Trip to the Library #1

I just came back from my monthly trip to the local library. I took more books than I can read in three weeks but I always do that. I like to have the choice. So, in my magic (and heavy) book bag this month are :

  • Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
  • Emma, Jane Austen
  • Persuasion, Jane Austen

I told you that I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice so I HAVE to read more Jane Austen. It is required.

  • Middlemarch, George Elliot
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
  • Villette, Charlotte Brontë
  • The Moon is Down, John Steinbeck
  • Clock without Hands, Carson McCullers
  • Secret Windows : Essays and fiction on the craft on writing, collective.

See, too much books ! I’ll try and read all of them and I will let you know 🙂

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Armchair BEA Genre Topic : The Classics

Genre Topic 1: The Classics

The Questions:

  • Today, tell us all the reasons why you love classic literature.

Hmmm, that is a good question. Why do I love classics. First of all, the definition of a classic is quite large and vague… A book which by its timelessness and universalism is capable of touching everybody at any time being. A book in which any human being can find something to nourish their brain or full up their heart. I love classics because they are still relevant hundreds years after they had been written. I love them because our civilisation is based on those pieces of art. How many books, movies, paintings, songs have been inspired by Dante’s Inferno ? How come, more than 50 years after it had been published, The Grapes of Wrath is still relevant ? (plus holding a classic in a public place makes you look smarter :p )

  • What are your favorite classics?

Cornelian choice here… I’d say Grapes Of Wrath by Steinbeck, The Aventures Of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and The Great Gatsby by F.S. Fitzgerald…oh and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo ! and so many many many many more.

  • If you could give a list of classics to someone who claims to hate them to make them change their mind, what would be on it ?

I’ve met many young (and not so young) people you claimed they didn’t like classics. When asked why, all of them told me that it was because those were old long books, written in a dated and obsolete language. So I’d give those people The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger (even if it’s a very controversial classic) and maybe Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson…just to prove them how wrong they are and how fun a classic can be !

  • How would you convince them to give classics a try?

I’d suggest to maybe watch the movie first, if there’s any good adaptations out there, or to try a abridged and /or modernised version. Or maybe to read in group, so they can share their difficulties.

  • And why do you keep coming back to those old favorites?

Because I don’t have any other choice…that’s how true love works.

My first Armchair BEA Day 1 (a little late but still)

Hello everybody,

This is my first Armchair BEA. I’m not sure what this is all about or what I’m supposed to do but we’ll see… If I understood correctly, I was supposed to introduce myself yesterday.. I’ll just do it today and pretend I’m not late (that’s something I often do). Here we go…self-interviewing myself :

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

I’m Maud. I used to be a French and Literature teacher in France until I met a giant Australian dude who took me over there, down under. While waiting to get all my papers in order before I start working again, I’m visiting the countryside, catching up on my readings and started a blog a couple of months ago. I started this blog because I had to find a way to force myself to write in English on a regular basis plus I wanted something a little more permanent than a notebook to keep my thoughts about the books I’ve read on.

2. Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures.

I’m currently living in Port Macquarie, east coast of Australia. From the beach, which is about 2 minutes from our appartment, we often observe hunchback whales and dolphins…sounds like paradise doesn’t it ?

3. Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event?

I’ve never participated in Armchair BEA, I’m not even sure what this is all about but the perspective of talking about books and meeting fellow bloggers and book lovers seemed fun enough.

4. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?

I’m currently reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. My favorite 2013 books so far are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson and Live by Night by Dennis Lehane.

5. Name your favorite blog(s) and explain why they are your favorite(s).

I’d say Paperback Castles for the quality of the pictures. http://paperbackcastles.blogspot.dk/

6. If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?

I’d have dinner with Dennis Lehane and make him talk endlessly about Boston.

There, first part 1 done ! See you very soon for the rest of the Armchair BEA fellow bloggers and book lovers 🙂

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, 1813

I have been a little lazy on my review posting lately BUT I have a good excuse.

I  Fell In Love with a book. A well known book. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

To be honest, it’s the kind of books I’ve been postponing the reading for years over prejudices and misconceptions (I know, some sort of irony just here). I had that image of a mushy 19th century book, classic for some reasons I didn’t know. I knew, that as a literature teacher, I would have to read it at some point but I always found some lame excuse to putting it off.

Ooooh ! How wrong I was !

Jane Austen was one of the 8 children of a modest clergyman. Even if she had been asked several times, she never got married because she never found love. That’s probably one of the reasons why love and marriage are at the very center of her literary works.

Briefly, mostly because everybody already know the story, Elizabeth Bennet, the second daughter of the ironic but apathetic Mr Bennet and the impossible, superficial Mrs Bennet, is at age to be married. Something that her mother pushes for. Actually she wants any of her daughters to be married quickly to secure their inheritance once Mr Bennet dies.

Elizabeth refuses to be married for money or security to a man she doesn’t love. When proposed to by Mr Bennet’s dull cousin, Mr Collins, she refuses (which infuriates her mother). Elizabeth thinks she’s a brilliant judge of character, even so when she meets and brands Mr Darcy as a proud, heartless and arrogant rich man. Even when presented with some elements contradicting her first judgement, she refuses to change her opinion (which illustrates the damages caused by prejudices).Only when she realises that he’s the one who, selflessly, saved her family’s reputation and honor, she changes her opinion and allows her heart to fall in to its inclinations for Darcy.

The characters are brilliant and nothing can stop you from turning one page after the other even though you already know how it’s going to end. That is true talent.

It’s definitely a 10/10!

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, 2013

After finishing The Orphan Master’s Son, my first reaction would be to drag you to the closest library/book shop, to put the said book in your trembling little hand and to make you read it ! It is just amazing.

It takes you in a word where everything has been decided for you : who you will be, who you’ll marry, what you’ll think…

It makes you wonder about the very concept of identity : what makes you who you are ? Your name ? Your parents ? Your past ? Your actions ? Your dreams ?

It treats very personal and timeless questions without answering them for you. It holds your hands through the reflection that ensues. It also depicts a political system that is so completely aberrant for Occidental people and so very normal for so many other countries. It definitely makes your put your whiny and small everyday problems into some sort of perspective.

From a literary point of view, the variation of viewpoint in the second part, makes the narration more vivid and dynamic. The biased “Propaganda voice”‘s stories are contradicted by the other characters’s stories. The main character changes his identity half way through which brings a new perspective to the entire story. In, many aspects it reminded me of a modern 1984, with very actual political preoccupations.

I give a well deserved 9/10.