Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once

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11

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

by

4.19 rating

Comment 1: This is one of those books that I had been meaning to read for ages and thanks to my awesome friend, Roya, I finally did. I will be honest, this is one of those books that I couldn’t have finished by myself. Thanks Roya!As a big fan of science-fiction, I felt obligated to read this book. This book is a classic and so many of my friends love it that I just had to try. However, I knew I might need help for reading this for two personal reasons. First, I am too used to a serious tone in my science-fiction stories. Science-fiction and humor in one book? Fascinating and a little hard to believe. I wasn’t sure this combo could even work. Second, I don’t easily laugh. Almost 90% of books and 98% of movies that are supposed to be very humorous and funny, only succeed in making me smile. Now this book's introduction actually managed to make me laugh several times! The introduction raised my hopes and I started to look forward to the story. Unfortunately, I found the beginning of the story boring and I had to drag myself through it. As I continued to read, I kept wondering, where is the appeal? How come so many of my friends love this? Why is this book SUCH A BIG DEAL? I thought perhaps it's necessary to read the entire series. I reminded myself that sometimes the first book is more like a pilot episode and the series gets better as it continues. I did love Arthur as the main character and I specially loved his reactions to all the madness. But I didn’t really care for all the other characters that were running around. Except Marvin. He was awesome too.While I think the author has a very nice sense of humor, I didn’t find the story that hilarious. But the book IS filled with witty and memorable sayings and these sayings were one of my motivations to continue. Eventually I got so far into the story that I couldn’t leave it unfinished since I was very curious about several intertwining plots. I am sorry to say the book ended very abruptly and the story was left unfinished. I was like…what the hell did I just read? So...I didn’t love this book while reading it. I didn’t enjoy it that much either. Many events were just a little too random for me. I actually really love nonsense stories that have their own unique logic, like "Alice in Wonderland" or "Howl's moving castle" but I had a hard time finding any kind of logic in many parts of this story. All the Petunias and whale sperms were just too random. So…why 4 stars?I actually started to really like this book when I finished it and got around to thinking about it. The thing is, this book was first published in 1979. I completely forgot this tiny important detail when I was looking in the story for the appeal. With this in mind, I came to see the ingenuity of the author. I am sure there are people that find Startrek: the original series very silly and don’t pay much attention to the depth of the stories and their messages. I love this series and while I too laugh at many scenes that really are funny to today’s viewers, I also take this series very seriously. Startrek was a visionary series at the time of its creation and the same applies to Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. “To boldly split infinitives that no man had split before... “This books contains many visionary elements, from electronic books, holograms and computers networked together to usable portable information devices and touch-sensitive objects. Even the guide, the book inside the book, is very similar to Wikipedia, a database full of instantly available information. The artificial intelligences like Marvin, the depressed paranoid Android and Eddie, the spaceship’s mind are very unique and memorable. The quotes and sayings that I mentioned above also play an important role in my rating. Many of them are unique, witty and simply unforgettable. Here are a few famous examples:…"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."…"Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?" …"The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't."…“‘You know,’ said Arthur, ‘it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young.’ ‘Why, what did she tell you?’ ‘I don't know, I didn't listen.’”…“Arthur: If I asked you where the hell we were, would I regret it?Ford: We're safe.Arthur: Oh good.Ford: We're in a small galley cabin in one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet.Arthur: Ah, this is obviously some strange use of the word safe that I wasn't previously aware of.”…“The President of the Universe holds no real power. His sole purpose is to take attention away from where the power truly exists...”…“Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”The plot IS too random and some events ARE too silly, but all the visionary elements, great quotes and funny commentary on human behavior and society, make it worth reading.So...give this book a try if you are a big fan of science-fiction and want to read the classics. Give this book a try even if you are like me and might not find this story very humorous. Do keep in mind how old this book actually is and that it started out as radio broadcasts. Don’t look too hard for logic. In this book, the universe is a joke and that’s kind of the whole point of the story. “The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards-somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the 'Star Spangled Banner', but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.”

