On the last Monday of each month, I’m going to start offering a recap on a few of the books I’ve read that month — what I liked about them, what I didn’t, and any other thoughts. Since I read so much, I won’t review every single thing I’ve read, but I’ll pick two to five to discuss. Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts about these books in the comments!
1) Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne. I’ve read two of his other books — Around the World in Eighty Days and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea — and I definitely enjoyed them more than this one. Perhaps it was because there was no character that I really enjoyed in this one. In Around the World, Passepartout made me laugh, and in 20,000 Leagues, Captain Nemo fascinating me, but in Journey to the Center, no one really captured my imagination. I did admire how the main character’s moods were very realistic — when it was nice weather or when he had just had a good meal, he was happy, but when it was rainy or he was hungry, he was grumpy. Speaking of characters, Professor Hardwigg reminded me of Uncle Andrew in The Magician’s Nephew — eccentric, obssessed, foolish in a way but also intellectually brilliant. The story reminded me a bit of The Hobbit, as well. Like Bilbo, the main character didn’t actually want to go on the journey and constantly thought back to his calm life and comfortable home. Overall, it was an interesting book, but it didn’t excite me as others have.
2) Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. This was one poignant, powerful book. It’s rather short, and it only chronicles his life as a slave, ending when he gains his freedom (oops, I just gave away the ending). I was fascinated by the fact that, although he had a relatively good life, as slavery goes, he still yearned for freedom and chafed against his bondage. And though I’ve often been told that slaves were treated well in the more northern slave states, such as Virginia, this book changed my mind on that. Yes, I’m sure he didn’t suffer what he could have had he been sent to the “Deep South”, but the cruelties that he endured were still horrific. He wrote about a mistress he had once, who started out by treating him kindly and giving him special privileges. However, he told that over the years, she began to treat him like trash and abuse him, noting that no matter how good your heart may be, slavery corrupts it. Sin is so destructive.
3) Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson is one of my favorite fantasy authors ever, so I was excited to pick up his debut novel. It wasn’t his best work, although that could be attributed to the fact that it’s 1) his first book and 2) a stand-alone book, not a series, like his other stuff. It felt a little shallower than the other things he’s written — he usually explores deep topics and makes me think. I did enjoy Elantris‘ exploration of what faith means through chronicling Hrathen’s journey. However, Sanderson ultimately seemed to say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe it with your heart and your mind”, which I don’t agree with. Other than that, I loved his world-building and magic system, as well as the plot line of two-separated-people-who-reuinte-without-one-of-them-knowing-it. Great fantasy read, but it pales in comparison to other Sandersonian works.