Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Window Opens (Elisabeth Egan)

One can instantly tell that a books person wrote A Window Opens.  Elisabeth Egan, the books editor at Glamour magazine, has crafted a story that I identify with greatly.  You see, I went kicking and screaming to the Kindle, and I still 1000% prefer opening up a real, genuine book to reading on a technological device.  While so much more far-reaching than that, A Window Opens has basically the same theme – what is hardcore technology doing to the independent bookstore and library?

Alice Pearse has a happy, comfortable life with her three children and lawyer husband, working a few days a week as a book reviewer.  When her husband doesn’t make partner and therefore throws his laptop across the room at his office (never a good idea), he tries to get his own small practice going.  Money is tight, and to make ends meet, Alice lands a “dream” job at Scroll, a new high-tech concept idea in the book world (basically a Starbucks for books without actual books).  It’s a super-demanding job, and Alice is dealing with a recurrence of her father’s cancer at the same time.  The rest of the plot is quite predictable but still very entertaining.

Alice is a likable character, but she can also be very frustrating.  Like many people nowadays, she is never fully “with” someone, always checking her e-mails and texts even off the clock.  This even applies when she’s with her dad.  But this is so like real life anymore, right?  Unfortunately, yes.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara)

Goodreads says that I began reading Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life on May 18, and I only just finished it on September 7.  That’s almost four months going through the same book.  Besides the fact that it’s a whopping 720 pages, A Little Life seems to be meant to be read slowly.  The subject matter is harsh, the emotions are raw, and the plot points are mostly heartbreaking.  If you’re looking for a light, happy read, steer far clear of this one.

Trying to explain A Little Life in a nutshell is almost impossible.  The book follows the main character, Jude, through his life, and Yanagihara wisely skips time periods to keep the audience wondering about certain things.  How did Jude end up with such debilitating pain in his legs, at times to the point of immobilization?  Why won’t Jude talk about his early life?  Except for a few instances, the reader discovers these reasons almost at the same time as Jude’s friends do, and Yanagihara’s theme of the book becomes very clear.  Despite absolutely horrendous things happening to a person, can he or she go on to live a happy, fulfilled life? 

This is one of the saddest books I’ve ever read, and I was only able to get through about 1% on my Kindle every night.  At times, I wondered why Yanagihara made it so long, but when I was done I realized why – the reader has to come to care about Jude and his friends to make the ending that much more meaningful.