Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Recap

1. The Cherry Orchard 

I mentioned that I had been reading Chekhov in one of my previous posts, and I would highly recommend reading The Cherry Orchard. This is the last play written by Anton Chekhov and it brilliantly illustrates the social and economic issues that were at the forefront of Russian culture around the turn of the century.  Chekhov uses the cherry orchard as a symbol of the old Russia and the aristocracy's inability to retain hold of its power and status in the face of the rising middle class. As Lopahin (who symbolizes the new middle class) says, "If my father and grandfather could rise from their graves and see all that has happened... how Yermolay Lopahin will lay the ax to the cherry orchard and how the trees will fall to the ground." It can be a chilling read in light of what we know happened during the 20th century. I recommend.

2. Call For The Dead

Purely a fun read, Call For The Dead is John Le Carre's first novel. You might know the name from his more well known work Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. It was an entertaining read with some twists and turns and Cold War intrigue. While I did not like it as well as his The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, I would recommend it if you want an entertaining book that is not too deep.

3. Focus

Written in 1945, Arthur Miller's book Focus is about an ordinary man named Lawrence Newman. Lawrence, when wearing his new glasses, looks like he is Jewish (he is essentially a "new man"). Newman, who previously held anti-semitist views, is now on the receiving end of people's prejudices. At one point he laments that he is a human being, a man, and people can't treat him this way because he has done nothing wrong. His glasses provide him with more than just physical clarity, and through the book we see Lawrence slowly evolve into another "new man," one who defends and identifies himself with those who are persecuted. While certainly not a lighthearted read, I would highly recommend this book.
(I would include some really great quotes, but I lent the book to my grandma)

4. A Most Wanted Man (In Progress)

Also by John Le Carre, A Most Wanted Man is his most current work of fiction. While set in Germany, the subject is terrorism instead of the Cold War. It is off to a slow start, and I am not enjoying it as much as Call For The Dead. I don't find the characters to be likeable, so I am not sure who to root for, or who even the good and bad guys are. At this point, I would not recommend.

5. Catch 22 (In Progress)

I am only 1/3 of the way through, but so far Catch 22 is an enjoyable read. This satire revolves around Captain Yossarian and other airmen who are stationed on an island in the Mediterranean during World War II. A few themes so far are the silliness of bureaucracy and the inevitability of death. I am looking forward to finishing the book!

Feel free to leave a comment with other good book recommendations! Happy Reading!