Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reading Material

Last year my family gave me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas. I love having it on my commute as it’s far easier to carry than an actual book. And since I’m now reading while commuting, the volume of my reading has increased over the past year. Last month, after I finished Richard J. Evans fantastic three part “Third Reich” series, I was looking to read something a little lighter, as one can only take so many Nazi atrocities. I had long had a hankering to read Ian Fleming's James Bond novels.

We've been members of Amazon PRIME for a few years now. We like the access to streaming movies and TV shows and, of course, “free” shipping for a lot of stuff available on Amazon. Another of the benefits of PRIME membership is the Kindle Lending Library, which I hadn’t used. I looked into it and was happy to find that all of the James Bond novels are available and I could read them for free. Hooray!

I “borrowed” the first in the series, Casino Royale, a couple of months ago and I read it last month. The story was pretty straight-forward, Bond must defeat a bad guy at baccarat to bankrupt him, and the Daniel Craig movie version is surprisingly faithful to the book. Bond doesn't globe-trot and there aren't a lot of action set-pieces, but the writing is good and with the intrigue, violence and sex, you can understand why the series became successful in the 1950’s. Bond is pretty misogynistic, though, and that took some getting used to.

In publication order, next up was, bizarrely, Live and Let Die. I’m very familiar with the movie series and Live is the eighth movie and stars Roger Moore as James Bond. So this being the second novel took a bit of adjustment in my mind. Plus, I’m picturing Sean Connery in all the novels, regardless of the story.

I liked Live a good deal. The story is much more expansive than Casino Royale as Bond travels more and there is a clear attempt to humanize the character. What's fascinating is that the story is very different from the movie except for the few scenes in Harlem. Even more interesting is that two of the action sequences don't appear in the movie of Live and Let Die but do appear in Licence to Kill and For Your Eyes Only. Not to be outdone by the misogyny in the first novel, this one has a good amount of racist language, which again, took some getting used to, although it's certainly of the period.

Last week I finished Moonraker. Written in 1954, there's no way the novel could be anything like the movie since the movie deals with multiple space shuttles and an operational space station. The story of the novel involves a Richard Branson-esque British philanthropist who's building Britain's first ballistic missile, modeled after the German V-2 rocket. I found the first half of Moonraker to be really great and surprising. Bond is invited by M to an exclusive card-players club to see if the above-mentioned philanthropist, Hugo Drax, is cheating at bridge. And the entire first half of the novel just deals with the card-playing action at the club. It was really, really interesting.

Once the action switches to the missile launch site, it's more of a standard action thriller but still really good. Bond survives more by luck than skill at times and I had figured out what was going on way before Bond did which made me think he wasn't quite as clever as he needed to be, but still. Good stuff. Plus, less misogyny and no racism!

After I finished Moonraker, I returned it to the Amazon Lending Library and went to download the next novel, Diamonds are Forever. It was then I made a horrible discovery. You can only borrow one book per month. What?!? I had read three books within a six week period.

I dug into the rules until I figured out what had happened. I had borrowed Casino Royale before November. When I finished it, I borrowed Live and Let Die in November. I finished it in early December and immediately borrowed and finished Moonraker. Six weeks, three novels, borrowed during three different months. And now I can't borrow anything else until January. D'oh!

I want to read Diamonds are Forever when we're visiting family for Christmas, so I went ahead and bought that. The individual Bond novels are only $6 or $8. Then I'll borrow the next one in January. Over the next few months, I'll probably end up buying half and borrowing the other half.

I enthusiastically recommend the Bond series. I'm enjoying them immensely.

1 comment:

ahtitan said...

I have all of my Dad's original paperbacks. Not sure if I have them all. I think some of them went missing at some point...loaned out or stolen.