Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reading List

This summer if I do nothing else I will have accomplished my goal of reading more books. I love to read, but its hard to find the time. I am sure many of you feel this way, if you just dislike reading though and have the time, shame on you. Pick up a book!

Here are the books I have read so far this summer:

Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

It was most certainly not my favorite book, but I did enjoy it and if you stick with it until the end it gets pretty good towards the end. I did like the way it was written from both main characters points of view and how the author organized the whole "time traveling" sequence of events, it was well done.

The book was a bit cheesey for me though and at times I felt if they described how fantastic their sex life was one more time I was going to throw the book across the room. I understand its supposed to be sweet and you are supposed to just adore how the characters feel this magnetic pull  towards each other, but sometimes it was just a bit too much and far too sappy. Overall I enjoyed it though and it was a fun summer read.

After I read the book I did rent the movie of the same name. First of all the book and movie are drastically different and it is a hard book to translate on to screen and I could see if you just loved the book that you would probably hate the movie. The film leaves a lot out and takes on a very different angle to the story than the novel does and sort of softens the harsher aspects of the book. I did like the movie though. I know I am quite the hypocrite saying I thought the book was too sappy and romantic when the movie so clearly a romance film, but I tend to like cheesy movies over cheesy books. I  actually enjoyed the way the movie was done and while I think Eric Bana was a poor casting choice for the male lead, I liked the movie and would recommend it as long as you aren't an obsessive fan of the book. I am usually easier on movies than books. I will watch a movie like say, 27 Dresses but if someone suggested I read a book like 27 Dresses I wouldn't be interested.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Usually I shy away from any book that involves short stories and the like. I have an unfair prejudice against short stories. I know short stories can be great, but I just always feel that if it is such a great story, why didn't they just write a whole book about it? Why just the short story? Yes, I know this is unfair. I am sure everyone can say "Oh wait I read a really great short story once though and..." Don't cared, I am not interested. I have read short stories I liked before, but the ones I liked I always wanted to go on longer and then they just end and you have to go on to the next short story which may or may not be as good and you already liked the characters in the other story. Short stories are good for academic reasons, such as analysis of literature. In that case I see the point of reading them in order to analyze a theme, rhetoric used, writing style and annotate; anything you did in your high school or college English class basically. Despite this biast a good friend of mine recommended this book to me and encouraged me that reading a collection of essays was different than short stories. I had almost bought this book nearly 10 times and always stopped because I feared it would be like reading short stories, but I agree the essay style was different.

David Sedaris is hilarious first of all and I enjoyed several of his little essays and very honest tellings of events in his life. Sometimes they were a bit too honest and a bit too graphic, but none the less I greatly enjoyed this book.  I felt understood many of his petty complaints and loved the relationship between him and his partner, Hugh. I can't do this book justice in describing it because there really are too many hilarious parts, but if you are looking for quick read that is purely entertaining I would recommend this book.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

 Part of this book gave me a bit of a flash back to The Notebook movie. Every time I see that movie I immediately get infuriated with the part featuring the elderly people and wish it wasn't included in the film. I have posted about my feelings toward that film before, so I won't bore you and repeat myself, but I do wish the film was just the part featuring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. This novel had similar flash back and forth to the past and present scenario, where the elder present day character is remembering his past. I do think it was done far better than The Notebook though.

The story centers around a young veterinarian who works on a circus and the experiences (including love) he has while working in the circus during the Great Depression in the U.S. It was an enjoyable novel and a fun read. The research the author did about circus' during the time was impress and in many cases the conditions (especially the animals treatment) can be shocking. It was a fun read and a good love story.

Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Its kind of shocking that I have never read this, which is one of the reasons I sought it out for my reading list this summer. Its a classic for one and a classic that is around 200 pages (I don't think you will see me trying to read Moby Dick anytime soon). I had seen the movie on this book before I read the book which is rare for me because usually if I see a movie I won't read the book simply because I hate already knowing what happens, regardless if the book is better or not. I was intrigued by the movie though as it was not considered very well done and I actually really enjoyed the movie. True, there were parts of the film that were horrible translations from the book clearly and some of the cinematography and lighting was a bit melodramatic, but overall I enjoyed the film. I thought Robert Redford was perfect as Gatsby and I don't think anyone else could pull off saying "Old sport" repeatedly besides him. I also loved that Sam Waterson was in the film as the story's narrator and main character, Nick. I was told the film was not well received by critics and I think it had some stiff competition give how widely beloved the book is, but I would still recommend the film.

Film aside, I really enjoyed the book and I couldn't help but see while I was reading it why exactly it was a classic. The story is very well done and though its pretty short (200 pages again, not very lengthy) it manages to tell such a great story. I most certainly want to read more of F. Scott Fitzgerald's works now due to my enjoyment of this novel.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Another classic that I had not read and felt should be added to the list. My boyfriend and I actually read this together for a little "book club" like thing (he is still reading it, I was a bit faster). I have to say I didn't have the slightest idea what this book was even about before I read it. I knew it was controversial, but once I started reading it I was kind of at a loss for why. It seems that at the time it was published (1945 is the original copyright date, but the copyright was renewed in 1979) it was unusual to tell a story from a young boy's point of view that was not particularly a hero. The story follows a young boy (about 17) through a few nights in New York City. He is not a particularly charming or likable character I think in some cases, but its an interesting account from a young male perspective.

That said and with respect to it being a "classic" and all, I have to say I just thought it was okay. The last few chapters were pretty good and I was more into the story then, but overall I feel that the shock of reading from a boy's perspective that may be a bit sex crazed at times and use some foul language was not all that shocking to read today. It felt a bit like a male Gossip Girl book honestly. I am sure that is blasphemy to some for me to say that, but it really was rather similar. I could appreciate the writing style, but I was not that impressed by the book. I enjoyed reading it, but I felt that its classic status was a bit lost on me. Angry comments to my take on it might follow, but truthfully I was not greatly impressed. I would like to read another of J.D. Salinger's books though to see how another one of his works compare to this one because I did like the writing style, just the content was not overly stimulating to me. It was interesting though and while the middle had a bit of a lull I liked the ending and I greatly enjoyed the main character's little sister "Old Phoebe", in particular I enjoyed the way he called her "Old Phoebe" and their relationship since it was the only really substantial and meaningful relationship to the character in the book in many ways it seemed. Read it for yourself, because as much as I go back on forth on my opinion of the book it makes it worthy to read for discussion purposes alone.


miya said...

HOW DARE YOU CRITICIZE CATCHER IN THE RYE!!! hahah. that was my angry comment. DAYUM girl, you have read a lot of books so far!!! I defo want to read The Great Gatsby at some point since it seems to be referenced by brett very frequently...I agree that the old person part in Water For Elephants was so much better than The Notebook, although I didnt even notice that similarity until you mentioned it.

Riley said...

I will loan you Great Gatsby because its a quick read and pretty great. I totally read it because Brett showed me the movie and I really liked it hahaha.