Becky’s Two Hundred and Seventy-Ninth Book Review: “Life on the Mississippi” by Mark Twain

There are times when my stubbornness gets the best of me. That was the case with regards to reading and finishing “Life on the Mississippi” by Mark Twain. You see, I hate abandoning books after I dedicate so much time to it, especially when I spent a great deal of the book enjoying what I was reading! In the end though, it took far too long to read this book.

There is a reason that so many people know the name Mark Twain. He undeniably has a way with words. “The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book – a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice. And it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell every day.” (Life on the Mississippi, pg 73). I felt the way that Twain described his education on the river was beautiful. There were many passages such as this that I was fascinated by. This was what really captivated me while reading, you can easily get lost in his prose. The challenge for this particular book, since it was a non-fiction, I felt that there really was no plot or focus to the story. Twain would just go on and on about how much of his life was affected by his time on steamboats. A great deal of the time, Twain drifted off in whichever direction he felt like going. Frankly, I got bored. There was no drive to this book and despite the quality of the writing I just did not want to pick it up anymore.

I’m glad I finished the book. There is a big sense of accomplishment to finishing something with which you struggle so. But I would not pick this particular book up again. Would I recommend this? No, not really. The big take away I have from the huge process and struggle of reading “Life on the Mississippi” is that I like the way Mark Twain writes. I will definitely pick up his fictional books in the near future. I disliked the book overall, but it wasn’t so bad that I don’t want to read Twain again. I think, however, that I’ll avoid any books for the foreseeable future that focus around steamboats. One was enough.

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