My Life in Books

Hello! If you've been reading my posts for a while, you probably know that I like to read, a lot. I've been thinking about this for a while but here is my book review page. I don't want to do a blog dedicated to book reviews even though I enjoy reading other peoples' commentary. My book reviews will probably be no longer than a a couple sentences and mostly about my feelings toward the book. I'm not intending to write a full in depth summary but simply an introduction. Then you can decide for yourself whether you want to read it or not. This page will be continuously updated!

Here is a google site I made about reading and my life. Check it out here.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
A wonderful, wonderful read for any mood and occasion. Austen was the inventor of chick flicks but everyone can enjoy this novel. P&P highlights a smart, witty heroine who doesn't want to get married for the sake of being married. Darcy, the male protagonist/love interest, seems indifferent and cold but is actually quite caring, genuine, and nice. Modern chick flicks don't give the female heroine enough specs. Have women really not progressed much from 1813? Sure we are equal on paper but chick flicks/lit with a mediocre female characters who end up with dazzling, accomplished, perfect male characters still sell craploads of money. I would like to say I'm above all this, but I'm not. I'm still a sucker for chick lit. But Jane Austen is quite refreshing!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Oh my goodness. It was an awesome psychological mystery, thriller read! It's about a husband and wife so are suffering from a terrible marriage after they both lose their jobs. As a 16 year old girl who hasn't had to worry about that yet, I still really enjoyed it. You'll see why it's Gone Girl. I couldn't believe how easily I hated a character so deeply one moment and then completely pitied him the next moment. It was masterful and not really risqué. Be ready to have your mind blown up. I definitely recommend it!








Four Blondes by Candace Bushnell
Ehh, this one was a miss for me. I loved One Fifth Avenue and this was one of her earlier novels. Bushnell tried to convey something about gender stereotypes but I wasn't captivated or even impressed with her conclusions. Basically the moral of each short story was that a powerful, beautiful woman needs a man in order to be anyone. The haphazard happy endings also made me cringe. Go read One Fifth Avenue if you were thinking about this one.



Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Another amazing read that I fell in love with almost immediately. It was about a mother who lost her purpose in life. She was so volatile because she was a very goal oriented person somehow lacking a goal. Add Antarctica and you have magic! This story is composed of letters and documents that Bee, the daughter, put together. Definitely 5/5 rating.






A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
I read this book twice, once last summer and once this summer. I didn't remember how brilliant this was until I read it a second time. It revolves around the lives of two people and it's a almost a collection of short stories from all the people they're connected to. While living life you don't realize how many people you meet and how many you affect. This is also one of things I loved about One Fifth Avenue. The main theme of this novel (slight spoiler?) is how short life is and how unexpectedly time strikes you. There is a lot of cursing, drugs, and sex in this book so if that offends you, don't read this. I still found it revolutionary.


The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Amazing. I actually wanted to read this because I watched the movie Ten Things I Hate About You. Is it really bad that I found myself connecting so much with this crazy girl who almost tries to commit suicide? I just understood what happens when you lose your purpose in life. In a way, The Bell Jar is a much darker version of Where'd You Go, Bernadette? Esther is able to recover and it just gave such an accurate picture of mental instability and how one gets there. Esther was not born crazy, in fact she was high achieving and successful. Craziness is a thing that could happen to anyone and it just matters how you deal with it after. I recommend to everyone.


