The Human Stain

Ugh, I’ve been a bad bad blogger. I know I dislike a book when it jut drags and drags, taking me sometimes weeks in order to finish it. I come up with excuses- oh, I’ve been busy with work, life, etc because I’d like to think that I enjoy every book that I read, some just in different ways. And while I am sure there is some parts of this book I have enjoyed, it has been incredibly painful trying to finish The Human Stain by Phillip Roth.

I really enjoyed American Pastoral . I thought that Roth did an amazing job spinning such an intense tale. For the most part, The Human Stain has seemed nothing short of implausible to me. This isn’t a book I would ever recommend. I don’t even really have any teasers or quotes I have taken away from reading this book.

Not to suggest that the book is all bad. Phillip Roth has an intellectually engaging way of writing that really lifts you up a higher level that is incredibly enjoyable. However, unlike American Pastoral, The Human Stain semmed weighed down at times by the language.

Overall, not feeling it.

I always feel guilty not finishing a book. I can’t think of a time when I’ve done it.Do you feel like you’ve wasted time when you read a book you dislike?

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

” I tell you one thing – the story’s not over yet. You got your work cut out for you girl. This thing’s crazy enough for three books!”

During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college I worked as an intern for a small genetics company. I was miserable, I was only doing well in science because I had high reading comprehension. My ability to apply principles of genetics to everyday situations, wasn’t so great. But I do remember being amazed by the technology being used. It didn’t take very much research for me to find out that I was not working with HeLa cells during the internship, but as I came to learn from reading this book, many of the principles were a direct result f her cells – cells growing in suspension, identifying genetic markers.

The book was less scientific and far more personal than I expected it to be.  Rebecca Skloot spent years getting to know the Lacks’s life and history, with much resistance. I was torn reading about the family, deciding whether I felt a strong sense of injustice because of their not having seen any of the profit which their mother’s cells produced. Skloot is a true journalist,and does an excellent job being unbiased while also showing the humanity behind the facts. I was most shocked by how horribly painful and frightening being struck by something like cancer must have been prior to modern medicine. A diagnosis of cancer is rightfully still a daunting concept, but to imagine a time when so much less was known, and could be done, was sobering.

I really love reading books like this. Of course reading is enjoyable, and as an added benefit it is often educational, even though I don’t usually notice it. There is some incredibly pleasing,and obvious educational value about a book such as this that I really enjoy.

I would definitely recommend this book to others, particularly those with a background in science or ethics. However, for those that are reading just for the story, I’d stop before the last 100 pages. It dragged on and on for me. You know that feeling when you feel like the pages are multiplying no matter how many you read? I wasn’t thoroughly impressed by the travel stories of the author.

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The Irresistable Henry House

“Taking care of a baby is the only most important job most of you will ever have.”

“Martha saw herself in the mirror at the top of the stairs and readjusted her scarf, forcing the memory out of her mind. Once a day, she allowed herself to think abut that only once a day.”

Wow. I loved reading this book. I loved the characters. I loved the plot. I loved the writing. Amazing.

This book really surprised me, it wasn’t anything like what I thought it would be. As much as you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover, I guess you also shouldn’t make too many assumptions about the plot. The “irresistible” eye of the middle aged man on the front cover led me to believe the book would be all about the charming, flirtatious Mr.House who sexed his way through 300 pages expressing his inability to pick a mate after being raised by multiple women. And it was…but it was so much more.

“‘If anything happened to you-,’she kept saying, but then she never finished the sentence,leaving Henry with the not – unfamiliar impression that his well being was somehow crucial to the progress of the world.”

The plot is fairly simple, and shockingly based on real life occurrences. Henry is raised as a house baby at Wilton College. The program director, Martha Gaines, decides that she will adopt Henry. After a fairly shocking plot twist, it is decided that Martha should raise Henry. Henry grows up surrounded by women and continually separating himself from Martha. The ultimate break with Martha occurs when Henry finds out that Martha has lied to him about where his real parents are. Henry is then sent to a boarding school after choosing to become mute. While there he develops his talents for art as well as for captivating the opposite sex.

I was pleasantly surprised that such a large chunk of the book was about Hnery as a child or during his adolescence.

I love that the author was able to make Henry a sympathetic character while also making him at times, a man about town. There are some awesomely, stinging one liners from Henry, which I really enjoyed. I was a little thrown off ultimately by how deeply Henry distrusts and dislikes Martha. But then who am I to judge, I can’t even imagine how I’d deal with finding out the truth about a lifelong lie like he did.

