50 Books- The Great Gatsby

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I hope everyone will give me an allowance on this one.  Normally I write up a post within a day of finishing a book, if not directly after I finish.  However, I finished this one the first night of my Roman vacation, and as a part of my vacation, I did not bring my computer with me. Between trying to enjoy myself and my family, and not wanting to finger peck anything I didn’t have to out on my iPad, I decided to wait to do the writing.  Not a huge deal, but it does mean it has been a week since I finished reading and everything is not as fresh in my mind.  Please forgive me!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Where did I get the book and how many pages?

This is one of the books I purchased intentionally for this challenge.  I have the kindle version (therefore bought through Amazon) which clocks in at 213 pages.

Have I read this book before?

No.  I know a lot of people read this one in high school, but not me.  I’m not sure why some books are taught at some schools and not others.  I mean, I understood why my husband read Animal Farm, and I did 1984; both were the same writer and similar themes of government, population, and authority figures. I’m not sure what my school did instead.

What do I already know?

This book takes place in the 1920’s, assumedly before the crash, and during prohibition.  There someone named Gatsby who throws parties and maybe looks sad?  I am sure there was a recent movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, but as I hadn’t read the book, I didn’t bother to watch the movie.  This seems to be a frequently mentioned book when people are discussing favorite books from high school, or are picking their favorite classic novel.  Oh, and the girl who plays Daisy in the movie was Sally Sparrow on Doctor Who.  She is adorable.

What do I think now?

I have two points of view on this.

First of all, I don’t get how people could consider this to be one of their favorite books.  None of the characters are particularly likable.  They cheat, they lie, they have zero loyalty, and seem to care about nothing but their own pleasure.  Yes, it is period piece, set in the twenties about a bunch of privileged rich people, and therefore what else would they do but pursue their own selfish desires, but that does not make whatever they do all right.  The best person in the book is the narrator and he is only less repellant than those around him.  While he does not engage in all of the same activities as the others, he admires them for their misdeeds and enables them to continue.  To be perfectly honest, when things start to go wrong for everyone, not only am I not surprised I have a desire to tell them all that they deserve it all.Yes, you could call it a lesson, but I’m not sure anyone learned anything.

On the other hand, the writing itself is beautiful.  Fitzgerald pulls you in, casts a spell on you, makes you want to read more.  I didn’t like any of the characters, but I was reading their tale and I didn’t want to stop.  The mood is set, and you feel what the narrator is feeling.  The words moved me in a way that surprised me.  I loved it.

Should you read this book before you die?

I think you should, but not for the same reason that everyone else might recommend.  I don’t think you should read it because it is a great book, or because the story is wonderful, or because the characters are wonderful.  Read this book so that the words can pull you in and make you believe that maybe this time, things will be different.

I hope you all are enjoying this challenge, I know I am.  For those go you reading along, next up is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, followed by The Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  Happy reading everyone!

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