One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
I have been raving about this book for a long time. You might have heard this rave before if you've been following me long enough. Even if you've read up to this point, you can see how much I like this book. I was impressed this. I hadn't expected it to be anything other than a stereotypical girl book (Four Blondes was..). Bushnell didn't force happy endings, which I really appreciated. She allowed her characters to grow and face reality. This book had A LOT OF CHARACTERS but Bushnell cleverly connected all of them. You understood how they were all related together. Even if a character didn't make an appearance for a couple chapters, it didn't feel weird when Bushnell tossed their name into other characters' dialogues. Instead of focusing so much on men and woman balances, she focused on the inner workings of Fifth Avenue. Awesome read. Sorry this one is so long!
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
I love this book. I accidentally found this book in a used book store and I was no expecting much (the movie was awful); but it became my entrance into chick lit and out of young adult. It's funny, light, and has lovable characters. Kinsella can do cliche without making the reader roll her eyes (ergh, complicated grammar story not sexist). You won't find any deep meanings or themes in this book but everyone needs that day to just roll around in bed without thinking of much. Kinsella does a fantastic job at portraying Becky (the protagonist) as a normal girl who makes normal mistakes without making her seem mediocre compared to her millionaire husband. Try it, you'll probably be happily surprised. I read all of her other books but I feel like I shouldn't review all of them here.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Murakami. I love this book too. I had to do Murakami for my term paper as you may have read in one of my earlier posts. This book really spoke to me. It's all about finding connection in a world where we have isolated ourselves so much. Finding beauty in the ordinary is also a big theme. I have to warn you though, some parts of this book are WEIRD but that shouldn't stop you from reading. It is a long book at 1000 pages but I was enjoying every single page. In fact there were moments where I couldn't physically read anymore. Just when I was losing interest (writing a 10+ page intellectual paper does this..), I read A Wild Sheep Chase by Murakami and I was back to loving everything he was saying. He mixes Japanese and American culture so effortlessly and definitely worth reading.
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
After seeing so many copies of this book at my local used bookstore, I finally relented and bought a copy. I'm so glad I did. It's a modern rendition of Pride and Prejudice. It was cute and smart and a fun read. It talked a lot about how the right guy will love you no matter how much you weigh or how big of a fool you make of yourself (which I have indeed found true). It was a good choice because I've been sort of unhappy with my weight and it seemed like Bridget was having more or less the same issues I was. It is a diary and Bridget is absolutely lovable. Definitely recommend!



The Future of Freedom by Fareed Zakaria
I was really dreading this. It was summer homework for AP Comparative Government. I was so pleasantly surprised. I took AP European History sophomore year and everything I learned was cleverly incorporated into this book. I think that was one of the main reasons I enjoyed it so much. This book makes politics entertaining and brings up a lot of issues that I hadn't thought of. Although not the perfect beach read, it's a great way to seem really smart at the library cafe. Zakaria did a wonderful job. I recommend this for people who seriously like politics and even those who casually watch the news sometimes.
PS, some lady approached me in the coffee shop and said how it was obvious I wasn't reading for fun in this disappointed voice. Who says government can't be fun? Obviously not Zakaria.
Shop Girl by Steven Martin
Yes this is written by the actor who happens to be a guy. I have yet to see  successful chick lit written by a guy. Scott Westerfield comes close with the Uglies series. I absolutely hated this book. It tried to be insightful and thought provoking while maintaining the chick lit genre. It has elements of both: a girl caught between two guys and does have some moments where you feel some ball of energy leaping in your stomach (at least that's how I feel whenever I read anything thought provoking). In the end though, this book fails at being both. I don't see the appeal in this book. Go read some Egan or Kinsella. Chick lit falls under the "junk food" branch. No one wants to eat cheapened foie gras or a high end ramen. Not enjoyable.

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
I consider this a disappointment. It tried to step outside the chick lit boundaries and failed. It's still a fun beach read but something whimsical, cute, sweet, and the awhhh-factor is missing. It really needed some character development. I don't think this book is bad but definitely not worth it considering you could be reading thought provoking by Jennifer Egan or Gone Girl. Perhaps these types of books have ruined chick lit for me.




This One is Mine by Maria Semple
I'd like to mention that this is her first book... Everything I loved about Where'd You Go, Bernadette? is missing. There's excessive cursing and characters I really didn't care for. Violet and Bernadette are similar characters yet Violet was so whiny and annoying. There were moments when I understood why she was high maintenance and other moments when I understood how her husband David felt. Unlike Gone Girl, Maria Semple didn't quite have control of perspective yet. Bernadette came across as misunderstood but Violet seems ungrateful. The ending was a bit confusing and I would give this maybe 2/5 stars.

 Look at Me by Jennifer Egan
Although I didn't like this one as much as A Visit from the Goon Squad, I still enjoyed reading it!! It details the story of a model, Charlotte, who loses her identity after a car accident. She and another Charlotte (the daughter of her old best friend) are connected by a mysterious man named Z. Z was the only character I didn't quite get. The complicated character web and analysis of media and perception were something worth reading. I definitely recommend this one!



