Another school year has come and gone which means I get to spend another 3 months catching up on my personal reading list! Even though I haven’t blogged since the first week of May, I’ve already been able to cross two books off of my list–both of which made me want to go back Disney World (OK, let’s be honest, I always want to be in Disney World). Anyway, I’ve finished Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination by Neal Gabler and the final installment of Ridley Pearson’s The Kingdom Keepers series.
Gabler’s biography won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography in 2006 and has received much praise as the definitive biography on Walt Disney. I actually started this book back in December when I went to Disney World for Christmas vacation, but time ran away from me and I wasn’t able to finish the 800-page monster until May. It was well worth the time it took to read it. Rather than just documenting the hard facts and figures of Disney’s life, Gabler probes into Disney’s psyche and attempts to show the reader the darker side of Walt Disney without completely damaging the image of “Uncle Walt” people know and love. Although the chronology is a bit jumpy at times, the formula of the book shows how Disney’s mind worked–he was constantly working on multiple projects and was always thinking about future films and ideas. Disney was a perfectionist and spent much of his career attempting to reach the perfection he achieved in Snow White and always falling short.
As a Disney fanatic, I was afraid Gabler was going to damage my vision of Uncle Walt–Disney was known for his short temper and at times downright cruelty to his employees. Instead, I came to understand why Disney acted this way and found a deeper appreciation for his vision and creativity. I don’t usually cry at the end of biographies–especially if the subject has already died. This book was so well written, however, that I was in tears when I turned the last page. I highly recommend Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination to all Disney fans or anyone interested in the Walt Disney company.
Pearson’s The Kingdom Keepers VII: The Insider is the last installment in the series–one that I have been reading since middle school. I was anxious to see if the Keepers would finally defeat the Overtakers and bring the Disney magic back into the parks. I had my qualms about this book from the beginning, however. Pearson let fans help write parts of the book through an online contest, so I was worried that the quality of writing and the plot would get lost. Most of the time the transition from Pearson to fan worked well, but it was hard to ignore some sections with strained metaphors and over-dramatic prose. Then again, this is a book written for people much younger than me, so I really can’t be too critical.
I’d like to say that the plot saved the book from being disappointing, but sadly, I can’t. Maybe it’s because I built this book up too much. Maybe it’s because I knew exactly how I wanted it to end. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading this series for so long I was sad to see it end. Whatever it was, I wasn’t happy. Questions were left unanswered, riddles were left unsolved and relationships were left undefined. It almost felt like Pearson copped out on his readers–he didn’t want to give us the ending we wanted but then was afraid he would make us angry by letting the bad guys win. It made for a confusing and highly disappointing ending. One that made reading the series almost pointless.
But then again, reading is never pointless.
John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening
Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Thanks for reading!