July Reads

I’m going to start a new segment on this blog where every month, I’ll post a list of 5 books I’ve read along with their jacket copy and a short review of each.

And without further ado:

  1. I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world. (Goodreads)

OKAY. OKAY. THIS BOOK. I liked this book from the start and fell completely in love with it by about the third or fourth chapter. Jandy Nelson’s writing style, man. I AM HERE. FOR. THIS. I loved Noah’s chapters, especially the little (SELF PORTRAIT/PORTRAIT) things, and I loved Jude’s chapters too with their bible snippets—both things that made the novel unique. Oh, and Oscar. Oscar. He was real and broken and lovely, and I’ve been waiting for a male lead like him for ages. (He’s even British, man.)

I don’t even think I have anything bad to say about this novel. It was real, honest and gritty, and I loved all of the characters. What I strive for as a writer and what I love as a reader are characters who are real human beings that are broken but not utterly defined by their brokenness, and that is exactly what I got with this book. It’s probably one of my top five all-time favourite books, actually. (Also, the Noah/Brian subplot broke my heart into a thousand tiny pieces and then glued it back together at the end, and I did not mind one bit.)

  1. NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City—and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date. (Goodreads)

So I honestly didn’t expect to like this novel, but then there was Nick who I adored immediately and then his friends and then finally Norah, all of whom I adored just as instantaneously. This book was funny and exciting and it kept my attention entirely. Just like Nick and Norah stayed up all night to go on their whirlwind adventure, I stayed up all night reading about it.

  1. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST by Ken Kesey

In this classic of the 1960s, Ken Kesey’s hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women, and openly defies the rules at every turn. But this defiance, which starts as a sport, soon develops into a grim struggle, an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Nurse Ratched, back by the full power of authority, and McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. (Goodreads)

So I actually read this one for my final project in Philosophy. We were given a list of books to choose from, and this one caught my eye because my dad had been bugging me to read it for ages. So I read it, and yeah, it was a bit slow getting into at first, but I read the last half all at once because I couldn’t put it down. It’s very different from my usual reading tastes, but that’s probably one of the things I liked about it best. It was true literature, and I could really sink my teeth into it and get lost in it. I loved McMurphy, and I loved watching him teach the other men to become “strong” again. The ending broke my heart, too, but it was probably the only way a book like CUCKOOS NEST could have ended. I learned so much from this book, and I am so grateful that I took the time to read it.

  1. THE SECOND SEX by Simone de Beauvoir

Newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time, and brilliantly introduced by Judith Thurman, Simone de Beauvoir’s masterpiece weaves together history, philosophy, economics, biology, and a host of other disciplines to analyze the Western notion of “woman” and to explore the power of sexuality.

Sixty years after its initial publication, The Second Sex is still as eye-opening and pertinent as ever. This triumphant and genuinely revolutionary book began as an exceptional woman’s attempt to find out who and what she was. Drawing on extensive interviews with women of every age and station of life, masterfully synthesizing research about women’s bodies and psyches as well as their historic and economic roles, The Second Sex is an encyclopedic and cogently argued document about inequality and enforced “otherness.”

This long-awaited new translation pays particular attention to the existentialist terms and French nuances that may have been misconstrued in the first English edition; restores Beauvoir’s phrasing, rhythms, and tone; and reinstates significant portions of the “Myths” and “History” chapters that were originally cut due to length, including accounts of more than seventy female figures.

A vital and life-changing work that has dramatically revised the way women talk and think about themselves, Beauvoir’s magisterial treatise continues to provoke and inspire. (Goodreads)

I haven’t even finished reading this book, but I already love it. Actually, I didn’t even get to the second page of the introduction without grinning. I’ve admired Simone de Beauvoir ever since I learned about her type of existentialism in my Philosophy class, and this only got worse when I did my French final project on her. I find her super cool for so many reasons, and reading THE SECOND SEX just cemented this. I love her take on feminism and I love how well she presents her argument. She unapologetically stood for what she believed in and did what she felt was right for her, not caring about what anyone else thought of her. Basically, I love Simone de Beauvoir, and reading THE SECOND SEX only furthered her into girlcrush-dom.

  1. ALONG FOR THE RIDE by Sarah Dessen

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend. (Goodreads)

So this is probably the fifth Sarah Dessen novel I’ve read thus far, and I think this one is in my top three favourites of hers and maybe even tied with THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER. That, coincidentally, brings me to another of the things I like about this book and Sarah Dessen’s writing in general: she gives characters from her other novels cameos the one you’re reading. In ALONG FOR THE RIDE, Nate Cross from LOCK AND KEY is mentioned as well as Harriet’s key necklaces, and my personal favourite, the connections with THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER. Jason Talbot is back, and he even mentions Wes as a “juvenile delinquent with a tattoo” which made my day.

Anyways, I really liked this book because it was different from Sarah Dessen’s other stories. Auden’s parents were very flawed but they recognized this, and, at the end of the book, tried to overcome these flaws, which I liked. Auden was a very interesting character and I enjoyed reading as she grew from this shy, sheltered being who was forced to grow up too fast to this person who wanted to be someone of her own right. And Eli. Frankly, I was kind of bummed at first because I’ve previously written a character named Eli who wears faded blue hoodies and has dark hair and green eyes, but I got over this pretty quickly. (Although it was kind of weird because I’ve never read this book before, but hey.) Like Auden, I really enjoyed watching him return to his former self.

 

What were some of the books you’ve read in the last month? I’m always open to more book recommendations 🙂

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3 thoughts on “July Reads

  1. ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is a great book. The original movie adaptation, starring Jack Nicholson (the 1975 version which is available on DVD, from Netflix and as pay per view on most cable channels) is excellent to. Most movies today aren’t very true to the book but that one does the book justice. For a female version of the same sort, try Susanna Kaysen’s 1993 memoir, ‘Girl Interrupted’ and the 1999 Wynonna Ryder/Angelina Jolie movie of the same title that it spawned. Kaysen also wrote the 1990 novel, ‘Far Afield’ about a grad students anthropology project on a remote Danish island. It’s interesting reading too to see how her mind was working before she made herself go back and write the memoir (she’d been institutionalized back in 1967).

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    1. Yeah, I really liked ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. The movie was great too but I’ll admit that I liked the book better. Thank you for the recommendations! I’ll definitely look them up 🙂

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