Classic Couple

A Classic Couple: ON THE ROAD and THE ROAD

At a first glance, it might seem as though the only thing that Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road have in common is their similar titles. Though the contexts and genres of these books are very different—the 1940s in the United States vs. a frightening dystopian future—the stories themselves share many themes and ideas.

The road || I’m sure this seems incredibly obvious, but I’m not just talking about the physical road they travel on; rather, I mean the road as a sign of movement in the future and struggle and what lies ahead.

Sense of lawlessness || In On the Road, the “lawlessness” mostly exists because the protagonists want it to; in other words, they simply ignores the rules and norms to which the rest of society adheres. On the other hand, the situation in The Road is a very different story. Without government, authority, and civilization in general there really are no laws to follow anymore. The man and his son must navigate a world where anything could happen.

“Home” is ever-changing || The characters in these books have an understanding that the idea of a “home” can be impermanent and dynamic if you let it be. In other words, home is less of a location and more of a feeling. This mindset is taken on by choice in On the Road and by dire necessity in The Road.

Narration || These novels are written in a sort of stream of consciousness style, as though the existence of paragraph and chapter breaks is almost irrelevant and unnecessary. I had a difficult time putting these novels down because they have such great momentum. It took a little while to get used to the lack of quotation marks and dialogue breaks (especially in The Road) but I think it adds so much to the story overall.

What are your thoughts on On the Road and The Road? Do they remind you of any other books? Have any recommendations? Let me know in the comment section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Books

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy | Review

Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road tells the story of a father and son as they struggle to survive in an apocalyptic world not too unlike our own. The sun doesn’t shine, food is scarce, and few people have survived—yet our protagonists travel onward, relentlessly trudging along the same never-ending road. Filled with a desperate hope that is unexpectedly infectious, The Road follows the father and son as they attempt to survive against all odds.

One can’t help but be immediately struck by McCarthy’s unusual narration style while reading The Road. At first his abandonment of quotation marks and apostrophes was jarring, but over time I realized how well it suits the story. It seems like a reflection of how desolate the father and his son’s world has become: not even voices can survive, hence the lack of quotation marks in their dialogue. The best way I can describe the narration is that it feels like a sort of stream of consciousness in third person. It is intimate and detached at the same time, making the reader feel simultaneously included and ostracized. Such a unique writing style makes for a reading experience that is both bizarre and incredibly fascinating.

A major strength of The Road is its careful balance of detail and ambivalence. McCarthy explains enough to answer the basic important questions but doesn’t provide an answer to everything the reader might be wondering. For instance, throughout the novel we learn more about the boy’s mother and why she isn’t with them now; however, we aren’t told exactly what happened to cause such a drastic change on Earth. I think too many dystopian novels make the mistake of outlining catastrophic events that the actual story suffers and is lost along the way. It was nice to not have to worry about understanding exactly what caused the “end of the world” as we know it; rather, all you can do as a reader is focus on the future of these characters. In a way, this forward-looking mindset helped me connect with the characters more, especially with the little boy. He has no memory of what the world was like before or during the transition from “before” to his “now,” much like the reader has very little knowledge of what happened in that transitional period.

Speaking of the little boy, I was surprised by the suspense and depth of this novel considering it mainly focuses on only two characters. It never feels as though it is lacking in anything; instead, the McCarthy is able to bring out the personalities of the father and his son more strongly than if there were a larger cast of characters. There is an unexpected sense of intimacy in this novel, as though these characters are allowing us to view sides of them that no one else sees. Whether they’re at rock bottom or sky-high, we’re taken into their world and shown their vulnerability, faults, and hidden desires. Don’t let the character-driven nature of this novel fool you—it’s still an engaging, suspenseful page-turner that becomes harder and harder to put down as you read.

One of the only aspects of The Road that I feel lukewarm about is the ending. The final scene makes sense when thinking about the rest of the novel, but the more emotional reader in me desperately wishes it had ended differently. It gives the reader some closure, but is it enough? I suppose that up to the individual to decide.

Overall, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was a much more emotional, intimate, heart-wrenching novel than I initially expected it to be. There is certainly suspense, action, and even a bit of mystery, but what makes this novel memorable is the emphasized relationship between the father and his son. Their relationship is like the blood pumping through this story or the thread binding these pages together. Whether you’re interested in this novel for the characters, plot, or general premise, I highly recommend picking up The Road.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes!

What are your thoughts on The Road? Are there any other books by Cormac McCarthy that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Pair with Classics

Happy Tuesday!! August is coming to a close, which means it’s time to start thinking about going back to school. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is back-to-school themed, which means I’ve decided to focus on classic literature. Classics definitely get a bad reputation from required reading lists in classrooms; however, I think looking at parallels between classic and contemporary literature help demonstrates how books from the past influence what we read and write in the present. Here are ten classic couples to check out!

I’m thinking of starting a series of posts in which I go into more detail about some of these pairs. There are so many parallels between classic and contemporary literature!

What books would you pair with some of your favorite classics? What do you think of the books that I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

JULY 2017 | Wrap-Up

July was a blur of hot days, air-conditioned office spaces, lakeside reading, and time spent with friends and family… not a bad way to spend the bulk of summer! Here’s what I was up to this past month:

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In July I read a total of 9 books:

  1. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  3. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  5. George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
  6. Echo by Nadette Rae Rodgers
  7. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
  8. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I honestly can’t believe I read so many books this past month, especially since many of them are LONG (I’m looking at you, Middlemarch). Picking a favorite is difficult, but I think the best book I read in July has to be Tuck Everlasting. This short little read was absolutely adorable, charming, and insightful. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! I never read it when I was younger but I wish I had– I feel like it’s something I would have loved.

