Originally posted September 8, 2011.
And in case anyone was wondering, even while I was seeing all the sites of Europe, I made time for a lot of reading. Thanks to the Kindle I still had the lightest luggage, too! Anyways, here’s the run down
1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Everyone has been telling me that this book is the new craze, it’s the new fantasy/sci fi novel fix, and that it should be next on my list. So, to stay awake and get over jet lag in Amsterdam, I read it. I have to admit, it was better than I expected. It didn’t all resolve beautifully at the end. The apocalyptic version of the United States intrigued me, but didn’t overshadow the main story: Katniss growing up and realizing what she wants as an adult. But it ended on a cliffhanger, which as very annoying, plus I’ve heard that that very same cliffhanger doesn’t get resolved in the next book. Can you say “Twilight?” Hearing that makes me want to not read the next book and just enjoy the possibility left open at the end of the first book. And then maybe I’ll still enjoy the movie, too.
2) Three Plays by Rajiv Joseph: I started these plays as we left Berlin. And I’d already finished two of them by the time we got to our hotel in Munich. It usually doesn’t take me long to read plays, but I read these plays so fast because they were amazing. I’d heard of “Gruesome Playground Injuries” and “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” so I was expecting them to be groundbreaking. And they were, but my favorite play was “Animals Out of Paper.” Right now, I’m interested in playwriting. I wrote my first full-length play last summer and miraculously enough, it was produced at my college in the spring. If I wasn’t obsessed with plays and theatre before, I really am now. So when I read plays, I think of how I would write the same sort of situations. “Animals Out of Paper” created beautiful, normal characters put in odd, but completely believable situations. And yet they all spoke poetry. I took copious notes on this play and I hope that some day I can write like this. Please Rajiv Joseph, let me follow in your footsteps.
3) Beauty and the Beast by Marie Le Prince de Beaumont: This wasn’t a real book, but it made for great bedtime reading one night in Munich. Even though it was a French fairytale, it felt right to be reading it in Germany, the land of the major fairytales.
4) Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift: Here is my big reading project. I thought it would take at least a month out of my summer. Everyone, including one of my best friends, told me it would be horrible. She didn’t even finish it. But since Jonathan Swift went to Hertford College at Oxford University, I felt obligated to give his greatest work a good try. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it and raced through the book. I finished it before we even started the journey home. I was surprised how the portions on Lilliput and Blefuscu figured within the whole novel. In every trailer or portion of movie adaptation I’ve ever seen, they always show Gulliver tied down on the beach as hordes of little people run around him. I was surprised to find that this only makes up the very beginning of the book. One of four parts, actually. I was also surprised at how disgusting Swift could be. Gulliver puts out fires with his “water?” Boys, no matter what era or country they are from, they are still disgusting. I only hated the end of the book. The Houyhnhnms bothered me. Maybe it’s because I’m not a horse person. Maybe it’s because Gulliver was so obsessed with them that he wouldn’t even look at his wife and children at the end of the book. But I could have fine without the “perfect” horse people.
5) The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel by Aimee Bender: I picked this up for a fun read. It ended up being a deeper read than I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot. It’s about a girl who realizes at the age of eight that she can taste the emotions of the people who cook food for her. There were so many gorgeous passages and honest descriptions of emotion, the taste of food, and relationships. It helped me stay awake through our long layover in Chicago and gave me a lot to ponder. It’s not just a silly women’s bestseller; it’s a surprisingly small, melancholy novel.