Top Ten Tuesday: Book Club Reads

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is all about the books I’d love to read with my book club! The book club I’m in right now focuses on YA books, and we’ve read some really great ones! We’ve also read some not to great ones, but I still really enjoyed talking with the girls in my book club about why we hated a specific book. There’s just something about having a mutual “I hated this book” rant with your friends, isn’t there? So today I’m going to talk about some books that I would only want to read with a book club, because at least I’d know for sure I’d have people to vent to if I ended up hating the book.

Top Ten Books I’d Like to Read With a Book Club

gillian flynn

Anything by Gillian Flynn – I read Gone Girl last year and I was really intrigued by it at first. Up until the 2nd half of the book happened and I realized how awful the characters were. I have a really hard time liking a book if I can’t root for a character, and I hated the ending of Gone Girl so much, I don’t even think liking a character would have helped. BUT, I did enjoy ranting about this book with my mother-in-law, who recommended it to me! (She also hated it, but she loves Ben Affleck and wanted to see the movie). All that being said, I wouldn’t mind reading another of Flynn’s novels IF it was a group read with other people who might not like her writing style either.

atonement

Atonement by Ian McEwan – I’ve seen the movie version of this book, and despite the fact that I love James McAvoy and Kiera Knightley, I really did not like the movie. I think it was the ending…and I don’t know how closely the book follows the movie, but I’m assuming at least that part remains the same. I wouldn’t mind reading this book in a book club, because I’m sure there are tons of deep things to talk about.

bell jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – Do you ever have those books that just scare  you to read? That’s how I feel about The Bell Jar. I have NO idea why, but something about the book terrifies me. I think I could give it a chance if I read it with some friends, but I don’t really feel like reading it on my own.

catcher in the rye

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – I really don’t think I’d like this book. I don’t really know much about it, but based on all the references to it that I’ve seen in other books, I don’t think this is a book I’d like too much. I would only be able to get through it if there were other people reading it with me.

clockwork orange

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess – I’m not really into cult films like A Clockwork Orange (the exception being Rocky Horror…but that one is fun to dance to; can you dance to this one?). It’s just not my style, and I get really creeped out just by looking at the cover of this book or the poster for the film. Ugh *shivers*

cormac mccarthy

Anything by Cormac McCarthy – I’ve seen both film versions of No Country for Old Men and The Road and I hated them both. No Country for Old Men is probably my most hated film ever. I hate it even more because it won Best Picture. And Javier Bardem is officially the creepiest villain ever–he was pretty creepy in Skyfall, too. So I have no intention of reading any of McCarthy’s books, but if I somehow found my way into a book club that really wanted to read one of his novels, I’d sacrifice give it a try. I did read any interview of McCarthy once where he criticized books that didn’t deal with death in some way, and I respected that a lot, because whenever I find myself writing a story, death always weaves its way into it (but never in that dark and depressing way).

outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – I know this book is hugely popular right now, but I have a feeling it’s too much like Game of Thrones. Am I incorrect in thinking that? I gave the first three Game of Thrones books a chance and I just couldn’t do it anymore. Those graphic medieval tales haunt me. I’d only want to read another one if I could vent about my frustrations with other people.wuthering heights

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – Remember when I said I can’t enjoy a book if I don’t like any characters? Wuthering Heights is the closest I have come to disproving that theory (close, but I still don’t like it). I actually read this book last January as a read-a-long with some fellow bloggers, and it was nice to rant about what we hated about this book, but I also learned that there were some things I did enjoy from it. The only redeeming things about this book, for me, are Brontë’s captivating writing style, and the fact that I learned HUGE morals from all these characters’ faults.

Hmm…I seem to notice a theme with all of these books: they’re kind of dark and depressing, aren’t they?

Have you read any of these books and LIKED them? I’d love to hear your thoughts! (And I encourage you to persuade me to read any of them!)

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January, February, March: Books I’ve Loved and Books I Wish I Hadn’t Finished

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading this year (currently I’m in my 21st book, nearly halfway through the 45 book goal I set for 2014), and there are several books that have made an impression on me already, both good impressions and bad ones…so I figured I’d share with you all in case you are looking for new books to read, or books to avoid! (Just kidding). I never have time to type up posts for every book I read, so I decided to pick the best of my January, February, and March reads to gush about. Enjoy! Read These Now!

attachmentsAttachments by Rainbow Rowell – “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ” (from the official Goodreads page; that line sums up the book very well, I just had to share it). Attachments is a wonderful read about love in the digital age. Lincoln, a recently hired internet security officer, is paid to read flagged emails at an Omaha newsroom, which isn’t too interesting of a job, really. That is until he finds himself falling for Beth, a witty movie reviewer whose messages to her best friend and fellow journalist Jennifer always find themselves in the flagged email box. Now, before you write this book off as a creepy tale about an internet stalker, DON’T. I thought it was heading that way, too, but Lincoln is such a caring and trustworthy character that it was easy to see and understand his innocent feelings. Every other chapter is told through Beth and Jennifer’s emails, which is both a very enjoyable storytelling medium and a useful device in sympathizing with Lincoln.

