Friday, December 26, 2014

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Not the edition I read, but it's my favorite cover!
Well, what can I say: Baz's movie's debut last year naturally prompted me to read the book before the film hit theaters. For only a second time, in fact. I liked it more this time, but I do have to admit to not exactly enjoying the book. The characters are flawed and there aren't many redeeming qualities in any of them. And the story sort of goes on... then ends. Just like that. A little tragic, but it doesn't necessarily feel like a fitting, nicely wrapped ending. 
That being said, it's a Fitzgerald book. For me the book is never about the story (or lack of one) being told, but the writing and the depiction of a fascinating period of time. Mostly, it's the writing. I love how he says things. Below, you'll find the text I highlighted. That brilliant writing and some of my random musings.
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been running over in my mind ever since. (1) 
Perhaps among the most famous opening lines of literature.
And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. (4)
…one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anticlimax. (6)
They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together. (6)
I love this idea of being rich as a thing to do
And I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool. (17)
Oh, Daisy
This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque  gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. (23)
But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a non-existent nose. (23)
Don't those eyes sure get a lot of attention when the book is taught
I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life. (35)
Totally, bro, I feel ya
In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars. (39)
I believe that one the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. (41)
… I slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table—the only place in the garden where a single man could linger without looking purposeless and alone. (42)
Quite true about my social life in 2014, not just that gilded age
It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. (48)
Again at eight o’clock, when the dark lanes of the Forties were five deep with throbbing taxicabs, bound for the theater district, I felt a sinking in my heart. Forms leaned together in the taxis as they waited, and voices sang, and there was laughter from unheard jokes, and lighted cigarettes outlined unintelligible inside. (57)
But I am slow-thinking and full of interior rules that act as brakes on my desires, and I knew that first I had to get myself definitely out of that tangle back home. (58)
So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight. (136)
…and its driver hurried back to where Myrtle Wilson, her life violently extinguished, knelt in the road and mingled her thick dark blood with the dust. (137)
I told her she might fool me but she couldn’t fool God. I took her to the window’—with an effort he got up and walked to the rear window and leaned with his face pressed against it—“and I said ‘God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing. You may fool me, but you can’t fool God!” (159)
Outside the window was the Doctor's eyes! Gasp! Is he God?
Angry, and half in love with her, and tremendously sorry, I turned away. (177)
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. (180)

Monday, December 15, 2014

2015 Read Harder Challenge

Trolling the interwebs this morning, I came across Book Riot's 2015 Read Harder Challenge.

What a delight! I have set some of my own big reading goals for my 28th year of life--reading more hefty classics and reading e-books--but I like this a lot. Part of the reason I recently started volunteering for my local library's home delivery program is because I get to encounter other readers who have different interests than me. My patron, in particular, likes WWII and non-fiction. So not my jam. But, I really like the diversity this challenge encourages. And it breaks down to about two tasks per month, fairly doable. Perhaps I can make it happen!

Here's a recap of the breakdown
(You should really check it out on the website, though.)
  1. written by someone when they were under the age of 25
  2. written by someone when they were over the age of 65
  3. short story collection
  4. indie press publication
  5. LGBTQ view
  6. written by a person whose gender is different from your own
  7. that takes place in Asia
  8. with an African author
  9. written by/about someone from an indigenous culture
  10. in the microhistory genre
  11. in the YA genre
  12. in the sci-fi genre
    The Handmaid's Tale - Jan 2015
  13. in the romance genre
  14. that won the National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize in the last decade
  15. that is a retells a classic story
  16. on audiobook
  17. collection of poetry
  18. recommended by a friend
  19. originally published in another language
  20. in the graphic novel genre
  21. a guilty pleasure
  22. a book published before 1850
  23. book published this year
  24. self-improvement book
Oh, and if you decide to play along, make sure to use #ReadHarder on social media!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Penguin Shared My Photo for #SeasonsReadings

I posted on Instagram. I posted on Facebook. Now, I'm boasting posting here.

Penguin shared my #SeasonsReadings post from Instagram today!

The theme, "It's a Mystery!" is one I've been looking forward to since the start. I adore mystery novels, but this book selection in particular is special to me. For starters, my love of Charles Dickens means I'm also fascinated with Wilkie Collins. Then, there's the fact that I studied this book in college during one of the courses that really opened my eyes to literary studies. That class is the only reason I even have the slight obsession with Wilkie and Charles. And let's not overlook the fact that this is one of those easy-to-covet mystery green Penguin paperbacks.

And can we just talk about the use of #bookporn? Gawd, I love Penguin.