D’s October Reads

Hey kids!

While I wait for the remaining days of my Hell Month at work to subside, here are my thoughts on a couple of books I managed to read in the last few months. I meant to post this in September but, well, you know …

While away at my friend’s cottage for a long weekend this past summer, I came across I Love You, Beth Cooper sitting all by its lonesome on the coffee table.

Strangely enough, it was the one book (that I can recall in recent memory) that I carried everywhere and didn’t put down until it was finished.

Basic premise: School geek declares his love for the coolest girl in school during his valedictory address on graduation day. The rest of this crazy book, you’ll have to read for yourself.

How can I describe this novel, written by Larry Doyle? Let’s put it this way: take whatever coming-of-age, end-of-high-school-and-graduation movie you’ve seen in your lifetime, and increase the gawky awkwardness and crazy situations by, like, 100. I think I laughed out loud every two minutes the entire time I was reading it.

The book’s made its rounds with my cottage weekend friends, and there’s pretty much a consensus on what we all think. It’s even going to be in movie form, slated for release next year. It’ll be interesting to see how close they stay to the novel.

Tolstoy, it’s not. But if you want a light, fast-moving read, this is your tome. (And omigod, they’ve got a Web site! Pretty wicked.)

Speaking of fast-moving reads, I also got my hands on another novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, which was recommended to me by another friend later on in the summer.

Like I Love You Beth Cooper, it’s a fast read, and takes place within the same day. But unlike the former, the latter is physically a third of the size and – as the book’s title should imply – the tone is completely different.

The story is narrated by the main character, a bearded Pakistani man named Changez, who tells an American visitor of his love affair with the United States, where he attends school and subsequently lands his first job. The story depicts Changez’s feelings for his temporarily-adopted country as they move from infatuation to disillusionment, against the backdrop of September 11th and the subsequent war on terror.

This may not make sense, but while I thought this book was powerful, I wasn’t completely bowled over. It was probably my mindset when I read it. And the subject matter – especially in a post 9-11 world – still can make one uneasy. But I did relate to some of the main character’s feelings and observations in my own way, as one might relate to something in one’s own life experience – I could almost hear Changez’s voice as I was reading the words. I would definitely encourage you to give this book a read anyway. 

That’s all for now. I might do one of these again next month.

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