5 Popular Books I’ve Read Before

I’d like to start this post off with a fantastic (and very true) quote that resonates with book lovers everywhere:

This is probably my favorite quote ever from George R. R. Martin which is not a very surprising thing to say considering that I have only read one of his books, absolutely refuse to watch the tv series and also consider his genre of fantasy as not my cup of tea at all. I guess everyone has their preferences. I’m more of a Tolkien when it comes to medieval fantasy- but that’s not what we’re here to talk about!

Since shifting my blog to this new domain, my stats and traffic dropped immensely (especially since my popular “complete guide to studying” started on my blogger and still generates way more views than this new blog), I decided to dig through a couple of really old posts and revamp and represent them! It seemed like a great idea to me, especially because I spent my last weekend resetting the categories and tags, which means that it’s going to be difficult to find the old posts now.

I used to read a ton of books before starting med school. Reading is definitely one of those hobbies that I had to let go of. I remember spending my days glued to my phone reading .epubs and .pdfs between the days of giving various MCATs till the first days of med school because I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep things up. I don’t think I’ve read as many books in that short time as I ever have in my entire life. Granted; I didn’t really have a lot to do during those days. It was pretty much a waiting game- waiting for acceptance letters to waiting for school to start.

Anyway, here are a couple of books that I read that I really enjoyed or had a particularly strong opinion about!

Timeline by Michael Crichton

I hadn’t known who the author was until much later. Despite not knowing about Michael Crichton, I’m sure the Jurassic Park series is a bit of a household term. I had also read The Lost World but the author had not registered to me then either. Anyway, written by the author of Jurassic Park, Timeline is a similar mixture of science, history, and fiction. Science because there is an awful lot of explaining of quantum physics and diffraction and waves. History because the content of medieval descriptions, whether the architecture, the people or the events, came to par with the science. And fiction because… well… it’s clearly fiction.

To be honest, I had expected the novel to be as fast-paced and gripping as the reviews at the back said it would be. I wasn’t disappointed while I was reading the book, but in retrospect, I found some aspects of the book to be lacking. The characters seemed to shift too much to be realistic while some did not change at all. There were moments when I would pause and say “Really?” in response to something a character did.

Besides that, the story carried too many elements of Jurassic Park. There was the same theme of ‘entertainment’, where the technology in Timeline was supposed to be used to give people a chance to personally experience history by sending the present to the past- while Jurassic Park simply brought the past to the present. Perhaps this book was also written to be turned into a movie, however, I have a feeling that the movie would have been a ridiculous flop. These undercurrents and similarities to the themes of Jurassic Park were what had caused me to actively search things up and reveal that the two were written by one and the same person.

To sum up, I would give Timeline a rating of 3.5/5. It’s interesting enough to keep reading (especially if you make it past the science parts- those are pretty hard to understand). The ending is not as nice as I thought it would be and I felt as though several characters were written ‘out of character’. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable few hours spent on reading.


A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

This book was amazing. Let me tell you why.

It’s a story about a person reading a story, but you know how you wish you could interact with the characters you’re reading about? Or how you wish you could- somehow- reach through the boundaries of ink and paper and let the character know “Hey, I’m reading about you and I think you’re amazing, no matter what the secondary characters who bully you say”. This is literally what happens in the book and I thought it was magical. (yes, it really was magical).

(did you see the sarcasm there) (i don’t think you did)

The book’s narration is divided between third person Ruth and first-person Nao. Personally, I didn’t really like reading Ruth’s parts because although she is a main character, she seemed to pale in contrast to Nao- who really stood out with her diary entries and her musings. I used to read Nao’s narrations eagerly and then wait for her to come back again when it was Ruth’s turn. Ruth wasn’t boring or anything. It’s just that you know how you put a glass of air and a glass of water together? The glass of water will take your attention, even though air is much more important. So Ruth was important too (hey, she was the one reading the diary. If she didn’t read the diary, we wouldn’t have been able to read it either!) but it was Nao who took the show.

Nao’s diary is really the most interesting and unique diary, fictional or otherwise, I have ever come to read so far. She talks about how she used to live in California, how she had to suddenly move back to Japan, how she can’t seem to fit in, how she realizes her parents didn’t tell her about their situation, how she gets by with bullying and how Jiko, the Buddhist nun, turns her life around and changes her perspective.

I related with a lot of things that Nao talked about, like trying to stay in contact with friends who now live on the other side of the Earth, her “homesickness” for California and her thoughts on forgiving people. Nao really pulls you into her situation, which seems pretty hopeless but she finds her ways to combat it (with magical help from her reader, Ruth).

The book covers way more than just Nao’s everyday life and Ruth’s reading. It talks about war, how it turns young boys into soldiers, and humanity, how you could still be yourself even when all your “choices” have been taken from you because there is always a choice, no matter how bleak your circumstances might be (lesson learned from Haruki #1).

I think my favorite parts in the book where when Nao spends her summer with Jiko and when she realizes how her dad (Haruki #2) made a choice, just like Haruki #1 and even though it was a good choice, it left his family in a not-very-good position, how she misjudged him and how proud she feels when she realizes what he actually did. Nao’s dad is an amazing person (don’t judge him by the first half of the book) and the whole story is just.

