My goal to start down the list of the 100 Best Modern Novels (see prior post http://jakeomatador.blogspot.com/2009/05/i-need-movie-intervention-now.html) got off to a pretty good start over the last 2 weeks as I listened to Joseph Conrad's Nostromo on my commute and started reading Charles Dickens' Bleak House in the bathroom. I have to admit that I have been pretty bored with both books and had to force myself to finish Nostromo. I have never been so drowsy on my commute in 6 years, but after drinking a sip of water every 2 minutes and slapping myself repeatedly I finished it. It is amazing to me that Joseph Conrad learned English in his 20's and yet wrote so many novels. Nostromo is kind of a masculine tale that takes place on an island. I thought of Pirates of the Caribean several times as I listened to it because of it's setting. The main character tries to be honorable but fails. I have only read one other novel by Conrad, Heart of Darkness, and even though Nostromo is more readable, Heart of Darkness spoke to me more.
Bleak House is more difficult. I am only a few pages into it and I don't feel like I will finish it. I read it for 15 minutes and I begin to fall asleep. It is the story of a multi-generational court case involving so many characters I forget who is who and have to go back and re-read. It feels like work reading this book, and I work enough at work.
I also read a book definitely not on the 100 best list, and I have to say I burned through it in days and had a blast with it. It was Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk and it was gross, disturbing and right up my alley. Breaking up Nostromo with it was the only way I didn't crash my car.
I picked up Atonement by Ian McEwen and another one I can't remember right now. I also picked up 2 graphic novels I have already read because I know I'm going to give up on Bleak House.