Tag Archive: The Code Book


The Classics Club Spin #3

The Classics Club Spin

It’s that time again where we all list 20 books on our blog and a random number is chosen and we have to read the corresponding book over the next couple of months.  Last time, I read Rebecca which I really enjoyed, so hopefully this time I will be just as impressed by whichever book comes up!

Here is my list:

5 books I am really looking forward to:
1. Othello – William Shakespeare
2. Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers – 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. Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
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

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May Wrap-Up & June Plans

Wow I’ve managed to write a planning post within the first week of the month!  May has been slightly better than April for reading, although it has gone crazily quickly!  I have had lots of exams and now (hallelujah!) I only have one left.  It’s a shame though, as it’s in two weeks time and all my friends have finished already! Oh well, that’s life!  I am back to school and lessons next week so I thought I would try and post now as I might not have time again for a while.

By the way my classics club spin book is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, which I have started and I am enjoying so far.

Here’s what I read in May 2013:

The Code Book – Simon Singh

1984 – George Orwell

This is not very good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is the same number of books as I read in April  so at least I haven’t got any worse (if that’s even possible!).  My aim of 1200 pages a month was definitely not fulfilled, as I read only 727 pages – but this is over double what I read in April so it’s ok!
I definitely did not do 30 minutes reading a day, but I actually wasn’t far off!
I did read at least one science book every two months as I read The Code Book.
I did fulfil my at least one classic a month target with 1984 too!
Lastly, I try to stay an active blogger and this was poor too – better than last month but still a lot of improvements to make.

Challenge Progress in April 2013:

The Classics Club :  15/60 books read  (1 this month: 1984) This makes 25%!

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 am enjoying Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and I am about 1/4 of the way through.  I am also loving my latest science read, Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, which is all about some of the myths, history and traditions of the chemical elements and is so far a great read.

June Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are: The Help, The Amber Spyglass and Suite Francaise.  I really hope to get to The Amber Spyglass but I don’t know about the others.

Challenges:  Rebecca and Suite Francaise are part of my Classics Club list.

Again good luck to everyone with exams (or with friends/family doing exams!) I hope you all do your best and enjoy the rest of the summer.  I tell you, if the weather stays like it is, I won’t even need my holiday to Corsica!  We have had so much sunshine over the past week or so and there has also been the French Open…you can see why I might not have done as much reading as I could have done…nor revision!

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

March Wrap-Up & April Plans

Here we are in April yet it still feels like January!  I don’t understand why it is still so so cold here in the UK but I am just hoping it means and extra hot summer will follow… Anyway, March has been a relatively calm month for me apart from the usual business at school.  I got my results for my January exams and I was very relieved that all my hard work had paid off!  This two week Easter break has been very welcome and although it means starting revision for my next set of exams, it has given me some time to relax and read as well.

Here’s what I read in March 2013:

The Host – Stephenie Meyer

Big Bang – Simon Singh

The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Full Cupboard of Life – Alexander McCall Smith

This is really good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is much more than I read in February so I have made up for a weak month I guess.  My aim of 1200 pages a month was definitely fulfilled, as I read 1600 pages exactly.
I’m not too sure if I did 30 minutes reading a day, although I am sure I did at the start and the end of the month!  Overall, I think it probably averaged about 30 mins a day, so that’s good too.
Reading Big Bang mean I read at least one science book every two months but since I didn’t read any science books in January or February, I should really try and read another before the end of April.  Also, it is getting closer to the time I apply to university so I may have to double my science reading.
I also fulfilled my at least one classic a month target with The Hound of the Baskervilles!
Lastly, I try to stay an active blogger and this was medium – I am not getting a lot of traffic on my blog at the moment and I think it’s because I am not reading much of other peoples…I don’t really have that much time to discover new blogs but I do always read the posts of people I follow already.  Maybe in the summer when more people have more time to read we will all become a bit better and being active bloggers!

Challenge Progress in March 2013:

The Classics Club :  13/60 books read  (1 this month: The Hound of the Baskervilles )

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 am reading The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Le Petit Nicholas but I have only just started them both and I’m not really into them yet.

April Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are 1984, The Code Book – Simon Singh and Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier.  Both the books I am currently reading may take me a while and when I go back to school next week I will be very busy again so these may turn into plans for May!

Challenges:  If I do get to 1984, then it will count towards The Classics Club.

Hopefully, you are all relaxing and reading a bit over Easter and (if appropriate) finding time for religion/spirituality too.  I am sure you’re all looking forward to the sun and warmth of summer as much as I am (if it ever comes).

Title: Fermat’s Last Theorem

Author: Simon Singh

Date Finished: 21/10/12

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely brilliant

This is the first major science book I have read and I really enjoyed it.  Now that I’ve started my a-levels and have started to think about university, a broad knowledge of the subjects that interest me is becoming expected.  This means (for me) reading around maths and chemistry and this book is almost mandatory for anyone interested in maths to read.  Indeed, I read somewhere ‘you would stand out only by not reading this book’!

However, do not be fooled…you do not need any mathematical background to enjoy this book.  Obviously if maths is abhorrent to you, it may not be the best story to go for, but anyone who has basic levels of mathematics won’t struggle at all, as anything complex (such as elliptic curves or modular forms!) is either explained very clearly so ‘normal’ people can understand, available in an appendix at the end for ‘mathsy’ people (a-level ish standard) to have a look at, or just ignored completely, as we don’t need to be able to comprehend the mathematics to understand the story.

The length of the book was perfect – enough to be a decent read but nothing was laboured over and at the end I felt like I had a really solid overview of the history of Fermat’s Last Theorem and also of number theory in general.  There were interesting chapters on ancient mathematicians such as Pythagoras and some of the attempted proofs of the theorem that I had no idea about.  It is even more compelling to read because you know everything is true!

Singh’s prose is exemplary: he tells a brilliant story and makes complex mathematical concepts easy to understand.  He is very skilled.  It is often the case that authors may possess one of these two important traits and brilliant stories are ruined by confusing calculations or very well-explained concepts are immersed in an awfully dull story.  Singh manages to be the best of both worlds. I will be reading another of his books, Big Bang, soon and I have already ordered another, The Code Book.  If you are interested in some not-too-heavy sciencey-reading, then Simon Singh is definitely a really good place to start.

I don’t think I will re-read this book particularly soon, despite enjoying it so much as there is not the same ‘re-experience’ of characters and a deep plot that you get with a novel.  Next up for normal reading is Macbeth by Shakespeare and I think after that I might start my next science book, E=mc² by David Bodanis.  I have still got The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson on the go as well, and I am really enjoying that too.