Welcome to the 8th installment of Lily’s Literature where I review the last three books that I recently read. I’ve been supremely proud of myself this year in the reading department. I’ve almost reached my goal of finishing 25 books this year! I know that 25 doesn’t seem like a ton, but I’m a slow reader and I like to focus on every sentence when I read. But enough about that–now onto the books.
The book that I started reading in September was a pick from one of the members in my book club. She chose Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman. I had previously watched the Netflix Original TV show based on this book so I wasn’t super stoked to read the book. I feel like I can’t really get into books if I’ve already seen the movie version simply because I already know what happens. But I figured I would give it a shot because I literally have nothing else to do.
The book OITNB is so extremely different from the show. As I read it, I realized that the Netflix version is totally made for Hollywood. So much of what happened in the show was never even touched on in the book. It was just about Piper’s life in prison and how she survived. The book itself was slightly dry, but very real. I liked it for that reason. I felt her pain and emotions so much more by reading her words than from watching a woman play her role.
I enjoyed reading about Piper’s journey–the events that lead her to prison, her life behind bars, and her thoughts after she was released. The characters are interesting (of course not as interesting as the Netflix version) but they add a lot of color to the pages. Overall, I enjoyed Piper’s account of prison. It’s not something that many people get to experience and it’s pretty eye-opening to see what it’s like.
After that I read a book that I had been meaning to read for a while. I had heard good things from friends and relatives so I decided to pick up Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War by Sebastian Faulks. Whenever war is involved I usually run the other way. I loathe reading about war. Any war. It’s just so blehhh. I can’t relate to it. I know many men fought and died for us and wars were the biggest part of their life, but I just can’t get into reading about them. I’ve tried though, trust me. I’ve read The Things They Carried, Catch 22, and Slaughterhouse Five all of which were just meh in my opinion. So why I thought this one would be any different, I know not.
The story is about Stephen Wraysford, an Englishman, who ventures to the Azaire household in France to learn more about his company’s work. While in France, he falls in love with Isabelle Azaire and they have a love affair that takes them away from both his job and her life. Time wears on their relationship and Stephen eventually fights for his country during WWI. The rest of the book is a mixture of Stephen’s war-time trials and his great granddaughter’s modern (late 1970’s) life.
I really enjoyed the love story part of this book. It was VERY romantic, if you’re into that kind of thing. I wished that section of the story was longer, to be honest. I had trouble focusing on the middle of the book, during the war time, but the parts about his great granddaughter were mildly interesting. The book definitely declined for me after Part 1 though.
And lastly, I finished Still Alice by Lisa Genova today. The story is about Alice Howland, a 50-year-old professor at Harvard University known for her work in the Psychology and Linguistics department. She was enthusiastic about learning and teaching about her subject of which she was a professional. Almost suddenly, Alice starts forgetting details of her lectures, getting lost in familiar places, and forgetting to catch important flights. She goes to the doctor and learns that she has early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. She struggles with her diagnosis but strongly continues on with the help of her family.
I didn’t know the extremity of the pain and heartache that Alzheimer’s could cause for both the patient and their family. I’ve never had a family member with dementia, so I couldn’t really relate to any of the situations in the book and I’m very glad for that. This story really opened my eyes to the severe changes that people go through with early onset Alzheimer’s. At the beginning of the book though, and I hate to say this, I didn’t really like Alice. I thought that she was a little too cocky and proud of her achievements. So it was almost kind of rewarding when she started forgetting things. (I know that’s horrible, but I’m a horrible person so whatever.) In the end it was sad and tragic to read about her trying to remember her own family members or how a microwave worked. It kind of reminded me of Flowers for Algernon.
Have you read any books lately?