Caution: May not be appropriate for those under 13

Grapes of Wrath, The Things They Carried, and I’m a Stranger Here Myself (AKA: Summer reading)

So I have to say that overall, my summer reading has been pretty great, if not long. I did enjoy each book, but it did take up my entire summer, or almost my entire summer, and I am still in the middle of The Song of Ice and Fire.

Grapes of wrath (John Steinbeck)
This was the first one I read, and I’m really happy I read it first. If you ever have to read it for school, I do recommend starting it early on. Page wise, it’s not long, around 450 pages (I think), but it took me roughly two months to read. Ten pages took maybe twenty minutes (which is really frightening). And I read it whenever I could, so that says a lot. (And if you manage to read it faster, kudos to you.) If you read it for fun, then by all means, take your time. It definitely is a book that I recommend, if only for the insight that Steinbeck provides.
I really liked the way Steinbeck wrote the novel (even though it was extremely frustrating, and part of the reason that it took me so long to read). The entire dialogue is how the people would sound when they spoke, which made it easy to hear to accent in your head, and for me, it made it easier to enjoy and more fun to read (by the way, I’m saying this as I’m reflecting back on the book. This was also overly frustrating, since every time I read a word that wasn’t spelled like its supposed to be spelled, I had to say it out loud, and sometimes it took me twenty minutes and a friend to figure one word out. For example: Steinbeck wrote the words “wendo”  and “settin”. It took me, and a car full of people, at least five minutes to figure out that it was supposed to be “window”, and “sitting.”) I also liked the way Steinbeck went into detail, and described everything, mostly because it helped me picture everything, but also because of the fancy writing style that is Steinbeck’s writing. And I loved the characters, especially Casey, Mama, and Tom, though not necessarily in that order. They were hilarious, smart, and had a lot of other good character traits that I don’t want to go into right now, and I’ll let you figure them out.
What I didn’t like was also the way he wrote the dialogue, but I won’t remind you why. I think you get the reasons I didn’t like it. There were also those obnoxious chapters that had absolutely nothing to do with the Joad family, which was increasingly annoying since I thought (courtesy of the back of my version of the book) that the entire 400-something page book was supposed to be about them. But there are chapters between every chapter about the general people. And I mean, they weren’t all that bad, some were actually pretty cool. But then there were moments, when Steinbeck would use up an entire page or two (or three) describing a wheat field (or something else that was extremely boring), when all I wanted to do was read about the family that the book was supposed to be about. And then there were characters who absolutely pissed me off, but luckily they weren’t a part of the family (that would have probably driven me crazy, and I probably would have thrown the book across the room, and never looked at it again,which would have been really bad for later on if I had to write an essay about it or something, so thank god for that).
I will say this though: the first 300 pages take you forever. The rest is pretty fast, or at least it was for me. Also, if you hear that it was really bad, you’ll get through it with a sound mind and probably won’t end up throwing it away from you in boredom, anger, or whatever else prompts you to throw your book away from you. However, if you hear it was super good? I’ve asked people who had previously read it in school what they thought, and they had all hated it. But all of them had also been told that it was absolutely amazing, and that they should look forward to it. All I can say for that is that if you go into it expecting it to be good, you’ll be disappointed. Personally, I was told it was a bad book, and I’ll hate it the entire time, and despite all the flaws and the length of time it took me to read it, I can look back on it and say that I honestly enjoyed it. (But that’s only when your school makes it mandatory reading. If your reading it because you want to, good for you. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it straight off the bat, and keep reading. Keep on trekking through, though; don’t give up, because I’ve definitely done that to a few books, and afterwards I spend a good deal of time being upset that I never finished but am unwilling to actually get through it. So don’t give up.)

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The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien)
I really really REALLY liked this book. Basically it’s a collection of these fantastic war stories, centering around one platoon somewhere in Vietnam. They were absolutely beautiful stories, and I had a hard time putting it down (which says a lot, considering it was summer reading). At the moment, I can’t think of anything I disliked about this book. I’m pretty sure I liked all of it. And if you’re not being forced to read it, read it. It’s definitely worth it.

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I’m a Stranger Here Myself (Bill Bryson)
This is a man’s comments upon returning to America after spending about 20 years in Britain. I really liked this book, maybe not as much as the things they carried, but I definitely enjoyed it. It was absolutely hilarious, and throughout the book I couldn’t Brie because I was laughing so hard. One thing that really confused me, though, was that he (the author/narrator) mentions weekly themes, and, seeing as I was reading this in book form (and not every section was a different week, more like a different minute), it was extreme.y confusing. Luckily, it was explained that he wrote every section in the book as its own column, which explained a lot.

(Sorry it was short for the last two books, but they really were fantastic reads and I can’t think of anything else to say other than: “Read them.”)
(Also, if you’re reading these for fun, I don’t recommend them for anyone under thirteen or fourteen.)

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