Entertaining Reads

Hope I’ll Be Able to Stop

I am not jotting down the titles in any specific order.  The last could be as good as the first on this list, well, not so much a list as a few good reads. I didn’t want to bore you with a list. I think they are all good and a brief summary courtesy of SparkNotes, Shmoop, or Cliff Notes will help guide your decision-making process with some personal observances. Hopefully you will enjoy perusing, or skimming through each.  I give a short synopsis of the selected titles.  If you find some you would categorize as enjoyable, please leave a comment and tell me your favorite/s.  Love to hear your recommendations as well, thanks.

  • Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar:
  • The Bell Jar opens in the summer of 1953. Esther Greenwood is a bright nineteen-year-old working as an editorial intern at a popular women’s magazine in New York City. Despite her academic promise and ambition, Esther feels isolated from society and discouraged about her future. These early symptoms of depression are aggravated by the pressure she feels to conform to social expectations of what a young woman should be – a virgin until marriage, and after marriage, a wife and a mother. Chided by her boss for not having a clear career focus, Esther goes on a series of dates, the last of which ends with her date attempting to assault her. Esther escapes, and returns home the next morning to her mother’s house in the suburbs outside Boston.
  • Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest:
  • (1962) is a novel written by Ken Kesey. Set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital, the narrative serves as a study of the institutional processes and the human mind as well as a critique of behaviorism and a celebration of humanistic principles. Published in 1962, the novel was adapted into a Broadway play by Dale Wasserman in 1963. Bo Goldman adapted the novel for the 1975 film directed by Miloš Forman, which won five Academy Awards.

    Time Magazine included the novel in its “100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005” list.

    The book is narrated by “Chief” Bromden, a gigantic and docile half-Native American inmate who presents himself deaf and mute. Bromden’s tale focuses mainly on the antics of the rebellious Randle Patrick McMurphy, who faked insanity to serve his sentence for battery and gambling in the hospital rather than in prison. The head administrative nurse, Mildred Ratched, rules the ward with a mailed fist and with little medical oversight. She is assisted by her three black day-shift orderlies, and her assistant doctors.  McMurphy constantly antagonizes Nurse Ratched and upsets the routines of the ward, leading to constant power struggles between the inmate and the nurse.

  • Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha:
  • In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.  Published in 1997, Arthur Golden’s novel ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ is presented in first-person narration. The novel is a fictional story about a geisha who works in Kyoto during World War II. Golden structures the work to include flashbacks, where the main character recalls her experiences working as a geisha and recounts them to the fictional interviewer, New York University professor, Jakob Haarhuis. He becomes the fictional author of the novel. Nitta Sayuri is a retired geisha, although her life began poverty-stricken. Back then she went by the name Sakamoto Chiyo. She grew up in a fishing village near the Sea of Japan; sold into a geisha boarding house at nine, Nitta Sayuri trains in the okiya, which means ‘geisha boarding house.’ The okiya is run by three women: an elderly woman, a money-obsessed mother (Mother), and a mistress named Auntie. The okiya houses another geisha, Hatsumomo who is very popular and functions as the breadwinner of the narrative. Golden allows his character to observe and experience everyday geisha life, which includes incurring debts, finding her sister who has been sold into prostitution, and becoming a maid. The author continues to weave characters in and out of Chiyo’s life, ending with her fully retiring from her work as a geisha. Major themes of ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ include metamorphosis, beauty, deception, and destiny.
  • Charles Dickens, David Copperfield:  
  • The story traces the life of David Copperfield from childhood to maturity. David was born in Blunderstone, Suffolk, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, in 1820, six months after the death of his father. David spends his early years in relative happiness with his loving but frail mother and their kindly housekeeper, Peggotty. When he is seven years old his mother marries Edward Murdstone. David is given good reason to dislike his stepfather and has similar feelings for Murdstone’s sister Jane, who moves into the house soon afterwards. Murdstone attempts to thrash David for falling behind in his studies. David bites him and soon afterwards is sent away to a boarding school, Salem House, with a ruthless headmaster, Mr. Creakle. There he befriends James Steerforth and Tommy Traddles.David returns home for the holidays only to learn that his mother has given birth to a baby boy. Shortly after David returns to Salem House, his mother and her baby die, and David returns home immediately. Peggotty marries a man named Mr Barkis. Murdstone sends David to work for a wine merchant in London – a business of which Murdstone is a joint owner. Copperfield’s landlord, Wilkins Micawber, is sent to debtors’ prison (the King’s Bench Prison) and remains there for several months before being released and moving to Plymouth. No one remains to care for David in London, so he decides to run away.

    He walks from London to Dover, where he finds his only relative, his unmarried, eccentric great-aunt Betsey Trotwood. She agrees to raise him, despite Murdstone’s attempt to regain custody of David. David’s great-aunt renames him “Trotwood Copperfield” and addresses him as “Trot”, and it becomes one of several names to which David answers in the course of the novel.

  • Jack Kerouac, On the Road:  On the Road is a novel by American writer Jack Kerouac, based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across America. It is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat and Counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry, and drug use. The novel, published in 1957, is a roman à clef, with many key figures in the Beat movement, such as William S. Burroughs (Old Bull Lee) and Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx) represented by characters in the book, including Kerouac himself as the narrator Sal Paradise.

    The idea for On the Road, Kerouac’s second novel, was formed during the late 1940s in a series of notebooks, and then typed out on a continuous reel of paper during three weeks in April 1951. It was first published by Viking Press in 1957. After several film proposals dating from 1957, the book was finally made into a film, On the Road, produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Walter Salles, in 2012.

    When the book was originally released, The New York Times hailed it as “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as ‘beat,’ and whose principal avatar he is.” In 1998, the Modern Library ranked On the Road 55th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. The novel was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.

  • John Grisham, A Time to Kill:  A Time to Kill (1996) A young lawyer defends a black man accused of murdering two men who raped his 10-year-old daughter, sparking a rebirth of the KKK.

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