Ok guys, I have not been faithful with these book club updates and I know there are probably two of you who care about what I’m reading. Sorry.
Last week I finished On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I went back and forth about how many stars to give this one on goodreads and finally settled on three, I think. It was incredibly well written and full of subtle dry humor, which is my favorite.
“He was bookish, she was not; he was theoretical, she political. She called a rose a rose. He called it an accumulation of cultural and biological constructions circulating around the mutually attracting binary poles of nature/artifice.”
My major complaint with it is that the characters never developed. They were complex and interesting fictional people but they kept making terrible, selfish decisions and then not learning anything from them. When I read the last page I literally thought, “What was the point of all that?” I guess you could make the argument that sometimes real life is like that, but who wants to invest in a bunch of fictional characters for 400 pages only to find them just as arrogant and self-centred at the end of the book as they were at the beginning? Not me.
Side note: so many people I talked to about this book were like, Oh! That’s a novel!?” because it has the kind of title you’d expect from a cheesy Christian Women’s Book.
I also listened to the audio book of Divergent on the way to and from camping last month. The thing with audio books is that when someone else is reading a book to you it totally affects your opinion of the whole story. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed this more or less if I was reading it myself. I didn’t like it as much as the Hunger Games, but it was still entertaining. The premise—that in the future, humanity separates themselves into five factions based on virtues they hold to be the most valuable—seemed a little more far fetched to me than 12 districts separated by industry and oppressed by a rich upper class.
At the risk of sounding super old, I will tell you the thing that really struck me with this book (and the Hunger Games too, for that matter) was how much violence is in books aimed at teenagers/young adults nowadays. They left a lot of the more violent parts out of the movie, probably so they could keep it PG-13. Because I have an overactive imagination, I find it harder to read about violent things than see them played out on screen. Despite a guy getting his eye stabbed out with a fork halfway through, it was a decent book and worth reading. I was also super impressed when I found out the author was 21 or something when she wrote it. It kept me entertained for a ton of hours driving through the mountains.
I’m headed off to the Okanagan for the long weekend and planning to take The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton with me. Do you think I can read it in four days? Might be a tad ambitious but I’ll try my best. We’re not planning on doing much except for sitting on the beach but I need to make time allowances for things like visiting a winery or trying out paddle boarding. If I do finish it though, I will finally be done all of the books I bought in Oregon last summer. And it will only have taken me one year! Not bad.
Today is my last day of work at UBC. I can’t wait to head out of town and turn my phone off for a few days before I start my new job next week. I hope you have the best of long weekends.