Monthly Archives: April 2012

the five people you meet in heaven- Mitch Albom

“Everyone has an idea of heaven, as do most religions, and they should all be respected.”

A beautiful idea of heaven that I think everyone can get behind. In heaven you meet five people that have changed or effected your life in some way. You may know the people personally or you may not, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a hand in the way that you ultimately lived your life. I’m not ashamed to say I teared up a few times while reading, especially during the “lesson” portions, because you not only meet five people in heaven you learn five lessons. Lessons that help you understand your life.

I think my favorite part was that each person got to choose their heaven; whether it was a diner in the mountains, a carnival, or a peaceful river. Everyone’s heaven was different and unique to them and once explained you realized why they had chosen that exact spot to be their place. It is where they wait until the person that they are supposed to meet arrives and once the person is done with their five then they stay in their heaven and wait for someone else. It’s a constant circle, but I like the idea of meeting the people who have changed my life even if I don’t know how they did. A beautifully written book with a beautiful idea of what happens when we pass on.

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Wuthering Height- Emily Brontë

I have heard it said that Wuthering Heights is one of the greatest love stories ever written, but it goes way beyond love. So much so that it borders on obsession, and I still couldn’t put it down. The love that Catherine and Heathcliff have for each other goes between pure passion and crazy obsession, and though you can feel that they love each other even at their worst of times, sometimes I couldn’t help but feel that Heathcliff was going a little over board. I think that stems more from his revenge, because this is a love story but ultimately it is a lesson in revenge.

When Catherine’s father dies he tells his children to continue to treat Heathcliff as if he were one of his own, even though he is only his “adopted son” found in a gutter in Liverpool. Though they say that they will Hindley, Catherine’s brother, returns from his time away with a new wife and even more hatred for Heathcliff then when he left. Heathcliff is made to work in the stables and given lashings for speaking out or looking at someone the wrong way. At his last flogging Heathcliff mutters to himself that he will get revenge on anyone who wrongs him. Hindley, Edgar Linton (Catherine’s husband), and even Catherine herself end up in the line of fire. He seeks revenge on everyone in the world, so much so, that by the end he is left completely alone.

It is a love story that keeps you on your toes, between the vengeance and the all encompassing love of two people you get your money’s worth out of this beautifully written novel.


The Life of Pi- Yann Martel

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” I have a story that will make you believe in God.”

I’m not sure if this story made me believe in God, per say, but it did make me believe in a persons will to live. Pi Patel boards a cargo ship with his family bound for Canada from their native India; aboard the ship are most of the animals from the family’s zoo, being sold and traded so the family will be able to survive in their new home. Tragedy strikes when the cargo ship starts to sink and Pi is thrown in a lifeboat, he thinks for his own good. He finds out later that it was only to save the crewman from a fate worse than drowning. In the lifeboat with Pi are a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger.

I had a hard time with the first part of the book, before the lifeboat, because the book does touch on many religions; and while I find religion fascinating sometimes it just became a little muddled. He is practicing Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism; it can be a little hard to keep them all straight. Which is exactly what all his religious heads say to he and his family. “How can one boy practice THREE religions?” He simply says that God is in all of them and so he doesn’t see the difference, and once in the lifeboat all three religions will prove to preserve his will to survive in their own way.

Once in the lifeboat it is a gritty novel about survival and how, in the most dire of circumstances, you will do anything to keep yourself alive. Pi is a vegetarian and he weeps at the thought of killing a fish, but by the end he is an excellent fisherman. He also realizes that not only must he keep himself from feeling the pangs of hunger but he must also feed the tiger as well. A hungry tiger = a dead Pi, and the bond that forms between the two is nothing short of magical.

There must be something said of the end of the book. This is where the book truly makes you think and begs for a second read as soon as you close it. It is at this point where I believe the story could make you believe in God, but doesn’t every story of survival do that?


Jude the Obscure- Thomas Hardy

It took me about a month to read the last of Thomas Hardy’s novels. It wasn’t that the story wasn’t up to par it was that the language was so dense, being written in 1895, but even so, I’ve read a few books from this time period and none of them have been this hard to swallow.

Jude the Obscure follows the life and times of Jude Fawley and man who is just trying to right by himself and be with the woman he loves, but things just don’t seem to come together for him. He gets duped into marriage by a girl who pretends to be pregnant, something’s never change. She ends up leaving him after they end up fighting about the supposed child. He follows his dreams to the town Christminster where he wants to become a scholar and work in the church. This is also where he meets Sue Bridehead, the love of his life and his cousin. Though he wants nothing more than to be with her, after his dreams of attending college in the village are dashed, faith and Sues disposition are against them.

Sue Bridehead is one complex woman. She does whine quite frequently and she never really knows exactly what she wants. It’s constantly “Jude I love you” “Jude I hate you” “Jude I’m so sorry, please forgive me”. I will admit that I became rather annoyed with her towards the middle but when something in her finally breaks and she quite literally goes a little insane. you come to realize that maybe she wasn’t right in the head the entire time and that one thing needed to happen for her to completely break. Although I applaud her for her convictions and how steadfast she is on her views of marriage and friendship between the sexes, I ultimately think she is a damaged woman and no one realizes it until she is too far gone to save her.

