Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Weekly Read: 23

Not much reading going on this week, but at least I got through a few! :)

READ: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner | Stephenie Meyer
I've enjoyed the whole Twilight series for the most part, so when I saw Stephenie Meyer had written a "novella" based on a minor character from Eclipse, I was definitely interested in reading it. And it is an interesting story, a glimpse into the life of a normal newborn vamp. I ended up having a lot of sympathy for Bree - Her story is a sad one because we can see that she is different, that she really could have learned to be a "vegetarian", and yet we know that her story doesn't end well. I like her relationship with Fred, who seems like a cool guy. The only part I felt could have used more was I wish Bree and Diego had more time together to really build their relationship. It just seemed really deep very suddenly, and her devotion to him seemed rather out of place, especially considering the previous three months. Overall, I'd recommend this one to those who have read the whole Twilight series, but wouldn't call it amazing, and I doubt it's ability to stand alone as a story.

READ: Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players | Stefan Fatsis
I want to go play some SCRABBLE now, but deep down, I know would just be frustrated with how little I know. For now, I will make do with dreaming of how great of a SCRABBLE player I could be, if I wanted to. Much like the documentary "Word Wars", which I saw a few years ago, this book delves deep into the sometimes-strange world of competitive SCRABBLE. The similarity is not surprising - both filmmaker Eric Chaikin and author Stefan Fatsis become friends with and follow the same interesting "characters", and also appear in each other's work. There is only so much you can cover in a documentary, however, without it turning into an epic of History-Channel-mini-series proportions. The book delves much deeper, getting into the fascinating history of games, SCRABBLE in particular, and covering more players than one movie can focus on. The book also benefits from Stephen's own story of growing obsession with SCRABBLE as a competitive sport and all consuming lifestyle. I really felt like I was taking a journey with him - I wanted him to study hard, remember words, calm down, win, succeed in the highest level. As his rating grew, and his confidence along with it, I just hoped he would stay strong, stay confident, and trust in himself. I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed right along with Fatsis that he barely missed out on competing at Level 1 at Nationals, but at least he did well, and at least his rating finally made it over 1700, to expert. Of course, as soon as I was done reading, I hopped online to see what his rating was today, almost 10 years later. All along, Fatsis had said he started researching and writing the book just because it sounded like a good story, but really got sucked in to the world of Scrabble. I was disappointed to see that although he occasionally played in tournaments, he obviously stopped studying as much as he had, because his rating has suck into the 1500s. Obviously, this is better than I could ever hope to achieve, but still. He made me want him to be the best, and now it's almost as if he's let me down. Overall, I found this book to be fascinating and engaging, with lively characters that are too real and funny and quirky to be made up.

STARTED: An Education | Lynn Barber
I saw the film based on this memoir last February, during our 2-day marathon of Oscar nominees, and really enjoyed it. Immediately after seeing the movie, I went to my library's website and requested a copy. Finally, this past week, it came! It's hard to believe it took 4 months to get to me, but there it is. So far, it's an interesting read, but certainly different than I expected. I assumed that the book was going to cover the same part of Barber's life as the movie, and while that part is indeed included in her memoir, it's only about a 30-page chapter, and fairly close to the beginning. After finishing the chapter, on page 49, I thought, "Well, what in the world is she going to fill up the next 100 pages with?" In actually, the rest of Barber's life is far more fascinating than her 2-year relationship with the married Simon, thought it wouldn't make quite as good of a movie. This book is fairly short, though, so I'll hopefully finish it up in the next day or two.

STILL READING: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln | Doris Kearns Goodwin
I can hardly believe I am almost done with this book! Today I've been listening to Disc 34 of 36, and I have to admit, I will be sad when this one is finished. Lincoln truly is a remarkable man, and when I think about the impact his life and actions made on our country, it's mindboggling. I also can't help but think how many more wonderful things he would have accomplished had he had been murdered before his time.

Next week: Finishing the Lincoln biography for sure, as well as An Education. Then, who knows! I've loaded up my Kindle and leave for my trip to Israel and Turkey on Thursday! I'll hopefully be able to update my blog on the road, but if not, I'll do it all when I get back in July. Happy reading in the meantime!

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