Today I’m going through the 5 books which summarise my life as a Teenager, whilst I was in my AS year of college. For any of you non-UK readers, college or sixth-form is where you go from the age of 16 to the age of 18. You study AS levels in your first year, and then A-levels in your second year.
In 5th place is: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
To be honest, there were a lot of books I read during my AS year that I absolutely hated. This however, was the worst one. The Kite Runner is a bildungsroman (coming-of-age) story about the relationship between two friends: Amir and Hassan and how normal life in Kabul, Afghanistan breaks down.
I really didn’t enjoy reading this book – the first-person narration of Amir was overly dramatic and I was soon tired of reading him feel sorry for himself over and over and over again. The descriptions were so verbose and embellished that they just didn’t feel realistic at all. If I were forced to choose, I’d say my favourite character was Sohrab, because his struggles seemed so genuine compared with Amir’s constant wallowing in self-pity. Sohrab had such a difficult and pathetic (not the colloquialism: in the sense of wretched and abysmal) life from the get-go, and yet Amir’s narration always forced the focus from Sohrab’s suffering to Amir’s feelings.
I thought the historical context was interesting – I’ve never read a book set in Afghanistan before, and I’m aware that Hosseini has written subsequent books with the same historical context and themes. However, from the atrocity that is The Kite Runner, I don’t feel prepared to read anymore of his books. Please feel free to persuade me to think otherwise, if you think I’m completely wrong!
Side Note: Hosseini himself admitted about The Kite Runner that: ‘if I were given a red pen now and I went back … I’d take that thing apart.’ (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jun/01/khaled-hosseini-kite-runner-interview)
In 4th place is: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Another dastardly text I had to study. I am not a fan of poetry to start with, and this is the longest poem I’ve ever read, and by far the dullest. The only thing that has stuck in my mind is that:
THE ALBATROSS IS JESUS. THE POEM IS AN ALLEGORY.
Those 2 phrases were drilled into us all and annoyingly, they’ve stuck.
Most of the poem doesn’t make much sense because Coleridge was as high as a kite due to his love of opium and other such substances when he wrote it. I don’t intend on reading this poem ever again and I hope to stay as far away from it as is possible for the rest of my life. I really don’t have anything else to say. No more, please.
In 3rd place is: Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth
Until I read and studied Jerusalem, the only plays I was familiar with were those penned by Shakespeare. Oh, how I wish it had stayed that way. Jerusalem is a play about Johnny “Rooster” Byron, a traveller/outsider who lives in his caravan, sells drugs and alcohol to a band of rebellious teenagers and battles with the respectable townsfolk for his right to stay and live in the outskirts. It’s a subverted and modernised Pied Piper tale with lots of sex, drugs and explicit language.
I’ve made comments in other posts, describing my lack of appeal for texts that use this sort of language, because a lot of the time, I don’t think it’s necessary. Particularly as Jerusalem is a play, this sort of dialogue, whilst it may accurately reflect people from that social class, can also be seen as a way to get cheap laughs – a lot of people I meet nowadays seem to be drawn to sex sex, drugs, alcohol and swearing (in varying measures) and the rest of the content is seen as irrelevant.
There were some genuinely comic moments in the play however – that didn’t rely on entendres or foul language – as Butterworth’s characters satirised the middle class, politicians and policies on the economy or immigration. Thus, because it was easier to read than The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and because I was somewhat more entertained than I was when I read The Kite Runner, Jerusalem has earned its spot at 3rd place.
In 2nd place is: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t you put this in 5th place on your high school reading list just yesterday? Yes, I did. Read my fully scathing review here:
I assure you, my opinion of the book hasn’t changed, but it’s simply a case of the preceding 3 texts were simply so awful, that The Great Gatsby seems like one of my favourite books in comparison!
In 1st place is: Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Ah… a classic comedy – as opposed to Jez Butterworth’s modern interpretation, Jerusalem. Twelfth Night is a play about identity swaps, mistaken identities, falling in love with anybody and everybody and some cheeky 16th century double entendres.
Without a doubt, Malvolio is my favourite character – I really enjoy how he acts “holier than Thou”, only to end up the laughing stock of the household as he is left tangled in a web of mischievous lies and fake love letters – not to mention his absurd yellow stockings! I can imagine that scene causing quite a lot of laughs in The Globe Theatre at the time. In my opinion, Sir Toby, Maria & Malvolio were the most amusing characters, and I preferred their “subplot” to the main plot of Viola, Olivia and Sebastian.
What did you think of my rather intense opinions on these 5 texts? Do you love The Kite Runner? Do you prefer a different Shakespeare comedy? Let me know your thoughts!
See you tomorrow for the final day of the My Life In Books Challenge!