Monday, July 13, 2015

Books I Read in June

This post is a long time coming. I truly did not intend to get behind on my blogging, but I suppose life just gets in the way sometimes. It has been busy recently, but I was able to have a relaxing week away on holiday, so now I feel revived and ready to get back into my blogging routine.

June was a fabulous reading month for me. To treat myself after finishing university for the semester, I ordered 'big' on the Book Depository. This practice has become somewhat of a tradition over the years. Knowing that I'll have books arrive at my door is one of the best forms of anticipation!

The majority of the titles I ordered seemed ideal for light reading (poems, short and lighthearted novels and a quick contemporary read). For the most part, I quite enjoyed the books I read this month.

The Lover's Dictionary- David Levithan
“Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.” 
This novel is a modern love story narrated through series of dictionary-style entries, with each word describing, or rather, serving to define intimate moments that take place over the course of a relationship. Levithan has a real way with words and perfectly matches them with their individual scenarios. It's kind of hard to explain, but it's like I could really feel the effect of the word deeply, taste it on my tongue. Take this passage, for example:
“livid, adj.

Fuck You for cheating on me. Fuck you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Fuck you. This isn’t about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned.” 

His words are so brutal and honest that they really pack a punch (even for me, despite never having been in love or suffered a broken heart).
However, while I enjoyed reading each respective 'entry' on their own, I felt that the book as a whole was too disjointed, and this impacted upon my overall enjoyment. While I understand that Levithan was trying to create a 'collection' of scenarios that can, in some way, stand for all relationships, I craved to know more in way of context regarding the couple and their relationship. Nonetheless, The Lover's Dictionary is an interesting and touching read.
3/5 stars

I Wrote This for You- please find this
Love, at every opportunity you are given. Be less afraid. Embrace each day (none are promised). Cry when you need to, it'll make you feel better. You were put on this planet to feel every feeling you could, do that. Everything works out in the end, I promise.” 
I Wrote this for You is a gorgeous collection of poems and photos that was written, you guessed it, for you. I think that the intended aim for this book is that each passage will inevitably mean something different to another person and no one will ever read it the same way as you. 

The unnamed author of this book writes with such clarity about highly complex topics such as ways of human nature, pain and emotion. Indeed, it was as if a large majority of my own feelings, that I often struggle to put into words, have been recorded effortlessly, with the effects being heartwarming, heartbreaking, inspiring and comforting. At its heart, this book is resounding in its attempts to understand what it means to be human. It is the perfect read for when you're feeling down; it certainly helped me.

The Girl on the Train- Paula Hawkins

“There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.” 
Being on the bestseller's list for quite some time now, I was eager to get a copy of The Girl on the Train. Many reviews promised its similarity to Gone Girl and, having relatively enjoyed the page turning 'thriller', I was interested to see if The Girl on the Train lived up to this proclamation. 

The novel switches back and forth between the main characters, but mostly focuses on Rachel, a regular commuter on the morning train. During her journey, Rachel enjoys observing people who live along a stretch of suburban roads and fabricating stories behind them. She is particularly interested in what she deems to be the perfect couple 'Jess and Jason'. But nothing is as it seems, and after one shocking event, Rachel discovers that their lives are not so perfect after all.

For me, this book served its primary purpose: I wanted a quick read and I got it, but beyond that, I didn't really understand the hype. I did feel that at some points it was a gripping read, but for the most part, all the characters annoyed me. To no end. Yes, all human beings are flawed, but the main protagonists in this text just seemed ridiculous beyond reason. The whole scenario is kind of bizarre, everyone is mad, but at the same time, I felt that the story maintained a painful predictability. It's not a terrible read, but it is by no means a fantastic one either in my opinion. If you've read The Girl on the Train, I'd love to know what you think!

L'etranger- Albert Camus
“I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.” 
L'etranger is about an outsider condemned to die after committing a senseless act of murder.
In an attempt to keep up my French over the break, I got my hands on a copy, and I was mostly able to keep up, if not maintain a general idea, of what was going on. Seeing as I didn't intend to closely analyse the text (rather, just reading words in French helps to keep it fresh in my mind), I cant give a critical reading, but do understand why this is a popular reading list text for those learning the language. The writing is simple and generally uses just the past and present tense, making it easy to follow along. However, despite its simplistic language, the philosophical issues it presents throughout pose a lot to think about in regards freedom, the expectations of society and individualism.
Carina Maree said...

I too am usually always intrigued by characters that are flawed (also why I really enjoyed The Dinner). But unlike with The Dinner, where I really had no clue what direction the author was taking, I'm thinking that the predictability of The Girl on the Train alongside my dislike for the characters is what prevented my full enjoyment. But yes, of all the characters I have to agree with relating to her character the most, I found myself egging her on and hoping she would be okay in the end...

Loved reading what you thought!

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