As I type this, I’m currently sitting in an upstairs cafe on the corner of 3rd Ave and E 58th St. I’ve been in New York for a little more than two weeks now, and things have been really hectic during this time with birthday parties, Thanksgiving parties, family reunions, and settling into a new city. I’ve been Internet-less on top of that, and although it’s been nice to unplug for a while, I feel so out of touch with the outside world beyond my family bubble.
Along with no Internet, I haven’t been able to read as much as I would have liked the past month. The place I have been staying at doesn’t have good lighting, and my days have been packed full with errands and nightly baby-sitting. I did manage to read three books before coming to New York and am currently in the middle of a Murakami book.
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Premise: After escaping from his abusive and alcoholic father, Huckleberry Finn embarks on a series of adventures with his friend, Jim, a runaway slave.
Review: In October, I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and in November, I decided to read the sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I couldn’t help comparing the two while reading Huck Finn, and one of the qualities I found myself constantly comparing was the writing style. I must say I prefer the prose in Tom Sawyer to that of Huck Finn. Since Huck Finn is narrated from first-person perspective by the character Huck Finn, the reader doesn’t get to enjoy the snarkiness of Twain’s voice that was apparent in Tom Sawyer. There are also much more verbose description and unnecessary plot details that I ended up skimming.
In terms of character and depth, Huck Finn triumphs over Tom Sawyer. It is more apparent in this novel that Huck Finn, despite the circumstances of his upbringing, is sharp and clever on his own, even without Tom Sawyer. His internal conflict, his continual questioning of the corrupt standards and values of his society versus his instinctive morals of friendship and compassion, portrays his struggle with more adult undercurrents to this seemingly simple childhood adventure story.
This edition is the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition, with covers illustrated by the talented Lilli Carré. There are French flaps that also feature different illustrations matching the style of the front and back covers.
This edition has deckled edges and thick, durable pages. The Penguin Classics Deluxe editions are all very flexible and easy to read without breaking the spine.
Anne of Green Gables
Premise: Wanting to adopt a boy, the Cuthberts wind up bringing home Anne instead and raise her to the best of their abilities.
Review: Anne’s ambitious spirit is an admirable one, and her lust for life is infectious. Her appeal lies in her relatability; her imperfections and mistakes allow for a direct connection and open up a channel of compassion. The story follows Anne on her journey from impulsiveness to maturity, bringing back fond memories of childhood for many. Since Montgomery starts off by writing each chapter as a series of incidents in which we see Anne make mistakes and learn from them, the novel takes a while to gain momentum. However, the ending makes the time spent worth it. Underneath a charmingly nostalgic story lies an important message that beauty exists everywhere, as long as you know where to look.
This particular edition of Anne of Green Gables is from the lovely Puffin in Bloom series, illustrated by Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. As a long time fan of Anna Bond’s work, I feel that she is a perfect choice for this children’s classic, seeing as her illustrations retain a distinctly handmade style that admittedly draws me back to my own childhood of countless hours spent doodling on the margins of my father’s discarded mail. Other books in this series are just as beautifully designed and include Heidi, A Little Princess, and Little Women.
The delightful endpapers continue the same style of illustration as featured on the covers.
Brave New World
Premise: Terrifying dystopian in which humans are genetically designed and produced in batches, consumption of all things in the economy is encouraged, and drugs that produce a holiday-like effect are a daily and approved occurrence.
Review: Now that I’ve read Brave New World, I have thus completed the triumvirate of classic dystopians (others being Nineteen Eighty-Four and Fahrenheit 451). Out of the three, my favourite would still be Fahrenheit 451, but Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four are very close in terms of rank.
Aldous Huxley is a very talented and compelling writer, and his story and commentary are incredibly well crafted, filled with many interesting discussion points. The start of the novel with the walking tour through the birthing facility was particularly effective in setting the stage. Huxley demonstrates great flexibility as he touches upon attitudes towards a wide variety of points, ranging from philosophy and religion to art/science. It’s a book that will provide much food for thought, and I would recommend it to those who would be interested in comparing developments in today’s society with Huxley’s unsettling vision of the future.
This is the Harper Perennial Modern Classics Deluxe edition. The cover has a very interesting minimal modern design featuring a sprinkling of gold embossed dots, which are meant to resemble the soma pills that induce pleasure.
This edition also features French flaps and deckled edges, like the Penguin Classics Deluxe editions.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Premise: To be honest, I am not entirely sure yet what is going on in this random whirlwind of a novel that Murakami has concocted here. Then again, that’s Murakami for you.
I am currently reading this, and as Murakami is one of my top favourite authors, I am taking my time with this one. I will edit with a proper review when I am finished.