Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hey, I'm Back!

You would assume, by my lack of updates here, that I haven't been reading. That's untrue. I've been reading like a fiend. So much so, that I had to stop blogging about it.

You see, when I read too much, I tend to just over-do it. I don't read books one after the other when I'm in this frenzy; I read them all at once. And that leads to a lot of abandoning because if one book is less interesting than the other, say, four books I'm reading, I'll stop reading that one since I have so many others on the go.

Added to that is my slight aversion to writing book reviews for books I've not finished. I just can't do it. I don't feel right about critiquing a book I haven't finished because I'm not committed to it long enough to get to the end. It just feels like cheating, you know?

So I stopped writing here. But I kept reading! So I thought I'd mark my return to The Punnery with a brief overview of the books that I have finished and really enjoyed over the summer!

Oh, and...I was also pretty busy this summer. Can't blame a girl for wanting to get a tan, right?

Anyway, here's what I read (and loved) on my summer vacation:

1) Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

Little known fact: I've always wanted a more refined palette. I suspect years of living in a smokers home has reduced my ability to taste and smell to a fraction of what it could have been. Of course, over time it will improve. I have no doubts about that, but if only I could have the ability to smell like Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the main character in Suskind's tale of intrigue. Set in eighteenth-century France, Suskind creates a tale of a man whose greatest passion is his own sense of smell. As he learns to create his own perfumes, he is consumed by the desire to create the perfect scent, taken from the still-warm bodies of young virgins.

Such a good tale. I cried out in disbelief at some parts of the book and couldn't stop talking about it as I was reading it. Ask, Kiki. She couldn't get me to shut up about it.

2) A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

This was my first trip into an Ernest Hemingway book. Previously I'd tried reading The Old Man and the Sea, but I was young and I didn't really have the patience. I'm glad I read A Farewell to Arms, though. It's about an American ambulance worker stationed in Italy during the First World War. At the front he meets a beautiful nurse and they fall in love. It's a really simple story, but it's really about the characters in this one. I knew that Hemingway was known for his words, the simplicity of his narrative, but the beauty within it, but I didn't really understand that until I read his book. I was taken in by the love between Leutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, the beautiful English nurse.

3) The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

I wasn't going to add this at first because it's one of the books that I didn't finish, but I felt I needed to address it. This is the second time I've given up on this book. I even wrote a blog post about it on Simply put, this book is my Moby-Dick. I want to catch this bloody white whale SO badly, but it's TOO MUCH for me! The conversational latin, the theological and philosophical discussions, and the reams and reams of descriptive paragraphs...I just can't do it. I got further into it the second time around, but it got to the point where I would groan thinking about picking it up each time. I carried it in my purse like a ball and chain for a week before I left it on the sideboard finally and picked up Too Good To Be True by Kristin Higgins—the exact opposite to this book. I wish I could say that I loved this book. It has SO much potential, but I fear that Umberto Eco is just too smart for me, and for that, I have to concede defeat. No one likes to think they're dumb, especially when they're reading.

Right now I'm reading two books, and I'm on the verge of abandoning one as I'm not really enjoying it. The first (the one high alert) is The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud. I see too much of myself in the navel-gazing New Yorkers, and I'm really looking for an escape in my books right now. The second is How To Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young, a memoir of his five-year tenure at VANITY FAIR, a publication that I absolutely love. It's a real eye-opener about the magazine and I'll say more when I actually finish the book (very close to it!)

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