Sunday 8 July 2012

Short post on a hot day...

Good Sunday morning to you!  As I sit with my cup of chai on this hot Sunday morning, I'm trying out my new computer, which is much bigger than the little Netbook that I have used for previous posts.  It will take some getting used to in terms of size and keyboard spacing, but the screen is bigger, brighter, and clearer, which is fabulous.

My book group met yesterday to discuss The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  This Young Adult novel tells the story, from the point of view of Death, of Liesel, a young girl in Germany during World War II who is relocated to a foster family, and relates her experiences from age nine to thirteen.  During her relocation, her brother dies on the train and she finds a book in the snow at her brother's funeral which she steals.  Her foster father teaches her to read, and from that point on, she finds comfort and solace in reading, but also stealing, books.  The novel deals with much more than just her experiences, though, since the narrator is Death, and so sees beyond just that one character.  We get the experiences of the foster parents, the various townspeople, and the perspective of battle throughout Europe as it pertains to the work Death has to do.  Most of the book club members had similar issues with the book as I had.  We felt that the choppiness of the text, the way it was written in short blurbs that included commentary from the narrator, descriptions, lists, and other types of information, was disruptive and distracting for the reader (we prefer traditional writing and story-telling methods).  We also felt that the use of language in "creative " ways was excessive - some of his descriptions were "over the top", and this type of language was used regularly throughout the novel.  We felt that it was perhaps over-long, that maybe if it was shorter it would have appealed a bit more.  I admitted that, while it was a long book, I was able to get through a large number of pages in a short period of time.  I had set myself a schedule of 120 pages per day to be finished in time for the meeting, and I exceeded this schedule every day without really trying.  In the end, we agreed that it was a worthwhile read, and that it would likely appeal to older teens perhaps more than adults, but was possibly too "heavy" for young teens to read and appreciate.  One of my book club members, though, loved it.  She thought it all worked well together, both language and style, and that it was not too long.  She thought that using Death as the narrator was interesting, and that by doing so the author "humanized" Death a bit for the reader, and made us realize that death is not something to be frightened of, but that he's just "doing his job".  It was definitely an interesting discussion, and there was so much more we could have touched on - in fact, we didn't even look at the discussion questions that were provided in the back of the book.  Only one member had read this book on her own before this meeting, and so to prepare for our discussion she reread the first 150 pages, then decided that she would listen to the audiobook for the remainder, which worked best for her. All the others agreed that they wouldn't have chosen this title if it wasn't on our list.  So I think that signifies a successful book selection, even if most people didn't "like" the book.

I haven't had the opportunity to start another book yet.  Well, not true; I started a book that was recommended highly, but it's not grabbing me, so I will put it away for another time perhaps, and will choose something else to read for this afternoon, as I sit in cool comfort in my air-conditioned house.

Bye for now!

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