Big Books

Don’t let the title of this post fool you: small books can hold a lot of amazing content, too. Big books, however, have the physical capacity for more. When at the library (and when I know I have the time) I always search for a large book. That way, it fills up a lot of the extra reading time I have. Finishing big books leaves me with an awesome sense of accomplishment. For example, Gone With the Wind, one of my favorite books, has 1,037 pages. Finishing that book gave me a great sense of relief and I felt overall more intelligent, mostly because it was a historical novel, but also because it held so much content that was based in fact. I don’t want to put small books down, though. F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the most amazing writers ever and none of his books exceed 400 pages. This shows what an amazing author he is because he can get all of the wonderful content inside his head into a small book that will be cherished for years to come.

What I also love is a big amount of books. If I know that I’m going on a holiday break, I stock up on as many books that I can. Sadly the school library only allows that I check out 6. However, the public library lets me check out as many as I want! Unfortunately, I live far from the library, putting me out of bounds to use the library. Do you see my predicament here?! However, my boyfriend lives out of town, but the town he lives in has a library so I use it. Going on break gives me a lot of time to catch up on my reading and finish that giant list that will keep me busy for a million years. I usually get large books that will take up plenty of time, even though I’m a speed reader.

Books are awesome. That is all there is to it. They provide entertainment, education, and release from boredom. Picking up a book, reading it, and finishing it gives one a sense of accomplishment that nothing else can compare to. Big books are filled with so much content that makes you feel smarter in the end. So go ahead and pick up a big book-don’t be frightened by the size and just read it. You will never know what will happen if you don’t.

Life of Pi (Part Two)

This book was fantastic, and I can now see what all the hype was about. I love Martel’s style of writing and the way he just puts his story together, and how it seems that he is part of the story, even though it is fiction. The story picks up from my part one post were the ship sinks and Pi is left out on the Pacific Ocean in the close quarters of a Bengal tiger. It turns out that Pi was stranded for 227 days, 7 months! When watching the movie it didn’t seem that he was out there this long. Pi tries to train the tiger named Richard Parker to respond to him, and in turn, not devour him. Days go by on the lifeboat. Near the end of the novel, Pi and Richard Parker stumble upon an island that has no vegetation other than algae, and no animals other than meerkats. Pi stays there for a few days, and says he wouldn’t mind living there forever, until he comes across something horrific. Dead fish have been cropping up in small freshwater ponds throughout the island and Pi realizes the island is acidic, with the ability to nocturnally kill anything. He finds this out after finding the dead fish and a complete set of teeth on the island. Pi eventually reaches Tomatlan, Mexico, traveling a whopping total of 10,000 miles in all, and a total of 2,000 miles away from his destination before the shipwreck, Winnipeg, Canada. In the end, Pi is interviewed by two men from the Japanese Ministry of Transport about his story and the cause of the shipwreck. They don’t believe the true story that Pi tells them, so he makes one up but they decide the first is more believable.

Life of Pi was a really great read. I love how it seems that the author is included in the story through the narrative and it made it a different type of storytelling, like mixing life with fiction (even though all fiction is based on life). Martel really knows how to use his words, whether its making the reader feel the monotony of Pi’s journey on the sea, anxiousness from the fact that Richard Parker could eat him, or just completely grossed out by some of the descriptions that are in the novel. However the author makes you feel, his words have an amazing impact. After all, “Words have no calories.”

Life of Pi (Part 1)

503af6a3_life-of-pi-book-cover

Picture from: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/topic/322102-life-of-pi-3d-blu-ray-review/

Let me just start off with an apology: this was one of the few books I read after I watched the movie. All the literary greats can shun me for what I’ve done, and I regret it. My mom always asks me why I read books and then watch the movie, saying ‘it ruins the ending of the movie’. To this I have no words.  As you all have read before in my post about reading comprehension, I kind of have to watch the movie if I don’t understand the book, which is usually all of the time. That’s what I love about reading, the mystery that my brain can’t ever figure out.

