Friday, May 2, 2014

Required Re-Reading: The Joy Luck Club (a new feature + a giveaway!)

I've been wanting to re-read books I read for school for quite some time now. In particular, I'm interested in revisiting those books I had to read but didn't like (or in some cases, hated!). This all started when I was looking over some of my old GoodReads ratings and was struck by how low I rated most of my required reading. There were a handful of school assignments I loved, but the number is appallingly low. Looking at the titles now, I know most of them are highly respected and loved by many. I'm convinced that despite my teachers' best efforts, their significance was lost on my teenage self. I think many of them deserve a second chance now that I am older and can choose to read them of my own free will. So when Penguin contacted me about sponsoring a giveaway to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the publication of The Joy Luck Club, I figured why not start with this one? So I give you the inaugural edition of my new Required Re-Reading project, hopefully it is the first of many!

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The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Series? No
Publisher: Penguin
Date: 1989
How did I get this book? giveaway is sponsored by Penguin Books, but I purchased my own copy to read & review
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

When I originally read this book for my sophomore Global Literature class, it was a 2-star read for me. It is so unfair to blame the teacher, but the teacher I had that year really did not inspire any kind of love for the books she was teaching. It seemed as if they were homework for her as much as they were homework for her students. Maybe that's unfair, but when I look back on my high school years, all three of my other English teachers seemed a lot more passionate about their subject and really wanted us to love the books as much as they did. Even when I didn't love the books, those other teachers' love of literature was a noticeable thing I respected and admired.

Anyway, back to the book! From the moment I started reading The Joy Luck Club for the second time, I knew my 2-star rating was going to disappear. The writing is just beautiful and the intertwining stories are a fascinating exploration of the dynamics between mothers and daughters. Add to that the differences and misunderstandings between one generation born in China and the next generation born in the United States, and you have quite a compelling read. With alternating chapters telling the individual stories of eight different main characters, I sometimes had a little bit of trouble keeping everyone's story straight, but this didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the book as a whole -- I just flipped back to check on a name or a detail and continued on.

I found the Chinese culture portrayed in this book very interesting, but the search for understanding, meaning, identity, and a better life for one's children feels very universal as well. This book has become a modern classic and I can now see why. If, like me, you read this one for school and didn't like it, I highly recommend giving it a second chance!

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Thanks to the publisher, I am running a giveaway! One winner will receive a copy of the Penguin Classic Edition + a copy of the (gorgeous!) new Drop Cap Edition. Since the books will be shipped by the publisher, this giveaway is restricted to US and Canadian addresses only. (Sorry international readers!) To ship to Canada, the publisher will need the winner to provide a phone number. Personal information will only be used for the purposes of this giveaway and will be kept private. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Reading Challenges:
The Classics Club (Review #4)
Diversity on the Shelf
Re-Reading
Book to Movie
Banned or Challenged

28 comments:

  1. This is such a great idea. When I first started on Goodreads and was racking my brain to remember books to add to my shelves, I finally just decided that anything I read in school doesn't count, and I'll add them if/when I re-read them as an adult. I don't remember half of them, I barely remember the other half, and even if I could, my feelings were more about the fact that I had to read them than about the books themselves.

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    1. Thanks Charleen! I've been wanting to do this for a while, but with so many awesome new books, it can be hard to find the time. It was definitely a challenge to first set up my GR shelves -- I still occasionally come across a book I read in the past and never added, but I just add it to the bunch :)

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  2. You must have some memory being able to add books to your Goodreads from school years (in no way shape or form am I implying anything about age lol). I had difficulty even remembering books that I'd borrowed from the library the previous year! So I just added books that I owned and it'll grow from there.

    It'll be interesting to see how your views change.
    :-)
    Bits & Bobs

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    1. No offense taken! It does help that I've been on GR for five years and when I first joined, it wasn't too long after I was out of college. Also, prior to that I had kept a few Amazon lists of books I read in various years and for high school & college -- so I just transferred those over. I know I still missed some though!

