Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Monthly Reads: September 2013

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
It was interesting to find out more about Mindy. Most of what I've seen of her acting is from her character, Kelly Kapour, on The Office. It's interesting that she had to include a section in this book about what separates her in real life from that character on the show. I liked reading about her relationships with her best friends. It was also interesting to read about her thoughts re: body size and dating men vs. dating boys. Some parts of the book dragged a bit and made a lot of assumptions that kind of bugged me (duh). It was an easy read, although after I got through this book, I seemed to think that I could write in as casual a tone as I please and get away with it (like in this blog post). All in all, I think she's a funny lady and I'm glad I know more about her and how her career got started. 

Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata
My pen pal E recommended this author to me. I suppose this was my first dip into Japanese literature and it wasn't quite what I was expecting. I appreciated that Japanese culture, specifically Japanese tea ceremonies and how that used to be a really prevalent practice/tradition, is tightly woven into this story. I don't really know how to explain it, but I felt like some of the cultural nuances in this book really resonated with me. I wish the main character was developed a little more.. I feel like I understood that he was kind of tortured and haunted by the ghost of his father, but I didn't really understand his character's development. I suppose that's how I felt about a lot of the writing in this book in general, though. Perhaps it is due to the translation to English.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
This is the first Didion book I've read and I like her style of writing. I was a lot more interested in this book towards the beginning and then the end, though I did appreciate the fine details she wrote about like processing medical details and dealing with hospital staff. Parts of the middle felt like they dragged for a bit.. though probably nothing in comparison to the experience of what she was writing about. I read some reviews before reading this book and I thought I might be turned off by her lifestyle. Even though I could not personally relate to a lot of the more seemingly lavish options and privileges she had available to her, I actually thought that element was one of the interesting parts of this book. I liked this book, but didn't think it was amazing. It felt like it was her truth, though, and when I am grieving/coping with loss in the future, I may come back to this.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Marukami
Lots of firsts for me this month. This was my first Murakami book and I didn't want to put it down. I loved the way the relationships between characters were developed, and I was a bit entranced with the way that characters were bonded to each other through the death of a loved one throughout the book. It felt like much more than a great love story. Lots of incidences of suicide in this book (might be triggering for some), though thankfully the author doesn't go into grotesque detail. I had just read The Year of Magical Thinking, an entire book about someone's account of loss. Yet this fictional work of story telling resonated with me in a different way when it came to loss-- and so much more. It talked about different kinds of love.  It touched on how meaningful relationships can be throughout our lives, even if in total we don't get to spend a lot of time with the people we're building those relationships with. I did have some questions in the end, but I'm satisfied with how it ended. This was my second venture into Japanese literature, and I am taken. 

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
It's funny how some of these children's books can knock so much sense into you as an "adult" (whatever that is supposed to mean). What a way to personify words and human emotions! Among many other things, the Terrible Trivium cut me deep-- "demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort, monster of habit." After I finished reading this book, I had a small hope that I could accomplish anything.

This will go on my bookshelf along with The Little Prince.

Blindness by José Saramago
I began reading this book because E was reading it and I thought we could book club it together. He was already 100 pages in before I even got my hands on a copy. It wasn't long before I caught up, though. This author has a really different style of writing. There's not a lot of punctuation, which makes you almost feel as if you're wearing a blindfold when you're reading. You have to be really aware of what is going on to keep track of who is talking and what is happening. No one is actually given a name in this book, just descriptors such as "the doctor's wife." When I started reading this book, my mind was rooted too much in the logistics of it all-- where was the CDC (or equivalent)? Why is the government/military not being held accountable for anything? Although the setting isn't specified, E reminded me that the author is from Portugal and that the government/background of where he is coming from may flavor the story. I ended up getting two thirds of the way through this book before I decided not to finish it. Apparently, many people experience this feeling when they read it-- and the payoff is worth it-- but the graphic sexual violence was too much for me. In the end, I was not enjoying the book. Beyond that, I don't feel like I gained anything from the part of it that I did read, either. 

If I don’t fall in love that quickly, shut the book, back on the shelf, find another book, and fall in love with it. You can only go with loves in this life. 
- Ray Bradbury

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Heart Archives. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.