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One more book down in my summer reading challenge: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I love this book. It's one of my top 5 favorite books ever! What's not to love in Gatsby? Fitzgerald crafts a beautiful literary time capsule of the "Roaring '20s" that immerses you into the decadence as well as the economic and social disparity of the era.
Great Gatsby
My Rating: 5 out of 5  

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For years I felt sorry for Gatsby, hopelessly in love with a woman he could never have. I always admired him for his imagination and his blind pursuit of success in spite of adversity. For some reason, this time reading his story it really I felt like Gatsby wasn't really that great at all. He was sort of a sleazy dude who used his natural charms and exceptional lying ability to get what he wanted. Whatever nobility Nick saw in Gatsby seemed to me to be a blatant lie out of pure selfishness, shaded with occasional vulnerability that may or may not have been genuine. And in that way, Gatsby was pursuing the right crowd, the wealthy East Eggers, including Daisy and Tom Buchanan. But I wonder if Gatsby's infatuated pursuit of Daisy was justified. After finishing the book, I couldn't help but feel like the Daisy that Gatsby really loved was imagined, like everything else he cared about in his world of deception.

Fitzgerald's novel is filled with social commentary that seems so applicable today; indeed, the timeless struggle between socioeconomic classes resonates with readers just as much today as nearly a century ago. "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness...and let other people clean up the mess they had made..." Sound vaguely familiar?

I don't condemn Gatsby completely. He had the guts to imagine a life that was more than what he was born into and he passionately chased after it with his whole being. And that is admirable in my eyes. The way he went about it may have been foolish and dishonest, but at the heart of the story beats the American Dream. Real or not, I think it's something Americans want to believe regardless of whether they actually live it.

#1 - The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#2 - Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
#3 - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
#4 - Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
#5 - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
#6 - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

NEXT BOOK: #7 - The Importance of Being Ernest (a play) by Oscar Wilde