Reading Challenge 2015: Journeys

This, and two more posts, will probably sum up my unintended blog series on Popsugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge. I could finish by December 1!

I am looking forward to reading something ‘just because.’ Just saying.  There have been some Audible sales that have led to binge audiobook purchasing. Those audiobooks look neglected in my library.

Books in two immutable, unrelated categories this week and both took me on voyages. One featured a dynamic character who changed immensely between the covers, and one that just was about the ride. I think we need both in the books that we read along the way.  Sometimes books with emotional buy in are key and other times, it just is important that we are entertained.

A book with bad reviews:

the adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

This book is not completely immutable within the presented categories.  I thought about reading this book for the banned books category, and for a book published more than 100 years ago. In my internet search for classic books with bad reviews, Wuthering Heights seems to take the cake, and I don’t disagree with that.  I almost read A Million Little Pieces by James Frey but I am avoiding trainwreck books for awhile after The Glass Castle. I needed something a little more emotionally neutral, and classics fit the bill.

This book is an interesting cross section of the American South pre-civil war, with Huck and Jim running into all kinds of families and characters along the way.

Jim demonstrated the plight of black people in the pre-Civil War South. He was good hearted and kind, and undereducated, and living in a world where he will always be treated like a child, despite the fact that he is very much not so. It is not a favorable portrayal of how African Americans were treated in that time and place, but that makes it no less accurate. In a similar vein, the poor white people in that time and place were not portrayed favorably either: Huck is also undereducated, and his father is a drunk who merely wants custody of him to take his money for drink and Huck has to stage his own death to get away from him. It helps no one to sugar coat the way life was in the past, good or bad.

I am glad I read it on my never ending quest to be well-read. I have often felt that it was a gaping hole in my reading history. Also, I need to read Tom Sawyer, which is the prequel to the book. Tom Sawyer thinks he is a much classier act than Huck and Jim. But not right now.

A book that made you cry:

the unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

This book floated into my life by way of my aunt, who had my father read it, who sobbed at the end and then told me that I needed to read it to understand how he feels and who he is as a person. This book starts out as soul crushingly depressing, and without the twist near the end, I was afraid that the character change involved would be maudlin and too great to be justified by the events that take place.  Despite these misgivings, however, I was hooked. I had to see how it was going to play out. It was the journey and what it brings about in these people that counts. It is uplifting in ways that you would not expect. I always admire authors who can make cancer novels work, to be compelling without too sentimental or sad. Adversity changes people in all sorts of ways and it is easy to be melodramatic or too optimistic. Joyce is neither in this novel. I also feel that is where John Green completely wins in The Fault in Our Stars.

What books have you read for a book with bad reviews and a book that made you cry? I love comments.  I yearn for them.

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