The Shameful Book Club: Southern Novel Final Update

Well, my first attempt at this new experiment did not go as planned. I wanted to read eight books this summer (in addition to my other book club reads), but I only managed four and 2/5ths. Granted, I’ve been ridiculously busy with unexpected events, but I’m a bit disappointed that I never got to all the southern novels I picked out, because they all looked so damned interesting! I’ll probably revisit this category to finish off the list, as well as add some other important reads (like everything Carson McCullers ever wrote). Below are my opinions on the two books I was able to finish up this month.

516hFppzjjLI was incredibly skeptical about starting Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury. Either people are exhausted by William Faulkner or they love him too much, which leads me to believe that they are a bit too pretentious for me. I had to really pump myself up to start this book, but once I did I had a hard time putting it down. I felt myself both aggravated and completely fascinated by the characters, the stylistic choices, and the fact that it felt like there was nothing happening and everything happening at the same time. I did feel a little betrayed by the novel, because not much was answered for me by the end (and boy did I have questions!). Did Caddy and Quentin actually commit incest? How badly did Benjy hurt those girls? I like juicy intrigue as much as the next gossip, but Faulkner only gives us vague suggestions and veiled context. I tend to over think things, so maybe I’m making these plot points into mountains, but the unknown tends to bother me. Regardless, The Sound and the Fury really stuck with me. It was beautiful and sad and really very haunting, and while the first part of the book was incredibly frustrating (and it only got marginally less so later on), I am very thankful that I finally read it.

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The Shameful Book Club: Southern Novel Update

adventures-of-huckleberry-finnIt’s been about a month and a half since I started my quest to catch up on classic novels I’ve always lied about reading. The category of my  first installation of the Shameful Book Club is “Southern Novels.” In the 1.5 months that I have been reading these (among others), I have knocked out The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Color Purple, and about half of The Sound and the Fury.

I enjoyed Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn quite a lot. I (admittedly) listened to it on audiobook, read by Elijah Wood (delightful), and experienced more than one occasion of pulling up to a stop sign with the windows down and having passerbys side-eye me for the amount of racial profanity coming from my car stereo. Regardless, I found Huck Finn very funny and insightful.  It had the excitement of a child’s adventure, but the social weight of a critical work of fiction. In a way it’s America’s Odyssey, and I felt like I was reading/listening to something that was a mashup of The Goonies and Mud. It’s a snap shot of America and a very particular time and place that deserves to be preserved for many reasons (some of those being cautionary).

Baby Elijah as Huck

Baby Elijah as Huck

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The Shameful Book Club: Southern Novels for Summer

3-28-13_ReadingSo I have a deep dark secret that I tend to hide pretty well. I am very ashamed of this, especially since my mother is a librarian, and over 50% of my immediate family members are writers (including myself), and I also consider myself a bibliophile. This is hard for me to admit, but I am not as well read as most people think I am. There, I said it.

Now that I’ve admitted this, I aim to rectify it. After all, one of the best things a writer can do is read. I’ve decided to create for myself a reading challenge. Each season of the year I will dictate a genre or category that I feel would compliment that season and try to read as many of the “must-reads” in that category as I can. Some categories and genres are very embarrassing for me, and others just have a lot of really great novels that I want to get to. Southern novels is one category where I’m really lacking, despite my absolute love of southern writing.

A lot of these books, like The Grapes of Wrath and The Color Purple, were books that were assigned in high school English classes. I had kind of a strange high school English experience, and a lot of classics (in all genres) slipped through the cracks. Now is my time to catch up.

I have put together a lofty list of novels that I will try to read between the months of June and September. I’m giving myself a lot of time, because, as you’ll see, there are an ass-load of novels. I actually had more, but then I realized that Gone with the Wind is roughly seven books in one, so I cut my list up a bit. I also might start this week instead of June, we’ll see. I’m currently trying to prepare for that devil called the GRE, so who knows what time I’ll actually have to devote to this. I’ve listed the novels below in the order I would like to read them in, but sometimes plans change, so I’m not holding myself to it.

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