Saturday, November 7, 2009

Books Alter Everything

A friend of mine recently suggested that I add my book reviews to my blog. To those of you who already get my reviews from goodreads, sorry for the double feature. To those of you who have not experienced my book ramblings, hopefully you'll run across something eventually that you will want to read and won't mind too much my departure from day-to-day happenings. As always, happy reading.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I saw Baker's book being reviewed in a national magazine, I was shocked. Mormon writers and their Mormon subject matter are not usually candidates for mainstream American readers. I went home and ordered the book immediately. The title alone would be worth the cost....
There is a reason Deseret Book (the main Mormon publishing house) did not pick this manuscript up. It is not a morality tale. It is not a polite recitation of singles' ward activities and getting lost on the subway in New York. It is raw, irreverent, and brilliantly real. Baker bravely asserts her doubts, her dreams, and her experiences in a way that I have never seen done by another Mormon writer. The details she captures are hilarious, poignant, and tragic - sometimes all the in the same instant.
That said, I do not know who I would recommend this book to. Most practicing Mormons would be offended by some of Baker's content. Non-Mormon readers who do not understand some of the idiosyncrasies of Mormon culture and the main tenets of Mormon doctrine may miss out on the humor or battle that rages within Baker as she tries to find her path or explain to her atheist boyfriend why it matters that he does not believe in souls.
I am impressed by Baker's voice - never have I read something that so clearly spoke to some of my own beliefs, doubts, and impressions of the world around me. It is rare to say, but she put into words things that I have never been able to express. Being a twenty-something Mormon is adventure to say the least. Being Baker is a more hilarious, more racy adventure, but something I can empathize with just the same. Even the way she wrote her book is a something I have considered doing - minus the details about boob touching of course....

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Confession - I joined a new book club. I felt like I was cheating on my California book club. I promise I was thinking about them while we discussed the duality of man - the carnal and the supernal. This concept is one those universal battles that all people face- though many do not acknowledge the battle between being their best self and indulging in life's pleasures. Dr. Jekyll is a good man with a good idea about separating our dueling selves, but of course, it does not work out the way he planned and his good British society is altered forever.
I finished this book in audio form walking along the tree lined streets of residential Provo. There was a chill in the air and gorgeous fall leaves crunched under my feet. As the letters were read in the story, I felt another chill - another pull that had nothing to do with the cool November air. It was Henry Jekyll admitting defeat - that his carnal self, which took form in Mr. Hyde, was too strong and would ultimately be the end of the more noble Dr. Jekyll. It made me sad. Giving in felt too real. I didn't explain this to my new book club. They wouldn't understand. Books alter everything....

6 comments:

Chandler and Dani said...

Hey Jaclyn, I'm not sure if I've commented on your blog yet, so I hope you don't get freaked out that I stalked my way here from Juliann's blog... Anyway, I'm really happy to see that you read that Mormon book... I've been very curious as to whether or not it was appropriate or not (Anti or not). Anyway, I think it'd be wonderful if you review some books!

Megan said...

Me, suggest it to me!! I want to borrow it from you...Can I? And PS. I LOVE reading Jekyll and Hyde at this time every year. It gives me a deeper connection to Halloween, why we dress up, duality, etc. I love it. And I want to join your book club. Okay, bye. Call me.

Jenessa said...

so i agree with Mr. P-don't go back to teaching instead grab a column in the new york times and review books. I am pretty sure everyone in the country would love your witty remarks and down to earth opinions that relate to most crowds. Sure newspapers are becoming old fashioned but you'd be published online no doubt. you would earn millions, have your own hair-doer every morning. and you will be teaching through your column anyways! And all your time in public administration mastering will help you when its time to deal with your raving fan club! I have found your dream job. no big deal =)

biztanner said...

I'm so glad to have finally found someone who has read what I am calling The Mormon Singletons Book! I read a review about it and wasn't sure if I wanted to read it or not... BUT if you enjoyed it I should probably give it a shot. Thanks for the AWESOME review! :-)

Anna said...

So Justin ordered the book for me today :) So I should get it soon and then we can chat! I am also getting through Extremely Loud and Incredibly close. I am glad I have someone to copy what they read...

Justin said...

Jenessa might be right...I'm just saying.