Category Archives: Reading

Lear, Lincoln, and Liberties

I finished two books this past week: Christopher Moore’s Fool, and Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

First off, Christopher Moore can do no wrong. So whatever he writes, I read. And enjoy.

Smith’s book is written in a manner of fictional truth. He writes it from his own point of view, where he, a struggling writer, stumbled upon this secret journal of Honest Abe (thanks to the helping hand of a vampire who knew Abe a couple of hundred years ago) – it’s so funny. But when I tried to describe it to my (history buff) husband, he just scoffed and refused to read it. It really is clever, and fun to read. I wish I were more educated in history, so I could see just how far Smith takes liberties with American history (much less, one of America’s greatest historical figures), but that didn’t stop me from wikipedia-ing everything I could about Abraham Lincoln.

Both were light, fun reads, nothing too intense or thought-provoking. Probably best, considering the state I’m in. And to commemorate my incurable lust for literature, I brought Bug to the public library to sign up for…his very own library card! (My library card was one of my favorite possessions as a kid. Bug is doomed.)

The Next Generation Bookworm

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Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

Okay, so my Fifty Books a Year project fell by the wayside. I don’t actually know how many I read last year (not nearly as many as the ones on my list), but I still want to properly review the stuff I have read.

The last ones I remember reading were the Gemma Doyle books – another young adult trilogy. Eh. The writer has some beautiful prose, but for the most part tends to be overdoing it. And the mysteries aren’t all that intricate. But, on the other hand, you can’t stop reading them. I guess that’s what makes them successful?

I’m currently reading Christopher Moore’s Fool, which is basically Shakespeare’s King Lear from the point of view of the king’s most favored court jester. (Hence, the blog title, one of my favorite out-of-context quotes from King Lear.) Christopher Moore is, in a word, brilliant. I freaking love him. I’ll let you know how this pans out. (That is, I will love it.)

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Fifty, So Dark

20. Augusten Burroughs’ follow-up, Wolf at the Table: A prequel to his memoir Running With Scissors, this novel was devastatingly sad. Reading it actually affected me in the literal world – I would read a few chapters, come back to reality, and still carry a strange hostility, because it made me so angry to realize that these things happen, and very few children, victims of the darkest environments, ever make it out like Burroughs has. It’s very dark, and yet carries a certain innocence with it, much like a child experiencing the psychological abuse Burroughs suffered from. It’s haunting, and has none of the dry humor of the first AB novel I read, Running With Scissors.

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Fifty, Though Sluggish – Updated Review

19. The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young – I had heard a lot about this book going into it, how it would make me cry, and rejoice, and learn, and be made aware. It did not make me cry (I wanted to, but the tears wouldn’t flow), but I was amazed at some of the truths in this book. It was simply written – I confess, I expected something poignant and poetically moving – but that makes its message stand out even more clearly without a lot of hoopla and unnecessary eloquence.

It’s about a man named Mack whose seven-year-old daughter is abducted. They find evidence of her brutal murder in an abandoned shack in the woods, and years later, he is mysteriously invited back to that shack by supposedly God. Too curious (and angry at the note-writer and God as well) to rationally ignore the note, he goes to the shack and, well, encounters God. It’s a brilliant devotional book without being one, a peek into God’s heart and desires for His creation (much like The Screwtape Letters).

UPDATE: I feel the need to go in-depth of my review. I read this review and it made me realize how misleading The Shack can be for non-believers, or for new believers who are still learning the foundation of Christianity.

This is a really, really good review for someone who wants to get to the nitty-gritty of theology. I can see what the author is saying, and agree with many of his points. In fact, one of my biggest gripes about the book was when Papa (God) told Mack that He never left Jesus when He died on the cross. In fact, God DID leave and had literally FORSAKEN Jesus on the cross. The fellowship Jesus had enjoyed for His entire human life (thirty-plus years) was broken; when He had walked in the light so perfectly, suddenly, He was plunged in complete & utter darkness. God may not have wanted to leave – He had to. He absolutely cannot go against His holy nature and remain where sin is prevalent, no matter how much He wanted to, no matter how desperately Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” That is what made Jesus’ sacrifice NECESSARY. Otherwise, the cross would have been just a show – you can read more about that in an earlier blog.

I think you have to be in a certain place spiritually speaking to glean from this book some of the good stuff about God’s love and persistence. I don’t think I would actually recommend this book to a non-believer, or anyone less familiar with Christianity, just because there is so much more important foundational things the book leaves out (namely, the tenets of Christianity and the very narrow path to Heaven).

