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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of those American classics that, in my opinion, everyone should read at some point in their life. At my high school, most of the kids end up reading this book (10th grade maybe? It’s hard to remember). Unfortunately, I was in the honors English classes, which meant I never got the opportunity to. Truth be told, sometimes I envied the other English classes for getting to read cooler books!! This one has always been on my list, but the recent remake of the film brought it to the forefront.
I’m one of those people that HATES seeing a movie before reading a book. When I read the book first, I know the movie won’t be the same. But the few times I have seen a movie first (My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult comes to mind), it really ruined the book for me because I already knew what was going to happen next. Thus, I resolved I wasn’t going to watch the movie everyone was raving about until I had read the book.
From the back of the book:
“The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been aclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a a time when The New York Times noted ‘gin was the national drink and sex the national obesession,’ it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920’s.
The Great Gatsby is a true classic of twentieth-century literature.”
This book swept me off my feet right from the beginning. I just loved Fitzgerald’s prose, and I’m actually inclined to read more of his books in the future. I really felt like there was a 1920’s gentlemen standing there telling me his story as I read. I rarely get that kind of feeling from a book. Ironically, I had apparently already been swayed by movie trailers, as I kept imagining Leonardo DiCaprio as this “1920’s gentlemen,” otherwise known as Nick Carraway. This frustrated me; the same thing happened when I read the Twilight series (the first movie hadn’t even come out yet, but I already knew who the actors were). BUT, if you have seen the movie, then you of course understand the irony to all of this. Leo isn’t Nick Carraway at all, but Gatsby himself! Perhaps I also had a little bit of Titanic stuck in my head, who knows.
Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. I’ve always had a minor fascination with the extravagance of the 1920’s, and Gatsby’s parties show just that. Not to mention that the themes running through the book – jealousy, envy, lost love, the American dream, affairs, smoking/alcohol, etc etc etc – are still just as relevant to today’s world.
I’ll warn you, it doesn’t have the happy ending many people expect from books. But really, how many classics actually do?! As much as we all claim to love happy endings, it seems to me that we love real, “lifelike” story endings even more. Or maybe that’s just me?
In any case, I high recommend adding The Great Gatsby to your Read-Before-I-Die list. And, if you’re like me and have managed to NOT see the movie yet, I definitely recommend reading it before you do.
To those that have seen the newest movie adaptation, what did you think? How did it compare to the book?
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