Sunday, May 29, 2011

#88 Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding

"No Emotional Fuckwittage!", cries Bridget Jones as she charges onto love’s battlefield. It is a new year and Bridget, a single woman in London, is on a mission to change her life. Every diary entry begins with updates on her New Year's resolutions which are: 1) Lose weight 2) Quit smoking 3) Cut down the drink. She also wants to find a relationship free of fuckwittage, which means committment-phobes, cheaters, drugies and like need not apply. Bridget's year is full of ups (getting involved with boss) and downs (getting chucked by boss), but with the help of her feminist, feng-shui-ing, flamboyant fabulous friends, the emotional f-word doesn't keep her down long.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

#87 Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrl Revolution

The rise and demise of Riot Grrl, a feminist punk movement formed in the 90's, is the subject of this rockin' book. If you've never heard of Riot Grrl, you'll be amazed that a group of such bold and angry young women who rocked, existed. If you have, and even consider yourself one of them, you'll find Marcus's fly-on- the-wall account enthralling. Mysteries will be revealed, such as how the band Bikini Kill was formed and became Riot Grrls. The girls weren't just angsty-teenaged punks in Doc Martens. Riot Grrls were political: pro-choice and anti-male dominance eveywhere, not least in the mosh-pit. And they were pro-revolution, girl-style, now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

#86 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In this dystopian science fiction novel possessing a book is a crime punishable by fire. Guy Montag, is a fireman. He burns books and occasionally, the people who read them. Guy has burned books with gusto for 10 years, but something has changed. He has begun to steal the books he is supposed to be burning. And then Guy meets Clarisse, a girl who rubs dandelions under people’s chins to see if they are in love. Turns out, Guy is not in love. Not with his wife or his job and certainly, not with himself. Suddenly Guys finds that he would kill to satisfy his burning desire to read a book.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

#85 Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank’s diary, published after her death, has touched and inspired millions. These entries are not merely the “unbosomings of a thirteen year old school girl”. They are lessons in character building; instructions for how not to behave toward others and, funnily enough, how young girls should proceed in matters of romance. Being in hiding for two years from Hitler and his loathsome “final solution” for the Jews of Europe perhaps made Anne wise beyond her years. Though the world has learned much from her recorded thoughts and feelings, it is hard not to imagine what the world might have learned from Anne herself, had this young girl survived the war.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

#84 The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer

Should she stay or should she go, now? Carrie Bell, a young woman living in Madison, Wisconsin decides to go. It’s no small decision: her boyfriend of eight years (also her fiancĂ©) has just had a diving accident that has left him a quadriplegic. Long before the accident, Carrie knew she no longer loved Mike. Tired of the banality of her small town life, Carrie flees to New York hoping to “find herself”. What she finds is a lover, Kilroy, an older man with a mysterious past. It's said, “Home is where the heart is.” Carrie must decide where her heart is to answer a new question: stay, or go back?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

#83 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

This here book is ‘bout a white boy (Huck) and a runaway slave (Jim) gettin’ into a right smart o’ trouble raftin’ down the Mississippi. Oncst, Huck gets caught up in a Hatfield ‘n McCoy type feud, and he and Jim fall in with the “King” and the “Duke,” the two beatenest rapscallions a body ever come across. Betwixt all this whoopjamboreehoo, Huck and Jim has some bully times livin’ on the Old Muddy. Huck reckons only a low-down person such as himself would help a slave run away, but if every person was as “low-down” as Huck , wouldn’t be no need for Jim to run nowhere a’ tall.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

#82 Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

On February 13, 1945 British and American Air Forces bombed the city of Dresden into ruin. This historical event plays a central role in the unhinging of Billy Pilgrim’s mind in this semi-autobiographical novel. Vonnegut, like Billy, was a soldier during WWII. And also like Billy, Vonnegut witnessed the firebombing of Dresden. But unlike Billy, Vonnegut never traveled through time, nor did aliens from the planet Tralfamadore ever kidnap him. Least ways, if these last did occur, Vonnegut never told anyone, unlike Billy who tells of these experiences, much to his daughter’s outrage, on late night radio. War. What is it good for? Throughout this book, Vonnegut vehemently shouts, “Absolutely nothing!”

Sunday, May 1, 2011

#81 Light in August by William Faulkner

Imagine living in 1930s Mississippi, not knowing if you were black or white. This is the riddle facing Joe Christmas, an orphan raised by whites, but consumed by the possibility that he is black. He himself is a riddle, containing both the desire for love, and a simmering, violent malevolence. Christmas’s tragic story intersects with others’: Lena Grove, a saint-like woman searching the South for the father of her unborn child, Byron Bunch, the sawmill worker who falls in love with her, and Reverend Hightower, a preacher obsessed with the Civil War.

Faulkner’s frequent use of the “n” word, while undoubtedly realistic to the time and place, feels hateful and oppressive.