Whoops, this is late. Give me a break, I was dying from an average cold. I’ve posted so much bookish stuff lately and have so much more planned, I almost hesitate. Here it is. Ignore at your leisure:
1. The Adventures Of Marco Polo
I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time. Proabably because Marco Polo is one of my many historical heroes/alter egos. He is right up there with Laura Ingalls Wilder on my childhood favorite people scale. I used to snatch every book about those two in every library I ever visited. Obviously, I respect adventurers.
Anyway… I told myself I’d read the real thing when I grew up. I’m 18 now, so I guessed it was time. I had heard that Polo spends remarkably little time describing his own adventures. His purpose in the book is to describe the places he saw and people he meant. It is kind of like a 13th century Fodor’s if you will. Seeing as it was supposedly more travel guide than novel, I was worried that I’d get bored without serious plot to hold things together.
I was actually amazed by how entertaining it was. Okay, I won’t lie. There were definitely repetative bits of culture and geographic explanations that I skimmed. But the majority of the descriptions are so rich and intriguing, that I stayed hooked. My favorite parts were the legends and history that he weaves into his descriptions.
The most striking thing was the way he describes ordinary things that he had no vocabulary for, like crocodiles, rhinos, and coconuts. It made me appreciate how
I generally try to read the book before I watch the movie. One evening we were at my big brother’s house and everyone decided “The Book Thief” would be the perfect movie to watch. Since I had never heard of the book before, I watched and was intrigued.
Even though I had already watched the movie and knew all the surprising twists and turns, The Book Thief turned out to be one of my top five favorite books of all time. Perhaps it is because I just finished an intensive study of Nazi Germany for National History Day, somehow this book wrung my heart like no other. It is one of those special books that had me laughing and crying for days and will continue to make me think for a very very long time.
3. Anna Karenina
The most terrible part is that now I’ve officially finished the works of Tolstoy. I selfishly wish I could bring him back to life to write more. There is no other author like him. The realism he weaves in his character development and scenery is just spectacular.
This was definitely my least favorite book by Tolstoy, but that isn’t saying much. The problem was that I didn’t really like any of the characters. There certainly wasn’t an Andrei Bolonsky to fall in love with. There wasn’t really anyone I could latch onto at all. And yet, I still found myself enjoying every minute I spent immersed in the complex and realistic world that Tolstoy never fails to create.
The main difference between War and Peace and Anna Karenina is that Anna Karenina skips all the philosophical rants and stays strictly plot based. For better or worse.
P.S. The ending is boss.
4. Miller’s Church History
I’m actually far from finishing this book, but I wanted to give it a shout out. One of my Adventure Year goals is to study topics that I want to understand but am afraid I won’t get a chance to study in college. Namely: church history, Islam, astronomy, and juggling. My wonderful daddy helped me create a book list for my study of church history and this was number one.
I won’t lie, there are a lot of boring parts. In fact, as much as I hate abridged novels, I really wish I could get an abridged version because I feel like there is quite a bit I could skip. I still enjoy it.
I appreciate how Miller bases every interpretation of church history on the Bible, particularly the phrophecy in Revelation 2. He weaves a lot of verses into the text, which I enjoy. Even though it is essentially a history text book, I often feel spirtually supplied while reading.
5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
I got bored and didn’t finish it. Sorry. Between the vulgar scenes and go go go plot, I just wasn’t impressed. Whenever Ender accomplished something there was just another hard task set in front of him. Things moved so fast I hardly had time to think. Boring.
My brother used to spoil the plots of all the classic literature books he assigned to me, right before I read them. It annoyed me to the moon and back, and yet taught me a valuable lesson. If a crazy plot is the only thing keeping me turning the pages, I’ll usually set it down and finish the story on wikipedia. It is just quicker that way.
In its defense: 1. I was sick when I read this. When I am sick I am grumpy and much more prone to negative reviews. 2. I’m probably the pickiest sci-fi reader you’ve ever met. I don’t like sci fi. 3. I’d already watched the movie (Oops, it was at a friends house. I’d never heard of the book before. I’ll be better in the future). So I knew the plot. That doesn’t usually bother me unless the novel has little value outside of an exciting plot. That is what I felt like was going on here.
What did you read this past month? What should I read next?