12 Mar 2009

Monthly Reading: January + February 2009

This is going to be a similar series to the "Monthly Movies" feature, sharing and commenting on what I've been reading during the past month (in this case two). I actually did get a start on writing this post, but it somehow took on a life of its own (as words so often do!) and morphed into a declaration of love of the written word weaved into a good story (related post here)...

Some months will probably have more to offer than others as lately my reading habits have become somewhat erratic. I have less time to read than before as I have more work and am doing less travelling (and using public transportation less) and I try to avoid reading too much before bed as doing so entails the risk of getting hooked on the material and not being able to turn the light off until 3 a.m. or thereabouts! :p But sometimes I'll just get sucked into something and turn back into my old bookworm self and hide myself away within the pages of a novel and not come out 'till it's done, and then only to grab the next volume in the series (if it exists). Ja vorรฉm! ;o)

And now, without further ado, here's what found its way to my nightstand in the months of January and February:

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
"After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up and finds herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy?"
I picked this one up out of Austen-related curiosity. It's no secret I adore Jane Austen's novels (have lost track of the number of times I've read them) and I frequently regret the fact that there are only six of them (just discovered there's an incomplete novel available out there!). Although I've seen various attempts at "completing" some of Austen's novels (namely Pride and Prejudice) I've never really been tempted to acquire one (my doubt of its quality and resemblance to the original material outweighs my curiosity). On the other hand I did succomb once to the temptation of a book about Austen's novels and their meaning for the characters (The Jane Austen Book Club), and as I enjoyed it quite a bit I figured I'd give this one a shot. As a history-buff the premise intrigued me since I've often tried to imagine myself living in the historical period of several of the books I've read. So this "Yankee in King Arthur's Court" take on Austen's world was enticing. And although it's quite amusing and at times informative (for day to day living solutions at the time), the characters fall flat, they feel a bit two-dimensional, and it feels too modern (perhaps due to the first person narrative that -although useful as it's a window into the protagonist's mind and allows us to experience her culture shock- it still gives the whole thing a very 21st century mentality).

The "Twilight" series by Stephanie Meyer: Twilight - Eclipse - New Moon - Breaking Dawn
Twilight: "When Isabella Swann moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret."
O.k., so I think most people living in the U.S. and the U.K. (particularly if they have daughters between their teens and their twenties) have known about these books for a while now. If not, then all the ruckus around the movie (Twilight, out last November in the States) should have made them at least aware of their existence. The fuss around the movie (actually about the fans) is what caught my attention last Fall. I kept wondering what the hell was going on, what was this movie based on a book I'd never heard about (and supposedly so famous it was like the new Harry Potter; sorry people, just getting started on this side of the Atlantic!) that had such wild fans... So I went to see the movie out of curiousity (that and I'm a sucker -no pun intended!- for vampire stories) and was pleasantly surprised! Yes it's aimed at teenage girls and young women in their twenties, but it was a fresh take on a teenage romance that felt well written, directed and well acted. But I left it at that, had no intention of taking it a step further and picking up the book. Until a friend came to visit me from Belgium (oui miss, c'est ta faute!!!) with book number 3 under her arm and waxing lyrically about how much she'd enjoyed the first one (she picked it up in an airport as an "easy" read for a vacation) that she just had to go out and get the rest... She'd also loaned the first volume to a Swedish friend and gotten him and his girlfriend hooked on them as well... I was like, "Woah! These aren't teenagers, these are people with well developed reading habits and critical minds. If they're enjoying the series so much I guess there must be something to it!" So I headed down to the Fnac and picked up Twilight. And I was hooked! Had to order the rest off Amazon 'cause they were out of stock at the Fnac and I wasn't about to wait 10 days for them to arrive. I actually read books 2 and 3 in less than a day! I'll have to read them again before I can be truly critical, but for now I have to say they make for a damn good read! The first person narrative makes the story feel very alive, gives it the sense of urgency you can imagine a 17 year-old girl feels when she first falls in head over heels in love. The story is very fast-paced and makes it very easy for you to just let yourself be taken along for high-speed ride. The characters are pretty well rounded, engaging, and the environment where it takes place is well developed. One of the few things I had a problem with though was the school. Everyone seemed too nice. High school isn't usually that nice...
The four books pretty much round out the story of the relationship between Edward and Bella, as well as their friends and family, coming to a series ending (although I guess more could be written, but this is complete as it is) that doesn't disappoint. All in all they cover a time frame of about 2 years. Perhaps when I read them again and can take it more slowly I'll have a different feel about them, but for now I think they're highly enjoyable novels and if you're trying to find a way to get your teenage daughter away from the TV and into reading more, try these! Hey, if Harry Potter worked for my sister... why not? :p

2 comments:

  1. You seem to like not just reading, even reading from books.. am glad to know :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. How can one like reading but not reading from books? Seems to me a love of reading by definition should mean books!!! ;o)

    ReplyDelete

Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)