Okay, so one of the things I love the most about post-grad life is the fact that I actually have time to read for fun again. College was absolutely lovely, but I was lucky if I got to read two books a semester that weren’t required for a class. And I was the kid who got in trouble for reading when I was supposed to be doing other things, like cleaning my room or taking a bath. Basically, I’m just really, really happy to have ample time to pleasure read again.
I spent most of my first six post-grad months re-reading a number of my old favorites, but since the new year began I’ve begun to chip away at my ever-growing “To Read” list of new books. it’s been absolutely glorious, so I figured I’d share my thoughts on my January/February 2014 reads.
The Night Circus, by Eric Morganstern [Recommended by Sarah Waller]
- Fantastical is probably the best word to describe this book. Everything about The Night Circus screams for a movie adaptation (which it appears it will get, courtesy of Summit Entertainment and David Yates). What I was most intrigued by and loved the most was the setting: a mysterious black-and-white circus that opens at dusk and closes at sunrise, appearing magically in cities and towns across the world, the tents full of unique and dream-like attractions. The characters, with the exception of a charming set of twins, took a bit for me to warm up to, but I think that has more to do with the book’s atypical chronology. There was a little while in the middle where the plot seemed to stall out, but it picked back up again before it lost me. I’d definitely recommend it.
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
- This one’s a roller coaster, let me tell you. I’m going to try and leave as much unspoiled as possible, which of course means I really can’t say too much at all. It’s a page-turner, full of carefully crafted plot twists and deeply-flawed characters that screw with your brain. A warning: there is a nice bit of adult language throughout, so skip this one if you try to avoid that. Otherwise, go read it now. The movie adaptation (starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike) is hitting theaters in October of this year, so I highly encourage you to read it before then to avoid plot twist spoilers.
Serena, by Ron Rash
- Set in a Depression-era lumber camp in the North Carolina mountains, this book is slow and creeping in the absolute best way possible. Serena Pemberton is one of those really wonderful villains that’s genuinely and wholly human in her villainy. Everything is methodical and without fuss, and the writing reflects that. There were many portions of the book I would have to re-read because I didn’t pick up on just how much had happened in those pages. And even with that, I still finished the novel in about 24 hours. It’s also getting a big screen version this year (starring the power duo of Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper), so definitely give it a read before November.
The Circle, by Dave Eggers [Recommended by Kevin Holley]
- I’ve already written about my frustration regarding this book, so I won’t be long-winded here. It’s absolutely not the best-written book in the world, and it’s incredibly heavy-handed and preachy. Plot points appear and disappear at the author’s whim, and there’s nary a surprise to be found. I’m glad I read it, but I’ll probably not pick it up again. I only recommend it if you’re very passionate about the dangers of a tech-obsessed society.
Night, by Elie Wiesel [Recommended by Rachel Freeny]
- Wow. Clocking in at just over 100 pages, this has the most concentrated honesty of any book I’ve ever read. Wiesel’s account of his time in Nazi concentration camps is brutally candid, and it sticks with you long after you close the book. “Here there are no fathers, no brothers, no friends. Everyone lives and dies for himself alone.” The most striking aspect is that it doesn’t end with a “how we all ended up” epilogue the same way most other popular Holocaust memoirs do. It simply ends. Just go read it. I promise it’s worth your time.
The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein
- I’ve been hearing about this book for the last few years, so I decided to pick it up while at Target last week. I’m not going to say it’s a new favorite, but I was very pleased with the book overall. It’s essentially a study in love, loss, and human nature told from the POV of an incredibly philosophical dog. It’s a very unique read, and perfect for gorgeous-weather days lying in a hammock.
I also re-read another old favorite, Looking for Alaska, and worked my way through a bit of Cloud Atlas in the last two months (I desperately want to love CA, but it’s a struggle right now).
Seeing as how my “To Read” list gets longer every week, there will definitely be another post like this coming your way soon enough. And recommendations are always welcome. Woo, reading for fun!