Sunday, September 26, 2010

30 Before 30: Item 4, Part 1

For the last two years or so, a novel has been sitting on my night stand. With the bookmark permanently inked into page 10, it has waited while I've been less-than-motivated to pick it up and finish it.

In the meantime, while the novel collected dust, I read Reading Lolita in Tehran. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a memoir, written by a teacher living in the Islamic Republic of Iran, who gathers a group of women together every Thursday to read outlawed Western classics. Their determination to understand the great works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen and Vladimir Nabokov in such a dangerous environment surprised and awed me. I realized that I, a free American woman, had never taken the opportunity to read the very novels they risked everything to get their hands on. These novels, that the women had to smuggle and hide from the Republic, are sitting on bookshelves at Barnes & Noble, free for borrowing from the library and even collecting dust on my nightstand.

So, I have become determined to read the classic works of Charlotte Brown, Joseph Heller and many more, and kicked off this literary adventure by adding Read 5 "Classic" Novels to my list as Item 4.

Novel #1 - Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
The nightstand book, covered with dust and imprinted with a 2-year old book mark, is Catch-22. A story about World War II American bombardier Yassarian, Catch-22 guides you through the horrifying, dark and insane world of war.

Joseph Heller's strange dialogue jumps from character to character and the settings change so frequently, it leaves the reader a bit confused and frustrated. However, the discomfort the reader feels pales in comparison to the plight of Yassarian, who lives in a world where everyone is trying to kill him. Heller's picture-perfect details and disturbing humor suck you into an elaborate tale full of curious characters, hilarious conversations and terrifying wartime events.

I finished this book reminded of what our freedom has cost and thankful for all that has been sacrificed for the life I often take for granted (and to be honest, thankful the book was done).

Catch-22 was a struggle for me to read and likely not a book I'll read again. However, Yassarian's shockingly sane character, in an army full of crazy men, grabbed my heart and ultimately won me over. I can't help but recommend this book to anyone looking for a challenging, classic novel.

Guilty Pleasure Book: The Adventures of Sookie Stackhouse
Challenging book not on your radar right now? Well, good news, I have another recommendation and it is anything but serious or challenging. So, I don't know about you, but baby-vamps and were-puppies battling it out over the high school football field really doesn't appeal to me (i.e. Twilight). In fact, any supernatural books, stories or characters, have rarely caught my attention, until I discovered The Adventures of Sookie Stackhouse.

In a series of ten books, author Charlaine Harris introduces you to vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and other things that go bump in the night in her page-turning, quick reads. Sookie, the telepathic heroine, meets Bill Compton, a striking vampire, in the small town of Bon Temps, LA. Their love-at-first-sight affair sets them off on a series of adventures, getting them into and out of trouble while dealing with their not-so-friendly but very easy-on-the-eyes vampire nemesis, Eric. As the books introduce new characters and the difficulties of a vampire-human relationship become more and more complicated, the reader is caught wondering who is good, who is evil and who is the best supernatural companion for Sookie....who is something of a supernatural being herself.

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