Yann Martel is a superb author. The style that he writes with is uncanny and I love the way his sentences are kind of choppy, but artful. It just somehow makes him seem intelligent and articulated. The story starts out with an author’s note, describing how he was experiencing some writer’s block before composing this novel and how he came about to writing this one. It is about a man named Piscine Molitor Patel, Pi for short because of some people who teased him in school, and his life on the family zoo in Pondicherry, India and an adventure he endured when he and his family were moving to Canada. Having already see the movie, I knew what was going to happen. (*SPOILERS* but my blog is a never ending spoiler so you shouldn’t be surprised). While on their way to Canada with a majority of the animals, the boat mysteriously sinks, with Pi, a tiger named Richard Parker, a zebra, and a hyena being the lone survivors. Eventually, it’s just Pi and the tiger left, with Pi wondering how he will survive on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with a tiger on board.

What’s great about the dialogue in this book is that it seems that Pi is telling the story specifically to Martel, when he really is just talking to the main narrator. This makes it almost seem like a nonfiction novel, or a biography. So far, I’m really liking this book, but I still regret watching the movie first because now I have a permanent picture of the characters and scenes in my head, so I can’t make up my own.

The Trial

thetrial

Picture from: http://guineaoye.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/welcome-to-franz-kafkas-guinea-ceni-cooking-up-election-fraud-opposition-politicians-banned-from-prefectures-and-prosecutor-fernandez-hunting-down-peuls-video/

Franz Kafka left his readers hanging in his novel called The Trial-literally. It is an unfinished book, with fragments that were deleted and a story that was kind of mishmashed together. It was written in 1914 but published after Kafka’s death in 1925. In my copy of the novel there is an appendix, with the unfinished ending to chapters, deleted fragments of sentences, and a postscript from a friend of the author named Max Brod, who put all of the parts of the novel together. It follows the story of Joseph K., and a very strange year of his life. On his birthday, he is arrested for no apparent reason. The reader comes to find out that the court system in this novel is one of confusion-guilt is assumed and the decision is up to the judges. The book is a little hard to follow since it skips a lot of time and it is sort of pieced together. Throughout the novel, K. meets a lot of the people who become involved in his trial, like Leni whom he becomes romantically involved with. He also meets a painter named Titorelli who wants to help him prove that he is innocent. In the end, Joseph K. is executed, the nature of his crime never fully announced to the reader.

Overall, this book wasn’t my favorite but I did like the challenge of going back and forth from the story to the appendix and seeing what the author deleted or added. This, to me, made the story more personal because it was like seeing Kafka’s drafts of the story and seeing how he progressed through the novel. However, this was also tough because it took away from the story and I would have to remember what he was talking about before I went on and continued the story (see my post about reading comprehension and you’ll understand how this was difficult for me). This book almost felt like a dystopian novel, in a future where this type of court system could be possible.

