Meredith's Challenge 2.0

52 books, one year. Stay tuned for more details.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

#15 The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

I learned something very important last week. I am not a twelve-year old girl. I know that some of you may be surprised by that, but it's true. Here are some other things I learned: even if you saw the movie, that doesn't mean that you need to read the book, especially if the book was written for twelve-year olds; any book that has a cover made up of gradiations of pink with a tiara is probably not going to be my cup of tea; holy cow does Disney clean up movies but good, example- father who never marries mother and survives testicular cancer is dead in the movie (pretty harsh, Walt & Co.); and finally a high school senior having a crush on his younger sister's freshman friend is kinda creepy.

This book is the first part of a series. Has anyone in the computer read the other books? Do they get any better? Was the movie a combination of multiple books, similar to the very, very pretty and equally crappy Series of Unfortunate Events?

As an aside, I'm right on track so far. Only 35 more books to go!

Friday, May 27, 2005

#14 The Reef by Edith Wharton

How do I love Edith Wharton? Let me count the ways:
1) The Age of Innocence
2) Old New York
3) Ethan Frome
4) Summer
5) The Reef

So I've decided that I now need to read everything ever written by this woman. The Reef is awesome. I can't help but feel sorry for her characters, even thought I know that Wharton is writing satire. They make life so fucking complicated for themselves by following social niceties, which are ridiculous by the way, instead of doing what they actually want to do. The on-again-off-again marriage thing drove me nuts. I just wanted Ann to once and for all make up her mind. After I finished it, I gave it some more thought. How would I feel if the person I was almost engaged to cheated on me? Probably pretty crappy. As far as I know, no one's ever done that and I don't know how I would react if that did happen. I don't know if I would be able to forgive someone for betraying my trust. Come to think of it, Darrow is a jerk, to Ann and to Sophy, and Ann deserves much better, so does Sophy. I hope that they didn't get married that Sophy wakes up, and that Ann finds someone much better. They wouldn't be very likely though.

I read that Wharton considered this book to be her most autobiographical and that she identified the most with Darrow. Yikes! I know that she had a sucky marriage and got divorced in 1913, I think, which was pretty modern of her. She was brillant and I highly reccommend that if you hadn't read Age of Innocence, yet that you do, as well as everything else she ever wrote.

Monday, May 23, 2005

#13 Little Scarlet by Walter Mosley

I've never read any Mosley before this. I've heard that his books are really good, especially Devil in a Blue Dress (it is Bill Clinton's favorite book afterall). I jumped into this series without any previous knowlege of the characters which left me feeling a little left out. There were also some bits that reminded me of the crappy series I read in elementary school, namely The Babysitters' Club and (gulp) Sweet Valley books. It was mostly the quick way he explained events from previous books. I understand that that is the way with series books and that it is the easiest way to get something across, but I wish that it would be dealt with more finesse. For instance, instead of saying "This is my son who I adopted because he was abused as a child", maybe somehow work it into what's going on instead of having this disconnect between the action and internal business.

I ran hot and cold about Little Scarlet. I really liked the parts when Easy internal monologues about race relations in L.A. I thought the history of the city was interesting. As an aside, I realized that last two books had race riots in them, which is an interesting pattern. However, I have no patience whatsoever for stilted dialogue or hokey language. I am a horrible critic if anything includes the above. For instance, I still think that The Matrix is a bad, bad movie because it has the worst ending ever. (You can't die; I love you!) So, I was really irritated when an interesting bit was followed by a cliched conversation. Argh!

Related to the series issue, I was frustrated by the sudden resolution of the murder. I think that Mosley had to do more leg work regarding Easy's quick discovery of the murderer and how pat the explanation was. Just because the book is part of a series doesn't mean that everyone has read all the previous titles, case in point. I just felt that like Little Scarlet couldn't stand alone as its own story and that it should. What do I know though, I adore the Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, which I'm pretty certain don't work separately. What do the people in my computer think about Mosley? Maybe I just don't get it? Explain, please.

Friday, May 20, 2005

New! and Exciting!

New developments over here. I added a vocabulary list. I always make one when I'm reading a book but get too lazy to actually look the words up. Maybe this will force me to expand my woefully inadequate mental dictionary and if I ever take the GRE's for English (ha!), it might prove helpful. All definitions are from the Oxford English Dictionary (or OED as we English nerds like to call it.)

In other news, I just finished book #13, so update soon.

Monday, May 16, 2005

#12 Middlesex by Jefferey Eugenides

I have no idea what I want to say about this book. Yes, it was well-written. I liked the history of the family in Turkey. The gory bits were too much for me though. Eugenides left me with a lot of questions and the narrators abrupt change from one gender to the other didn't answer them. I also thought that it made what seems to be a pretty difficult process seem easier than it actually is, or so I hear. *SPOILER ALERT* You need to highlight the text below to see what I wrote, I didn't want to ruin it for anyone. The reason that Callie was genetically XY so that is what s/he immediately identified as seemed a bit flimsy, especially since there was no earlier sign that Callie thought that she wasn't a girl, besides her concerns over puberty. What about what Cal/lie felt was right? How s/he really identified? I want to know more about that thought process and about the love interest in the end. * SPOILER END* Maybe that is the proof of a good book though, leaving the reader wanting more. Its an interesting read, no doubt. Book #13 is coming along nicely. Update soon.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

#11 Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards

I met the authors of this when they came to UCSB during TBTN week. I wasn't too impressed, frankly. We, Students Stopping Rape, were talking about organizing around sexual assault with them and some of their suggestions were absurd, for instance having a Guess the Rapist panel with real rapists. Whee! I need to keep in mind though that not everyone has the same background as I and that not everyone is hip to my lingo (i.e. survivors, not rapees, yikes). As a side note, when I met Eve Ensler, she was as awesome as I expected her to be and more! Their talk wasn't too inspiring either and at their question and answer session a male individual took over by asking really offensive stupid questions (i.e. women who buy underwear at Victoria's Secret can't be feminists because they like pretty underpants! It's true though, I turned in my Feminist Club card the next day because I decided that matching lingerie is more important than social revolution. Blah), which made me super angry and if I were in charge I probably would have mentioned something about male privilege and how he was using it at a talk about feminism! Grr. Onto the book, though.

I like the history they gave of feminism in the eighties and nineties. I've never been able to make my way through Backlash (yet another reason to turn in my Feminist Club card), so I felt like this was a mini-primer on that, but much more readable, thank goodness. The authors included personal stories too and I was excited to recognize Sabrina Alcantara-Tan, as if I was some kind of insider to Third Wave feminism (not anymore, no card, remember?), who, by the way, I was also not impressed with. What's with the negativity Meredith? Jeez. The parts about older feminists and younger feminists clashing makes me sad. I didn't know that this was a problem. I haven't experienced it so far but I can see how it could happen. Also the bit at the end with a day in life of a world where feminism succeeded is heart-warming in a cheese-ball, holy shit, I forgot how unfeminist the world really is and that really sucks-kind of way.

All in all, I liked it, I think. At least enough to be interested in purchasing, at full price, their new book about grassroots organizing 'cause Lord knows I need help with that. I also know that this post is... crazy and a bit inarticulate. Questions, comments and suggestions are all welcome, unless you tell me that I can't be a feminist because I like pretty underthings, then you can piss off.