2018 Reading List

have compiled a list of books that I will be reading in 2018. They are not in the order I’ll read them but I have tried to include a mix of genres. I have included the Classics series that I have not finished, Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy and Non-fiction in the list.

The Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

I found this Sherlock Holmes novel as the shop had a discount and it cost 10 pence. Published in 1902, it is the third of the Crime Novels Doyle wrote featuring Detective Sherlock Holmes. I have not read a Sherlock Holmes book yet; the characterisation of Holmes and Watson should be interesting.

I know why the Caged Bird sings by Maya Angelou

This is the first volume of Maya Angelou’s biography and it was recommended to me on Goodreads based on the books I have in my reading list. This is about her early childhood in the American South in the 1930’s and discusses the discrimination she faced, her family life and discovering her talents.

The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands

In 2004 Mary Seacole was voted the Greatest Black Briton. A Jamaican born nurse, she became known for her work with the wounded in the Crimean Wars. Unlike Florence Nightingale who worked safely away from the battle scene, she went further to the frontlines to provide assistance, risking her own life. This is near the top of the reading list.

Dust Tracks on A Road by Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston is a well-known novelist from the Harlem Renaissance as well as a journalist and critic. This autobiography was published in 1942 and has compliments from other writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

A non-fiction book about the factors involved in success. It examines the influence of talent, wealth, persistence and fortunateness in becoming successful. He discusses perceived intelligence and the decision making involved in success.

Sing Unburied Sing by Jasmine Ward

This was the winner of the National Book Award 2017 and is the third novel by author Jasmyn Ward. When reviewing it, Ron Charles, who was writing for the Washington Post compared the novel to Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This was recommended by Ameriie, a singer and author, on her Goodreads account and her YouTube channel. The book is about a family that move into a new neighbourhood and issues they face with their background after they attempt the adoption process and the custody battle that ensues.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

A historical fiction book set in Germany during World War Two. A young girl Liesel learns to read, steals books and gives them to a Jewish refugee hiding in the basement of the home where she lives.

The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson

This book was a Christmas present and is the eighth novel by British author Dorothy Koomson. It was shortlisted for the British Book Awards In 2012.

Chasing the Stars 

A fantasy book by Malorie Blackman, it was published in 2016 and involves twins heading back to earth on a spaceship, after a virus has wiped out their family and the crew on board.

The Hobbit by J.R Tolkien

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

One hundred years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

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The Hound of the Baskervilles Review

This is the third crime novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and it was published in 1902. It features the famous Detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr Watson. They are contacted by Dr James Mortimer to investigate the mysterious death of a wealthy man from Devon in West England. A fairly small book, the story unravels quickly and there are many clues to what caused the incident. There is a mysterious ‘Hound’ that lives on the Moor near Baskerville hall and the Detectives are determined to find out what has happened.

Dr Watson narrates the entire book and he does quite a bit of investigative work for Sherlock Holmes, while he works in the background. Watson meets with the suspects and looks after Henry Baskerville, who they believe is in danger. At the end they collate their evidence and use it to solve the mystery. It was a surprise how involved Watson actually was, whereas the films represent him in a vague sidekick role.

“Watson you were born to be a man of action. Your instinct is always to do something energetic” – Sherlock Holmes

It was interesting that the characters first had a supernatural explanation but Sherlock Holmes figures out the logical explanation to the crime. Then at the end he works backwards to explain where the clues were in the story leading to who committed the crime. It would have been difficult to guess the answer before it was revealed because it was miraculously uncovered by Holmes. This really expresses how good his detective work is, because he didn’t meet most of the suspects in case the perpetrator felt threatened.

Characterisation was well done and there was enough detail to understand Holmes’ personality. He was less witty than his portrayal in the Sherlock Holmes films where it appears that humour was added. There were also references to communication devices such as the Telegraph, which Holmes used to communicate with another character, Cartwright. The Telegraph was created in 1837 which led to the invention of Morse code named after Samuel Morse. This would have been used in the nineteenth century to assist long-distance communication.


