Tag: Les Misérables

Why do I Avoid Big Books?

Posted October 5, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

I’ve talked a little about my fear of large novels previously but I think this time to revisit this topic once again. More and more large books are turning up in my to-read lists and while I’m excited to read them, a book so large often puts me off. I do read large books but it seems to be on a rare occasions. Yet there seems to be more large novels still waiting that haven’t been read. Is there any way to motivate myself or force myself to spend the time reading a book over 800 pages?

It is not the classics that have calling my name; sure I want to get to War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov and even In Search of Lost Time but there are some very recent releases that look interesting too. Including A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava, The Kills by Richard House, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I’m sure there are books that aren’t classics or recent releases that are deserve to be read as well that are over 800 pages, they just feel like a huge investment.

This month I’m reading The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett which sits at 973 pages and while I’m enjoying it so far, that is a big investment of time. I have read some great big books, including Anna Karenina, Les Misérables and Infinite Jest but if I want to compare the time investment of those books compared to reading two books, it seems to take so much more time. Now it is your turn, let me know what your thoughts are about big books; have you read some good ones? Are there any on your shelves that are scaring you? And do you have any tips to motivate yourself.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Posted February 14, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 0 Comments

Les Misérables by Victor HugoTitle: Les Misérables (Goodreads)
Author: Victor Hugo
Translator: Lee Fahnestock, Norman MacAfee
Published: Signet, 1862
Pages: 1463
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

This is the story of Jean Valjean, a man seeking redemption after serving nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving relatives. When everyone else turns their back on him, it was a Bishop that showed him immense kindness and inspires him to do the same to everyone else. He finds him eventually appointed mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer but then back on the run hunted by police inspector named Javert.

That is a very brief outline of what this book is about, as the book is about 1400 pages.  If I tried to go into more detail it could be too big for a one paragraph synopsis, but I think people are familiar enough with this novel to know the basic plot of this book. I decided to read the book because of the recent adaption; yes I know it was an adaptation of the musical but I still wanted to read the book first so I’d have a better understanding of the plot.

This novel covers some very interesting topics from the nature of the law and the idea of grace, politics, justice, romance and moral philosophy. All this weaved into the plot but then you find yourself reading huge chunks of text outlining the battle of Waterloo, religion, the construction of the Paris sewers and urban design of Paris. These digressions really threw me off with the book and honestly think that if the editor removed them, the book would have been more accessible and readable.

There is a lot to offer within the book and I would say I could easily read it again (not now but in the future) and explore the sense of compassion and love that is in this book. It’s a heart breaking story but I will admit I cried more in the adaptation than I did in the book. I know I haven’t mentioned the French Revolution which is a huge part of this book, but it really is hard to review a book that is so packed with ideas and still cover the plot points as well.

While this book did take a while to get through and at times I was struggling to enjoy it. In the end I found this to be worth the journey. Now that I’ve also seen the most recent movie adaptation I would probably recommend people just watch that. But if you are interested in digesting a book this size and exploring the ideas it raises or you just love to read great literature then make sure Les Misérables is on your to-read list.

Monthly Review – December 2012

Posted December 31, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

Now that 2012 has come to close, I find myself not reflecting on my year of reading but eagerly anticipating the books I get to read next year. All my reflections of 2012 seemed to have taken place in November. So now I want the Literary Exploration reading challenge to begin.

But as this is the end of December, let me quickly cover the important events of this month. Literary Exploration decided to read a travel/road trip book for the month; the book picked was the beat novel On the Road. This book had a lot of mixed reactions; even people thinking their own travel diaries would be more interesting. I’m now very concerned about what has happened when my wife goes travelling  For me I thought it was an enjoyable look at the beat generation and their ideals. Check out the conversations on Goodreads to find out what people said about this book.

A reminder that in January we will be reading Shadow of the Wind; I love this book and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the discussions will be like. I still haven’t decided if I want to reread it yet or wait till the series has finished before rereading it in its entirety. Either way, I look forward to hearing people’s thoughts.

As for my personal reading, I focused on reading non-fiction this month; well I started off that way but I got distracted. I’ve read some great books this month including; By the Book, a Readers Guide to Life which was a fascinating look at the author’s reading journey. Also I tried some dirty realism with Factotum by Charles Bukowski, a raw and gritty semi autobiographical novel which I highly recommend. What were your highlights of this month? Did you read anything great?

Monthly Reading

  • By the Book, A Reader’s Guide to Life by Ramona Koval
  • Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin
  • Factotum by Charles Bukowski
  • Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie
  • Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
  • The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Through the Window by Julian Barnes
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

What Books Have Been Trending – October-December 2012

Posted December 29, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book Trends / 0 Comments

As the year closes, let’s look at the books that have been trending for the past three months. I’ve been looking forward to doing this again; I’ve had so much fun with the other posts in this series. The only problem is, I tend to think it’s been a little slow over the past three months but let’s have a look anyway.


The Casual Vacancy was released at the end of September and continues strong this month. This novel sees J.K Rowling try her hand in adult fiction; When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Grimm Tales is a beautiful book of classic fairy tales. Author Philip Pullman has chosen his fifty favourite stories from the Brothers Grimm and retold them in his unique and brilliant voice. This retellings are apparently ‘clear as water’ and engaging.


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is a gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.


What are you reading? Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne in The End of Your Life Book Club. Sitting in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other—and rediscover their lives—through their favourite books.


The epic story of The Passage continues with The Twelve by Justin Cronin. The two year wait had everyone wondering what happens next with the viral plague that had left a small group of survivors clinging to life amidst a world transformed into a nightmare.



Harry Dresden is alive (spoiler alert) in the 14th book in the series; Cold Days. After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad.


Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living – Days of Blood and Starlight
continues the series after Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. A YA novel filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices.

Set in the present day in the rural community of Feathertown, Tennessee, Flight Behaviour tells the story of Dellarobia Turnbow, a petite, razor-sharp 29-year-old who nurtured worldly ambitions before becoming pregnant and marrying at seventeen.


The first five stories in the Wool series have been put together in this omnibus. An epic story of life, love and survival at all odds and one of the most-talked and anticipated books of the year. In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo. Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies.


The Darkest Minds finds Ruby waking up on her tenth birthday, something about her has changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.”


Either this is a planned Christmas gift or the perfect holiday reading but I’ve seen a lot of mentions of Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French. Who is in Coma Suite Number 5? A matchless lover? A supreme egotist? A selfless martyr? A bad mother? A cherished sister? A selfish wife? All of these. For this is Silvia Shute who has always done exactly what she wants. Until now, when her life suddenly, shockingly stops.

I thought it was a bit of a slow month for reading, I guess everyone is either busy or playing catch up with books missed though out the year. But then I noticed that there were a lot of classics being read. A Christmas Carol and for some weird reason Les Misérables and The Hobbit.

This year really has been a great year for books, not just for me but I’ve seen so many great books been talked about and read. I’m sure there are a lot of books coming out next year that are anticipated, so I would love to know what you are looking forward to as well as what hyped books I might have missed for the past three months.