Heart of Darkness

conradjoetext96hdark12a-thumb

Photo credit from: http://manybooks.net/titles/conradjoetext96hdark12a.html

Let me start off by saying this book is really short. A grand total of 74 pages. If you read one book for the rest of your life, you are capable of reading this. Even though the story is a little hard to follow, it is longer than a Sports Illustrated magazine, so I think one could handle it. After all, everyone needs to read at least one classic novel of their choice in their lifetime, but that’s just my opinion. This book really reminded me of Lord of the Flies by William Golding, because of the primitiveness and the setting, in a way. The story is of a young man named Marlow, a sensitive and quiet Belgian trading company employee. It is set during the time of imperialism, focusing on ‘the scramble for Africa’ and on the way other countries were exploiting the resources Africa provided. The story relates to the author’s time in the “Congo Free State” in 1890, which severely affected his health, and he published the novel in 1899 as a three part article in a magazine and then published as a short novel in 1902. Anyway, it follows Marlow and his journey for the company into the deep of Africa realizing it is not what he imagined, saying “…I had blundered into a place of cruel and absurd mysteries not fit for a human being to behold.” . On the way, he hears of a great man named Mr. Kurtz, a trader who gathers the ivory so the British can sell it. Kurtz has become, in a way, one of the natives and he is quite primitive. Marlow and his crew are attacked by natives a few times throughout the novel, causing the death of the helmsman that Marlow had become close to. In the end of the novel, Marlow finally meets the elusive Kurtz, and he is dying from an illness. Near the time of his death, he gives Marlow a packet of papers for people that he was close to in his life and his workplace. He dies saying, “The horror! The horror!” Marlow travels back to England, falling ill himself, which was probably typical at this time without proper healthcare conditions, and he gives some of the papers to Kurtz’s fiancé. She asks what Kurtz’s last words were. Marlow lies and says it was her name. Way to go men, lying to women just to make them feel better about themselves. In the end, Marlow has a feeling that he knew Kurtz, even though he only met him once after hearing rumors about him. In the novel he says, “Kurtz was a remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it.”, suggesting that he and Kurtz were more acquainted than they actually were. Marlow also seems to have mixed feelings towards Kurtz, seeing him as awesome and mysterious, but also as pathetic and small.

I apologize if this review was a bit sparse, I read this book almost two weeks ago and you can see how that would be a struggle considering my last post. However, I really liked this short novel (not because of the length, mind you) because it had to do with history. Seeing an author’s connection with their current time period and then writing about it has been done countless times, but it still gives us some insight to how life was like back in a time we really can’t imagine and what people were like. That is my favorite thing about historical fiction and classic novels: they were written in a time period that would’ve been forgotten if we hadn’t had those authors write it all down. History would be nothing without recordings of it, and we would be nothing without them.

Reading Style

I have always been an avid reader. From the time I first started to read, I devoured every little word I could find. Reading for me hasn’t really been about getting away and getting sucked into a story; it’s more like a competition with myself to see how much I can do and how I can do it in the least amount of time. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good story that leaves me breathless in the end. But I have never gotten really into a story to the point where I lost all track of time and inhibitions. Some of you out there are like that, and that’s great! I envy you. I also have horrible reading comprehension. Ask me about a book that I read two weeks ago and I will be at a loss for words. I have a great memory for numbers or random things like what side of a page a quote was on. I really only remember my favorite books. I had been alright with this little glitch in my memory until recently. That’s what I like about having this blog, I can look back on it someday on all the great books I read. I’ve tried ways to improve my lack of comprehension by reading slower (I am a notorious speed-reader) and lately I have been thinking about having a notebook that I use specifically for when I read. I could write down important points, quotes, factual information, or questions I have. I feel that when I’m old this would be a sort of diary for me-to look back and see what I was interested in at the time and how I have changed over the years. When I read, I have a system. First I choose a book from my seemingly endless list. Then I read it. Usually, especially if it’s a classic, I will get very confused and have no idea what it is talking about. This really bothers me so I go back and reread parts that I don’t understand. This is time-consuming and frustrating to me. After I read the book, and if I’m still confused, I read the synopsis of the book on Wikipedia. Some may think this is completely wrong and that I’ve cheated myself out of the experience of reading. I think its more enriching because it is a complete description of the novel in layman’s terms. I can remember parts of the book that were not so easy to understand and connect them to what I read on Wikipedia, making the book much less complicated. Also, if available, I watch the movie adaptation to the book. This is sometimes difficult because of schoolwork and my job that take up most of my schedule. But when I have a free chance, I try to find a movie on YouTube or Netflix. Seeing a novel acted out puts my mind completely at ease because I am such a visual learner. This is also the reason why I don’t listen to audiobooks but I’m thinking of trying it sometime soon. Tons of books have been turned into movies so it is not too hard to find a match. However, I solemnly vow to never watch the movie before I read the book.

How do you remember something you read? Do you have a system like I do or do you just wing it? Please please please comment! I would like to know so I can further improve my comprehension and learn some things from all of you! Happy reading.