Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bookworm's progress report

Toward the end of last year, I drew up a to-read list for 2007, culled from the New York Times' annual "Best of" lists. Out of the 14 books on my roster, I've already purchased 12 and read 4. Given that I've also read a few books not on the list, I think I've made good progress, and my goal of finishing my reading list is still achievable (even though I still haven't seen a copy of Preston Falls anywhere in Manila).

Of the 4 books I've finished, I enjoyed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers and Atonement by Ian McEwan. The latter had its "slow" moments, pages you wish you could just skip to get to the juicy parts faster, but for the most part the story of false condemnation and painful redemption moved along with the help of strongly drawn, sympathetic characters (although I really wanted to strangle Briony, the conflict-causing protagonist, many times throughout the novel).

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud was an easy read, but disappointingly lacking in depth.
It reminded me of a more somber, less glamorous Sex and the City, the story being set in New York around the time of 9/11. The problem was. I didn't feel any emotional connection, not only between myself and the characters, but among the characters themselves. They all struck me as oddly cold and vacant... or was that the portrait of New Yorkers Messud wished to paint? In any case, it would have taken more than a pair of Carrie Bradshaw's Manolos to bring some color to this book.

Best Friends by Thomas Berger fell flat as well. There was barely a plot, and character development was weak. By the end I couldn't even determine if the resolution was happy or sad, because I was fed up with all the characters. The only positive thing about the book is that it's relatively short, so I finished it quickly. I couldn't believe this was a New York Times "Best of" book. Goes to show that even the best critics can be off the mark.

Right now I'm plodding through Philip Roth's The Human Stain, and while I can see how the plot is compelling in that it deals with complicated social issues (the usual tricky triumvirate of race, gender and age), I am deriving little pleasure from reading it. The novel is undeniably well-written, and the foreshadowing is quite effective, but midway through, my primary motivation for finishing the book is to get to the next title on my reading list. I haven't decided which, but I do know it has to be one of the smaller volumes in my bedside pile, because most likely it will be the book I'll be bringing with me to Europe next month... IF our visas get approved.

7 Comments:

At Thursday, April 26, 2007, Anonymous Ange said...

Ooh. You're going to Europe. Which countries? :)

"IF our visas get approved."

Um, I think the proper word would be WHEN. Why won't they approve your visa if you've already gone abroad countless of times and to different countries, right? :)

 
At Thursday, April 26, 2007, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

They have SO many requirements. I'm afraid we may give them incomplete papers or something. =S

We'll be going to France, Spain and Italy. =D

 
At Thursday, April 26, 2007, Anonymous Ange said...

Nice. :) It's spring there now, if I'm not mistaken, and the breeze is cool. It's hotter in Italy though. So if in France you need a jacket, in Italy, you don't. At least that's how it was two years back. :)

 
At Thursday, April 26, 2007, Anonymous Ange said...

Oops. I meant 3 years. :)

 
At Friday, April 27, 2007, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Weirdly, CNN Weather says it's cooler in Italy than in France (about 10 degrees' difference). Has global warming screwed up Europe's temperatures that badly in a span of 3 years?

 
At Friday, April 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

aiilee i forbid you to bring a book to europe!!! even nights in the hotel should be spent walking around or watching some SERIOUS FOOTBALL ACTION!

iwan ang book and that's AN ORDER!!! :)

Abi

 
At Friday, April 27, 2007, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Hahaha, ikaw naman o. What am I supposed to do on the plane if the in-flight movie sucks? It's not as if you'll be there with me to keep me entertained. ;p

 

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