6/29/09

Books

I am so very behind on blog reading and I'm doing a lot of lurking (sorry) and partly this is due to book reading.

I finished Atonement on Sunday and it was superb. Ian McEwan's writing is stunning and his characters complex and richly delineated. The story is amazing. I will definitely read more of his books.

Has anyone seen the movie? Should I see it or will it ruin the book for me?

Before Atonement, I read Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, one of the most famous love stories ever written and a book I'd never read before. I was astonished by it. It's incredible, but I was stunned that this classic love story centered around two people without a single redeeming quality between them. They are despicable; made despicable by this inhuman, unearthly "love" perhaps? (At any rate, he is as creepy as they come.)

I did not expect that it would be the story of a warped and destructive obsession. For the first third of the book I was fascinated but also finding it very hard to care what happened to them. Then sheer morbid curiosity made me read to the amazing end.

Heathcliff and Cathy make a forceful impression. They are dark, cruel, wild, and they feed off of each other and need each other in a deeply disturbing way that renders, for them, anything outside the two of them something to be despised. I felt that only belief in God would prevent them destroying each other and everyone around them. (That isn't what happens, btw. They remain un-anchored. Unhinged, really.)

The story encompasses classic themes: darkness and light, perceptions of what constitutes heaven and hell, civilization versus man's "natural" state, the expectations of society, family, economic position, and so forth. It is all quite complex.

(And creepy.)

Any opinions of Wuthering Heights? I'd love to know how others liked or disliked it and what you took away from it.

AND what other books do you recommend? (fyi... I've read Twilight & the Outlander series and I'm not big on chick-lit.)

23 comments:

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

Hi Amy! I know how you feel about the blog reading backlog. Just got caught up on mine tonight, so I have time to pay a visit to you, via Twitter!

I checked out Atonement from the library a few months ago, but never cracked it open. I was knee deep in a major work/life transition at the time, so perhaps that's why. But I'm tempted to give it another whirl...

I'm not big on chick lit either (couldn't stand Friday Night Knitting Club, and I'm a knitter myself) but I loved Eat, Pray, Love. It is a funny and inspiring story of a woman who travels to three countries and in the process, redefines herself and her life. I devoured that book last summer.

Good luck in finding your next read!

Melizzard said...

I "had" to read Wurthering Heights in high school and the only thing I really remember was just the Please-God-let-me-get-to-the-end-of-this-bookness of it. Now you've got me curious - at 16 I'm sure I didn't get the darkness.

I've been reading Eat Love Pray - I put it down for a while about 1/2 way through. It's good but it's a memoir so the author tends to go on and on a bit - cause you know it's her life changing experience and all. I had ignored the book until I saw Elizabeth Gilbert's TED Talk and that got me interested - go watch it and decide if you want to read the book. BTW Julia Roberts is going to play her in the movie version.

Best easy read I've had this year.. if you don't mind going back to the Teen Vampire Lit section is the House of Night series. I love the main character (read anti-hero) Zoey Redbird. It's an interesting premise where Vampire-ism is genetic, not a result of violence and they live among humans daily. The school is where the vamps go when the change starts to ride out the 3 years it takes. Think Twilight meets Harry Potter but with a dash of sex.

Let's see what else is in my Kindle. Right now I'm reading How To Buy A Love of Reading - which is actually a novel. I'm not sure about it yet 1st half was iffy but is starting to get better.. let you know.

de said...

McEwan is a skilled writer, but very manipulative; I hesitate to put myself in his hands. I thought the movie was a bit hollow, then I read that the director wanted Kiera Knightley to play Briony, but she wanted the role of Cecelia. I think if she had taken the Briony role the film would have been more balanced, truer to the novel.

I am reading:
Three Cups of Tea, a compelling non-fiction about Pakistan,

the first two novels of a planned trilogy about a dystopic parallel world-within-our-world by John Twelve Hawks. Very anti-technology & paranoid, but entertaining,

and poetry by Billy Collins, who takes the mundane and makes it sublime.

barefootinhighheels said...

I was reading Philippa Gregory's books -- especially liked "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Boleyn Inheritance." I didn't think I was really into historical fiction, but these were fascinating!

But I just finished "The Book Thief" by Marcus Zusak. I believe it's also a young adult novel, but it is an incredibly moving and touching story and beautifully written. Set during Nazi Germany, it's a story of a young girl and her life and her fascination with words and books. SO worth the read!! Loved it!

nell said...

Hi Amy, I recently read Wuthering Heights and I completely agree with you, although I was also bothered by some of the inexplicable things the unredeemable characters do, especially later in the book (like young Catherine marrying Linton - why?).

As for recommended books, I liked The Memory Keeper's Daughter a lot, and I just started The Unbearable Lightness of Being which so far I'm enjoying as well.

Hope all is well with you and your beautiful family. -N

Ashlie- Mommycosm said...

Have you read any Jodi Picoult? I'm obsessed lately - she wrote the book behind the new movie My Sister's Keeper.

Amy said...

Shannon - Hello Twitter friend! I ADORED Eat, Pray, Love! A favorite of mine for sure. I'm disappointed in Julia Robert's playing her in the movie. That's just wrong. The Time Traveler's Wife is another book I loved and the movie trailer looks really good. I completely approve of the casting.