The Telegraph and Samuel Morse

https://www.thoughtco.com/the-history-of-the-electric-telegraph-and-telegraphy-1992542

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Biography

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/conan_sir_arthur_doyle.shtml

Sherlock Holmes Character

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Sherlock-Holmes

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Review

The Picture of Dorian Gray is by the author Oscar Wilde and was published in 1890. The novel is philosophical fiction and discusses issues such as the purpose of art. A short novel, its page chapters are in roman numerals and are very short. The Picture of Dorian Gray was Oscar Wilde’s only novel and was critical of Victorian society at the time. In the preface, Oscar Wilde remarks “all art is quite useless” because he didn’t believe that art needed to be educational or used for a moral purpose. There are also discussions of vanity and the importance of being youthful as the main character, Dorian Gray, makes a wish that he would not age.

Although Dorian Gray does not age, the portrait ages rapidly into an unattractive, horrifying reflection of Dorian Gray on the inside, although on the outside he is handsome and youthful. It is written in a third person narrative and the main character is Dorian Gray. The first character introduced is Basil Hallward and Lord Henry, who befriends Dorian and influences him negatively. Basil paints a picture of Dorian Gray and gives it to him, but Dorian Gray falls in love with the picture, similar to the story of Narcissus in Greek mythology and stops aging. His vanity has a negative affect on those around him and he loses many friends, he friends he makes are based on their attractiveness and he becomes very unhappy. The story culminates with him stabbing the portrait.

 “Time is jealous of you, and wars against your lilies and your roses” -Lord Henry

 Another theme of the novel is the importance of beauty and the regular references to Narcissus at the beginning. Durian Gray is described as being incredibly attractive and beautiful so he gets a lot of attention. He also mentions that he feels jealous of his own portrait Basil paints of him, because he will age whereas the portrait will not. 

After being written, The Picture of Dorian Gray had about 500 pages removed by an editor, who believed it was too immoral. Oscar Wilde seemingly responds to this censorship in his preface “there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.”

“The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of the caliban seeing his own face in a glass.” – Oscar Wilde

Links

Plot overview of ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’

http://m.sparknotes.com/lit/doriangray/summary.html

Narcissus

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Narcissus-Greek-mythology

5 Books To Read For Black History Month

October is Black History Month in Britain so I have added some books by black authors to my reading list that I would like to read. I am around halfway through my Classic book series, so after I finish these I will be reading the books on this list which I have heard are very good. Some are fiction, some are biographies and one is an exciting mix of poetry and photography.

Unseen: My Journey by Reggie Yates

Unseen, by Reggie Yates, is about his experiences as a documentary filmmaker and being a TV host. He has experienced embedding as a prison guard and in refugee camps and met/spoken to people in these situations about their experiences. The embedding of Journalists is involved with my course so this will be an informative read as well.

The Hate you Give by Angie Thomas

This is a fictional, young adult novel that addresses so many areas of racial tension that are relevant now. From police brutality to de facto segregation and the story is centred around a teenage girl and how she experiences these issues specifically. A film is being made of this novel that will star Amandla Stenberg.

Kink by Jay-Ann Lopez & Patrina Charles

This was created by bloggers, Jay-Ann Lopez and Patrina Charles, the imagery is of different hairstyles, hair textures and skin tones than those that are usually shown in the media. The about section of the website describes the book as containing “personal mantras and poetry” to empower and uplift black females.

God help the Child by Toni Morrison

This is Toni Morrison’s most recent novel. I have never read a book by Toni Morrison before so this will be incredibly interesting. This is about a girl who is described as having a ‘blue-black’ complexion and her experiences being raised by lighter skinned parents and in society learning to love her skin colour. The description regards this a ‘coming-of-age’ story for adult women.

A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story by Elaine Brown

Elaine Brown was the only woman to lead the Black Panther Party. She chaired the Black Panther Party from 1974 to 1977. This memoir, published in 1992, talks about her experiences as a black woman in the party and the difficulties she faced leading it.


