Summer readin’

Because I have not blogged in quite a while, with the exception of my last post which was for a school project, I decided to post a brief entry for my readers (i.e. myself). It is the summer season here in South Carolina, and I have the lovely fortune of living mere minutes from the beach. I have only been to said beach twice in the last four weeks. Mostly, I have spent my time running errands, babysitting, and (surprisingly) (thankfully) reading. This post is going to discuss the books I’ve read, I plan to read, and am considering reading. For the last category, I would greatly appreciate your input in the comments and in the fancy poll I’ve installed.

Books I’ve read:

  1. 1984 by George Orwell. This one has been a long time coming. See here.
  2. Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisenberger.
  3. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I still have a few pages left in this one.

In our society, those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is. In general, the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion: the more intelligent, the less sane (Orwell 221).

This quote exemplifies one of the many reasons I loved reading 1984, even though I took eight months to finish it. The novel is written mostly like prose, frequently appearing as philosophical discourse within Winston’s (the protagonist’s) mind. Winston’s story undoubtedly enchanted me with its illegal sexual escapades and its veracity in its extremities. It is not hard to draw similarities between Orwell’s constructed (and predicted) society and modern society, but it is just as easy to understand the differences.

Before departing Orwell with an compulsory Big Brother reference, I would like to include a final quote from 1984.

Sanity is not statistical (223).

Numbers can be twisted just like words; this type of ignorance is one of my pet peeves and makes all involved sound and feel ridiculous. Ranting stops here.

Last Night at Chateau Marmont does not warrant a memorable quote because it was a particularly dull novel. I am a fan of Weisenberger’s previous works, most notably The Devil Wears Prada, Everyone Worth Knowing and Chasing Harry Winston. I found this book on the bargain table at Barnes and Noble, which should have been my first sign. But I am a faithful fan and an impulsive shopper; one cannot afford to pass up a $5 novel. Honestly, reading Chateau is akin to any of the pitiful clips of text in People magazine.

I tried in all 300 pages to find a redeeming quality in Chateau, but a saviour never came! Save your time from devouring the story about a chubby nutritionist and her rockstar husband like I did. If you are in the market, however, for chick lit invariably set in New York, may I recommend any of Weisenberger’s other works. They are equally light, charming, addictive and wonderful.

After searching extensively for the single missing box from my packed up apartment for my copy of The Great Gatsby, I temporarily gave up and picked up a random book from my mess of a bookshelf to accompany me at the pool. I purchased Into the Wild for a class I later dropped, and it, unfortunately (fortunately?), has no resale value.

The author cites Everett Ruess’s letters, drawing comparisons between his life and Chris McCandless’, at one point in the novel. One sentence stuck out to me:

I had some terrific experiences in the wilderness since I wrote you last – overpowering, overwhelming […] But then I am always being overwhelmed. I require it to sustain life (Ruess; Krakauer 91).

Is this not the case? It is certainly the truth in my life where I define living as action; consistently exercising each of my senses in order to learn, grow, and – most importantly – enjoy my youth. Nothing is more aggravating than lazy young people. I understand not wanting to work or be confined to a schedule, but there is so much to do and so little time to do it. Any experience is a good experience because it either builds character, builds pleasure, or both.

This is the spirit Krakauer captures in searching for answers to McCandless’ actions. He does not merely report facts, but attempts to understand the essence of Chris: what he believed and practiced, where he came from and where he hoped to go.

In traveling the wilderness alone, Krakauer reflects,

Because I was alone, however, even the mundane seemed charged with meaning (138).

While I agree with this statement as well, out of context it does not acknowledge the increased meaning that comes from community. I believe that Krakauer recognizes the value of community, and implicitly implies it within his account of Chris’s life.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to intellectually. Now for the books I plan to read before August 31:

  1. Catching Fire and
  2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. As much as I despise 1st person narrative, I will suffer through the Hunger Games trilogy, if only to appease my friends.
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Do I need a reason? No. I have several though.

I am very excited to get through this list. Past these books, I am unsure of where to go next. Obviously, come September 26, I will be absorbed in J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, but until then, these are the books I’m considering.

  1. Whatever’s on my bookshelf, including essays by Martin Luther and Ralph Waldo Emerson, some flea market finds…
  2. Some of the books on my Amazon list
    1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. I am slightly conflicted about this book due in part to this article, but being told not to do something always forces me to do exactly that. What are your feelings on this?
    2. The Comedians by Graham Greene. Haitian politics, banned in Haiti. What’s not to love?
    3. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbech. After reading the inspirational story behind its publication, am I intrigued enough to read it?
    4. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.

I leave you with Chillmaster Emma.

Chillmaster Emma

And now! Here is the poll you all have been waiting for…

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