At this time, I still have an embarrassing book pile but I’m trying to go over it as best as I can. I think I have done reasonably well. However, the reading bone hasn’t fused completely so let me do the lazy thing here and tell you about the books I have finished in brief instead of the usual one-on-one assessment. I hope some of my comments are useful to you in your search of what to read next. Happy reading. 🙂
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
The Silver Linings Playbook is mostly sad and it can really hurt but I do like it a lot. It takes you through the motions of grieving, of healing, of letting go. The characters are real though far from perfect. This story is almost personal. I relate to Pat Peoples in a way that I’d like to believe miracles happen, that if we work hard enough, we eventually get what we want. I relate to Tiffany in a way that it’s difficult for people to understand what’s truly wrong with you, why you behave certain ways, and how they are quick to judge without even considering how you feel, how you truly feel. It’s amazing how much isolation it evokes. Mostly it is about people trying to begin again, people trying to accept how cruel life is, people trying to fix the shit they’re in. Highly emotional and moving, the story packs a punch and let me tell you, it is far from the movie version so if you enjoyed that one, you will adore The Silver Linings Playbook all the more.
Favorite line: “I am trying to be kind instead of right.”
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Good and bad, bad and good. There is always a tension and this is what drives people crazy. Striking balance is difficult as is explored in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As a reader, you feel the tremendous pressure of being good, to do good, that is expected of everybody in the story. The decision made by Dr. Jekyll, to free one of the other to solve the constant struggle inside every soul is actually quite clever but as with everything else, one eventually overpowers the other. This reminds me of that saying about the good wolf and the bad wolf inside us all, wherein the one we feed regularly is bound to win. It’s also interesting, how it went the way Frankenstein did, not bothering to explain the science of it all. It’s a lame excuse, don’t you think?
Favorite line: “Man is not truly one, but truly two.”
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Let me get this out: I am 100% smitten with Anthony Bourdain. I adore him in his entire grumpy and cranky but very witty and funny glory. And damn, can he write. The book is a memoir; mostly angry, mostly exaggerated, and mostly fascinating. The story transports you inside a bustling kitchen with the usual organized chaos of pots and pans. To me, this is interesting because I know most people think being a chef or a cook is a glamorous job. For the love of fuck, it is not. It is hard work. Remember my time in culinary school? God, I could’ve died. But what I liked most about Kitchen Confidential is the story of the man himself. The guy built himself from the floor up. It is also feels like a celebration of the working man, of a failure who have gone around, of someone who has made it wrong but is finally trying to do it right. The insights found inside this one are very true and useful, not only in the kitchen but in life. Anthony Bourdain may be an asshole but he is the asshole. Food fans, read this one.
Favorite line: “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Safon
My problem with this book is I am in love with The Shadow of the Wind. I am in love with the first instalment from the Cemetery of Forgotten books series that reading The Prisoner of Heaven feels like eating a block of Styrofoam. Yes, the narration is fluid and humorous, the characters still sharp and relatable, but it does not stir the emotions or the senses in the same freaking good way The Shadow of the Wind does. Look, I like Fermin and learning his agonizing back story is nice, but I would have loved to see the dynamism of the first that The Prisoner of Heaven unfortunately lacks. I know someone who is as in love as I am with The Shadow of the Wind but will I recommend this one? No.
Favorite line: “One musn’t dream of one’s future; one must earn it.”
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
This is one of those cases where I saw the movie first before getting my hands on the book. I only watched Fight Club late last year and got interested. (Also, I’m trying to give Chuck another chance because I didn’t exactly jump up and down for Damned.) Most of the movie was loyal to the book, except the ending. I enjoyed how dysfunctional it is. Have you noticed how I tend to like stories with characters with questionable mental stability? Anyway, Fight Club is a quick read, smooth, and funny at times. It is a guy book with a good kicker of a twist. I loved the exhaustion, darkness and anti-social aspects of it, too. It mostly talks about empowerment through self-destruction, fatalism, and hitting-bottom; hardly the stuff you normally find on self-help books really.
Favorite line: “It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.”