I know I loved a book because I’ll have tons of quotes from the book that I enjoyed. That is one of the reasons why I enjoy having a blog, I can type a lot faster and less painlessly than I can write. Here is another favorite.

“Come on, doofus. Who would like the arrangement?”
” What if I love her?”
” Bullshit, Henry.”
“What do you mean, bullshit?”
” I mean bullshit. You don’t love her.”
“How do you know?”
” You love you. And barely,” she said.

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Currently Reading and New TBR

Ugh I had a horrible case of the Mondays. Couldn’t fall asleep no matter how hard I tried. There appears to be some sort of inverse relationship between how hard I try or need t fall asleep and my ability to actually catch some z’s.

Oh well, I had the charming Irresistible Henry House to keep me company. I’m really enjoying this novel. Lisa Grunwald has done a great job so far developing his character and providing awesome plot twists along the way! The setting reminds me of the movie, Mona Lisa Smile. Hopefully I’ll finish it later this week so I can put up a proper review.

New TBR today is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. A co worker recommended to me that I read this several weeks ago, and it is now waiting for me patiently at my local library. I have heard good things about the book. Every review I have read for it have been incredibly positive,so I’m excited to start it!

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“No child or future generation will ever know what this was like.They will never understand. When it is over we will go quietly among the living and we will not tell them. We will talk and sleep and go abut our business like human beings. We will seal what we have seen in the silence of our hearts and no words will reach us.”

Worth reading? Yes.

Is it a favorite? No.

First review, here we go!

I look back on how long ago this book was lent to me, and I wonder why in the world it took me so long to finish it. At 482 pages in length I wouldn’t consider this a “quick read”, but it certainly shouldn’t have taken me the nearly two weeks that it did in order to finish it. Ultimately I think this was probably because of the graphic nature of a large portion of the plot. I can’t say this makes it less enjoyable, just more arduous.

The book begins by telling the story of Stephen Wraysford prior to WWI when he was working in France. A love story develops between Wraysford and his boss’s wife, Isabelle. I hesitate to reveal more about that storyline but to stay that Wraysford eventually heads offfor WWI. This is the bulk of the story and Faulks does a stunning job making the reader wince while pulling at their heartstrings describing the brutal scenes of war. There was one particularnail bitter when Stephen is trapped in an underground mine that has collapsed.

Spun between the chapters of Stephen’s life before and after the war is the story of his grand daughter, Elizabeth. Her story is set primarily in England in 1979. Not a big fan of her storyline.

I enjoyed the plot and connected with the characters, but something was missing for me in this novel. I’m not exactly sure why this isn’t a favorite for me, nothing really sticks out as a turn off. I did feel that the constant switching between past and present was a tad annoying. While Elizabeth’s story is interesting in its own right, I do not feel that it contributed much to the reader’s understanding of Stephen. Overall I did I enjoy reading the book, even though the plot might not always have interested me. I was most impressed by the incredibly realistic writing style of Faulks. On a funny side note, have you ever lent a book to someone and felt like you had to give a disclaimer because of an underlying theme? To be completely frank there are some fairly graphic scenes involving sex or violence in this novel…just keep this in mind. I suggested to my aunt that she read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and became slightly embarrassed afterward when talking to her about some of the plot points…am I alone in this sense of responsibility?

On a funny side note, have you ever lent a book to someone and felt like you had to give a disclaimer because of an underlying theme? To be completely frank there are some fairly graphic scenes involving sex or violence in this novel…just keep this in mind. I suggested to my aunt that she read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and became slightly embarrassed afterward when talking to her about some of the plot points…am I alone in this sense of responsibility?

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Introductions and Explanations

Hello, my name is Katie and I have a problem. I start blogs and never finish them. And perhaps that is the root of the problem, you can’t finish a blog- it is an ongoing work of love, sweat, and tears. And while it might be more honest to acknowledge the fact that few people will be likely to ever see this, I’d rather ignore the attempts of the past and embrace the possibility of a future. I love blogs. I love them so much that I often abandon my own in favor of reading hundreds of others. My Google Reader is pretty amazing, not going to lie. But no matter how many other blogs I read I  continually want a place to express myself,and so here I am again. Wish me luck!

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