Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why I Love...Favorite Chunkster

Yet again, another Wednesday of "Why I Love", a meme hosted by Alexis at Reflections of a Bookaholic.  This week's theme is Favorite Chunksters.  I'll be honest, I'd never heard this term in reference to books until I read Alexis' post for today.  Evidently, a "chunkster" is a hefty/thick/dense/long book.  Well, I've read a few of those and have several that I list among my favorite books; namely Gone with the Wind, the later books in the Harry Potter series (I wouldn't consider the first three "chunksters"), Les Miserables, Anna Karenina, and others.

But for today's favorite "chunkster", I'm going with Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, which I read as a senior in college.  It was the only book we read the entire term (three months), though we did read critical theory and other supplemental materials in addition to this book.  It's an incredibly dense book that requires many things to finish: concentration, comprehension, differentiation between characters, and frequent breaks for digestion.  Despite some of these factors, I absolutely fell in love with this book.

Midnight's Children follows the lives of several children in India who happened to be born at the stroke of midnight on the day India was declared an independent nation from Great Britain.  But these children aren't any ordinary children; they all possess some form of a special trait or power that makes each of them unique from each other and from their respective families.  What ensues is the struggle for these children to assert their individual identities and the identity of an entire nation, both of which are intertwined with each other.  There are definite struggles and it's beautifully written with rich characters and scenery.  Definitely worth the devotion that you have to give this book in order to finish it.  Plus, Salman Rushdie is a pretty interesting character...

Happy Wednesday All :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why I Love...Gifted Books

Another Wednesday has fallen upon us and that means it's time for another edition of "Why I Love Wednesday", a meme hosted by Alexis at Reflections of a Bookaholic.  This week's topic is Gifted Books.  While I don't tend to get many books as gifts (I can be slightly difficult to buy books for) and am more apt to give them, there are a few that have been given to me and were great gifts.

First on this list would be Ingeborg Bachmann's Malina.  I received this book in the original German from my, much loved, German professor when I graduated from undergrad.  She wrote a beautiful inscription on the front page and it's definitely a book that I will keep for as long as I can.  I have yet to read the entire thing (it's in German, therefore a little more slow-going than an English version), but I am determined to one day finish it.

Secondly would be a Christmas present I received from my parents years ago.  I have always been a huge fan of Nirvana and when Kurt Cobain's Journals was published, my parents got it for me.  I was so incredibly ecstatic.  It's a fascinating glimpse into Cobain's mind.  A messed up, genius mind.  The book is filled with lyrics, drawings, musings, and so much of what made Cobain tick.

Last on the list is Billy Corgan's Blinking with Fists:  Poems.  Again, having been a huge fan of the Smashing Pumpkins for ages, Corgan's collection of poetry was a completely natural book to receive as a gift.  I received this from a friend in college.  He felt that I would love it just as much as he did (also a huge Pumpkins fan).  Corgan's poetry is beautifully written and intriguing, much like his music.  It was a fantastic gift.

I could come up with a lot more, I'm sure.  In fact, I know that I almost always get cookbooks as gifts during the holidays.  I love cookbooks, have a ton, and will continue to collect them.  But these three books were the top books that came to mind when I thought of books that had been given to me as gifts over the years.  What are yours?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The History of Love: A Review

I don't think I've been this disappointed in a book for a long time.  That's saying something...

Nicole Krauss' The History of Love follows the journey of a book written sixty years prior as it makes its way from Poland to South America to New York.  This book is a history--a history of the love one person has for another.  It's been hidden (or lost) for years, but manages to resurface in an unexpected way.  Told from the perspective of two people, the aging Leo and fourteen-year-old Alma, it is a testiment to just how far people will go to discover the truth in times of healing.  This book manages to bring these two characters together in a roundabout way that is both fitting and justifying. 

