It’s a good thing I got a HUGE head start in January, because things got a little sidetracked in February and March. I blame Hawaii.
Am I the only avid reader who can’t seem to concentrate on reading while travelling via car, airplane, etc.? You’d think that during the 24 hours+ of flying to Hawaii I’d at least read ONE book. Nope. Nada. Zilch.
I’m caught up now on my 2015 Reading Challenge. Here’s what I read.
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
Humbert Humbert – scholar, aesthete and romantic – has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.
Book challenge requirement: A classic “romance.” Ew.
This book was thoroughly disturbing. I longed to be back in an English lit class talking about how awful and dirty and intriguing I found this whole thing to be. And yet the most beautifully written book, ever.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
Book challenge requirement: A memoir.
Good grief, Angelou is a beautiful writer. Why did this book have to end? That’s why I gave it four stars. Because I’m not really sure why it ended.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith
The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness.
Book challenge requirement: A popular author’s first book.
I’m 100% a complete sucker for long life stories. I loved following little Francie’s life from toddler to teen. Also a fascinating look at Brooklyn in the early 1900s. I loved all the characters in this book.
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Book challenge requirement: A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet
I…didn’t love this book as much as Gaiman’s other books. DON’T HATE ME WORLD. I just didn’t LOVE it. I was confused for so much of it. Why? I’m mad at myself since people talk so highly of this book. People I trust.
Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter
The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.
And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.
Book challenge requirements: A book with antonyms in the name
This was a beautiful read, and Walter is exceptionally talented, but the million + viewpoints was a little unbearable at times. Still, I was hooked from page one, and couldn’t put it down for long.