Book Review: Of Mice and Men ☆☆☆

micemenLife’s a bitch, and then you die. That pretty much sums up Of Mice and Men for me. It also spoke about friendship, or the loneliness we experience from the lack thereof. It dealt with the power of hope, and holding onto a dream even if you know deep down it will never be real. There was plenty to be said for the nature, and character of men. This book just found the most depressing way to talk about these things, and ran with it.

Don’t get me wrong I accept that life is full of sadness and hardship. I understand that for some this is the large bulk of their life experience. Depending on your circumstance it might be most of your life experience.

I also believe that no matter how hard or terrible your lot in life is there can be found moments of good and happiness. Even if they are few, far between, and fleeting they exist.

There were none of these moments for any of the characters in this book. Well arguably Lennie has a few moments due to his simple nature, but those moments might have been the saddest of all. In the end no one was happy, or is likely to ever be.

So while I found Of Mice and Men to be a good story, well written, and surprisingly easy to read it was far too depressing for my tastes. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it, but all the same I’d rather not linger on it.

My Rating: ☆☆☆

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Book Review: Tales from the Arabian Nights ☆☆☆☆

9780864382559-us-300No offense to Dickens, but Tales from the Arabian Nights is the classic I wish I’d read in school! To this day I associate ‘classic’ with boring, and depressing. I know that isn’t fair, and not always the case, but it was imprinted on my brain at an early age. Thankfully my mother took my siblings and I to the library religiously where I was able to choose from books I found interesting. Otherwise I fear my love of reading would never have become the joy and solace it is for me today.

Tales from the Arabian Nights is a story about a noblewoman named Scheherazade telling a series of stories to a Sultan. The lives of countless women, her own included, hang in the balance. These stories are full of adventure, swashbuckling, romance, mystery, and of course magic. Tales from the Arabian Nights is the source of such iconic characters as Aladdin, Sinbad, and Ali Baba though perhaps Scheherazade herself is the greatest hero of them all.

I read stories where our heroes, and heroines, found strange and wonderful magical items, and met magical creatures pleasant and frightening. I was taken on journeys into China, Africa, Asia, India, and if I remember correctly even Europe. Many times they were shipwrecked, forced watch their friends be cannibalized, become cannibals themselves, were turned to stone, or buried alive. Fortunes were won, lost, and (sometimes) won again. Quick thinking is always rewarded, and things are rarely what they seem.

 

If this book had been written today I might have a few gripes about sexism, racism, or telling not showing, but these stories were collected from as early as the 8th century through the 13th century. Given that I’d say they were pretty enlightened with women often saving their male counterparts, and in many instances different races/religions living, and working together amicably.

Overall I highly recommend Tales from the Arabian Nights. It is a book I’ll be rereading again at some point to my daughter, and for my own personal enjoyment!

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Book Review: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ☆☆☆

51496I should start out by saying I picked this for two reasons. First, I am trying to diversify my reading. As late as a few months ago 95% of my reading had been in fantasy. Maybe another 4.5% was science fiction. What can I say I know what I like. Recently I’ve been wanting to step outside these genres so I have made a new practice to read books in threes. I’ll start out by reading a fantasy/science fiction, then any book not fantasy/science fiction, and finally a classic. Not necessarily in this order.

This has been working pretty good for me. My true love will always be fantasy, and to a lesser extent science fiction, but I have enjoyed reading outside these genres as well. That being said I still struggle with most classics. I know they are the pillars on which all modern works are founded, and stand the test of time blahbliddyblah, but quite often they are a chore to read!

Which brings me to my second reason for choosing this book.. It is so short! At less than 100 pages it is really just a novella. Anyone can push through a novella, right? For many fantasy books this is basically just a prologue, and a chapter or two.

I needn’t have worried however as I found Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde pleasantly easy reading. If I had to put a genre to it I would say this book is a mystery. Or it would have been back in 1886. Sadly, no matter how out of tune you are with popular culture you will have heard of this story, and know how it ends. Which is a credit to Stevenson’s work, but does take the thrill out of it for new readers.

Even without the suspense of not knowing this book was interesting. It examines the duality of good, and evil all men carry within them, but in a way that doesn’t come off preachy. Who can say what we would do if we had the perfect alibi? I found myself thinking of the situations I might allow myself to explore, and then the slippery slope that could follow. Of the, very few, classics I have read this has been the most enjoyable.

My Rating: ☆☆☆