One Hundred

Upon entering 2019, in an effort to better my person, reading more occurred to me as a worthy New Year’s resolution. It’s now September of 2019 and I can declare some success. 20 books on the year. Not all are run-based, either! (Well, so far 75% are of that genre.) Otherwise, I’m chipping away at 100 books I’m supposed to read before my expiration date. I’m relying on several websites offering such listings. They are from:

The Guardian
Modern Library
The Telegraph
Reader’s Digest

Also, this list of lists also includes it’s own list. Got that? (Link here.)

Of course, no one list fits best, and several overlap. In all, they are the source of my every selection. As I work through 100 books, I intend to rank them below based solely on personal enjoyment. However, no in-depth reviews a la the Runner’s Discourse home page (except for a brief opine, or perhaps, a quick “good with the bad”). So, correct, as of this brief, I’ve read 5 of these books. The task in front of me is long. Good! I intend to enjoy it. Cheers.

1. In Cold Blood
👍: True crime, masterfully composed. Unable to suggest a finer book. A worthy candidate for literary perfection.
👎: Capote occasionally approaches over analysis of a couple of thugs undeserving of such a degree of extrospection.

2. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
👍: Is it the most eloquently written book? Unlikely, no. Still, consider the source of this work. A child. She clearly possessed a writing talent. The read also conveys her ability to charm. Is it the most important book? Ever? Perhaps, yes.
👎: Criticize Anne Frank’s torment? No, thank you.

3. The Hobbit
👍: Accurately described as a masterpiece of fantasy. Artfully the plot thickens, delivering an unforeseen conclusion, weaving in nearly every character from the entire journey. Enchanting.
👎: Any familiarity with the related, early 21st century movies. While possibly providing context, could be considered a con (limiting the reader’s imagination).

4. Lord of the Flies
👍: The book’s second half flows with great intensity. Most boy’s will be enthralled. Most men will fondly reminisce of boyhood adventures. A joy.
👎: The storyline’s totally void of anything female related. In a sense, it just doesn’t seem like much of a draw for half the human population.

5. The Road
👍: It’s a Mad Max-like world. A common man and his young son, navigating a disaster-stricken Earth. Frequent gripping content.
👎: The Road can be difficult to stomach. In a couple instances, horrific. And repetitive. Seemingly, more pages than not refer to… covered in ash, death everywhere, and it’s cold (ie, this is hell, ok, got it).

6. To Kill a Mockingbird
👍: Scout, Jem, and their dad, Atticus Finch. Author Harper Lee succeeds in building the personalities of the main characters, compelling the reader to increasingly appreciate them as the story unfolds.
👎: The novel’s set in 1930’s Alabama. Racial slurs abound. The incredibly unfortunate treatment endured by African-Americans is laid bare. Of course, that history should never be forgotten. Still, it’s painful, occasionally sucking the joy from an otherwise captivating read.

7. 1984
👍: Orwell’s writing ability had me quickly turning pages. His tone and clarity profound. His words easily conveyed. Consequently, much anticipation for “Animal Farm”. Must reading for anyone intrigued by political drama.
👎: The story describes an age of hopelessness. Life has little meaning for the people of Oceania. Orwell’s propensity for repeating the circumstances from which this sad state was borne, and continues to be mired in, can be tiring.

8. The Catcher in the Rye
👍: The good old days weren’t always good. We’ve all been the source of trouble (albeit, some more than others). The book espouses such considerations and can be relatable.
👎: Throughout, the main character, Holden Caulfield emits constant depression. The act grows old.

9. The Things They Carried
👍: A comparable literary version of the cinema’s Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. It’s a story line in the midst of a larger subject matter (ie, a soldier’s life in the Vietnam conflict). The telling of events can be just as startling as they are gruesome, or ugly.
👎: At times, the read can get pretty deep, in a philosophical sense. Personally, to ensure comprehension, that had me re-reading passages. Perhaps others would find themselves more adept at picking up author Tim O’Brien’s musings.

10. Animal Farm
👍: A short novel (to be fair, only so much can be said about wise, upright walking pigs). Also, an easy reading pleasure. Orwell’s ability to compel increases the page turning pace. Tremendous imagination.
👎: In hindsight, chasing “1984” w/ this read may have been a poor choice. The two books (same author) are too similar in tone, ideas, character development, etc.

11. On The Road
👍: The novel has good culture. There’s an education to be had here in the different mannerisms of our society, exposed by Sal Paradise’s travels down the east coast of the United States, then the South, across the Great Plains, and the West.
👎: Comprehending Jack Kerouac’s written word can be like putting your mouth to the fire hose. Occasional sentences that are as ceaseless as they are nonsensical. Oh yeah, and Dean Moriarty’s a dope.

12. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven
👍: Five individuals have great impact on the direction of Eddie’s life; however, those same five people aren’t necessarily associated with any significance during his life’s journey. Simple and creative storytelling.
👎: Can evoke sadness.

13. The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy
👍: Credit author Douglas Adams for creating something remarkably unique. (As if his house being knocked down was going to be the most interesting part of Arthur Dent’s day..)
👎: Getting through the occasional, nonsensical talk can be especially arduous.

14. Cat’s Cradle
👍: Imaginative, maybe? Don’t give up on it as the book’s story development does improve in it’s later chapters. Best I got.
👎: Odd. Prepare to enrich your life learning about the fictitious religion “Bokononism”. Weird can be good. Like, Star Wars’ Yoda. Not so much for “Cat’s Cradle”.

15. Slaughter-House Five
👍: Main character Billy Pilgrim lives (mostly) in an alternative reality due to WWII induced post-traumatic stress disorder. Creatively, the reader’s taken along for quite the ride.
👎: Justifiably, some declare the read to be entirely bizarre.

16. The Great Gatsby
👍: Oft-heralded as the most eloquently written novel. Ever. Remarkably sophisticated. It strikes me this was originally published in 1925.
👎: Personally, the dramatic ways of these wealthy people had little impact. Dull. A story from a very different time, when, perhaps, it’s contents were more shock provoking.