The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Oscar Wao
I wanted to read this book for a long time!! It won a Pulitzer Prize and has a pretty good rating on Goodreads. I couldn't stand it. I mean I liked the characters of Oscar, his sister, and Yunior. However, I really wasn't into Diaz's writing style and the profanity. Although lots of people found Yunior's voice and style refreshing, I did not. I was also not into the treatment of women. 3/5 stars.







Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
After reading Our Town (5/5 stars!!) in English class, I have grown kind of fond of plays. Plays are the master of setting the scene behind your back. My dad didn't think I'd enjoy this book but I really did. The downside to reading this was feeling an incomparable sadness. The story focuses on Willy Loman and his two sons. An idealistic father doesn't see the true nature of his sons and suffers from a memory repeating in his head. The structure is a bit confusing at first but you learn a little bit more about what goes on in Willy's head and all of a sudden it clicks together. I love books that do that. This is the exact reason why I loved Gone Girl so much. Clever plot twists are something that I really admire. I would definitely recommend this book (as well as Our Town).

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
Now I know I said I wouldn't review ALL of her books (and I haven't..), but this book was just too good to pass up. I recently found this at the bookstore right next to the library I went to all summer. I paid $2 and wasn't expecting much. After reading the recent Kinsella books, I have a lower opinion of her writing for sure. This was written in what I consider the "golden age" of Kinsella. The characters are all different yet lovable. There are examples of their personalities and they all stay pretty constant. So much character development is present! The thing I loved most about this book was how effortlessly the plot was tucked in. Kinsella was leaving little hints throughout the novel and by the end, you're just like "oh! that's how it all connected together." I love it when the whole book just clicks together like that by the end of the story. 5/5!! Must read!

Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
This was a class assigned book but rather enjoyable! It's just like the original Korean drama with ridiculous amounts of drama. It definitely keeps you on your toes because weird things start happening. Remember that character you thought had died? Welp, they come back like five chapters later. Remember the hint of suspicion? Welp, you're right she's not . . . ah it's so hard to do this without spoiling the book. I definitely do recommend reading this because it was a lot of fun :) The language is a bit tedious but definitely not as bad as The Scarlet Letter.



Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
This was also a class assigned book but ah, it's one of my favorites. My dad forced me to start reading in 6th grade but I never finished it. I never even got past the second page. It's all about the timing and maturity! Lesson: don't force people to do things they aren't ready for. They won't enjoy it anyway. Frankenstein was so profound and I love the way Shelley describes the world that Victor and the creature live in. I have always been a big proponent of looking beyond the surface (even if I can't sometimes..) and this whole book is about delving under appearance to see the intelligent, kind, loving person underneath. It bugs me that Hollywood has somehow managed to screw everything up and call the creature Frankenstein. News flash: Frankenstein is actually just the creator. Isn't that annoying and troublesome? AMAZING read.
Skinny Dip by Carl Hiassen
Have you guys ever read Hoot? or Flip? Well the same guy apparently writes a ton of adult fiction. I was looking for something entertaining and new to read and bought this one in a heartbeat after seeing it on the one dollar book cart. The back of the cover seemed so promising and I was excited to read about the wife of a biologist who is pushed overboard by her husband and mysteriously resurfaces (hahaha?). I was disappointed by the mediocre plot, writing style, characters (they lack a certain sparkle or pizazz of normal people), etc. To put crudely, it was a cheap YA book (and oh please you know that most YA books are cheap) with a lot of sex, and not well done at that. I will not be reading any more of Hiassen's works.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
This book was so awesome... one of the best books I've read all this year! I guess I haven't really read very many so... but still! I really admired Chris McCandless for going out and pursuing his dream even if he was a bit of an idiot about it. The writing style is so simple, modern, and easy to understand. I highly recommend!!






Entries to come-- (sorry for the delay!!)
+Emma
+A Windup Bird Chronicle
+ The Glass Castle
+ Olive Kitteridge
+Heart of Darkness


3 comments:

  1. How do you get the cool layout on your blog? Looks awesome. Also how did you put your posts into categories like book reviews etc. Thanks :D

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  2. Hi Bobby Rose! Thank you for visiting my blog :) I really appreciate the feedback! I just played around with the features Blogger allows you to customize (like the background the colors for the text). I created 2 different pages so far (one for About Me and Book reviews). If you have any other questions feel free to leave more comments or email me at yawn2006@gmail.com.

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