Thursday, May 5, 2011

Books I Almost Read

I figured I'd give you an update on my reading list. I've been sort of skip reading two books this week, which is how I read when what I'm reading either doesn't grab me, or grabs me a bit too hard. The books evened out to one in each category this time around:

Catcher in the Rye
is one of those books that's on every list of "must reads" that I've ever seen, so I thought I'd put it on my list for "school." But nobody told me it was about a self-centered adolescent boy who thinks he knows everything to begin with and in consequence learns very little in the course of the story. It's self-indulgent crap, or at least it would be if written as an autobiography. At least the parts I've managed to force myself to read are like that, and it sure doesn't make me want to read more. I loathe adolescent angst and self-indulgence. When my kids were that age, I told them after the first episode to cut it and skip to age 20. It didn't really work, but since my kids were pretty level-headed and outward focussed to begin with, I didn't have too much of the crap to deal with.

If I'm reluctant to live through it with my own children, whom I love, I'm not going to suffer through the angst of a fictional kid whose attitude makes me dislike him within the first paragraph. So strike that one off my list. I've got better things to do with my time, like pick lint out of my navel.

(ETA: I found this abridged version on-line a few hours after I posted. Would have saved me a couple of hours of trying to slog through the book if I'd found it last week...)

2) My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult, is an example of a book that grabs me too much for me to read front to back in one sitting. Anna is a thirteen-year-old girl who is also going through adolescent angst, but I find it easier to sympathize with a character whose angst is caused by the fact that loved or not, she's basically an object to her parents, a who was conceived solely to be a blood and marrow donor for her older sister, who has leukemia.

I've actually read, in a number of short sessions, most of the novel. And it's raised some interesting questions for me to consider. Is what Anna's parents did moral or right? Without a matching donor, their eldest daughter would have died. But a healthy child was made to undergo medical "treatment" without her consent in order to save her sister's life. Should authorities have stepped in on Anna's behalf earlier than they did? Would doctors really condone such a thing? And at what age is a child able to give informed consent? Because in the end, it's the older sister who tells Anna not to donate, indicating that the rights of both children may have been violated.

Hefty questions, and a tear-jerker of a book.

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