Reading over Break

Now that my Winter Break is over, I’ve had a chance to reflect on it and appreciate that I actually got a LOT done which makes me immensely happy and satisfied. (Warning: the following is pretty uh, longer than I intended)

One of my goals was to read extensively over the break. So I asked for a lot of books over Christmas. The first book I read was The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s an incredibly moving story about a butler in England who spends his entire life serving Lord Darlington, sacrificing all personal relationships and enjoyment. It’s only at the end of his life does he start to regret some of his choices, particularly in connection with Ms. Kensington and his naivete towards Lord Darlington. We watched the film in my British Lit class so I wanted to read the book and I wasn’t disappointed. Don’t listen to Family Guy on this one. 😛

The second book was Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki, the woman that Arthur Golden supposedly based his book, Memoirs of a Geisha off of. After having read the two, I seriously cannot see how these were even supposed to be the same woman. Basically all that Sayuri and Mineko have in common is that they were both dancers. It’s no wonder Mineko was at all dissatisfied with Memoirs, it has nothing to do with her life and the two do not even take place in the same time period. I really like both books though, but after reading Geisha, Memoirs just seems so unrealistic.

Next I delved into the world of Jane Austen and read Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility. I just love Austen and reading these was nothing short of fun. It’s weird for me to say it since a lot of people have such a hard time reading her work, but it was so easy for me to get into the sometimes silly worlds of Austen.

Persuasion was kind of sad, it’s about Anne Elliot whose mother has died, leaving her with a father and sister whose greatest admirers are themselves. She has a friend and mother figure in Lady Russell, who incidentally was also her mother’s best friend and loves Anne exceedingly. Anne was once in love with a young sailor named Wentworth but as he had no fortune or good connections to reccomend him, Lady Russell persuades Anne to reject his proposal. Years later Anne still regrets it, but once Anne visits her other sister Mary in a neighboring town, she meets the now Captain Wentworth again. OMG do they get back together?? Read it and see ;D I rented the movie a couple of days ago and they sure took some liberties! There were a few instances where things that characters did were so out of character it made me angry. Like when Anne was at the concert and she was practically begging Captain Wenworth to stay? Yeah, that would not have happened!

Next was Northanger Abbey. This one is about Catherine Morland, who falls in love with a man named Henry Tilney while in Bath with some friends. Although some of her “friends” and “family” seem determined to thwart her plans, she is eventually able to strike up a friendship with Henry’s sister and father and invited to stay at their home, Northanger Abbey. Will Catherine be able to win Henry’s heart while she’s staying so close to him?? (The answer is yes, obviously, this is an Austen novel. But just barely.) I guess there’s a TV movie about it. Don’t plan on seeing it. 😛

After Northanger Abbey came Mansfield Park. I think I liked this one the best out of the three. This is about poor Fanny Price, whose mother’s rich relations the Bertrams decide to take her in and give her a better life. However, she’s always treated as second rate by everyone except her good cousin, Edmund. Of course she eventually falls in love with him, although it’s against the family’s better wishes. Eventually the family pretty much disintegrates through a series of unfortunate events: the oldest son, Tom Bertram, falls extremely ill after several years of philandering and being pretty much useless; the oldest daughter Maria destroys her extremely fortunate marriage; the youngest daughter Julia elopes with one of her brother Tom’s friends; leaving poor Fanny and Edmund to pick up the peices. Throw in the good for nothing Crawford family, whose siblings are trying to woo Fanny and Edmund apart, and you have a nailbiting adventure that I couldn’t read fast enough, if only to GET IT OVER WITH AND END THE SUSPENSE. Also has a movie, maybe I’ll Netflix it. 😀

The last Austen book I read was Sense and Sensibility. The movie starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet is one of my favorite movies, so I was pretty acquainted with the storyline. After reading the book I appreciated some of the differences between the two and how the book had some supplementary material, but the movie did an EXCELLENT job of preserving and even enhancing the book’s storyline. Excellent. But I have to say, in the book (if possible), the Miss Dashwood’s brother and her wife, along with Lucy Steele are even more hateful than in the movie haha.

