I’m engaged in reading The Fellowship of the Ring for the LOTR readalong at the moment which is going rather slowly – not because I’m not enjoying the book – I am hugely, but I’m so tired I keep falling asleep after reading just a few pages. So, I thought I’d start a new series of posts indulging my love of making lists to help fill in the gaps between book reviews - and this is how it works…
- Pick a keyword and then find a number, 5 or 10 say, of books that link to it in any way - e.g. they are either about or feature that word, or have it or a variant in their titles;
- List and introduce the books.
- That’s all there is to it apart from having fun. If you want to have a go, feel free!
The key word I chose for my first Lit List is ‘Monkey’ – Don’t ask why it leapt into my mind, but it proved a fun choice. So here are my 10 Monkey books …
- Monkey by Wu Ch’eng-En. I don’t own this book, but I had to start with one of the great Chinese classics written in the 1500s. I never watched the TV series from the 1980s either, but millions love the adventures of Prince Tripitaka and his cohorts on their quest to retrieve sacred scriptures from India.
- The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. This book was read by our book group before I joined it and they’re still going on about it – it was one of the group’s least enjoyed choices apparently. I recently bought a copy so I could find out why they hate it so, and was told I shouldn’t have bothered as everyone left their copies behind at Jenny’s house and she could have given me half a dozen. What’s it about? Well – it’s set in the American West and is a polemical novel about destruction of the environment and a gang that goes round sticking the wrench in trying to save it. One reviewer on Amazon, Brian Buckley, says ‘If Hunter S Thompson was an environmentalist, he’d be a paid-up member of The Monkey Wrench Gang.’ I think that tells you all you need to know about whether you’d like it or not?
- The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd. Kidd is a graphic designer, and this novel tells the story of a first year art student who learns how to ‘see’. I originally picked it up because the page edges which have the appearance of being doodled on attracted me. It sounds funny and quirky so I must get around to reading it soon.
- Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers by Simon Louvish. An authoritative and scholarly biography of the brothers who carved their own vaudeville comedy niche in Hollywood’s golden age.
- Great Apes by Will Self – and before you ask, I haven’t read this one either! I want to read Self’s books, but every time I pick one up, I decide it won’t be fun having to have the dictionary beside me every time. Does anyone else have this problem with Will Self?
- Tripmaster Monkey by Maxine Hong Kingston. I did a book swap to get this quirky novel set in 1960s San Francisco with its Asian-American hippy hero Wittman Ag Sing. It still languishes in the TBR piles too.
- Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Now this is one I have read, many, many times in the past when my daughter was little. It’s a charming rhyming story of a little lost monkey who’s looking for his Mum. Donaldson and illustrator Scheffler are more famous for The Gruffalo, but this one of theirs is absolutely loveable for little ones – ideal for a read and cuddle.
- Monkey Grip (Penguin Modern Classics) by Helen Garner. I read my first Helen Garner last year – The Spare Room was an unflinching look at a friendship put to the test. When searching for ‘monkey’ books, the new Penguin Modern Classics edition cover of this one stands out a mile – coming out in March and I shall be adding it to my wishlist.
- The Hartlepool Monkey by Sean Longley. A serious but hilarious novel that dissects 18th century thinking which has a monkey dressed as Napoleon on the cover. Intriguing – non? I put this on my wishlist immediately I found it.
- Jennie by Douglas Preston. I did read this years ago, and it’s a real tearjerker. A doctor raises an orphaned chimp alongside his own children – it explores what it means to be human. Rather Good.
So that’s it – 10 books nominally about monkeys. Next time I’ll try harder to find more that I’ve read! Do let me know what you think …