Being a big fan of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, I was happy to come across this title in the graphic novel section at the library. (I’m really glad we have this GN section. A librarian friend of mine advocated for it and curated it right when it first started and since then, it’s grown enormously.) Anyway, this Gatsby graphic novel was hanging out there and I grabbed it and then read it right through there sitting in the library. (I just couldn’t resist!)
And I loved it. It’s more of a (necessarily) condensed version of the plot but there’s enough there for it to work smoothly and without feeling like you’ve been cheated (as the reader). Plus – the artwork by Morton is superb. It uses paler washed-out colors – like the tail end of summer – and this works perfectly as the characters in The Great Gatsby do feel and act washed out a bit after their high-living lifestyles.
And, even better, I’m all jazzed up for a reread of the novel now (despite having read it quite a times already – see reviews here and here) plus having studied it in grad school rather a lot. (I thought that I had a copy of this on the home TBR but it seems not. No probs. I’ll just pick it up at the library next time I’m there.)
Luckily, it’s a complex novel with plenty to talk about (along with being a really good read at the same time). If you haven’t partook of it yet, there’s a good read waiting and ready.
So, this scratched several itches all at the same time: I was looking for a classic to read (check), I was looking for a graphic novel to read (check) and most importantly of all – I was looking for a great reading experience (check). All good.
Hmm. Maybe it’s time to bump the biography of Fitzgerald on the old TBR pile…
Just happened to find myself at the library the other day – a complete accident, I tell you! /jk/ – and these titles happened to make it home with me:
(Top to bottom in photo):
The Old Curiosity Shop – Charles Dickens (F)
Seeking Pleasure in the Old Wild West – David Dary (NF/history)
Women of the Four Winds: The Adventures of Four of America’s First Women Explorers – Elizabeth Fagg Olds (NF/history) (not in pic)
The Great Gatsby – graphic novel (love this read) – not pictured
DK Eyewitness Medieval Life
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History – S.C. Gwynne (NF/history)
(Can you tell I was roaming the history stacks? It was glorious.)
So what am I reading right now?
Well, these are in line but at this very moment in time, I’m reading an adventure/travel writing book called Side Country: Tales of Death and Life in the Back Roads of Sports by John Branch and then a quick look at a title from the TBR: The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Salvomir Rawicz (1956), a NF about Rawicz who was a young Polish cavalry officer who was arrested by the Russians and, after brutal interrogation and a farce of a trial, he was sentenced to 25 years’ hard labor in the Gulags. In the depth of winter in Siberia, he escaped and crossed the trans-Siberian railway and headed south to freedom. (Supposed to be an amazing read so I’m looking forward to this.)
And my regular summer project of a reread of the AP Style Manual….
A few new titles have washed up at Chez JOMP, so thought I’d let you see what they were. (Top to bottom):
Home Cooking – Laurie Colwin (culinary-related essays, I think). (NF/essays).
Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year for College Boys Becoming Men – Alexandra Robbins (NF). I’ve read her earlier work about sororities and thought that to be interesting so this title made the cut. (NF/socio?)
The Body – Bill Bryson (NF/sci).
Untold Stories – Alan Bennett (NF/essays I think).
The Truth About Style – Stacey London (NF/fashion). Complete impulse buy the other day.
Solutions and Other Problems – Alli Brosh. (Also, unpictured but also bought: Hyperbole and a Half by Brosh.) NF/auto/funny as hell).
Taste of Home Winning Recipes – Barnes and Noble cheapie bargain book to get ideas for supper. 🙂 (NF/food). I’ve tried a few recipes out of here – good so far.
And, of course. I’m not actually reading any of these right now! 🙂
Already read and finished the Stephen King book (ok) and now about to start on the then-scandalous Crawford memoir about the Queen’s childhood (and that of her sister). Ohh la la. (Rather a craze on the royals right now. 🙂 )
School and grades are now completely done which means, for me, that I can start the Summer of Liz. I don’t have anything required (outside the normal responsibilities) so the next three months are mine, all mine. 🙂 (I’m very lucky, I know.)
So – how to wisely spend this time? HA! I’m going to read and then read some more. I’m going to go through my wardrobe to see which outfits I can create/combine (just for fun) and I’m going to go and see my twin sis in CA for a few days.
So, speaking of reading (as we were), what titles have I read since the end of school? The above image tells the story:
Chasing the Monsoon – Alexander Frater (NF). Reread and ok. Probably doesn’t need to live on my shelves any more though. :-} (Off the current TBR shelf.)
Soul Clap Hands and Sing – Paule Marshall (F). I’ve read and enjoyed other Marshall work. This was a collection of short stories. Meh. Library.
Majesty – Robert Lacey (NF/bio). I love the majority of Lacey’s work (good sense of humor) and and enjoying the older bio of the monarch. Nothing too mind-shattering but enjoyable all the same. (Off the current TBR shelf.)
100 Great Artists: A Visual Journey from Fra Angelico to Andy Warhol – Charlotte Gerlings (NF/history/art). I’ve really been interested in getting some more culture so got this out of the library. A quick but wide-ranging tour of some of the artworks of the world (mostly [all?] Western hemisphere).
