Reading Notes

prickly

Last week I finished reading four books in five days. I seem to go through these phases of reading very intensely for a week or so and then barely reading at all for the next week. At the moment I am reading The Submission by Amy Waldman for my book club and I like it, but it is a bit plodding and not the type of book you devour in a day or two. I’ve only read about 5 pages a day this entire week and have spent more of my leisure time watching TV shows and browsing the Internet. I’d better get a move on with The Submission, though, so that I can finish it before the book club meeting.

I recently decided to only read one book at a time, which hasn’t been my reading style for many years now. I usually have several books in progress at the same time and am comfortable with this, but I realized that if I focus on one book at a time I will finish more books and read a lot faster. I’m hoping my switch to the one book at a time style will mean less half-finished books and more time to read all of the books I have stockpiled on my nightstand and Nook. So far this new strategy is paying off.

eleanorOne of the books I finished in the past few weeks was Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. This young adult romance has been very highly reviewed and has reaped a passionate response from teens and adults alike. I thought it was a really sweet and realistic portrayal of first love with main characters who did not fit the usual teen romance profile. At times it was perhaps too sappy for my taste, but Rowell keeps it just awkward and stumbling enough to save it from veering into cliche. There is also a lot of humor and geekiness that is appealing and swept me right back into my own early adolescence (it is set in 1986). In all, it is a superior young adult novel.

It is Labor Day weekend here in the States, but not really for me. I am working both Saturday and Sunday so no long weekend for reading, but I have a vacation coming up soon so I don’t mind. I do still get Monday off so that is a treat. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

*Have you heard about the new Library Reads program? It is a joint venture between librarians and publishers to promote new books recommended by library workers each month in libraries around America. Their very first LibraryReads list has recently been released. Check out their website to discover the books librarians love!*

New Arrivals

the group

I haven’t bought very many books lately, but I had the urge a few weeks ago for a little book splurge and these are the result.

The Group by Mary McCarthy – I’ve read this book before as a teenager, but can’t really remember it now. I love books about women’s lives and this book that scandalized readers in 1963 ticks all of my boxes for a potential great read.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – Can you believe that I’ve never read Tolkien? I’m not much for fantasy novels, but I’ve enjoyed the movie adaptations of his works. I recently watched the first Hobbit film and decided that I want to read the book for a chance to stay in the world a little longer.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe – I just finished The Moonstone and one of the narrators, Gabriel Betteredge, constantly quotes from Robinson Crusoe and really sees it as his bible. It made me curious to read it for myself.

Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell – I’m not really sure why I bought this one! Sometimes a book pops up on the Book Depository site that excites me at the moment so I put it in my cart, buy it and then can’t remember why. But it’s Elizabeth Gaskell and it’s gothic so I’m sure I’ll enjoy it!

The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers – I also read this book when I was a teen (sometimes I think I did my best reading during those years). I have a goal to read more American classics so this will be added to that growing collection.

The Collected Stories by Jean Stafford – I liked The Mountain Lion so much that I want to read more of Stafford’s work and she was known for her short stories. This collection won the Pulitzer Prize in 1970.

Other things:

I will be reading Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf for the Classics Club spin.

September 15 is less than a month away! Have you chosen your Mary Stewart book yet? I’ve narrowed down my choice, but I’m not quite sure which one I’ll be reading. I’m leaning toward Airs Above the Ground. I’ve decided there will be a giveaway during the week and a possible Twitter chat, too.

Have a gorgeous Sunday!

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

me before you

Me Before You is not the type of book that I’m usually drawn to. I had seen the multiple glowing reviews and testaments from bloggers and other readers, but it just didn’t appeal to me when it was released last year. So I’m not really sure what drew me to pick it up when I was walking through the stacks a few weeks ago and saw it on the shelf, but I am very glad that I did.

When down-on-her-luck, endearing Lou gets a job as the companion to Will, a paraplegic, she breaks him out of the self-imposed isolation he has been living in. Taking him on adventures, outings, and day trips she manically tries to help him enjoy himself because she’s learned something about his future plans that she can’t accept. As she tries to understand him and his struggles they inevitably grow closer and form a bond that Lou hopes is stronger than Will’s unhappiness with his life.

This is a book that I think many might confuse as a romance, but it isn’t really. It is more a book about life choices, making the most of the days you have here on earth and the question of whether we should have the choice to decide for ourselves when our own days will end.

The characters, especially Lou, are realistic and heartbreaking and life is is portrayed in all of its mundanity and glory. It is funny and sad, absurd and somber – a really perfect contemporary ‘issue’ novel that is much more human that any Jodi Picoult book.

Moyes’ next book, The Girl You Left Behind, comes out in the US tomorrow and I am very much looking forward to reading it.

Book Club: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

rebecca

I read Rebecca when I was a teen, but haven’t read it since so I added it to my book club’s list of possibilities thinking that it would be a wonderful way to slip a classic into our selections. The August host chose it because she hadn’t read it before and really likes Gothic novels, but I don’t think it went over as well as I thought it would.

What struck me this time around, and did the other book club members as well, was the absolute passivity of the narrator. I think her submissive and timid personality really bothered them, although most of us were able to see how she developed into such a doormat. It was also hard for many of us to believe that the narrator would continue to live with Maxim after the truth about him is revealed. But what other choice does she have, really?

I think this novel is probably the least successful choice my book club has read so far. It did not inspire a good discussion and left most of us feeling flat and ready to move on to the next book.

Though Rebecca is not one of my favorite classics, I think it is incredibly suspenseful and darkly atmospheric, qualities that I enjoy but that might not make for the best discussion.

Next up for my book club in September is The Submission by Amy Waldman.

How do you feel about Rebecca?

 

Spinning Again

window

It’s time to spin again. The Classics Club announced the next spin today and I am eager to participate. I drew a great book with the last spin (Revolutionary Road, which I loved but never blogged about) so I am looking forward to seeing what I will be reading this time around. My list is very much the same as the last one with just one or three substitutions.

  1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  2. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  3. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  4. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  5. South Riding by Winifred Holtby
  6. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  7. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
  8. Emma by Jane Austen
  9. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
  10. Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves
  11. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  12. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  13. The Home-maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  14. A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr
  15. Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins
  16. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
  17. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
  18. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  19. The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
  20. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Will you participate in the latest Spin? Any books you are secretly hoping to read?