A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland

4/5 stars.
(ARC) ebook, 288 pages.
Read from September 19 to October 08, 2013.

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to re-visit my University days with this awesome book!

This book is like an English degree in a few hundred pages. It covers all of the main pieces of literature and their contributions to the literary world, and history, in a concise and entertaining manner. I really enjoyed Sutherland’s precise writing and remarks on the works he was analyzing. I feel that he gave a proper perspective and insight into each piece of work, author or era. I also appreciated that added his own views after giving a through summary in each chapter.

Books like this are essential. It is a reminder to everyone just how much reading and writing has shaped our history and our culture and why they are still important today. Without these stories we may not have an accurate account of anything that had happened in our past and we would not know how the minds of that era functioned. I truly believe that these elements of expression contribute massively to who we are today and are an essential part of being human.

For me, reading this was a refreshing walk down memory lane and it allowed me to re-explore all of the works I enjoyed while pursuing my own degree in English a few years ago. While my love for reading and such has never dwindled, reading this book sparked a renewed interest in re-visiting my school notes, re-reading some classics and getting to the few that I haven’t had a chance to get to as of yet.

Sixteen, Sixty-One by Natalie Lucas

4/5 stars.
(ARC) ebook, 320 pages.
Read from September 11 to 15, 2013.

Firstly, I would like to thank Netgalley for allowing me to get my hands on this extremely intriguing, tragic, horrifying and inspiring memoir. So far out all of the books I’ve read this year, this is the one I’ve had the most trouble putting down.

Natalie is a fifteen year-old teenager when she first meets Matthew, a sixty year old man. At this point in Natalie’s life she is feeling some of the emotional turmoils and insecurities that come with being a teenager, and like so many teenagers, Natalie wants to know where she fits in and who is. While Natalie’s family life is normal and healthy she is not close to her father, who was divorced from her mother and is distant at best. Matthew starts to become this sort of father figure(in a loose sense of the word) for her. He offers her the comfort of fatherly advice, love and the direction that she has been craving, along with philosophy, ambition, purpose and sense of belonging and understanding. He makes her feel special. Who wouldn’t want that?

They’re interactions at this point, while appearing innocent, were peculiar right from the beginning and it didn’t stay innocent for long. Matthew emails her often and has too much of an interest in seeing her. His topics of conversation start to become increasingly inappropriate. He asks her to lie to her mother so that their time together doesn’t start raising questions, he drops hints about his mischievous past of “Bunburying”, asks to read her diaries and leave them with him, as well as inquiring about her growing curiosity in her own sexuality. There are warning flags all over this behaviour but Natalie is fifteen and she has come to trust this man who has provided her so much comfort and insight.

Shortly after Natalie turns sixteen, she loses her virginity to Matthew, who is now sixty-one years old. Forty-five years… the two of them are separated by four and a half decades of an age difference. It took me a long time for that fact to really seep in. Forty. Five. Years…

Natalie does love Matthew and the relationship hints at romance during the first portion of the book it is quickly wiped away with the graphic scenes of their sex life and the appearance of Matthew’s true colours when she decides to go away to college. While experimenting in college, Natalie tries to find a way to define herself but her current identity has been built upon lies. She has to find her way out of the smothering embrace of Matthew’s control. As things escalate with Matthew, Natalie is sucked into an awful array of turmoil.

While I could never feasibly imagine being in the exact situation that Natalie was in, she described her story so well that I felt it. Their were moments in this book where I wanted to cry and scream and others where I just wished that I could cause Matthew mass amounts of pain. My biggest and only frustration with this novel actually has nothing to do with the novel itself but that <spoiler> Matthew didn’t get punished in the end. I wanted justice. He should have be jailed as a pedophile, beaten and shamed. With that being said, that likely would not have not done Natalie any favours in the end. Even though it would have been completely undeserved, she would have likely received some backlash from some small minded people if she or her family had taken retribution with Matthew. I still would have liked to have known what happened to him regardless, but it’s not his story, it’s Natalie’s.</spoiler>.

I wish I could meet Natalie. I wish I could tell her that she didn’t do anything wrong and that there was no way that she could have known that this was all going to happen. I wish I could tell her how amazingly strong she is and how much her story touched me. I hope that she has been told these things by those that care about her and that she has found peace (and her true self) by writing and sharing her story.

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

4/5 stars.
ebook, 311 pages.
Read from August 29 to September 09, 2013.

This was an outstanding read. As a runner, this book was not only informative but inspiring. I definitely feel the need to ditch my running shoes now!

We are truly born to run. This book explains why we are and what we can do to get back to our running roots. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone practically tell me that running was bad for me and it’s because runner’s get hurt. A lot. This I knew, but I didn’t understand why so I found myself asking the same questions as the author in regards to the injury rates of runners and how something just didn’t add up. The author provides the reader with facts about our anatomy and how that make us running creatures and just how the creation of the running shoe has brought about most running injuries. The author also goes in the psychological aspects of running. Like why it is that runners crave to run and why the challenge of a marathon is becoming so increasingly popular.

Along with all of this information the author was also able to detail his amazing journey to find the answers to these questions with his pursuit of the world’s greatest runners, the Tarahumara. I found myself truly wishing that I knew how to run like these tribesmen so I paid close attention to the lessons the author received. At least I have one thing in common with them, that I love to run too.

I loved the personal flare that the authored added to this book and the information that he provided but I did not find that the transition between the two transitioned well. I found myself getting lost a bit and having to go back just make sure I didn’t accidentally skip a few pages as I felt so thrown into the next paragraph at times.

Overall, a must read for anyone who loves to run.