Disclaimer: I do NOT know Pedro Pascal. All the information is taken from various social media posts and interviews and could potentially be outdated.
Welcome back to a new installment of this very special reader compatibility feature or celeb book club, as I like to call it! In case you missed the previous ones, don’t hesitate to check out the following posts:
– Are Tom Hiddleston and I compatible (readers)?
– Are Chris Evans and I compatible (readers)?
– Are Sebastian Stan and I compatible (readers)?
As I’ve mentioned many times before, in this series, I read the favorite books of actors and determine whether we would be a good match based on those results alone. All of this is done with the sole intention of it being fun and not taken too seriously.
I don’t know when exactly Chilean born actor Pedro Pascal has made his way onto our screens more prominently and therefore also straight into my heart, but he is someone I always love to watch out for. The way he approaches his projects with so much passion and just downright joy is contagious and makes him incredibly endearing in the process. I distinctly remember telling a friend once that Pedro is my “comfort person”, which is not fair to put on a real human being instead of a fictional character, but he radiates something positive to me. He always speaks up when it comes to matters he cares about and I appreciate that in people, especially ones that have a larger audience/platform. Enough general swooning though, let’s get down to it the bookish content.
According to several interviews and posts, Pedro seems like an avid reader, which is obviously ideal for this kind of reading experiment. I especially like that he endorses a lot of the books he reads on his social media and regret not being able to pick any of the more contemporary releases for this post. Unfortunately, my Spanish or Italian isn’t that great and the books he most recently promoted (such as Disfruta del Problema or La Nuova Terra by Sebastiano Mauri) weren’t available in any language I can actually read and understand (such as English, German or French). Anyway, here are the books I eventually scrunched up from interviews:
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
- Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
I’m afraid to say that I’m not exactly in love with this selection of books. I’ve gotten over my annoyance that these posts are often very male-dominated when it comes to the authors, but I still don’t think that any of these stories will become new favorites of mine. As we’ve established during the compatibility test with Tom Hiddleston, classics and I aren’t really the best match. I wouldn’t say I hate them, I just find the way they are written oftentimes tiring, which robs me of the enjoyment the actual plot might hold. I know they’re not bad stories, because I’ve enjoyed movie adaptations of Jane Eyre, for example, but still …
My main goal is to not spend weeks with just one single book, but rather get through them all swiftly, so I won’t even have a chance to get bored by the style of writing … I just realized how negative I sounded with all of that, which was not my intention at all, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been more excited about previous picks.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
I have to preface this by saying that this wasn’t my first go at Jane Eyre, but unfortunately, I didn’t fare all too well this time around either. Pedro Pascal apparently loves this book, but it took me almost a month to finally finish it and now I’m just glad to be done with it. But let’s start from the beginning.
Jane Eyre is a tale that spans several decades. We start with Jane’s early childhood, education, first employment and love, which lead to her eventual independence and divine purpose. There is no denying that Jane is an extremely strong character, who always does what she believes to be right and has an inherent goodness to her, despite the world playing one cruel trick after the other on her. She has quite a lot of faith and trusts for things to work out because of it. However, I simply couldn’t handle the audacity of her love interest, Mr. Rochester. I don’t understand how a man, who continuously throws temper tantrums, is incredibly possessive and builds all his relationships on lies and a superiority complex, can be considered a romantic hero.
“After all, a single morning’s interruption won’t matter much,” he said, “when I mean shortly to claim you – your thoughts, conversation, and company – for life.”Mr. Rochester to Jane, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
It’s not that this wasn’t intelligently crafted, but I just couldn’t comprehend certain aspects of it. How did not a single person have an ounce of empathy for someone who is just locked up in an attic for the majority of their life? What about Jane’s love for Rochester? Despite her idea of love being a form of servitude for the majority of the novel, it didn’t entirely make sense. In her stead, I would not have returned to him, I would also not have married my cousin either. I was just confused, because early on, she says that one of her life goals is to run a school. But as soon as she has that job and gets the opportunity to stop working, because of an inheritance, she’s out of there and would rather live like a lady? None of that added up to me.
Still, I understand some of the merits of this story, because I quite liked it adapted as a movie. I particularly enjoyed the version with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, as it was told achronologically and therefore broke up the heaviness. It was a much more compressed story, of course, but it still got a lot of points across (although with far less religion involved). The written format just felt lengthy and drawn out in comparison, but maybe it was also hard, because I knew exactly what was about to happen. I was never much of a person who enjoyed to reread books …
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
As much as I whined about having to read classics, I’m so happy to tell you that I found a new favorite! I know, I’m as shocked as you are. The Master and Margarita, written from 1928 to around 1940, when the author died, is one of the wildest rides I’ve ever had the pleasure to be on while reading. Whereas not all aspects aged well (do they ever?), I would be lying if I said, I wasn’t enjoying myself throughout this journey.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Pedro Pascal was asked about his favorite books. Like many a bookworm out there, he could only try and narrow it down and mentioned Franny and Zooey (which is just a bit further down the post) and The Master and Margarita in the process. I really can’t blame him for this particular book popping into his mind, because it definitely seems like a story that just sticks with you for quite a while. In all its confusing ridiculousness, it touches upon so many themes and topics.