Jude the Obscure is a sad novel, there’s no denying that, and yet there are aspects of love and devotion on every page. By the end you do feel for the title character and really just wish him all of the best. Jude really is a stand up guy and he tries to do the right things even though they may not be what he truly wants. By the end you grieve for his loses and cheer for his triumphs and just wish him a moments worth of peace.

 

 


The Secret History- Donna Tart

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.”

This is how the harrowing tale of Richard Papen and his five college classmates starts and right from that opening line I was hooked. It’s a murder mystery where they tell you who dies and who did it right up front and the reason you keep reading is to figure out the why.

In a small town in New England six students are enrolled in an exclusive “Classics” program at Hampden College. They translate Greek and Latin, they read Socrates and Plato, and they become a little too wrapped up in the romantic mythology of the Gods. Richard, who is seen as the outcast at first, slowly gains the trust of the five people he wants to impress the most. At the beginning everyone is steeped in mystery, you are not sure who is a friend or a foe. All that quickly changes as you, along with Richard, finally are brought into the inner sanctum of this scholarly bunch and learn about it’s sordid past. A secret that binds them together for the rest of their lives.

It’s a book that you will not want to put down once you open it. It takes you deep inside the minds of people who can all at once be charming and manipulative, people who are scared out of their senses and reach for something more just to get them through the day. You feel privileged to be brought into this secret society, via Richard, and you feel his despair and anguish as his friendships slowly start to unravel.

All at once sad, chilling, funny, and terrifying; The Secret History is a impeccably timed and controlled novel of the bonds of friendship and how far one will go to protect the ones that he holds closest to his heart. Donna Tartt commands the language on every page, so much so that not even a comma or an exasperated sigh is out of place. You feel as though you are in it every step of the way, an unseen observer standing sentry next to Richard as he puts the pieces together and finds out where his allegiances truly lie.


“One Ring to rule them all.”

I began reading The Fellowship of the Ring before I found The List, but I was happy to find that it and it’s counterparts made an appearance. I had tried before to pick up this classic fantasy novel but I couldn’t get passed the first couple chapters. I had also read The Hobbit first which, someone told me, was backwards. “You should read the trilogy first and THEN go back and read The Hobbit.” In my head though, I wanted to read the books in order and since The Hobbit is a prequel to the trilogy that’s how I wanted to start. In retrospect I really should have listened to my friend because if I thought that The Fellowship was hard to get through at first, I thought that The Hobbit was brutal! Call me what you will, but I really didn’t enjoy The Hobbit. The trilogy was a different story. I rather enjoyed it. Did it take me a while to get passed the first few chapters of The Fellowship, yes. But my boyfriend promised me that it picked up after that and it did. I will say that I had seen the movies prior to reading the books so I knew the gist of the story was supposed to go. And yet I was pleasantly surprised to see new characters, characters that I loved in the movies more fleshed out in the books, and a completely different ending that is only hinted at in the movies. One such character is Treebeard. I had a soft spot in my heart for that tree in the movies but now he is imprinted there forever, as dear to me as a close friend. I found myself smiling at the things he said and near to tears when he has to say goodbye to his Hobbit friends.

One other thing. I know there are jokes out there that Sam and Frodo may have been “a little more than friends”, and yes, I’ll admit that while watching the movies I picked up on that feeling too. But, in my opinion, it is in the books where they really start to teeter on the line between friendship and lovers. Whenever Frodo sleeps and Sam stays awake to keep watch, Frodo’s head always ends up in Sam’s lap or their hands are found entwined in the morning. Now, now, before I get strung up for even mentioning this, let me just say that I adore the pair of them. I think it is one of the greatest friendships, if not love stories, that has ever been put to the page.

I enjoyed all three books immensely and I agree with the BBC, everyone should try to read these books in their lifetime. The journey through Middle Earth is one you won’t soon forget.


Emily’s Book Club

Hello, and welcome to Emily’s Book Club.

Number of members: 1

A few months ago I started reading books from “BBC’s 100 Books You Should Read Before You Die” list. It has proven to be quite the challenge but I’ve been itching for something to keep me occupied. The List is filled with classics, long ones to boot, but I am determined to fight my way through to the end. I’m trying to finish The List by the end of the year. I’m not quite sure if it will happen since War and Peace AND Anna Karenina are on there, but I am willing to try. If in fact I don’t finish by the end of the year I WILL finish! No matter what happens, I will get through this bloody list.

Here are The Rules.

1. I have read a few of these books in years passed. If I can sufficiently remember the plot I am giving myself permission to cross it off.

2. I am giving myself a pass on The Holy Bible. Would I like to read it? Yes, at some point, but that thing is a monster better suited for “pick up and put down” reading.

3. I’m not going in an order.

4. I’m going to try to read one modern then one classic book. Two classics in a row tends to bog me down.

5. Try to enjoy every minute.

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