April Reads

  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

While I was reading this Ready Player One, I felt like it was written specifically for me.  However, that is not exactly true.  The reality is that this book was written for all men (boys) born between the years 1970 and approximately 1982.  This is because, not only is this book a light-hearted science fiction adventure (a la Douglas Adams), but also constantly references 80s music, 80s movies, arcade and old-school video games and Dungeon and Dragon references throughout its entirety.  This book released my long-repressed inner geek (who is basically an 11th level human wizard that suspiciously resembles Raistlin from the early Dragonlance books). While reading it, I was overcome with the urge to watch all of my favorite old science fiction movies.  I found myself staying up too late on work-nights, playing Zelda.  It was liberating. The best way that I have to describe the actual story is that it could be the love-child of Tron and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the real one, not that Tim Burton piece of shit) if he got all of his looks from Tron, but all of his awesome personality from Wonka.  I adored every second of this book, and I was sad when it ended.  Though this book could be enjoyed by everyone, if you remember the exact day that you updated your Atari system to the original Nintendo (and were blown away by the awesomeness that was 3-D Rad Racer), this book is definitely for you

  Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Quite a change of pace from Ready Player One, Lolita allows me to cross another book off the list of 100 Greatest Novels ever written.  Although I had seen the brilliant Kubrick film version of this story, I still did not know what to expect from the actual novel. Hardly a light-hearted subject, Lolita tells the story of a tortured pedophile who becomes dangerously obsessed with the twelve-year-old title girl.  Although the subject is heavy, the novel itself had an almost whimsical feel to it.  Even though Humbert Humbert, who tells his tale through a retrospective journal-type narration, is quite despicable for several reasons, you can’t help but sympathize with him through most of the book (which is probably the most disturbing part).  Throughout the novel, Nabokov is masterful with his writing, and it is no mystery as to why this book sits upon the 100 Greatest Novel list.  I definitely enjoyed this read.

  Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper

Katie and I listened to this audio book on our way down to Disneyland last weekend (we were actually going down to Southern California so “Reverend Jeremy” could officiate the wedding of my wonderful cousin Kristi, but we managed to fit in three days in the Happiest Place on Earth).  We both really enjoyed it.  It’s a quick read, and it contains everything that a good novel should contain: a good balance of gut-splitting humor, tender sadness, and plenty of boner jokes.  I have put a request into the Sacramento Library for other Jonathan Tropper books, so I’ll definitely be checking out more of his work soon.

  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief takes place during World War II in a small town near the Dachau concentration camp.  Add in the fact that the tale is narrated by Death, and it is an excellent concept for a novel.  More than being a great concept, this was also a very good book.  On the sadness scale of Holocaust stories, ranging from (1) Shoah* (extremely depressing [and, by the way, I know that Shoah isn’t a story, it’s a documentary, but it fit my number system the best]) and (10) Life is Beautiful (sad, yet hopeful), I would say The Book Thief is probably a 7 or 8.  The story focuses on how the war affected small-town Germany, specifically how it affected a young girl named Liesel, whose family attempts to hide a Jew in their basement.  Although it goes on slightly longer than I felt it needed to, I found it to be a beautiful read.

*For those of you that have not seen it, Shoah is a nine-hour documentary about the Holocaust.  Although it is brilliant, and I believe everyone should watch it once, I wouldn’t recommend popping it in the DVD player on a Friday night to unwind.  Surprisingly, when friends are looking through my shelf of DVDs, I don’t get a lot of requests to borrow this one.

  The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman

For personal reasons, this book was very satisfying.  I actually read the first two thirds of this book back in February, during a time when I worked at a very stressful job that made me feel like I was being whittled down into nothingness.  I was planning to renew the book from the library so I could finish it but, due to other requests to check it out, I was unable to.  And so, even though I wasn’t finished, I had to return this book on my way out to San Francisco to attend a three-day Professional Sales Skills seminar (for those of you that know me, you know that my actual vision of hell consists of a Professional Sales Skills seminar where ACDC blasts constantly in the background).  To make a short story long, finishing this book while working at my awesome new job gave me a pleasant sense of closure.  Anyway, about the book.  I have enjoyed many of Klosterman’s essays and non-fiction books and, as far as I know, this is his first work of fiction.  It was really good.  The Visible Man tells the story of an amateur psychologist who becomes slightly obsessed with one of her patients, who claims to have invented a suit that makes him invisible.  Since he uses this suit to watch how random people act when they are alone, she become paranoid that he is using his special camouflage to watch every move that she makes. As Klosterman usually writes only about music and pop culture, I was surprised at how well he transitioned into writing fiction.  It is a very enjoyable read.

 

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