My March reading saw some great books and some not so great ones, although I think that I am about to divide opinion - or maybe just have it all against me - on one particular book.
The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
"A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don't get to choose our own hearts. We can't make ourselves want what's good for us or what's good for other people. We don't get to choose the people we are."
"That life - whatever else it is - is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open. And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch."
Where do I even begin? The Goldfinch is fantastic. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried at the end for the beauty of it, and I cannot remember the last time that a book made me cry in quite that way. I knew hardly anything about this book before I started reading it, other than the fact that other people (whose opinions I trust) had said it was amazing and it was selling so fast around Christmas that I was unable to get my hands on a copy in New York. I think I preferred it that way because, as the book unfolded, I never knew what to expect. If you don't already know everything about this book, I don't want to ruin anything, so all I will say is that the plot of this book about a young boy who survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. I found that what the book is really about is beauty, love, loss, obsession and survival. It is absolutely gripping. Go read it now.
The Fault in Our Stars John Green
"What a slut time is. She screws everybody."
"Grief does not change you...It reveals you."
I think that I may have missed something with this book. I picked up The Fault in Our Stars, partly because it has gotten such great reviews (both from friends and from the "experts") and partly because it was this month's book for a book club that I've been wanting to try out for months (more on that to come). However, when I read this book, I thought that it was a fine read, an easy read, and it had its touching and somewhat poetic moments, but it was not at all the clever masterpiece that I had been led to expect. This is a story about two teenagers who meet at a kids-with-cancer support group and fall in love. You can largely guess where that goes. The book is sweet and sad and hopeful in equal measure. Yet, for me, something was missing. I have not deal with cancer personally, nor have I been around a cancer sufferer, but I am all too familiar with the loss of young loved ones, well before their time, and in one case due to a tumour-related disease. Maybe I'm jaded. I still plan to attend the book club next week to attempt to discover further insight (well, mostly to socialise), and I will keep an open mind.
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
"He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it."
"People were always getting ready for tomorrow
The Road tells the story of a man and his son making their way along the road, making their way to the coast and seeking to survive another day. They have almost nothing. The world is largely vacant and covered in ash. For the good guys, the only food available is what they can scrounge up from what has miraculously yet been undiscovered. A short but compelling story about survival, hope and despair, it drives on until its end.
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!
Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.
Now this book doesn't really need any review, but I'll include it anyway for the sake of completeness (and just in case it happens to spur you on to finally reading it). This is the first time that I've read Pride and Prejudice, and I'm so glad that I finally got around to actually doing so. I was obsessed with the 2005 film with Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen when I was in college and used to spend many a hungover Sunday watching the DVD. That was until I saw the BBC mini series with Colin Firth, and I now I know what's what. Wikipedia tells me that this is a novel of manners, in which the main character Elizabeth Bennet deals with manners, upbringing, morality, education and marriage in the landed gentry of early 19-century England. What it is, is a love story - one about first impressions and one we all know. If you haven't read it yet or want to read it again, I highly recommend it. I also really enjoyed spending some time with the Penguin Drop Caps version, with a vibrant cover designed by Jessica Hische.
PS: I've linked all of the above books to The Hive Network, which allows you to shop online but cuts your favourite local independent bookstore into the sale and even allows you to pick up the book in store if you want.