Best Book Ever: The Sun Also Rises vs. Diary

Book covers for "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway and "Diary" by Chuck Palahniuk.

The theme of this match? Disillusionment. Whether from surviving a world war or losing your lover -or maybe both, the characters in these novels persist against the malaise of existence with some memorable moments along the way.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Book cover for "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway.

Set in the 1920s and following the Great War, the protagonists have seen such horrors their grasp on the real world becomes tepid. They decide to liven things up with drinks instead. The Sun Also Rises (originally titled Fiesta) follows a group of ex-patriots gallivanting around Europe. Starting in Paris, the group of friends stumbles drunkenly from clubs in the Latin Quarter to bull fights in Pamplona, arguing and bickering all the way. Tied together by their love of protagonist -or maybe antagonist – Lady Brett Ashley, the men navigate her toying while trying to enjoy some good clean fun of fishing and fighting when they can. While Jake, the main protagonist and Hemingway guise, is arguably the best match, he cannot fulfill Brett’s needs. If only the star crossed lovers could be together, we probably wouldn’t have a novel. Instead, may the writers and bull fighters brawl over the Lady while we all get exhausted with life and drink instead!

  • Goodreads Score: 3.82
  • Length: 3 -While I think The Sun Also Rises is an excellent length, it lacks the substance in hand of truly delicious novels.
  • Readability: 1.5 -If you’re a person who hasn’t read Hemingway, learning to read Hemingway is hard. The cut and dry prose of this master makes it confusing to figure out what’s going on. Placing so much action in the space between words, a lot of readers just won’t like piecing together the scene of events.
  • Language: 5- Hemingway is short and sweet, but when he wants to make a point, the criticism is biting. For the clever slips of tongue and quick wit of the characters, for language, this novel gets a 5.
  • Characters/Plot: 4.25 “That was it. Send a girl off with one man. Introduce her to another to go off with him. Now go and bring her back. And sign the wire with love.” Is there an older tale than that of unrequited love? Somehow Hemingway gives it a modern twist that leaves me coming back year after year.

Overall Score: 17.57

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

Book cover of "Diary" by Chuck Palahniuk.

Published in 2003, Diary follows the life of Misty Wilmot, now working as a waitress in an overbearing tourist town after her husband attempts suicide and enters a coma. Once upon a time, Misty dreamed of being an artist until she met Peter, her husband, and fell into the “Get married, have a kid, and move back home scheme.” As Misty comes to find out, their move back home is anything but normal. When people start finding sickening graffiti in hidden rooms of houses Peter renovated, she is drawn into a repeating cycle of entrapment and personal acclaim. As she struggles to find her way through, the story becomes far more unexpected than you could have dreamed.

The antagonistic tone of Fight Club wafts off the pages of Diary, but the novel is distinct and alluring in its own right. Although I’ve read the score of Palahniuk, Diary is one I find myself thinking about again and again for “What they don’t teach you in art school is how your whole life is about discovering who you already were.”

  • Goodreads Score: 3.61
  • Length: 3 -At similar lengths, the majority of Palahniuk’s books hit that “carefully comfortable” word count.
  • Readability: 3.5 –Diary is a tasty treat and just when you think it’s not going to get any weirder, it gets even weirder. Even better? Because of the comfortable length you can absolutely knock it out in a day or two.
  • Language: 3- While highly quotable, the bulk of Palahniuk’s world building isn’t terribly impressive.
  • Characters/Plot: 3 -The plot and characters are creative and interesting, there’s still something missing. As if in being so absurd, it becomes lacking for it.

Overall Score: 17.11

The Verdict

The Sun Also Rises is certainly one of the books I would prattle off as my favorite/the best book I’ve ever read had I not designed such a burdensome tournament to figure it out. Diary excellent, but not so much. While The Sun Also Rises wins in my book for the despondent actors, it’s also a perfect portrait of a generation. For it’s groundbreaking presentation of the modern novel, and for the fun of following around bullfighters in Pamplona, The Sun Also Rises absolutely deserves to win this round.

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