The last book I read over break was My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. At first I loved the premis and thought it was really thought provoking: thirteen-year-old Anna was conceived to be an organ donor for her sister Kate, who is dying of leukemia. Finally after years of donating blood and bonemarrow Kate seems to be on the last downward slide and she needs a new kidney. Anna disrupts the fabric of her family by challenging her very purpose in life and refuses to give the kidney, and files for medical emancipation. The first 7/8s of this book were really good. The ending just sucked though. I felt like all of a sudden it turned into a shitty soap opera and ducked out of dealing what would have been a really interesting issue. I hated hated HATED the ending, and unfortunately that caused me to hate the book. I’ll probably never read any Picoult again if this is how her books are going to turn out. Anger.

Now I’m in school, and aside from the normal tripe I have to read (ie: Beowulf) I am really enjoying it. Mostly I’m enjoying my contemporary novels class. We’re reading The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (by the way, I love that this class FINALLY taught me how to say those dutch names that end in “tje.” ON-DAH-CHEE. I love how his name does not sound like it looks, it fascinates me. Thank you Dutch people for your wonky spelling!) and I’m really enjoying it so far. I think what I like best is the part where I get to imagine Ralph Fiennes being all so fine when I read it. HOT. By the way, about the movie, am I the only one that thinks Kristin Scott Thomas was WAY too old to be playing Katharine? Katharine was supposed to be way younger than Almasy, but in the movie they look about the same age. And if I were Katharine, I would be torn, too. Who could choose between Ralph Fiennes and Colin Firth (who happens to be one of my true loves)? It’s cruel and unusual punishment to even think of choosing. Just have a menage-a-trois instead. 😀

6 thoughts on “Reading over Break

  1. I like long entries. *cuddles*

    I cant believe I found another person who loves “english literature”! And I absolutely love Sense And Sensibility, also Emma, is really good as a movie! Do you like the Bronte sisters as well?

    I ditto what you said about My Sisters Keeper. What a let down, HUGE! I have some more books from Picoult at home, which are waiting to be read, as soon as I have finished, I will let you know if they are better.

    Still have to read the Geisha books, which one is better? 😀

  2. Mansfield Park is my favourite book by Austen. Absolutely loved it. Go girl on the reading!

    I personally loved My Sister’s Keeper, though. It really touched me and I felt that Anna was totally in the right for doing as she did. I would have done the same, and if that makes me a mega-bitch – so be it. Picoult is a master at writing. I reccommend The Pact or Harvesting The Heart, or Plain Truth.

  3. yes I LOVE the Brontes! Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books, I need to read more of them, too.

    YAY I’m glad someone agrees with me about My Sister’s Keeper, lol.

    I’d say if you want a realistic portrayal of what it’s really like to be a geisha, go with Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki. If you like romanticised fiction that’s still enjoyable to read, go with Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Ideally you’ll read both xD

  4. I agree with you, once I reached Anna’s age I probably would have started thinking that I didn’t want to be a spare parts farm for my sister. But I felt like killing Anna off was a cop out, and the ending that would have been much more interesting and thought provoking would be everyone actually RESPECTING Kate’s wishes and letting her die, and the family having to deal with being a family whose focus is not a little girl with cancer. We can agree to disagree though. xD Maybe I’ll give Picoult another try someday. 🙂

  5. It’s a tough issue. Heaven forbid, I’m sure we would only really know how we felt given the time we were in the actual situation. Either way – women are so strong!

    Don’t let it put ou off her.

  6. I have also read Sense and Sensibility,Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park, and well as Pride and Prejudice, amd Emma. In all I have found lovable characters, eloquent description, and a humanitarian element to Austen’s books. I’m, I must say, ecstaic after reading your thoughts about Austen’s novels. I completely agree with your response to Sense and Sensibility and truely enjoyed the movie and the book, both for it’s wickedly delicious characters and the love and charisma of the sisters. I do wonder what your throughts might be on workds by the Bronte sisters.
    -In all, it’s spectacular to hear such wonderful responses to such lovely english literature! Not many people these days have the maturity to appreciate works of Austen’s and the Bronte sister’s style.

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