silent spring.

Or 8 7 6 books behind schedule as Goodreads keeps informing me. In other words, I haven’t read at all this spring/ early summer. But now I have endless time (or about 7 weeks a month) to do some serious reading. I was smart and planned ahead and used my mom’s address when doing some serious book shopping. Not that this house is already full of unread books. Hopefully I’ll read most of them before heading south again.

I finally got around to finish Gösta Berling’s Saga by Selma Lagerlöf (1891) in the middle of May. It took months to read it, mainly because I kept it by my bed. The book is about a handful inhabitants in a small Swedish town, and mainly about a priest turned a poor drunkard turned a cavalier, Gösta Berling. It can be read as a collection of short stories, as the chapters have little to do with each other, but are all linked to the small town. It was confusing because of all the characters and although I enjoyed the prose, I never got into it. And it’s a shame because I had high expectations for this book, mainly because of Haruhi‘s fangirling and the fact that Lagerlöf is a Nobel Prize winner. Oh well.

 I spent the beginning of the summer holidays rereading the Hobbit (1937) and the Lord of the Rings (1954-55) trilogy as I needed something familiar to get my reading started again after a long break. I used to read these books annually in my teens until the first film came out in 2001. I also reread them in 2009. I have always favoured the Hobbit, but this time I couldn’t quite get involved in the story, and that was really annoying. I don’t know why, but it could be that I was still stressed after the end of another school year, or that I simply have grown too old for the Hobbit.  

LOTR has definitely grown on me, I always used to find it too detailed, but this time I couldn’t get enough. I swear I must have screamed Gondor! and Gandalf! in my sleep. I never wanted it to end, and I had to take a long break before I read the final chapters, although the battle of the Shire is one of my favourite parts. I still haven’t decided who’s my favourite character.

What’s next on my reading list? I started Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel yesterday, and I love it. I’m forever reading the Crossing by Cormac McCarthy and Alamut by Vladimir Bartol, hopefully finishing them before the summer is up. I gave Villette by Charlotte Brontë the boot yesterday as too much of the important stuff is in French and je ne parle pas francois.

Heathcliff, it’s me, Cathy. Come home. I’m so cold! Let me in-a-your window.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)

Heathcliff is an orphan who is adopted by the man who owns Wuthering Heights. Here he meets Catherine, who will become the love of his life, but she chose the neighbour, Edgar Linton. And then dies after giving birth to a girl, Cathy. Heathcliff ends up marrying, Edgar’s sister, Isabella, as a revenge on both Catherine and Edgar. He is not in love with Isabella, and she suffers so much that she eventually runs off to London and gives birth to a son there, and names him Linton. When Isabella dies, Linton is sent to live with Heathcliff, and he has a scheme for his sickly son.

I first read Wuthering Heights over 10 years ago, and I loved it, but I couldn’t really remember what it was about. And then last year, when I read A True Novel by Minae Mizumura (which is based on Wuthering Heights), I wanted to reread it. And I’m sort of let down, and I think I can blame Mizumura for that, as she made the modern Japanese version way better than the original.
That doesn’t necessary mean that Wuthering Heights isn’t good, because it is. I especially liked the beginning, but as the story continues it just too detailed so I lost interest, and then it got better towards the end again.  

Read them both is my advice.

forty-five, forty-six: maddaddam

Oryx & Crake (2003), MaddAddam (2013) by Margaret Atwood

 ““What if they get out? Go on a rampage? Start breeding, then the population spirals out of control – like those big green rabbits?”
“That would be a problem,” said Crake. “But they won’t get out. Nature is to zoos as God is to churces.”
“Meaning what?” said Jimmy. He wasn’t paying close attention, he was worrying about the ChickieNobs and wolvogs. Why is it he feels some line has  been crossed, some boundary transgressed? How much is too much, how far is too far?”

Jimmy, or the Snowman as the Crakers call him, is the only man left after the human population has been wiped out due to a virus. The Crakers are a specie designed in a gene-lab by Crake; they are perfect and lack the destructive tendencies of mankind. Snowman tells them stories about how Oryx and Crake made the world. But although the world is free of men, there are other human-made dangers, like the wolvogs and pigoons – enormous pigs with human organs and cells.

