I was so happy to get a chance to really stuff some winter break reading in to my life. Three long time “to read” books off that pile! Too bad none of them were really thrilling, though they were all enjoyable in their own ways.
It seems as though The Dud Avocado had been on my to be read list FOREVER. A recently re-issued 1950’s novel about Sally Jay Gorce, a twenty something American woman who takes off to Paris to, basically, just have a good time. She flirts, she has love affairs, she has bizarre friends, she is young and silly. How could I not want to read that? The book is fizzy and light, which helps and hurts it at different points. Although I enjoyed the book in a passive way, it never seemed to really grab me. The characters were too stylized and too out there to really take seriously. Also, nothing was ever really at stake. Sally Jay didn’t have deep enough feelings to really get hurt, and she was always able to be saved by a rich uncle if anything went seriously awry. So, fun, silly, but hard for me to really love.
I may have read them out of order, but I finally finished up Lois Lowry’s The Giver series. Messenger follows Matty, a character who was introduced in Gathering Blue. Matty lives in a town that has always welcomed refugees from outside, harsher communities, but that policy has started to change as residents have suddenly and strangely become more selfish and insular. It’s Matty’s job to navigate the dangerous, bloodthirsty forest to let residents of the other towns know about the change, but his last journey turns out to be the most dangerous of all. A good middle grades book that brings up questions of sacrifice and generosity, I don’t think this will stick as well with adults as The Giver or Son will. Still, a diverting way to spend an afternoon.
Nick Hornby is likable. Always. This collection of his essays about what he read over the year for The Believer are fun, self-deprecating and, at times, quite insightful about why we read what we do. I don’t think I read many of the same books as Hornby (I’m not going to read heavy biographies about writers I’ve never read, as he seems wont to do), but I enjoyed the journey through his year of books with him.
“All the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal. … But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.”