very good jeeves

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.

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.

Very Good, Jeeves by 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.

The collection was published in 1930. The stories themselves appeared in various magazines from 1926 to 1930.

In Jeeves and the Impending Doom (1926) Bertie must stop young cousin Thomas from exacting revenge on the Right Hon. A.B. Filmer all the while trying to appease aunt Agatha and keeping his friend Bingo Little out of trouble. I found the part about the short tempered swan to be particularly hilarious!

The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy (1926) has Bertie trying to help Sippy become more confident by standing up to his old headmaster and wining the hand of a young poetess. Meanwhile, Jeeves hates Bertie’s new vase. It is a reasonably funny story.

In Jeeves and the Yule-tide Spirit (1927) Bertie goes to spend Christmas at Skeldings Hall instead of Monte Carlo much to the chagrin of Jeeves. I think this is the story where the reason behind Bertie’s thirst for revenge against Tuppy Glossop is mentioned for the first time. This revenge story becomes a recurring one in almost every story that features Bertie and Tuppy together.

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!

In Episode of the Dog McIntosh (1929) the capricious Bobbie Wickham returns after the debacle of the Skeldings Hall Christmas as Bertie once again gets in to trouble with Aunt Agatha. This is an okay story.

In The Spot of Art (1929) Bertie falls for an artist, Gwladys Pendlebury and his rival in love Lucius Pim moves in to his house. I didn’t really find this story very interesting.

Jeeves and the Kid Clementina (1930) finds Bertie face to face with Bobbie Wickham again and soon he is in trouble anew. This story was reasonably funny. I enjoyed it.

In The Love That Purifies (1929) young Thomas’s true love for a screen goddess puts aunt Dahlia in danger of losing her cook extraordinaire Anatole. This story is funny and enjoyable.

Bingo Little’s married life is once again in jeopardy and once again its Jeeves to the rescue in Jeeves and the Old School Chum (1930). This is one of the best stories of the book.

In Indian Summer of an Uncle (1930), uncle George’s entanglement with a young waitress enrages aunt Agatha and Bertie, much to his dismay, is given the responsibility of breaking the affair up. Once again a funny and interesting story.

In the final story, The Ordeal of Young Tuppy (1930), young Tuppy Glossop intends to impress a country girl by playing a rather brutal game of village rugby. Jeeves duly interferes. This story was quite enjoyable.

My favourites are Jeeves and the Impending Doom, Jeeves and the Song of Songs, The Love That Purifies, Jeeves and the Old School Chum, Indian Summer of an Uncle and The Ordeal of Young Tuppy.

The book actually gets better as it goes on. The last few stories were really enjoyable.

I think I prefer Jeeves short stories to the novels. 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. Recommended.

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Five Best Books of 2011 (so far)

In this week’s 5 Best Books we are asked to list our Five Best Books of 2011 (so far). I don’t really read that many newly published books. So, this will not really be a list of books that have been published this year. Rather this is the list of the top 5 books that I have read so far this year.

1. Detective Stories.  Philip Pullman. (1998)

2. Very Good, Jeeves.  P. G. Wodehouse. (1930)

3. The Diary of a Nobody. George Grossmith. (1892)

4. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. Liz Jensen. (2004)

5. Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings. Charles Dickens. (1863)

Of the top 5 books two were published during the Victorian era, one during the early part of the 20th century & one in the latter part of  it and only one in this millennium. I think this is a pretty good statement about my reading habits. I prefer books published before the 1960’s. I do read modern books but only occasionally.