Thursday, September 15, 2011

Books, Books, Books

I've been reading a lot, but not what I'm supposed to be reading. I don't think I've had to say that, or even think it, since I was in school. That's the last time I can remember having a "supposed to be reading" list. Now it's a book club list. Not as strenuous, onerous, or mandatory, but still... it's there.

I'm supposed to be reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I mean to read it, but I don't have it, and somehow have completely failed to make it to anything that resembles a library or bookstore. Heck, I've barely made it to the grocery store.

Instead, I've been reading what people have been handing me, and what's laying around my house.

A teacher friend handed me Little Bee by Chris Cleave. She didn't really say much about it, but I read the back cover, which says pretty much nothing, but I hadn't bought A Tree Grows in Brooklyn yet, so I figured I had some time for it. It was less than 300 pages, so you know... that was encouraging. Now... I don't know what to say about it. I'm not really good at book reviews and after a recent discussion about critical reading and themes and motifs and symbolism and whether or not any of us really read that way now that we're out of school, I have even less to say. I read the whole book in... a day. It was a strange day where I had lots of down time, and then finished it up before bed (staying up hours past my bedtime to what most adults consider a reasonable time to be done for the day), and when I got to the end, I was deeply dissatisfied. Maybe I'm just too naive for books based on true stories because if I'm going to invest my time into these characters and try to find a way to connect to them, then I want to be rewarded with some measure success. So, to give what sparse information is on the back cover "enough to get you to buy the book" they say, which I admit, I found amusingly honest--it's a book about two women who lead vastly different lives who once met years ago. One had to make a hard decision and now they're meeting again. Yeah, not much to go on, but enough of an open-end that I was willing to spend some time trying to find out what the heck it was about. There was enough mystery with enough detail to keep me reading.
One line, just a sort of random part in the middle of nothing, made me actually laugh out loud, but you have to understand my unreasonable bias towards U2: "That's a good trick about this world, Sarah. No one likes each other, but everyone likes U2." I'm not going to say that sums up the whole point of the book, because it doesn't. I think the book is more about survival and coping with tragedy and moving on and other deep stuff, but that sort of is the secondary part--people are people no matter where you go. Good, bad, ugly, indifferent--people are people, and most of them will listen to the radio, so, you know... U2.

Then I found my copy of Lamb by Christopher Moore in my car, and I really like that book, so I decided to read it again. I was just going to read a bit in the middle, sort of skip to my favorite parts while I was waiting in the doctor's office, but I wound up going all the way back to the beginning to get all the good stuff. Lamb is "The Gospel according to Biff, Christ's childhood pal." It's funny and touching and wonderful and fictional and great. It's not a new gospel, it's a story, pure imagination, that takes on "the missing years" of Jesus' life. It starts with a 6 yr old Joshua bar Joseph of Nazareth and ends with... well, there's an epilogue, but it ends shortly after the death of Jesus, who they call Joshua since Yeshua is the Hebrew that was translated Jesus by the Greek, and so that's why they call the Son of God Josh.

Last month, my mom had loaned me her copy of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and after seeing a preview for the movie with Daniel Craig, I decided to read the book first. Well... it took a long time for ANYTHING to happen. 108 pages. I counted. 108 pages before we got to the hook that was on the back of the book--the mystery to solve that was the reason for the book. Now, granted, after those 108 pages, the rest went by pretty quickly and then it ended on an almost cliffhanger, so I expected the second book to pick up and keep going. So on my latest trip to my folks place, I grabbed The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson. Oh... I was so mislead! Book 1 ended dramatically. Book 2 starts with a hurricane that has nothing to do with anything, and once again, it was 216 pages (an eerie coincidence that makes me dread book 3) before we got to the mystery on the back of the book--or really any mystery or cohesive plot at all. Why do I keep reading? I don't really like Mikael, the journalist dude. He's a little too... Mary Sue-ish sometimes. All the women everywhere fall for him and even though all the women are very different and have different needs, he somehow fulfills them all perfectly all the time? Lisbeth is... interesting, and I suppose that's why I keep reading. Oh, that and I'm a sucker for a mystery & I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS! So yes, I'm going to read book 3, and if it takes until pg 324 to get going, I just might scream. But I'll still read it, because I have some sort of bizarre loyalty to books that I start reading.

Now I have 3 days to find and read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Wish me luck!

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