Book Chat

This month’s book reviews, which may contain affiliate links:
This War We're InI enjoyed This War We’re In. It’s essentially the tale of two brothers who are involved in typical brotherly rivalry, but the setting (during WWII) and the one boy’s friendship with a Japanese boy bring an added dimension. Excellent book for boys especially, late elementary age. They’ll learn some history of the time, and they’ll also enjoy the talk of childhood pranks, horses, etc. The book is well-written and really puts you into the time. Recommended.


Dead Boy's LegacyHaving a Kindle has changed some of my reading habits for sure. Thanks to Pixel of Ink and Inspired Reads, I’m bombarded daily by free books that I can put on my Kindle with the click of the mouse. Over the past year that I’ve had it, I’ve definitely slowed down on this, as it’s much quicker to click than to actually read a book. I’ve also gotten a bit pickier with what I’ll read, especially if it was free. But the Kindle has introduced me to many authors I’m sure I’d never have heard of without it.

Such was the case with The Dead Boy’s Legacy. This is way outside my usual reading fare. It was dark. It was more explicit than most things I read. It had an odd writing style that at first kind of put me off, but I have to admit it became compelling after a while (sentences like With the generous support of their friends and neighbors, Pauline and John’s spirits were temporarily lifted were common).

I couldn’t really stop reading it though, wondering how things would turn out. The book tells the tales, in alternating chapters, of Tommy, a little boy who is abducted, and Greg, a boy who was abused years earlier. The story consists of how Tommy’s and Greg’s lives end up intersecting. Recommended, although it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.


great gatsby

The first (and only) time I’d read The Great Gatsby was in high school. But my oldest daughter read it for school and loved it, and of course the new movie has come out, and I wanted to read it again. My only memories of the book from 30 years ago were of giant eyes on a billboard that were symbolic in some way, the ’20s, and something fishy (no pun intended) in the swimming pool at the end.

I think I enjoyed the book more this time — for the one or two of you who haven’t read it yet, it’s a tale set in the ’20s about a mysterious man, Gatsby, and his interactions with his first love, Daisy, and a current neighbor, Nick. There’s a lot more to it, though, and I think I enjoyed it more now simply because, having lived more of life, I can relate to more of the thoughts expressed in the book. A few I liked:

  • Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that … a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.
  • (He was) one of those men of such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax.
  • There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.
  • for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

If you’ve ever had longings unfulfilled (and who among us hasn’t?), you’ll enjoy Gatsby.

I also read Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush, but I got so carried away with my review that I’ll post it separately, probably next week.

What have you been reading this month? More ideas at 5MinutesforBooks.


10 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. I’ve read Gatsy several times since I’ve taught it before, but reading these quotes makes me want to revisit it.

    I know what you mean about free Kindle books!

  2. Saturday I invited Jean to join me and we went to the Library to hear Martha McIntire talk for 1 1/2 hours about the 1920s. Apparently the library reading group presently is reading The Great Gatsby. Martha did a marvelous job, as usual, She said part of her assignment was to go see the movie, which she did along with her daughter Linda and Linda’s friend Joyce. Martha used note cards and had so much to tell. She said she did TONS of research, preparing for the presentation. A couple things that stuck in my head were that the U.S. was basically involved in WW1 for 1 1/2 years. Wow! That’s not long! : ) Also during that time world wide they were dealing with the Spanish Flu. It killed 50 – 100 million people! She said at many hospitals, an undertaker just stayed at the hospital as they could not keep up with the deaths!
    Susan I wish you could have joined us! I didn’t realize you were reading the book now.

  3. Love the Gatsby quotes! So disappointed that my daughter, an almost non-reader, hated the book, but enjoyed talking with a friend of hers who loved it as they read it in school this year. Still haven’t seen the new movie. I’ve about given up on free kindle books….most have disappointed, but there is a rare gem out there if you have patience.

  4. I love that you read Gatsby! I’m a high school English teacher, and that’s one of my favorite books to teach because it is so much fun to re-read. Every time I do, I find something fresh and new in Fitzgerald’s use of language.

    The quotation you include above about how Tom reached such an “acute limited excellence” at twenty-one is one of my very favorites. It says so much, so pointedly, with so few words. What a masterpiece that book is ….

  5. I saw the Gatsby movie recently and enjoyed it so much – I’ve got the book on my kindle and I’m hoping to read it in the coming month or at the very least this summer. I’ve also been thinking about some of the books that I read as a teen and DIDN’T like and have been wondering if I should get them another shot now that I’m older…

  6. I’ve never read Gatsby – I had the idea it had to do with the character’s moral decline, but maybe that’s the wrong impression. I’ve kind of wanted to just because it’s a classic but also because of the new movie. It sound intriguing – I may give it a try yet.

    I get Inspired Reads, too, and I know what you mean. I don’t click on as many free ones as I used to, but I have discovered some good authors that way that I probably would not have otherwise.

  7. I’ve read GATSBY a few times– back in high school for the first time and again as an adult at least once or twice. I wanted to re-read it before the movie, but didn’t get a chance to. A story that always makes me feel sad for the characters.

    Thanks for linking up–
    -Dawn, 5M4B

  8. I read The Great Gatsby in high school and didn’t care for it. I think it’s one of those books that might be better as a adult reread. Maybe I’ll try it sometime.

    Happy June reading!

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I enjoy hearing your thoughts.