Britain’s Black History Month

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/m-proud-britain-black-history-050056830.html

De Facto meaning

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/de-facto

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë Review

Wuthering Heights is the only novel by Emily Brontë, one of the Brontë sisters and the others, Charlotte and Anne, were also famous authors. Wuthering Heights was published in December 1847 and Emily Brontë dies a year later of tuberculosis. The novel is based in Yorkshire in Northern England, where the author was from. It is a romance story that is as tragic as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with two star-crossed lovers. Wuthering Heights has a Romeo and Juliet feel to it, for example the rivalry between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s that Shakespeare wrote of.

The novel is told by the housekeeper, Nelly, who grew up with Heathcliff and Cathy and retells the story to a visitor, Mr Lockwood. Mr Lockwood travels to Wuthering Heights and to The Grange, where he finds out about Heathcliff. Heathcliff is found in Liverpool by Mr Earnshaw, who raises him at Wuthering Heights with his two children Hindley and Catherine. Heathcliff is disliked by all of the other characters except Catherine and even admits to Nelly that he opened her grave eighteen years later to see her. He is hostile to the others and is described negatively as being “avaricious”, “you’re a cruel man” and you were very wicked, Mr Heathcliff.” He is described as either ‘Heathcliff’ or ‘Mr Heathcliff’ as he was named Heathcliff when the family brought him in after their own deceased child, but not given a surname.

Heathcliff and Catherine fall in love, however he hears Catherine telling Nelly that he is beneath her, because of class “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now, so he shall never know how I love him.” Heathcliff disappears and Catherine marries Linton, so Heathcliff moves into Wuthering Heights, a few miles from the Grange to seek revenge.

“I AM HEATHCLIFF” -CATHERINE

It is apparent that Catherine loves Heathcliff, but does not feel that they can be together as she explains to Nelly “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it I’m well aware, as the winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! he’s always, always in my mind- not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.” Heathcliff does not hear here say this so he becomes angry and leaves. Later on, Heathcliff and Catherine see each other again, to profess their love, but Catherine dies in childbirth shortly after. Eventually, Heathcliff marries Linton’s sister Isabella and treats her badly, which causes a rift between the two houses.


Family Tree:Doc1

Background information on Wuthering Heights

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Emily-Bronte#ref153056

Biography of Emily Brontë

https://www.biography.com/people/emily-bronte-9227381?_escaped_fragment_=

Wuthering Heights Review in The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/dec/16/emily-bronte-wuthering-heights-100-best

Character list

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/wuthering/characters.html

BBC Radio 4 Wuthering Heights discussion panel

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b095ptt5

Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights – Official Music Video

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James Review

The Turn of the Screw is a novella written by American author Henry James and published in 1898.

It began with a short chapter with a group of people listening to a re-telling of the story, but they are not introduced very much, they are just the introduction. The rest of the book is told from the perspective of the governess of the house. She is hired to take care of two children by their uncle who is too busy with work and uninterested. It’s a ghost story that does not reveal very much about the characters but focuses on the tension between the governess and her uneasiness.

The main focus is on the children because they, along with the housekeeper Mrs Grose, claim they cannot see the ghosts, only the governess can. It can be interepreted in different ways and it is not clear whether it was a haunting or whether the ghosts are in the governess’ imagination because she is the only one who can see them. Other than the governess the children, who have minor speaking roles, can also see the ghost, but the housekeeper Mrs Grose, cannot. She does not believe the governess at first but steadily begins to believe her that there is something wrong with the atmosphere of the house. Her character asks a lot of questions but is slow to reveal information about the house to the governess as she doesn’t trust her.

The governess, a main character, is nameless except for this job title and does not have much description of her appearance either she is referred to as a young woman but doesn’t reveal much about her background and her actual job in the house is not explained because she does not take them anywhere or cook. The governess’ paranoia and distrust of the children is a large part of what makes her suspicious of the ghosts. Her isolation is apparent as the owner of the house does not want to be bothered and the other staff do not believe her until the drastic conclusion at the end.

 


Links

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