Melizzard - That last one sounds interesting. (I think you'd take away much more from Wuthering Heights now.)

de - I love Billy Collins - his work is amazing. I didn't feel manipulated by McEwan in Atonement. I see what you mean -- but I felt that as a device to tell the story it made a light not pop off in my head but slowly come up, like it was on a dimmer switch. The realization of whose story was being told I thought made it more interesting and was a real surprise. I found Briony fascinating, and manipulation would be right up her ally! I suppose I felt she manipulated me, not him!

barefoot - I read The Other Boleyn Girl this year too and enjoyed it! Gregory took MANY liberities IMO but it did make a good story. I've looked at The Book Thief - I'll put that on my list.

nell! I have to email you - how are you!! Miss ya! RE: Wuthering Heights I think a re-read would be helpful for me to catch all the nuances and uncover the possible motivations. (Not gonna happen at this point though.)

Ashlie - I've not read Jodi Picoult, but that's a good idea. I'll check her out too!

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

I couldn't get into Wuthering Heights. I tried, but just couldn't do it. (One of VERY few books I didn't finish reading.)

Have you read The Book Thief? I believe it was originally written for young adults, but it was SO GOOD.

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

Oooh - and I'm so "right there" with barefootinhighheels. I also just read The Other Boelyn Girl. VERY GOOD though it was a loooong book!

Michele Renee said...

Two books that I will never forget are Nicole Krauss' The History of Love, and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. Each of these I could have gone back to page one and started again.
I read Eat, Pray, Love but was not a fan--maybe it turned me off that after this one year or so expereince in three countries, when the author returned to the US she had to go to a gorgeous resort for a few months to write the book. Give me a book any day that that can written while the author conducts a real life.

VanderbiltWife said...

I read Wuthering Heights in college and was surprised that I really did like it and found it a good read. May be time to pull it out for a good reread.

Lately, I've really enjoyed Ruth Reichl's memoirs: Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires. She is the editor of Gourmet and has exquisite prose and makes my stomach growl with her recipes.

Amy said...

Michele - My mother recommended The Glass Castle and I do need to get to that one.

As far as Elizabeth Gilbert's writing environment, I can't criticize because it sounds so like something I'd do. (!!)

Amy said...

Vanderbilt Wife - I've not heard of Ruth Reichl's books but THANKS! I'll check those out!

Pop and Ice said...

First I have 2nd the following suggestions:
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera(excellent movie too!)
- My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
- The History of Love - Nicole Krauss

My recommendations:
- Amsterdam - Ian McEwan
- The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger *SO GOOD!*
- The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
- The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
- Freedom and Necessity - Steven Brust and Emma Bull *SUPERB* You will probably have to order online.

Life As I Know It said...

I read Wuthering Heights in high school and remember loving it.
Haven't read Atonement, but heard good things about it as well.
I just The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and loved it. Also just read Sarah's Key - a hard one to read, but good book - and one of those that sticks with you.
Loved eat, pray, love as well and just about anything by Barbara Kingsolver.

Ali said...

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. amazing. very, very good. you will NOT be sorry.

ps. I loved the movie version of Atonement. better than the book, I think. :)

Loukia said...

Yay! A book post! I loved Atonement, too! Great read. I never saw the movie, though.

And I read Wuthering Heights when I was 15, and in England for a vacation, and now I don't remember much about it, so I know I have to re-read it.

I recommend:

Time Traveler's Wife

Night

The Kite Runner
A Thousand Splendid Suns

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Fall On Your Knees

The Way the Crow Flies

White Oleander

Suite Francaise

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Happy reading!

Loukia said...

Oh, and like Michele said, The History of Love was great, as was The Glass Castle. I totally loved The Glass Castle!

Jennifer, Playgroups Are No Place For Children said...

I tried to read through the comments and I know some of these will be repeats,

Poisonwood Bible
The Book Thief
Digging to America
Love in the Time of Cholera
The Given Day
The Kite Runner

These are a few of my favorites I've read since January.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I just read Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety and LOVED it!

I also HIGHLY recommend The Time-Traveler's Wife; it's one of the most beautiful and unique love stories I've ever read.

Frogs in my formula said...

A few years ago (ok, many years ago when I was 25), I read Wuthering Heights (for some reason I'd never
read it in school), and was shocked to find I couldn't put it down. It
was engrossing. It was such a wonderful surprise. Kinda makes me want to reread it.

Ah, the nightstand pile grows ever higher.

Amo said...

I have been so obsessed with my reader (it just says 1000+ to go but I know it's lying) that I haven't done much reading lately.

A friend gave me The Shack and I have to admit that I am much more involved in it than I thought I would have ever been. (And I can't take my eyes off my kids now...eeek.)

I also loved some of the other suggestions: The Time Travelers Wife and The Lovely Bones.

Heather, Queen of Shake Shake said...

I've read Atonement and saw the movie. I thought the movie followed the book pretty well.

I recommend Jane Eyre, if you're feeling like another classic. One of my favorites.

I also like The Book Thief. Jennifer turned me onto it too and WOW.

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