After a two month hiatus I am back with the 45th book from my Classics Club list. That’s 45% of my list done and I’m only 32 books behind schedule ;-)
Going into Bel Ami I thought I knew what the book was about, but I wasn’t aware it had a subtitle, The History of a Scoundrel, which would’ve told me I was in no way correct!
If I’m honest I chose Bel Ami because it was short and accessible on my phone. (Thank you Kindle iPhone app, this isn’t the first time you’ve saved me from boredom.) I forgot the next book I wanted to read and an hour is a long time for lunch so I started this and read it pretty quickly. You’d think I would use lunch and my commute to catch up on my 10+ hours of back logged podcasts to listen to, but no why would I do that when there are more books to read!?
DAMN you Mormons and your great Science Fiction/Fantasy! That’s about 25% fact and 75% unadulterated conjecture. Before I go into that (you can skip the next two paragraphs if you’re not interested), funny story: I kept thinking of this as some weird hybrid of the story as it happened and The Emperor’s New Clothes. My mind is weird.
Now, Mormons. Seriously though, why does it seem like there are so many Mormon’s who tell great stories in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres: Jeff Wheeler, Orson Scott Card, Stephenie Meyer (cough*story teller, still not a great writer*cough) and now Brandon Sanderson. I’m not the first to ponder this (Boston Globe link)and I know I won’t be the last. I know for me it raises a big dilemma of ethics/politics when I chose to read an author who actively believes/participates in a religion which negates/actively works against something I identify with. Do I purchase their novels and have my, what ultimately ends up being fractions of pennies, support their religion through tithing, or do I boycott the author because of their churches stance?
This series has finally slowed down. This isn’t a detraction, just a statement. Picking up more than 14 years after the end of Something Rotten, First Among Sequels just didn’t feel quite the same. Don’t get me wrong, there was absurdity, Fforde’s genius pushes the boundaries and Thursday Next is still a great character, but it just wasn’t the same.
As I mentioned in my post about Something Rotten I found out after I’d started this novel that the last three of the published novels in the Thursday Next series are actually a second series and not the same. It’s a little misleading as websites like Goodreads and Amazon group them together. There’s even a compendium of the first five: A Thursday Next Digital Collection: Novels 1-5 (Amazon Link). If I would’ve known about the time gap and the “separate series” portion I would’ve paused after book four instead of five, but oh well.
Just when you think it can’t get any stranger, Jasper Fforde makes sure to let you know it can and it will:
“The fate of all life on this beautiful planet decided on the swing of a croquet mallet.” (351)
I mean COME ON! Anyone who can turn croquet into a full-contact sport and make me want to watch it has to be a genius right?
I also can’t believe it took me until almost 12 hours later to finally connect the title to most of the story, as in hey this story has a lot about Hamlet in it and the quote “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” even appears! Thanks Fforde for reminding me I’m just another cog in the human machine. Epic fail on my part.
I think this series is just going to get better and better! Although book three took a lot longer to read that the first two, it was because of my own travels, being sick and once again sinking into the sandbox world of Minecraft, this time on PS4. Either way, it’s my first book of 2016 and what a great way to transition to a new year.
This book picks up right after Lost in a Good Book and takes place almost exclusively in the Book World! I loved learning even more about Jurisfiction, the Council of Genres, Text Grand Central and the internal politics of them all. I cannot wait to see where the series goes over the next few books. I think I’m going to finish out those I have left on my shelf, Something Rotten and First Among Sequels and then take a break from Thursday Next, but I will finish the series, it’s too good not to! I already want to check out Fforde’s other series, Nursery Crime, a companion Book World series which he sets up in this novel (see the last quote under additional quotes)!
And another TBR bites the dust! This book has been hanging out on my bookshelves since December of 2012 when I picked it up at one of my favorite used bookstores, Edward McKay, back in NC. More importantly, it is the 26th book from my TBR shelves this year. How awesome is that? That’s more than 1/3 of all the books I’ve read this year and I am incredibly happy and proud of that number.
I don’t know why I put off reading The Dante Club for so long. Maybe it was in some sort of effort to actually read all of Dante’s Divine Comedy before I read it, but that obviously hasn’t happened. The other thing that has left me wondering since I finished it , and honestly since I started it, is I can’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I feel I should have.
[To hear the episode of Come Read With Me where my friend Jess and I discuss this, click here.]
I’m a little torn on this book. At the same time that it reminded me of some fascinating books I’ve read over the past few years (Geraldine Brook’s March and William MacAskill’s Doing Good Better) I couldn’t help but compare it to Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. And unfortunately for Aptowicz, it wasn’t that great of a comparison. Don’t get me wrong, this was a very interesting read and I enjoyed the book. I’m sure this book had its own set of challenges in the research done, but I still can’t quite put my finger on why I wasn’t as much a fan of this.
At first I thought it was because Aptowicz was super young and this was her first book. Her writing style felt a bit like student-work, which she admits is when she got the idea and started writing originally, but I found out pretty quick I was wrong on this one. And it’s not her first book, but it is her first work of nonfiction. (Thanks Wikipedia.) Either way, I’m grateful to Avery, a Penguin Books imprint, for providing a copy.* And the best part is, if you’re interested in the book it’s just been released in paperback at the beginning of September! (AKA Yay for more affordability!; Publisher’s website.)