Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I loved this story and I loved Jane Eyre. Yes, there is a “and they lived happily everafter” quality to the ending. But whow doesn’t admire Jane’s spirit, intelligence, and independence? Well, my 16 year-old self sure didn’t when this book was thrust into his hands in high school for a literature class. Then again, there was quite a lot my 16-year-old self was incapable of understanding and appreciating. So glad I dusted this copy off the shelf and took the time to read it. A rightful classic. Recommended for Women of All Ages With a Bit of Spirit and For Men Who Admire Women Who Have a Bit of Spirit.
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. Laura Chase drives her car off a bridgeshortly after the end of the Second World War; it’s ruled an accident. Her sister Iris knows better. The title of the novel is the title of the novel within the novel authored by Laura. It’s about a woman and a man conducting a clandestine relationship during the late 1930’s in Toronto, Canada. The rest of the novel is Iris’s story, spanning her and her parents’ lives from before the First World War, through the Great Depression, the Second World War and up to the 1990’s. How both Iris’ life and the novel-within-the-novel are tied together becomes clear as the story progresses from Iris’ privileged youth, her arranged marriage to (much older) industrialist Richard Griffen, and her subsequent lifelong rivalry with her haughty sister-in-law. As in Cat’s Eye (another fantastic novel), Atwood is masterful at showing how power in a relationship is taken and lost, and on what it rests. Recommended for People Who Like Literary High-wire Acts.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I sort of read this my freshman year in high school for a literature class. By “sort of” I mean “not really,” faking my way through discussions and my assignments. I’m glad I finally read it. Dickens is an entertaining storyteller. His characters are eccentrically distinct, from Miss Havisham to Joe Gargery. Towards the end you keep expecting it to end at any moment, but Dickens drags it out a bit, though it didn’t feel like a drag. You can tell he was writing to get paid by the installment. I think most writers would come off as needlessly prolonging the story. Dickens does not in this novel. Recommended for Those Who Are Curious About Strict Class boundaries in Victorian England.
Note: This was the first book I read completely on my Sony Reader. It went without a hitch.
My Appetite for Destruction by Steven Adler. If I ever get the chance to meet Steven Adler, former drummer for one of my all-time favorite bands Guns n’ Roses, I’m going to ask, “How the fuck are you still alive?” This memoir contains his (somewhat hazy) recollections of his life before, during, and after Guns n’ Roses. There is a lot of drugs and a lot of sex. But mostly drugs. Which caused him to have a stroke at one point and his speech is slurred because of it to this day. He pretty much spent the years from his teens until his early forties on drugs (weed, cocaine, heroin).
Oh, and if there was any doubt, Axl Rose, for all of his talents as a frontman, is one of the biggest assholes to have ever worked in Rock n’ Roll.
One interesting note: Adler says their “independently” done album Live Like a Suicide, was neither independently financed nor live. It was financed by Geffen to give them some “street cred,” and it was recorded live…in the studio with all the crowd cheering taken from other bands’ shows and added in.
Recommended for People Interested in the Cost of the Rock n’ Roll Lifestyle.