12

The Fault in Our Stars

by

4.33 rating

Comment 1: I really want to simultaneously rate this book 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 stars. ALL AT ONCE (in case you missed the simultaneously). Goodreads needs to make this option for books such as this. OH MY GOODNESS, THE FEELS! I haven't reread this book in so long, and I forgot how truly, awfully, completely, terribly, heart-breakingly wonderful it was. I hated it vehemently. I also loved it. I wish it wasn't so overhyped, because this is a book like An Imperial Affliction which are "so special and rare and Comment 2: Holy holy holy I waited so long for this novel, so long. I wish so bad I could give it more than 5 stars. John Green is absolutely amazing, amazing, amazing. The Fault in Our Stars had me laughing and crying, then laughing more and crying more. I will reread this over and over again, just like the rest of his novels. Oh wow, was it ever worth the wait. Thank you, John Green, for being so damn spectacular. Comment 3: I read The Fault in Our Stars before the “John Green Thing” was the “John Green Thing”. Would my views on the book been different if I had read it years after his popularity was established? Perhaps . . . but I like to think that I would have had an open mind to judge it on its merits alone and not the hype surrounding it.

13

J.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Boxed Set: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

by

4.58 rating

Comment 1: Book ReviewName : “The Lord of The Rings”Author : J.R.R. TolkienPublished date : 1937Type of book : High fantasy, AdventurePublishing information : Publisher:tGeorge Allen & UnwinPublished : 21 July 1954 and October 1955Characters : Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Boromir, Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, Legolas. Theme : Friendship, peace & unity.Background: The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 children's fantasy novel The Hobbit, but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, much of it during World War 2 . It is the third best-selling novel ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.(Warning: Spoiler Alert!)"The Lord of the Rings" is the greatest trilogy, and it immortalized the name of its creator. It consists of three parts: " The Fellowship of the Ring", "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King". The plot is based on the struggle for the Ring of Power, which was forged by Sauron, the Dark Lord, long long ago. Long before the events of the novel, the Dark Lord Sauron forges the One Ring to dominate the other Rings of Power and corrupt those who wear them: the leaders of Men, Elves and Dwarves. He is vanquished in battle by an alliance of Elves and Men. Isildur cuts the One Ring from Sauron's finger, claiming it as an heirloom for his line, and Sauron loses his physical form. Isildur is later ambushed and killed by Orcs, and the Ring is lost in the River Anduin. Over two thousand years later, the Ring is found by 2 hobbits one of them :Sméagol, immediately falls under the Ring's spell. Sméagol is banished and hides under the Misty Mountains, where the Ring extends his lifespan and transforms him over the course of hundreds of years into a twisted, corrupted creature called Gollum. He loses the Ring, his precious, and, as recounted in The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins finds it.The 1st book “The Fellowship of the Ring", is one of the best books I’ve ever read. When you’re reading it you just falling in this time and you’re living with them every second. This book need time but it worth it! I totally agree with author because I really love the way he shows us how pretty , interesting & dangerous magic world is! I love in this book everything : from names of characters to their adventures! This book gives us a chance to imagine how peaceful world can be without evil things. It helps an adult become a child for a minute and believe in a fairy tail ! It helps a child to find out what is good and what is bad…This book helped me realize that we need to try to make our life’s more peaceful and to don’t be mean to each other! Also it helped me to understand that sometimes we can be under pressure of something but we need to stay ourselves !

