Let's see. What AM I reading? More importantly, what have I FINISHED lately?
I finally finished The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott. I liked this book very much. It is set in India in the time just as the pressures to end Britain's rule of India were coming to a head. The book is fascinating, because it takes the story from one person, then tells it again, in a slightly overlapping way, from another person's viewpoint. Each time through you get a different feel for the events, and the action edges forward to the climactic event ever so slowly.
Probably the best thing I've read showing how the British thought they were doing the right thing (and in some ways they were) in India, and how that was perceived by the Indians (both fairly and unfairly). It gives you a lot to think about, and it made me ponder racism more deeply than I had before.
The Jewel in the Crown is only the first of 4 books in the Raj Quartet. I know now that I want to read them all, but I don't want to read them all at once.
Then, simply because everyone around me was reading them, I read the first of the young adult vampire novels written by Stephanie Meyer: Twilight. Too many people asked me whether I thought they'd be OK for their teens to read, and I didn't want to be uninformed! (Sounds like an excuse, but it's true!)
Now, I've only read the first one, but here's my take. This isn't great literature, folks. But Ms. Meyers certainly has a story to tell and she has narrative drive. She's done a vampire tale, but added a twist to it: what if a vampire fell in love, true love, with a human, and she with him. How would that work out?
I know there has been some talk of the romance in the books. At least in the first book, it is very chaste--some kisses, but not many, a few lustful thoughts, but not many. For the target age it was written for (teenagers) I suspect that it is actually pretty mild.
And this vampire has a conscience. Edward wants what is truly best for Bella, the human girl. I think the internal conflict that he has is well drawn by the author, and can lead to interesting discussions about making decisions to do what is right as opposed to what our (fallen?) nature would have us do.
I found it irritating that Edward was so very perfect in every way, and that Bella practically worships him. But I also think that is a function of me being much older than her target group. And I think it is field for fruitful discussion between moms and daughters who are at that "first love - I'll never love anyone else the way I love him" stage.
So while I wasn't gung ho on the book, and won't be rushing to read the rest, I wouldn't have a problem with a teenager in my house reading the book, as long as she were ready to discuss it with me later.
Currently reading? Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Just because.
Also dipping into Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession by Anne Rice (speaking of vampires!). I am halfway through with this, and I am going to be looking for a copy at Half Price Books to add to my shelves. It's really good, really thought provoking. I am most interested in thinking about her Catholic childhood, and how she learned the faith in an iconic, non-reading way. Though I was Episcopalian, not Catholic, as a child, some of what she says resonates deeply with me and my faith journey. Those childhood memories stood me in very good stead when I walked away from the Church (though I never became an atheist, as Rice did). There was never a moment away when I did not realize that I had left something. Something to be reckoned with. It wasn't just nothing. And those invisible strings, stitched into me so very long ago, eventually are what kept me from falling farther away than I did and drew me back into the Church in the end.
Anyway, I'll tell you more about that later. I also need to refresh my memory about Prince of Foxes, of book club book for this month. (Although we are going to watch the Tyrone Power, Orson Welles movie of the book at the meeting!)
Happy Tuesday, ya'll!