The 50 book challenge

First, a raft of Shakespeare:
46. Macbeth.
Murder, treason, witchcraft, and marital squabbling. These are a few of my favorite things.

47. King Lear.
No matter how often I read this or see it performed, no matter how intellectually and analytically I approach it, Regan shocks and horrifies me every single time. That bad, bad daughter. Why Regan and not Goneril? Er, um, I could not say. Regan seems more thoughtful in her betrayal, perhaps.

I reread Lear after seeing Laurence Olivier’s deeply touching BBC portrayal, but a friend recently lent me a 1970s Shakespeare in the Park version. I recommend it highly, not only for the towering wall of sound that is James Earl Jones as the enraged and maddened Lear, but also for Raul Julia: so young, so evil, and in leather pants. Mmm-hmm.

48. Twelfth Night. I described the delights of “Twelfth Night” here.
49. Richard III. A fun contrast to, say, Othello, where we see the gradual development of the villain and his plot, Richard announces himself a villain right from the get-go. Relish it.

50. Hamlet.
I have nothing useful to say about The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark except: Read it. Reread it. See it performed. See it again. Then see Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and laugh yourself sick. God, I love Tom Stoppard. (Well, not everything.)

51. Othello.
My favorite of Shakespeare’s plays. Always worth rereading; I have a slim and sturdy Victorian reprint to carry in my handbag.

And a few others:

52. Smilla’s Sense of Snow, by Peter Høeg. Whoa — two hundred pages of lyrical writing, with complex characters and an promisingly elaborate plot. Two hundred pages of total enthrallment.

But the whole book is 499 pages. Too bad, that.

53. In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelman.
[moment of silence] [/end moment of silence]

3 thoughts on “The 50 book challenge

  1. I’m sooooooo jealous! re-reading all that Shakespeare! But I need to know what planet you live on that you have time for all this reading, surely one with 72 hour days?

  2. With all this Shakespeare re-reading, I’m sure you’re aware of Stephen Greenblatt and his “New Historicism” as an approach to viewing Shakespeare’s texts. It got both lots of flak and great reviews, and on the off-chance you haven’t had an opportunity to read it yet, I recommend it highly whether you agree with his methodology as an historian or not. The historical perspective/context is well-done even if there’s virtually none of what you usually expect from a biography.

  3. Thou art a scholar. I had heard of it, vaguely, but haven’t read it. I just put myself on the library waiting list. Thanks for the heads-up.

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