Fall is in the air and I’m back to a regular reading schedule! Being in school full-time as an English Literature & Linguistics major has my to-be-read pile full of books for class, but I’ve managed to toss in a pleasure read this month.
For those of you who missed my initial post on this topic, I have decided to embark on a most enjoyable challenge to read 52 books in 2012. I have chosen the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge in which I select my own goal, and a book a week is what I came up with as truly doable this year. Each month I will give you an update on where I am in the challenge and what books I was lucky enough to indulge in. I’ll also include a link to Amazon for each book in case you would like to pick a read up for yourself.
In the month of September I have read three books and according to the graph on Goodreads, I am at 50% of my goal, which is eleven books (22%) behind. I understand that being eleven books behind schedule might be daunting to some, but I have complete faith that my school reading list combined with my lengthy to-be-read-for-fun list should bring me back up to speed by the end of the year with no problems. Better news yet, I am half way to my goal, which is awesome! Without further ado, here are the reviews for this month’s reads.
Odyssey by Homer-Completed September 12th
This text was first up on the reading list for my Classical Backgrounds in English Literature course. I had no idea what to expect and came out of the reading experience delighted. For those of you unfamiliar with Odyssey, it is a Greek epic poem written as a sequel to the Iliad (which I have not read). The poem is the story of Odysseus and his journey home to Ithaca after the fall of Troy, fraught with turmoil and troubles. It is a tale of metamorphosis, which happens to be the theme of my class this semester.
I have one tip for you; edition is to the Odyssey as location is to real estate. It is of the utmost importance to your success as a reader. There are a dozen free versions for e-readers out there, but you will have trouble understanding the story. A decent translation is the only way to fully grasp the impressive narrative of Odyssey. I read the edition translated by Stanley Lombardo and could not have been more pleased. It flows well and relates the action perfectly.
I would recommend this book if you have an interest in mythology or if you just want to enjoy a good story. I’m surprised that there isn’t a film or video game adaptation yet. Odysseus is a valiant warrior with many good traits that would translate well to the big screen.
Dare Me by Megan Abbott-Completed September 15th
Megan Abbott tells an eerie tale of cheerleading in public school that left me bewildered. She knows how to grab a reader from the start and employs a unique and urgent tone in her writing that had me turning pages quickly. Her prose is descriptive and beautiful, exemplified when she describes cheerleader showering off her glitter “like a mermaid shedding her scales.” There is no lack of sinister activity and suspenseful gossip in this tale of girls-gone-bad. The rampant lies and backstabbing action is shocking in a way that reminds me of high school at its very worst.
The book is marketed as young adult, but I would be very careful in letting a teen read it. It is full of sexualized prose and adult situations that might not be appropriate for a less mature reader. While there are no outright descriptions of sexual activity, there is much insinuated and not very thinly disguised adult content. Nevertheless, the book moves quickly and makes for an extremely entertaining read. I highly recommend Dare Me to mature teens and adult readers.
Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare-Completed September 16th
For someone who prides herself on being fairly well-read, I was woefully behind in appreciating the wonderful world of William Shakespeare. Another college course I am taking this semester will solve that issue since it is a course dedicated only to Shakespeare’s works. First on the reading list was his classic comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost. The play is about the noble King of Navarre and his three companions, Berowne, Dumaine, and Longaville, who take a daring oath to swear off women and other such worldly pleasures for a three-year time span. Hilarity ensues when the Princess of France and her own three beautiful companions come to visit the king’s court. Adding to the silliness is Shakespeare’s tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the Spaniard Don Adriano de Armado and his quest to woo the pretty country wench Jaquenetta, who is also being pursued by the comic relief, clown Costard.
For someone who has never read Shakespeare before, I wouldn’t recommend starting with Love’s Labour’s Lost. It is a complicated plot with lots of characters and is quite difficult to read. As part of my coursework I was required to watch several film and stage versions of the play and have to admit that I only grasped the full genius of the work after seeing it performed a couple of different ways. It is a wonderful story full of clever wordplay and jest, but all was lost on me until I saw it performed.
If you’re looking for laughs, read this play and then see a production. I recommend the musical version by Kenneth Branagh or the more traditional production put on by the wonderful Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.
As usual I welcome your suggestions for further reviews and your opinions on the books already reviewed. Stay tuned for the October Bok Challenge Update that will include the classic Shakespeare tragedy Romeo and Juliet as well as the Metamosphoses of Ovid. It is my hope to also include some fun reading this month as well!