Today I read The Jungle Book and Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.
One was pleasantly surprising, the other was surprisingly disappointing.
I didn't know anything about Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book apart from what I - and I assume everybody else - had seen in the Disney movie The Jungle Book. But what I discovered was that it's actually a set of short stories, set in and around India.
The first is the story that you think you know, about Mowgli the man-cub and Bagheera and Baloo, but is totally different from the animated movie! Apparently Baloo wasn't the dopey singing friend to Mowgli that Disney would have us think, but he was this really wise teacher who beat the living daylights out of him if he got something wrong. As did Bagheera.
But really, was a good set of stories. It's worth picking up, since it is four short stories you can just pick one since even though they are kind of connected, you don't need to know anything about the others to read one.
So given that that was my pleasantly surprising book, the surprisingly disappointing one has to be Alice In Wonderland.
Definitely expected a lot more from this book, I think I've spoiled myself with good writing in reading Anna Karenina for the past few months (and growing up on Jane Austen) so Alice In Wonderland just seemed like narration to go along with the film adaptations.
I just didn't feel anything for the characters, it was just a couple hundred pages of a little girl complaining and her surroundings changing drastically and nonsensically. "I'm too big, now I'm too little, now my neck's too big, now there's a mouse, now there's a fish, now there's a trial, now- ohp.. I'm awake, oh well."
I know you need to look at it in the context of the time it was written, but it just doesn't contend with the classics. It was and opium-fuelled piece of writing from what I've heard and it comes across. Really, it's like reading an acid trip that the person wrote during the come-down when they really couldn't be bothered.
On a side note, there's THIS LIST, that The Guardian have made, of the UK's best loved books. It's floating around Facebook as a BBC list that you're meant to only have read 6 of but I'm wondering how long it'd take to read every book on that list.
Obviously little books like today's two only take a couple of hours to finish, but something like Anna Karenina took me over two months to read!
I also don't know if I'd set a time on the challenge or not, or if just reading them all is a worthy goal! I know there's a 100 novels in 100 days challenge but that's for a novel of 270 pages (EASY), but the types of books on the list aren't mere novels (The Count of Monte Cristo is about 1800 pages)!