Pretencious...overreaching...angering...rough.  Have I said enough?  I had such high hopes for this book.  The plot sounded intriguing.  The synopsis sounded good.  The characters sounded interesting.  Instead, I was left completely underwhelmed by this novel.  I think what made me most angry was the fact that I was continually comparing Krauss' writing to her husband, Jonathan Safran Foer, whom I absolutely love.  Her writing is very similar, but lacks the magic that he is able to impart.  It's like she was trying too hard...way too be extraordinary.  Unfortunately, for me, she fell below ordinary and landed in a giant pile of hair-pulling, eyes-watering, mind-numbing boredom.  Ouch.  I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.  Sad business.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: A Review

I finally got around to reading Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo after having it for a long, long time and hearing so much about it.  I have yet to see the movie--either version--but they are both in my Netflix queue and I will watch them eventually.  Regardless, here's what I thought.

Tattoo brings the reader into the lives of several people; namely Michael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander.  Blomkvist, watching while his career falls into shambles, has been asked to write a family history for a well-known, aging Swedish industry tycoon, Henrik Vanger.  However, things are not what they seem.  What Vanger really wants is for Blomkvist to spend a year investigating the disappearance of his neice some forty years prior.  Through this seemingly impossible investigation, Blomkvist comes into contact with Lisbeth and the two form a rather tenuous working relationship (with some interesting perks).  Lisbeth, an accomplished hacker and ward of the state, is socially awkward, highly suspicious, and incredibly standoffish.  Needless to say, the two make an interesting, though efficient, team.  As they continue their investigation, new clues are unearthed, new suspects come to the forefront, revelations are made, and secrets are revealed.

To be honest, I've been putting this series off for a long time.  I've never been much of a fan of thrillers/suspense/whodunits/etc, but I finally broke down and started this book.  While it was a rather slow start, once I was about 100 pages in I couldn't put the damn thing down.  Larsson really does pull you in with his writing style and quick prose.  It's engaging and shocking at times, but totally worth it.  Plus, I really liked Lisbeth's character.  She's one that you root for and encourage through the horrific things that happen to her.  Blomkvist, on the otherhand, while likeable, probably isn't one of my favorite people.  Good read overall.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Why I Love...Book Recommended by Another

It's Wednesday...evening.  Oops!'s installation of Why I Love concerns book recommendations.  While I seem to be the main book recommender (huh?) in my circle, I have had two books recommended to me by a friend, and I have to say that I fell in love with both.  I was surprised by this because I don't tend to like what everyone else likes or go with the mainstream.  Regardless, these were the books:
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski:  I absolutely loved, loved, loved this book...times a million.  I remember seeing a synopsis of this book (before it became part of Oprah's Book Club) and thinking to myself..."Self, that sounds really good."  Alas, I forgot about it.  Of course.  Then a year or so later, my friend says "Hey, I have this book you should read.  I think you'll like it."  And that's how Edgar and his amazing self came into my life.  The book is about Edgar Sawtelle (ironic, right?), his family, and their dog breeding farm.  But it's not any ordinary farm and Edgar is not your ordinary boy.  He's mute, speaks only in signs, and has an otherworldly connection with the dogs his family trains.  Events transpire, seasons turn harsh, and unexpected trials are placed upon the family.  It's excellent.  If you choose to read this, keep Shakespeare's Hamlet in the back of your mind ;)

And the second book in this spouting of love...
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini:  I recently finished this book, given to me by the same friend who gave me Edgar, and loved it as well.  Suns follows the turbulent thirty years of Afghanistan as the Soviet regime was overthrown and the Taliban took over.  Placed in this setting are two generations of women who must cope with the upheaval on the national level, as well as huge upheaval and heartbreaking circumstances in their personal lives.  It's a beautiful story about the strengths of women, love, and perseverance.  A great book.  My full review will be coming soon :)

And that concludes this week's edition of Why I Love.  I'm sure I could think of a few more books that people have recommended and I've loved, but these were the first that came to mind.  Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Teaser Tuesday...The Witness

Another Tuesday has reared it's head in my world again and we all know what that means:  Teaser!  This week's teaser comes from Nora Roberts' The Witness.  Thank you Aunt Gayle for lending it to me over the weekend :)  And without further ado, the teaser...

"Add guns, he thought, and a to-do could go from a scene to a ruckus to a bloodbath in a heartbeat" (424).

Hmmm...wonder what this one's going to be about?  Happy Tuesday all :)