RTW: Book of the Month for August, 2012

Yes, it’s the end of August already, and it’s time for Road Trip Wednesday‘s Book of the Month. Road Trip Wednesday is a meme hosted by YA Highway. They set the topic, we blog our answer, and then link to our answers on the YA Highway blog article. People can then travel around to each blog to see how each person responded, and leave a comment (or not, but you know it’s the friendly thing to do!).

I didn’t get as much reading accomplished this month as I’d planned, so my pool of books to choose from is a little shallow. I usually pick a “shout-out” but I really don’t have one this month. None of the books I read were of the shout-from-the-rooftops-how-great-this-book-is quality, at least for me. The best of the bunch was probably…

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This classic novel tells the story of millionaire Jay Gatsby, and his obsession for lavish parties–and Daisy Buchannan. It’s told from the first person perspective of Gatsby’s neighbor, Nick Carroway, whom he befriends, and eventually enlists to help him reconnect with his old flame. The novel gives an interesting snapshot of high society in the 1920s, and while it’s fictionalized, Fitzgerald does a good job of giving the 21st century reader a sense of the period. It’s a relatively short novel, and I could probably have read it in a day. However, I didn’t really have much reading time this month, so it took me longer to get through as I would have to put it down and pick it up again later. One of the things I came to appreciate is the fact that the novel has a fairly simple and straight-forward story line, along with a limited cast of characters to keep track of. This meant that I rarely lost track of what had happened in between readings. I found Fitzgerald’s style quite readable, and his descriptions made sense to my imagination. And there were moments when his observations, or a turn of phrase, would make me smile. It was certainly an enjoyable read.

As I mentioned in my Goodreads review, I would give this book a PG, perhaps PG-13, rating for some mild language, but would probably recommend it to upper YA and older simply because I don’t think the subject matter would appeal to a younger audience.

What are your thoughts on THE GREAT GATSBY? Love it? Hate it? Indifferent? Read it in school and you don’t want to relive the painful memory? Read it in school and couldn’t get enough of it? Let me know in the comments. And if you have a book of the month to share, hop over to YA Highway and join the Road Trip Wednesday fun!

38 thoughts on “RTW: Book of the Month for August, 2012

  1. Miss Cole

    I love The Great Gatsby, but I think Tender is the Night is the better book 🙂 Fitzgerald’s use of language is so, so, so beautiful. I first read The Great Gatsby at 18, so it’s a good one for older teens.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I must say, after reading GATSBY, I’m not opposed to reading more Fitzgerald, so I’ll definitely put TENDER IS THE NIGHT on my TBR. Thanks, Cole! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Julie Dao

    STILL haven’t gotten a chance to read this. Seems like a very clear and simple read with a small cast and basic storyline, but w/ a lot of depth. I saw the movie not long ago and HATED the character of Daisy. I just couldn’t identify with her. I’m curious what I’ll think when I read the book.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I’ve yet to see the movie–the one with Robert Redford. I know a new version’s coming out soon, but I think I’d like to see the old one. I’ll be interested to see how the characters transfer to movie form. When I say there’s a small cast of characters, I mean at the story’s core. We really get to know perhaps five people. There are many supporting characters, though–butlers, maids, party guests.

      I’d be interested in how you think the book compares to the movie. I hope you get to read it soon. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Juliana Haygert

    I’m not a classics kind of girl. I read a few English/American classics during college here in the US, and a few Brazilian ones in HS back in Brazil, but that was only because it was required … otherwise I would have skipped them. I know … what a shame, right, after all, without the classics we would not be where we are today, the writing/publishing industry wouldn’t be as it is today.
    Though I confess I’m curious about the movie that is coming out (or is it out already?) …

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      This is probably a good classic to read if you’re not into classics, but feel you ought to read at least a few. It’s relatively short, well-written, not too fluffy, yet with depth.

      I think the number of people who enjoy the books they read in school are fewer than the ones who didn’t like them then, but came to appreciate them later, when they were able to read them at their own leisure and with a more mature perspective. Yes, I admit I’m reading some classics now out of a sense of duty–as a writer, I feel I ought to read them. But I’m probably enjoying them more than I would have twenty or so years ago. 🙂

      Reply
  4. crystalschubert

    Oh, yay! I read GATSBY in college and loved it. There’s so much to this even though it seems like such a short, straight-forward story. Fitzgerald is so amazingly adept at creating character with a simple turn of phrase here and there. And it’s odd because I don’t think any of them are specifically likable characters, but it works and they’re intriguing.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      You’re right, and I didn’t mean to imply by saying it’s short that it’s insubstantial. There’s a lot to the novel despite it’s relative brevity and straight-forward narrative. And I agree with you, Crystal–I don’t think any of the main characters are really likeable, but they are interesting.

      Reply
  5. Stephanie

    I’d really like to read this before the new movie comes out (now I have more time too since the release was pushed back to 2013). So many classics I haven’t read! Your write up makes it sound like one I can more easily tackle than say, Anna Karenina which I’ve started twice but couldn’t finish.

    Reply
  6. Samantha @ Reading-AndCoffee

    We’re going to have to disagree on this one. I could not stand Gatsby. I’m going to blame it on having to read it in school, but I have no interest in trying again.

