For a long time now, I’ve been reading mostly mystery novels, or in other words “fluff.” It wasn’t until recently, when a new friend asked me what I liked to read, that it really hit home that it had been a long time since I had read anything of substance.
This post will act as my reading journal and I will add books to it as I read them.
To find something of quality to read , I decided to read through the list of Pulitzer prize winners/nominees. Here and there, I’ve picked up some other books too (still, after all is said and done, I can’t wait for Sue Grafton’s “W” 🙂 )
The only thing to add here is: My all time hands-down, favourite book ever – The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand, 1943. I was never the same after having read it…
Room, Emma Donoghue, 2010
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
I’ve read several other books since I had read “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” and as much as I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read so far, none has affected me to the degree that this book had. Yes, it made me cry, and yes and it me laugh, and it had me gripping the edge of my seat, but best of all, it surprised me. This just doesn’t happen often enough and thus I am grateful! Awesome, awesome book. I couldn’t put it down, I continued reading it until it got way to late, and then I read on until it was finished. A most unique book, I wish I hadn’t read it just so I could read it again and be surprised anew. I loved, loved, loved that book start to finish!
My Favourite Line
I wish I was four.
A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan, 2010,
We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from the city’s demimonde and experiences an epiphany of his own while staring at a sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Museo Nazionale. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life—divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed-up band in the basement of a suburban house—and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang—who thrived and who faltered—and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far-flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.
This book won the Pulitzer prize for fiction. I have to say that just for this reason, I expected more. Was it an enjoyable read? Maybe enjoyable isn’t the right word. Maybe interesting, and not in the way Jack and Ma from “Room” mean, is more accurate. Throughout the book, I wanted to know what else happens, and I was compelled to keep reading to find out. By now, I’ve read some “proper” reviews. There are mixed feelings. Most of the reviews acknowledge that there is much discontinuity alongside the continuity. Some feel it’s more of a short story collection with a common cast than it is a novel. Everyone agrees it represents a dark view of growing up and growing old. Some like it, while others do not. Will I read another Jennifer Egan? You bet!