Thursday, 30 January 2014

2014 reading challenge update.

So…The Great Gatsby, take 2.

I can't argue that it's not well written, that it doesn't explore meaningful social issues and the vulnerability of our humanity.  I have to admit my more mature self appreciated this a little more on the second reading.
But…I still just can't get past those so thoroughly unlikeable characters.  Yes, I know what the book is saying about wealth and privilege, but what I would have given for just one moment where just one character was worthy of sympathy.  I am a character driven reader.  I want to root for someone when I read a story, even if it's not the central character. 

From now on, if someone asks me what I think of The Great Gatsby, my intellectual answer will be that I recognise it deserves its status as a classic, but it doesn't really appeal to me.  My low-brow answer will be something about the acting and directing talents of Leo and Baz.

Next up on the reading list is A Catcher in the Rye.  My jaw is already clenched.

After that I need suggestions…got any?

Friday, 17 January 2014

My 2014 Reading Challenge begins...

I was in my early twenties when I read The Great Gatsby, and, quite frankly, I hated it with a passion.  

At the time, I was still young enough to be committed to finishing every book I started, so I pushed my way through to the end, and then kept in on my bookshelf for years, because, even though I hated it, it was a classic and it made look well read.

When Baz Luhrman's cinematic version was released in 2013, it wasn't the story that had me hunting it down, rather it was Baz's wife, Catherine Martin, for her set design and costumes.  She didn't disappoint.

But in watching the film, I also found something unexpected.  Baz had managed to make me feel sympathetic towards characters I'd previously loathed.  I've been wondering why.  Am I am simply more mature now and have a better understanding of the complexities of adult relationships?  Was it Baz, or Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire?

The easiest way to answer these questions is to simply dust off my old copy and re-read it. 

And this had me thinking some more.  Are there other books I hated as a youngster that I ought to give a second chance?

And so my 2014 reading challenge has been set.  I am going to spend this year digging out those classics I had to force myself to finish and give them another go.
I'm starting with The Great Gatsby, and then I'll dig out A Catcher in the Rye and try to find something redeemable in that brat Holden Caulfield.

After that, I'm looking for suggestions.  What are the books you simply don't get?  Which ones did you struggle through or give up on?  Let me know and I'll add them to my challenge.
Greetings friends and welcome to my official blog!