Friday, January 9, 2015

2014: a few books i read, part 2.

a few more highlights of my reading year, for your reading enjoyment (or boredom. feel free to skip this post, is what i'm trying to say). i put off doing a part 2 of this series for a while because the last post took so. long. to write, so i'm going to try & shorten it down this time. just some blurbs. ***quick note now that the whole post has been written: it's still pretty long. be warned.***

outlander, by diana gabaldon. i got really into reading the outlander series this summer while we were on our europe trip. i wanted to read a substantial series while we were over there, what with all the train rides & plane trips we'd be having. my original plan was to start the song of ice & fire series - but at the last minute i decided to check out this little ("little," haha) series a few of my friends had told me about, but i myself didn't know that much about. that little series...was outlander. i've read the first 4 books but don't worry, THERE ARE EIGHT BOOKS IN THE SERIES & DIANA'S NOT DONE WRITING. i've got my work cut out for me, although at the moment i'm the midst of an outlander break while i read other good things.

a quote: "'Murtagh was right about women. Sassenach, I risked my life for ye, committing theft, arson, assault, and murder into the bargain. In return for which ye call me names, insult my manhood, kick me in the ballocks and claw my face. Then I beat you half to death and tell ye all the most humiliating things have ever happened to me, and you say ye love me.'" oh outlander. bring on the love & dramaaaa.

the interestings, by meg wolitzer. i enjoyed this book, & found myself getting really into the lives & stories of all the main characters. it also resonated with me in a somewhat uncomfortable way - the story is about a group of teenage prodigy-like artists & dreamers who meet at summer camp, & it follows their lives through the years as some in the group grow up to be successful & wealthy, while others...don't. it kind of made me take a step back & evaluate my life, & whether or not i'm fully living up to the goals & dreams i had for myself when i was a teenager. 

a quote: "New York in the mid-1980s was an impossible, unlivable, unleavable city. The homeless sometimes lay directly in your path on the sidewalk, and it was hard not to become inured to them. You had to train your mind to remember: human being lying here at my feet, not someone to feel contempt toward. Otherwise you could turn sour and inward-looking, propelled only by disgust and self-defense as you made your way out into the grid each morning."

one more thing, by b.j. novak. a collection of small, fictional stories that are actually really thought-provoking, funny, & original. 

a quote: "CHILD: Why does carrot cake have the best icing? MOTHER: Because it needs the best icing." (this is actually one entire story. as in, these two lines make up the story. the story is called, "kindness among cakes.")

the virgin suicides, by jeffrey eugenides. i really enjoyed eugenides's two other novels, middlesex & the marriage plot, & this third one by him (funnily enough, it was the first novel of the three he wrote but it was the last of the three i read) was just icing - dreamy, beautifully written, & very reminiscent to me of tavi gevinson's quirky, ultrafeminine blog. i mean, i myself am of the feminine species, but this book is so well-written i felt like i was another one of the neighborhood boys, craning my neck in desperation, trying to get even the tiniest glimpse into this secret world of girls.

a quote: "[After reading Cecilia's diary], we knew the pain of winter wind rushing up your skirt, and the ache of keeping your knees together in class, and how drab and infuriating it was to jump rope while the boys played baseball . . . We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active and dreamy, and how you ended up knowing which colors went together . . . We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them."

the art of fielding, by chad harbach. similar to the interestings, i found myself really liking the characters & their development in this novel. it's very good, & i would certainly recommend it. a solid book. there is a lot of baseball talk, but of course, as it always is with this sort of thing, baseball is a metaphor for so much more. in that vein, i really loved this quote i'm about to share with you:

a quote: "Henry could feel a quiet, electric idea slithering through the ballpark as Schwartzy strode to the plate and pawed at the chalk-swirled back line of the batter's box with his size-fourteen spike. He was Westish's all-time home-run leader, and he looked the part. The Amherst fans . . . fell quiet. The tiny contingent of Westish parents stood and whistled and clapped. The other six thousand people slid a few inches forward in their seats, together producing a subtle shift in energy that was evident throughout the park . . . There was a lot of superstitious fidgeting and shifting--nobody wanted to move around too much, which was itself unlucky, but nobody wanted to get stuck in an unlucky pose . . . Deep down, [Henry] thought, we all believe we're God. We secretly believe that the outcome of the game depends on us, even when we're only watching--on the way we breathe in, the way we breathe out, the T-shirt we wear, whether we close our eyes as the pitch leaves the pitcher's hand and heads toward Schwartz . . . Each of us, deep down, believes that the whole world issues from his own precious body, like images projected from a tiny slide onto an earth-sized screen. And then, deeper down, each of us knows he's wrong."

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