Remember hearing the phrase “Just stick out because the last page or last scene is amazing!”? Well that sums up my reaction to “Looking for Alaska” by John Green. It is juvenile, not just in genre but also in content. I don’t know much about the author, but I would not be surprised if he was a highschooler himself. Mostly it appears to be a highschool creative story project. A few friends and blogs highly praised this book and because I was looking for an easy read, I read it. It was cliche in the strange friendships that develop in the book, relationships that do or do not develop and events that happen. Perhaps the only meaning that John Green weaves into the book is the class that Miles is taking. While the last chapter is fantastic (only because of how Miles writes about how he is finally going to deal with the plot — and you have to wonder how he was able to suddenly be able to write his essay), the rest of the book is painful. The language is weak, plot is weak, and characters are weak. Each time there is a tense scene, it feels created only to make the reader connect to the characters. Meaning it was too crafted. This book is definitely not for any child below the age of 15 even though it is a juvenile book.
Last night I found myself in Borders choosing a couple books to buy since it is Educator’s week and I am in the education profession now. When I went into the store, I had two books in mind, “Everything is Illuminated” by Foer and “Suite Francaise”(I know that is not how to spell the book title). The second I was skeptical about, but since a new book is being published that was written by the same author, I was curious. By the time I left the store, I had “Everything is Illuminated” and “Rashoom”. Throughout the time I was there however I had about on average three books in hand, a fourth in my left hand as I tried to determine whether or not I should buy that one too. And by the time I reached home, I was so burnt out I turned on the television and watched the last half of E.R., never reading either book I bought.
Buying books is never a quick task for myself, even though I always tell myself that is quick and I am buying only two books. I step foot into the bookstore, and it is as if the dust from the books cast their binding spell upon me. I browse all the new releases first, then I go to the Fiction/Literature section of the store. My method is simple. I pick out whatever book looks like it isn’t only about sex or looks like a barbie doll and I read the first chapter. If I am still intrigued, then I may skim two more chapters in the middle of the book. I try to never look at the back cover because I know that is just fluff to get me to buy the book. I don’t trust the book industry anymore. The books that are sitting out in front in the bestseller list are usually not my favorite books (Usually, because Thousand Splendid Suns and Kite Runner are a couple of my favorites, but that is rare). I do this method of reading parts of books until my mind cannot take any more plot lines or reading period. In an average visit I “read” about thirteen books. By then my mind is so fried I can’t even read “Peter Rabbit”. I am done and usually ready not to buy any book I have because I can’t think of how to enjoy reading any book. Thankfully common sense is never far behind and I realize that I do love reading. This moment is only passing. And sure enough, by the end of last night, before I dropped into semi-peaceful slumbers, I read again the first thirty pages of “Everything is Illuminated”.
And I need to take the GRE. I have never been good at taking standardized tests. Mostly because I always read into the question too much. Which also happened before I ever became an English major. But, the GRE needs to be taken if I want to apply to UCLA. Only because I want to make sure that my application looks as polished as possible.
I’ll be seeing Jonathan Safrans Foer in a week and half. And I hope to see Cornelia Funke in two weeks? She will be reading from her new book “Inkdeath” which comes in Germany September 28th. The English translation will not be available until next Spring. Her children’s books are fantastic (both in a quality sense and fantasy sense). Dustfinger remains one of my favorite characters, even if he is a bit unreliable. Farid tops about all literary children’s characters. (Can you tell I like fire?)
Books I am interested in that are coming soon:
Neil Gaiman (illustrated short story that was originally published in Smoke and Mirrors in UK only)
And I can’t remember anyone else….or anything else…
Books I’m really not interested that are coming soon:
Stephen King (I just haven’t liked anything that he has written recently)
It girl books
Gossip girl books
Its been a couple days and a lot has happened so my memory is fuzzy. I need to still look a little deeper (which I haven’t been able to do lately either) and see what is good that is coming out.
A great man in the coffee business passed away a couple weeks ago, Alfred H. Peet. LA Times had a good editorial on Monday September 17th about him. What did he do but move and shake the coffee world from Folgers to Starbucks eventually (though he is the founder of Peets Coffee and Tea).
And I’m still not done with Moby-Dick. I still despise books with boats and endless oceans of water. I would never make it as a sailor.
I ran across this at work today, a poetical book about Moby Dick. I cannot find any information as of yet, but here is a poem from it in honor of me beginning the giant task of reading Moby Dick.
Ishmael: Loomings, Christmas Day, Late
The Pequod‘s bows, vindicative, blunt with doom,
appareled with the jawbones of dead whales,
drove eyeless eastward into her sea room.
She caught the night wind in her thrumming sails
then slanted southward on the vague sea trails
far past Nantucket where the hungry dark
devoured the circles of eternity,
and Ahab braced himeself on his stumped mark
to schism blankness into agony
and prove him human to the alien sea.
The Struck Leviathan Poems on Moby Dick
Go check it out:
A real post will be following shortly.