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  • Writer's pictureEmily

Some Gen-X books: Into the Wild and The Hours

Cunningham, Michael- The Hours

Krakauer, Jon- Into The Wild (read by Phillip Franklin)

My reading goal for the year is to read some of the books on my millions (exageration, but not much) of book lists that I've been collecting, and a few that I've made for this blog. I got an early start by reading two books from my Gen-X book list before the end of 2022.

I'm always taking note of titles and recommendations, and they sound so good, but I used to never read them. It feels good to actually track down a copy and read it. I've actually looked for both of these books multiple times but, old as they are, it seemed like they were never available, whether I was looking for Into the Wild on Libby or The Hours in print. But I finally got both of them read/listened to last December.

Into the Wild

This book was in every bookshop in the late 90s. It seemed like it was on display forever. I was a little interested in it, but I didn't read much non-fiction then. Everyone had heard the story; a young man wanders into the Alaskan wilderness and is found dead months later. The whole story was more complicated than I expected. I'd thought that the book was just a straightforward biographical account of Chris McCandless's adventure that ended in tragedy, and all of that was there. But it's also an account of the rest of his life and possible hopes and motives. He had been traveling around and having adventures for months or years before going to Alaska. There are accounts from people he befriended and his family. And stories of other people who have grappled with this bit of wilderness and were beaten by it. You know the ending of the story going in, but it was still sadder than I expected.

The Hours

Since it's a pretty old book, I don't feel like it needs much introduction- you've very likely seen the film with Nicole Kidman, Julienne Moore, and Meryl Streep. I wonder if I would've had trouble keeping up with this book if I hadn't seen the movie first. Part of the book is about Woolf writing Mrs.Dalloway, another strand is about a woman reading Mrs. Dalloway, and the third is about a woman named Clarissa who is called Mrs. Dalloway by one of her friends. That's very simplified, but I think it's enough. If this sounds good to you, you should read it. The three story lines don't seem to be closely related at first, and for awhile, I felt like I was reading three different books, but I knew where it was going. Now, I kind of want to read Mrs. Dalloway again. I haven't read enough Virginia Woolf. Maybe I'll read some of her non-fiction. I read Orlando 18 years ago (I can remember because I was studying abroad), and that book is a trip. I was surprised that I had a pretty easy time reading it- it was my first Woolf and I expected to be lost. Anyway, I liked The Hours, and I'm super impressed with myself to have read a Pulitzer winner. I bet I've hardly read any. (By the by, it's so hard to find decent editions of old books like Orlando or Mrs. Dalloway. There are the two really good-looking ones, like Penguin and Oxford, but those will be sold out. Then there are twenty hideous editions put up with absurd covers and tiny print. I ordered a horrible book at work, a Robinson Crusoe that is the thickness of a comic book because the pages are so wide and the print so tiny. I forgot to check the publisher or dimensions. Ugh. I think I found some decent ones here, but to link Dalloway, I chose a newer edition that is actually paired with The Hours.)

Moving on....

I meant to get on with my Rory Gilmore reading list by reading a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt that I bought a long time ago when I took a printed-out copy of the list to a used book store, but when I took it down from the shelf, I had the second of three volumes. I don't think I've ever read a multi-volume biography before! My library has the first or third volume, can't remember which, but definitely not both. I've decided to shelve that for now. I made a looooong list of books when I re-read Novel Interiors last year or the year before, so I'm going to dig out that list. I love books with cool houses.

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