A Bittersweet Summer

I was afraid this was going to happen. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have always been more of a reader than a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy writing–but given the choice between the two, I would rather stick my nose in a book. So when I set out at the beginning of the summer to make a dent in my reading list, I knew it was going to take some self-discipline to keep my blog posts coming. Obviously, I failed quite miserably. On the bright side, the summer was just as successful as I had expected it to be–literarily speaking at least. Since I last blogged, I’ve read 8 books; every one just as captivating and enthralling as the next (for the most part), and I have three more to check off my list before the summer is over. To top it all off, I hit a milestone in my golf career–I shot a 74 in a tournament at my home golf course and finally earned the Arnold Palmer signed flag from his last British Open my mom has been bribing me with. Looking back on the last couple of months, it is a bittersweet ending to Summer 2013. I’m ready to go back to school and return to a schedule, but I know that the countless hours I spend leisure reading will be minimized if not non-existent. Anyway, here are my latest reads–hope you find your next one!

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger—I was pleasantly pleased with this book. Largely considered a classic of American Literature, I held it up to a high standard and it met my expectations. The angst and pessimism of Holden Caulfield I think is still largely appropriate for many teens today, and I found myself nodding my head in agreement more times than I expected. One disappointment, however, was the ending. For those that haven’t read it, I won’t want ruin it for you, but I wish certain loose ends had been tied and that there would have been more closure to the book. Slightly autobiographical, the Salinger does a magnificent job of showing Holden’s internal struggles through magnificent writing. By the end of the novel, the reader both hates and pities Holden-two emotions Holden knows very well. Although the book still does receive some controversy, I think it is definitely a book everyone should read once. Although originally published as a young adult novel, I think an older audience will have a greater appreciation for it than a younger audience. Overall, I was very pleased with the novel and found myself upset that the novel was over.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen– As much as I hate to say it, (Austen lovers close your eyes!) this has been the disappointment of the summer. I am by no means an Austen expert and I normally consider her one of my favorite authors, but I was angry when I finally finished this book. Not the I-can’t-believe-it’s-over angry but the I-can’t-believe-I-just-spent-a-week-of-my-life-reading-this angry. Not only was it extremely difficult to get into, I found myself loathing the heroine. While there is nothing inherently wrong with Catherine Morland, I just could not find her as admirable as an Elizabeth Bennet or Anne Elliot. There were also many points in the novel where I was reminded of The Female Quixote, and I almost see this novel as an Austen response to the heroine of that novel. Both characters have been jaded by Gothic novels of their time, and both appear to be naive when it comes to the real world. Although I still have quite a few Austen novels to knock off of my list, I can say that this has definitely say that this is my lease favorite thus far. Hopefully I can revisit this one in a couple of years and my mind with change.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini– After reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, I was really looking forward to reading Hosseini’s latest novel. Hosseini continues to display his wonderful gift of storytelling in this novel and is able to paint a fabulous picture of how families fall apart and come together, sometimes unexpectedly. I was glued to this book from beginning to end, and was anxiously awaiting the reunion of two of the main characters. The novel kept me on my toes and was one of my favorites this summer. However, I was not as emotionally attached to the characters as I was in A Thousand Splendid Suns. There were no tears at the end of this novel, nor did I need to give myself a day to recover from the emotions I felt while reading it. The story is powerful, and the character relationships are well thought out and elaborate, but sometimes the abrupt change in point of view made it difficult to feel as connected to the characters. This is a really good weekend/beach read for anyone who still has a vacation left!

The last couple of weeks I have been devoting my time to the Harry Potter series so I can actually call myself a true member of my generation. When I was younger I read through the third book, but the movies caught up with me so I gave up. This time around I have made it through the first 5 and I am kicking myself for not reading them before. Enthralling, engrossing, overwhelming, these words don’t begin to cover it. By the time I’m finished I know I will be left with an emptiness that is indescribable. Luckily, I only saw the first three movies (I made a point of sticking to my book before movie rule) so the series isn’t entirely ruined for me. I can definitely see what I have been missing, though. I’m sure members of my generation are chastising me for my lack of involvement, but better late than never, right? Since I still have two to go, I am not deciding which is my favorite yet. In the mean time, I would love to know which one is yours!

Thanks for reading!