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.


Lily’s Literature #1

I’ve been waiting to use that alliteration for way too long now. I’ve started reading a lot more these days. I think I’ve been out of school long enough to want to read again. Reviewing three books at a time seems to work for me, but that also means that there will be lag time between my literature posts because it takes me a long time to read. My last literature post was HERE.

Sometimes I like to be brave and trust reviews about books that I’ve never heard anything about otherwise. Usually if my mom has read a book and liked it, I know that I’ll like it too. Whenever I branch out from her suggestions, I always regret it. That’s what happened to me with this book, The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.

This book has tons of accolades and best sellers written all over it, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Also, the author seems so young from her picture that I couldn’t really believe that she wrote any of it. The story takes place in a made up country somewhere in Eastern Europe it seemed to me. The main character was a girl in her mid twenties who was a young doctor. Her grandfather with whom she grew up, recently died and she wanted to find out more about his life.

The story cuts in and out of her life and her grandpa’s memories and stories. Some of the stories were mildly interesting, but I just didn’t become attached to the characters at all. I could care less about them. They weren’t very developed. However, the writing was beautiful. The stories were detailed and flowed nicely, but I just couldn’t find myself caring. It’s unfortunate because I really wanted to like this one.

I’m uber happy that I picked up my next book though. I knew I had to make up for not liking The Tiger’s Wife, so I had to pick something good. Almost too good. I choose East of Eden by John Steinbeck. And oh my lord did it make up for it. The writing was like butta. It just flowed and oozed greatness. If you ever want to feel like you’re a crappy writer and accomplished nothing in life, read East of Eden4406

The story is about a man named Adam Trask and his complete life story. Like, literally his complete life. I felt like I knew Adam Trask personally. The story ebbs and flows throughout the trails and tribulations that Adam has to endure, the people he meets, the lovers he has, and the places he lives. This piece of work shows how well Steinbeck knew man kind.

What the most surprising part of this book is, in my opinion, that John Steinbeck is one of the characters–it’s semi-autobiographical. He’s not a big character, but he’s part of a family that intertwines with Adam’s family. Most of the characters though, mimic those of the well-known biblical stories of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel.

What I’m trying to say is, that if you only get the chance to read one book in your life, you should read East of Eden. Plus it’s really chunky so it will look impressive on your shelf.

And the most recent book that I finished is Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk CrossThis is the beautiful tale about a girl defying the odds and achieving above and beyond what anyone told her she could. Joan was born into a poor household in Frankland in the 9th Century AD. She had a peculiar parental arrangement in that her mother was a saxon “heathen” that her father, a missionary priest, converted to his Christian ways. Joan’s mother was anything but converted and taught Joan about her Norse gods and goddesses. pope-joan

Joan yearned for knowledge and was told she would accomplish nothing because she was born a female. Not only did she prove them wrong, she eventually ruled over them all. I suggest this book if you’re into girl power and love a good underdog story. And a bit of history as well.