Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Reading List [Updated 8/18/12]

Whether you are a student or not, just because summer is here doesn't mean you get to stop learning! Here are the books that I am (hopefully!) going to read by the middle of August (my "summer"). I will underline the  title of the books when I am done with them to show which ones I've read so far. In no particular order, and based on the availability at my local library and through the Amazon Kindle store, here is my summer book list for 2012:

(1) Brisingr and (2) Inheritance by Christopher Paolini, the author of the Eragon series. Because even though it's been ages since I read the last two books and I didn't really understand them at all and I'm sure I will be utterly confused when I read these two, I still want to finish the series.

UPDATE 7/22/12: Finished Brisingr...went about as expected, which means that I received mild disappointment from the book but was left with a slight desire to finish the series. I hope the fighting in the last book is good, because it wasn't very good in this one.

UPDATE 8/9/12: Finished Inheritance a while ago. The book was about expected, which means that it was a huge let-down and was only worth reading to finish the series. It was slightly more action-packed than the other books, but, still...I think the Inheritance series as a whole was too long for its own good. It lost its drive and became more about putting words on paper than moving the plot forward.

(3) The Battle of the Labyrinth and (4) The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan, the author of the Percy Jackson series. Because I have only read scattered bits and pieces of this series (and the bits and pieces I have kept me rather amused) and because it was free from my library's ebook collection! :)

UPDATE 7/21/12: Finished both books on Thursday. Both are quite suspenseful and interesting, but, at the same time, distinctly lack literary merit that would cement them as "classics" or staples of education. A good read for entertainment, but that's about it. Nevertheless, the series was fun to read and very quirky and tense. Definitely worth checking out for the kids or if you have an active imagination, but I doubt this series will be rewarded with the reverence we bestow upon the greats of American literature.

(5) Novels and Stories, 1920-22 of F. Scott Fitzgerald from the publisher New York: Library of America. Because I realized that The Great Gatsby isn't nearly as horrendous or difficult as I remember it to be and I recently realized that I actually quite enjoyed some parts. I gave Hemmingway another chance; why not give ol' Francis another chance?

UPDATE 8/9/12: This Side of Paradise is quaint torture. I suppose this is how we will punish children in the future: by forcing them to read Fitzgerald's prose full of passages that are so "deep" I have drowned in them and by giving them a false sense of hope every twenty pages by incorporating some bit of wit so that they'll continue reading, oblivious to the mind-numbingly shocking depth of character that is still to come. I'll let you know how it goes when I finish TSOP.

UPDATE 8/18/12: Had to return it to the library. Will update if I can borrow it again.

(6) The Flanders Panel, by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Because it was recommended to me and I blindly and readily accepted the recommendation without needing to know anything more about the novel! (I hope it's a good story...if it even is a story. For all I know, it could be an essay on the different types of panel wood from the region of Flanders.)

UPDATE 8/18/12: The Flanders Panel was quite interesting. It's a combination of a bunch of things I like-- a splash of chess, a dash of art, a pinch of murder, and a hint of love-- so theoretically it should be good, right? The plot was decent enough; I don't regret reading it. However, I definitely read only around three-fourths of it because the other fourth was stuff that danced around the plot: unneeded descriptions, plot threads, or characterizations. Having to trudge through that annoying one-fourth of the novel was a bit annoying, but once I figured out which parts are important and which are not, I skipped the boring parts and the plot became quite good.

(7) The Trees, by Conrad Richter. Remember how I said I gave Hemingway another chance? I'm not particularly fond of Hemingway. But not being fond of Hemingway seems particularly un-American. Or it makes me seem like I seriously lack literary value. So instead, I took another recommendation; Richter's terse writing style is quite like Hemingway's so maybe it'll be close enough to Hemingway's style to lead me into it. Who knows?

UPDATE 8/9/12: Finished this one a while ago, too. Wasn't anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. While the style was definitely American, it wasn't Hemingway-like. It smelled a bit of Stephen Crane but definitely took a page out of the American-frontier genre. The book (it's the first in a trilogy-- who knew?) goes through the happenings of the Luckett family as they move westward to find a new home. The Trees isn't anything extremely dramatic or ground-breaking, but it was quaint. I don't regret reading it, but I definitely don't see myself reading the rest of the trilogy any time soon.

(8) Pay it Forward, by Catherine Ryan Hyde. A curious documentary-type book about the philosophy of returning someone's good actions toward you by doing a good deed to someone else-- not paying them back, but paying it forward. I read the first couple pages already and I'm not quite sure how I'll like it. It seems too flat and too constructed for me to get into it, but we'll see.

UPDATE 8/9/12: Skimmed it. Didn't like it. Flat, shallow, constructed, and forced. Save yourself some time and read another book.

(9) The Rook, by Steven James. Because who DOESN'T love a good old detective beat-the-clock type story? The only book on this list that I've actually read already.

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