Reading the Shelves – Sunday Check-in

The weekend got away from me, so the Friday check-in has shifted to Sunday. Of course, because I’m overly focused on consistency, I debated whether I should still call it a Friday check-in, even if the post went up on Sunday. Ultimately, my need for accuracy trumped my need for consistency. (Either way, I know I’m ridiculous.) But at least I was reading…

Currently reading from my bookshelves:

Non-fiction:

  • Calypso by David Sedaris: Though still comedic, the vignettes are taking a dark turn with a focus on the suicide of David’s sister Tiffany. On an unrelated note, I just heard David Sedaris voicing a part on the new season of BoJack Horseman, a brilliant animated (but for adults) Netflix show. He played the mother of Princess Carolyn, who is voiced by Amy Sedaris (yes, David’s sister). Amazing.
  • The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. No recent progress, but I did just see an unflattering photo of myself, which tends to spur activity around fitness or fashion. Since I’m already running and exercising semi-regularly, this appears to be an issue of fashion.
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. I can get into heated arguments over punctuation. I don’t mean on social media—I find those to be ridiculous. (Pointing out a people’s misuse of “you’re” vs. “your” when their statement is racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive as a way to insult them neither takes them to task for their statement nor, one would presume, encourages them to improve their grammar.) My arguments are with coworkers and friends who equally appreciate the proper use of and placement of punctuation. (Yes, I judge everyone on their opinion regarding the use of the Oxford/series comma. Yes, I insist they use it.) So far, I’m enjoying the book, but because the author is British, I find the differences between her grammar style and the American style with which I’m familiar to be frustrating. In particular, Lynne Truss puts punctuation marks outside of quotation marks, which is the exact opposite of what I’m used to. And Ms. Truss uses a lot of quotations in her book. So many, in fact, that I had to pause my reading until my silent, internal agony died down. Perhaps I can resume this week.

Recently completed:

Novels:

  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: I was surprised to find such a different ending in the book than in the movie. Some changes were clearly made to simplify the book’s complex plot and to cut down on the endless cast of characters, but other changes speak more to setting a different tone and focus that the original story. Without giving away too many spoilers, I think the best way to summarize it is this: the book is written in third-person omniscient point-of-view and wants to give each of its main characters an equal importance to the overall plot while the movie recognizes the need to narrow the focus and selects Rachel Chu as its main narrator. We don’t hear Rachel’s thoughts in the film, but most of what we see is through her eyes. Like many great stories that show us a world that is new to us, Crazy Rich Asians provides us with a narrator experiencing it for the first time and we learn about the world as they do. (Another recognizable example is Harry in the Harry Potter books.) But that isn’t all. By making it Rachel’s story, the film recognizes that the ending to the novel, which was orchestrated by Rachel’s boyfriend Nick, her mother, and her friend Peik Lin, gave Rachel nothing to do but to react. The film instead gives Rachel agency over her story when she shows Nick’s conniving mother who really holds the cards (or rather, the mahjong tiles). I’m honestly not sure which ending I prefer—I recognize the movie ending as very Hollywood, but I like that Rachel gets to be strong, especially because we see that strength throughout the story as she faces one ordeal after another. And because I saw the movie before reading the book, I’m not automatically prejudiced against the cleaner, simpler movie ending. I fell in love with Rachel, Nick, and the rest on screen before I met them on the page. I guess I’m torn. But I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience both versions.

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