p.g. wodehouse

Top 10 Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Books I Have Read During The Lifespan Of My Blog

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created & hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s top 10 is all about the books that I have loved ever since I’ve started the blog. For me that means books I’ve loved since March 2011. The list is by no means conclusive and the name & the order may change anytime. Click on the name of the books for my reviews.

1.   Detective Stories. Philip Pullman – 

Detective Stories is a 1998 collection of fifteen short stories and two brainteasers from the detective genre compiled by Philip Pullman.

The book tries to cover the entire detective genre right from Arthur Conan Doyle to Andrew Vachss. Pullman has tried to make a perfect combination of vintage and contemporary stories and he succeeds to a large degree. This collection is mainly aimed at younger readers but adults can equally enjoy it (as I did). Detective Stories is a true treat!

2.  Very Good, Jeeves. P.G. Wodehouse – 

Very Good, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse is a collection of eleven short stories. All of these stories feature Bertie Wooster and his trusted butler Jeeves.

As it is I am really fond of short stories and the Jeeves short stories are definitely right up my alley.

I really enjoyed reading Very Good, Jeeves. It’s a pity it was a library book and I had to return it. This is the kind of book that I’d like to re-read in the future.

3.   Rebecca. Daphne Du Maurier –

For me, Rebecca is about Rebecca. Long after the book ends her laughing, beautiful, cruel face stays vividly alive. She wins, as always, even in death.

4.  The Diary of a Nobody. George Grossmith – 

The Diary of a Nobody first appeared in Punch magazine from 1888 – 89. It was published in book form in 1892.

The writing is lucid. Many have called it dated. I didn’t find it so. This is a very easy to read book. I managed to finish it in just a day.

I know this is supposed to be a satire on the snobbery and the dullness of the middle class folks but I felt rather sorry for Mr. Pooter. Sure, he is boring and old-fashioned but he is a good, honourable man who is just trying to do the best he can. My sympathy certainly lies with him.

5.    The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. Liz Jensen – 

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen was published in 2004. It was Jensen’s fifth novel.

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax is one strange story. What happens in the story is not wholly un-guessable but whatever it is, it is twisted. Overall, this is an enjoyable psychological thriller.

6.  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Haruki Murakami – 

Sprawling, odd, complicated, scary, these are the words that come to my mind when I say the name, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I tried to keep an open mind and take it all in. But still at times I had to stop and think,

‘What on earth is this?’

7.  A Midsummer Night’s DreamWilliam Shakespeare – 

I love Shakespeare’s comedies. The witty dialogues, the general air of light heartedness and above all the wickedly funny plots suit my taste quite well. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is so far my favourite among these.

8.   The Railway ChildrenEdith Nesbit – 

Even though I might have enjoyed children’s classics such as The Railway Children more if I really were a child, I do still find joy in them. Other than a few parts (like the chapter The Pride of Perks) I have greatly enjoyed reading The Railway Children.

9.   The Old Man in the CornerBaroness Orczy – 

Today Baroness Orczy is mostly remembered as the creator of the Scarlet Pimpernel but she also wrote quite a few mysteries. The Old Man in the Corner (1909) is possibly the best known among her mysteries.

The end of the central narrative left me fairly shocked. I really didn’t see this coming.

Overall, I enjoyed The Old Man in the Corner. I would definitely want to read more of Baroness Orczy’s mysteries.

10.   The Fault in Our Stars John Green – 

I am not much into contemporary books. I am just not comfortable with modern fiction though I do try to read at least one or two each year. Also, this novel belongs to a genre that I am not much of a fan of, Young Adult or YA lit.

No, I didn’t need a boxful of tissues as many of my fellow readers said that I would. Books rarely make me cry (Goodbye, Mr. Chips being one of the very few exceptions). So, it’s not really the book’s fault. But yes I liked The Fault in Our Stars much better than I thought I would.

The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse is a collection of eighteen interconnected stories. The book follows the adventures of Bertie Wooster’s clueless friend Bingo Little, as he keeps falling in love with every other girl he meets. Wooster and Jeeves, of course, get entangled in it all and hilarity ensues.

The book was first published in 1923. All the stories had previously been published in the Strand Magazine between 1918 and 1922.

The stories mostly come in pairs. In most cases the first story ‘starts’ while the second story ‘concludes’ another one of Bingo’s romances.

In Jeeves Exerts the Old Cerebellum and No Wedding Bells for Bingo, Bingo Little loves Mabel the waitress. His uncle poses a threat to his matrimonial designs. So, Bertie Wooster has to pose as an author named ‘Rosie M. Banks’.

Aunt Agatha Speaks Her Mind and Pearls Mean Tears are two of the stories that do not deal with Bingo Little’s many love affairs. Instead they deal with Bertie’s troubles with the frightening Aunt Agatha and how he finally manages to get one up on her.

