Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Weekly Read: 35

READ: The Color Purple | Alice Walker
This book was my friend Heather's pick for our book club, and I have to admit, it surprised  me. Though I haven't seen the movie based on this novel, I had heard a little about the plot, and so I was expecting a depressing read full of sorrow and pain. I would say that the first third of the book matches that description pretty well: Celie is raped and abused by the men in her life, married off to a man she doesn't love and who doesn't love her, and is separated from her beloved sister, Nettie, the only person she really does care for. But then, people start to change, through experience or time or God or something else, and their relationships morph into something different. In the end, this book is about family: not the one you are born with necessarily, where you have to follow some predetermined set of rules, but one where people come together because they genuinely love and care for each other. The relationship that touched me the most was that between Celie and her husband Alfred. Much of the tension in their early relationship was because of who Celie wasn't: she wasn't her sister Nettie, the "pretty sister"; she wasn't Shug, Alfred's beautiful first love. Alfred's disappointment with who Celie wasn't, combined with Celie's hatred of men (thanks in large part to her "father") and inability to stand up for herself meant that their relationship lacked any communication and Celie because a punching bag for Alfred to set loose his disappointment and rage upon. With that as a starting point, it didn't seem possible for them to actually get along at any point, ever. But as they both grew and changed, Celie finding love and happiness with Shug and finally standing up for herself, and Alfred finding God and realizing who Celie really was, they found common ground together. Nettie's story is quite different from Celie's, but it too involves finding a family to belong with, and eventually making her way back to Celie. Overall, I'd recommend this book to everyone to read.

READ: Never Have Your Dog Stuffed and Other Things I've Learned | Alan Alda
Like I mentioned in last week's Weekly Read, M*A*S*H is one of my most treasured TV shows from when I was a kid. To this day, I can turn on an episode and be endlessly entertained by the engaging stories of hilarity and hijinks, sadness and loss. I have great respect for Alan Alda as an actor, and when I heard that he had written a few memoirs, I knew I wanted to read them. What a fascinating life Alan Alda has read. I am intensely jealous of his ability to recall memories from his childhood in such detail, and what interesting detail it is! From his childhood traveling with his father's burlesque show all the way to his life-saving surgery in Chile at the age of 67, Alda chronicles the ups and downs of his life as he tried to figure out what it is to be an actor and a person. Every part of this book is engaging and enjoyable, but I must admit that my favorite part was the behind-the-scenes memories from the set of M*A*S*H, the stories of his relationships with the other actors and how on that set he really became a writer and director. I can't wait to read his second book. :)

READ: Death du Jour | Kathy Reichs
Let me start out by saying I love the TV show Bones. It's one of my favorite shows, one that  I can re-watch multiple times and still enjoy. When I heard that this show was based off a series of books by Kathy Reichs, a real forensic anthropologist, I was instantly intrigued. Then I read the first one in the series last year, and was rather disappointed. The book itself wasn't bad, I was just expecting something different. Dr. Temperance Brennan of the books wasn't entirely different from Dr. Brennan of the TV show - she has a different life story, different location, different friends, different temperament. Pretty much the only thing that remained the same was the job and the name. Add to that list of complains the fact that Agent Seeley Booth doesn't exist in the books, and you have a recipe for disappointment. So I waited a while before picking up the second book in the Temperance Brennan series, and my reading experience for this second book was much more positive than the one I had reading the first. I'm fairly certain that this is because my expectations were altered: I didn't expect Brennan in the book to be just like Brennan from the tv show anymore. In my head now, book-Brennan is entirely distinct from tv-Brennan, and knowing this ahead of time made this book so much more enjoyable to read. And I did enjoy reading it, quite a bit! There were nights when I fell asleep reading because I didn't want to put it down. The stories of Brennan's cases are woven together intricately and interestingly, and the writing was active and engaging. The fact that I never guessed who the big bad was might mean I'm a bad detective, but I choose to think it means I was so engrossed in the story, I couldn't figure out anything before Brennan did. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Detective Ryan here, as well. First of all: HOT! In MY head, at least. ;) Second of all, he is a great balance to Brennan, and seems like a caring, generous guy. I hope we get to see more of him throughout the series, and really get to know him. I'm still in the mood for Brennan, so on to the third book, and much quicker than I got to the second. :)

STARTED: Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself | Alan Alda
I wasn't kidding when I said I couldn't wait to read Alda's second book - as soon as I finished listening to the first, this one was in the CD player. I can already tell that the format of this one is slightly different from Never Have Your Dog Stuffed - whereas the first one had more of a linear, memoir feel, this second book features specific segments from Alda's life, revolving around speeches he's given and conversations he's had. So far, it's definitely interesting. And I am loving this audio recording because the narrator this time is Alan Alda himself! It's just like having Hawkeye sitting in the car with me, reading to me. :)

Up next week: more Dr. Brennan, more Dr. Pierce, and who knows what else! :)

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