Monday, 30 January 2017

Read In January

After reading 65 books last year, I got inside of my own head and convinced myself that this year I wouldn't read anywhere near as much. I was convinced it was just a reading fluke and that this year I'd struggle to finish even one book per month, which is why I set myself a very low Goodreads goal of 12 books for the entire year. I felt that giving myself a goal would help push me to keep reading, but by making it a small goal, I wouldn't feel too much pressure and end up feeling like reading was something I had to do.

Now that January has ended, I realised I was stressing for no reason. I still love reading as much as I did last year, and I ended up reading six books throughout January, meaning I've already completed half of my goal. I'm still not sure I'll beat my record from last year, but my main concern is to read books I really want to read, as well as read a few more that are on the Rory Gilmore Challenge - which two of these books are. I'm looking forward to all the reading adventures that 2017 has in store for me.

The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, by Ellen Feldman.

I read Anne Frank's diary sometime in 2014, I believe it was, and I absolutely loved it. Anne had a mind - and a heart - unlike any other person her age. She was wise beyond her years, and it's devastating what happened to her. Sometime after I finished the diary, I discovered that The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank existed. At first I was confused and thought it was a true story, and that Peter had somehow survived, but once I actually bought the book, I realised it was a "what if?" story. What if Peter had survived? How would he have spent his life?

I really did enjoy this book (then again, what books don't I enjoy?). Ellen had an interesting and very plausible idea of how she thinks Peter would have spent his life. Not one part of this book seemed farfetched or forced. I also liked that, even though this is a fiction book, it's filled with facts. She didn't change any key elements to the Anne Frank story - the diary, the museum, etc - except for the parts where Peter came face to face with other survivors, such as Otto, as they were clearly fabricated for the story. Somehow, I didn't actually know - or perhaps I forgot - that Otto survived, as well as the people who hid both families, so I'm very interesting in looking them up and finding out how they spent the remainder of their lives.

If anything, and this is definitely my hopeless romantic side saying this, I wish Peter spoke/thought about Anne and his feelings toward her - whether past or still present - more often, but once again, I understand why he was the way he was. You don't go through what he went through and come out a happy, cheerful person. Besides, he spent his whole life focused on moving on.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.

What a peculiar book. The language itself is quite beautiful, although I did feel that there were many pages of description that were very much unneeded and only seemed to be there to stall the story, as if the author felt it was too short. Once they were finally over, the story quickly picked up again and took quite a turn. I try not to read much about books before I read them as I like to be surprised, and I definitely was with this one. I would certainly recommend this book if you're interesting in reading classics as it is not too long, and the language really is wonderful. Someone I have on Goodreads called Wilde the "king of description", and I don't think that's a far off statement.

Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller.

I picked up this book after reading its title on the Rory Gilmore Challenge, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it's only 112 pages long. That being said, it took me two days to read this book - rather than a couple of hours, like it should have - because I kept getting distracted. It wasn't a particularly gripping story, but I think it was more so the fact that I just don't enjoy reading plays. I find the stage directions confusing, and I often subconsciously skimmed over them, which would only confuse me more. Still, I'm happy to have crossed another book off the Rory Gilmore Challenge.

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker.

This is such an important book, which means that it wasn't an easy read, as so many important books aren't. It's full of abuse, racism, sexism and other kinds of injustice, which really got to me - but that's what it's supposed to. It's supposed to make you open your eyes and realise how people used to live. I quite enjoy reading historical books as I am always trying to learn about the world around me, and how it used to run.

The story is told through a series of letters written by the narrator Celie that are addressed to God (and, later, to Celie's sister). Celie is poor and uneducated, so it took me a while to fully grasp her letters as she does not use correct punctuation or spelling. The spelling errors weren't too difficult to decipher as things were usually spelt phonetically - such as "ast" instead of "asked" - but the absence of quotation marks did confuse me at times, as it wasn't always obvious whether Celie was actually quoting someone, or writing something directly to God. Nonetheless, this was a really good book. Definitely belongs on a must-read-at-least-once-in-your-life list.

Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham.

If you don't like negativity, you might want to skip ahead to the next book, as I have quite a bit to say about this one. I gave this book the benefit of the doubt when I really shouldn't have. Even the title annoys me, as "that kind of girl" is so often used to make women feel ashamed of their sex lives. I am not a fan of Lena Dunham at all, she is extremely problematic, but I had heard good things about this book, and when I saw it at an op shop, I decided to pick it up. At the very least, I would be helping charity. 

Five pages in and I was already cringing when she talked about her ex-boyfriend who "turned semi-gay" and stated that it was hard finding people to date whilst she was in college since was "over bisexuals". She also described someone who "dressed vaguely like a middle-aged lesbian", which was clearly intended as an insult, meaning that she was judging the way lesbians dress, as if they're all cookie cutters who act and dress the same way - which is a stupid and boring stereotype - but they weren't even the worst parts.

The worst parts were about her younger sister (by 6 years), who she shared a bed with while masturbating; bribed her to kiss her and "relax on her"; pried her legs open to look inside her vagina - which could be perceived as an innocent child curiosity, but her other actions and the fact that her parents weren't phased as that was "within the spectrum" of things she did make me question that - and said "basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a smile suburban girl, I was trying" about the way she treated her sister. What kind of editor or publisher can read that and think that's not horrible? Or, at the very least, not think about how the public might react?

At the very best, this book had some slightly amusing and brutally honest stories about the young adulthood, but her constant insults to anyone that wasn't like her, and her extremely blasé approach to drugs, ruined most of them.

Stolen, by Lucy Christopher.

This book was certainly different from every other book I've read. It's about a 16-year-old girl called Gemma who is kidnapped by someone who claims to love her (the blurb says that he expected her to love him back, but he never says that at all), and slowly she grows to love him back. She knows that what she's feeling is wrong, but she can't help it. It was truly emotional to read. I almost felt like I wanted them to end up together, which is what I'm assuming was Lucy's goal. She made the reader sympathise with the kidnapper, just like Gemma did - and, if you fell into that trap like I did, the ending was even harder, even though it was a happy ending. I love writing like that; that can trick you into feeling something just from the way it's worded. I'm still glad that it didn't end up that way, though. That would have been very unsettling to walk away from.

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell.

I actually read this in December, but I had already put up my Read In December post by the time I finished it, so I thought I'd include it in this post instead. I really love Rainbow Rowell, as a person as well as a writer. I follow her on Twitter, and she's always speaking up about something important. I read Eleanor and Park a while ago and loved it, and Fangirl is no different. It was an easy read - which is not a bad thing; I just mean that it merely flowed well. It wasn't hard to follow and I was invested instantly. I love books like that.

Even though it was not a major plot subject, I really like how Cath and her mother's relationship ended. Without revealing too much for those who haven't read it, let's just say that it's what they both deserved, and I don't think Wren should have been so forgiving. If you're a writer, I'll think you'll like this book even more, as both the main characters are writers - although, reading about writing just makes me want to write, but then I also don't want to stop reading! Ah, reader problems.


Until next time,
Indya xx