I originally began reading “The Fountainhead” because a friend of mine said it was her very favorite book in the world, but it had been years since she had read it. So the two of us planned to read it together and compare thoughts and opinions. I had also heard all sorts of rants and raves from people of all sorts of different political opinions so I was curious. If I really wanted to delve into Ayn Rand’s political world I, perhaps, should have chosen “Atlas Shrugged,” but then again, that wasn’t my friend’s favorite book. I’ll try to do this without too many spoilers and then give warning once I’m getting into the spoilers part.
The story revolves around architect Howard Roark, who is dedicated to his own style of architecture (he detests the use of the word “modern” for his style.) He will not compromise on his buildings — they must be done exactly as he designs them. He is a true individualist who lives only for himself. He does not desire fame, glory, fortune any more than he fears, poverty, pain or criticism. I suppose I shouldn’t say he doesn’t want them, but he doesn’t live for those things and doesn’t see the point in thinking about them. We also see his character foils in his classmate Peter Keating, who lives for the approval of others, and Ellsworth Toohey, who lives for the collective good of others. We also read about another architect who tried to live for himself and failed, Henry Cameron, who was destroyed by his attempts to live in such a way. Gail Wynand is a man that “could have been” according to some of Rand’s notes. He lives for power, but sees the value in Roark. Also involved is Dominique Francon, who loves and is loved by Roark, but also seeks to destroy him.
In all if I hadn’t started the book with sooooooo much context and opinion surrounding it, I probably wouldn’t have even thought that much about it. I love theme and I would have noticed, of course. (She does, after all, dedicate nearly a whole chapter to allowing the protagonist to go on a long speech basically laying out her philosophies.) But that isn’t the sort of thing that upsets me in books. Literately, I think the book was solid. The characterization was one of the best I have read in a long time and I appreciate that because so many characters in so many books are the same exact people that you read about over and over and over and you see on TV every day, and they are flat. But these characters were fleshed out. I was surprised because initially I was annoyed that we had very little to no information about the characters’ back stories (except for the antagonist, who we do learn about his childhood.) But most characters when we meet them is where we start, we learn almost nothing about their families or how they came to be how they are. It does bug me a little, especially about Howard Roark — how does one becomes such an avid Individualist? Besides learning that he grew up poor and that his dad was a longshoreman, we know nothing about him and how he learned to be how he is when we meet him in architecture school.
Spoilers be here below: (more…)
I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey with reading lately. At my job I have been hearing a lot about how kids learn to read and the various test results that correspond with state requirements. I really have no memory of learning to read. I think I was reading when I started preschool, but I don’t remember specifically. I have a distinct memory of reading the Little House on the Prairie series because in first grade a friend of mine and I were having a competition on who could read through them the fastest.
I also have strong memories of getting bad grades in reading in second grade. This wasn’t because I had “fallen behind” but because I was so far ahead. I believe we were required to read something like five books per week for class. Well, at that point I was reading through the Nancy Drew series. My classmates weren’t quite reading chapter books yet, but my teacher wouldn’t allow me to count the books I was reading as more than one, but I wasn’t yet fast enough to read five in one week. Stubborn kid that I was, I refused to just read through the smaller books for the grade. Oh well! It was also around this time that I saw a commercial on speed reading. The infomercial went into some detail on it and said that the essence of speed reading was beginning to see groups of words and whole sentences instead of reading word by word. It was years and years before I started doing it, but I did start practicing then with books I had already read.
Now I read maybe three or four books a week. Sometimes seven. When I didn’t have cable at all I was reading closer to seven on average. I am recently obsessed with non-fiction books, but fiction is still my favorite.
It seems like I”ve been on a fast from reading. I’ve been writing so much lately I haven’t read hardly anything! I did just finish The New Diary by Tristine Rainer. Although I already knew most of the techniques in it, it was a good inspiration. I’ve been writing in a journal nearly every night now. I wouldn’t say big revelations, at least not yet! She suggests naming your journal before beginning as a sort of blessing, mantra or vision for the time recorded in the book. I named ine Verto Prosperitas Venustas. I haven’t really shared that before and it seems so personal, but that is ok. I’ve been thinking a lot about Harry Potter and the various spells and the relation of that and the visions I have for my future. So it is a play on words from a transfiguration spell, meaning transfigure: prosperity, beauty. I suppose it is also a test of myself and my ability to work on something and stick with it. I’ve never kept a journal to the point that I finish an entire notebook, probably because I’ve always been afraid of someone reading it. Now I’m taking charge of that. I have a vision of journals lined up on a shelf chronicling my life, journal and future. 🙂 I know this is less about books and more about MY books, but this seems like the right place for this blog.
