August 2019 Reading

My reading has slowed down a lot in the past two months since starting university, a fact surprising no one. But on top of that, my reading tastes are changing.

I’ve always liked classics and wanted a good collection of ones I enjoy, but in the past month I’ve been more motivated to read them rather than contemporary novels.

This is partly due to uni, as many of the prescribed texts are classics, and I’ve had to read books I would never have considered before. But I’ve also been convicted about how many ‘light’ novels I read (or, fluffy contemporary fiction).

I’m not saying that classics are automatically God-friendly or morally superior to contemporary novels, because that’s not necessarily true (in fact, several of the classics I read this month could be considered ‘dodge’ in different ways). But in being more mindful of what I read, I am turning to classics more and wanting to carefully consider what I’m investing in.

I don’t know if that made much sense, and it’s also possible I’ll sound hypocritical when you read these reviews. Ah, well; such is the risk of blogging.

1984 by George Orwell

1984 was much easier to read than I was expecting. It was a novel I had always heard of, but always assumed it was a difficult classic I’d struggle to understand. In reality it was engaging, quick to read, and understandable.

I know that not every book can have a happy ending, and I know that books such as this are making a point. I even knew that this novel didn’t have a happy ending. But the ending still devastated me.

I did, however, appreciate the unexpecting heroics of Winston, an average man who isn’t young or good looking. I liked the premise of the book, and found each twist clever. I enjoyed being immersed in this bizarre world.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I place this book in the same category as 1984 by George Orwell. Both comment on society and the direction things are going, with a focus on life being perfect and everyone being happy, though both these things are manufactured by leaders and, in taking away the ‘bad’ things, the happiness isn’t quite right.

I found 1984 more engaging, and easier to read. I think I preferred the characters in 1984 and found the ending more shocking. While I did like Brave New World and some of the quotes, I found it difficult to engage with the characters.

I did, however, particularly like how the ‘The Savage’ commented on wanting God and sin and true happiness over the manufactured perfection of the ‘Brave New World’. It was such an interesting perspective in comparison to our current society.

My rating: 3/5 stars

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I wasn’t expecting this to be so creepy. It’s the first Neil Gaiman book I’ve read, though I have been meaning to for a while as he’s so well regarded.

I loved the writing, and found it exceptionally engaging, especially for a children’s book. (But a well-written children’s book should be enjoyable for all ages, right?) My favourite part was probably the disturbing songs the rats sing (I think that’s my dream, to write some disturbing rhymes, put them in a book, and have rats sing them out).

This book wasn’t enjoyable, but I can appreciate how good it was nonetheless. I suppose a book doesn’t have to be particularly enjoyable to be engaging, nor have likeable characters (hello, The Great Gatsby) to be well-written. Although, I can say I would not have rated this book so high had the ending not been a happy one. (What can I say – I love me my happy endings.)

My rating: 4/5 stars

Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

I didn’t like this book, and it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting.

As I write this, I don’t know what exactly I was expecting. But as a classic, well-regarded novel, and one of science-fiction’s most beloved novels, I thought I would enjoy it.

After the first chapter I was engaged in the story, but in a disturbing way, like when someone’s telling you something gross that you want to know but you don’t want to know. I suppose I’m glad I’ve read it, as it’s been a book I’ve been aware of for a long time and have been meaning to read, and I may also end up studying it in a year or two for uni.

I found the point of view fascinating, but not necessarily in a good way. The premise is a male alien living on another planet where the inhabitants can change gender and therefore are an equal balance of both feminine and masculine qualities. Coming into the novel, I didn’t know this and was quite shocked when I began to read it. Perhaps this was part of the problem; I didn’t know what the book was about and the shock factor affected the whole experience.

I will say that my belief in God, and in His creation of people, definitely swayed me into not liking this book as others have, just because I viewed it all from a perspective of this isn’t God’s plan, this isn’t how he made people to be.

My rating: 2/5 stars

Happy Tuesday!

Sarah xx

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