TTT: Quotes

TTTI am all over this week’s topic. I love quotes. I love it when a short section, thought, moment or phrase from a book just stands out to me. When something makes me stop, makes me smile, makes me go, “Yes!” Or causes me to pause and think, and wonder and alter my thought process. I love it when something, some feeling, some concept, is summed up so neatly in a handful of words.

I am slightly obsessed with quotes, and more of my favourites can be found at my goodreads account or my twitter.

I usually expound upon my choices for Top Ten Tuesdays, but this week I am going to stand by the wise words of my dearest Zellaby, and let the quotes speak for themselves…

“Some quotations,” said Zellaby, “are greatly improved by lack of context.”

― John Wyndham, The Midwich Cuckoos

“Naturally, I never told him I thought he was a terrific whistler. I mean you don’t just go up to somebody and say, ‘You’re a terrific whistler.’”

― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“Of course, I’m being rude. I’m spoiling the ending, not only of the entire book, but of this particular piece of it. I have given you two events in advance, because I don’t have much interest in building mystery. Mystery bores me. It chores me. I know what happens and so do you. It’s the machinations that wheel us there that aggravate, perplex, interest, and astound me. There are many things to think of. There is much story.”

― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

“He would say that God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would sooner have no tail and no flies.”

― George Orwell, Animal Farm

“A fool tries to look different: a clever man looks the same and is different.”

― John Buchan, The 39 Steps

“Proud and insolent youth,” said Hook, “prepare to meet thy doom.”
“Dark and sinister man,” Peter answered, “have at thee.”

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan and Wendy

“Fear,” the doctor said, “is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway.”

― Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

“If you read one book a week, starting at the age of 5, and live to be 80, you will have read a grand total of 3,900 books, a little over one-tenth of 1 percent of the books currently in print.”

― Lewis Buzbee, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History

“Have you got any soul?” a woman asks the next afternoon. That depends, I feel like saying; some days yes, some days no. A few days ago I was right out; now I’ve got loads, too much, more than I can handle. I wish I could spread it a bit more evenly, I want to tell her, get a better balance, but I can’t seem to get it sorted. I can see she wouldn’t be interested in my internal stock control problems though, so I simply point to where I keep the soul I have, right by the exit, just next to the blues.”

― Nick Hornby, High Fidelity

“If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed.”

― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

The Thirty-Nine Steps

13617693Title: The Thirty-Nine Steps.

Author: John Buchan.

Summary: When Richard Hannay is warned of an assassination plot that has the potential to take Britain into a war, are then discovers in his flat the murdered body of the American that warned him, he becomes a prime suspect. He flees to the moors of Scotland and a spirited chase begins as he is pursued by the police and the German spies involved with stealing British plans. Buchan’s tale unfolds into one of the seminal and most influential ‘chase’ books, mimicked by many, yet unrivalled in the tension and mystery created by his writing.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Review: This book starts off with a letter/dedication from the author, who talks about enjoying books in which “the incidents defy the probabilities, and march just inside the boarders of the possible.” And that is a perfectly fine description of the book he wrote.

On the run from the police and German spies, the majority of the book follows the main character, Hannay, roaming remote parts of Scotland without a map. This book is hailed as the most influential ‘chase’ book, but i hope that means it influenced people to improve on it. The time Hannay spends on the run is intensely repetitive.

He meets kind, generous and trustworthy person after kind, generous and trustworthy person. They feed him, clothe him, give him a bed for the night and in one case nurse him back to health for 10 days. A couple of them listen to and believe without question his tale of assassination and spies.

Each time, Hannay is keen to get on and keep moving, never staying for more than a night or two if he can help it. After being given food, clothing and time to devise a plan he feels hopeful, as did i as the reader. But no. Each and every time he manages to almost instantly get himself into more trouble.

This repetitiveness lasts for a large portion of the book and generally serves no purpose. The only relevance to the plot it holds is the fact that one of the kind, generous and trustworthy people he meets helps him to get in touch with someone in the government who is able (eventually, once all the ‘chasing’ has been done) to help him.

By the time Hannay does reach this man in the government, who does believe his story and does help him, things improve massively. The last few chapters flew by in an instant compared to how long the ‘chase’ chapters seemed to take. Those were the chapters filled with actual plot, mystery and suspense. I was excited and constantly left wanting to know what would happen next. I could’ve done with the whole book being that good.

I’m not opposed to a good chase plot, but i do prefer them to actually include a bit of plot; if Hannay was actually working towards something or finding out information. Instead he was simply killing time until closer to the date of the predicted assassination, which seems entirely boring and pointless.

The writing was good, and the beginning and the end was some pretty wonderful stuff. The idea of the ‘chase’ section of the book works, it’s just a shame it had nothing driving it and ended up rather repetitive.