Books

Lily’s Literature #3


If you don’t know about my Lily’s Literature posts by now, you’re obviously not a true fan and I hate you. Basically these pieces are reviews of the last three books that I’ve read. For my previous reviews you can click HERE and HERE and even HERE. So yeah you should get on that.

I recently picked up the popular semi-real semi-fake memoir, A Million Little Pieces written by James Frey. There was a lot of media commotion attached to this book after Oprah found out that Mr. Frey embellished some parts of his story. I could honestly care less. If a book is good, then it shouldn’t matter what’s real and what’s not. The story is pretty unbelievable so the fact that parts of it are true makes it even better. 1241

At first I was frustrated by James and his situation. As a reader, the minute James introduces himself you become aware that he’s not in a good place. He’s an addict and he’s used almost everything possible (alcohol, cocaine, heroine, glue, gas, etc.). He eventually ends up in rehab, not willing to listen to anyone trying to help him. He wants to do things his way or the highway. The book shows him grow as a person through his observations and lots of therapy. Mr. Frey’s writing style is short and choppy, unique and easy to follow. If you’re in the mood for a real gritty read, you should probably pick this one up.

After that I grabbed Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. Besides having the longest title of all time, it proved to be a very interesting read. I actually had a love/hate relationship with this book. Well, not as extreme as love/hate. More like love/meh.Devil-in-the-White-City

The novel tells two stories, one being how the Chicago World’s Fair exposition came to be, and the other about a serial killer lurking in the area. Hence the title Devil in the White City. Mr. Larson does a fantastic job bringing to life what the architects had to endure to make the fair a success. You learn so much about the city designers, as well as some famous names such as George Ferris (inventor of the Ferris Wheel) and Nikola Tesla (conductor of electricity), and even Buffalo Bill. After a while, I started to get bored from learning all the facts and started to long for the juicy serial killer story line. That part of the book really kept me going  while also amazing me that in the 1890’s you could basically get away with whatever you wanted. Even murder.

Today I finished reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I had a couple of people recommend this book to me and I just don’t understand the appeal. The book itself is only 100 pages which seems do-able. But like my friend Carter told me today, they were the longest 100 pages of my life.0eb0d5af-ad8f-46e0-a0fc-b7d28fc7d415-1

The story is narrated by a sailor named Marlow who recounts his trip into the depths of the African jungle down along the Congo. He explains the dreariness of it all and talks about the “horrors of colonialism.” Throughout the book I was looking forward to meeting a character named Kurtz who had made himself somewhat of a legend in the ivory trading business. The natives worship the man and the other sailors are fascinated by him. I wasn’t wowed at all, to be honest. Most of the book was a lot of long thoughts that weren’t of particular interest to me. It was written well, but I just couldn’t get into it. My apologies Mr. Conrad. Actually, no. Mr. Conrad should apologize to me.

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42 thoughts on “Lily’s Literature #3

  1. Nice choices Lil! I never read Frey’s book, loved Devil in the White City and am now reading larson’s In the Garden of the Beast about an American family in Berlin just before the war broke out and we still weren’t totally clear on just how bad hitler was. is the heart of darkness the basis for Apocalypse Now, I know that was Vietnam but it sounds very familiar. I just read “The Paris Wife” a novel about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, really liked it! I’m going to go look at your other lists, always looking for ideas.

    • Ahh thanks Mags. Frey’s book was pretty good. I liked it. Definitely keeps you interested. My husband Paul just finished Devil in the White City and now he wants to read In the Garden of the Beast. How do you like it so far?
      Heart of Darkness might be what sparked Apocalypse now–not too sure! My mom read The Paris Wife and she said she liked it too! I’ll have to add it to my list!

  2. Claire says:

    Such a great idea to recap your books! I read A Million Little Pieces a while back, and agree about not caring about fact versus fiction in it. Still a wild read.
    I liked Devil in the White City a lot more than I thought. What did you think of his writing style? I was always bummed when it would first switch from one story line to the next because I was pretty into it.
    Thanks for the review of Heart of Darkness. I am interested in the history of it, but am unsure about this book. I think your review helped make my decision to not read it haha.

    • Thanks Claire!
      I thought Erik Larson’s writing style was good–very informative. At times I found it a bit dry though. I definitely liked the serial killer story line more interesting, so I welcomed the break from the fair details. Haha I guess I have a bad attention span!
      Haha I always feel bad when I talk people out of reading a book! You might really like it, I don’t know. And it’s only 100 pages so it’s not like you’ll waste too much of your life reading it. Haha but yeah not my fave!

  3. Isn’t Heart of Darkness the same thing as Apocalypse Now or is this just a strange coincidence?

    A Million Little Pieces makes me want to smoke crack once then embellish all of my stories. I always found it silly to reward people for overcoming problems they started themselves. I’m sure he had a tough life otherwise, but geez, who doesn’t?

