Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time

K, so that's not actually the real cover. The real cover looks like this:

Among other hideous covers they've done for this book. But I took a design course this summer for school and when we got to redesign a book cover I chose a childhood favorite, A Wrinkle in Time. I reread it while designing, too. You know, for inspiriation.

Okay, did you read Madeleine L'Engle growing up? I love, love, love her books. I love the way she combines the religious and the scientific. I love the goodness of her characters. I love that they are real and have flaws but can still do great things. I love the shivery feeling I get every time I read the line, "There is such a thing as a tesseract."

Anyway, I got crazy busy with school and moving and life, so I didn't actually finish the book until my commute to work this morning. And I as I read this passage I nearly started crying on the T:
"And what I have to give you this time you must try to understand not word by word but in a flash, as you understand the tesseract. Listen, Meg. Listen well. The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are." She paused, and then she said, "May the right prevail." (194–195)
I love it in part because it's scripture (a quotation from 1 Corinthians 1). But also because it's so applicable to their story—this awkward, teenage girl with her genius little brother and lonely friend Calvin who go off into the universe to find her father and try to fight Evil as best they can. What a daunting task. And I feel like that so often in my life. But this quote puts it all in the proper perspective. And I love that it can be found in a children's book. 

And Lorren, you've said you like her adult fiction even more. Specific suggestions?

Monday, August 22, 2011

I Remember Nothing

I read this last week, and it was funny and cute. Nora Ephron wrote You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle, and this funny little book. It's just a collection of personal essays and sort of memoir-ish, but it's mostly about funny things like how she doesn't remember anything--hence the title.

It takes like 2 hours to read, because it's big print and short, and it's the perfect book to read in the summer. I never like really sat down and READ, I would just pick it up for 10 minutes at a time while I was waiting for Chris to get ready to go somewhere, or waiting for dinner to come out of the oven--things like that. 

But yeah, it's just a cute, funny book that's super fast to read. It would be perfect for an airplane or the beach or something because there's not a plot or anything. Oh, and here's an excerpt. This is the first chapter of the book.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

So, I kind of forgot that I need to write down my book thoughts! I haven't been reading very much this summer, which is really a shame. But I did just read Pride and Prejudice, and until Casidy mentioned it in her post I sort of forgot that I need to write about. Which is silly, because I just finished it last week and have thought about it a LOT since then.

Here's the thing about Pride and Prejudice. I sort of skimmed over it in high school, but didn't really read it. I've seen the movies. And I've just never been that into it. I didn't really care about Mr. Darcy. Maybe it was just my way of sticking it to the man, since everyone else LOVES Pride and Prejudice, and LOVES Mr. Darcy, and I just wanted to be different. Or maybe the movies just didn't speak to me. Whatever the reason, I was never a big P&P fangirl. WAS would be the keyword there. Because as of today--HUGE fan. I loved this book a ton. So much more than I thought I would. I laughed out loud, my heart ached, and I think my cheeks might have actually blushed at parts.

The thing I never really understood fully from the movies is just HOW embarrassing the Bennets are for Elizabeth and Jane. Mrs. Bennet seriously made me cringe so many times. And Kitty and Lydia are so silly! I don't know how I never realized just how empty headed and silly they are, but somehow I didn't. (Maybe they're not the only empty headed and silly ones.)

Something I really loved about this book is how complicated Elizabeth is. And yes, I readily admit, that maybe that thought was planted in my head by You've Got Mail, when Kathleen says that Elizabeth Bennet is one of the most complex characters ever written, but I noticed it nonetheless. She has to be loyal to her family and be a good daughter, but they are so humiliating. She develops all these feelings for Mr. Darcy, and her family has no idea that anything has even happened. I love the discrepancy between what her family thinks of him, and what she thinks of him/what he really is. So much of the story is so internal, what is going on with her, and I love it. And I never used to love her so much before I read the book. I didn't appreciate her cleverness or her independence or her classiness and awareness of society before I read it.

I think Jane Austen does such a good job telling stories about sisters. Jane and Elizabeth are such great sisters, like the Dashwoods in Sense and Sensibility. I love the friendship that they have. Plus, in that family, who else could Elizabeth ever turn to? Mary?

The whole class thing is so interesting in Jane Austen books, and something I think can never really be translated into a modern day understanding. I just really don't think that as 21st century Americans we can understand the complexity of class society that people lived in at that time. We do still have classes, and there are definitely people who would never sink below themselves to marry someone else, but it's really not as stratified as theirs is.

Anyway, the real point is that Pride and Prejudice is an incredible book. That will not be the last time I read it, I am sure. Books like that need more than one reading, there is so much more to glean from it. And yes, I am a huge Mr. Darcy fan now. Who would have thought?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bread Givers By Anzia Yezierska

I read Bread Givers super fast. One, because it is not that long (297 pages), and two (but mainly) because it was a compelling story and well written. It reminded me a little bit of the book The Glass Castle. I was always wondering what could happen next, with such different perspectives from the "old world" parents and the daughters struggling in the new. It is written from the voice of the youngest daughter. It also had a hint of Pride and Prejudice, because the different daughter characters are being married off. (The book is unique from the two books I hopefully I have not misrepresented the book. As LaVar Burton would say, "you don't have to take my word for it!")

Bread Givers is perfectly titled. Bread Givers, or bread winners; who has the responsibility to feed a family, and where does that responsibility come from? Our culture, time and religion puts emphasis on the father. In America there is more about self, and less about family or roots. This mentality is not just a modern idea. The American Dream. The perspective of a Jewish Rabbi from Poland is set in his tradition. What is right? She writes, "More and more I began to see that Father, in his innocent craziness to hold up the Light of the Law to his children, was as a tyrant more terrible than the Tsar from Russia". But in his world that is correct. The well written perspectives, help the reader think deeply on the subject. Beside the physical need to be fed by bread, this book also address the deepest human need of love and acceptance.

Bread Givers is the author's, Anzia Yezierska, own biography. She was an immigrant. A young woman in a world were ambition was the path to Americanization and ambition seemed designed for men. She says, "I would spend years trying to reconcile what appeared even to me to be my own selfish desires with the profound need to find a place in the culture I had adopted." She wanted to be a "person".