Monday, February 28, 2011

100 Greatest Books #99 - The Colour of Magic

The next book on my reading lists of the 100 Greatest Books is The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett. You can find this book on the BBC and My Book lists.



I started reading this book because I was looking for something easy to read and I noticed that all of the Terry Pratchett books were pretty cheap for the paperbacks so I picked up all 4 on the list. I was going to start with Mort until I realized that these were books all within a series of books called the Discworld series, and The Colour of Magic was book 1. It turns out that this is a fanstasy series that takes place in a realm where the planet is a flat disk on the back of four elephants whom stand on a turtle. Other than that, something you may need to know is that magic is a major component of the story. But all in all, I really really enjoyed it. His humor is a bit off and not always what you would expect, which is what makes it enjoyable. The type of humor reminds me of Futurama in which at one point the main character asks if anyone else tastes purple. That is the sort of thing you could expect from this book. It basically follows the exploits of a failed wizard and a tourist from a distant continent. I would actually really recommend this book and likely this series, which contains about 40 books (but I haven't read any further into the series as of yet). Although now I will have to read them in order, even though the books on this list jump around a little bit. But for those who don't want to read all the books the author has stated that that is not always necessary since the individual stories should stand on their own. But I would probably recommend this book as the first one you read since it gives a pretty good introduction to the realm in which it takes place.

Monday, February 7, 2011

100 Greatest Books #98 - Lolita

The next book on my travels through the 100 Greatest Books lists is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. You can find this on the Norwegian, Observer, and Zane's lists.



This was a rather odd book for me. At first I thought the book would never, ever, make it on to my Must Read List because of the semi-pornographic nature of the book. But it was worse than that, it made me feel awkward because it is all about a man who has sexual interest in pre-pubescent girls (around the age of 12-14). So all the while I am reading this I feel like I am going to get in trouble for child pornography. By once you get past the initial portion of the book things got really interesting. The second half of the book I found to be far the better half. It focused more on the mental anguish of the main character as he pursues his Lolita, both knowing that he has and will destroy her life, but also not being able to control himself. It is a perfect view into self-destructive behavior. The main plot point of the story is similar to another book I had read, An American Tragedy, which focused on a person in jail and you basically found out how he ended up there. But there is a difference in Lolita, where the story is a first person narrative of basically how he ended up in jail. And throughout the story you assume how he ended there but as you progress you realize you were wrong and it really is for something different. The story was actually rather riveting in this aspect and I did enjoy the second half of the story immensely. So, all in all, I can't recommend this story due to the awkward feeling first half (which is almost impossible to get through for several people) but I did enjoy it and would recommend it for those who could get past that point.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

2011 Personal Goals - January Update

One month in and starting slow:

1. Finish first draft of my novel -
January 1st - 1st third is done. The plan this year is to write it and read it to Annabelle and edit it as I go.
February 1st - Nothing new done

2. Drop weight to 167
January 1st - 176.4. Starting off worse this year than last but I should have some more time to work out.
February 1st - 174.6

3. Balance our budget
January 1st - Things are looking up for this year with Veronica getting a new job (hopefully) after residency is complete.
February 1st - Working on it but large expenses due to medical stuff not helping.

4a. Read a total of 100 of the greatest books on my lists by my 30th birthday
January 1st - Current count 97. Only 3 to read by March 19th. This was the initial goal last year but I hoped to have them done earlier.
February 1st - Currently reading Lolita.

4b. Read 2 of the Top Ten books on Zanes book list
January 1st - I currently have 6 read. I figured I should be able to finish 2 of the 4 since 2 of them are very very long.
February 1st - The book I'm currently reading, Lolita, is on the list.

5a. Finish 2 more movies on my Geological Movie Review
January 1st - Look to start 2 new movies again
February 1st - Nothing new.

5b. Update the 1 Geologic Movie Review that was previously done and not updated
January 1st - 2 out of 3 up to par
February 1st - Nothing new

6. Watch all of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (according to AFI)
January 1st - Current count 69. 31 left to go.
February 1st - Nothing new

7. Finish bottom of hovercraft.
January 1st - I just need to finish epoxying and smoothing out the bottom then paint it. Not too much work but time is an issue.
February 1st - Haven't had time to work on it

8. Do 1 Geological Fact for each month.
January 1st - That is a total of 12 for the year. Hopefully I can get them set up ahead of time.
February 1st - 1 done for January, 11 to go.

Other items of interest:
I spent most of the winter break between semesters getting my piles of stuff organized that built up over the semester and I seem to have accomplished the majority of my goal. Currently I am getting set to take my PhD Qualifying exams at the beginning of March and working on an abstract for a conference in Spain over the summer. Busy busy.