Change of Heart

 I have just finished reading Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. This came from a recommendation from a friend who I have not received many book pushes from previously (except How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran, which is now my own personal gospel).

 When I think of books by Picoult, I have only read one previously, I think of films with soft lighting followed by chocolate and girls crying. I may be wrong but ‘emo’ seems to be her preferred format and by gosh she must do it well! I was not aware how many books she has written in the past. Following this last read I may need to put her on my ‘go to’ holiday reading list! I would call that a guilty pleasure list but I am trying to avoid that phrase. After all, if you enjoy something why should it be deemed ‘guilty’?

 So, down to the book itself. It centres a round a double murder, the murder trial, the conviction of the murderer and the sentence being execution. The catch here is that the sister of the murdered girl is in need of a heart and the inmate wants to give away his to save her life. Written like that I don’t think the story sounds as compelling as it is. Written in a format that focuses on 4 character perspectives (a priest, laywer, inmate and victim’s mother) you get to see different perspectives of those involved as the story unfolds and throughout the book you can make your own judgement on the situation.

 The theological side of the text, from the perspective of the priest, as well as how the lawyer can use this to justify changing the form of execution, is fascinating. I cannot imagine how much research was required to be able to write about such a large topic with that level of knowledge – both in terms of law and religion!

 It does raise some points in regards to the death penalty in the US that certainly do make you think and not just in the sense of a one-sided argument. Maggie, the lawyer, is like me –very much against the ruling that anyone could be convicted of such a penalty. What is interesting is that it is broached that this is a stance easy to take when you have not had someone taken from you in such a heinous and destructive manner. The questions being; Wouldn’t we all want some kind of justice? and If a ‘life for a life’ really does equate to justice?

 This book didn’t especially pull at my heart strings and at one point I did not believe the inmate to be lacking in formal education and struggling with learning disabilities as he was portrayed initially. Despite this I was fully interested in the book and feel like I have consumed it at a rate of knots.

 

 That was the tenth novel I have read this year so far and I am really struggling for what to read now. There will always be far too much choice…

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The Heart of Darkness

As a rule books I do not like are rather few and far between. Whether this is because I stick to books that have been recommended to me by trusted sources or whether I am wholly unadventurous when it comes to literature, I have yet to decide.
I am starting to write this particular ramble when I am a mere 13 pages off finishing Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This is a short story of a similar length to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men but unfortunately this is where the comparisons end. I downloaded it for the old ereader as A. it was free and B. my American roommate had recommended it. Up until this point her recommendations have been pretty flawless; American Gods, The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared to name but two. That is not to say she raved about The Heart of Darkness but a little bit of me feels I haven’t gained a great deal from reading it.
My indifference to the protagonist, I imagine, was not quite what Conrad had in mind, but then again I regularly felt that he may be either wasn’t writing it for any audience other than himself or maybe he just wasn’t writing it for this particular audience. Initially I was very much enjoying the description, the setting of the scene in London but it rapidly lost me. I feel the actual story, which is clearly a classic in its own right (Apocalypse Now) was lost amongst the sheer descriptivism.
I could sit and write about the symbolism of the darkness and the fog, the levels of evil as Marlow progresses further into the ‘Heart’ as well as the moral ambiguity throughout in regards to slaves, rebels, criminals and all the other terms used to describe those ‘working’ for the ‘Company’ however my lack of enjoyment of the book makes me feel less inclined to do this.

But this is me trying to stick to my current rule of writing at least a short segment on each book I read.

Before I forget, I did learn a couple of things from this book. The most exciting thing being that the word I thought to be ‘conflab’… as in ‘they were having a conflab about the meeting tomorrow’ is actually ‘confab’ and stems from the word confabulation meaning ‘To talk casually; chat’.

Thank you HoD.

The Rosie Project

New life rule:

Intersperse heavy and emotionally affecting books with light and potentially *fluffy books.

