I just realized beating last year’s record of 230+ books will be a challenge this year because I am writing about them too, and that considerably slows me down (Gosh, I never thought I’d be able to sustain writing past a couple of books)… But I will attempt to anyway, just so I’ll have some sort of record of the books I’ve finished reading, and at least it’s a good writing exercise.
Book #10 is The Reader by Bernhard Schlink; I’m also putting it down as a European book for the FFP diversity challenge.
I must admit that I do not read Oprah’s book club selections, because they usually don’t interest me and are often the dramatic types of books, which aren’t really my cup of tea.
I actually only got this copy because it was P40 and it came up as a suggested book for FFP discussion (but no one’s gotten around to moderating it).
Anyway, as my first Oprah book, I think I can safely say I was right to stay away.
From start to finish I found the book boring and tedious and I actually finished the book for the sake of finishing it. The relationship between Hanna and Michael was disturbing (36 year old woman and a 15 year old kid?!?), but not in a way that compelled me to read on.
The main problem for me is that it’s so flat — you know Michael is the persona but it reads as if it were an exposition, rather than a narration, with very little feeling, and it’s hard to see the main characters as real people, because they were never fully developed. The plot is weak too, and it stagnates into limpid pools of rambling most of the time.
At least the hype never quite reached the Philippines — I read some reviews that it was really hyped in the US (heh, blame Oprah) and a lot of people were disappointed.
A few points briefly stirred me, but not enough to elevate my opinion of the book (I wish the author developed these more; maybe that would’ve helped):
1) The book is from the German point of view of the Holocaust, which isn’t very common.
2) It touches briefly on illiteracy, and its psychological effects on the person
3) Hanna on the stand being interrogated, and then she turns to the judge and asks, “What would you have done?” — which for me was the only moral aspect of the book that made any sort of impact on me.
Sigh. This book will probably end up in my mooching inventory, unless perhaps Andi wants it, although that might not be such a good idea, as it might depress him…
Maybe the movie’s better.
My copy: Vintage trade paperback, P40 from Book Sale
My rating: 2/5 stars
Photo from illiterarty.com