I’m about to embark on the Harry Potter series! I’ve read the last one but the others only kind of skimmed off and on through the years. So I’m starting at the beginning and reading straight through to find out what all the fuss is about! Did you like the series? Is it all it’s cracked up to be?
I finished Into the Forest a couple weeks ago. Most people from book club have been loving it, but my feelings are mixed. I really liked the concept and two sisters trying to make it in an apocalyptic world was immediately interesting to me. The writing was wonderful and admittedly I was obsessively thinking about what I would do in those sisters’ shoes for days afterwords.
The main problem I had with the book was that it never really said what happened. My questions still continue to plague me. Why did the government collapse? Why no transportation or gas? Did it run out or international relations collapse? Also the girls in the book seemed convinced that everything was temporary. I wasn’t really sure if that was because they were naive or if that was the general sentiment.
But overall, I did enjoy the book, despite my lack of connection to the characters. Worth a read if you like apocalyptic survival stories!
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque surprised me as a teenager. I was sure that a book about war wouldn’t appeal to me. I was much more enchanted with other types of books. But when we read this my sophomore year in high school I loved it. The melancholy rhythm has stayed with me through the years, but this weekend I picked it up again to fall in love all over again.
The cover of my copy proclaims “The Greatest War Novel of All Time.” Now, I’m not a fan of war novels so I don’t know if that is true, but I do know it is my favorite war novel. I love the characters and the way they are transformed.
I think this book impacted me even more this time around because of the men that I know who have been in war. In high school I never even knew someone who had been in the military much less in a war. I have seen how my friends have been transformed. So much more then it breaks my heart the plight of the men in the book. This quote in particular from the intro touched me.
“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men, who even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.”
I also love that this was written by a German soldier. Although they were our enemies in both WWI and WWII I think he captures how many soldiers felt — as if the decisions were not their own but those above them were making all of their decisions; as if their enemies might be more like them than they first imagined.
I love nothing more than to stay inside during a truly hot day with the wind blowing through the window and reading on my couch in comfort. I recently finished two books by Madeleine Wickham. One called Swimming Pool Sunday and the other Cocktails for Three. I enjoyed both, but missed the wit and hilarity of her books written under her pseudonym Sophie Kinsella.
I will probably read more of her “serious” books, but perhaps without the anticipation of her other books.
Swimming Pool Sunday is about what happens to a family and group of friends when a tragedy happens during a swimming party. The divides and bonds the tragedy creates are intricately woven albeit predictable. My favorite scenes were the ones featuring the children, which there weren’t many of.
Cocktails for Three was also fairly predictable, and there is one “moment of revelation” which I found hard to believe that three women who work together and are best friends wouldn’t have picked up on. There were several of those moments. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll find myself in a similar situation and take it all back. In all it made me long to have a group of friends that I could have cocktails with on a regular basis. The bonds of friendship is another aspect of Wickham’s books (even her ones as Kinsella) that are always masterfully done. She captures that unspoken bond very well.
Yay, I am starting Plain Truth again. It was the first of Jodi Picoult’s books I’ve read and maybe my second favorite one (after Salem Falls.) I am starting it again, though, because it is the book club book this month! (My choice!) I’m excited not only because I get to host, but also because it will make for some good conversation. If you’ve read it help me out with some questions to get the conversation going!
With work taking up a lot of time lately, I’ll concentrate primarily on this book for the next several days. Looking forward to it, and I’m hoping to make some new Jodi converts!
So I’ve started Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling and am slugging through it. I can’t say that I hate it, but a few times I have rolled my eyes at the descriptions. For me as a writer it is difficult to balance having enough description with having too much. I am a huge fan of parallelism and also with using contrasting things in parallel formats to jarr the reader a bit, but I think this book convinced me never to do it again.
On another note “Angels and Demons” comes out this weekend! I enjoyed that book much more than “The DaVinci Code” so hopefully the movie goes that direction too (didn’t like the DaVinci movie very much at all.) I’m getting a group of girls to go to the movie together on Friday and am excited about that 🙂 I’ll just have to refrain from comparing the book to the movie too much.
How about you? Do you compare/contrast movies and books? Or do you let them stand on their own? If you do, how do you keep the two seperate enough to enjoy both?
It has been a while since I read this, so I thought I would read it since it has been super busy around here lately. Reading a familiar and beloved book is always a way to settle into my evenings. Every time I read one of Jodi’s books I’m astounded at how strong the voices are. It really forces me to think about the character development in my own writing. Almost from the instant you open her books you feel like it is a new person. No questioning when the voice changes either. I love these books.