Favorite Moment: The email transcripts between Beth and Jennifer are laugh-out-loud hilarious. Their voices ring vividly from the pages, so much so that I found my own internal thoughts mirroring their witty humor for days after I finished the novel!

Read This Book if: you could use a good laugh and wouldn’t mind picking up a book that is hard to put down.

meanttobeMeant to Be by Lauren Morrill – I usually tend to stay away from Young Adult romances that aren’t of the sci-fi/dystopian genre because I tend to find them flat and shallow, but when I saw the lively and gorgeous cover of Meant to Be, I didn’t hesitate to throw my prejudices aside and give it a shot (I mean, look at how colorful and inviting this cover art is! PLEASE judge this book by its cover). This story is a coming of age tale about Julia, a bookish and athletic goodie-good whose high school field trip to London seems completely ruined when she is paired up with Jason, the attention-hogging class clown who seems only interested in partying and pushing every one of Julia’s nerves. But after Julia begins receiving romantic texts from an unknown number, she accepts Jason’s offer to help her win over her mystery guy in exchange for agreeing to break some rules along the way. Despite Jason’s irritating behavior, Julia finds herself both puzzled and challenged by his carpe-diem outlook on life and begins wondering if her own expectations in life are really meant to be.

Favorite Moment: this is another book that had me laughing out loud several times, and it is also another book that uses a digital medium to deepen its plot line (this time it’s text messages instead of emails). One of my favorite things about Meant to Be was the way Morrill writes about London. The descriptions and locations feel so detailed and naturally weaved in that the city itself feels less like a setting and more like an important character in the novel. Also, this novel is full of surprises that leaving you guessing up until the end, and chances are, if you’re like me, you’ll instantly want to reread it afterwards (without spoilers, let me appropriately borrow a Shakespearean theme and say that not everything is as it seems…).

Read This Book if: you are looking for something cute and funny that’s light reading in some ways but has enough deeper meaning to not be forgettable.

lastbestkissThe Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik – This book was a welcomed breaker of my expectations. As already stated, I do not typically read Young Adult romances unless they come highly recommended (or if they have a captivating cover, like Meant to Be). LaZebnik’s other novel, Epic Fail sparked my interest when I heard it was an enjoyably modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (my second favorite novel of all time), and maybe my expectations were too high because I was not too satisfied overall (to be honest, I was really into it but the last 1/3 was overly cheesy and clichéd). But still, I was determined to have modern Austen adaptations redeemed, and then I discovered The Last Best Kiss, a retelling of Persuasion (my third favorite novel). I read the book in less than a day and immediately wrote up a Goodreads review, a rarity for me, but I want to gush about this book a little more, because I felt that LaZebnik did a fantastic job of bringing Austen’s themes alive in a modern Young Adult way. The plot unfolds quickly within the first two chapters: Anna Eliot is a pretty and impressionable high school freshman. After starting a secret relationship with the nerdy-yet-enthusiastic Finn Westbrooke, Anna becomes concerned about her friends’  opinions. Not wanting to lose their acceptance, she calls things off with Finn in a humiliating way, breaking his heart and setting herself up for unhappiness in the process. When Finn’s family moves across the country soon after, Anna tries to come to terms with her decision, but she never gets over the meaningful relationship she shared with Finn. Fast forward three years and Finn returns, handsome, grown-up, amiable, and instantly popular. He easily makes friends with everyone (mainly girls)…except Anna, whom he clearly still feels bitter and unforgiving towards. And now we are left to uncover where these two characters are heading and if they let their past hold them back from having a future.

Favorite Moment: Well, first of all, I love how LaZebnik brought the themes and tensions of Persuasion into a modern teenage world without making it cheesy. This novel dealt with several real situations that teenagers (and even adults) face, and even though I loved the main love story between Finn and Anna, I also found myself very interested in the more serious sub-plots of the secondary characters as well.

Read This Book if: you enjoy Jane Austen adaptations and are looking for a quick read that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside :)

And if you are curious about my least favorite reads of the year so far, here you go:

gonegirlshatterme

Gone Girl was recommended to me by a family member, something that really gave it a boost in my early opinion. The novel is very suspenseful and it definitely messes with your mind, and honestly I enjoyed the first third of it. But there were two huge reasons why I ended up practically loathing this book. Firstly, the characters are horribly selfish and messed up people, and having to read from their twisted points of view made me feel very uncomfortable. Secondly, this is one of those novels that is unnecessarily crude and graphic. There was no purpose for most of the sexual expletives and it really was a deal breaker for me. I only finished reading it because of the recommendation, and even though Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are starring in the movie, I do not plan on seeing it.

Shatter Me…I listened to this on audiobook, and that probably made my opinion worse because it’s harder to skip through pages when you’re not reading the book yourself. What kind of pages would I have skipped through? The half-chapter of “I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane…” And also all of the repeated descriptions of the main character’s love interest. Honestly, this book had lots of potential, but when it ended I seriously asked myself, “Wait, that’s it? Just when it gets interesting it ends?!”

So there you have it! My favorite and least favorite reads from the past three months. Have you read any of them yet? If so, I’d love to know what you thought!