    • Another reader asked the same thing so I’m just going to say yes now and pretend I know what I’m talking about.

      I actually don’t think he had a tough life. He had a pretty comfortable life. So yeah, he’s definitely to blame. But he makes it clear that he knows it’s his fault and he’s stupid so I guess it’s fine. I thought he sounded really cute in his writing, but the picture of him on the back cover is kind of ugly so I feel like he should apologize for that.

  4. Carter says:

    Oh my God you mentioned me in your blog! This is my new go-to fun fact. My life sucks.

    I agree about Frey. The nontroversy about his publishing it as nonfiction ought to be applied to every thinly veiled fiction novel that just changes names to protect the innocent. No one got mad at that The Secret author for publishing fiction as self-help. Wait, they totally did.

    • Lol your life sucks so bad if that’s your fun fact.

      Nontroversy. I like it. Maybe you should’ve writing this post for me. I never read The Secret! Is it worth it? Would I feel inspired and then do nothing about it?

  5. I felt the same way about Frey’s book. I read it without knowing about the Oprah hoopla and that it was mostly make-believe. I assumed it was fiction from the way it was written, and like you said, the story is slightly unbelievable.

    • Oh yeah? That’s kind of interested because I assumed most of it was real. I didn’t know which parts were real and which weren’t so I just tried to imagine everything happening. Haha but yeah it did seem very unrealistic for sure.

  6. Great reviews, Lil. I need to get going on a million little pieces. That one sounds good. The Paris wife is good, too. It’s a little sad and filled with great background on Hemingway. You’ll like it.

    • Thank ya! Yeah I think you would like it. It’s an easy read and the way it’s written is kind of interesting. I’ll put the Paris Wife on my list and pick it up some time. Sounds good!

  7. Hahaha, I think everyone has been recommended a technically very well-written and ‘good’ book but ended up hating it! I’ve found that there are some people’s book advice I take, and most I steer clear from.

    • Yeah that’s so true. There are only a select few that I take book advice from! It’s such a personal thing, ya know? Someone’s favorite book can be your least favorite book. Nothing worse than spending precious hours reading a book you hate! Ugh!

  8. I loved A Million Little Pieces, and The Devil in the White City is on my list, because apparently not reading that as a Chicagoan is a sacrilege.

    • Lolz yeah I felt like I learned more about Chicago than I ever wanted to know. It was like overload. But a good overload. And some murdery fun thrown in the mix!

    • Thanks Lily! Yeah I like reviewing books better than movies for some reason. For movies I always feel like I have to recount the entire film, but books just come easier to me. Thanks again! Fell free to give me some of your favorite books to add to my list…I have so many on my list but I love hearing people’s favorites!

      • Cool! Omg, I’m so mad at myself. I used to read SO much and lately, I don’t know what’s wrong with me! Laziness/work/stuff… But I REALLY miss reading so I’m going to skip cleaning (again) this weekend and get to reading. It’s so relaxing, even if my boyfriend says I’m a nerd. =/

      • Ugh I definitely get into reading ruts too. I’ve been really good this year for some reason though. I set a goal for myself to read ten books and I’m already on 8 so yay! Dude being a nerd is awesome! Go for it 🙂

  9. Heart of Darkness was one of the few books I have ever found boring! It literally killed to finish that thing! But it is a classic and now you can sound super intellectual when you say you have read it…so that is a plus 🙂

    • Glad it’s not just me then! I find bits of almost every book I’ve read boring, so I guess I should have done more research on this one.
      Totally true. Now I can display it on my book shelf and be like “Oh, you haven’t read Heart of Darkness? It’s a classic! You can borrow it….forever.”

  10. Stumbled across your blog today and also dig the reviews. And your writing. Great style. Really entertaining. If you enjoy memoirs, might I suggest Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan? Writing my next post on this one. Couldn’t put it down. If you need a good laugh (and who doesn’t) try A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel where she recounts tales of growing up in a small town with a compulsive gambler as a father.

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  12. I can’t believe how much reading you manage to get through, that’s not an insult or anything because you’re a bird I mean I do so little. I’ve got a book on the go at the moment, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (those Swedes and their crazy names) but after seeing a trailer for that new TV show Under The Dome based on the Stephen King novel, I kind of want to delve into that now aswell.

    • For the five years that I was at uni, I didn’t read at all. Nothing. So I’m just making up for lost time! Also, I usually read really slowly, but now I don’t have much to do during the day, so I’ve been addicted to finishing books so I can buy more books!
      How is that Hundred Year Old Man Book? It looked good but the title is so bloody long.
      I haven’t read any Stephen King books, but I feel like I should. I like twisty, creepy stuff.

      • Lol! You know you’re a lazy reader when you’re struggling with the title! It’s pretty funny actually, definitely worth the purchase, saying that though, it only cost 20p so almost anything is worth the purchase at that price.

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