Thursday, June 5, 2008

Instead of curling into a ball...

Some days I want to curl up into a ball and hide under my desk. Dramatic, certainly, but that doesn't mean it's not a valid feeling, or that I'm completely neurotic... maybe that last bit's debatable...

Anyway, instead of lamenting about things that will cease to matter as soon as I acquire the proper perspective, I choose to review the last three books I have read. Yes, in the past two weeks I have completed three books, all markedly different, yet all incredibly great in their own way. What can I say, I am a total nerd. Here they are, in the order I read them.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

By now, I think it's obvious that I am quite the fan of Rand's work. Currently, The Fountainhead sits atop my illustrious "Best Books EVER (non religious edition)" list, and this tome is not far behind its predecessor.

Rand presents us with a world in which the individuality and accomplishments of man are threatened by the mediocrity of society. She polarizes her characters as being wholly self-oriented and driven or thoroughly impressionable and vapid. Man's true purpose is to progress, to work hard, to constantly improve upon himself, regardless of the cost. He must fight against those who wish to exploit and destroy his personal prowess by any means they deem necessary.

Though she works in extremes, Rand weaves an epic tale that lauds the abilities of mankind, and fights the mundane, lackadaisical nature of those not willing to put forth the effort to excel. Her prose is beautiful and complicated and effective. I think if I could write like anyone, I would choose to write like Ayn Rand.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Though a marked shift from the ofttimes exultant tone of Rand, The Host was also an enjoyable read.

A lot of Meyer's critics claim that her writing is pedestrian and that comparing her to JK Rowling is an affront to literary society as a whole. I say that those who typically offer such criticisms can't even write their criticisms clearly enough for me to take them seriously. Sure, she's no literary wunderkind, but she certainly currently has command of her genre, just as Rowling has command of hers.

One of the things I find so compelling about her works is that they could've come from my brain. That's the first thing my mom said after she read Twilight; that it was something she could see me writing. (I wish... I'd be RICH.)

In this novel, she explores the idea of what it really means to be human, to be autonomous, to possess our own free will. What would we do if that were stripped from us? Also, her treatment of the power of love (physical and emotional) is quite astute and believable. And sensual too. (I was gonna use a word that starts with an "or" and ends with a "gasmic," but I'll stick with sensual. That's one thing she and Rand have completely in common.)

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Last, but not least, is Coelho's simple tale of a young shepherd in search of his personal destiny.

His words form a beautiful parable with lush, universally religious undertones, with a sense of hope emanating throughout. The purity of the young shepherd is refreshing and calming; it's a smooth read from beginning to end.

Though it's a quick read, there are layers of meaning throughout, which ensures a delightful read for both the speed readers and the contemplative readers out there. And I can't tell you how nice it was to read something that was so inspiring and uncorrupted. It's a G rated book in an R rated world; how revitalizing.

I am now imbuing myself with the wonderful world of Jane Austen in the form of Mansfield Park; I'm sure you'll be getting my feedback about this book in about a week.

I am SUCH a book nerd.


Kimba said...

I read The Alchemist earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed it as well. Haven't got to The Host yet, but it's on my list. :)

I just read Oh My Stars, and loved it, if you're in the market for suggestions. I adore books.

Katie said...

Hi! We don't know each other, but I was bored senseless one day and linked to your blog from maren and andrew's blog. Anyway...from this post, it would seem that you have a propensity for reading (as do I, though I lack sufficient time). You should check out You can post the books you have read, are going to read, or are currently reading, and you can write comments about them, join book clubs, etc. Thought you might be interested. Check it out sometime. Have a fantastic day!

"Duellie" said...

Booknerd! Booknerd...wait, that isn't a bad thing really. Nice work. I know what I am going to read after I finish Eclipse.

NKB-Golfing said...

The Alchemist is a great book. Even us non-nerdy people can agree on that.

Ashley said...

I totally agree with you about Mrs. Meyer. And I thought that about her treatment of sensuality-in the sense that she did it so well given her confines-but I didn't want to say it for fear of tarnishing her reputation in the eyes of her squeaky clean constituency. Especially in whatever the last book in that trilogy was called. And I am taking the Fountainhead with me to Nicaragua.

Eliza said...

...I've been itching for a good read lately... I went to the library in hopes to check out The Host but, of course, there's a ridiculously long waiting list for it and I just can't get myself to buy it (I know it's not expensive by any means but we need every penny to move to Georgia next month).

For the last few years I've been meaning to read The Alchemist but never have, so perhaps I'll be making my way back to the library again. :-D

Loved the reviews and I totally trust your opinions!