Archive for May, 2013

1984 – George Orwell

1984Title: 1984

Author: George Orwell

Date Finished: 28/05/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club & The Literary Classics

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

It seems like so long since I last posted about a book (I read The Code Book recently, but I don’t usually post about science reading) but now that it’s half term I have had a few more hours in the day to play with.  Although using reading as a was of procrastinating probably isn’t particularly conducive to good exam results, it is better than just watching the French Open all day, right?!

I have three exams left out of six – chemistry physics and my final maths exam and I am just trying my best to keep up the revision motivation until the end!  I will really be tested when I go on my annual church weekend away for the weekend before my maths exam!!

Anyway, back to the reading!  1984 is a re-read for me but I first read this rather powerful novel back in 2010 when I was only 14 so I expected to have a different experience this time around.  I think last time, I probably only focused on the plot and trying to keep afloat in the world of Ingsoc, Newspeak etc.  Now I am much older (maybe more mature?) and definitely more educated – I have, since then, studied the rise of extremism in Europe and how the fear of communism drove westerners crazy.  Hopefully, I have appreciated some of the more subtle points that Orwell made this time.

In terms of the plot, 1984 is totally unique and despite the 3 year gap, the main story had stuck with me.  This is quite an endearment because usually I can only remember the very basics about a book.  This also meant my attention could focus deeper into the story.  I don’t want to spoil the plotline for people who haven’t read this yet (you should!) but the inevitable discovery by the Thought Police came to me this time as quite a strong point – it is the point where the book deviates from the ‘norm’ in my opinion – there are so many books about individuals trying to fight oppression and they are almost always successful!  Not in 1984.  Throughout the book, even as a reread, you can’t help but have hope that Winston will find a way of successfully hiding his rebellious thoughts whilst surviving and it takes until the very end for you to realise Orwell’s point – there is no hope and no possibility of maintaining ‘bad thoughts’.  Never have I experienced such a perfect embodiment of a state of mind into a book!

The characters are quite sparse in 1984 but the ones we do get to know are very well detailed.  Julia is a breath of fresh rebellious air, and O’Brien is never really understood.  The book is definitely about one man’s (Winston’s) struggle against the state and it is him whom we really know even though the book is in the third person.  I would’ve preferred slightly more storylines and definitely more characters to read about – really for how much detail the book crams in, it is quite short and I would be quite happy to read another 100 pages!

The prose is very eloquent and the sophisticated and extensive range of language often contrasts nicely with the use and description of ‘Newspeak’ in a kind of juxtaposition which I liked a lot.  Despite the sometimes verbose language, I did not find it a struggle to keep up with the book and I think this shows how much I have improved as a reader over the last couple of years.  The setting is very haunting to us in Britain and I wonder if this book can ever really have the same impact in other countries.  To see London becoming faceless and dull is awful and makes Orwell’s point hit home – this is what left wing totalitarianism means.  On the other hand, the ‘red scare’ was obviously a lot more prominent in the USA so maybe at the time, this book spoke more to people on that side of the Atlantic.  Obviously, I don’t know the answer, but I do know that 1984 is a brilliant, thought-provoking read and essential for a well-rounded reader!  Put it on your reading list if you haven’t already!

As you may well have noticed, it is rather late in May to be doing a wrap-up of April and planning my reading for May!  However, I have been crazy busy recently: in April we had Ugandan guests staying with us (they loved England, especially London!), I was also applying to be Head Boy of my school (I got it!!) and over the past week or two, I have been doing exams and obviously revision has taken priority over reading.  I have done my mechanics and further maths exams, leaving French, chemistry, physics and pure maths but now that I am on study leave (begins tomorrow) I should have more time to juggle.
Anyway, I thought I would post even if I don’t really have much to say about reading!

Here’s what I read in April 2013:

The Two Gentlemen of Verona – William Shakespeare

Le Petit Nicholas – Sempé-Goscinny

This is not very good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is half of what I read in February so I have definitely had a poor month!  My aim of 1200 pages a month was definitely not fulfilled, as I read a mere 318 pages which is miles off 1200!
I definitely did not do 30 minutes reading a day, but never mind!
I did not read at least one science book every two months but again never mind.
I actually did manage to fulfil my at least one classic a month target with The Two Gentlemen of Verona!
Lastly, I try to stay an active blogger and this was poor too – when I have more time I really hope to get back into the book blogging world.

Challenge Progress in April 2013:

The Classics Club :  14/60 books read  (1 this month: The Two Gentlemen of Verona )

At the moment this is my only challenge for 2013 – maybe I will formalise some of my own yearly reading goals into a challenge.

Currently In Progress:

At the moment, I have just finished The Code Book by Simon Singh and I am a few pages into my reread of 1984.

May Plans:

Books: Well we are already over half way through May but what the hell! The next three books on my TBR shelf are The Help, Rebecca and Suite Francaise but I can’t see myself reaching these before June.

Challenges:  If I finished 1984, then it will count towards The Classics Club.

Good luck to anyone else who is linked directly or indirectly to the exam season, I wish you all the best.  Everyone else, I hope you are well too and can forgive me for being very silent recently!

The Classics Club Spin

I thought I may as well combine these two posts (as the deadline is tomorrow…) so here is my spin list for The Classics Club.  We list 20 books from our original list in whichever categories we chose and then a random number is selected and we are challenged to read that book before the end of June (who knows if it will happen!)

Here is my list:

5 books I am really looking forward to:
1. Othello – William Shakespeare
2. Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
3. The Comedy of Errors – William Shakespeare
4. The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
5. The Cranford Chronicles – Elizabeth Gaskell

5 books on my TBR shelf:
6. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
7. Suite Francaise – Irène Némirovsky
8. The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
9. The Warden – Anthony Trollope
10. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

5 books I don’t own yet:
11. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
12. Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens
13. If This is a Man – Primo Levi
14. Night – Elie Wiesel
15. Conference at Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

5 books I am slightly (!) apprehensive about:
16. Dombey and Son – Charles Dickens
17. Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë
18. A Chocolate Orange – Anthony Burgess
19. Middlemarch – George Eliot
20. Atonement – Ian McEwan