To be clear, this is more or less a story about Satan visiting Moscow and the chaos that ensues from that visit. However, it’s not just about good vs. evil, it’s also about artists and their art, historical accounts of Pontius Pilate and the last days of Jesus, sin and cowardice, all wrapped up in a very satirical bow. The story was a way to rebel against the surveillance tactics as well as the dogmatic, atheist Soviet Union as a whole, which should be appreciated, whether you are a religious person or not.
As far as storytelling goes, it feels very patchy in the beginning. You wonder how everything is possibly connected and where the title comes into play, but by the second half, things have really come together nicely. However, while the Pontius Pilate bits served a clear purpose, they always took me out of the story in a way. I therefore can’t exactly say they were my favorite. In general, I thought it all flowed a bit better once the thread of the story was clearer, even though the supposed randomness was really enticing. Ultimately, I’m very glad this reading experiment made me pick up the book!
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude had been sitting on my shelf for quite a while and I was glad that this reading experiment gave me the chance or rather forced me to finally pick up the book and just read it. I know so many people who raved about it and even though this wasn’t my first encounter with Gabriel García Márquez‘ writing, I tried to keep an open mind (although me having to read Chronicle of a Death Foretold wasn’t the best experience in school). I want to make it very clear that I tried to hype myself up and wanted to be positive about this story, but it truly and honestly wasn’t for me.
It’s obvious that Pedro Pascal loves reading and he loves One Hundred Years of Solitude, so I feel bad about what comes next, but honestly, a lot of what went on in this book made me feel uncomfortable. I get the intrigue of reality meeting magic so seamlessly, of history repeating itself time and time again of a family who’s fate was predetermined without them knowing it. I like that this was a multi-generational tale and I was fascinated by some of the characters, at least when I could tell them apart, because they almost all have the same name, but still … the “romantic” relationships make me shudder. There’s fully grown men wanting to marry literal children, boys wanting to sleep and/or marry their mothers and aunts (and sometimes ending up doing just that), adoptive siblings marrying and a whole lot of infidelity that just gets brushed over in the process. None of that sits right with me?
Also, somehow, I think I have a different understanding of solitude. For long stretches of time, the madhouse the Buendiá family inhabited was full of life! Yes, that changed a lot towards the end and quite a few of the family members chose to spend not just their lives locked up in rooms, but also with their hearts tucked away, but there was always someone there to remember them, someone to check up on them. I expected a different kind of vibe from something titled One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
You learn something new every day – for example, Zooey is a nickname for guys who are called Zachary. Who knew? I sure didn’t, but in all seriousness, let’s talk about this book!
I was rather glad that Franny and Zooey was on the shorter side, with Franny being a short story and Zooey a novella respectively. The tales are interconnected and follow the two youngest siblings of the fictional Glass family. In theory, I understand the fascination with the Glass clan – they are beautiful, rich, wickedly smart, have intriguing lives but, nonetheless, they felt completely pretentious to me. Mostly, I found the execution fairly underwhelming, which was a shame.
If I had just read Franny, I would have assumed she was pregnant and that it would have been a problem at the time the story was set in, however, that was not the case. Both titles, in fact, heavily deal with a sort of spiritual crisis and somewhat of a lack of sense of purpose. The Glass family has faced some heavy losses in the past and you feel that heaviness under all the pretend humor and bickering. As I said earlier, I get the appeal and I think there were some really good bones there, but the way it was written was exhausting; just people monologue-ing for hours, paired with excerpts from letters or scripts at times to at least break it off a little.
I realize I am very judgy right now, but somehow I expected more.
As always, it’s entirely fascinating to me that I could see an underlying theme in the books. All of them had very clear currents of faith and spirituality woven into them, especially Christianity. I’m not a very religious person, but the piousness of many a character didn’t escape me. Not all of them, but a lot were also about family, chosen and blood alike, or different kinds of profound love. I’m not about to psycho-analyze what that could mean, but I could definitely see those components being important parts of Pedro Pascal’s life.
It’s time to face the harsh reality though that it’s not looking great for Pedro Pascal and myself. While I didn’t hate (most of) the books and even found a new addition to my favorite classics, I also didn’t exactly enjoy myself. This is the longest it has ever taken me to finish a reading compatibility post, with it taking literal months to get to the final result. I was fighting my way through books rather than feeling like I gained new insight into something marvelous. That’s just not the way it’s supposed to be.
However, in the end, I think my selection of the books played a huge role in this not going very well. I knew from the beginning that I was going to struggle and I could have probably done some more research to find reads that were more up my alley. But still, at the end of the day, Pedro Pascal has expressed his love for these books and I cannot truly share that same sentiment. It is what it is …