What I Read in March

Re-Reads
The Elusive Pimpernel and El Dorado. The succinct version of my opinion of these is similar to the first, so you can check out my January reads for that. I could rant and rave about how little we get of Percy and how stupid and selfish Marguerite is and how much we have to endure her, but I won’t  . . . for now.

Freckles and The Girl of the Limberlost. These are sweet, but I still found a lot to irritate (no, really?!). I love the nature descriptions and some of the romance. I disliked some of behavior and especially the attitudes.

Dragon Slippers and Dragon Flight. I wanted something light and easy; I don’t enjoy these as much as I did at first though. Creel is really getting on my nerves.

Light Fiction
The Grave’s a Fine and Quiet Place. I am thankful the weird conspiratorial elements are left out of this one. I found it too gross. I enjoyed it well enough, but I thought the story overall was unsatisfying, simplistic, and incomplete. The humor (the best part) is still great.

Dense Fiction

The Brothers Karamazov. Well, this had the potential to be a really thrilling novel (if the author cut the excessive, absurd, and rambling sermons), but by the end everything fell flat. I think it is hard to key up a reader when the penalty is not the death penalty; there is less trauma, less believable pathos. Plus I was sick of just about everyone and the plot.

The Old Man and the Sea. Poignancy and pathos. Although the story dragged, yet Hemingway’s artistry kept me interested although I was fearing a sadder ending (I’ve read at least two of his short stories). Prose is what makes a real writer great, NOT a extravagant story line (which anyone can plot).

The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway is a great writer but wow, his characters are almost always horrid. I got the feeling of almost, if not definite ant-social disorders. Zero conscience, dispassionate/removed discussion of others feelings, using/abusing others (cruel, rapier taunting), little real feelings besides short bursts of manipulative anger are exhibited, those characters who are sensitive are portrayed as odd, caricatured, rather flat anomalies. Unbelievably crass womanizing lechery. Hard, constant drinking. (All this applies to the two short stories I read as well).

Popular Nonfiction
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. I wrote tons of notes on this, but I really didn’t get much out of it. I thought it over-complicated and gimmicky, maybe someone might find a concrete yet abstract plan helpful, I don’t. I also found much of the descriptions and word-choices to be poor and to add unnecessary distraction and confusion. I preferred what I culled from my interpersonal communication textbook (very specific yet simple points that everyone can use at anytime, e.g. “you” sentences are accusatory, “we” often are presumptive, deceitful, and manipulative).

Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World. I found this extremely useful; the world of the Pilgrims is explained to give a context to their actions and role in history. This type of history is my favorite, and in my opinion the most essential aspect of studying history because you cannot understand events without understanding the times. While this seemed well-researched, and I appreciate the over-arching idea, the organization, editing, and writing could have used work (hence the popular nonfiction categorization). I think far more footnotes and factual evidence is needed also. However, I think the good is well worth sloughing through all the bad.

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