Book 359: Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Part 2)

Cervantes, Miguel - Don QuixoteI did it! I finally finished! After almost exactly a month to the day that I started the infamous Don Quixote I finished it. I recapped Part 1 last week because I knew I would struggle to remember everything in it due to how long it took to just read that part but now I’m ready to recap Part 2!

I thoroughly enjoyed Part 2 of Don Quixote. I didn’t enjoy it for the same reasons as I enjoyed Part 1, but it was as great. I think the biggest difference is Cervantes, if possible, was even MORE aware of his works impact on culture and literature. He took the jibes and teasing in Part 1 and turned them into full-blown sarcasm and satire in Part 2. I think a lot of this is in direct response to the “fake Don Quixote,” published before he could release Part 2 and I talk about that in my Reading Spain, AKA an Homage to Miguel de Cervantes post (about half way through under the Biblioteca Nacional Museo section).

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Book 359: Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Part 1)

Cervantes, Miguel - Don QuixoteAfter slogging my way through the first half of this infamous book (Amazon link) I decided to break my response into two parts. (Click here for Part 2.) This wasn’t planned, obviously, but coming in at 982 pages it may as well be two books, so I figured why not. (I’m still only going to count it as one book though.) I’ve split this for two reasons: I doubt I’ll remember the first half by time I finish the second and I have so much to talk about related to Miguel Cervantes and Spain, Madrid in particular, it just makes sense.

I first read portions of Don Quixote in my high school Spanish class. It was one of the only works that we read in English and in Spanish. I don’t remember the overwhelming majority of it. The only part I do remember is what has become so much a part of the modern psyche, “tilting at windmills” (Wikipedia link) that I can’t even say for sure it’s from reading the book or just from hearing it so often. It’s sad, but that’s all I remember. What’s interesting is how much more of an analytical reader I’ve become and how I took so much more appreciation from the novel’s absurdity and Cervantes’ critiques on novels and literature in general.

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Book 351: Mad About The Boy (Bridget Jones #3) – Helen Fielding

Fielding, Helen - Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones #3)And done. I’m not sure why so many people had such negative responses to the books. I thought this was an interesting follow-up, almost 15 years later, to Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Edge of Reason. The characters are 15-ish years older and so is everything else: technology, their worries and their troubles. I wasn’t sure how the frazzled frankness of the first two would translate into a different world completely, but I thought it worked.

Unfortunately, I did find out ahead of time what happened in the novel (Amazon link) before I read it so it wasn’t as much of a draw dropping moment as it could have been. In all honesty though, it wasn’t that much of a plot twist when you think of everything that could happen in the span of 15 years! All of this being said, there will be spoilers after the cut so don’t read past the break if you don’t want to know what happens!

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Book 349: The Edge of Reason (Bridget Jones #2) – Helen Fielding

Fielding, Helen - The Edge of Reason (Bridget Jones #2)If possible this one was even funnier than the last, or at least the ending was. There were parts in both books where I could not stop laughing, but this one ended with such a hilarious situation that I could easily find myself in involving wine and Christmas cards. I didn’t read this one quite as fast as the first, but I still read it in only a few sittings.

What I enjoyed most about this novel was the unapologetic sexuality and brashness of Bridget. This was evident in the first novel, but in this novel she takes it to a different level, primarily manifesting through keeping track of the seconds, yes SECONDS, since she last had sex. (It’s up in the tens of millions.) Now this might sound strange, but Fielding writes about issues that affect large sweeps of the population through this quirky character.

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Book 346: Bridget Jones’s Diary (Bridget Jones #1) – Helen Fielding

Fielding, Helen - Bridget Jones's Diary (Bridget Jones #1)I picked up a copy of this and the sequel, Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, back in January 2014 because they were like $2 each. I knew I wouldn’t read it right away, but what I didn’t know is that when I read it would take less than six hours, including a two-hour walk in the middle of it! I grabbed it to read as it was a quick read. I remembered hearing things around Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, the third book released last year so I figured why not now.

Let’s start with the film adaptation: I LOVED it. The cast was perfect and what they changed was for a reason. It worked as a stand-alone, but even as an adaptation I felt it worked well. That being said, this book was hilariously funny and if you enjoyed the film you should definitely check out the book.

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Book 341: Funny Girl – Nick Hornby

Hornby, Nick - Funny GirlThe only other Hornby I’ve read is High Fidelity (the film adaptation was meh). And I loved the film adaptation of About A Boy, so I wasn’t sure where this novel would go. I hadn’t planned on reading it, but one of my favorite podcasts, Pop Culture Happy Hour, announced they were going to do an episode a few months ago so I put it on hold and timed it almost perfectly to listen! (I missed the exact episode by a little less than week.)

I think the podcast hit the nail on the head when they talked about the story (Amazon link) being more focused on “the show [Barabara (and Jim)] rather than the funny girl of the title, Barbara/Sophie. But what Hornby didn’t do, was show us the show; he only ever referred to specific gags, situations or dialogue. Someone on PCHH said it should’ve been called “The Show” and I can’t agree more. It would be a better title and I would definitely have chosen to read it if that were the title too!

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Book 339: Emma – Jane Austen

Austen, Jane - EmmaFor book two of our Jane Austen Book Club, my friends and I decided to conquer Emma (Amazon link). It has always been my least favorite of the six and reading Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education both confirmed that and helped me get around this problem. His talking about Emma and it’s belief in the importance of every day trivialities, as well as Margaret Drabble’s excellent introduction led me to think about the book differently.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still boring as anything in most points, but Austen wrote it this way. According tot Drabble, Austen wrote this novel in such excruciating detail in direct response to the detractors of her previously published novel Mansfield Park, which I love. Drabble says, “This is domestic realism almost with a vengeance.” (xix) AND it is! The hyper focus on every detail, the incredibly limited scope of setting, characters and even conversation topics is overwhelmingly mundane. It is an assault on the senses, and as a fellow JABC member said “i’m diagnosing myself with ’emma-induced narcolepsy.'” (Thanks Dalton!)

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