October was a light reading month for me – you know, because of getting married on the 24th and all. I did manage to finish a couple of books, though (and both of them on the honeymoon).
1. The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling. A lot of people have heard of The Jungle Book from the Disney movie of the same name, so you may be wondering why the title of this book is plural (at least, I was when I picked it up). The reason for this is that Kipling wrote two Jungle Books: one in 1894, and a sequel in 1895. Both are collections of short stories, and both deal primarily (but not exclusively) with the world of Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves. The edition that I read combined both of them in one volume.
The book is a fun read. It is fascinating to enter into the jungles of colonial India and learn about the various animals. Kipling is very good at giving the animals voices and personalities of their own. His great gift in these books is to imaginatively project himself into the world of animals, and show how they would talk if they had human personalities and emotions.
As I said, not all the stories deal with Mowgli and his world. A couple of the stories are not set in India at all, but the Arctic. My favorite of all the stories is one that was also translated into a cartoon: “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” the story of the pet mongoose who becomes a hero to an English family.
2. The Heart of a Goof by P.G. Wodehouse. This is a collection of nine stories about golf by that great master of the English language, P.G. Wodehouse. They all start out in a fictional country club, in which the Oldest Member relates a story to a reluctant hearer. As with so many of Wodehouse’s stories, many of them involve a couple who nearly does not get together, but eventually does. In this collection, the thing that generally gets them together one way or another is golf.
I’ve read enough P.G. Wodehouse books by now to be able to say what I liked and didn’t like about each one (which is hard, since so many of them involve such similar characters). While I found this collection entertaining, I don’t know that I would recommend it to someone who was just getting to know Wodehouse. There is, in my opinion, too much golf jargon intruding on the plots. This may appeal to an avid golfer, but I much prefer his stories about Blandings Castle or Jeeves, which are (deservedly, I think) more popular.