Yes, it’s almost January and I’m posting about the books I read in October. I was all ready to write this post when Jake took these photos of my mid-November, and then things got really crazy. And then we all got sick, and things got more crazy. Now that things are settling down a little bit, I’m going to get cracking on the looong posts I’ve been pushing to the bottom of my to-do list. So there will be a lot of posts about books this week.
October was for chipping away at the complete works of Shakespeare and Poe, finishing the last available book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, getting a little bit of memory keeping inspiration, and participating in Banned Books Week.
Also: I have to admit that it annoys me that not all of the books I read in October are in that stack because I read a few ebooks. I am seriously neurotic. I almost considered making something to represent the ebooks for this photo, like a fake book sleeve or something, but then talked myself out of my insanity.
Here are the books that I read in October:
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (1962)
I picked up this book in honor of Banned Books Week. It has been banned in the past for a multitude of reasons, including sexual themes, graphic violence, and glorifying criminality. I’m pretty sure everything great has been banned somewhere at some point or another: I view the “most banned books” list as a “to read” list. (Though stuff that sucks gets banned too. I’m looking at you, Twilight.)
The book takes place in a mental institution and is told from the perspective of a patient, Chief Bromden, who is an unreliable narrator. I love that Bromden’s insanity and hallucinations makes it difficult to separate out the truth of what’s happening in the novel; I love even more that even the things that are obviously in Bromden’s head are either just severe hyperbole or are symbolic of what’s happening. I just want to go back and annotate the whole thing.
The novel also questions Behaviorism and the control of mental institutions: McMurphy, a criminal trying to get out of a sentence by painting himself as insane, shakes up the status quo in the ward and tries to get the patients to find joy and want to integrate back into society. The power struggle between McMurphy and the authority of the mental hospital, represented by Nurse Ratched, is epic and frightening; I felt like this was a psychological thriller at times. This book is a protest song; a warning that mental health facilities can be used for oppression.
Of couse I loved it, because my favorite books criticize society.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the review of this book over at Paperback Pirate makes me really really want to see Jack Nicholson as McMurphy.
Scrap Chic: Tricks for being trendy without sacrificing story by Ali Edwards, Amy Sorensen, Angie Lucas, Becky Novacek, Cathy Zielske, Courtney Walsh, Karen Grunberg, Lisa Dickinson, May Flaum, Nichol Magouirk, Rebecca Cooper, Stacy Julian, Stephanie Baxter, and Wendy Smedley (2012)
I picked up this memory keeping ebook because it has such an AMAZING contributor list. I honestly just wanted to see work from these people; I wasn’t so much concerned with the theme of of the book. I’m so not trendy I didn’t even know that a lot of the examples of trends in the book ARE trendy. So I learned something there.
I ended up not just loving the eye candy from my favorite talented ladies, but really loving the subject and content of the book as well. There were great tips for making trends work for you, making sure that they don’t take you over, and integrating them subtly into your existing style. I’ll definitely refer back to this the next time I’m attracted to something that I don’t feel is quite “me” to see if I can find a way to play and integrate the trend into my style.
Stories from Edgar Allan Poe: Selected Works, Deluxe Edition by Edgar Allan Poe
Here are the stories I read from Poe this month (contains spoilers):
The Balloon-Hoax (1844) was another hoax Poe published as a true story. I don’t know why anyone ever believed anything he wrote; aren’t we at “a boy who cried wolf” point by now? Anyway, Poe is good at sounding thoroughly scientific: if you don’t know any better, his stories sound plausible. The dude is a master of details.
Mesmeric Revelation (1844) is about mesmerism and communing with the dead. I didn’t think that this one was great. Some of Poe’s stories seem to build up to the last sentence, which is supposed to be sort of shocking, but if you see the last sentence coming a mile away, then the build-up isn’t very fun.
The Premature Burial(1844) gives several examples of people being buried alive because of a condition that makes them fall into a near-death-like trance. The narrator has this disorder, and is thus extremely afraid of being buried alive. This phobia takes over his life.
The Oblong Box (1844) is about friends going on a voyage. One of them takes his dead wife in a coffin; but doesn’t tell anyone it’s her because it’s bad luck to travel with a corpse and everyone would freak out. The ship ends up going down, and the man goes down with his wife’s coffin.
The Angel of the Odd (1844) tells the story of a man who is reading the newspaper and laughs at an odd story, criticizing anyone who would believe odd stories that are obviously hoaxes. So the Angel of the Odd scoops him up and puts him in all sorts of crazy odd situations as way of punishment.
Thou Art the Man (1844) is a fun “who done it” story.
The Purloined Letter (1844-5) is another detective story. I found this one really boring and couldn’t pay attention to it well. It could have just been my state of mind. I might have to come back to it.
Plays from The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare
Here are the plays I read in October:
The Life and Death of King Richard III (1591) was awesome because Richard III is an amazing villain. I think he give Iago a run for his money. I’ll have to re-read all of the histories together now that I know where they’re leading; but for now I enjoyed the scheming and the downfall of Richard after his short reign.
King Henry VIII (1623) was a little disappointing: I was expecting Shakespeare to do great things with the sensitive material surrounding King Henry VIII. The dude was evil and the multitude of wives thing should have been a perfect storyline. I still enjoyed the play, but it was historically inaccurate and it could have been so much better.
A Dance with Dragons(2011) by George R. R. Martin (2011)
This is the fifth book in the Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) series, and the most recently published. The book doesn’t come out in paperback until next Spring, so I borrowed a digital copy to read on our iPad until I can buy it next year. Because it will annoy me to no end to have some paperback copies and some hardback copies in a series.
I loved this book so much. I’m pretty obsessed, plan in re-reading all five books again in 2013, and don’t even know what to write because I’m in so deep right now that I only have elaborate theories and can’t think of explaining the book to someone not familiar with the series. All I can say is that if you were disillusioned with the series after book A Feast for Crows, you will forgive and forget after this one.
Also, I was reading blog posts and things from REALLY obsessed people (the kind of people who run the Wiki sites) to see if my theories match up to theirs (they do). I felt proud of myself because I caught all of the “hidden plot points” that the obsessed people only caught the second time through reading this. I know I’m narcissistic to need the validation, but I got skills and I’m proud, yo. Reading comprehension for the win.
But seriously, someone talk to me about this before I go crazy.
You can see all of my other reads posts here.
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Have you read any of these? What did you think? What are you reading lately?