Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Humbook Christmas Gift Exchange

This holiday season Emma over at Book Around the Corner and Guy over at His Futile Preoccupations came up with a fantastic idea. Bloggers would participate in the  Humbook Christmas Gift Event. A participating blogger would choose a fellow blogger as their copinaute, or blogger friend. Each copinaute will choose two books for their friend who will in turn choose two books for their counterpart. Emma and Guy will also choose a book for each participant. Each participant will purchase their own books and read and post commentary on them sometime in 2013.

Himadri at the The Argumentative Old Git choose yours truly as his copinaute! Reading his outstanding blog one will quickly realize that Himadri is not as combative as the title of his site implies. However I did think to myself that Himadri might be tough person to choose books for. He seems to love the classics, Shakespeare, Russian and English literature, etc. However he seems to have also read everything! A perusal of his site will also lead a reader conclude that he has definite opinions about what he does and does not like. Some criteria behind my picks were to select books that I had read and liked and that of course, I believe Himadri will like.

After some thought I believe that I have come up with good choices. They are as follows.

I am going a little bit out on a limb with this one. It is after all a book of criticism. Not everyone enjoys this stuff. But I know that Himadri loves Shakespeare as does Bloom whose enthusiasm overflows in this work. This book covers every Shakespeare play in separate article. Bloom presents lots of opinions, some of them controversial. Though I do not believe that Himadri, or for that matter anyone would agree with Bloom on all points, the writing here is amazingly thought provoking for the serious Shakespeare fan. I do not necessarily think that this book will be read cover to cover, rather it works very well as a reference to be consulted as one rereads or attends a performance of a play. I would give Himadri a big pass on posting a single comprehensive review of this work. Maybe he will write some commentary on it in conjunction with a play or two as the year goes by and as he explores its intricacies. Of course based upon Himadri’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Bard and his works, maybe he will decide to read this from cover to cover!

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo 

I thought of this one early in my selection process. I know that Himadri is partial to big, classical, complex novels filled with well - crafted characters. Much great Russian literature fits this bill too, but Himadri seems to have already read most of the that! The question was, had he read this book already? A search of his blog turned up a comment indicating that he had not! 

Merry Christmas, happy Hanukah, and happy holidays to Himadri, Emma, Guy as well as to all of my fellow bloggers and readers. I hope that Himadri enjoys these books and I would love to know what he thinks when he reads them.

 I cannot wait to see what tomes were chosen for me!


Guy Savage said...

You've probably seen the book Emma and I chose for you by now, and Himadri's choices for you are up on his blog.

Funnily enough I've been thinking that I need to reread les Miserables. Must be that new film version...

happy hols!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for being with us in this event.
I hope you'll like the book we chose for you.

I'm not going to rush to the criticism book about Shakespeare but I think it's spot on for Himadri.

I confess sheepishly that I haven't read Les Misérables.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Guy - I Just got online as my post was put up automatically. I actually just heard about the musical version the other day. I must admit that I really never "got" Broadway musicals.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Emma - I actually do not like to read entire books on criticism but this is one that I really like. I find Bloom's theory a little farfetched but brilliant at the same time, he seems to be saying that much of what we define in our as the "character" of a human being was actually invented by Shakespeare.

Les Misérables is a great work and I highly recommend it to anyone as long as they are prepared for a long read.

Ryan said...

What a great idea. Wish I had taken part.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Ryan - This year looked to have been a great success. Hopefully we will do it again next year!

Unknown said...

Great, that's the Harold Bloom book right on my TBR list. Thanks for the heads-up. :)

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Gautam - I hope that you enjoy the Bloom book. Bloom's ideas are sometimes very different but I find them to be intellectually stimulating.

Caroline said...

I stayed away from Hugo after having read The Hunchback of Notre Dame but I know Les Misérables should be really good. It's just sad when you pick the wrong book by an author first...
Bloom's book sounds very interesting.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Caroline -

I never read he Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Les Misérables was a very unusual book but I loved it. I am not sure how it compares to The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I can imagine how one book that someone does not likw can turn someone negative about an author. Of course it is difficult to know before hand as some folks will love one paticular book and othere will not but love another book by the same author.

Delia (Postcards from Asia) said...

Humbook, now that sounds really funny! :)
Great idea, having people recommend books for you and one year sounds like a reasonable time to get to read them.
Happy holidays, Brian!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Delia - The exchange really was a super idea and the name was really cleaver.

Happy Holidays to you!

Harvee said...

A good idea! But I already have a very long TBR list of books that I hope to whittle down in 2013! Have fun with the exchange!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Harvee - I hear you about the TBR. I need a 40 hour day to make some inroads. Reading is truly a lifetime project!

Anonymous said...

Goodness! - you don't believe in recommending short books, do you? :)

I haven't read either book - despite being a Shakespeare nut; and despite my favourite novelist (Tolstoy) having described Les Misérables as the finest ever novel. I'll tackle the Hugo novel over summer, I think. And I'll get myself Bloom's book the next time I'm out bookshop browsing.

Thanks for the recommendations. I really am not put off by the length and look forward to reading them both.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Himadri - Hope that you had a nice holiday.

I actually started to worry about the length of the books right after I posted this :) Glad to hear that you are OK with them . I was thinking that Bloom's book might be something that you will read in tidbits.

I have actually begun Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner am I am really liking it. My commentary is probably about four weeks away as I like to sit on it a couple of weeks after I finish a book.