Reading Roundup: May 2008

My Dream of You by Nuala O'Faolain

This book was long and dense and took me a long time to read. It's also hard to describe, since it has several plot threads going on at once, but it's mostly about sexuality. I'm still not sure if I liked it or not; the writing was beautiful and the story was interesting, but I really didn't like or even understand the protagonist. At least I did learn a lot more about Ireland and its history from reading it.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

It's hard to talk about this book without using cliches like "I couldn't put it down" or "brilliant and disturbing". I really did read this whole book within a few hours, and it's probably best that way since the plot takes place over the space of a night. Well, kind of. It's one of the better, and most original, teen books I've read in a while.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This was our bookclub pick for the month, and at first I was skeptical since I'm not usually a fan of new-agey allegorical stuff. But I did enjoy it and we had a good discussion about life and dreams and things like that.

Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

I really liked this book and felt like I learned a lot. It's well-written and easy to follow, and I felt like the approach was well balanced and easy to understand. I liked the insights into personality differences and realized a lot about myself and S-Boogie that helps explain some of the things we struggle with.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I was reluctant to read this book because it sounded a little dumb to me. But I did find myself enjoying it and I liked some of her insights about God and spirituality. At the same time, though, it felt like reading a series of blog entries for many of the wrong reasons.

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky Bailey

I did learn quite a bit from this book, but I also struggled with it a lot as well. It is written in a confusing way, with a number of Lists of Important Concepts that Are All Capitalized. There were so many different lists and categories that I had a hard time keeping things straight. I did like her insights about modeling correct behavior and self-control and about making sure we teach kids usable skills instead of simply employing negative discipline all the time.

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Theric mentioned reading this book recently, and I remembered the good experience I had with Atonement, so I decided to give it a try. Like Theric, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the book since reading. I still think about Atonement a year after reading it, so McEwan is at least a memorable writer. The book is beautiful, and heartbreaking. It's also short, which almost makes it worse because you get into the characters and you feel so deeply for them, and then you are left in the end without them.

Movies

Memento

I'm glad I finally got around to seeing this--it was really fascinating. I was definitely drawn into the story and had a hard time figuring out everything (still don't think I caught everything). I think this movie definitely lives up to the hype.

Hairspray

I still haven't seen the original version, but I liked this musical quite a bit. After a while the songs did all start to sound the same, but the performances were fun and I had a great time watching it. It still weirds me out that John Waters movie got made into a musical and then back into a movie--I guess I need to see the original to find out how much it changed.

The Prestige

This is another movie I put off watching because I wasn't that interested in it. A period piece about feuding magicians? Well, I guess I was fooled because it turned out to be much more than that. I won't say too much because I really was totally confused by the movie, and that's a good thing.

Wonder Boys

This movie left me feeling unimpressed. I've never liked Michael Douglas much, and I really didn't like him in this. It wasn't unpleasant to watch, but certainly not my favorite movie.

Chicago

I seem to remember liking this one more the first time I saw it; this time it just didn't do much for me. The music is good and I am impressed by the singing and dancing of all the leads, but I felt like it was just an average sort of movie in the end.

The Illusionist

This one is mostly known for being the other magician movie, but it's completely different from The Prestige. It's a lot more subtle, and I liked that. It's also a love story, not a revenge story, so it was interesting to watch the two movies and see how they take such completely opposite angles to explore magic and the fantastic.

Comments

I liked Prestige so much more than the Illusionist because Illusionist was much more predictable. Plus I have been a cult fan of Christian Bale since Newsies and Little Women.
Becca said…
I just got the Alchemist from the library last week, so I'm glad to hear you liked it.
We just saw the Prestige, too, and thought it was pretty cool. I liked that you weren't really sure what was going on until the very end.
Have you seen Juno yet? I think you'd really like it. I saw it last weekend and then my little brother and I had a great discussion about it yesterday.

Celia, I too am a Bale-a-phile and am pretty much hanging out for the latest Batman installment. Hm . . . I think I need to rent Newsies. I haven't seen it for years.
Edgy said…
I feel the exact same way about Thirteen Reasons Why.
skyeJ said…
I can't believe you haven't seen the original "Hairspray"! How did you grow up in our house and not watch it? I remember us renting it. Definitely worth seeing.
Th. said…
.

I'm glad you liked Chesil Beach--I always worry when someone reads a book I like that they'll have a totally different experience.

And, off topic but related to your more recent post, I'm very glad you're blogging. I look forward to seeing you around for years and years to come.

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