Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Weekly Read: 20

Once again, I didn't feel like I had all that much time to read this week, but somehow, it looks like a got a lot of reading does. Who knew?

READ: Haroun and the Sea of Stories | Salman Rushdie
I've been wanting to read this book since I saw Desmond reading it on the plane during the first flash-sideways of season 6 of Lost. I found it enchanting, delightful, full of fun and intrigue. Haroun is a boy who finds his way to Kahani and the Ocean of the Streams of Story, where all of the world's stories comes from. There he not only saves the Ocean and all the stories, but his father, mother, town, and self from sadness. There were so many wonderful parts to this book: the P2C2E (aren't many things that way?), Mr. Butt and Iff, the blending and renewal of stories in the ocean. It is a fascinating narrative, full of a sort-of-dream, of the Alice-in-Wonderland did it or didn't it happen variety. I felt like this was quite similar to Alice in many ways, except the writing was more engaging and the characters more sympathetic and relatable. I enjoyed this much more than Alice, and am so happy to have read it. Since the season finale of Lost is tonight, I'll have to think more about how this book relates to show once I've seen it. It seems like it has been signifiant so far this season, and I can only imagine that it will continue to be so.

READ: The Truth About Forever | Sarah Dessen
This is the book people are talking about when they say how amazing Sarah Dessen is as a writer. This book is full of great characters to love and sympathize with, and despite the feeling of sadness that floats along in the book, it really was a joy to read. Macy's journey throughout the book is both brave and heartbreaking, and the changes in both her, her family, and her friends at the end is so happy and necessary. Wes and Macy's relationship grows naturally and organically, and we see it all unfold. Not only do they belong together, but they need one another - they understand and help each other like no one else could. I was sad when this one came to an end, because I could use more imperfect happiness in my life. :)

READ: Someone Like You | Sarah Dessen
After reading The Truth About Forever, this book felt more like an after-school special or movie of the week. Don't get me wrong - it was enjoyable to read, but it can't be termed fun in any way. To be honest, I wanted this to be more about Halley and Scarlet's friendship than it was. Sure, Halley was always there for Scarlet, and you could tell they cared about each other, but much of the book was taken up by Halley's relationship with Macon, and her subsequent growing up. We never have any resolution over Michael or Macon - did they really love Scarlet and Halley? With Michael, there is no way to know - once he died, there was no going back, and there were always people around, hinting around. But maybe that was just Elizabeth being mean-spirited and jealous, unhappy with her own life. I wish they had concluded Halley's story with Macon more, though - did he really love her? Did he deserve her forgiveness? Could she forgive him? Did they belong or end up together? So many questions, not many answers. And in the end, there is Halley by herself, talking to a baby. Overall, it was well written and a good story, but definitely not my favorite from Sarah Dessen.

READ: Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement | Rodney Rothman
I originally added this book to my to-be-read list because Nick Hornby seemed to like it in one of his columns. I'm not sure I can trust Nick Hornby anymore, though, after our fight. I found this book funny and facinating at times. Rothman decided to take a break from his normal life and get an early glimpse of retired life. For the most part, Rothman's observations are witty and wry. Unfortunately, they are mostly anecdotal - a string of unrelated stories that, while amusing, don't really provide one with a narrative. Clearly learning something from his experiences wasn't Rothman's goal - he says so himself - but I think the book lacks a unifying theme, something we can all take away from it. I would say that the point is that you can find common ground with people of any age, become friends with them and stay friends, and I think Rothman's epilogue testifies to that, despite his assertations that he regularly got sick of spending day after day with old people. In the end, I just wish this had dug a little deeper. The whole situation seemed rather artificially set up, and I wanted to feel more sincerity from him.

STARTED: If I Stay | Gayle Forman
This book made me cry. During the first 20 minutes of listening to it. I had a hunch picking it up that it would, just based on the premise, and the fact that I cry rather easily. I was only uncertain as to whether I would be so emotionally affected while listening to it being read rather than reading the words myself. Yeah, that's not a problem. This book is heartbreakingly sad and beautiful already, and I'm barely in to it. I can't imagine how it will end, but am hopeful. Sigh. So far, the only thing I don't like is the blurb on the cover: "Will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight." Ugh. It's nothing like Twilight - it is much more sweet and real and meaningful.

STARTED: Water for Elephants | Sara Gruen
If there is one book that almost all of my friends on Goodreads have read, it is this one. Perhaps that is why I have felt resistant to read it over the past year - if I never read it, it always has the potential to be amazing. What if I read it, and I don't like it nearly as much as my friends? In the end, you have to get passed that, trust in your friends' opinions, and give it a shot. 30 pages in, and so far, so good. Here's hoping the next 300 are just as intriguing!

Next week, I'm planning on finishing If I Stay and Water for Elephants, then finishing off the rest of the tasks I have in progress for the Spring Challenge by reading Mr. Darcy, Vampyre (also our next book club read!) and The Code of the Woosters, and starting the epic audiobook of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. :) Yay!

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