Sunday, September 22

Reading Challenge Update #3: July - September


7. The Affair by Gill Paul

(I received a copy of 'The Affair' as part of Goodreads First Reads)

Rome 1961. The cameras roll on the film set of Cleopatra and the explosive Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton love affair is about to capture the world’s attention. Meanwhile, Diana Bailey begins work as Historical Advisor on the tempestuous set, leaving her husband and life in London behind.

I'm not really one for so-called 'chick-lit' or romance novels, but this was a super easy summer read, filled with lots of geeky film and history facts, which is definitely my kind of thing. The story itself was predictable, and the writing was a bit weak at times; The plot mostly starts as a romance, then drifts into mystery/crime territory, which also felt a bit clunky. Nevertheless, it has definitely sparked an interest in reading up about Elizabeth Taylor - she seemed like an incredibly fascinating woman.


8. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

The story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, young couple who are bored by the banalities of suburban life and long to be extraordinary.

As I always say, a classic is a classic for a reason. Revolutionary Road is incredibly well written, there's no doubt about that, and for the most part I really liked it, but my goodness it's bleak.

(more after the cut)
At first I was kind of amused by the suburban melodrama; These people constantly keeping up with the Joneses, in their identical houses, with jobs in the city, where they discreetly cheat on their dutiful wives, trying to disguise how much they despise the banality of their lives. Can't you tell why I found it hilarious for the first hundred pages, or so? It was amusing, because April and Frank Wheeler constantly complain about the life they have chosen, so they decide to move to Europe, where nobody has ever had a terrible time. Despite, the fact that it was well written and despite the fact that I giggled a bit during their moans, it just got more and more depressing and bleak. I felt sucked into April and Franks awfulness, and well, I felt awful.

9. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls.

As you can probably tell, I needed to laugh a little (or a lot) after reading Revolutionary Road, and this did the job. Another easy read, but I laughed all the way through, which is the most important thing. One of those books that people who aren't reading it hate, because the reader forces the non-reader to read extracts they think are exactly like themselves. For example: 

“There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it.” 

“I don’t think it should be socially acceptable for people to say they are “bad with names.” No one is bad with names. That is not a real thing. Not knowing people’s names isn’t a neurological condition; it’s a choice. You choose not to make learning people’s names a priority. It’s like saying, “Hey, a disclaimer about me: I’m rude.”

Also, incredibly important, there are two Amy Poehler stories in this book; If you read my review of Tina Fey's Bossypants, you will know how big of a deal this is. I will read any book with awesome stories about Amy Poehler until she writes a hilarious memoir of her own.


10. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between omnivore and vegetarian. But on the brink of fatherhood-facing the prospect of having to make dietary choices on a child's behalf-his casual questioning took on an urgency.

“I can't count the times that upon telling someone I am vegetarian, he or she responded by pointing out an inconsistency in my lifestyle or trying to find a flaw in an argument I never made. (I have often felt that my vegetarianism matters more to such people than it does to me.)”

You know how some meat-eaters complain about vegetarians/vegans being militant and all 'look at that dead animal on your plate'? They are nothing, I reiterate, nothing compared to the meat eaters who took it as a personal offence when they saw that I was reading this. I did however show this book to a few meat eaters, who were really open minded to some of the things considered in this book. I think it's important that we think about the food we consume, the way it is produced and the affect it has on the environment. The book is very fact heavy, so I couldn't really dip in and out of it in the same way I would any other book, but it was incredibly fascinating. My biggest revelation was a section on the connection between factory farming and pandemic influenza.

This is a book people need to read; whether you eat meat or not and more importantly, whether you care about what you eat or not. This is the book I will keep on my shelf for many years to come, I want show it to my hypothetical children when they ask why I won't cook meat for them or let them eat cheeseburgers. *drops microphone, leaves the room*

11. Zoli by Colum McCann

The Life of Zoli Novotna begins on the leafy backroads of Slovakia, when she and her grandfather come upon a quiet lake where their family has been drowned by Facist guards. Zoli and her grandfather flee to join up with another clan of travelling hapists. So begins an epic tale of song, intimacy and betrayal.

It's kind of funny that I read this after reading a Safran Foer book (albeit a non-fiction one), because it reminded me of his books quite a lot; I suppose it's the WW2 setting and  the idea of community through shared stories. Again, it was an easy read, but that might be because I found the story so engrossing. It's an interesting look at Romani life in Slovakia during WW2, which I know absolutely nothing about.


And that's it for this update. I haven't been able to use my computer for three weeks and I've spend a lot of time on public transport during my work commute, so I've been reading at a steady pace.

At the moment I'm reading Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, which I'll be honest, I'm struggling with it. It's mostly because it's a play than a 'story', and it's written in a Tennessee accent - I hate reading books, that are entirely written in a specific dialect, it's why I hated reading Trainspotting. Other than that I'm not sure what to read next, possibly Persuasion (Jane Austen) or Spy in the House of Love (Anais Nin) as they're both books that I've started previously  and want to get back to. I'm also this close to reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me again, because, well, I just want to.

What are you reading at the moment?

As always, I'm open to recommendations and if you want to track the books I'm reading, you can follow me on Goodreads.


1 comment:

  1. I loved Eating Animals and just enjoy Foer's writing in general. I've been vegan since 2008 (and vegetarian a year a before that) and I hear ya about the looks. I got some when I was reading that book but I say, "let 'em look." ^_^ Sending you a Goodreads request now!


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