14

Wuthering Heights

by

3.8 rating

Comment 1: When my book club picked Wuthering Heights, I had the vaguest of notions of what it was about. A romance in the moors, I thought. I recalled a movie trailer from the past, people standing in the rain, staring at each other with smoldering eyes; people standing in the fog, staring at each other with smoldering eyes; people staring at each other, staring, staring, staring. Also a snippet of dialogue popped into my head, overwrought and purple, the twist of phrase that sends teenage lit nerds into paroxysms: “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as 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.”My book club is composed of six guys. We started the book club because we were tired of our wives having all the fun and drinking all the wine at their own gatherings. After our second time cycling through the club, with each member picking a book, Adam’s wife pointed out that we’d yet to read a female author. Adam decided to remedy this by picking Wuthering Heights, which had struck some kind of chord with him in high school. Based on my recollections, as noted above, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. I believed in romance once, a long time and two kids ago, but it’s hard for me to get excited about notions of love resembling the eternal rocks. Lucky for me, this isn’t anything like a typical love story. Wuthering Heights is set in the bleak, chilly, forlorn Yorkshire moors. The story begins in needlessly-complicated fashion with the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, a man named Lockwood – who narrates in the first person – going to meet his landlord Heathcliff, who lives at Wuthering Heights. Lockwood is taken aback at the odd characters he meets at the Heights: the rude, taciturn Heathcliff; a young woman; and a strange young man who appears to be a servant. There is a snowstorm and Lockwood is forced to spend an uncomfortable, nightmare-ridden night at Wuthering Heights. When Lockwood returns to Thrushcross Grange, he asks his housekeeper, Nelly Dean, about the strange goings-on at the Heights. At this point, Nelly takes over the first-person narration to tell the bulk of the story. (In other words, this is a Conrad-esque nested narrative, where there are stories within stories within stories. Frankly, I find this literary technique irritating and confusing. Just use the third-person! It’s much more believable!) Nelly’s sprawling tale begins as a love affair between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. It was Catherine’s father who came upon the homeless Heathcliff while on a trip to Liverpool. He brought Heathcliff back to Wuthering Heights to live with him, Catherine, and Catherine’s brother Hindley. Heathcliff and Hindley don’t like each other, but Catherine and Heathcliff do. A neighbor named Edgar Linton joins this crowd, wooing Catherine. At some point, Heathcliff runs off, Edgar marries Catherine, Heathcliff returns, and the melodrama begins! At this point, I’m going to stop with the plot points. For one, I’m not SparkNotes, or CliffsNotes, if you’re of a certain age (and no, I won’t help you write your term paper). For another, I can’t keep the convolutions straight myself. This is a tangled book, filled with characters who are similarly named (Heathcliff and Hareton, Lindley and Linton, Catherine and Cathy). Suffice to say, there are EMOTIONS involved. Very strong emotions. As in character-in-a-Russian-novel strong. Wuthering Heights is one of those Romantic novels in which spiritual or emotional illness will manifest into a physical illness that can literally kill you. My initial emotion, since we’re on the topic, was one of dislike. I didn't like Wuthering Heights. I did not like the long, tedious introductory chapters narrated by Lockwood. I did not like the characters who all – with the exception of the saintly Nelly Dean – came across as either cruel, stupid, or both. I hated the character of Joseph, an old coot with a religious bent who speaks in an indecipherable colloquial dialect. (At first, I used the annotations at the back of my Penguin edition to translate Joseph’s mutterings. Eventually, up against a book club deadline, I started skipping everything he said). I did not care for the hyper-passionate dialogue, or the occasionally murky prose. The more I thought about it, though, the more I came to respect Wuthering Heights. It is exceptionally sinister, with long sections of the story an epic mind-f—k coordinated by a vengeful Heathcliff. It is psychologically dark, if not especially deep. It is a work of fiction that demands discussion, and explodes with dozens of meanings depending on who is doing the reading. No one will ever know what Emily Bronte intended when she wrote Wuthering Heights. She died shortly after publication, and due to her gender, and her famous sisters, it was sometimes hard to convince people she even wrote it. Regardless, it is a work of imaginative genius. I’ve always loved reading but I’ve always hated being told what to read. It’s my only real authority issues. Even in book club I sometimes get sulky and resentful when certain titles are chosen. I trace this issue back to all my English classes, and all the turgid “classics” I’ve been assigned throughout the years. When I finally finished my last class in a pedagogical era that lasted twenty years, the first thought I had was I can read whatever I want! (True story: after I finished the bar exam, most of my classmates gathered for an epic drunk. I stayed home and fulfilled my dream of reading a book while eating Pizza Hut pizza). Every once in awhile, I’d try to throw a classic into my reading list, mainly for that sense of intellectual superiority that comes with being highbrow, if only for a fleeting moment. The younger, mid-twenties version of myself still felt a residual resentment. I’d read something like Moby Dick and almost be angry at it. Angry at its difficulty; angry that people thought it was so good, and kept saying so, when it was self-evidently so ponderous and syntactically tortured. Now I’m coming to realize the value in wrestling with a book. For the most part, I still value a certain level of clarity when I read, because reading is fundamentally about communication. But the older version of myself can appreciate that extracting the meaning of something is worthwhile in itself. So I fought with Wuthering Heights, and the battle ended as a draw. And unlike Moby Dick, Wuthering Heights did not end up in the fireplace.

