Monday, January 15, 2007

Books

I've been talking about a lot of fiction up here lately. This is ok... people like fiction. I really don't read that much of it, relatively speaking. It's also easier to write about, I guess. Anyway, here's a few more good books.

The rating system is based on how difficult a book is to read, not how good it is. All the books at Hansisgreat come highly recommended.

* <-----------> ** <-----------> *** <-----------> **** <----------> *****
Easy - - Pretty Easy - - Moderate - - Pretty Challenging - - Challenging

Kim, by Rudyard Kipling
$10.00 at Bn.com ISBN: 039396650X
*** (moderate)
An adventure story of a young British boy orphaned in India. He wound doing what most of us would probably do: try to blend in with the natives. Featuring a host of exotic and interesting characters, the plot thickens as Kim falls into the employ of an international spy ring, carrying messages while disguised as a simple beggar child in the company of a mystic Buddhist holy man. The mysterious east seen through the eyes of a boy raised in two worlds: Britain and India. Filled with excitement, beautiful poetry, and rich language, it's like Treasure Island cooked in a Tandoori oven.
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
$4.95 at Bn.com ISBN: 1420922343
**** (pretty challenging)
The dark and savory tale of a group of guys who go to the Belgian Congo in the heart of Africa. This area has been ruined by European colonialism, festering with disease, starvation, and brutal warfare. These guys are going down there to do some good. Instead the place drags them down to its level. Sort of like the Iraq War. Anyhoo, the book became the basis of the ever-popular film Apocalypse Now. A little difficult to read but worth the effort. Especially enjoyable if, like me, you enjoy a lot of violence in your reading material. Guaranteed not to be boring.
Animal Farm
, by George Orwell
$10.95 at Bn.com ISBN: 1595404295
** (pretty easy)
Most people would tell you this book is about communism. That sounds boring, though, so I'm going to tell you what the story is about. A group of barnyard animals decide they're tired of the farmer forcing them to work every day and keeping the profit of their labors for himself. They start a revolution and take over the farm, establishing a place where all animals are equal, and will share in harmony. Even animals, however, will quarrel and make grabs for power. Soon they're wishing to have the farmer back. Such a clever book. Easy enough for a fifth grader to read, and loads of fun with a surprising message. Not to be missed.
Lord of the Flies
, by William Golding
$9.99 at Bn.com ISBN: 0399501487
*** (moderate)
A plane crash strands a group of boys on a desert island. At first they try to organize committees and cooperate to get work done. They don't have any better luck than the animals in Orwell. One kid gets crushed by a giant rock, and a pig's head gets mounted on a stick and worshipped. What happens when a group of boys has to survive without adult supervision turns out to be a lot like what happens to most of us unsupervised. A little challenging to get into if you haven't read for a while, but the experienced reader who's looking for a classic they haven't experienced yet shouldn't miss this one.

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