Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Well, since the scorching New York heat is providing a good reason not to go outside my air-conditioned-existence, this seems as good a time as any to Take On The Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge.
I’m reading my way through the Beginners list and wanted to share with you all. Feel free to share your thoughts too!
THE BOOK IS BETTER: READ A BOOK BEING ADAPTED FOR TV OR FILM THIS YEAR
A Favorite Quote: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.“
Technically, The Handmaid’s Tale was first adapted on Hulu two years ago, but if you know me by now, you know “better late than never” is kind of my life’s motto.
This book may have been published in 1985, but it is still eerily relevant today. Its theme of female oppression in a patriarchal theocracy and its exploration of individuals who fight against this dystopia, both parallel our current events. Needless to say, this is not an easy book to read.
My complaint with this book though is the ending. Without giving any spoilers, let me just say I dislike ambiguous endings, as a personal choice. For me, ambiguous endings make me feel cheated and frustrated as a reader.
There I am, heart in my throat as I read how Nick helps Offred escape the Commander’s house. She steps into the van, I flip the page and—nothing. Did she escape? Did she make it to Canada? Or did the Eyes capture her? Was she sent to the colonies to die? WHAT HAPPENED, BOOK? Also, did she ever find out what happened to her husband? Is he dead? WHERE IS HE, BOOK? You see? Frustrating.
P.S. I know there’s an epilogue, but the epilogue didn’t answer my questions as to what happened next, so I’m still frustrated.
ACTUALLY WANT TO READ: READ A BOOK THAT’S BEEN ON YOUR WANT TO READ SHELF FOR MORE THAN A YEAR
A Favorite Quote: “How often were you aware, while it happened, that you were living an hour that would change the course of your life forever?”
The Cormoran Strike series can be summed up in murder mysteries, complex plots, and fun, intriguing characters. J.K. Rowling has proven, time and again, that her strengths and talents lie in novel-writing, and I was in awe of the layers of storytelling that laid here and the seamless way she tied everything together at the end.
That being said, was it really necessary for this book to have 656 pages? *stares*
IN THE FRIEND ZONE: READ A BOOK A FRIEND HAS RECOMMENDED
A Favorite Quote: “Love isn’t meant to be hidden away and life is too short for shame.”
I was recommended Something Like Summer with the assurance that it was a classic rom-com of a read, a young love story with all the feels and a satisfying ending. So it was…and then some.
This book is an emotional rollercoaster of an investment. It’s so easy to relate to Ben, our narrator, and feel everything he feels. When he fell in love, so did I and when he hurt, oh man, so did I. In between the rom-com moments were themes of self-acceptance, of allowing ourselves to make mistakes and mature, and most importantly, of finding the courage to love, no matter how scary it may be.
Overall, this coming-of-age story was fast-paced, sincere, and realistic. Consider this your recommendation from a friend.
NEW VOICES: READ A DEBUT NOVEL
A Favorite Quote: “Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some.”
There were many things I liked about Red, White, and Royal Blue: the fun premise, the fact that America’s first family is biracial and that Prince Harry is gay, all the diverse characters and the witty banter. But there were just as many things I didn’t like: the lack of depth in any of the characters (Alex, one of our main characters, could essentially be boiled down to 80% sarcasm, 10% rallying speeches, and 10% constantly lusting after Prince Harry), the dragginess of the book towards the latter half, and quite frankly, the inability of the book to make the reader care about anyone or anything happening in it.
All in all, reading this book was the equivalent of having a funny, cliché rom-com playing in the background while you do some chores, occasionally stopping to laugh at a scene or smile when the main couple kiss.
IT TAKES TWO: READ A COAUTHORED BOOK
A Favorite Quote: “Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life.”
What an apt quote for this book since a huge reason why I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is because I have fallen hopelessly in love with Dawsey Adams, our narrator’s love interest. It’s the Mr. Darcy conundrum.
Beautiful leading man aside, I loved our narrator, Juliet Ashton as well. I loved her love for books, her outspoken attitude, her independence, her witty sense of humor, and her warmth. When I read her letters, it felt like my best friend was writing to me.
Speaking of letters, this book is written as a series of letters sent back and forth between Juliet and all the other characters. Personally, I found the unique storytelling format refreshing and had no trouble keeping up with the plot happening in all the different characters’ letters. And what a plot. This book is a moving love story meets heartbreaking war story set in one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
My only complaint: The ending felt too rushed. It was a good ending, it was just…abrupt.
Juliet and Dawsey get married after just a week of being engaged? Seriously? I get that they’re in love and all that jazz, but Juliet couldn’t have at least waited for her best friend to attend her wedding?
P.S. I loved Netflix’s movie adaptation too. It was a faithful adaptation and the casting was perfect, particularly Lily James as Juliet Ashton and Michiel Huisman as Dawsey Adams. As if I needed another reason to love the character. *sighs*
That’s five books down and seven more prompts to tackle on the Reading Challenge. If you have any recommendations that would fall in one of the remaining reading prompts, leave them in the comments!