summer reading #2

Since I’m stuck in my hotel room with the flu, I figured it was time to update. Unfortunately I do not have enough of the books on my reading list with me, so I’ve had to resort to reading books that I borrow from others (the horror!). But as I haven’t updated in awhile, here are the books I’ve read since my last summer reading entry:

1. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. I read the title story in high school, and I read The Namesake soon after it came out, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading this entire collection. It was good to read, because I should definitely be reading more short fiction, and New Yorker “short” fiction starts to piss me off after awhile. This was a pretty good collection, though occasionally it got a bit boring. I suppose it’s something all authors have to do–spend a couple hundred pages in one of their first major works writing thinly veiled autobiographical things (ahem, The Kite Runner) or otherwise similar-to-life stories, and there’s nothing really wrong with knowing something very well and writing about it. But after awhile, I was a bit bored with already knowing the setting (East Coast), characters (Indian immigrants to the US), etc. Still, really great stories, easy to read but not in an over-simplified sort of way, and largely enjoyable.

2. Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne. This was totally not what I was expecting. Well, it sort of was, because it was definitely really funny teen angst, but I was not quite ready for the really, really ridiculous talk about sex and erections, nor was I prepared for the absurdist tone of it all. It’s definitely a good 500-page read, though. I love it when teenagers in novels have preposterously good vocabularies but still find themselves obsessing over crushes. Good stuff.

3. Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger. I will be the first to admit that I own a copy of her first novel, The Devil Wears Prada, and I have read it multiple times. I have also seen the movie twice. It’s perfectly fun, and this book and books by Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham are probably the only chick lit books that I feel happy reading, because they’re not completely WASPy (read: annoying, predictable, full of harping ladies a la “The View” and “Sex and the City” who hate their parents for no real reason, obsess about what they’re eating and whether they’ve farted in front of their partners, and don’t ever go to work) and they at least read like they’re written by someone who has read good books and has a good vocabulary. But this book, though kind of fun, ultimately fails because the only way it is fun is the exact same way that her first novel is fun, because it is exactly the same as The Devil Wears Prada, just with different names and a different job. Even The Babysitters’ Club was not this formulaic.

4. The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll. This beautiful, large edition of the book comprises both novels, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, which together are usually adapted to make the movies that we know as “Alice in Wonderland.” Reading the annotated version was fabulous, because they just allow you to understand so much more. The “absurd” parts aren’t really that absurd, there are tons of math games, and the poems are often based on popular songs and poems of Carroll’s day. The annotations also explain his “pedophilia” in detail. AND the second Alice book, which is a lot more fun than the first, is actually very cleverly modeled after a chess game. Do children’s books do all that anymore? I think not. Awesome. Read it.


2 thoughts on “summer reading #2

  1. Namesake wasn’t a book I’d recommend to people, and I got bored with the setting of a lot of the stories in Interpret of Maladies too. But the first story, “A Temporary Matter,” is one of my all-time favorite short stories, and I keep her book on my shelf just for that one story.

    Hope you feel better.

    • Yeah, I agree. there were a few stories I really enjoyed. She’s still a good writer; she just needs to expand her environment a little further.

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