Book Review: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
by Tom Stoppard

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Classic farce, play

I remember enjoying this when I read it in high school, assigned by our English teacher on the heels of reading, analyzing, and discussing Hamlet. I haven’t read Hamlet since then, but still enjoyed the re-read of this farcical play. A few times I wished I’d better remembered some of the details of what it is set around, but it didn’t detract from my reading too much.

These two bit characters who were sent to spy on Hamlet are now the focal point, while Hamlet, the king, queen, and others of that ilk merely intrude upon Rosencrantz & Guildenstern’s musings. The quick wit, back and forth, and the foreshadowing of the event that the very title lends knowledge to, make this a fun, snappy read. It’s also very meta from time to time, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’m sure some of it went over my head, and if I’d read Hamlet more recently, I may have gotten more out of it. But I am still glad I read it again and refreshed my memory of why I think of this book fondly.

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Book Review: Skipping Christmas

Finished Reading: Skipping Christmas
by John Grishom

My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Christmas farce

Skipping Christmas

With their adult daughter gone for a year near the beginning of the Christmas season, Luther and Nora Krank get it into their minds that they don’t need to do Christmas this year. Instead, they plan a Caribbean cruise, set to leave on Christmas day. But they find out that it’s not so easy to remove themselves from all of the trappings of Christmas and will have a difficult time making it to their cruise without giving in to at least some of the seasonal traditions.

This was a quick, easy read that was mostly enjoyable. I can’t really say I connected with the main characters, but I did identify with them in some areas. There were some parts near the end that I didn’t predict, though I suspect many would, and one thing that I saw coming a mile away. Probably the most frustrating thing about the book is how unrealistic it seems.

To be fair, I can’t personally judge how realistic some parts of the book are, because the Kranks live in a type of neighborhood that I’ve never been part of, and run in circles the likes of which are foreign to me. However, much of what happened seemed quite over the top. But where that was a huge problem for others, I took it as a farce. Even if it is exaggerated, I think a lot of this might not be far from how a family (one that normally celebrates Christmas) would be treated if they tried to completely skip the holiday. There were also some things that the Kranks did in their quest to completely cut out all things Christmas that I felt were a bit ridiculous. However, I also agree with some of the commentary this book offers on how commercial Christmas has gotten, and how people seem to think that they can push certain boundaries during this season, just because it’s Christmas.

In the end, I am glad I read the book. The ending made me smile, even while I knew that it was trite and a bit too easy. There were some heartfelt moments in there. I do recommend this to anyone who wants a decent Christmas-themed read, especially for those who want to avoid the romance and sap of the more prevalent stories. I plan to watch the movie that was based on this book, Christmas with the Kranks, with my husband soon, and to be honest, I think he’s going to hate it. But who knows.

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