February 2017 Reads

It appears that, compared to last year, I’m doing a much better job this year of completing my goal to read a few books a month—so far, anyway. While I can’t be certain this habit will persist throughout the rest of 2017, I’m enjoying it for the moment.

When I choose a book to read, it’s often done at random. Either I pick up whichever book on my shelf is calling to me at that time, or I’ll read whichever book I’ve had on my to-read list that sounds good in the moment. It just so happens that the two books I read this month have film adaptations. I was really delighted by this coincidence, so I decided to watch those adaptations once I was done reading. It seems like a sin to say that a book’s movie adaptation is better than the book itself, but this was the case for one book.

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On the first of the month, I finally got a library card. My first! And the first book I decided to check out was Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt or Carol. I hadn’t heard of this book before I saw the movie trailer, which piqued my interest. Not wanting to watch the movie before I had read it, I decided there was no time like the present to get around to it. Plus, Carol is only available on Showtime for a couple more weeks so I didn’t want to miss streaming it.

I found the start of this book to be rather dull, to be honest. I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to get into the book when I failed to remember what I was reading even several pages in. But once the main character, Therese Belivet, meets Carol, I was absorbed by the story. I love the way in which Highsmith writes the romance between Therese and Carol, especially during the first few times they are in one another’s company. If you didn’t know this was a love story between the women, you might almost miss it in the first half of the novel. That to me really captures what the early stages of love are like: the sense of fascination and confusion between partners; each wondering whether the other person feels the same way; both continuing to dance around the truth, until that beautiful moment when it all comes to fruition.

Still, I didn’t fall in love with this book—as much as I wanted to. However, the same cannot be said for my feelings regarding the film. I loved it. Not only do the actors get the emotions of the characters right, but I felt like Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara gave them more life than the book did at times. While reading, it was difficult for me to understand how Therese could appeal to Carol in the first place. But Mara gave her an attraction while still maintaining the timid demeanor of her character. True to fashion, the movie did undergo a lot of changes from the book, but I felt those changes did more to enhance the intent of the story than hinder it. For the first time, I think I’ll be recommending people watch Carol rather than read it.

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One of my favorite morning activities is to read while I enjoy my breakfast and start the day. And for about a week, I started off every morning diving right into Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I’ve seen this book around a lot and I’ve heard much of the praise its received, but I didn’t know a lot else about it. When I heard that a limited series based on the book was coming to HBO, and with a stellar cast of actors, I was intrigued and picked this up on one of our Costco trips.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. I did predict the murder victim and the context of the murder about halfway through, but I don’t think that predictability ever took away from my enjoyment. The author creates a broad range of characters, all of whom are parents to grade school children. It was refreshing to witness the different styles of parenting, to read about the positive and negative aspects of parenting and adult relationships. I don’t want to reveal too much about the core message I took away from this novel, due to spoilers, but I highly encourage anyone who is in a toxic or dangerous situation to seek help.

The series airs on Sunday nights on HBO and the first two episodes are currently available. It’s tough to say this early on if the series adaptation will live up to the book, but so far there have been many changes—some of which I like and some of which I think are gratuitous. Time will tell if the series will stick with the heart of the story, when we arrive at the end of the 7 episodes.

And there you have it for February. I tried to rush through a third book, but didn’t quite make the cut by the end of this short month. So look out for my review of On the Road by Jack Kerouac next month, along with some others.

-Ciara

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