Quoted: Love in the Time of Cholera

Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.

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The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Yes, I’m still working on my 2016 book challenge.

paintedgirls_buchanan

Since The Painted Girls fulfilled the “something your mom recommends” category, I present to you my genius mother’s review:

“This book called my name from several places—bookstores, airports, discount chains—so I finally gave in and purchased it. Having a niece in the ballet industry, combined with my love of historical fiction, drew me in, wooed me. And once I began to read I couldn’t put it down. The dark underbelly of Paris, teeming with ne’er-do-wells, is revealed: the façade of the well-to-do patrons, the incredible struggle of the poor, the heartbreaking sacrifices of the dancers, all woven together to create an intriguing tale of love and loss.”

No. 18 on my challenge. Thanks for the recommendation, Momma. I whole-heartedly agree.

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol

deadsouls_gogolYou’re smart people, so by now you’ve probably figured out that I’m not the biggest fan of European classics. Dickens certainly did not meet my expectations, great or otherwise, I did not have a whale of a time reading Melville (heh!) and I’m sorry, but for all the fuss about Dorian Gray, his death was my favourite part of the whole novel.

And yet. And yet . . . I had hopes for Dead Souls. Not really high hopes, of course, but hopes nonetheless. I should have known better.

Now, it’s not that Dead Souls is a terrible read. Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov is a unique character with an outlandish mission that entertainingly sets him against a host of overblown caricatures representing all that was wrong with Russia back in the day (greed, stupidity, general suspicion). So it’s bound to have some good points. But my problem with this classic is the same problem I have with the others . . . it’s just so darn sluggish. Literally (for real, literally) a third of the book is superfluous exposition and hyperbole. And then after all the words he didn’t need to write, Gogol had the audacity to end mid sentence! What’s that about?!

Anyways… no. 1 on my challenge. Have I finally learned my lesson? Probably not. I’ll keep you posted.

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

halfbloodblues-edugyanThis book is an award magnet. It won the Scotiabank Giller Prize (praise be!), was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction (holla), and was a finalist for both the Governor General’s Award and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (hella impressive). So you can bet I was expecting it to be a good read.

It. Was. And bonus: Edugyan is a Victorian!

My only complaint quibble is that the dialogue made it a bit of a sluggish read—but really, it just forced me to slow down and take it all in.

No. 20 on my challenge. Because it was on the Canada Reads shortlist, too.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

rosieeffect-simsionIf you haven’t read The Rosie Project, you should go do that now. Because you can’t read The Rosie Effect without first reading its predecessor, and you should definitely read The Rosie Effect. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, it’s hyper logical, and it’s disastrous in all the best possible ways. An easy read perfect for the bathtub (not where I read it), the airport (also not where I read it), or your favourite green chair (you guessed it: also not where I read it). It’s not a great bedtime read (where/when I read it) unless your intention is to stay awake until 4 am on a school work night.

No. 17 on my challenge . . . because I happened to have this book on my TBR pile when Rosie and I were coming up with the categories.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher

shakespearesstarwars_doescherWhen you’re a fan of the Bard and a fan of the Wars, there’s nothing to do but to read this book. Peppered with insightful asides, well-crafted Shakespearean insults, and elaborate illustrations (see below), this book/play/novelization, written in perfect iambic pentameter (the English major in me is whooping appreciatively), actually gave me a better understanding of the movie. Not to mention a few good laughs. This one gets a huge recommendation from me. READ IT. Readitreaditreadit.

No. 23 on my challenge. Though I don’t remember this particular scene from the movie. Mayhap it occurred behind closed doors.

shakespearesstarwars_facepalm

Illustrations masterfully done by Nicolas Delort.