Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer Reading Reviews

 I've read nine books this summer (so far). For me, this number is low. You're talking to the girl, who last summer, read the entire Harry Potter series (for the umpteenth time) and the Millennium trilogy, along with numerous other books; for an all time reading high of around fifteen books.
Here are my brief reviews.
1.) The Accidental Billionaires: the Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal -Ben Mezrich
Why read it?: A combination of things. Watching The Social Network was one of them. I wanted to see the source material for Fincher's amazing film and Sorkin's witty screenplay. Also, having read Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions also by Mezrich, I wanted to read another of his books. I am a huge fan of his writing and the intriguing stories he tells.
Likes: What surprised me about The Accidental Billionaires was how much of the script came directly from the book. So many of the lines that I had attributed to Sorkin actually came from Mezrich.
Dislikes: Mezrich's books tend to be a bit one sided. I know the book is from Eduardo's perspective, but I can see why many people would take offense to the story and the movie as well. Also, I would have liked him to go into more details; I felt some things were glossed over or not explained well or enough.
2.) Tender is the Night- F. Scott Fitzgerald 
Why: This goes for all the Fitzgerald novels I read this summer: I read them because I plain, flat out love this man and his writing. The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books of all time and I wanted to see what else he had to offer.
Likes: Of the Fitzgerald books I read this summer, this was my favorite. The funny thing was, I didn't realize it until later. It was so evocative of Fitzgerald's life, the alcoholism, the madness, the greatness, and the fall. One of the things I like so much about his writing is Fitzgerald's ability to pull the reader into the moment, to perfectly describe the setting. I also developed an obsession with the 1920's, especially in Paris from all the books I read this summer.
Dislikes: There were a few moments that dragged and the narrative tended to skip around in some places which could be disorienting, but nothing too terrible.
Favorite Quote: "He looked at her and for a moment she lived in the bright blue worlds of his eyes, eagerly and confidently."
 3.) The Hobbit- J.R.R Tolkien
Why: I've been attempting to read the Lord of the Rings series since I got over the fact that it was not competition for Harry Potter. Plus, I promised myself I couldn't watch the movies until I read all the books.
Likes: The story was interesting enough. I liked the world that Tolkien created and the fact that I could picture it from the little I know of the films.
Dislikes: The Dickens-style descriptions. The book could have been cut by several hundred pages if Tolkien did not describe every single leaf and blade of grass. It got very tedious after awhile and reading felt like a chore.
4.) This Side of Paradise- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Likes: Amory Blaine, plain and simple. His character was a mix of Holden Caulfield and Jay Gatsby, two of my favorite literary characters; he really made the novel. It was a great novel to start Fitzgerald's career.
Dislikes: The problem I had keeping the characters (especially the female ones) separate in my mind. 
Favorite Quote: "And through the shell of his undergraduate consciousness had broken a deep and reverent devotion to the gray walls and Gothic peaks and all they symbolized as warehouses of dead ages."
5.) Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring- J.R.R Tolkien
Likes: The ending. The book grabbed me at the end and made me want to start Two Towers right away. It had a good build up. I felt that the characters were more interesting than The Hobbit and I liked that I had that back story to go on.
Dislikes: Pretty much the same comments as The Hobbit. It took forever to get moving and then literally became interesting at the last page which frustrated me to no end.
Favorite Quote: "Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them."
6.)  A Moveable Feast- Ernest Hemingway 
 Why: I saw Midnight in Paris and literally started this book the same night. 
Likes: The descriptions and writing style were so beautiful. It made me want to move to Paris. My favorites were "A Good Cafe on the Place St.-Michel," "Une Gereration Perdue," and "Ezra Pound and His Bel Esprit."

Dislikes: I wish I had actually been to Paris so I could better imagine some of the places Hemingway was describing.
Favorite Quote: "Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know."
7.) Zeitoun- David Eggers
Why: I spent a week in Louisiana building houses early on in the summer and pretty much became hooked on the culture and the city of New Orleans.
Likes: Everything. The story, the characters, the way it was written. You cannot believe something like this happened in our country. Startling and brilliant all in one. I loved that I could imagine the places he described. Tied for my favorite book of the summer. 
Favorite Quote: "New Orleans, his home, needs no speeches, no squabbling, and no politics. It needs new flooring, and new roofing, new windows and doors and stairs."
8.) The Love of the Last Tycoon- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Likes: The story and the descriptions of Hollywood in the 1930's.
Dislikes: Fitzgerald died while writing this novel so it is unfinished and there is a lack of editing. There is so much promise for what this novel could have been.
Favorite Quote: "He wanted the pattern of his life to be broken...He wanted to stop being Stahr for awhile and hunt for love like men who had no gifts to give, like young nameless men who looked along the streets in the dark." 
9.) Let the Great World Spin- Colum McCann
Why: I found it in my sister's room and it seemed interesting.
Likes: Absolutely everything. This is the one tied for my favorite read of the summer. I love the style; the way the narratives were all interconnected, yet separate. McCann's writing was a great mix of long, intricate sentences and short descriptions. Very well written. The novel made me fall in love with New York City again, made me feel about the city the same way I have come to feel about New Orleans.  I finished it, but I'm still carrying the book around the house with me; it is that good.
Favorite Quote: "He might have been naive, but he didn't care; he said he'd rather die with his heart on his sleeve than end up another cynic."
Now the question is: what to read next?

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