Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Summer '11 reading list

It's the last day of summer, and before work I finished reading my last summer book and inked a little sketch I did, inspired by the reading.

After I finished writing and drawing my short adaptation of Wuthering Heights, I took a little breather with some light summer reading.

First up, Nancy Drew in The Hidden Staircase, followed by also-penned-by-"Carolyn Keene" Dana Girls in By The Light of the Study Lamp. While I enjoy the Nancy Drew genre, let's just say reading two back-to-back exposes the formula unflatteringly. And, shhh—the mystery can be solved basically by the titles.

Next, I turned to some classics. Good-bye, Mr. Chips was a bit delightful and a bit disappointing and a bit sad...seeing someone's life scroll so quickly by.

Little Women was a surprising joy. As a boy, I'd avoided "girl books" but this novel (like many "children's classics") was actually written for an adult audience. The first part was a bit preachy, but I enjoyed how the girls applied their childhood lessons as adults in the second part. Alcott's description of Laurie's loss and artist malaise after Jo turned him down hit home. In general, the novel made me appreciate the lessons my folks taught me over the years. On the subject of "girl books," I also read Anne of Green Gables. Sweet, but a rare example of how a filmed version surpasses the novel. Read the book then watch the '80s mini series to see what I mean.

Lastly, I turned back to "boys classics" with Penrod and Sam. Oddly, the second and most famous in a trilogy of books featuring Penrod Schofield. This one is supposed to focus more on his friendship with Sam, but really just jumps around from vignette to vignette about Penrod, ending with a set up for the last in the series. Written in 1913-ish, it's another example of horrific racism of the day. The racism in Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were written out in the '60s revamps; the racism in a novel like Huck Finn can still be seen as literature. But Penrod and Sam doesn't deliver anything lofty alongside its depictions of Penrod's alley-pals Herman and Verman. Aside from the curiosity of "how it was" and "how far we've come," I could do without it and the whole novel, I guess. A disappointing end to my read-a-thon.

But still, here's a sketch of Penrod and Sam. It was fun to draw the boys in knickers and newsboy caps. Otherwise, all I could think of was Little Women in Space. Maybe I'll still do that one.

1 comment:

Forzest said...

Great info! I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.