I think it’s ultimately a feel-good book for believers who have a very one-sided view of God. It helps Christians realize less of an authoritative figure of God and more of a loving, involved God. One of my favorite quotes from the old Jars of Clay song, Love Song for a Savior, goes: “Seems too easy to call You Savior; not close enough to call You God.” That may be why the book speaks so profoundly to some Christians and leaves some Christians dry – the latter may have already experienced and encountered THAT God and are offended by its lack of spiritual depth.

For me, however, I was really refreshed with this desperate God. Good stuff.

So to keep pace, I’ll have to read six more books by the end of June to be at the half-way point all around. My next post will be brimming with pictures of our cruise. Andele!

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Fifty – Chicklit; UPDATE

Fun!

17. Megan Crane’s English as a Second Language: There’s something vacantly delicious about chick-lit. The only thing I can say about it is, it’s fun to read, thoroughly predictable, and usually has it’s laugh-out-loud moments. At least this one was set in England and had fun Anglican phrases like, “let’s get pissed (drunk)” and “bug off” and “well, aren’t you a daft bloke?”

18. Charlaine Harris, Dead in Dallas: Okay, I’m over these Sookie Stackhouse novels. They’re lame and disjointed and kind of embarrassing to admit that I read them. The only consolation I have is that I know someone who has read more than me in the series and we sit around and joke about them and their awfulness, then wistfully plan our opus to get rich and famous, because seriously, if this lady can do it, I can do it. Although, I’ve decided vampire love is overplayed. Maybe I’ll reinvent human-goblin love. Throw in a few zombies and/or the boogey man. What’s he doing lately?

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Closer to Fifty – Update

15. Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris – A friend of mine suggested this new series (well, not so much “series,” as “bunch of books starring the same characters” – I think each novella can stand on its own) about a telepathic waitress named Sookie Stackhouse. This first installment, she falls in love with, you guessed it, a vampire. Not much of a goth-reader, and yet here I am, starting another vampire love saga. I liked the first one okay, and liked that the books are only about five bucks each at Target. Harris writes cleanly and efficiently, which is to say I don’t get enough of her characters to care very much, and the story fits neatly in about two hundred pages. Her Sookie Stackhouse books are also the basis for HBO’s True Blood series, which I hear is pretty fantastic. I’m not actually sure if I’m going to get anymore, unless I come across the next one during my next library expedition.

UPDATE:
16. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky – I’m going to count this on my list to fifty, even though I technically re-read it. I read it once in high school as a reading assignment, and like all assigned reading, I didn’t actually read it all the way through and probably studied the Cliffs Notes more thoroughly. After reading it again, I wish I had paid more attention back when I had the chance to discuss and dissect it as a student. Of course, nothing becomes a cult classic for just being fun to read. It’s intelligent, it’s funny, poignant, relevant, and incredibly sad. These are the types of books that truly inspire.

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Fifty, With an Unfair Domination

To recap:

1. The Guy Not Taken, Jennifer Weiner
2. Sundays at Tiffany’s, James Patterson
3. Mirror, Mirror, Gregory Maguire
4. Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, Ann Rice
5. The Centurion’s Wife, Davis Bunne & Janette Oke
6. The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry
7. Gods Behaving Badly, Marie Phillips
8. The Last Queen, C.W. Gortner
9. Train to Trieste, Domnica Radulescu

10. Sideways, Rex Pickett – If you liked the movie, you really will like the book. Surprisingly, the movie doesn’t deviate too far from the book, and a lot of the happenings (that I can remember) follow pretty accurately. It makes me want to become a wine connoisseur, and after reading it, I can at least be one vicariously. There is no sense of overkill when it comes down to the drunken debauchery that wine, of all things, contributes to. After all, the book is about a week-long adult version of spring break. Alcohol? Check (granted, it’s Pinot Noir). Casual sex? Check – with a fantastic comedic slice. Drunk dialing? In the worst possible way. Throw in a little wart hog hunting, and you’ve got one fun read.

11-14. The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer – (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, & Breaking Dawn) Sorry. I’m apologizing ahead of time. Just to make things clear, I don’t compare her writing to J.K. Rowling’s – JK is undeniably more talented. (Stephen King actually said that the only difference between Meyer & Rowling was that Rowling can actually write.) But the fan-demonium is the same between the two series. Meyer created a world that everyone wants to get lost in, and where every girl wants to find her Edward. Teen romance, absolutely, but still delicious to read. And another perk to the books is the movie’s soundtrack. Killer music…Muse, Mutemath, Debussy (I know, right?!), Iron & Wine, a new iPod addition quickly becoming a regular (scooch over, Bebo)…

Quick sidenote – for an introduction to the fabulously mellow Iron & Wine, check out “Passing Afternoon,” or the one found on the Twilight soundtrack, “Flightless Bird, American Mouth.” You won’t be disappointed. They have a very Nick Drake-type vibe, with much more depth musically-speaking. They make me want to drive with the windows down at midnight.

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