The Pale Horse – Agatha Christie (F). A murder mystery all wrapped by the end of your cup of tea. I do like a Christie every now and then. Library.
Library books vs. books I owned (and thus removed from the home abode): 6 library books, 7 owned books (whee!) and 0 e-books.
Plans for May 2021 include continuing to include more BIPOC writing on my list. Continue this pace of reading and continue this streak of reading more from my own TBR as opposed to those titles from the library. Sounds pretty doable to me. Plus – it’s the end of the semester and I’m off for the summer. 🙂
“By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration – and unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.”
Just loved this read by author Amor Towles – enough so that I immediately went to the library and booked out his other book, Rules of Civility and am very looking forward to that read.
(This rarely happens so fingers are crossed that it’s a good read. It was published in 2011 so a few years ago now and on his author website, he seems to have written some other well-received works so more to dig into at some point. Oooh. And he’s written an intro to the 75th anniversary edition of Fitzgerald’s Tender in the Night (Scribner, 2019). (Impressive.))
So what’s so good about this Towles/Gentleman in Moscow? I think one of the main attractions was that it was so well written. Towles is a master at the written word and he’s developed an interesting character in Count Alexander Rostov that I really cared about and thought about, even if I wasn’t actually reading the text at that particular moment.
The gentleman in question is a Russian count who has been given a lifetime sentence in 1922 for a perceived infraction against the government. This sentence means that he can live for the rest of his days in a lovely posh hotel but he can never leave the premises so this isn’t a high-action novel or anything. It’s a thoughtful and fascinating look at a man who tries his best to make the most of a bad situation and who has lived a full life prior to the incarceration.
Rostov has never held a job but he is well-educated and witty. With this enforced sentence, he is forced to watch history change Russia as it happens outside his windows. Just fascinating and difficult to put down.
There is no doubt that this will be in the year’s Top Ten Books at the end of the year. For sure.
“After all, an educated man should admire any course of study no matter how arcane, if it be pursued with curiosity and devotion.”
Haven’t done a “swabbing-the-decks” post lately and thought that now would be a good time to fix that. I’ve been reading but for some reason, have lost some impetus to blog about them. It’s not that they have been bad reads but I think I’m at that point of the university semester when I’m plumb tuckered out with regard to words in general. (I teach a writing-intensive class which I love to do. But so. Many. Words.)
So what is it that I’ve been doing with myself? Well…
I’ve been reading and here are some brief reviews:
Sharks in the Time of Saviors – Kawai Strong Washburn (2020) F
Loved this very fast fictional narrative about a Hawaiian family and the saga of their lives in the mid 1990s, especially the life of young Nainoa Flores who falls over a cruise ship when he is just seven years old. A group of sharks approach him in the water. Everyone expects the worst but instead, the young boy is brought back to the boat in the mouth of one of the sharks all in one piece, and his family view this as a favor from the ancient Hawaiian gods.
You’ll have to read on to find out how this impacts Nainoa’s childhood and the rest of the family but suffice to say, this was a super-great read and I’m only sorry that I didn’t do a proper blog post on this. (It was also one of former President Obama’s favorite reads for 2020, so if it’s good enough for him, it’s going to be great for me. (And it was.))
I’ve also been rather interested in learning more about birdwatching so I’ve been paying more attention to trees and sounds when I go outside now. To help increase my (rather paltry) bird knowledge, I pulled out the really lovely DK Eyewitness book on the topic and found it fascinating. So far, I’m still practicing seeing the birds – a lot have good camouflage or I have bad eyes! – but I can hear their songs so trying to use those as a clue to identification as well.
There was an Agatha Christie in the list as well, this one Evil Under the Sun, which was just a fun and non-demanding read. I’m very glad that she was a prolific writer since she’s given me lots of titles to read. And have another title on the TBR pile from the library. <rubs hands with glee>
Another read (when I was yearning for a read from another culture/country) ended up being Suburban Sahibs: Three Immigrant Families and Their Passage from India to America by S. Mitra Kalita (2005). This is NF focused on three Indian families who all chose to live in Middlesex County in New Jersey, an area which has the largest Indian population in the world outside India (apparently).
Author Kalita traces each of these long-term residents’ journeys as they land in America and start their lives in suburbia and it’s actually quite fascinating (especially for me, since I was an immigrant as well but with a different trajectory. [Am I still an immigrant even though I’ve been here decades now? When do you stop being an immigrant? Do you stop being an immigrant?))
So this was a fast and interesting read and I enjoyed it. Plus – another off the TBR. Go me. 😉
Other stuff: I’ve just started a new jigsaw puzzle. (Fun.) We’ve been watching Netflix and I’ve even been exploring some new recipes. (Who is this person who is doing this? I’m not really a chef but I’ve suddenly become more interested in food and would like to find some different recipes to try…I think it’s linked with reruns of The Great British Baking Show that I’ve been forcing the Super Hero to watch in the evenings…)
So – nothing too exciting but it’s been nice. I hope that you can say the same.