Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Summer Reading -- all finished

It's so funny Erin would send me this article about a library getting rid of all 200,000+ of its books to go completely digital, because I've been planning this post about my summer reading since the weekend.

First, the mere thought of a library dumping (okay donating) all of its books off its shelves to replace them with screens makes me want to vomit. The fact that it's a reality makes me fear for the future of my paperbacks. My dad put it nicely, when I sent the article to him -- THAT IS ABSOLUTELY INSANE, SHORT SIGHTED AND JUST PLAIN STUPID! In short, F the Kindle. Nothing beats the texture of print in your fingers or the excitement of building upon your own personal library, something I did at the beginning of the summer.

In June, I went on a mass book buying crusade and bought five very different books with the intent to finish all of them before Labor Day. I'm proud to say I finished my last one on Sunday. For some, the experience was over all too soon, and for others it was a tough relationship, but here's briefly what I thought of my five choices. In the order of which I read them...

LIFE OF PI, by Molitor Patel.
LOVED this book. Could not put it down. Very vivid details, colors and settings. I found the writing to be so tight that I almost believed it was a true story. Some moments were a little too much to handle -- especially after eating -- but I was pleased that it wasn't a story about a boy and his tiger friend, as I had suspected (enter Hangover). Instead it was a suspenseful tale about a boy who had to stay alive on a boat in the middle of the Pacific with a blood thirsty tiger on board. MUCH more interesting.

ATONEMENT, by Ian McEwan. Also thoroughly enjoyed this book (and the movie too, which I just watched last week. Earned every award it got). While certain pieces were slow at times -- the opening setting, Robbie off at war -- the overall twist and turns of the plot kept me intrigued the whole way through. I enjoyed how it was a novel about a novel wrapped up in a fictional autobiography, a beautiful presentation.

THE JOY LUCK CLUB, by Amy Tan. I found this book entertaining but also frustrating. Especially with the end because it was rushed. I was completely on board with each chapter coming from a different voice going back and forth between the Chinese-born mother and the Asian-American daughter living together in conflict over culture, style and traditions, fascinated with the different Chinese stories, customs and thought process. But there was so much despair, heartache and sadness that at times I had to put it down.

I was very into this book until about half way, then it became progressively more predictable and at times cheesy and just down right weird. The beginning is an emotionally intense story about a doctor who is forced to deliver his own twins and discovers one of the babies has Downs syndrome. He asks the nurse to take the baby away, and the nurse ends up running away to raise the child as her own. The book then follows the two broken families in their parallel lives through the original mother spiraling into despair and crazy and the other, thriving. There are affairs and this random other pregnant girl, teenage angst and photographs... it just becomes a mess. I was happy to be done with it.

IN COLD BLOOD, by Truman Capote. I picked up this book because I had heard such great things about the movie that I thought I should read the written word first (same with Atonement, actually). I'm not usually a murder mystery thriller-type person, but I enjoyed reading this book because it was based almost entirely on facts of a real murder case so the characters are real and the setting is real, with only some dialogue improvised. Some parts were slow -- could have been my anticipation over why the family was murdered -- but it kept my attention.

Next on the list: I'm already 20 or so pages into Catch-22, and so far it reads like a M*A*S*H script to me. Tad promises it won't continue like that, which saddens me because I'm a HUGE Alan Alda fan and I enjoyed the imagery.

Rena gave me What Is The What for my birthday and that's next in line. It was actually the "First Year Book" at Maryland this year so it should be a good, yet educational read. Rena promised it's life-changing.

From there, I'm considering re-reading Watership Down -- I read it in 7th grade and hated it, I think because I had to read for a summer reading project, so I'm determined to give it another chance soon. I was also intrigued by a review I read on Dreaming in Hindi, about a magazine editor who excepts a freelance gig in India. It sounds very powerful.

Got a great book suggestion? PLEASE share it with me! I'm lost without reading material.


Anonymous said...

Love In A Dry Season - Foote
The Sun Also Rises - Hemingway

and. of course, would not be complete without one from Peter Taylor - Summons to Memphis

Lauren Effron said...

Thanks Dad! (the Peter Taylor reference gave you away)

Emily said...

Hmm I wish I read better stuff this summer than I did. Hated the first two books I read and then decided to switch to non-fiction because I knew I wouldn't be as disappointed.

I did read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and liked that, though!

Right now I'm reading a book about the history of Sesame Street called Street Gang. It's very detailed, but good.

Emily said...

Yay for summer reading lists! I just finished "The Late Shift" by Bill Carter, about all the drama in the early 90s when Jay Leno got "The Tonight Show" over David Letterman. Even if you're not obsessed with the TV industry like, ahem, some people, it's absolutely fascinating to read about behind-the-scenes stuff. Especially now, when Jay Leno's primetime show could change network TV forever. Anyway, I highly recommend it :)

--the other Emily

Lauren Effron said...

o0o0o cool! I'll definitely keep that in mind! Thanks Emily(s)

Simone said...

ive started catch 22 and put it down 2 times now. its hard for me to get into it with the crazy writing style, but i truly wish i could...everyone who gets through it loves it!

also, i have a few interesting books in my "library" in my room, next time remind me to bring one!