Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon: TBR stack

4.28.2017


This will be my first year participating in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon!  It's been on my radar for a while, but I'm usually too busy (or think I'm too busy).  This year, the timing is right, as I've already got a ton of "currently reading" books on the shelf.  

I'll be posting updates on my Instagram and perhaps some reviews to follow afterwards.  Let me know if you're also participating!

And now, the lineup:
We (e-book) / Yevgeny Zamyatin
Right Ho, Jeeves (e-book) / P. G. Wodehouse
Sherlock Holmes Challenge catch-up / A. C. Doyle
Out of the Silent Planet / C. S. Lewis 
Spiritual Writings / Soren Kierkegaard
The Paper Door and Other Stories / Naoya Shiga

Stretch goals:
Journey Through the Impossible / Jules Verne
The Screwtape Letters / C. S. Lewis
Lord of the Flies (re-read) / William Golding

Not aiming too high, but I hope to finish some of these. 

This Side of Paradise - a peek into the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald

4.25.2017

This Side of Paradise dust jacket 
My first attempt to read this book was on a plane, four years ago.  I had been going through some tough times, and as I plodded through the first fifty pages, my mind kept wandering.  I grew tired of the apparently carefree protagonist - who had the romantic name of Amory Blaine - and ultimately tossed this to the Not Finishing stack with a single comment: "Weird book so far."

Having finished the book now, I would word it a bit differently: "Weird book, but oddly rewarding."

If you are a reader who can love a book for the sake of its writing, This Side of Paradise is just your sort of book.  It is written in a series of vignettes and takes place over the course of Amory's childhood, youth, college years, and early adulthood.  Much like the crisp narrative of The Great Gatsby, each scene has its own particular mood and brilliancy, and the effect is a chocolate box of impressions, some bitter and some sweet. 
Youth is like having a big plate of candy. Sentimentalists think they want to be in the pure, simple state they were in before they ate the candy. They don't. They just want the fun of eating it all over again.
There is a great deal of bitter in Amory's life, as it turns out.  Born into wealth, he drifts through childhood with not too much schooling and eases into Princeton University with more than academics on his mind.  Campus drama appeals to him, yet he realizes he is always a little different than his peers, fitting not neatly into some clique or crowd mentality.  Amory adores poetry and falls in love many times and in many different ways.  His listless egotism, however, holds happiness at arm's length.  "It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being."

This eerie surrealism comes back again and again in the plotline.  The best example, and my favorite part of the book, was Amory's vision of the man with the pointed shoes.  It was almost Dostoyevskian and could be a short story in itself.  It was also completely unlike the rest of the story, and, more than a welcome diversion, made me think about him from a different light.

My motivation for coming back to This Side of Paradise was to get into the 1920s, but it went further than that - I entered an entire American subculture, which was so specific to the early 20th century and yet also specific to the wealthy class that it seems to be its own microcosm.  I felt both connected to Amory and distinctly alienated from his way of life and thinking.  Perhaps this is because, under the purple ties and flowery speech, he is just a twenty-something like me.

3.5 out of 5 starsThis Side of Paradise was weird, but worthwhile.

Sherlock Holmes Challenge: April Check-In

4.08.2017


For those following along on my Sherlock Holmes challenge - and for any who still wish to join! - I've decided to change things up a bit.  Instead of weekly link-ups, I'll be posting monthly check-ins, open to any and all Sherlock Holmes stories you have read in the month.  This will help me manage the posts better and also remove the dependency on the link-up widgets (which, while useful, can cause extra load time on the blog).

April's stories include the following:

March (Carry-over)
Week 13 (Mar 26-Apr 1):  "The Naval Treaty"

April
Week 14 (Apr 2-8):  "The Crooked Man"
Week 15:  "The Five Orange Pips"
Week 16:  "The Noble Bachelor"
Week 17:  The Valley of Fear
Week 18 (Apr 30-May 6):  The Valley of Fear (continued)


Please comment with any thoughts or reviews you'd like to share!  This post has no expiration date, so if you want to come back and add your reviews at the end of the month, that's perfectly fine.  And again, if you are on a different reading schedule, feel free to chime in!