A reading challenge I hope will leave me neither shaken nor stirred.
I’ve recently been overcome with the driving desire to read every single one of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond novels, in chronological order. As I’ve recently (as in, six hours ago) finished reading Villa America (which I will be reviewing shortly, because ohmygodthatbook), I’ve decided that tonight is the time to begin this challenge.
It started with the Bond films, to be completely honest. I have a weird thing for Sean Connery; I think he’s unintentionally hilarious and also oddly majestic and wonderful. I went through a phase in high school where I wanted to devour a bunch of Connery films, and Turner Classic Movies was kind enough to oblige one day by playing a Bond movie marathon. I then went on an ill-fated half-date to see Quantum of Solace (without having first seen Casino Royale, because I was desperate), and no, I don’t want to talk about it.
So, anyway, I haven’t seen many Bond films and I know next to nothing about the franchise or the books that inspired the films beyond Tom Jones’ “Thunderball” and whatever advertising copy I’ve had to write these last few months at work for Matthew Parker’s Goldeneye. I also continue my downward spiral into an obsession with Eva Green (specifically her voice) and once I realized she was in Casino Royale, I was done for.
But in regards to the books, I’m fascinated by the blatant racism and sexism, and how these novels exists as relics of their tumultuous times. I’m also intrigued by the fact that Ian Fleming was able to write a book a year for so damn long, and basically have them all be hits. I understand these books weren’t exactly High Literature, but Fleming got a lot of the details from his own extraordinary life. And besides, anyone who can write the kinds of stories that keep people entertained and coming back for more is good in my book. Fleming is kind of sneakily become a writing hero of mine, to be completely honest.
Anyhow, originally, I had decided to watch every Bond movie in order of release, and I’d still like to do that–but I also watched Dr. No a few weeks back and accidentally got drunk on mango Bud Lite-a-Ritas and thus don’t remember much of it, so that was a bit of a false start. But tonight, armed with the first four Bond books (thanks to Thrift Books), I embark on my reading odyssey, delving into Fleming’s world of super spies, martinis, and sexy, sexy ladies, all while I imagine Daniel Craig’s face (and abs) whenever 007 is mentioned.
The reading list:
Casino Royale (1953) Live and Let Die (1954) Moonraker (1955) Diamonds Are Forever (1956) From Russia, with Love (1957)
- Dr. No (1958)
- Goldfinger (1959)
- For Your Eyes Only (1960)
- Thunderball (1961)
- The Spy Who Loved Me (1962)
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963)
- You Only Live Twice (1964) <–fun fact: this one’s as old as my parents
- The Man with the Golden Gun (1965)
- Octopussy and The Living Delights (1966) [ESH that title]
I’ll be writing short(ish) round-ups/reviews of each book as I finish them, and I hope to include basic facts (where it takes place, who the bad guy is, which Bond Girl it is, etc.), as well as keeping track of the most ridiculous things Bond says and does, the most offensive lines in the books, and, perhaps eventually, how the movie adaptation holds up to the book. I’ll link to those reviews here as I finish titles. Once these are done, I may also seek supplemental reading–Fleming’s short stories, in particular, as well as most likely delving into Parker’s Goldeneye and then, if I’m really feeling adventurous, perhaps getting into some of the later Bond books written by other authors.
Wish me luck, friends. And God save the Queen.