3.05.2009

Books I Read This Week

I love to read, but ever since I was pregnant and lost my attention span, reading has been hit-and-miss for me. I take comfort in the fact that I try, even if I don't succeed. I've also noticed lately that I read in spurts. I can go a month or two without reading anything (or in the case of January, only reading one Ian Fleming 007 novel), and then I'll read three or four books in quick succession.

This week was just such a time. I noticed how my "List of Books to Read" keeps growing and I haven't been checking anything off. So I decided to put some of the books on hold at the library, thinking they'd come available at different times and I would read them as I got them. Of course, three of them came available at the exact same time, so I checked them all out.

I'm hoping this will become a regular feature on our blog... assuming that I find books that can keep my attention long enough for me to read them. Without further ado, here are the books I read this week:

Anthem by Ayn Rand

You loyal readers will remember that I am a big Ayn Rand fan (say "Ayn Rand fan" five times fast). I loved all 1192 pages of Atlas Shrugged, so I also read The Fountainhead, and it was great as well. After those, Anthem was a breeze at fewer than 70 pages. I read it in a couple of hours. This novel runs in the same vein as Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World, detailing a future society where the individual's only function is to serve the whole of society. The characters speak of themselves as "we" instead of "I." They have names like Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000, so it was a bit strange at first. But as the story progresses, you see the liberating effects of education and true love as Equality 7-2521 discovers himself and leaves his "brothers" behind. I would recommend it.
"We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE, one, indivisible and forever."

Atonement by Ian McEwan

I decided to read this book because I thought the movie looked good. I didn't see the movie because it is rated 'R,' and now that I've read the book, I can see why. There is some pretty rough language in the book (mostly in the WWII scenes), as well as violence and sex. But it was very thought-provoking. I really liked it up until the last 15 pages. Then it drove me crazy and after I finished it, I couldn't stop thinking about how much the end of the book bothered me. I spent hours trying to figure out why it bothered me so much. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good, heart-breaking love story, but be prepared to be bugged at the end. And for those who don't care if it's spoiled, here you go:

SPOILER ALERT! The story is about a young girl who makes terrible accusations against her sister's lover, which destroys her family. Through the entire book, the reader is waiting for the atonement—the moment when the truth comes out and everything ends happily resolved. That moment comes, but pages later, the narrator turns it on its head by suggesting that she may have fictionalized that part. I know it's fiction, so none of it actually happened, but I am the type of reader who reads fiction to imagine that it's real.

I suppose as an English Lit major, I should appreciate the novel for this twist at the end. I should appreciate that the fact that Briony fictionalized her atonement for her crimes fits beautifully with the rest of the story. Intellectually, I do appreciate those things. But emotionally, I'm still having a hard time with it. According to the Amazon.com review, "Atonement is about the pleasures, pains, and dangers of writing, and perhaps even more, about the challenge of controlling what readers make of your writing." I can't argue with that.
"The cost of oblivious daydreaming was always this moment of return, the realignment with what had been before and now seemed a little worse. Her reverie, once rich in plausible details, had become a passing silliness before the hard mass of the actual. It was difficult to come back."

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

I'm not sure where I heard of this book, but after reading the book jacket, I decided to give it a whirl. This book is about a daughter who really comes to know her parents when she returns home to take care of her ailing mother. I'm not giving anything away when I say that the mom dies (it tells you that on the first page). The novel is about finding out who people really are in the face of tragedy. I really liked it because it makes you think about your own relationships and how your view of other people is colored by your own perspective. I wouldn't say it's a fun read, but I would still recommend it to anyone who has a mother. It might make you appreciate her more.
"We'd made her simpler all her life, simpler than her real self. We'd made her what we needed her to be. We'd made her ours, our one true thing."
Coming Soon: The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and Walking Across Egypt by Clyde Edgerton.

1 comment:

Team Ritz! said...

I loved Atonement (the movie), and I've been wanting to read the book. The movie doesn't have much in the way of bad language at all. It's such a great story because there is just so much to analyze, and it makes more sense each time you revisit it. (I could go on and on, but I won't!)