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Book 17

  1. Grossmith, George & Weedon — The Diary of a Nobody (166 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — Blood Meridian (334 pages)
  3. Moore, Alan & Dave Gibbons — Watchmen (399 pages)
  4. Moore, Christopher — Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (507 pages)
  5. Murger, Henri — The Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (381 pages)
  6. Walk with Me: A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2009 (98 pages)
  7. Douglas, Lloyd C. — The Robe (438 pages)
  8. Robinson, Marilynne — Gilead (281 pages)
  9. Jerome, Jerome K. — Three Men in a Boat (182 pages)
  10. Satrapi, Marjane — Persepolis (343 pages)
  11. Dodge, Jim — Fup (121 pages)
  12. Bauby, Jean-Dominique — The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly (114 pages)
  13. Fleming, Ian — Casino Royale (219 pages)
  14. Blake, Quentin — Clown (30 pages)
  15. Weigel, George — The Courage To Be Catholic (249 pages)
  16. Ishiguro, Kazuo — The Remains of the Day (255 pages)
  17. Orwell, George — Animal Farm (125 pages)

Page count: 4242.

I was sitting in Hyde Park last night with my friend Gary. He's an aspiring screenwriter but reads surprisingly little fiction. He was sharing his sense of accomplishment at having read four novels so far this year and noticed my quizzical look. Hence, I explained that I too am well behind my usual pace. How many books would that be, he queried, seventeen? I thought about it for a second, looked down at Animal Farm lying in the grass, and confirmed that, "Yes, I believe this will be number seventeen." Nice guess.

Of course, if I were at all diligent about reading as in years past, this would be nineteen at least. However, it seems when I am reading a longer book, a slower paced novel, or nonfiction, I often need to take a break to read something else. This is the case with Animal Farm: I've been reading two other books since early June but desired a quick break.

I read Animal Farm once before, when I was in school. It's amazing how my perspective on the novel has changed since then. I vaguely recall reading a charming book where animals take control of a farm and things gradually evolve so that they end up being the same as when they started. I knew that there was supposed to be more to Animal Farm than met the eye, and I was led astray a bit by use of the name Napoleon. I have to say, I think I missed the point entirely.

I don't know if I'm more politically savvy or cynical, if I know more about Soviet history than back then, if I'm a more perceptive reader, or a combination of these and other factors, but the difference is night and day. Really, you cannot be any more transparent than Orwell was in his condemnation of totalitarian regimes and specifically Lenin/Stalin's Soviet Union. And it's a brilliant and scathing attack.

I'm embarrassed that I didn't understand it better the first time around, and it makes me ponder how students are often assigned certain works, simply because they are short and accessible, they are not yet fully equipped to comprehend. I wonder how many books I've read fit that description.

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