Friday, February 1, 2013

A Bunch of Current Reads & Quick Thoughts

Happy February!

One of the best parts of being a Fiction Writing major, besides the obvious of writing fiction, is reading awesome fiction. Rarely do I have to spend money on expensive textbooks, and I can run off to the used bookstore to get my novel requirements at a quarter of the price the bookstore offers them for. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who immediately buckle under "too much work." Like right now, I've been assigned four novels to start reading immediately, plus a textbook, plus some short stories, and another short story compilation we'll be dipping from sooner or later. I posted a Facebook status all 'woe is me' about my current workload, and was told pretty quickly that what I've got right now is nothing compared to studying literature at another university. That made me feel melodramatic, but also much better. So here is what I'm reading, along with some quick thoughts.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't read this book up until this point of my life. The first chapter really frustrated me. Half of the words Alex uses are in slang- the Russian-derived language, 'Nadsat.' I had to read the first couple of pages with my computer open in my lap to the glossary so I could just get through two paragraphs. After the first chapter, I'm starting to get the hang of it, and it's exciting to read a book that makes me work to understand it and really pay attention to 'context clues' and what's happening. Now I'm on the train to loving it just like everyone else in the world.
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. I haven't tapped too much into this one, only two chapters as well, but if it's like anything else I've read by Dorothy Allison, I'm preparing myself for the heartache now. Bone, at the moment, is an observant child who admires her young, useful uncles, and spends a lot of time with her old, worn down grandmother, aunts, and waitress mother. After a 'miscommunication' at the hospital the day she was born, she was labeled a Bastard, and it's a title her mother works hard to try and erase.
Sula by Toni Morrison. I read a book by Toni Morrison in high school and really hated having to do so. I whined about it until halfway through and that's when I just gave up and pretended I read the whole thing. Now, I'm taking this one slow, and like the others, I've only read two chapters. I'm learning to really appreciate the language, feel out the characters, and I'm hooked now into the small town of Medallion, Ohio where Helene tries to fill her life with church to forget the whorehouse she was born in, and Nel makes a friend in Sula despite her mother thinking her family is below them.

The Time of Quarantine by Katharine Haake. I have to read this book with an open mind. Whenever I'm reading a book for class, and I'm not exactly drawn in, I have to remind myself that it wouldn't be published and out in the world if there wasn't some real value to it. It's very dense with lots of commas, but also poetic which makes it beautiful to read. It's definitely a book you have to take slow. The plot is also incredibly original, which is refreshing. Peter is alone at the end of the world. His father's commune, built to survive the famine, disease, and wars of the 'outside world' have failed when a sickness sweeps through his community. Now, he's alone, with the computers that hold replicas of every event in history, including himself.

Short stories I'm reading:
A&P by John Updike
Indian Camp by Ernest Hemingway
Virgins by Danielle Evans

Textbooks/Short Story Collections I'm reading from:
Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck: Stories from 2nd Story
Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen

What are some of your favorite books you've had to read for school? 


  1. I actually enjoyed a lot of the books I had to read for school, but the first one that came to mind was To Kill a Mockingbird. I've been meaning to reread it for a few years now; it's been too long.

    1. I've been meaning to re-read it, too! I remember really enjoying it, but I don't remember what I enjoyed about it :(

  2. I really enjoyed A Clockwork Orange; I just read it this past semester. The Nadsat is a really interesting literary device. I read Sula last year for American Lit, and it is CRAZY in an awesome and kinda scary way. I would be interested to see what you think of it. I remember reading passages out loud to one of my friends who's also into literature (although she wasn't reading the book), and she thought it was nuts haha.

    1. I LOVED 'A Clockwork Orange.' The language became a part of my thinking about halfway through the book. I still find myself thinking in Nadsat, ha! We had endless class discussions about the language and what it did for the novel. A majority of my class thought it was stupid, childish, and distracting. But I thought it was so brilliant. Burgess is the man!

      'Sula' also BLEW my mind. I could not stop thinking about it! I'm still thinking about it! It gave me chills - especially the ending. I could write pages on the brilliance that was this novel. So many themes, model tellings, and wickedly beautiful characters.

      **sorry I am replying to this so late. my computer was being sassy and wouldn't let me reply to comments properly on here. but after a software update, i am finally able to get caught up!

  3. Some of my most favorite books have ended up being those I had to read for school. For starters, Pride and Prejudice, as cliche as that may be. An unexpected love was Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories by Angela Carter.

    1. I haven't read Pride and Prejudice yet, but I've definitely been meaning to! I haven't heard of Burning Your Boats..what's it like?