So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be by Maureen Corrigan

So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan (Little, Brown and Company, September 2014) is a tribute and examination of the often-named Great American Novel, The Great Gatsby. Ms Corrigan is a true fan of the Fitzgerald’s slim novel, and in her tribute to the work, she reviews not just the content of the book and the context in which it was written, but she goes beyond to ask the question: why did this novel become so popular today, when it was so unimpressive to the first reviewers and readers?

It’s obvious that Ms Corrigan enjoys reading and rereading the work. As an avid reader myself, I too have found myself drawn back to Gatsby many times since my first read of it in my Junior year in high school, during which time I spent an extended amount of time researching and writing about Nick Carraway’s relationship to the text. I had to revisit it in college at least once, and I’ve reread it a few times in adulthood as well. I can’t say that I love Gatsby, though, and I cannot imagine spending the time in a theater listening to an actor recite the entire book from memory. What is about Gatsby that draws me in, even though I can’t say that I even like it?

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Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink is a 1930s Newbery Award Winner, based on the experiences of the author’s own grandmother. Caddie is a creative and active 11 year old, resistant to the demands her nineteenth century culture demands of her because she is a girl. In this fictionalized volume of adventures, Caddie’s fun occasionally brings her in to danger, although her courageous spirit refuses to worry.

Although her stories are fun ones, it is does not capture my heart in the ways Laura Ingalls’s adventures do, and it does not provide the ultimate growth at the end of the book that gives satisfaction. Caddie has supposedly embraced some of her roll as a girl in her culture, but I am not convinced. Continue Reading

What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan

What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan (Bloomsbury, 2012) is a literary theory light book for the masses of Austenites around the globe. But I hope that does not scare casual readers away from it, because What Matters in Jane Austen? is full of observations about the novels to help even the most casual of readers fall in love with Austen’s well crafted novels once more.Continue Reading