1001 Books Round-Up September 2021
Septembers winners and losers
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse – Tackle the TBR – What GR says: Herman Hesse’s classic novel has delighted, inspired, and influenced generations of readers, writers, and thinkers. In this story of a wealthy Indian Brahmin who casts off a life of privilege to seek spiritual fulfillment. Hesse synthesizes disparate philosophies–Eastern religions, Jungian archetypes, Western individualism–into a unique vision of life as expressed through one man’s search for true meaning. Was that what all the rambling was about?
My Thoughts: Books like this are not for me. I found Siddhartha’s journey to enlightenment to be a great cure for insomnia and at allegedly 152 pages this felt like it took forever to read.
My journey began in boredom (accompanied by Young naïve Siddhartha) continued in boredom (as Siddhartha left the joys of having nothing, to discover the joys of having sex…and material possessions) and ended in boredom (with old Siddhartha learning that life repeats and time is meaningless).
I know, I know there are people who will love this philosophical look at life, the universe and everything and that is great but for me time has meaning and I won’t get it back.
3 Stars – Trouble sleeping? Knock yourself out.
New Grub Street by George Gissing – BOTM – What GR says: In New Grub Street George Gissing re-created a microcosm of London’s literary society as he had experienced it. His novel is at once a major social document and a story that draws us irresistibly into the twilit world of Edwin Reardon, a struggling novelist, and his friends and acquaintances in Grub Street including Jasper Milvain, an ambitious journalist, and Alfred Yule, an embittered critic. Here Gissing brings to life the bitter battles (fought out in obscure garrets or in the Reading Room of the British Museum) between integrity and the dictates of the market place, the miseries of genteel poverty and the damage that failure and hardship do to human personality and relationships. Yep that about covers it.
My Thoughts: Personally at over 650 pages I really feel like this book could have been shorter but that seems to be the point. For me the story really didn’t get going until probably the last third when all the threads begin to pull together and we finally see the truth about each character.
I liked the observations about the changing face of readers and what they want to read. The market dictates that books should be short and about the goings on of the middle class while the literary writer is still drawn to the long drawn out narrative that is no longer popular. There is also the suggest that poorer readers don’t want to read about someone living like them they want to read about things they can aspire to.
I thought the new format of the magazine Chit-Chat was particularly insightful and indeed it predicted how the media would work today. Short sensational bite size articles that impart enough to leave the reader wanting more without over taxing their brains with details.
3 Stars – well here in the UK autumn has arrived which means…rain, rain and more rain so while you are trapped indoors waiting for the shower to pass you may as well get this one of your list.
Have you read either of these? Share your thoughts.