      And it is definitely interesting to see how my views can change, especially when it's been a decade (or more!) since I read a book for the first time.

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  3. These look good! Thanks for the giveaway!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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    1. Thanks Missie & you're welcome :)

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  4. I really enjoyed this one, and I am so glad you decided to revisit Joy Luck Club. I of course read it in high school. Thankfully my teacher wasn't like yours...LOL

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    1. That's good! I feel mean putting partial blame on the teacher, but I was always an avid reader and even if I didn't like every book, I enjoyed all my English classes except for that one. In college, I even took elective English classes! My husband (then boyfriend) who's a numbers & math guy thought I was a little nuts when I told him what I chose for my elective :)

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  5. I haven't read this before, but I think it's awesome that you enjoyed this so much more the second time around! I have a few books I read in school that I think I should give a second chance, especially Beloved and The Great Gatsby, neither of which worked for me the first time around.

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    1. It was such a different experience the second time around and I'm really glad I'm taking the time to do this -- there are quite a few books from my reading history that deserve a chance at redemption! I haven't read either of the ones you mentioned, but they are definitely on my list for The Classics Club :)

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  6. First, awesome feature! I love it. I have had several cases as well where I think I would have liked the book more if I wasn't reading it for a class with an uninspired teacher. Second, I'm glad you found out how much amazingness the Joy luck Club has to offer the second time around. I read this book for school too, but lucky for me I had a really good teacher that loved the book as well and was passionate about it. I really think that can make all the difference.

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    1. Thanks Kay & thanks again for sharing last weekend :) I don't think every single book I read for school is a good re-reading candidate, but I definitely have a lot of great options to choose from. And of course, I will re-read some I *did* like too -- always good to revisit some favorites! I find it so interesting to hear others who read this for school & did like it the first time around :)

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  7. I'm one of those people who read Joy Luck Club as school lit, and I remember not liking it. I know I have to read it again though and I'm pretty sure the rating will go up :)

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    1. I think if you tried it again, you would like it better, too. Sometimes the "required" part takes all the fun out of it!

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  8. This is such a good idea! I barely remember if I liked most of the books I read in school. I think I'm going to start a new shelf to re-read those books. Thanks for the great idea.

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    1. Thanks & you're welcome! It's really interesting to see if your opinion changes over the years -- and if you don't really remember them anyway, they can be "new again," as my mom likes to say :)

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  9. Great review! I have never read this book though I heard good things about it + saw a bit of the movie adaptation one time while flipping through channels, lol. I love re-reading because sometimes my impression of a novel changes as well (2 stars become 4 stars, I understand the story more, etc.) :) Thanks again for linking up and for the great giveaway :)

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    1. Thanks & you're welcome! I love to read books that have been turned into movies, but I don't always get around to the movie-watching part :)

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  10. This one I actually didn't read when I was younger but have always meant to get around to. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

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    1. You're welcome! I hope you enjoy if you get a chance to read it :)

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  11. Thank you so much for running the giveaway! I read Joy Luck Club for the first time last year, and I really loved it. I didn't even realize its Drop Cap edition had come out! It's seriously beautiful!

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    1. You're welcome! I didn't choose the Drop Cap when I bought my copy, but it is GORGEOUS :)

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  12. Unfortunately this is one of the books that just kept on getting pushed along my TBR list. Would finally love to finally read it and I love the Drop Cap series. Thanks for the giveaway

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    1. You're welcome! The Drop Caps are gorgeous, aren't they?

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  13. The Joy Luck Club was my introduction to Amy Tan, and I loved the novel. The Required Re-Reading Project is such a wonderful idea. I'm currently re-reading A Tale of Two Cities.

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    1. I do want to read her other books now that I have had such a better experience with this one. Re-reading is great when we can find the time :)

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  14. I don't believe I have read this. I have heard of Amy Tan though.

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    1. I hope you get a chance to try some of her books :)

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I'd love to hear what you think :)