Category Archives: Reading

100 Words. 100 Days: Day 94. On Classic Novels.

There was a time when I wouldn’t touch a classic novel with a lighted pitchfork. They were too dense, I thought, written in a language no longer relevant for today’s modern needs. Too many thees, thous and words I need to look up in a dictionary.

But then I picked up Les Miserables, by  Victor Hugo. Yes, it’s dense, with passages that seem to go on forever, and for no particular reason. It has more tangents than a geometry manual; but it’s a joy to read. I feel that I’ve given classics a bad rep. Now I’ve changed my tune.

 

 

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100 Words, 100 Days: Day 93. On Good Reads.

I pity those who say they’ve never read a book and don’t feel the need to. Sure isn’t it a waste of time? they say. We have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and work to be done. Who needs sparkly vampires anyway? We have cinemas and DVDs for that. To them I say, you’re missing the point. Movies and television shows provide the images for you. With reading you have to do the work yourself.

And yes, my non-reading friends (who are more than likely not reading this), reading is work, and it rewards better than most cash-paying jobs.

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 64. On Spy Stories.

With the release of the movie version of John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and the return of Spooks to the BBC (its 10th and final season), there is, for me, a renaissance of the spy thriller. The Bourne trilogy of movies resulted in a more pared-down, gadget-free James Bond, focusing more on the people involved in the business of spying than outrageous plotting.

You see, spying is a sleazy industry: keeping secrets from some, extracting them from others, without letting your emotions get in the way. It can come at a price, though.

You may lose your humanity.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 40. On Fantasy Sagas.

After almost 2000 pages of brilliant writing, tense set-pieces and searing betrayal, I’m taking a break from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, stopping at A Storm of Swords. I have the next two in the sequence, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. Given the length of time it took Martin to write the most recent in the series, I can wait a bit longer before tackling the next one.

I have masses of books screaming to be read. The only problem I have is where to start. Maybe some Sherlock Holmes is in order.

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 30. On Education.

The Leaving Certificate results came out yesterday and once again, facts have to be faced. Today’s students are failing at basic maths. The levels of success at Pass Level Maths and Sciences have dropped considerably over the last few years. This leads me to ask two questions.

1. Are students unwilling to be educated, preferring instead the instant gratification of social network sites, XBox and Wii?

2. Does our education system and those in its employ need urgent reform?

I suspect it’s a combination of the two. Of course there are those who excel in education, but they seem to be the exception today.

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 22. On Reading.

If you really want to know me, ask me what I’m reading. If you want to know me better than most, ask why I’m reading what I’m reading. Better still, ask me why I read. You might be surprised by the answer. I have to read. If I don’t, my brain goes into atrophy, my well of creativity runs dry, and I’m no use to anyone including myself.

A friend popped in today with a late birthday present: Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life. In order to allow my creativity to flourish, reading the same genres time and again is not an option. More on this later.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 9. On Concentration.

My reading challenge for this summer is George R.R. Martin‘s A Song Of Ice And Fire. You might remember this fantasy saga from such spectacular television series as A Game of Thrones. It’s a sprawling seven book sequence (five already published, two to come) that demands concentration. And I’m fine with that.

Last year’s reading challenge, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, gave me all the preparation I needed. So far, so brilliant. With enough characters to fill up a dozen telephone directories, Martin’s epic fantasy saga is a treasure to hold and a pleasure to read.

Just keep concentrating.