Reading is a serious addiction for me. It’s kind of like eating cookies… once I start, I have a really, really hard time stopping. Because of that, I sometimes have to tell myself I’m not allowed to read at all, or else I won’t get anything done. This buzzfeed post basically sums me up (number 7 in particular… cats, books, and hot chocolate are all I need in life).
But this year I committed to reading 30 books (I knew that 52 book challenge thing was just way out of my league, time wise) so I at least have an excuse to throw myself into the pages on the premise of “goal reaching”. I read mostly fiction to start with, but I’d like to read more nonfiction so let me know if you have any suggestions!
Here are the first five books I read this year:
The Glass Castle- Memoir 5/5
The Glass Castle chronicles the life of writer Jeanette Walls and details her poor and dysfunctional upbringing as she is raised by an eccentric artist mother and alcoholic father.
I was absolutely gobsmacked by this woman’s story and found it incredible that anyone could grow up under such bizarre and traumatic circumstances and still turn out to be so successful and well adjusted. The story was also powerful to me on a very personal level, having grown up with an alcoholic parent, myself. I know many of us think we grew up with a dysfunctional family, but her story makes the rest of us sound like the Cleavers.
Memoirs of a Geisha- Historical Novel 4/5
Memoirs of a Geisha is a historical novel that tells the fictional story of a geisha working in Kyoto, Japan before and after World War II.
This book is a classic best seller but I only give it 4 stars because I, personally, didn’t find it as compelling as others have. What I found most interesting were the stories behind the book and movie that I came across when browsing for a summary. The author interviewed a former geisha and loosely based his book around some of her experiences. She first asked for more publicity, but then later (probably when the book was a big hit and made a ton of money) accused the author of defamation and sued for damages, asking for portions of the book sales. The movie caused a much greater stir and actually affected politics between China and Japan when a controversy arose over the casting of Chinese actresses as the lead Japanese geisha roles. The movie was even banned in China.
The Beach – Novel 3/5
The Beach is a travel/backpacking novel set in Thailand. It is the story of a young backpacker’s search for a legendary, idyllic and isolated beach untouched by tourism, and his time there, in its small, international community of backpackers.
This book is a cult classic and I anticipated really enjoying it, but getting through it turned out to be a struggle. I found the first half to be slow moving with far too many pages devoted to hallucinations and the narrator discussing his affinity for video games. The plot is along the lines of lord of the flies, and the characters demonstrate just how quickly we can lose our sense of humanity. I enjoyed the beach images, but that’s about it.
The Language of Flowers- Novel 4/5
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions, but for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. A local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes that she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
The protagonist irritated me a bit and the story was a little too slow and depressing at times, but the concept behind the book that you can communicate with flowers was unique and the story line was interesting. I’ll certainly think twice from now on about what flowers I choose to give people.
Divergent- Novel 4/5
Divergent is a young adult dystopian novel that features a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago. It’s the story of Beatrice Prior’s society which is divided into five factions. On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
I read this to understand what all the hype is about and so I could watch the movie with my friends. It’s nothing groundbreaking and very reminiscent of Hunger Games, but an intriguing read nonetheless with some really pertinent themes about society and humanity. I’m excited to see the movie mostly for this reason though…
What books have you read lately? Any suggestions for my next round?