While telling the story in the present day, we also get a glimpse of what Jimmy’s life used to be, and who Crake is. The second book in the trilogy, the Year of the Flood, happens at the same time as Oryx & Crake, but at a different place in the same city, and with Ren and Toby as the narrators. MaddAddam starts when Jimmy meets Ren and Toby and then finally takes the story forward. You also get to learn the story of Zeb. The stories of the characters are really fascinating and definitely my favourite part of the trilogy. I also like how MaddAddam is built-up like a bible for the Crakers, and I just adored the Crakers, especially Blackbeard.

I read the trilogy as a critique of how the humans are abusing the planet’s resources and how the technology will destroy us all if we aren’t careful. And it is (of course) set in a totalitarian state. I have read a couple of dystopian novels and this trilogy is high on my list of favourites. Thanks to a week on the couch, I read them all in a couple of days and they turned into some pretty vivid dreams.

I read Oryx and Crake when it was published 10 years ago, but I felt that I needed to reread it after reading the Year of the Flood. What I really like is that it doesn’t matter which one you read first. And I found it easier to read the Year of the Flood first, then Oryx and Crake. Although MaddAddam has a recap of the two other books, I strongly recommend to read them!

Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite authors, and I’m glad I still haven’t read her most famous works, so I have something to look forward to. She’s also one of my favourites for the Nobel prize.  

forty-two.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
“Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” 
Jean Louise Finch, also known as Scout is barely 9 years old when she is witnessing her father, Atticus, defending the trial of his life. A black man has been accused of raping a white girl in the small town Maycomb, Alabama. But Scout and her brother, Jem, are also obsessing over their neighbour, Boo Radley, who has never left the house, and they do as much as they dare to get him to come out. And when he finally comes out, it is to save their lives.
Although it’s told through the eyes of the child, this book deals with many important topics; racism, class and gender. It is also based on Harper Lee’s personal life and the people around her, including Truman Capote, and a court case where her father defended two black men. 
I first read the book a couple of years ago, and I found it heavy and remembered very little of the story. I knew I loved it, but couldn’t remember why. I’m glad I reread it and I found it easy to read this time around. I love the way Scout tells the story. It is definitely a book I will read again and I must also get around to see the film. 
It is still an important book and a must-read. This was also the August book in Line’s 1001 books challenge
 “We know all men are not created equal in the sense some people would have us believe- some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they’re born with it, some men make more money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others- some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of men. But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal- there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court.”

one.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2001)
 
“Japanese-owned cargo ship Tsimtsum, flying Panamanian flag, sank July 2nd, 1977, in Pacific, four days out of Manila. Am in lifeboat. Pi Patel my name. Have some food, some water, but Bengal tiger a serious problem. Please advise family in Winnipeg, Canada. Any help very much appreciated. Thank you.

Pi grew up in a zoo as his father was the director and he spent the days learning about animals. He was also very interested in faith and shocked his family and teachers by practising Islam, Hinduism and Christianity at the same time. His family decides to migrate to Canada when the situation in India became troubled and they sell off the animals to various zoos. Some of the animals are going to zoos in America and they are therefore on the same cargo ship which the Patel family set out for Canada with. But the cargo ship sinks and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat with a hyena, zebra, monkey and Richard Parker, the enormous tiger.

Seeing the film trailer every where at Christmas, I decided that it was time to reread the book. I remember that I really enjoyed the book the first time around, and although I remember the setting, there were lots I had forgotten.

