First up is Casino Royale. I have all the Bond books in the 1960's Signet edition paperbacks, and while they are amber with acid, they're still readable. I am up to five in hardback, but after reading the Janeway book I know that those are Book Club editions, which are worth the $5-7 I paid for them. First release hardbacks – to say nothing of first editions – are thousands of dollars each, so I'll be sticking with the paperbacks for now.
Knowing this is the first book changes the reading. I also notice now – because of the movie – that this is really Bond's first adventure as a 00 agent. Fleming's writing is just outstanding. It's a pleasure to read, and especially to get a first hand view of life in the 1950s. When I first read these books it was a surprise how different things were than the Roger Moore Bond films I was familiar with (remember that was the 1970's, before VCRs so Moore was the only Bond I had ever seen).
Anyway, a great book. I'll save my comments on Fleming's dated view on women for the next book in the series, Live and Let Die, where they're accompanied by even more offensive views of minorities.
But I can't let the opportunity pass to note how great a film the Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale – which I also watched last week – was. It's a great film version of the book, and Craig is portraying the Bond in this week – younger and less experienced. It is unsteady after the torture scene – the professions of love were actually more painful – but it was so good to see an actor that reflected Fleming's image of Bond as cold and cruel above all else. Not that I don't think Pierce Brosnan did a great job doing exactly that. It's just so much more raw with Craig, which I think makes for an even better Bond.