Go read it. Put it on your list and READ IT.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey

This was a surprisingly depressing story- then again zombie apocalypses probably would be depressing, but one factor that added to the overall depression was the fact that children make up more of the story. I don’t know about you guys but when a horror movie involves children, as opposed to teenagers and adults, things just seem a lot more scarier and that must be because children are pure and innocent and usually have to be protected, so it just hits us harder when they are the ones who are terrified and abused, especially since it’s usually never their fault in the first place.

I just went off-topic, didn’t I? Anyway, this story involves Melanie, a young girl who appears normal at the start of the book- although quite precocious- but when further details are given you realize -with that twinge of pain- that she is not normal. She is, in fact, a sort of hybrid zombie -called hungries- who happens to be much more high functioning than the usual hungries folk found beyond the security fences. Lots of children like Melanie are locked up in a compound where they are given education to determine the extent of their brain function before they are taken away for what is called “the greater good”.

This is the first-of-its-kind zombie story I have ever read- I’m sure the plot twist will leave you just as stunned as it left me. The details of how the hungries functioned served to make you hold your breath every time one of them came across the pages. So to sum up, this was s pretty good book. There was a higher than average level of profanity (Like about one word per two pages) but I suppose that’s alright, given the situation that the adult characters found themselves in.

I just found out there’s a movie for this book. Titled similarly, the Girl with All the Gifts was released in 2016. It seems to have pretty decent reviews and I’m honestly surprised why I hadn’t heard of this earlier. I guess I’ll be putting this movie on my to watch list!


Looking For Alaska by John Green

I’ve read the Fault In Our Stars and I found it pretty unique (but not as awesome or tear jerking as everyone was hyping about) so I decided to try out another book by John Green. Let me just say that I have never been to university (or college or whatever it is called) or lived alone, away from my parents- and the book was describing everything in so much amazing detail so I was obviously hooked (it was like a Harry Potter fan reading a fanfic about a normal student at Hogwarts while Harry does his awesome stuff etc xD for me anyway). Everything was described- the euphoria of a “Great Perhaps” and leaving home, making new friends, studying, ragging (it’s called pranking there, apparently), getting into trouble, trying not to get into trouble and I just soaked up the details with shiny sparkly eyes LOL.

But okay, back to the point. The book dealt with the death of a close friend and how such an event could be so sudden and unpredictable and have such long-lasting effects. I found some of the characters hard to imagine (Alaska was one of these people. She was just… too eccentric that she seemed more like a cardboard character where you just lump everything labeled “crazy” with her but she was still cool I guess).

Anyway, I rather enjoyed reading this book (college sounds so exciting!!) and would most certainly recommend it to anyone who has read TFIOS and liked it. But the thing is, the characters are just as unrealistic as they were in TFIOS (cough) Augustus Waters (cough). It’s great for light reading though- don’t dwell too much on what’s going on and go with the flow

I give this book a rating of 2.5/5 and would most likely never read this again.

 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I loved this book, even though the ending was tragic and depressing.

Let me tell you something first. The blurb makes this sound like a really boring sort of story about growing up, but it’s not that way at all.

The story starts off with the characters as children and the way their boarding school, Hailsham. But wait, it’s an exclusive boarding school. That means the students are exclusive- they’re different. And they don’t really know it. The story follows how the children try to piece together the mystery- why they can’t be rock-stars like the people in magazines or live in the ordinary society they see outside and what did they do to deserve this?

The background of the story could be said to be dystopian and science fiction- although the two subjects stay true to their position and only give a mild tint to the writing, with subtle hints and descriptions.

What may be classed as a positive or negative, is the realism of the whole narrative. I felt as though the characters were ordinary people, and that anyone would’ve done the same. As a result, many of their actions seemed mundane and predictable as well. Instead of strong character development resulting in a drastic twist of the story, we only have the narrator inspecting different incidents in her life- that seem entirely ordinary until she told you the background and the result. There was no heroic act to change fates- only an attempt to follow the ghost of a rule to freedom.

Nevertheless, the characters were realistic, the story was enjoyable, though mundane, and twists were present, though dull.

I recommend reading this if you enjoy reading about dystopian novels that focus more on ordinary lives and have worlds very similar to our own. I would give this book a 3/5 and if I ever had a chance to pick up a solid copy of this book, I probably would.

Have you read any of these books? Which ones did you like? If you have any favorite books that you’d like me to check out, share them in the comments below! I keep a list of books I want to read and I love adding more! If you want to stay updated on my blog, sign up here. Have a nice day!

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Author: Kanra Khan

I'm a Pakistani American student of medicine, or more precisely, an almost-graduate of MBBS Class of 2019. I like to write about my experiences in med school and my adventures in life, which range from traveling, to art, to blogging and photography. Like what you're seeing so far? Consider exploring a bit more! The Lunar Descent is endless.

One Reply to “5 Popular Books I’ve Read Before”

  1. You know I reaaally want to read Timeline. It has been on my wishlist forever and your post actually just convinced me to FINALLY reserve it at my library.

    As far as Looking for Alaska and TFIOS, I agree that the characters are just so unrealistic. I read both and enjoyed them (TFIOS more than LFA, but maybe because it partly takes place in The Netherlands, which is where I’m from, haha) they’re certainly fun reads, but a few times I was really rolling my eyes at the dialogue and stuff. They come up with a lot of clever life advice and life analogy’s for sixteen year olds!

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