Posted in book review

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

In last week’s post, I talked about a PBS series called The Great American Read. I mentioned that I’d previously read twenty-six book off the “top one-hundred” list, and that I intended to read many more.

I just finished a book by Mark Haddon called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The book was literally on my book table, in my ‘to-be-read’ pile.

This story is written from the view-point of an autistic teen, who is 15 years, 3 months, and 2 days old. Christopher John Francis Boone doesn’t understand social niceties, prefers not to be touched, and is a science and math genius. (Think Rain Man.)

The story open seven minutes after midnight when Christopher notices the neighbor’s dog- dead- and stuck to the lawn, having been stabbed with a pitchfork. At least he thinks that’s the reason the dog is dead. He deduces that if the dog had died of Cancer or been hit by a car – died in some other way than by pitchfork- there would be no reason to stick one into the dog.

Christopher makes it his business to find out who would do such a thing. Even though he does not like to talk to people, and certainly would not initiate conversation, he decides to become a detective and find the murderer. Christopher learns many things about life and love while on his mission.

There are some things about this book that I really liked, and some things I did not. I’ll start with what I liked about the book.

First, Christopher has no social filter. He sees everything and it confounds him. His observations about name-calling are inspired and thought provoking.

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Also, he tries to use math and science, very linear and logical fields, to understand human nature and society. It doesn’t work too well, but his math discussions are worth thinking about: “ [Mr. Jeavons said] Math wasn’t like life because in life there are no straightforward answers at the end.”

Christopher talks about The Monty Hall Problem to illustrate what he means. Three doors- A car behind one door and goats behind the other two.  You pick a door but it’s not opened. Monty Hall opens a different door and it reveals a tiny herd goats. Now you’ve got two doors unopened.

Do you have 2 in 3 chances to pick the car, or do you have a 50-50 chance in picking the car? Should you stick with the (unopened) door you’ve already selected or switch to the other unopened door?

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(By the way, this hurts my brain, but some of you, dear readers, might like this mathematical challenge!)

Now, what I don’t like about this book.

First, the only cuss word used in the book is fuck. It’s used many times. And did I mention this is a teen book? Why? Why not shit, or damn-it?  Did the author go for a cheesy thrill? Would every character who cussed be the kind of person to choose only that one curse word?  Did he think his book would not sell if it excluded Mother of All Cuss Words?  I think he easily could have used other swear words just as effectively.

Next, I did not like the plot shift. I really wanted this book to be something other than what it was. I did not like Christopher’s parents. Although, I must say, the author did make them very real, fragile, over-whelmed human beings. If you like books about the human experience, seen through “different” eyes, you may like this book. That’s pretty much all I want to say about this book.

So now I’ve read twenty-seven books on the list. And I’ve started another.

I’d love to know what you’ve read from the list.  Tell me! Also, will you vote for one? Or more than one?

Until next time, keep reading,

And be good to yourself!

~Nadine

Posted in books

The Great American Read

One of the perks of working at a library is that you get email notifications of everything relating to literature.

The Great American Read, on PBS hosted by Meredith Vieira is, in my opinion, the most exciting of recent literary events I’ve received in my work email. On May 22, 2018, one-hundred of America’s favorite books were introduced in a two hour launch special on PBS.  The show’s producers surveyed 7,000 people to come up with the top 100 list. The books had to be fiction and had to be available in English to be considered.

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Image courtesy of PBS

What I think is so exciting and special is that the list, which so easily could have been all classics, is not.  I was delighted to see Charlotte’s Web and Fifty Shades of Gray in the top one-hundred. That indicated to me that the cross section of those surveyed was wide and varied.

The Great American Read is an eight part series. The first was on May 22, and the second will be in September. The remaining six programs will work through the list until the top voted book is revealed in October.

Yes, voted. The top book will be the one with the most votes. And you can vote daily, and you can vote for multiple books. So really, the top book will be the one that has the most passionate response from the general reading public. It may not be the best story, but it will be the one that kicks the most people in the ass.

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Image courtesy of Google.

That book for me is The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. And yes, it did make the list. Also, on the list is Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon-one of my top five favorites. I was surprised that The Thornbirds, by Colleen McCollough, another top-five of mine, was not on the list.

I’ve read twenty-six of the books on the list. I had to be careful and thoughtful because many of the books have been made into movies that I’ve seen, so they don’t count for me. I must read the book before I can check it off the list.

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Some movies that were books on the list include The Godfather, Dune, Grapes of Wrath, and The Shack, among many others. I guess a good book translates well to a good movie.

I’ll be reading many more of the books on this list. Several of them were on my “To Be Read” pile already.  But I won’t change my votes. Outsiders and Outlander are tops for me.

Go ahead, check out the list. See how many you’ve read! I’ll let you know what I’m reading from the Great American Read top 100 list. I’ll let you know what I think of it and why I believe it was in the top 100.

 

https://www.pbs.org/show/great-american-read/

 

Until next time,

Be good to yourself.

~Nadine