This month I have not been quite so productive with my reading. I’ve more than made up for it with the number of books I’ve bought though – I think I have a problem!
This month I have read:
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman (urban fantasy)
- Cloudstreet by Tim Winton (fiction/Australiana)
- Vibrator by Mari Akasaka (fiction)
- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (thiller)
- Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (young adult/fiction)
I read a fair amount of fiction this month – Cloudstreet, Vibrator and Eleanor and Park. It has never been my favourite genre – I feel like it often aims to make the reader uncomfortable in the quest to be ‘meaningful’. I remember reading Where the Heart Is when I was about 14, and swearing I would never go back to fiction.
Other genres struggle less finding their ‘meaning’ I think – thrillers follow a crime or mystery, fantasy usually follows a quest narrative, etc. Fiction sometimes seems to drown in its own meaningfulness (or lack thereof). That’s not to say there are no fiction books that I love: I would highly recommend Chocolat by Joanne Harris, The Help by Katherine Stockett and, in fact, Eleanor and Park.
I picked up Cloudstreet from the library because it’s been described as an Australian classic, and I love to read books by Aussie authors. I really really did not like it. Here’s a bit of what I wrote when I reviewed it on Goodreads: ‘I would compare this to a non-absurdist, more ‘real-life’ Waiting for Godot. It felt very existential. However, unlike one of my favourite existentialist works, L’Etranger, it had no meaning for me, no sense of anything greater. Just mundane crushing depression… This felt like a book that was trying so hard to be literary and meaningful, but it just flopped for me. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it in highschool, where everything was super meaningful.’ To sum up, I couldn’t wait to finish it, and I will not be going back.
Eleanor and Park caught my eye in the bookshop because I had heard it was on a couple of banned books lists. Nothing makes me want to read a book more than knowing that some small-minded campaigners think it’s inappropriate. It was a wonderful book that dealt with themes of teenage romance, sexuality, broken families, domestic violence and love. It was full of hope and joy, but did not turn a blind eye to the darker aspects of life.
Vibrator is (apparently) a hard-to-find cult classic these days. I’ve had a copy for years, but never read it. It was quite interesting, written in a stream-of-consciousness fashion from the point of view of a bulimic alcoholic with a serious anxiety disorder. The author really allowed you to get into the protagonist’s frame of mind, and it was quite gripping – I read the whole thing in a couple of hours.
Finally, American Gods was very good, very interesting, and very very VERY well written, but didn’t quite live up to the very high expectations I had of it in terms of story. Likewise, Jurassic Park was very enjoyable in its own way (the movie is one of my all time favorites), but failed a little at the end. Of course, it’s sort of pulp fiction anyway, so I guess that’s to be expected.
American Gods: An urban fantasy narrative that follows the protagonist, Shadow, as he discovers that America is populated by large numbers of ancient and forgotten Gods, and becomes drawn in to their conflicts.
Cloudstreet: An ‘Australian classic’ that details the lives of two down-and-out families who end up living in the same decrepit house in the suburbs of Perth during the Second World War and the following decades.
Vibrator: A stream of consciousness novel set in Japan, Vibrator is narrated from the point of view of a bulimic alcoholic journalist with a serious anxiety disorder who develops a short-term relationship with a married trucker.
Jurassic Park: Just like the movie, Jurassic Park is a thriller that follows a group of experts (and two children) as they are given an advance preview of an amusement park featuring real-live cloned dinosaurs – chaos ensues.
Eleanor and Park: A touching story of teenage romance between a mixed race boy and a misfit girl from an abusive family, this book was incredibly sweet and emotional, and packed a real punch.
That’s it for this month – hopefully next month I will FINALLY finish the last Wheel of Time book (I’ve never dragged a book out this long in my life)! Happy October everyone!!!
Oh and PS: I got engaged last weekend!!!! :D