Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Readings (Vol. I)


I hope everyone is doing wonderful! As a recent graduate enjoying this limbo time between my MA and my PhD, I love the fact that I can read for pleasure. Time management is huge in grad school and you usually end up sacrificing some hobbies. I used to be the biggest bookworm when I was a kid. I was the first kid in class to learn how to read when I was 5 and my 4th grade teacher told my mom she was scared amazed that I read as fast as an adult (proudest middle school moment). So this summer, it is my mission to read as many books I can. You can take an English grad out of literature, but you cannot take literature out of an English grad (OK this last phrase made no sense but whatevs).

And this is why I'm inaugurating the "Summer Readings" series for my blog where I will review the books I have read so far. I will start with this two books:

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
This one is a classic. I mean, it's not from the Shakespearean era, but the movie that was based off this novel was a masterpiece. This novel is located in a Benedictine abbey in Italy during the Middle Ages, where a series of deaths of different monks of the abbey is intertwined with a theological dispute over the poverty of Jesus Christ and the validity of different orders. The narrator of the story is novice Adso of Melk, who travels to the abbey with the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville. The two of them uncover a series of mysteries of the abbey which specially have to do with the humongous collection of books in the labyrinthical library.

I have always loved the movie, I saw it in school a million times (I wonder if they owned any other movies apart from this), and I thought it was incredibly interesting. Friar William and Adso reminded me of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, but it was even better because history of religion was involved with the presence of the Inquisition, and I love learning about it. So I found it in the college library and I thought it was about time I read the novel it was based off. Like the movie, I really liked it. I learned more about the characters and the way the unraveling of the mystery escalated in an awesome way, I couldn't put it down. A downside may be that unless you are very versed in Latin and the history of catholicism, some of the plot lines and phrases have to be looked up, and I usually don't like stopping for that when I'm reading, so I would recommend getting a newer version with notes, which I'm sure exists.

Do I recommend it? Yes!
Buy it here or here.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Another book that I wanted to read after watching the movie. I wish I read the books before, but there is also a positive side to watching the movie first: You are usually not disappointed because the book is usually better than the movie, and whenever I learn there is a book behind the movie I get excited to learn more about the characters from the book. After watching the movie a bazillion times (I think I should watch new movies instead of rewatching the same ones but what can I do, I love some movies), I was looking for an excuse to read the book, and since I was trapped in the Midwest after graduation because my travel plans fell through after my relationship was over, I needed a distraction, and I finally decided to purchase it. And OMG I'm so glad I did.

As many of you know, The Help is located in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, where African-American maids clean the houses and raise the children of the crème de la crème of Jackson. The books is told from the perspectives of Skeeter, a white girl who belongs to the social circle yet is unmarried and dreams of being a journalist in NYC, and two maids, Aibileen and Minnie, who take care of very peculiar families which are under the influence of Hilly Holbrook, who makes the devil look like a puppy. When Skeeter starts publishing a column on house cleaning in the local newspaper, she asks Aibileen for help, and from there, the idea of writing about the experiences of the Black maids of Jackson takes shape. As I expected, I learned a lot about the characters, and I practically devoured the book. Something unusual is that the storyline does not go exactly the same way as in the movie, and the portrayal of Celia Foote is more negative than in the movie, I believe. In any case, stop doing whatever you are doing and start reading this book right now.

Do I recommend it? Yes!
Buy it here or here.

I hope you enjoyed the first post of this series, and any recommendations for new books are HIGHLY appreciated! :)

- Ane

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