High School Summer Reading Complete
Millions are coerced to read Fitzgerald’s novel to graduate. Thankfully, it’s a decent and precise book.
I might have set myself up for failure.
I read and watched a total of six things over Fall Break: The Deer Hunter, Pulp Fiction, Network, To Kill a Mockingbird, I Cladius, and The Great Gatsby. The problem is Fall Break was 5 months ago (!), and this is the only outstanding item. Normally, I leave little notes to myself so if there is a gap in time I can pick up what I was thinking. Not so here. If the measure of a book is its lasting impact, I guess I will soon find out the power of “The Great Gatsby.”
So what do I remember most? That Fitzgerald was struggling to figure out how to live a good life in a world of changing social norms.
Continue reading “Top 100 Novel Review: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)”
So. Much. To. Like.
An endless recess of things to discuss, turtles all the way down.
There is something just perfect about “To Kill a Mockingbird.” No matter the specific element, it dually can augment the whole or brightly stand alone. This gives meaning to every point in the novel, leaving no page to waste.
Continue reading “Top 100 Novel Review: To Kill A Mockingbird (1960)”
Duller Than A Text Book
Graves’ novel is worse than a milk-toast, disinterested-historian narrative.
This book was supposed to be made for me.
One Summer, I read 30 books with many of them being about Greek and Roman history. I never made it past Augustus, so how excited was I to learn that there was a novel about the Roman Emperors from the perspective of Claudius. Not only that, it was historical fiction and should have all those cool thing you can do within the genre: dialogue, themes, story arcs!
Graves pulls off an impossible: I’ve read dull, straight historical accounts that had more pop than this book.
Continue reading “Top 100 Novel Review: I, Claudius – Robert Graves (1934)”
Take Control Scobie!
But is our protagonist even capable of doing that? He always misreads the situation, using pity to guide actions.
I felt bad at the end of this book. Scobie is a man who mostly wants to be left alone, but others keep pulling him in multiple directions. He isn’t a bad person per say, but his laissez-faire attitude matched with his inability to read the direness of situations leads to a combustable situation; he slowly gets pulled down an unscrupulous path, over relying on pity to guide decisions.
Continue reading “Top 100 Novel Review: The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene (1948)”
We Really Are Phony.
I feel for Holden Caulfield: smart enough to identify the problem, but not able to reconcile it within himself.
This book made me deeply sad.
I had read the book when I was 16 for a required essay on banned books, and I remember as a youth identifying the message of the novel as that you couldn’t survive as an outcast. At some point, you had to rally around something, no matter how phony.
On this reading, almost double my life later, I felt Holden was my old self while the phony Adults me now: I have learned to accept how much of our lives are rigid formalities and empty, sweet nothings.
Continue reading “Top 100 Novel Review: Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger (1951)”
Calling BS Early.
Dreiser deconstructs the American Dream.
It’s amazing that his book was written so early.
While still a product of its time, Drieser’s novel is fantastically relevant today. At its core, it’s a commentary on class and the American Dream. The story follows a young Clyde Griffiths from a lowly, street-preaching family through several iterations of social status changes. What follows is an unsettling but cathartic reading; Clyde bears the sin of our own failures allowing us to live free of the American expectation.
Continue reading “Top 100 Novel Review: An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser (1925)”
An Infinite Amount to Think About.
Not only is their a dynamite narrative, the themes and competing ideas could fill a lifetime of consideration.
I’ve had a run of books that forgo traditional story elements, like having a plot, meaningful narration, or development of characters (here’s looking at you “The Sun Also Rises” and “Falconer”). While they get heralded as artistic masterpieces, I find both books lacking teeth since they are not only unenjoyable to read, but they can’t coalesce to say anything due to being stripped of narrative devices.
In comes my savior: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
Not only does this book have an immensely intriguing story, showing the power struggle between a Head Nurse and an Asylum patient who are both egomaniacs, it has as many themes as you can consider. Like an infinite ball of string, you are free to pull and unwind from any angle as long as your heart desires.
Continue reading “Top 100 Novel Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey (1962)”