Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Best Reading Week Ever

This week has been the best reading week ever, in a year with many, many great reading weeks.

I completed four books that I would happily add to my list of best reads ever.

All four books were in my TBR, some for a long time.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I read this back in high school, but I don’t remember it having the impact on me that it had on me now.

This has to be one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Gatsby is America. He comes from poor stock, people to whom he is only loosely connected. Gatsby is a self-made man, but don’t look too closely at how he made his fortune. Gatsby is fascinated by the beautiful, the rich, the flashy, and his goal in life becomes to be part of that world. At his core, Gatsby is deeply lonely and has no one with whom he can share his vision and his dreams. All around him disappoint him in the end.

A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul

Mr. Biswas (and that is his name, even when he is a little boy) is cursed from birth. The fortuneteller when he is born predicts a terrible life for him and every prediction comes true. Mr. Biswas inadvertently causes the death of his father. He has great difficulty finding a way to make a living and he struggles, moving from unsuccessful job to unsuccessful job. Mr. Biswas is tricked into an unhappy marriage. He has great problems connecting with his in-laws, his siblings, his mother, his wife, his neighbors, and even his children. Throughout all his life, his one dream is to obtain a house of his own and this dream proves to be the most elusive of all.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

My dad gave my twelve-year-old nephew a copy of Robinson Crusoe and told him that he ought to read it. My nephew is a reluctant reader and never got very far in the book. After reading it this week, I can see why.

Robinson Crusoe was a tough read for me. You know the story, of course. Crusoe, against his parents’ wishes, heads out to the sea and ends up a slave. He escapes from slavery only to later return to the sea and become shipwrecked on an island.

How he manages to survive is a fun read. And he does survive, despite a lack of water and food and companionship, despite hurricanes, despite cannibals.

The daunting vocabulary and the lengthy sentence structure make this a challenging read for a child.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Talk about reading outside your comfort zone! Are there ever any happy war stories? Certainly not in this book. It is a book of sorrow and death and remorse and gore and misery, but every word feels very real, very true. The stories edge, at times, into the surreal, but that never takes away from the truth of the book.


  1. Love your list. The Things They Carried is one of my all-time faves, too. Nice to see that title popping up again!

    Happy Reading!

  2. Hi!
    From a not-American point of view, The Great Gatsby seems to be for me the critic of the "American dream".
    What do you think about it?
    Doesn't even his dissapointing show the bitter wake-up?

  3. Yes, I think so, too. Fitzgerald looks very truthfully, very sharply, at American life. The Great Gatsby is a wonderful book.

  4. I was so worried that this week would be a bust after last week. Then I started Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. What a wonderful book! I'm on a roll!

  5. Wasn't The Things They Carried great? I read it for school and am really glad I did because I never would have picked it up on my own!

  6. I picked up The Things They Carried and put it back down a million times. It didn't look like a book I'd enjoy. I'm so glad I finally decided to jump in.

  7. The Things They Carried wound up on my Top Ten in 2006. It's a remarkable book. I gave it a perfect 10. You can read my review here, if you like.

  8. I've been amazed at the number of people who have loved The Things They Carried!


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