We are swiftly sliding into the last few months of the year and I’m proud to report that I’ve keep up with the goal of reading one book a month from the BBC Book List Challenge. This last quarter’s reading was both fascinating as it was diverse. The hardest read, due to its sheer length and complex structure, was Cloud Atlas and it still doesn’t hold a candle to Midnight’s Children in terms of how difficult it was to get through.
Here are this quarter’s books –
Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell: Even after finishing this I’m hard pressed to say what it’s about. There are several story lines ranging in the timeline from the 1800s to an unimagined future. Each story shares one or two tiny elements from the other so in the end they are all connected in small ways. I had really hoped that somehow these stories would converge into a single cohesive story, but in my mind they didn’t. That considered, Mitchell is a genius. Each story is so vastly different from the others that had I not known otherwise I would have assumed that there were multiple writers, each a master at their chosen time period and genre.
Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald: I’ll admit having watched the recent movie incarnation with Leonardo DiCaprio might have tainted my experience of reading the book. Instead of seeing the story through the words of Fitzgerald I saw it through the artistic lens of Baz Luhrmann. This isn’t a bad thing, just unfortunate because Fitzgerald has such a wonderful way with words and being able to envision them myself would have made reading the book a different experience. The book captures the essence of Gatsby, his strengths, his vulnerabilities, his desperation to get what he wants, and paints him through his actions.
A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irvine: I’ve been looking forward to reading this, after so many people have told me that this is one of their favorite books of all time. I’ll agree that it is a fascinating character study. The reader is shown small pieces of Owen Meany, his oddness, his single-mindedness, his devotion to his best friend. As the book reaches the end these pieces begin to click together until we see a portrait of this man who is completely different from what we expected. It’s brilliantly written and pulls the reader in as they along with the characters try to learn the truth.
Here are the rest of this year’s picks, feel free to read along with me