The Pride of the Woosters Is Wounded and The Hero’s Reward deals with Bingo’s love for Honoria Glossop and his hatred for her kid brother Oswald. While trying to assist Bingo, Bertie gets unwittingly engaged to a girl he loathes.

In Introducing Claude and Eustace and Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch, Bertie’s cousins, Claude and Eustace, come home with a top hat, several cats and a Salmon. Meanwhile, Sir Roderick Glossop, the noted nerve specialist, comes to lunch and questions Bertie’s sanity.

A Letter of Introduction and Startling Dressiness of a Lift Attendant sees Bertie fleeing for his life from Aunt Agatha after the incidents of Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch. Bertie and Jeeves land up in America where they endeavour to stop Cyril Bassington-Bassington from acting in a ‘musical comedy’.

Bingo Little falls for the formidable Charlotte Corday Rowbotham and vows to bring forth a revolution in Comrade Bingo and Bingo Has a Bad Goodwood.

The Great Sermon Handicap sees Bingo hiding out in Twing Hall after the events of Bingo Has a Bad Goodwood. While there he promptly falls for Lord Wickhammersley’s daughter Cynthia. Bertie goes to keep him company and also to indulge in a spot of gambling. The mischievous twosome, Claude and Eustace, reappear.

In The Purity of the Turf, still staying at Twing Hall, Bertie and Bingo bet on the ‘Annual Village School Treat’ and try to fight off Rupert Steggles’s attempt to sabotage their prospects.

The Metropolitan Touch brings about the end of Bingo’s sojourn in Twing Hall. He falls for Mary Burgess and tries to impress her by organizing the ‘Village School Christmas Entertainment’. Needless to say his attempts backfire much to the delight of Rupert Steggles.

In The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace, Bertie tries to ship off Claude and Eustace to South Africa. Matters get complicated when the twins try to woo the same girl.

Bingo and the Little Woman & All’s Well, sees Bingo Little finally settling down to marital bliss and the real identity of ‘Rosie M. Banks’ is revealed.

My favourites are from the book are Introducing Claude and Eustace, Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch, The Great Sermon Handicap and The Purity of the Turf. I like Pearls Mean Tears because it is one of those rare Jeeves and Wooster stories where Bertie gets to win albeit with the help of Jeeves.

Bingo Little is irritating at times. Seriously, the amount of times he falls in love is ludicrous to say the least! He is possibly stupider than Bertie Wooster and that’s saying a lot.

Wodehouse’s writing is as usual funny and easy to read. I have come to realise that his shorter fictions always manage to entertain me better than his longer novels.

I liked reading The Inimitable Jeeves. The stories may seem repetitive at times but they are mostly funny. Recommended.

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My Top Ten Books 2011

I am normally very sure about what I like and what I don’t. So, doing top 10 best reads is usually a cinch for me. But last year was such a whirlwind! Also, my reading experiences were a bit of a mixed bag. There were a lot of books that I didn’t love but didn’t hate either. Thus, putting together a top 10 was more difficult than it usually is. Anyway here is my Top 10 Books for 2011 with excerpts from my reviews (Click on the titles for the full reviews),

1. 

Detective Stories. Philip Pullman.

The collection starts with The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle. The story was first published in the Strand Magazine in 1892. Panic grips a lonely woman when she starts to hear the same late night whistling noise that her twin sister spoke of in her dying moments…

2.

Very Good, Jeeves. P.G. Wodehouse.

Jeeves and the Song of Songs (1929) has Bertie right in the middle of Tuppy Glossop’s tangled love life as he is forced to sing at a concert for Beefy Bingham. Anyone who has seen the 1990 series Jeeves and Wooster will appreciate this story even more. I recently watched a re-run of the show (I am too young to remember its original run) and thought  Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry were absolutely marvellous in it!

 3.

 
Rebecca. Daphne Du Maurier.

For me, Rebecca is about Rebecca. Long after the book ends her laughing, beautiful, cruel face stays vividly alive. She wins, as always, even in death.

4.

The Diary of a Nobody. George Grossmith.

I found several parts of the book quite funny. Like Lupin recklessly driving a pony-trap and causing general havoc in the streets while Mr. Pooter being seated at the back has to bear the wrath of  ‘a gang of roughs in a donkey-cart’. Or Mr. Cummings becoming ill and being angry at his friends for not reading about his illness in ‘The Bicycle News’. And Mr. Pooter getting annoyed after having to eat the same blanc-mange repeatedly.

5.

A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bill Bryson.

I really liked how Bryson talks of the people behind the science. The lives of known and unknown people behind some of the greatest discoveries come alive through Bryson’s narrative.

