What shall we talk about today?

Hmmm? How ’bout books?

But first, let me complain a tee-tiny bit about flu shots. Yes, my sister the nurse told me they are a waste of time, but I’m more of a show me than a tell me kind of gal and my empirical evidence was proving that they do work. I’ve had one every year since somewhere in the 90’s and have not had the flu in all that time. And then. When it’s not even really flu season (hello, it’s springtime!), I go and get the flu. There was the fever that I could get under 100 for a couple hours but would pop right back up. There were aches all over my body; it hurt so badly that I couldn’t sleep. There was the headache that felt like someone was slowly driving railroad spikes into my skull. That was the first 36-48 hours. Then came the four days of exhaustion, having to nap three or four times a day, getting out of breath going from the sofa to the kitchen in our very small house. Thankfully the headache backed off a bit and I could do some reading while I was trapped on the couch.

And read I did. I’ve only got a couple reviews because I only finished two that I’m going to discuss in detail, but I’ve actually read several more. I occasionally get myself on a chick lit kick (and like many others have noted, chick lit is a horrible name for a genre) and am on one now. I’ve pulled down a few yummies on BookBub and have been reading my eyes out, or something like that. I actually read three entire books and part of a fourth on Friday. It’s crazy, right? The whole light-hearted sort of let’s all be girlfriends and drink some wine and giggle thing is a real palette cleanser when I stick a bunch of them between books that win Pulitzer Prizes and classics and the like.

Reading will slow down again now, though. I am feeling 100% better. I did yard work with Wayne this morning. I am leaving as soon as I post this for knitting group. I expect I’ll be catching up on housework after group. Reading will get back-burnered for a while.

Anyhoo! How ’bout those reviews?

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

  • Classic Literature
  • Kindle e-book, free classics
  • PopSugar Challenge Category:  A book with a color in the title

What a sweetly moralistic little read this was! It tells the story of a young woman (18 at the beginning of the book) named Agnes. She’s the baby of the family, her mother and older sister try their best to spoil her despite the fact that their father is nearly destitute and is slowly dying. The mother decides it’s a great idea for Mary, the sister, to try to sell her lovely little watercolors to try to make some money for her own needs, Agnes announces that she would also like to contribute. After much poo-pooing, everyone finally agrees to  her try her hand at being a governess.

And then all hell breaks loose.

Agnes makes it through almost a year at the first house before she’s sent home with her tail between her legs. And no, she’s not at all saddened by that because she was trying to teach a small army of monsters. She stays a bit longer at the second house, where her charges are older but no less nasty. Through her first-person narrative, Bronte does a great job of pointing out the no-mans-land inhabited by folks like governesses and tutors: not as low as servants, not as high as family, stuck in a place where they really have no one in whom to confide, no one to befriend.

Agnes, through it all, sticks to her upbringing and stays kind and wholesome. Despite what I found to be close to abuse (and a whole lot of it – I would have spat in at least three faces and packed my shit long before Agnes), she is sweet and loving, always. And the ending was quite satisfying to me, especially when compared to what I feel are contemporaries to this novel (all of Austen’s work, Jane Eyre – Anne’s sister Charlotte’s most popular work, etc). I like a happy ending, what can I say?

I find myself sometimes struggling with the classics, but this book was no sort of struggle at all. It was a light and easy read, the language was accessible, and the story was worth my time. I recommend it for anyone who loves a little history and a little romance.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

  • Modern Literature
  • Library e-book
  • PopSugar Challenge Category:  A Pulitzer Prize winning book

Whoa this book was AWESOME. It left me with a series of word impressions, and that might be the best way for me to share it with you:

  • Gritty
  • Horrible, but very correct, language
  • Mojo, more bad than good
  • Poverty
  • New Jersey
  • Sex, both too much and not enough

This is the first Junot Diaz I’ve read, and I have no idea why. His writing style is unique, hard, dirty, and just plain amazing. The narrator’s voice (actually narrators’ voices) are so clear and so well-done that I could see Yunior in my head, I could hear him telling his story in his own voice with his own cadences. The characters were so well-developed that I found myself looking for Lola at the orthodontist’s office, for Oscar at the library, for Yunior at Giant.

I’m not going to review because I cannot do it the justice that it deserves. I am going to say I can see why it won the Pulitzer. I think of the idea that the work should express something that is uniquely American, that speaks to our culture and our shared way of life – Oscar Wao fits that mold to a T. This is the second Pulitzer Prize winner I’ve read since I started the reading challenge and I’m thinking that my next challenge is going to be to read every Pulitzer Prize winner (fiction, at least, and possibly drama too).

I am very, very glad I read this book. It’s wonderful on a whole different level than a lot of things I read. If you can abide the use of the “f” word, you need to read it. If you can’t abide it, read it anyway and just chalk it up to realistic language. You’ll not regret it.

In Progress:

On Deck:

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