August was a much better reading month than July. I'd recommend everything I read. I also bought like a million books and have no place to put them, so there's that.
Question: does anyone else ever feel the desire to re-buy a book you already own? I do, particularly at estate sales or used book stores. I get excited seeing a book I love and have an immediate urge to buy it again, even though I already have it. If I acted on this every time, I'd have approximately ten copies of A Prayer for Owen Meany. Probably more.
1. So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures, by Maureen Corrigan
I loved this. I love books about books. I always love books about books, because I'm a nerd, but this was one of the best and most interesting books about books I've read in quite a while.
The whole book is about, as the title says, how The Great Gatsby came to be written and why it's still one of the most well-known and well-loved books, in spite of its less-than-thrilling reception. Corrigan's love for Gatsby spills over into her writing, making reading this book completely delightful and engrossing. I knew a lot of the history of the Fitzgeralds and Gatsby already, but still had so much to learn and found so many different new ways of looking at such a complicated, layered little book. I highly recommend this for anyone who loves Gatsby, as well as anyone struggling to figure out what makes Fitzgerald so great after all.
2. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Of course, after reading about Gatsby, I had to read Gatsby. Again. Re-reading it this time, after the benefit of Corrigan's insights and research, was probably my favorite Gatsby experience. I noticed all the little things that you tend to skim over in regular readings, and loved it even more than the last time I re-read it (before the latest movie came out). I'm continually amazed by how much is going on in what can barely be called a novel.
If you haven't read The Great Gatsby, I really don't know what you've been doing with your life. And if you think Gatsby is a great love story, you weren't paying attention. Like Corrigan, I find something new to take away from each new reading, and continually find new depth and meaning each time I come back to it. It's even already shown up in my blog about dealing with the past.
Five stars, because Gatsby.
3. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
This was a rough read. Not because it was poorly written, but it was rough subject matter. Anne and I chose it for our Drunk Girls' Book Club. It had also been referenced repeatedly in So We Read On, so it seemed an appropriate next choice. It tells the story of a young black man coming into his own in the 1940s and 50s, dealing with bigotry, race riots, and the consequences of being "invisible."
I can say that, while I'm glad I read it once, I doubt I will ever do so again.
I gave it three stars on Goodreads, but it's really more like three and a half.
4. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
I listened to the audiobook of this, and absolutely adored it. All the books. All the literary geeking. John Irving references. Perfection. It includes the line, "Whenever I read a book, I want you to be reading it at the same time." Love.
In short, it's the story of a New England bookseller whose sad life is changed when a child is left at his bookshop. It's adorable. It's literary. It's sweet and touching and funny. If you like books, read it.
Four stars. Because I'm easy when it comes to literary nerd books.
5. Toujours Provence, by Peter Mayle
This is the follow up to Mayle's first book about their life as ex-patriots living in Provence, A Year in Provence. Like his first book, each chapter is a short humorous essay about some experience or observation. Also like his first book, it is filled with delicious accounts of food and wine and does nothing but make me want to pack everything up and move immediately to France.
These books are nothing complex or awe-inspiring (except for some of the menu recountings), but I always thoroughly enjoy them.