This rule joins others including the decision I made upon completion of my degree not to wear denim skirts anymore. This is a choice I will probably live to regret but heyho, 21 year old me didn’t not like me in denim skirts. 24 year old me is still not convinced. (I digress)

 

In accordance with NLR (new life rule) I opted for The Rosie Project. A sound choice even if I do say so myself. Initially I was not completely convinced that this would be for me but it really did grow on me. Don, initially reminded me of a combination of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory and Abed Nazir from Community. I guess the thing they have in common is the potential for OCD and a leaning towards traits related to Asperger’s Syndrome. Don does, however come across considerably more real than either of these. My concern that this is a personality that may well have been ‘over done’ in current media was not correct. 

It was nice to go on the journey with Don, upon meeting Rosie, that led him through a series of projects, in addition to his initial ‘Wife Project’. Similar I felt the same about Rosie, who clearly had her own issues that manifested themselves in their own way.

Nothing pleases me more than a happy ending so of course I was thrilled by this book as well as still being interested in the ‘Father Project’ until the very  end.

 

I also loved the addition of the questionnaire and character inspired cocktails at the back of the book.

Huzzah, a grand old read to offset an emotional rollercoaster ride of a previous read.

 

 

 

*please note I do not use fluffy in a negative manner. The world often needs more fluff.

The Kite Runner

I recently started a new job, as previously mentioned, and had the pleasure of meeting a lady who can only be described as a breath of fresh air. She is far older than me but at no point did that feel like it was an issue. This is a lady who thinks retiring will take away some of her ability to travel and meet people so works as and when to fund holidays &c. To put her age into perspective she used to work with my now 78 year old grandmother.
She is a huge fan of learning a new word a day and likes to use a plethora of weird and wonderful lexical choices.
It is from her that I received the recommendation to read The Kite Runner, a book I had heard of but had never really come into focus. Book recommendations are something that can be really exciting but, depending on the recommender, can come with a lot of pressure. This one did not. And oh my days. I finished it yesterday and I’m still experiencing a ‘*book hangover’.

I guess my love of this book comes from the characters more than anything else. They are flawed and beautifully presented individuals. Set to a back drop of what is originally a rich and immense country of sights and smells and disturbing undertows of discrimination.
It opened my eyes to various things I did not know about Afghanistan and their history as a country as well as having a fantastic story about the black and white of good and evil followed up with a lot of grey patches. After all, life is not purely black and white and this really highlights that.

It is not always pleasant; in fact there are certain parts that made me distinctly uncomfortable. There are characters I still don’t know how I feel about but the point is I feel something for all of them.

I have been playing with the idea of watching films that stem from books but I still can’t decide if that is a wise idea. I will watch films of books I have read but don’t have a habit of searching for them. There are certain films I won’t watch because of my absolute love of a book (for example the Time Traveler’s Wife and To Kill a Mockingbird). I cannot decide if The Kite Runner falls into this category or not.

I will keep thinking.

*This is a thing. A real thing. It doesn’t come with dehydration as a regular, run of the mill, hangover but it certainly does exist.

The Beginning

 

  Of late I have spent a massive amount of time reading. This may have a little bit to do with my current employment position which means I have a job but it is by no means challenging and thus I can read and get through the daily tasks. (all hail the Kindle Cloud) Not to mention my general love of books as a form of escapism.

 

  As of 2012 I decided to make a note of books I read in a small and understated journal. I have not been writing reviews, simply just noting down their presence in my bookish history. It makes for an interesting look back through the year. Some books, depending on how ingrained they get into my mind, go on to remind me of a time, a country or a season. My first dalliance with Steinbeck was on the Metro during my commute whilst living, however briefly, in fantastical Madrid. I was introduced to Gaiman when living with a glorious American girl in Brazil. Books and people and places are all becoming intertwined and I would like for this to continue.

 

  After being inspired by a friend’s blog post recently I decided it may be time to do some writing of my own. Not necessarily for others but I feel it is important to keep a ‘hand in’. Writing does not always flow easily but looking back it does flow much more smoothly when it is practiced.

 

So let’s see what I can do with this.

Potential updates at the completion of each novel?

Mini reviews?

 

Let’s just see what happens…