27 July 2009

For the Love of Books

(Picture from http://www.julieandjulia.com/)

Last week I finished reading "Julie and Julia." Bought it forever ago, started it and was smitten, and then somehow it got lost in the shuffle of life and I never finished it. But I knew I had to read the book before seeing the movie, which I definitely want to see. I loved, loved, loved the book. Loved the humor and the crazy scenes, loved the various characters, and shuddered repeatedly at the idea of following some of Julia's recipes. It probably doesn't help that for all of my love of food and cooking, I'm not a huge fan of French food. I know, shoot me. But man, oh man, the enjoyment I got from the book just makes me even more eager to see the movie!

It also made me realize that I never mentioned that I did manage to accomplish a few things on my birthday list that I created a year ago. Some of it I failed at, much of it is still a work in progress for this year too, and some things I accomplished. I read three "classics," and surprised myself by picking two nonfiction classics. I tend to gravitate towards fiction.

My first choice was an easy one: Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." Okay, a very easy choice! Especially since I have the BBC mini-series version practically memorized, and it stays very true to the text of the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it in written form, though I do believe that I had read it once before. I didn't remember that until I was deep into the story again, so I'm counting this one. I also purchased Austen's "Mansfield Park," but didn't delve into it after reading the foreword and learning that it's one of her most controversial works, and not quite as light-hearted as her others. I've picked it up again this weekend, and plan to tackle it for this year's classics.

Next up I chose Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood." I've not seen the movie (of the killing or the author's biopic), and knew just the bare bones of the story. I was enthralled and couldn't put it down, in the "accident on the side of the road" way of horrific voyeurism. I enjoyed it, as much as one can a story where you know 'who dun it' and what's going to happen, but the gruesomeness was hard to think about.

You might think that my third choice followed in the same line, and I did read them back to back, mostly because I'd procrastinated and time was short. But I don't connect Capote's telling of the murder of a family with Elie Wiesel's "Night," which is his autobiographical account of surviving a Nazi concentration camp. I've had the book for over a decade, buying it at a time that I was reading a lot about that horrible period of world history. I could never bring myself to read this personal account, however, because I knew how it would tear at my heart. To be honest, the only reason I finally read it was because of all the "classics" I have waiting on my bookshelf to be read, this was the shortest one, and I was down to the week before my birthday. It was a gut-wrenching, horrifying, and terribly beautiful story. I'm glad I read it, but oh how it has haunted me.

So, at least I can check that task off for my 35th year, though I want to match it for this year as well. Possibilities include the aforementioned "Mansfield Park," "All the Kings Men," "A Tale of Two Cities," and "The Picture of Dorian Gray." There are probably others on the bookshelf as well, but these come to mind.

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