BTT: Unread

Today's question on Booking Through Thursday:

Is there a book that you wish you could "unread"? One that you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it? (Suggested by C in DC)

I'm one of those people who rarely stops reading a book after starting it, so there are a few books that I wish I had never picked up. As for "unreading", I don't think I want to forget that I read those books; at least I should be able to remember not to read the same books (or similar ones) in future.

If I had to mention books that I would rather never have read, I'd name Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, Nineteen Seventy Four by David Peace, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and The Road to Gandolfo/Omaha books by Robert Ludlum.

Do you ever continue reading a book despite knowing that you won't like it, thereby adding list of books to "unread"? Or do you stop reading the moment you know the book isn't the kind you like? I believe I'm in the minority that reads books anyway even when the know they don't like it.

The Book of Evidence (John Banville)

When I first picked up this book, the title sounded a lot like that of a mystery novel. This book is nothing of the sort, it's more of a look at the mind of a murderer after he has committed a totally pointless crime.

The Book of Evidence is the confession of Freddie Montgomery, a 38 year old ex-scientist, who murders a servant girl when she finds him in the middle of a ridiculous attempt at stealing a painting from an acquaintance.

The story is narrated by Freddie as he sits in jail awaiting trial for the murder. In the first half of the book, he talks about his past, the events leading up to the crime and the murder itself. The latter half of the book is a recounting of Freddie's actions until his capture.

John Banville's work has been compared to that of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and I could see some similarities (and contrast) between this book and Crime and Punishment. The protagonists in both the books do not have a clear motive for their crime. However, Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment is filled with remorse about the crime, whereas in The Book of Evidence, Freddie is completely remorseless. When speaking about why he murdered the girl, he casually says that he did it just because he could, and not because there was any real reason to do so.

This isn't the kind of novel you choose if you wanted a nice fast-paced crime novel to read, but it's definitely worth a read if you want to read about a crime from the perspective of the criminal rather than the detective.

Rating : 8/10

Other Reviews

Reflections of a Fine Book Connoisseur

Ice! (Arnold Federbush)

The first thing that came to my mind when I started reading this book was the movie The Day After Tomorrow. Though the plot aren't exactly identical, there are many similarities between the two. Unfortunately, I enjoyed the book a lot less than I enjoyed the film.

Ice! is about the sudden approach of an ice age, in which the majority of human population is destroyed. The changes that this ice age brings happen over the course of a few weeks, rather than the years that it normally takes.

The novel is mainly set in New York, where the protagonist, Mark Haney predicts sudden climate change. Soon there are ice storms that cause a lot of damage to New York city and it is apparent that very soon the climate change might leave the human race extinct. A group of people including Mark, and the woman he loves, Karen, try to survive in the extreme conditions.

The main reason I didn't enjoy the was the characters, none of whom I liked. Every one of the characters seem to contradict themselves with everything they say. Mark, for example, keeps talking about his grand plans to save civilization, even though his own group of survivors are barely able to keep themselves alive.

Karen, the expert on Eskimo culture, keeps preaching that the group has to live exactly like Eskimos if they are to survive, but changes the rules where she is concerned. At one point she argues with Mark about him carrying his scientific instruments (which Mark considers vital for their survival, and she considers useless) although she herself is lugging around wooden carvings that couldn't help them in any way.

Finally there is one question the survivors are left with -- do they try to save what is left of civilization, or do they live a nomadic life? They make their choice at the end of the book when they decide to abandon Mark and go on searching for better hunting areas.

Although the characters were annoying, the author's way of looking at the end of the human race was interesting. There's a lot of comparison with the extinction of dinosaurs, and there's one interesting conversation where the survivors speculate about what species will take over the planet once they are gone.

Rating : 4/10