15

The Da Vinci Code

by

3.74 rating

Comment 1: OKAY PEOPLE…someone let me in on the gag because between the cries of "Greatest Book of Greaty Greatness EVER" and the screams of "Lamest Load of Lamey Lameness EVER", my itty bitty brain is left very… So post Hype-a-ganza, I finally got around to reading this popular, polarizing, pop culture icon and thought it was….drum roll……………………FINE(sigh). It was a solid read with a slight lean towards the “eh” side of MEH and few moments of genuine “that’s neat.” I don’t see all the love and I don’t see all the rage. Other than the obvious religious flavor of the content, it reminded me of your typical page-turning, popcorn beach read and I thought it accomplished its goal in decent, if unremarkable, fashion. Now I have a strict “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t mock, don’t preach” approach when it comes to religiousness so I am going to ignore the bird-flipping Vatican bash aspects of the story, though I can certainly see people on both sides of the fence having “epic rah rah” or “epic fail” reactions and I respect that. For me, it didn’t move my needle much in either direction beyond my fondness for the “big hidden history mystery” which is something I generally really enjoy. The plot of this one has been talked to death and beyond so rather than adding one more jelly bean to the jar, I thought I would just run down a few likes and dislikes about the story and leave it at that. TURN ONS1. Conspiracy theories: are just fully fun and I am a major sucker for plots concerning “shadow” histories and secret people doing secret things behind secret doors for reasons that are SHHHHHHH. I love a good conspiracy. Find me a rumor involving Kim Kardashian being a Bilderberger and using a secret banking pipeline running from Area 51 through Microsoft to the Saudi Royal Family and laundering vast monies to be used to coordinate the sale of Boise, Idaho to a mysterious consortium headed by Jay Z and Justin Bieber who will then turn the city into a giant quasi-government facility used for the testing of alien “cloning” technology………….and I am glued to my seat and ONE HAPPY FELLA. 2. Knights Templar: As much as I love conspiracies in general, when you throw the Knights Templar into the mix, it’s gonna perk me up better than a latte enema. I am always in favor of having them show up as a lynch pin to any massive global plot. The Knights Templar are like caramel on ice cream and just make a good conspiracy better. I had a lot of fun with the rehash of the Templar’s place in the center of EVERYTHING. 3. Symbology, Da Vinci and the Holy Grail (the IDEA): I thought the major plot components themselves were interesting and I enjoyed following the hidden clues, messages, riddles and the tie in to all of the famous historical artifacts. It was fun. I also liked the “historical significance” of the search (i.e., the “big reveal”) and the implications to the world if revealed. TURN OFFS1. Symbology, Da Vinci and the Holy Grail (the EXECUTION): As much as I enjoyed the plot concept, the execution of the story was often frustrating and occasionally insulting. I’m not talking about the clunky, “serviceable at best” prose as that’s gotten enough play without my squirting lighter fluid on the bonfire. My issue is more with Dan feeling the need to “spoon feed” me details about his “oh so clever plot” so that my economy-sized brain could grasp it. For example, there would be a “reveal” that I thought was interesting….and then Dan would exhaust me with explaining EXACTLY what that meant and EXACTLY what the implications were and make sure I knew EXACTLY what he had told me. I get it Mr. Brown, heard you the first time. 2. THRILLer killing amounts of PLOD: For a page turning, actiony thriller, there was just too much sideways movement of the plot and some really unnecessary amounts of plod to the narrative. Part of this has to do with the excessive “hand holding” Dan does with his audience mentioned above. However, there are also WAY too much time spent slowing down to take a look around and where we are and where we’ve been. I started getting the impression that Brown was trying to hit a particular page count for the book and didn’t have anything but filler to loan the pages with. This is never a good thing for this kind of story. 3. The End: Not a big fan of the final resolution of the story and I found it very un climaxy and a bit of a let down. Once we have the big reveal, very little new information ever really got added to the picture and I felt like my curiosity should have been stroked a few more times than it was in the home stretch. This lack of satisfying climax left me with a serious case of “blue brain.” Still, overall, this was a good, serviceable mystery-thriller that seems tailor-made for a warm afternoon on the sand. It isn’t great literature, or even good literature, but it is a good thriller, a good concept and, for the most part, fun. It seems to accomplish pretty much exactly what it set out to do. 2.5 to 3.0 stars.