Monday, January 3, 2011

50 Books in a Year: #2 You Only Live Twice

"Shaken, not Stirred.”
I didn't really realize how much I liked James Bond until a friend of mine and I decided to teach a summer school class about the action hero the Summer of 007.
Spending 19 six hour days talking about the British spy made for an interesting summer. We read excerpts from 4 Bond novels and related fiction excerpts from books like King Solomons Mine, Sharpe's Tiger,  chapters from books like Licence to Thrill and essays about Bond, action heroes and The Cambridge Five. We watched 5 Bond films, "39 Steps" featuring Richard Hannay, the first British spy man, "Indiana Jones", USA's answer to the success of the James Bond serial movies, and other movies starring action adventure heroes. We analyzed James Bond's influence on American culture, his old-fashioned views of women and minorities and his effect on the 'Cold War'. IT WAS A BLAST!
I started reading the Bond books because I figured they would be a fun, easy read. While they are fun, they are not as easy as I imagined. Fleming used the knowledge he aquired while working for British Naval Intelligence to create a complex character unlike the character we see in earlier Bond films starring Sean Connery and Roger Moore. Fleming's Bond knows French and German (and, probably other languages that I've yet to discover), eats and knows all about fine foods and alcohol, he knows how to play detailed card games, understands skiing, diamond manufacturing, cars, politics, law and, of course, women. Many times I had to look up words and google Fleming's allusions and the more I did this, the more I learned and the more I fell in love with these intricate spy books.
This week I am tackling You Only Live Twice, the book that takes place after Vesper's death in Casino Royale and Tracey's death in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I'm hoping that with grading and baby, I can have this sucker read by next Monday. I'd like to read all of the James Bond books by Ian Fleming and hope to do so before the 23rd film comes out.
I'm an elitist about a lot of things, reading books by the original author is one such thing...below you will find a list of James Bond books affiliated with Ian Fleming:
Of Note
According to Michael Reed (, you need to take note of the following:
The books follow a chronological sequence, and later books occasionally
refer to other earlier books, but you can read most of them in any order you
like. However, it is highly recommended that you at least read "From Russia,
With Love" before "Doctor No" and please be aware that "Thunderball", "On
Her Majesty's Secret Service", "You Only Live Twice", and "The Man with The
Golden Gun" form a 'quadrilogy' that should be read in order.

It is worth mentioning that Fleming last worked on "The Man With The Golden
Gun". "Octopussy" was released posthumously as well, but "Gun", which picks
up directly from "You Only Live Twice", is the true swan song of Fleming's

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