Summer Reading List 2014 (part 2)

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This post is a bit overdue, thanks to my vacation giving me ample time to read! When we last left off, I had just finished my first book of the summer, The Weird Sisters, and was working my way through Nabokov’s Lolita. Well, I finished that, then I must’ve gotten this title stuck in my head somehow, after making so many puns to myself when reading Lolita on the train, etc., so my next read was…

 

3. Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi

  •  Like I said, I basically wanted to read this book because its title was stuck in my head, but gosh am I glad I did.  Out of the three I had read to this point, its my favorite.
  • Subtitled “A Memoir in Books,” Reading Lolita in Tehran is about Azar Nafisi’s experiences as a Western literature professor in Iran as related to various literary works, such as Lolita.  The book is divided into four parts: Lolita, Gatsby, James, and Austen.
  • I was so glad I had read Lolita prior to this, because I had plenty of context for her references to this book.  However, other Nabokov works were drawn upon heavily as well, especially Invitation to a Beheading.  Perhaps I shall be reading more Nabokov now!  The literary analysis was a joy to read for me, my degree being in literature.  I love Henry James, so that was a plus!
  • The premise is that Azar Nafisi, fed up with the increasing restrictions of Islamic Iran, starts her own literature class with 7 of her best students.  These parts were absolutely the best– I loved hearing about each of these women.  The two middle parts of the book were largely political, and I enjoyed them less.  Still, it made me think, and I loved the book overall.
  • On an loosely related note, I started syncing up my TV programming with my reading at this point, turning my attention to Little Mosque on the Prairie, or Little Mosque as its known on Hulu, a Canadian series I love.  On Netflix, I’d been trying (with less success so far) The Witches of East End, which ties in with my next read…

 

4. A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

  • Siiiigh, I’d started this book a while back but life got in the way and I was so excited to read it.  It had so much potential in my mind.  I should, by all logic, love this book.  And I didn’t dislike it!  It’s just, everything I had read before it has such literary merit– albeit, varying degrees thereof.  This book, as my high school English teacher would say, was purely candy.  Now, there is nothing wrong with a good candy book!  A summer beach read should be candy.  I just wasn’t in the mood for candy when I started it.
  • Actually, when it started, I felt its potential to be super interesting.  The main character is a witch, check; she’s a history scholar at Oxford studying ancient alchemy texts in the stacks of the library, check check!  Then she falls in love with a vampire and things take a turrrrrrn.  I might as well have been reading Twilight at points.
  • Now, I was once the biggest vampire fan.  As a Buffy addict, I loved Angel and Spike and vampire romance was all part of that.  I love vampires– the lore and the romance therewith.  I think it’s all just been played out now.  Damn you, masses, for making me tired of this story.  I used to love this story!  I just can’t take anymore supernatural romance tales.  Ruined forever.
  • This book is apparently part of the All Souls trilogy, the second installment of which is currently on shelves.  I liked this book enough to continue the series, and will be seeking out its sequel.

 

5. The School of Essential Ingredients – Erica Bauermeister

  • I picked this up off a Best Sellers shelf when helping my mom pick out some beach reads for herself a few weeks back.  There was some teaser that said something like, Food Network fans will love this!  Well, I’m a big fan of food and food TV, and the way the book promised to make food magical sold me.
  • This is Erica Bauermeister’s first novel, but it didn’t much feel like a novel.  It was more like a series of connected short stories.
  • Lillian runs a cooking school out of her restaurant where 8 students gather each Monday night to learn about food, and truly, life.
  • It was a very quick read, but enjoyable!  It was nice, and the format made it feel very approachable to writers.  Like, I think I could create something like this.  I appreciate a book that I find inspirational, no matter what the reason.

 

6. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

  • A friend recommended this to me, knowing I’d like it.  The accolades on its cover are pretty hilarious, including Willy Wonka meets The Matrix and a grown-up Harry Potter.  Having never seen The Matrix, I can’t exactly attest to this statement, but I will say: this book is fun!
  • This book reads like you are playing a video game.  The premise is a dystopian future where everyone is connected to the internet via a virtual reality device.  The creator of the device has hidden an “Easter egg” in this virtual land; the finder of this egg will receive the creator’s fortune.
  • Since I’m literally reading back to back, I have a bit of trouble switching moods from one book to another, and as you can see, I’ve read a variety already.  As expected, it took a little while for this to grip me.  Once it got into the story however, I was hooked!  This is also Ernest Cline’s first novel, and while I wouldn’t call his writing prolific, I found his melding of real life fiction works with his own fictional work amazing!
  • This is truly a love letter to geeks.  If you are a gamer, you will love this.  As a geek across genres, I appreciated this book so much.  It honestly made me feel really good about loving things (TV shows, video games, books) as much as I do.

 

I should’ve brought more books on my vacation, because I ran out before my last day!  I’m still reading, so look out for part 3!

How’s your summer reading going?

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