It is certainly still a good tale, but I found the days on the sea rather repeating and boring. But then I guess that’s what it’s like on the sea. I still haven’t decided which of the two versions of the story in the end that I believe is the true one.

forty-seven.

the Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis (1987)
“and it’s a story that might bore you but you don’t have to listen, she told me, because she always knew it was going to be like that, and it was, she thinks, her first year, or, actually weekend, really a Friday, in September, at Camden, and this was three or four years ago, and she got so drunk that she ended up in bed, lost her virginity (late, she was eighteen) in Lorna Slavin’s room, because she was a Freshman and had a roommate and Lorna was, she remembers, a Senior or a Junior and usually sometimes at her boyfriend’s place off-campus, to who she thought was a Sophomore Ceramics major but was actually either some guy from N.Y.U, a film student, and up in New Hampshire just for The Dressed To Get Screwed party, or a townie.”
Camden, New Hampshire, 1985. Simple version: Paul likes Sean, Sean likes Lauren and Lauren likes Victor. They are all seniors, but haven’t quite figured out their majors yet. But there are always parties to go to, drugs to be taken and people to fuck.
How do you write about your favourite book, a book that you have read so many times that you can quote it? It’s been three years since the last time I read it and yet I know most of it by heart. I’ll admit it is also because the film version is the film I have watched the most. This time around it took about 5 hours to get through the 330 pages.
The film came out in 2002, starred Ian Somerhalder, James van der Beek and Shannyn Sossamon. What I really love about it, is that it differs quite a bit from the book in some parts and then quotes it perfectly in other. I saw the film many times before I realised that it was a book. I’m not sure why I love the film and book so much, nothing much happens except a whole lot of partying. I love the way it’s narrated by many people, but mainly Sean, Lauren and Paul. And the simple fact that the name comes first makes it a whole lot easier to follow than many other books. Some of the chapters are the same scene (or party) seen from various angles and they all reveal something new.  And most of the people in it are mentioned more than once. I love how I connect more dots every time I read it.
I need to see the film again. Now. And read American Psycho so I can get to know Seans big brother, Patrick.

fifteen.

the Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999)
“Charlie” has just started high school when he starts writing letters to an unknown person. He is bothered by his mood swings and he is one of the unpopular kids at school and is called a freak by most of his classmates. Then he befriends some older kids and the rest of the school year is a series of high school drama, sex, drugs and rock ‘n ‘roll. 
Charlie is a bright boy who loves asking questions. His English literature teaches gives him extra books to read and assignments to write and these books influence Charlie a lot. He is also discovering music and films through his new crowd. But Charlie still has his problems with connecting with people and reality and he is trying the best he can to be out there and participate.

I first read this book ten years ago, and I had vague memories about what it was like. And I didn’t remember the book 100% correctly, so it was nice to reread it. It inspired me a lot the first time I read it; I bought This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald and really tried to understand it. And this book got me into the Smiths. In retrospect it’s fun to discover how many of the other books mentioned I have read and that my friends are as into Rocky Horror Picture Show as Charlie and his friends! But it’s still as heartbreaking and tough to read as it was ten years ago.

I’m also curious about the film which will soon be released.

forty-two – forty-eight: harry potter

Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), Hary Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the first book I read in English. I had to borrow it in English at the library because the waiting list on the Norwegian version was too long. And since then I have preferred to read in English. I don’t know how many times I have read Harry Potter. I used to reread the books when the new one came out, and I know for sure that the last time I reread the series was in 2008.

While rereading the books now, I tried to figure out which book I like the most. It is a hard one. I know it’s not the two first ones, because they are too short. I think I have settled on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, because of the introduction of new characters, Hogsmeade and the Marauder’s Map. But both Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix could also be my favourite.

I realised how little I care for Harry Potter’s fight with Lord Voldemort, and how much I love the setting of the books. I love Hogwarts (the lessons, its history and the castle itself), Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. I have never really been fond of Harry himself, I prefer the other characters in the books, and especially Hermione and Dumbledore. And I found myself wanting more on the background history of everything in the books. Because of my thirsting for more, I will register at Pottermore, which is kind of creepy when you’re 28.

I never got the pleasure to read the books as a kid myself, I was probably fifteen or sixteen when I read the first book. I will therefore never know what it’s like to let myself be completely captured by the books. But I guess it would be equal to what it was like to read the Chronicles of Narnia; explore the old closet in my grandparents house and hope that it will lead to a secret world, to play out various characters with your friends in the forest on a moonlit winter night.

I do not care much for the films, and I still haven’t seen the final one. I don’t think they could ever do justice to the books. But I wouldn’t mind a tv series about everyday life at Hogwarts.