I’ll be honest: I’m a bit of a bookworm. Second grade found me devouring – I’ll admit it – the Captain Underpants series, fourth grade was A Series of Unfortunate Events. Fifth grade found me inheriting my cousin’s collection of the Babysitter’s Club series, and I often was reading two or three of them at one time. Middle school was mild murder mystery books and cute-sy teeniebopper romance novels, and high school was when I found my favorite niche: LGBT Young Adult novels, sprinkled in with my required reading for homework. College came, and my reading career came to a screeching halt: assigned pages every night for all my classes diminished my desire to look at another page of words, no matter how interesting the content was in comparison with the dry readings I was given.
And then, I discovered my favorite time of year – vacation. After the initial excitement of saying hello to all my friends and family and catching up on months spent 400 miles away, I waste no time curling up in bed with novel after novel after novel. Jodi Picoult, Julie Anne Peters, John Green, Harper Lee, to name a few. So far this vacation, I have added several books to my “Have Read” list, and added many more to my “To Read” list. Hopefully this semester, I won’t have a lot of reading-intensive courses so I can intensely read my own novels for a change. But for now, with just a couple days left of my vacation, I want to share with all of you some of the books I’ve read this vacation, and my humble opinions on them. Hope you find something that will inspire you.
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett – (A note before my review: I did not see the film before I read the book.) So I was a little tardy to hopping on the Help bandwagon, seeing as how it was made into such a popular film so long ago, and when I did read it, I have to say that I wasn’t all that impressed. The problem is, I can’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t like it that much. Although I did enjoy the triple perspective structure, I felt that the moral of the story and the somewhat weak ending were all predictable. The film, which I did watch after I read it, was on par with the book. Perhaps it was all the hype I had heard about it that had built it up too much, but whatever it was, I’m glad I borrowed this book instead of buying it myself.
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – One of my favorite books in high school was John Green’s Looking for Alaska, so putting The Fault on my Christmas list this year was a no-brainer, and it certainly did not disappoint. Green’s analogies and simple yet romantically sophisticated writing style take my breath away and my emotions go on a roller coaster ride, constantly. Unsurprisingly, this book made me cry, and yet was still somewhat of a feel-good novel at the same time. I think that is becoming Green’s specialty – his other novels, including An Abundance of Katherines, are on my must-read list.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – I’ve never come across a book that both tortured me and hooked me at the same time. His over-descriptive writing style about an imagined future provide a mind numbing confusing book, and yet you trudge through the muck with such a strong desire to find out how it ends. All the symbolism keeps you guessing with each turn of the page, and reading the author’s afterword and coda at the end reveals even more secret symbols. Halfway through the book, I put it down and asked Chelsea, who had read it before, if the entire thing was about communism. The beauty of the book is that it can be about almost anything, interpret it however you wish. Not my favorite, but still very much mind-opening and terrifying.
- Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult – Not a vacation goes by, it seems, without me reading one of her books. Her storytelling, in all of her novels, is something to be admired and modeled after. However, while all of her novels are fantastic, they seem to fit such a mold; standalone, they are great books, but put them all together, and the similarities become a bit predictable. Vanishing Acts is one of these: while a great book because of the plot line and surprise ending (if you hadn’t read her other books), I wouldn’t call it groundbreaking. And yet, I feel as if I cannot criticize Picoult, mainly because she’s from New Hampshire like myself, but also because I find myself reading all the books by her I can get my hands on, and will continue to do so for years to come. Overall, this isn’t my favorite by her, but certainly one to add to my collection.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – A collective gasp from high school English teachers everywhere: Nicky hasn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird until now!? Alas, it’s true. The classic novel about race and growing up had finally found its way into my hands, and quickly thereafter into my heart, and my bookshelf. This is probably one of my favorite ones that I read over vacation, and had the high-school-required-reading-stigma not been permanently attached to the novel, perhaps I would have read it much sooner. My cousin said, “Nicky, with the line of work you’re trying to get into, you really need to read this book.” And so I did, and so I loved every second of it. A must read, for sure.
I’ve read several other books this vacation, and will more than likely continue to do so over the next couple weeks, so there should be a Part II to this coming out soon. Stay tuned, and happy reading.