August Reviews

August was a weird little hodgepodge of books, from Franzen to Harry Potter. My reading has obviously slowed way down since starting work (long gone are the seven books a month happy days), but I still managed to finish five this month. My thoughts:

Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
304 pages
The third book in his (allegedly) unintentional trilogy, is set during the Christmas holiday when a stranger comes into Daniel Sempere and his father's bookstore, insinuating a past relationship with Fermin Romero de Torres. Fermin then recounts his past experiences as a prisoner and how his identity was changed in order to ensure his safety once he escaped. Meanwhile, Daniel Sempere is worried that his wife is having an affair... 

Verdict: I though this book was definitely the weakest of the three Zafon books I have read. It was so incredibly rushed, and the beautiful writing at least partially absent. The whimsy was gone and I didn't enjoy reading it like the others. 

Purity by Jonathan Franzen
608 pages
Pip is a young college graduate living in the Bay Area in a squatter's home, wondering how she's going to pay off her debt and when the heck her mom will every divulge the identity of her father. She is recruited, basically, to work at a sort of WikiLeaks type place in South America, where she is then sent on assignment to Colorado. There she becomes weirdly involved in the marriage of two of the people that run the publication where she works (which is in and of itself a long story). The book, meanwhile, is split into sections that involve all these people, plus more. We're all over the world, all over the realm of reality, and all over every character in the book. There's murder, there's travel, there's sex, there's secrets, their tricky relationships, and whole lot more. It is a long book, after all. 

Verdict: This was my first Franzen novel, and I really ended up loving it. Of course there are flaws, and there are definitely sections that could have been condensed, but, nonetheless, I think I am definitely Team Franzen. The way he creates characters and a story is impressive and I appreciate his risk-taking. 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling
320 pages
I discussed this book here. Spoiler alert: nothing special.

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
240 pages
I have read this book five or six times now, and I am still teaching it in class. Please don't make me talk about it more than I have to. It's a classic. It's the ultimate coming-of-age novel. It's oh-so-risque for the fifties. He says "phony" seventeen thousand times. And so-on and so-forth. 

An Innocent Abroad: Life Changing Trips from 35 Great Writers by Lonely Planet 
320 pages
There really are some great authors in here- Ann Patchett, Dave Eggers, and Jane Smiley, to name a few. And the destinations? Pretty exotic, whether Burning Man, Yemen, Cuba, or France. And their life-changing moments vary too, from dramatic to more introspective.

Verdict: I have actually been reading this for months, an essay or two at a time. While I found some more interesting than others, as a whole the book was incredibly enjoyable. I can't wait to travel more, and this just fueled the fire. 

1,792 pages 

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