Monday, June 3

Reading Challenge, Update #2 (April/May)



4. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Meet Don Tillman. Don is getting married. He just doesn't know who to yet. But he has designed a very detailed questionnaire to help him find the perfect woman. One thing he already knows, though, is that it's not Rosie. Absolutely, completely, definitely not.

I won an advanced copy of The Rosie Project on Goodreads (it has a lovely little note in it from Penguin Books), since winning it I have had no end of people telling me how brilliant and popular it is, as you will see with The Great Gatsby this is not how to get me to read a book. Of course, I read it, partly because I thought I might not ever win anything on Goodreads again if I didn't. 

It's a pleasant book, I understand why it's popular, I just didn't love it. It felt a little like a run-of-the-mill rom-com film in book form, made even more so by the actual rom-com mentions in the latter half of the book and probably by the fact that they are already suggesting a film adaptation. To be more specific, I enjoyed it up until the final chapter. The last chapter felt a little rushed and uneventful, in comparison to the rest of the book, which flowed reasonably seamlessly between various interesting events, only to end with a chapter that felt like it was written as an afterthought, or a 'where are they now' end segment in a film. I'm getting a little repetitive at this point, but the only way I can describe The Rosie Project was that it felt like it had been written for the sole purpose of being turned into a film to build a bit of a buzz around a project that would probably go unnoticed on its own.

Update: I have done a bit of background reading and it seems the book was originally a screenplay, written by the author as a creative writing project.

5. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald

Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.

This is a book that has been recommended to me a lot. It's reputation precedes itself, and more often than not the person recommending it to me was a pseudo-intellectual, arty type that would shout "I can't believe you haven't read it" in faux horror. So I carried on not reading, because there's nothing worse than those kinds of people and giving them the satisfaction of having read the book they recommended to you. Then came the rumour of a film, then the announcement of Baz Luhrman as director, then Leo, then Carey and so on and so forth. I just thought that this would be one of those films I watched without any inclination to read the book (eg, almost every rom-com I've ever watched). That was until I saw the poster for the Northern Ballet production, and bought tickets. It was then I knew I had to read the book. And read it, I did, with a large slice of humble pie, because I absolutely adored it.

I know some people will inevitably see Gatsby as an incredibly charming romantic at the discovery that he threw all his lavish and extravagant parties in the hope that Daisy, his 'true love' would one day turn up. But I know a lot of people will see it like me, as just heartbreakingly sad that he's so caught up in an idealised view of Daisy (the original manic pixie dream girl) and who she expects him to be; Gatsby's parties are a slightly more showy version of waiting a few rings (and turning up the volume on Itunes) before you answer your crush's phone call. But I admit, I adore him because of it. The only bit I didn't like was the last line, the bit about "So we beat on, boats..." or something, right up until that point I loved the book, and I know people adore that line and talk about how  beautifully poetic it is, (and I know I am bound to be raked across the coals for this) but I don't like it, the tone felt a little out of sync with every line I had read prior to it. Up until (and ignoring) that point though I was completely in love with The Great Gatsby (the book and the man) and the story that it created.

(Click through to read May)


6. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Hornby's narrator is an early-thirtysomething English guy who runs a London record store. He sells albums recorded the old-fashioned way--on vinyl--and is having a tough time making other transitions as well, specifically adulthood.

I have this thing with Nick Hornby where hindsight, and a terrible memory, makes me think that I like his books more than I do. This is the fourth Hornby book that I have read; Of the other three, I remember liking About A Boy and Juliet, Naked and despising How To Be Good. As a result I've developed an interesting quirk in book stores wherein my face will light up when I see one of his books, I will walk around the book shop with it for a bit, then I remember how much I disliked How To Be Good and I will put the book back on the shelf. The book this usually happens with is Slam, so that's probably doomed to never be read by me, I did however manage to break the cycle with High Fidelity (most likely because it meant I could tick the film off my to-watch list also).

The main reason I read High Fidelity, was because I wanted an easy read, a stop gap between serious books (I'm reading Revolutionary Road at the moment, and these people hate everything). So as far as serving a purpose, it worked. Did I enjoy it? Meh, it was alright. Not my favourite Hornby, but not as terrible as How To Be Good. I hated the main character, he was a self-absorbed music snob, but I think that's what we're supposed to think and it didn't stop me from reading the book (or watching the film). I don't think I've gained anything from the reading book, I doubt I'll go back and re-read it, but it served it's purpose.

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Like I mentioned, I'm reading Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates at the moment. I'm enjoying it quite a lot despite it being a bit gloomy; I don't think a book has ever fit so perfectly into the 'drama' category. After this I will be reading The Affair by Gill Paul, which I won on Goodreads and am quite excited about reading. It sounds like a proper summer read!

As always you can follow my challenge and book related updates on Goodreads. I'd love to hear your recommendations, so let me know or if you have a Goodreads account add me!


1 comment:

  1. I took me a while to get into Gatsby but I did love it. I can't wait to see the film!



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