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Showing posts with label read. Show all posts
Showing posts with label read. Show all posts

Read in September

This month I finished quite a good mix of fiction- bit of young adult here, bit of "chick lit" there, meshed in with a couple of classics too! I just want to say though before I go on to the breakdown of what I've read this month, there were a couple of these books that I really didn't like so I apologise for any ranting on my part and I've also realised that this post is really reeeally long so again, apologies! But without further ado:

'The Rosie Project' by Graeme Simsion
I've seen this described on Goodreads as "Sheldon (Big Bang Theory) in love," a comparison I would certainly agree with. The novel tells the story of one nerdy guy who devises a compatibility questionnaire with very specific criteria in order to find the perfect mate.
I have already written a review of this book here which will give you a better overview of my thoughts but long story short, I really enjoyed this book, it was very funny and played out somewhat like a romantic comedy. I believe this book started off life as a screenplay in fact, so that would explain why I've seen a few people describe it as "cinematic". The characters are also very likeable and it's just a real fun, easy read! 
Rating: «««

'Will Grayson, Will Grayson' by John Green & David Leuithan
For me this book was one serious disappointment. In fact, the plot was so thin I'm actually struggling to think of really what exactly this book was "about" so here's the blurb for you:

"One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical."

I was drawn to this book obviously because it was a John Green collaboration. I'd always been aware of it and when I set out to read another John Green novel, the blurb drew me in because it was so ambiguous- now of course, I understand why. 
For one, all of the main characters are like banal stereotypes; you've got your Will Grayson number 1, the typical "boy next door", then you've got his best friend, Tiny Cooper who is so stereotypically and outrageously "gay" it's ridiculous, followed by Will Grayson number 2, the dry, cynical "emo kid". Aside from that though, apart from one huge revelation a couple of chapters in, virtually nothing happens in this book. At all. I kept waiting, but whatever dramatic outcome I was anticipating, it never came.
Don't get me wrong, this book was okay, it was readable and there were a good few laughs in there but overall, I just didn't like it, especially the ending.
Rating: ««

'Tender is the Night' by F. Scott Fitzgerald
According to my instagram, this book took me a whole 10 weeks to finish (in my defence I was reading other books at the same time) but finish it I did, and aren't I glad. 
This is the story of the beautiful and mysterious Divers, an American ex-pat couple living in the French Riviera who at first glance appear to be a vision of glittering perfection. That is, until they encounter pretty, young up-and-coming Hollywood actress Rosemary Hoyt whose appearance, as well as causing irrevocable damage to the couple's fragile marriage, prompts details of a much darker past to come to light.

Many of us will already be well-acquainted with Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby', particularly with the movie having been released last year as well as its recent reappearance on the A Level syllabus for English literature. It is by far Fitzgerald's most famous work and as such it can be difficult to approach his other novels without feeling the need to compare. I say this for the benefit of those who will pick up this book expecting it to be anything like Gatsby, it's not, but it is by no means any less beautiful or profound.

I found this to be quite a slow and sometimes uncomfortable read. I say "uncomfortable" because I would describe this as being more of a psychological novel than anything else as in it's more of a study of the characters, but I certainly do not say it as a criticism. It reminded me a lot of "The Rainbow" by D.H. Lawrence actually in that, like Lawrence, Fitzgerald really dissects the various relationships in this book and examines the characters very deeply in terms of their virtue and integrity. As someone who tends to interpret things in black and white, the intricacies and complexity of these characters unsettled me. By the end I didn't know what to think or how to feel, it was as if they were their own entities that I would never be able to fully grasp or understand, I merely had to accept.

One thing I found really powerful about this book was also how much the plot paralleled events in Fitzgerald's life at the time. I don't want to elaborate too much as I don't want to give anything away but I will say that the Divers seem to be very much like a portrait of Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda. It's easy to see pieces of Fitzgerald in his own writing but this book in particular I feel speaks honestly from deep within the man himself.

This book absolutely consumed my thoughts for hours after I'd finished reading it and I think I may read it again just to get a better grasp of it. All in all I'd say it's a very poignant, thought-provoking read especially for anyone who enjoys character studies in books.

Then on my Kindle app I read:

The Dead by James Joyce
This is actually a short story taken from Joyce's 'Dubliners'. I read this after hearing it described as one of the best short stories ever written which I thought sounded promising, and in actual fact this turned out to be one of the most beautiful pieces of prose I've ever read. The story is similar to 'Tender is the Night' in being a study of the protagonist, Gabriel Conroy and takes place during the course of an evening, at a dance and dinner party hosted by Gabriel's two ageing aunts in the first week of January 1904. The main bulk of the narrative mainly examines Gabriel's social awkwardness and insecurity as well as his flawed since of self-entitlement, though the power of this story comes in its ending. I think that's all I'm going to say for now but I would highly recommend this little story, it's so beautifully written, there were parts of it that just made me melt.
Rating:  «««««

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
I got this on my Kindle app to read on my commute to work and unfortunately this was another book that I really really did not like. Basically it's about a boy who comes home one day to find he has received a box full of tapes recorded by a girl he knew from school who recently committed suicide. On each tape are reasons, thirteen to be precise, for why she decided to kill herself and he is one of the reasons.
I don't know whether it was the degree to which this novel plainly romanticised suicide or more how it seriously misrepresented mental illness/depression but damn, this seriously grated on me. I'd even go so far as to say it's actually irresponsible to write a book like this aimed at teenagers.

It has been suggested by psychologists in the past in response to the vast numbers of suicides by teenagers each year that young people may actually have some sort of "immortality complex" whereby their minds are not able to comprehend the finality of death and that once they're gone, they're really gone. If this is actually the case I can only imagine how this book could easily perpetuate this sort of mentality in young people, particularly in how although the girl, Hannah Baker, is already dead for the entirety of the book her presence through the tapes remains the focus, as if in some way she was still there. Not to mention the fact that her untimely death only seems to make her more beautiful and mysterious in the eyes of Clay Jenson, the boy who receives the tapes and who is also the book's narrator.

I also personally felt Hannah Baker came across manipulative and vindictive in carrying out such an elaborate act of revenge no matter how much it may or may not have been deserved. In my mind this element of the novel only sends out the message that committing suicide is an effective way of getting an emotional response out of people, that "they'll be sorry". No. Perhaps they would be sorry, but you certainly would not be around to see it.
There was also what I felt to be a really unnecessarily graphic scene near the end of the book that seriously creeped me out, especially due to the fact that this book was written by a middle-aged man and is aimed at teenage girls.

To finish, this book would be getting 0 stars if it wasn't for its one singular redeeming quality, in that it does present the effect that sexism and sexual harassment can have on young girls and what a serious issue this is in our society quite accurately. Overall though, I would not recommend.   

Are there any books you have really enjoyed (or really didn't enjoy) this month?
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