    And thanks for the spider advice. They have taken over every corner of my house, Time to go find a good shoe.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Awww… I hope school hasn’t poisoned an otherwise good book for you. Maybe in a few years enough time will have passed that you’ll be willing to give it another try. 🙂

      Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I want to see the Robert Redford movie–see how they handled the book. Then maybe catch the Leo DiCaprio movie when it comes out. I think it’ll be interesting to see how they spin it out to 2 hours… 🙂

      Reply
  7. Tyrese

    I actually just downloaded this to read again but haven’t gotten around to actually reading it again. I know this is terrible, but I cannot remember whether I liked it when I read it the first time (too much partying at the time to remember much) so now that I am older, I am going to read it and actually pay attention to it. Plus I want to read it before Hollywood destroys it…

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I really think we need to be careful not to let our school prejudices carry over into adult life. As I well know, we sometimes unfairly dismiss books we had to read at school for reasons other than their literary merit (e.g., having to sit through class discussions, write papers, etc.). A mature mind and a few years’ perspective can do wonders to a novel.

      Reply
  8. Rachael

    I should probably try reading that. I watched the movie about four years ago in high school and hated it. I’ve started working my way through the classics, though, so I might enjoy it a lot more now.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      That’s interesting. I wonder if your opinion of the movie would be different now that high school is behind you? I’m certainly interested to see how much I enjoy the movie compared to the book.

      Reply
  9. Jaime Morrow

    I have mixed feelings about this one. I read it a few months back as part of my Conquering the Classics personal challenge. When I started reading it I was really impressed with Fitzgerald’s writing, but partway in I kind of became bored. Since I already knew the story (I’d seen the movie some time back), I found myself waiting for the really interesting stuff to happen toward the end of the book. Even though it was a very short/quick read, that stuff I was anticipating couldn’t show up fast enough. So I guess I liked it and didn’t like it at the same time. Does that make sense? 🙂

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I understand what you mean, Jaime. The core plot–“the really interesting stuff”–really doesn’t amount to a great deal of the story. Much of the novel is introducing characters, showing relationships, setting the scene, and builds up slowly to what eventually happens. I didn’t mind it as much as you, though, partly because I enjoyed Fitzgerald’s writing style. But I think that’s a fair critique.

      Reply
  10. Erin L. Schneider

    I must admit, I have still NOT read THE GREAT GATSBY!!! It’s been on my TBR list for, oh, decades – but yet I still haven’t pulled the trigger.
    Great review, Colin, as always! Maybe now this will get bumped up on the list!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Thanks, Erin! It’s probably one of the easiest classics I’ve read so far (though, I hasten to add, not the best–such an accolade belongs to books like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and JANE EYRE). If you haven’t read it, and feel as though you ought to read it, I would encourage you to go ahead and do so. It won’t take long, and you might enjoy it. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Kitty

    It has been sooooo many years since I read The Great Gatsby! I don’t even recall any of it but I have this general, vague sense that I liked it a lot. After your review I think I may have to revisit it.

    Reply
  12. Sara Biren (@sbiren)

    I love THE GREAT GATSBY. Fitzgerald has always held a special place in my heart as a Minnesota native and I have a quote from him on my blog. I think one of the reasons that I love this book so much is that it was one of the first books from my lit classes in college – even though I’d read it in high school, in college I learned how to read as a writer.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I’m glad your college experience gave you a greater appreciation for this book, Sara. As you know, that’s not always the case.

      Reply
  13. Crystal

    I love The Great Gatsby! I also love Fitzgerald in general. I read this book while I was in college, just because I wanted to. Everyone who saw me reading it between classes asked if it was homework, though, and they all looked confused when I said no. I’ve been planning to reread this one. I’d definitely like to read it again before the movie comes out next year.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I can’t say I read it 100% because I wanted to–part of me felt like I ought to read it. But I’m glad I did. 🙂

      Reply
  14. Stephanie Allen

    I haven’t read this one, but everyone keeps talking about it (and plus there’s a movie) so I keep meaning to pick it up. To the library!

    Reply
  15. Daisy Carter

    I adore GATSBY! I love the writing and the way it’s told by the neighbor so we really get to observe like we’re at the parties for the first time, too. And, you know, whatever your opinion of her, Daisy has the greatest name ever! 😉

    Reply
  16. Robin Moran

    I’m terrible with classics. Although after I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice I think I’m more willing to give them a chance. Maybe I’m at the right age now to appreciate them. As a teenager I found it hard to understand why the classics were so praised and didn’t really get them.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I wouldn’t want to make a blanket statement to the effect that you appreciate the classics more when you get older, but I think that’s true at least for some. Often, I think we just need a positive reason to want to read them. Being forced to as part of a school assignment may get us to read them, but it can’t make us really appreciate them. Reading them to learn from them as a writer is a more positive incentive, which helps us look at these works in a much kinder light. Perhaps it’s not so much the fact that you’re not a teenager as it is that you’re more serious about becoming a better writer, and as a result better able to appreciate authors who write well?

      Of course, some people just never get into the classics, and that’s okay. 🙂

      Reply
    1. cds Post author

      One of the reasons it was on my list was because so many people list it among their favorite classic novels. With good reason too, I think. 🙂

      Reply

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