Books

Lily’s Literature #17

It’s been a while. I’ve been trying to get my reading in despite life’s little distractions. Good distractions, but still. I’ve set a higher reading goal for myself this year compared to last year’s goal of 25 books by the end of the year. This year I was aiming for 30, but I’m only at 19 so far. I say “only” because last year I read 31. But last year I also had no job, no money, and you guessed it, no life. But now I have all of those things but not as many books read. Why am I still talking about this? Moving on…

So I finally read Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Despite the thinness of the novel, it took me 5ever (longer than 4ever) to finish it. At first I was really immersed in the book. The writing is beautiful. Actually, that’s an understatement. The writing is some of the best I’ve read. The characters are well-developed and smart. Nabokov’s writing makes you feel witty and perfectly educated. lolita

His character Humbert Humbert is so likable and charismatic that you don’t really mind his thoughts about a 14 year old girl until you actually step back from the book and think about it. And then you realize that Humbert’s thinking is so realistic that only a child-obsessed brain could write these words and perfectly pin-point these observations. Kind of gross.

I was quite bored during a lot of the story. It started out strong for me and then quickly went downhill. I trudged through it and I’m glad to say that I did. Would I read Lolita again? No. Do I appreciate the story for what it is? Sure.

After that I read A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. This book is very original and was definitely a breath of fresh air for me. The story is split between two juxtaposing lives. One being, Nao, a suicidal girl who lives in Japan and wrote a diary explaining her sad and sorry life circumstances. The other, Ruth, a married woman living on one of the small islands surrounding Vancouver. She finds Nao’s journal washed up on shore and becomes engulfed in the girl’s tale.15811545

I have to give extreme props for originality with this one. I really liked the two settings. I learned a lot about ancient and modern Japanese culture yet I could relate to the depictions of Pacific Northwest island life. It was a cool mix that ended up working well. However, I did feel like there were some lulls in the story, but I remained interested because it felt very real.

And most recently I finished another Gillian Flynn book, Dark Places. This one was perhaps my least favorite of Flynn’s three novels. It just seemed kind of rushed and messy. Don’t get me wrong, it made sense, but I just didn’t connect with any of the characters or feel invested in what was going on. It was still an exciting read, but I liked Gone Girl and Sharp Objects slightly better.dark-places-cover-w352

In Dark Places, we meet Libby Day, a survivor of the brutal murders of her mother and two sisters one night in their family home. Her brother, Ben, has been locked away for 25 years accused as the murderer. Libby gathers new information about her family’s untimely deaths and learns that Ben may not be the one who killed her mother and sisters after all.

In all of her books, Flynn tries to throw the audience for a loop in a betcha-didn’t-see-that-one-comin’ kind of way. There is definitely a good element of surprise, a lot of suspicious characters, and a few red herrings, that keep the reader guessing. It’s a fun, easy read to take your mind off of the normalcy of every day life.

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Books

Lily’s Literature #6

It feels like I haven’t written anything in a long time. It probably feels that way because that’s the way it’s been. I’ve been doing less writing and more reading and lots of movie watching. I can’t remember a time during the past fortnight when I wasn’t at the movie theater watching This Is The End. If you haven’t seen it, I would suggest it. ¬†But only if you like that Seth Rogan-y crew.

I managed to get some good reading in while I was at my mom’s house. It’s just so cozy there that I feel the need to constantly be bundled up, reading a good book. And most of the books I read this month were good.

I like reading books that have had movies already made in their honor. That way, when I finish the book, I can rent the movie and it becomes a fulfilling process of seeing your vision come true (even though characters and plots aren’t always portrayed in the way that I envision). So I picked up Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. I didn’t really know what to expect besides southern-ness. I knew it would have a southern feel, and boy did it ever.Friedgreenbook

The story is about the lives of many different women, some living in the 30’s, some living in the 80’s, some that lived during both times. One of the main characters, Virginia “Ninny” Threadgoode observed what life was like in homespun Whistle Stop, Alabama during the earlier part of the century. A lot of the book is Ninny recalling memories to her friend Evelyn Couch who visits her at a Nursing Home. Other bits of the story are treated like glimpses back in time, witnessing Ninny’s life in Whistle Stop, living with the Threadgoode family that adopted her.

I was really intrigued that this book hinted at a lesbian relationship (at least, that’s the way I saw it) in such a dismissive era. The character Imogene “Idgie” Threadgoode “had a crush” on new-girl Ruth, who came to visit the Threadgoode home one summer. It seemed unlikely, but also very real at the same time. I guess the part that seemed unlikely was that her whole family and town was alright with Ruth and Idgie’s relationship. They were surrounded by so much love and acceptance during a time that I imagined not much existed. Other than that, I thought it was a sweet little story with lots of southern flavor (railroad stories, Ku Klux Klan appearances, and many delicious recipes).

After that I picked up Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I was under the impression that this book was a murder-mystery type book, but it was actually way different than that. I liked it because it surprised me. The first half of the book had a lot of character building and explanations.  Almost 200 pages worth, which was a lot. BUT it made the twists and turns even better when the time came.gone_girl_8442457

The book jumps into the disappearance of Amy Elliott Dunne, married to Nick Dunne, the lead suspect in her murder. Nick isn’t the best guy, but he’s definitely not the worst guy. Reading the book, I was constantly changing my opinions of characters and evidence. I gained a lot of respect for Ms. Flynn for being able to take my mind on an adventure, write in two different voices (male and female), and throw me for a loop. I would definitely recommend this one.

After that, I picked up a quick 90-pager laying around my old bedroom. It was The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I have a soft spot for Steinbeck so I thought I would give it a shot, especially since it wasn’t that long. I wouldn’t say it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t the best of his work. But, to be honest, it’s very different from his typical California-set tales. This one was inspired from a Mexican folk tale about a Gulf town, La Paz and what happened when a villager came across “The Pearl of the World”.the-pearl-book-image

Kino and his wife, Juana, lived simply and happily until one day when their infant child is stung by a scorpion. Desperate for a doctor’s help, Kino goes diving to see if he can find anything to afford medical attention. Whilst under water, Kino came across a shimmer in the mouth of a clam. In his boat, he opens the shell and finds the biggest pearl that has ever been seen, “as big as a seagull’s egg.”

The story details what happens when someone achieves wealth overnight, surrounded by a jealous, coveting society. The pearl changes life for Kino and Juana. And not in a good way. Overall, I would give the book 3 out of 5 stars. It’s good, but it’s not the best Steinbeck by any means.

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