divided self.
  • Average review (from Amazon) 4/5

Not the most exciting first sentence, but keep reading it gets better.

Don’t forget to visit the Friday Firsts page to see all the other posts.

 

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Brave New World: book review


Reading Brave New World feels like starting a trip at the top of a mountain and going down to finish in the valley underneath.

The first chapters show some of the most captivating reading I’ve come across in a long while and make the promise of a great story coming ahead. Sadly that story never really materializes. We meet the characters too far into the book, and then at about halfway the main character appears all of a sudden. None of the characters is, in my opinion, very likable.

In a sense it seems as if Huxley created a world down to the last detail and as he was writing the book realized he needed characters and a story to make a novel.

 

Even if the story itself is not amazing, as I have said, the writing is. You could quote almost every sentence in the book and analyze it, find the deeper meaning, and subject it to discussion. I guess that’s why this book is one of the compulsory school-reads so many teens dread.

If we take the novel as more than that and consider it an elaborate political and social critique that’s where Huxley excels. Almost every single thing he was criticising about the society of the early 30’s has become worse as we start the 21st century. More and more we want to be individualistic and stand out, but in doing so become part of a nameless mass.

Name Britney Spears and everyone knows who she is (even my 87-year-old grandmother), she is an icon,, but at the end of the day, I could have named her or any other good-looking American pop star, they all come from the same mold (and this is coming from someone who actually owns every single CD by Britney Spears and whose ringtone is Till the World Ends).

 

I was quite surprised to always see Brave New World compared to 1984. I wouldn’t put them together at all. They are part of the early sci-fi and they both showcase dystopias, but that’s where the similarities end.

1984 is very character driven, whether you like them or not, you can’t help feeling interested in them and the story they become part of is quite complex. The whole world system is a background for the story. In Brave New World the story is simply an excuse to showcase the world system presented. That said the physiological insight we get about the characters is brilliant. We see them doing things, and we get to understand why they do them, we get to know them.

 

I wouldn’t put Brave New World between my favourite books, those I grab whenever I don’t know what else to read. But I wouldn’t say I hate it either. It’s simply a one time book. I’ve read it, now I’m done with it.

 
 

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Book pick: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson


Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Image via Wikipedia

After finishing Brave New World and going through the list of 1000 novels to read, I decided that my next book would be Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I can’t believe I’ve never read this book. I haven’t even read excerpt while in school, which talks very badly of my teachers.

In any case, I am going to read it now. Or rather, listen to it. As in tomorrow we (husband and me) move houses and I’ll be busy trying to tidy things up while he is busy trying to make money, so an audiobook will keep me entertain while I unpack boxes and try to make clothes fit in the new wardrobes.

As with Brave New World, I’ll post resources for Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde later today.

 

I just noticed that the audiobook is less than 3 hours long, so this will be a very quick listen.

 

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Brave New World: Chapter 16 and 17


When you come to the point of comparing Brave New World (the classic cult sci-fi book) to Kim Possible (the Disney cartoon about a teenage superhero) you know things are going downhill.

 

First of all, let me give you some background on Kim Possible (just in case you happen to be older than 12 and have never heard of the show). Kim is a popular cheerleader who divides her free-time between baby-sitting and saving the world. Ron Stoppable is Kim’s best friend and sidekick, he might seem to be useless but they work together. Dr. Drakken is Kim’s nemesis, the main bad guy of the cartoon.

Before I go on to my deep meaningful comparison, let me tell you that as a 25-year-old I think that Kim Possible is brilliant, especially the film A Sitch in Time. It is a cartoon but one that children and adults can enjoy in different ways (a bit like The Simpsons).

In one episode, I don’t remember which one, Dr. Drakken manages to get hold of Kim and Ron and then decides to kill them both, but before he does it Ron stops him saying that he is breaking the old-age tradition of evil villains of explaining their plans to the hero before killing them.

 

That is exactly what happens in Brave New World in chapters 15 and 16, Mustapha Mond decides that it might be interesting to go on an elongated two-chapter explanation on how the ethics of the World State work, how he was a rebel once and how he is planning to send each of them their own way to be punished.

The whole thing seems far-fetched, from the fact that Mond was given the option of being exiles or becoming a world leader to discussing world literature with John, or that he would even understand it (remember that he has been conditioned too).

 

In the end Bernard and Helmholtz go to the Falkland Islands (or Islas Malvinas, take your pick) by Helmholtz choice and John is to be kept in London to carry on with the experiment.

These chapters pretty much go on and on about the same topics we’ve been seing all throughout the novel so far, only that now rather than being implicitly shown they are explicitly discussed.

 

Opinion so far

Bernard keeps annoying me, there’s absolutely nothing to save his character for me. I still think that Helmholtz is the nicest character in the book (or at least the only one that I don’t feel like running over with my car).

These two chapters, like I said, are just not believable at all, and they disappointed me. Good thing: one more chapter to go and I’m done.

 

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