6.
The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. Liz Jensen.

Louis Drax is an accident prone boy. Ever since he was a baby he has been involved in more than his fair share of near fatal accidents. But so far they have all been just that, ‘nearly’ but not wholly ‘fatal’. On his ninth birthday, however, things may change for the worse. Louis may never come out alive from this ‘accident’.

7.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Haruki Murakami.

Sprawling, odd, complicated, scary, these are the words that come to my mind when I say the name, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I tried to keep an open mind and take it all in. But still at times I had to stop and think,

‘What on earth is this?’

8.

The Inimitable Jeeves. P. G. Wodehouse.

In Introducing Claude and Eustace and Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch, Bertie’s cousins, Claude and Eustace, come home with a top hat, several cats and a Salmon. Meanwhile, Sir Roderick Glossop, the noted nerve specialist, comes to lunch and questions Bertie’s sanity.

9.
Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings. Charles Dickens.

After Mrs. Lirriper’s drink loving husband perishes in an accident, Mrs. Lirriper starts to take in lodgers to make ends meet and also to pay off Mr. Lirriper’s debts. Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings describes some of her experiences as a lodge keeper… I liked how Mrs. Lirriper keeps addressing the reader as ‘My Dear’, as though she knows us all and is having an ordinary conversation with us. It is sort of comforting somehow.

&

 
Mrs Lirriper’s Legacy. Charles Dickens.

Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy is a worthy conclusion to the story of Mrs. Lirriper.  The hopefulness of the first book comes to fruition in the second one.

10.

It’s Only a Movie: Alfred Hitchcock – A Personal Biography. Charlotte Chandler.

I like the cover of the book. It is striking. As I read this book en route to my workplace many people asked me what book I was reading and they seemed genuinely interested in it.

Welcome Home: Books that Arrived in September & October 2011

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” ― Logan Pearsall Smith

Some people ask me what I do for fun. When I say I read, they often give me a funny look. “Reading is a chore. Something you do only when you’re compelled to. WHY are you reading?” Okay, maybe reading is a chore for you but I do it for ‘fun’.

I don’t like to go to parties where I’d have to talk to people I don’t have anything in common with or even really like. “But it’s FUN. You’d like it when you get there.” No, I won’t. Why don’t people get that fun can have a different meaning for different people? For me fun is spending a quiet evening at home with a book, listening to some music or watching a good movie.

I am really alarmed by the increasingly conformist attitude everyone around me is taking. We are human beings, with our own individual tastes, likes, dislikes, our own lives and our own choices to make. We are not clones of each other. We are all normal and we are all abnormal in our own way. And who defines what’s normal anyway? Most works of art and most scientific discoveries were made by people thinking outside the box. If we were all alike then there would be no Isaac Newtons or Pablo Picassos and where would we all be then?

Our uniqueness makes us all beautiful. If we all became mindless zombies plugged into the wall, then the world would die. Please don’t kill this complex, impossible, difficult but ultimately beautiful and alive world.

Okay enough of my rant. Back to my original topic. Here are the books I bought in the months of September and October.

September 4, 2011.

The Inimitable Jeeves. P. G. Wodehouse.

Ring for Jeeves. P. G. Wodehouse.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Truman Capote.

Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conrad.    

                   

I have always been a fan of the Jeeves and Wooster stories by P. G. Wodehouse. I enjoyed the re-runs of the 90’s TV show Jeeves and Wooster immensely. For me Hugh Laurie would forever be the bumbling Bertie and Stephen Fry would forever be the imperturbable Jeeves. I read  Wodehouse’s Very Good, Jeeves earlier this year and loved it! So, when I saw these two books at the bookstore I just had to have them! I am reading The Inimitable Jeeves right now and liking it very much.

 I am trying to broaden my horizon by stepping outside my comfort zone of mysteries and old classics. Hence, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad came home with me.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is not my usual fare. I have never read anything by Capote. Hopefully I’ll enjoy his writing.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a scary read for me. I have heard so many negative comments about it from fellow readers that I am curious and afraid at the same time. Well, if I am to find out for myself, I am going to have to plunge into this ‘darkness’ soon.

October 1, 2011.

Gilead. Marilynne Robinson. 

I went to the bookstore for something entirely different but came out with Gilead instead. How did this happen? Well, I guess my quest to broaden my horizon continues. I have heard good things about Gilead. Hopefully I’d like it too even if it is not really the type of book I usually read.

So, these were my September & October purchases. Not much in quantity but good in quality in my opinion.

The Friday 56

The Friday 56 is a bookish meme hosted by Freda’s Voice.

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link up at Freda’s site

Today’s sentence comes from The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse.

” ‘Bertie!’ he said. ‘Just the man I wanted to see. Bertie, a wonderful thing has happened.’ “