2016 Reading Challenge · book reviews · reviews

Book Review: A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

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A Little Life was the first book I chose from my 2016 Reading Challenge, a book recommended by a librarian or bookseller, and what a way to start! I am normally able to get through a novel of this length in a couple of days, depending on what else is going on in my life; I began this on January 11, and didn’t finish until March 22. It isn’t a difficult novel to read in the sense that the prose is complicated or confusing; it was hard for me to get through simply because of the challenging plot. The main character, Jude, is a heartrendingly broken man, and the story of his brokenness was, at times, too much for me.

A Little Life is the story of four college classmates, who move to New York to make their way: JB, an occasionally cruel painter who is trying desperately to make it in the art world; Malcolm, the genius architect; Willem, kind, handsome aspiring actor; and Jude, a brilliant litigator with a tortured past and a disabled body he refuses to acknowledge. As the years go by, each of these men achieves huge success in their fields: Willem becomes a world-famous movie star, JB’s paintings of his friends are shown in galleries all over, and Malcolm is designing buildings on every continent, while Jude is the head of his law firm. Their relationships through the years have deepened and grown, and the men themselves go through addictions, sickness, love and death. Through it all, we see Jude become continue to crack along the lines formed by a horribly traumatic childhood. He is haunted by his past, sure that if he tells the people he loves about what happened to him, they will not only judge him, but turn away or worse. His scars define him, and just when he is healing for real, the universe kicks Jude in the teeth once again.  After years of friendship, Jude and Willem have fallen in love, and are happy together. Jude’s myriad health problems are finally on the mend, after some major surgery, and their life is good. For the first time in his life, Jude is happy. And then BOOM!  Jude’s life is blown to smithereens once again.

“This, he thinks, is his punishment for depending on others: one by one, they will leave him, and he will be alone again, and this time it will be worse because he will remember it had once been better. He has the sense, once again, that his life is moving backward, that it is becoming smaller and smaller, the cement box shrinking around him until he is left with a space so cramped that he must fold himself into a crouch, because if he lies down, the ceiling will lower itself upon him and he will be smothered.” (p 804)

While this novel truly broke my heart, it’s easy to see why it was recommended by so many, and nominated for so many awards. I’d recommend it gladly, as long as you aren’t looking for something to cheer you up.

2016 Reading Challenge · book reviews · books · lists · New Year · reading

Eat. Sleep. READ. That’s all.

It’s a new year (well, duh!), and I’m posting, finally. No apologies or excuses for my absence this time, just a fresh start. And a challenge.

I love a good book challenge, and this year, I’m taking Anne’s from The Modern Mrs. Darcy.  The 2016 Reading Challenge is relatively simple, without a huge number of books, which I need right now. And the variety is great!

mmd

 

Here are my choices, so far. Nearly all of these are books already on my e-reader or bookshelf, which was a conscious choice on my part. I have an overflowing e-reader, and it would be ridiculous to add more when I can satisfy the requirements! There are three choices that are new-to-my reader books; these are starred! (And my list is in the opposite order than the one above.)

 

A book I’ve already read at least once:

Cold Comfort Farm  by Stella Gibbons

A book that intimidates me:

Othello by William Shakespeare

A book I own, but have never read:

Van Gogh’s Room at Arles by Stanley Elkin

A book I previously abandoned: 

A book that was banned at some point:

(I’m choosing the same book for these two categories)

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

A book published before I was born:

A Room With A View by E.M. Forster

A book chosen for me:

I honestly cannot decide on which of the books my wonderful friends Karen & Rob selected for me, so I’m adding both of them to the list!

A Madness of Angels by Kate Swift (Rob’s choice)

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (Karen’s choice)

A book I should’ve read in school:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A book recommended by a bookseller:  

*  A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara    I took this recommendation from the employees at Powell’s, where this novel was on several folks top-five books of 2015.

A book I’ve been meaning to read:

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

A book that can be read in a day: 

My Story by Marilyn Monroe

A book published this year:

This category is last, because I don’t have anything for it yet. Once 2016 gets going a bit more, I’ll fill this one in!

 

 

 

As I read these (and everything else!) I’ll post thoughts, reviews, etc. I’ll begin reading these as soon as I finish what I’m currently involved in! Join me, won’t you? Let’s make 2016 a year full of books!

And if anyone has suggestions for books published this year, let me know!