Posts tagged books
Posts tagged books
I have to say, this book’s title is a little off-putting. It seems so proper and important, which made me think that the book was going to be proper and important. Well, it may be an important book, but not in the way the title suggests.
I got this book as a gift, and I had no idea what it was about when I started reading it. All I knew was that it sells really well and that there’s a lot of hype about it. And so, I was all set to be disappointed.
And of course, I wasn’t disappointed in the least. Rules of Civility follows Katey Kontent (pronounced “con-tent”) through one year filled with romance, questionable friendships, budding ambitions, and lots and lots of alcohol. On the first day of 1938, she and her roommate Eve were living their lives on the cheap—staying in a boarding house, kissing boys in bars in order to pay for their martinis, sneaking into movie theaters by outwitting projectionists with some lacy lingerie—you know, probably what your average Saturday night is like, right? That is, that’s what life was like until the girls meet Tinker Grey. The rest of the novel traces how all of their lives change from that moment on, and how even the smallest decisions, moments or encounters can alter the grander scheme of your life.
What I liked most about this book was the atmosphere of it. One review reads:
“Towles conjures up vintage New York so marvellously that it made me feel nostalgic for a place I’ve never been to.”
And they’re absolutely right. I wish I lived in that New York. I would almost call it noir, except that I conflate that term a bit too much with detective fiction. It’s smokey and glamorous and filled with a sort of anything-can-happen feeling that’s really difficult to put down.
The book is also filled with some really witty and quotable lines. Two of my favorites:
“Slurring is the cursive of speech”
“Doesn’t New York just turn you inside out?”
Note to the reader: if you’re picking up this book, don’t skip the preface. It’s really more of a prologue.
I had this book sitting on my shelf for a while. I think I bought it even before I moved to New York. Actually, yes, I did. I remember paying $17 for it and realizing I needed to get on the eBook bandwagon, which was a very difficult decision to make. But that will likely be a post for another time.
The main reason I picked this up is because I wanted to read it before seeing the film. I still haven’t seen the movie, but I plan on seeing it soon, mainly because I am still kind of confused.
This book was not easy for me. The narrative style is such that it forces you to think like a spy. George Smiley, our often-times narrator, will leave out details as he’s talking to other characters. I couldn’t decide if it’s meant to be back-story that we learn as we go, or if we’re supposed to be employing deductive reasoning to figure out what he’s talking about. Either way, I think I only grasped 75% of it (and that’s being generous). At one point, I even went online to check if this were the second or third book in a series only to find that it’s actually the first in a trilogy. Gosh, I’m so ashamed.
It’s entirely possible that I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to read something like this. I read most of it on my commute and in a piecemeal fashion that this book probably doesn’t deserve.
All that being said, I still enjoyed reading this. The story was as compelling as it was confusing, and I just had to see how everything played out. I’ll likely give the second one a try after watching the movie. Hopefully I can get enough clarified through the film so that I can enter the sequel in a better mindset.
It’s been a while since I last read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. I’m a part of a poorly organized book club, and at my suggestion, we decided to read this book. It’s my “go-to” suggestion for anyone who is looking for an interesting read, but I typically recommend it to my male friends who need suggestions.
In Cold Blood was the start of a new genre—a foray into literature combined with journalism that had never been attempted before. The official term for this genre is True Crime, which is, I’m sure, a familiar name to most people. Capote memorialized/fictionalized/reported the real murders of a well-respected family in Holcomb, Kansas from the day the crime was committed to the execution of the criminals.
If you’ve already read this one once, I would definitely recommend reading it again. The second time around I was much more interested in imagining how Capote got the information—from a journalism standpoint. I also found myself being more critical toward how Perry was portrayed. Considering that this crime really did happen, Perry becomes a bit too sympathetic as a murderer (at least for the people of Holcomb, I’d imagine). In the end, I found myself wondering whether this book was well received by the town.
The film adaptations of this book provide their own interpretations. I particularly liked Infamous, which stars Toby Jones as Truman Capote and Daniel Craig as Perry Smith. This film was kind of cast aside in the media (it came out one year after Capote, starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman).
Dear Harry Potter,
How to begin? Our relationship has lasted quite a while. I remember when I first heard about you. It was summer, and I was maybe eleven or twelve years old. I overheard a conversation between my bunkmates at summer camp. One girl said, “I bet you’re a Hufflepuff!” The other girl, clearly offended, replied, “No way! You’re a Hufflepuff!” And of course, I thought it was all nonsense.
I tried to be cool. I tried to act like I wasn’t interested. I even turned down offers to borrow the book. I will not conform. It was a child-like attempt at assuming an identity.
But upon returning home from camp I found the first three books neatly placed on my bed. My mother had bought them for me. Alas! I couldn’t escape. They were staring at me. Mocking me. Demanding to be read.
And so began my obsession.
I held my breath as you took flight in your first Quiddich match. I laughed with vindictive glee when Hermione slapped Malfoy across the face. My heart swelled with pride as the Weasley twins pummeled Umbridge with fantastic magical fireworks. I mourned the loss of Sirius and so many others on your impossible journey of vanquishing evil.
And now I mourn the loss of you, my dear friend, who has grown up with me. Your series has ended. There are no more films. Pottermore is just a sliver of your greatness.
But I have always thought that my grief was more profound than that. You became the symbol of my childhood, and when you ended, my years of being carefree, of living in the glorious aura of a life without “real” responsibilities, ended too.
It has been almost five years since The Deathly Hallows. In that time I have received two degrees, braved a harrowing job market, started a career, gotten my own health insurance, and maintained a relationship throughout it all. In the world’s terms, I have “grown up.” And maybe the world is right. I feel grown up. I feel responsible. And I feel a certain pride in this responsibility.
But you have never left. You may have ended, but you’re still there. With one flick of a page I can find myself surrounded by those childhood feelings I have left behind in the real world. I can remember what it was like to be young and impetuous and free.
And for this, Harry Potter, I thank you.
Inspired by this article from BookRiot, here are some of my dirty little reading secrets:
What are some of your dirty reading secrets?