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It happened, people: I finally visited Willa Cather’s grave!! This is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I learned a few months ago that it’s located a little over an hour away from where I live. Willa Cather is one of my favorite authors, so standing at the foot of her grave was absolutely surreal. I went on a rather dreary day, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every second of it. You can read more about my adventures in this graveyard here. 

My family and I were also able to spend a few days by the lake in July, which means I had plenty of reading time by the water. And who can pass up the opportunity to take some bookish photos in such a beautiful place? (Not me!)

The majority of July was spent trying to plow through my required reading for Oxford, finishing up paperwork for studying abroad, spending time with friends I haven’t seen in a while, and working. It’s strange to think that we’re already more than half way through summer… September will be here before we know it! Also, I started watching the TV series Fargo… is anyone else obsessed with this series?!?!?!

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This past week I also had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Booktube-A-Thon. As you can tell from my initial TBR post, I really wasn’t expecting to get through much reading in a single week. However, in twist that I never saw coming I was actually able to complete almost all of the challenges and read even more than what I had put on my TBR!! I’m so happy with the progress I made and I actually miss the Booktube-A-Thon already. There’s just such fantastic positive bookish energy during those intense seven days of reading! ❤

Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

Here are some posts that I loved reading this month (there are so many!!):

How was your month of July? What was the best book you read? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Tags

Rapid Fire Book Tag

Got some tea and a snack or two? Buckle up, because this Rapid Fire Book Tag is a long one! Thanks so much to Heather @ Book and Words for tagging me!!

Question 1 : E-Book or Physical Book?

Physical book!! I can’t even remember the last time I read an ebook.

Question 2 : Paperback or Hardback?

Paperback!! They’re easier to hold, lighter to carry, fit easily on bookshelves, and you don’t have to worry about pesky dust jackets.

Question 3 : Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

Online shopping for the cheaper prices, but in-store book shopping for the overall experiences and lovely bookish smells.

Question 4 : Trilogies or Series?

Hmm…. this is a tough one! I think I’ll go with series to avoid the second-book slump that a lot of trilogies tend to have. (Except for Lord of the Rings because I absolutely love The Two Towers!)

Question 5 : Heroes or Villains?

Heroes!! I’m a sucker for an underdog story, though I do enjoy books with anti-heroes. My favorite anti-hero to mention is Victor from Vicious by V.E. Schwab. He’s such a complex, interesting character to read about because you never know what he’s going to do next.

Question 6 : A book you want everyone to read?

If you branch out and read one book you wouldn’t normally read this summer, definitely read Sartoris by William Faulkner. This is possibly my favorite Faulkner book I’ve read so far, which surprised me because it isn’t one that’s usually discussed or read in English classes. It might not be as popular as The Sound and the Fury or As I Lay Dying, but in my opinion it is just as fascinating, poignant, well-written, and brilliant!

Question 7 : Recommend an underrated book?

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, look no further than Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. This story about a woman who relives parts of her life over and over again in different ways is sure to have you on the edge of your seat!

Question 8 : The last book you finished?

Just this morning I finished reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It was SO SAD, but I enjoyed it much more than I initially thought I would.

Question 9 :The Last Book(s) You Bought?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Question 10 : Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

Usually I’m pretty good about using actual bookmarks, but occasionally I do use receipts, sticky notes, and even string (!!) as placeholders.

Question 11 : Used Books: Yes or No?

YES!! I love used books because a) they’re cheap and b) sometimes they have fun notes and annotations from previous owners in them. Also, who can resist than old book smell?

Question 12 : Top Three Favourite Genres?

Right now my top three favorite genres are classic literature, fantasy, and science fiction.

Question 13 : Borrow or Buy?

Buy!! (As long as my wallet is able.)

Question 14 : Characters or Plot?

Characters!! In general I tend to find character-driven novels a lot more interesting and captivating than novels mostly motivated by plot. Part of me thinks this is because it can be really difficult to write a plot without holes and with a satisfying ending. William Faulkner, Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, and Melina Marchetta are some writers who write excellent character-driven novels. 

Question 15 : Long or Short Books?

Long books!! There’s nothing like the feeling of finally finishing a tome after hours upon hours dedicated to reading. It’s so satisfying!

Question 16 : Long or Short Chapters?

Short!! I tend to read books with short chapters so much more quickly than books with long chapters because it’s easy to say, “Oh, just one more quick chapter before I go to bed…”

Question 17 : Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Question 18 : Books That Makes You Laugh or Cry?

Laugh!! I usually try to avoid sad books (and movies!) at all costs. Who wants to be sad when they can read something that will make their day brighter?

Question 19 : Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Oooh, this is tough! Though I love reading books about fictional worlds (Harry Potter, LOTR, etc.), lately I’ve been reading many more books set in our world. I think some of the most interesting and captivating stories mix the two. For instance, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez takes place in our world but adds in magical elements from legends and myths that make it fantastical. 

Question 20 : Audiobooks: Yes or No?

Yes!! I love how much you can get done while listening to audio books– exercising, doing laundry, washing dishes, knitting, etc. My favorite audio books are ones narrated by the authors who wrote the books themselves, such as Neil Gaiman.

Question 21 : Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?

Yes, though I certainly won’t hold an ugly cover against a book if the content inside is amazing ❤

Question 22 : Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

Book to movie adaptations! I’m the worst with staying up to date with TV series, so I would much rather watch a single movie and be in the know already.

Question 23 : A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

The Shining by Stephen King. I watched the movie before reading the book and was so disappointed to find that some of my favorite scenes aren’t even in the novel!

Question 24 : Series or Standalone’s?

Stand-alones!! I love reading classic literature, and most of the books in this genre are standalone.

Thanks again to Heather for tagging me!!

What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY