Monday, January 31, 2011

Thoughts: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Part 2)

I now understand what people mean when they say that dear old Charlie can be wordy. So far, I've read 200 pages of Great Expectations out of 442 (I own a Penguin Popular Classics edition), and, aside from three major events, nothing much has happened. The characters are also proliferating at a somewhat alarming rate... kinda like bunnies.

But I really like Miss Havisham. (I find her vindictiveness utterly delicious.) I once read a blog that asked, Who doesn't know Miss Havisham? Well, before I read Great Expectations, I hadn't heard of her at all.

Now, I'm glad to say I've become acquainted with her moldy wedding cake and yellowed wedding gown. I'm afraid the crazy old bat has found a place in my heart, which I think Pip was supposed to fill. This sounds lame but Pip is OK, just OK. I can tolerate his whining and his semi-social-climbing ways, because I can understand where he's coming from. Dickens laid it out for me in about 200 pages. How could I not? HA HA.

Speaking of HA HA, I can't believe Dickens made me laugh, especially his tongue-in-cheek way of poking fun at characters. A lot of people have said that he's quite funny, but he died 141 years ago... I didn't think I'd get his humor.

After finishing the first part of Great Expectations, I can't really see why so much of it was necessary. If you cut about 100 pages from the 200 I've already read, the book will still be pretty understandable. I'm trying to keep in mind, though, that Great Expectations was serialized, and that Dickens was trying to earn a living. If I was paid for every word I wrote, I'd try to be as wordy as possible too.

On to Chapter Twenty-Seven...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thoughts: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Part 1)

I just started reading Great Expectations (I've reached Chapter Two). The only Dickens I've read so far is A Christmas Carol so this is my first "full-length" Dickens (Dickensian?) novel, and I'm really excited about it.

The novel's first chapter is really atmospheric, containing vivid descriptions of the marshland and the graveyard. Things begin in quite an exciting manner too, because, our protagonist, a boy named Pip, is turned upside-down at the graveyard by some guy who also stole his bread. Good stuff. And I'm not even being sarcastic.

While reading, I keep getting this feeling that Great Expectations or maybe Dickens's work in general should be read aloud. The rrrrr sounds in this passage, for example, tickled my ear when I read it out loud:
"A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin."
So far, Pip's sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, has made me laugh out loud, especially when she's abusing her fair husband. I also like the easy camaraderie between Pip and his brother-in-law Joe, despite the twenty-year age difference. I want to see what's going to happen to all of them, especially with that man in the graveyard. We haven't been formally introduced yet.

I'm just feeling my way blindly as I go along, because I know very little about the plot of Great Expectations. I didn't look up the summary on purpose, because I like the sense of mystery that goes with not knowing almost anything about the book you're reading.

On to Chapter Three...

Friday, January 28, 2011

"...that the world may know he loved me once."

Dead White Guys: An Irreverent Guide to Classic Literature has two hilarious posts--guides, really--about reading the classics, located here and here. Her first step is to "become besties with the author. Bffs even." I just started reading Great Expectations, and I dutifully followed the tips.

The world knows Charles Dickens as the popular writer of classics like A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and more. The world, however, is mostly unaware that Dickens was part of a love triangle between his wife, Catherine, and the woman he left her for.

Charlie, you saucy little minx.

I knew all about the time he spent working in factories as a child, but, not to sound gossipy or anything, I find this particular aspect of his life fascinating. And I'm not even being sarcastic. It just shows that the writer most people nowadays consider too highbrow, and, God forbid, even boring led a very dramatic life, one that could rival the plots of his novels.

This is his wife Catherine. She was the eldest daughter of the editor of the Evening Chronicle where Dickens worked as a young journalist. They had ten children together, but, over the years, Dickens started blaming her for having the said ten children who were proving to be too expensive to feed, care for, send to school, etc, etc.

And, in the red corner wearing a lovely silk gown (sorry, got carried away), we have the other woman, Ellen Ternan. Dickens met her when he was forty-five, and she was eighteen. He saw her performing at Haymarket Theatre, and decided to cast her in The Frozen Deep, a play written by his protege Wilkie Collins. In contrast to the motherly Catherine, Ellen must have seemed vibrant, not to mention youthful. She was, after all, about twenty years younger than Catherine.

Things came to a head in May 1858 after Catherine accidentally received a bracelet meant for Ellen. This, my friends, is what I mean by dramatic. She received a bracelet meant for her husband's mistress! It almost sounds like something from a soap opera.

But I do genuinely feel sorry for Catherine. She was forced to move out of the house she shared with Dickens, and leave her children behind. Her own sister, Georgina, even sided with Dickens. Ouch. On her deathbed, she gave her collection of letters from Dickens to her daughter Kate so that "the world may know he loved her once."

That almost makes me want to cry.

And people say classics are boring.

Bah, I say. Bah!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top Ten Books I Wish I'd Read as a Kid

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This is my first time to participate, so welcome! I'm Darlyn, and this is my blog Your Move, Dickens. Look around, check out some of my past reviews, and please leave a comment if you can spare the time. :)

1. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Stargirl is a really spunky heroine, and would have been an amazing inspiration to my eleven-year-old self. She knew exactly who she was, and she was true to herself without caring what other people thought.

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Another heroine I could've learned a lot from as a kid. Like Stargirl, Jane knows exactly who she is, and fights for what she thinks is right. Also, I could've used a little Bronte when I was a kid, since my reading diet consisted mostly of Goosebumps books.

3. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
I love, love, love this book, and I think it would've been a great experience if I read it at eleven, the same age as Liesel Meminger in the book.

4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
I loved the animated series when I was a kid. Too bad I still haven't read the books.

5. Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster

6. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
This book was featured in a children's magazine when I was in elementary school, and I agonized about getting a copy for months. I finally found a copy at a secondhand bookstore last week, almost a decade later. Fate works in mysterious ways sometimes.

7. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
I was gigantic fan of the Disney film. Don't tell anybody, but I used to watch it everyday when I was little. I have a feeling I would have enjoyed the book more.

8. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Again, my reading diet was composed of mostly Goosebumps books, and Treasure Island would have brought something completely different to the table.

9. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
This book made me realize that I could really make a living from writing, and that I wasn't the only kid in the world scribbling stories on scraps of paper. On Writing told me I wasn't alone, and turned me into a major Stephen King fan. I only wish I got my hands on it when I was younger.

10. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
I've only read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, but this feels like a wonderful series to grow up with.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thoughts: The Awakening by Kate Chopin (Part 2)

"I would give up the unessential [for my children]; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself. I can't make it more clear, it's only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”
The last classic I read, This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, didn’t make me think, mainly because I didn’t understand it. The opposite is true with The Awakening, and I was surprised by its utter readability. I’ve always had this impression that lyrical prose is hard to understand, but The Awakening managed to be lyrical while remaining easy to comprehend.

Edna Pontellier—the protagonist—leaves her family, rebels at the thought of being her husband’s possession, and even has an adulterous affair. Her thoughts and ideas seem so modern, so out of place in 1899.

She’s not a “motherly” kind of woman, unlike her friend Madame Ratignolle who, I think, serves as Edna’s foil. Madame Ratignolle is the epitome of a “motherly” woman. She devotes her life to her children, and has a baby every two years. Maybe I’ll understand Madame Ratignolle better someday when I get married and have kids. Right now, though, I understand Edna’s chafing at the thought of giving herself up to her children more. At nineteen, I can’t imagine giving up myself so wholly to another person, even to my own child.

The ending raised a lot of questions in my mind, and I ended up thinking about my role as a woman in today’s society. I live in the Philippines, a very conservative Catholic country, where, whether I like it or not, certain expectations are thrust upon me because of my gender. For example, around here, most women are expected to marry before the age of thirty. The idea sounds very archaic, but my mother and my aunts still point out twenty-nine-year-old spinsters on certain occasions.

And our protagonist’s fate? It’s up to the reader to decide, in the end, if Edna is truly brave or simply a selfish coward. I, for one, think she was brave.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thoughts: The Awakening by Kate Chopin (Part 1)

When I saw a copy of The Awakening at the local secondhand bookstore, I immediately snatched it up. I've heard of it before through various book bloggers, and thought of it as 'that book about a woman who has an affair.' First published in 1899, the critics must have flayed Chopin alive for writing about a woman so independent.

I was a bit hesitant when I started reading the first chapter. A married woman having an affair in the 1800s? These things never seem to end well, especially in classics. By the third chapter, though, I was immediately sucked into the Grand Isle, the resort where Kate Chopin's heroine, Edna Pontellier, is vacationing with her family and where she meets the owner's son, Robert.

Chopin's prose is so light and airy. She has a gift for vivid descriptions, and, while reading The Awakening, I feel like I'm in a huge room with wide windows and almost-transparent white curtains being ruffled by a sea breeze.

On to Chapter XVI...

Note: I was really inspired by Allie's posts on A Literary Odyssey. They seem so personal, so I decided to try her approach. :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Literary Blog Hop #3

Literary Blog Hop

Literary Blog Hop is hosted by The Blue Bookcase. For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome! Stay, have a virtual cup of tea or coffee, and please leave a comment if you're so inclined. Around these parts, we usually talk about classics--short stories, novels, and maybe even poetry in the near future.

The hop's question this week is:

Discuss a work of literary merit that you hated when you were made to read it in school or university. Why did you dislike it?

We were supposed to read Ulyssses by James Joyce for I-forgot-which-literature-class. I've said this before, and I'll say it again now: STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS IS NOT MY FRIEND. WE'RE BITTER, BITTER ENEMIES. Stream of consciousness makes my head hurt, and, when I read, I like to be sure about what I'm reading. I like ambiguity, but only in small doses.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

“When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant—a combined gardener and cook—had seen in at least ten years.”
We were recently told to read William Faulkner’s short story A Rose for Emily in my Fiction class. Honestly, William Faulkner intimidates me, because I’ve read reviews of his novels and stream of consciousness keeps popping up. Stream of consciousness and I aren’t friends. We’re bitter enemies. I tried to keep in mind, though, that a short story probably won’t be that painful, and, when I looked up A Rose for Emily, I learned that it’s considered Faulkner’s most “accessible” work.

So, off I went and read the story. A Rose for Emily is about Emily Grierson, the last living descendant of the high and mighty Griersons, and the secret she harbored through the years until her death. It is told in a non-linear way, and, in fact, it begins with the last event in the narrative.

The short story clearly depicts how people lived in the South, but the real star, of course, is Miss Emily. Her father turned away all her suitors, thinking no one was good enough for THE Emily Grierson, and she ends up growing old alone after his death. When she finally encounters love, she does whatever she can to hold on to it.

For me, Emily Grierson is a pitiful character. Yes, she has wealth and unrivaled standing in the community, but, if you’re lonely, what can standing and money do for you? The story raised those questions in my mind, and blurred the line between right and wrong, between the selfish and the pitiful.

A Rose for Emily was an excellent sample of Faulkner’s writing.

You can read A Rose for Emily HERE.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Latest Acquisitions: Part Deux

My main goal for 2011 is for my to-be-read pile to be taller than me, and I'm halfway there. Kidding. About the real height of my to-be-read pile, not my actual, you know, goal. Heh heh heh.

Anyway, here are my recent acquisitions. I wasn't able to get my hands on a digital camera this time, so I tried to find photos of the covers of the editions I own instead.

  1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - A present from my mother. I'm really excited to get started on this one. When I think of classics, the first writer who comes into my mind is Dickens. Unfortunately, though, I've only read A Christmas Carol, so I don't feel like a true classics afficionado yet.
  2. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens - We meet again, Charlie. We meet again. Sorry, I'm weird. Couldn't help myself.
  3. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert - I originally wanted the new Lydia Davis translation but a) it's not available at local bookstores yet and b) even if it was available, I probably couldn't afford it. I do love the cover of this edition, though. The lady on the cover looks a lot like Anne Hathaway.

I've developed a real liking for Penguin Popular Classics editions. At PHP 99 which is roughly about two dollars, they're very cheap. I have my eye on A Tale of Two Cities at the moment, and will probably buy it once I finish either Great Expectations or Oliver Twist.

What are your latest acquisitions? :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thoughts: This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel This Side of Paradise, for me, was a lot like eating stone soup, and asking for another helping and another and another and another… Fitzgerald seemed to have been experimenting with various literary techniques. A couple of chapters were in the form of a play, while another section employed stream of consciousness.

The novel—more like a series of vignettes, really—revolves around Amory Blaine, a vain self-proclaimed genius, and follows him from boyhood, to prep school, to his years in Princeton, and to New York during the 1910s. It chronicles the so-called loves of his life, particularly his short-lived affair with Rosalind.

Fitzgerald inserted A LOT of poems “written” by his characters into the text. The poems were well-written, but by the third half of the novel I couldn’t take it anymore. Jesus H. Christ, I wanted to read about Amory and the next girl who’s going to break his heart. What I didn’t want to read was another poem about summer storms or how much Amory hated Victorians. Seriously, the number of poems in This Side of Paradise made me want to do violent things to my copy of the book.

For the most part, though, I found Amory’s experiences in Princeton entertaining. His studies of Princeton’s caste system and his adventures with his friends somewhat paralleled my own college experiences. My annoyance with the number of poems in the text aside, things were sailing along quite nicely until I got to the final chapter of the book where Fitzgerald transformed Amory into a mere mouth piece for his personal philosophies. Imagine about thirty pages devoted to dialogue about the state of America, the youth, and all of the above combined.

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books of all time, so, by default, I had really high expectations for this book which it failed to meet. By the time I got to the third half of the book, I just wanted to get the whole thing over with so I could move on to the next book.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

"The doctor who took care of the child couldn't resist the temptation to listen to the angel's heart, and he found so much whistling in the heart and so many sounds in his kidneys that it seemed impossible for him to be alive. What surprised him most, however, was the logic of his wings. They seemed so natural on that completely human organism that he couldn't understand why other men didn't have them too."
I first came across Gabriel Garcia Marquez when I was thirteen. A friend told me about his most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude. I bought a copy, and immediately fell in love with the book. Now, almost seven years later, I still love Marquez’s work, and I’m doing my undergrad thesis on OHYS.

We discussed his short story A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings a couple of weeks ago in my Fiction class, and I loved it, too, mostly because it showcased Marquez’s trademark magic realism. The story is about Pelayo and Elesenda who find the very old man with enormous wings in the title. At first, they want to put him on a raft with food, but change their minds when the townspeople start paying to get a look at the old man.

The story shows us how so-called “freaks” are marginalized by society. The old man in the story is imprisoned in a chicken coop, and no one understands the language he speaks. I guess the same can be said about the people we consider “freaks” or “abnormal.” They're misunderstood, and imprisoned in the impressions we’ve formed about them, no matter how wrong.

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings is a great introduction to the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and a great treat for his fans. The story can be read here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Library Girl

Ever heard a song about a girl who works in a library, reads Chaucer, and drink her coffee black? No? Well, I found one while jumping from one Tumblr blog to another, and I just had to share it with all of you. Gawd, this song had me swooning like a pre-adolescent girl at the sight of Justin Bieber. It's a song about a bookworm finding romance! A bookworm finding romance, I repeat! Here's Library Girl by Reina del Cid:

Ze Lyrics:

To all kindred nerds.

Shelving books on the night shift
It takes some time, but I guess I like it
Dewey's decimals keep me company

Out the window, you are dancing
With those girls who can't stop laughing
Lip-gloss, too hot, fake-baked drama queens

You were drinking a margarita
I was reading My Antonia
I got to thinking that

I don't fit inside that world
And I'm not like those other girls
Oh no, I'm not, I think a lot
But please don't be afraid

Just 'cause I navigate the media
And use encyclopedias
It doesn't mean that I don't need
A boy just like you to talk to

Set my cup back on its saucer
At the coffee shop, reading Chaucer
With my iPod on my favorite track

The girls you're with get turtle lattes
Decaf, skim-based, extra frothy
But you and I both drink our coffee black

You were talking about ACDC
And I was playing my Puccini
I got to thinking that

Repeat Chorus

You can buy me a margarita
And I will lend you My Antonia
You can take me to ACDC
And I'll play you my Puccini
It doesn't matter that

I don't fit inside that world
I'm not like those other girls
Oh no, I'm not, I think a lot
But you are not afraid.

That I navigate the media
And use encyclopedias
It doesn't mean that I don't need
A boy just like you to talk to

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Literary Blog Hop #2

Literary Blog Hop

Literary Blog Hop is hosted by The Blue Bookcase, and this week's question is:

How did you find your way to reading literary fiction and nonfiction?

When my mother and her siblings were kids, my grandfather bought a set of classics for them with volumes like Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels, Little Women, and more. Since I was little, I’ve loved their yellowed pages and their old-book smell that I think only bibliophiles can truly appreciate. I grew up knowing that I was going to read those books someday, as soon as I was old enough.

The first volume I finished was Little Women, and I absolutely loved it. I wanted to be a part of the March family, and I particularly liked Jo March with her ink-stained face and her dreams of being a writer. You could call Little Women my gateway book to classic literature. I soon started reading other classics, and two of the classics I read during high school, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, are still my favorites today.

And I Call Myself A Literature Major

I'm pathetic, mainly because Modern Library's 100 Best Novels of All Time has me cowering in shame. There are 100 books in the list, and I've read three! Three!

And I call myself a literature major.

Dickens must be turning in his grave.

For those of you who are curious, here's the list:
  1. ULYSSES by James Joyce
  2. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
  5. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
  6. THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
  7. CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
  8. DARKNESS AT NOON by Arthur Koestler
  9. SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence
  10. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
  11. UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
  12. THE WAY OF ALL FLESH by Samuel Butler
  13. 1984 by George Orwell
  14. I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
  15. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf
  16. AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY by Theodore Dreiser
  17. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers
  18. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut
  19. INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison
  20. NATIVE SON by Richard Wright
  21. HENDERSON THE RAIN KING by Saul Bellow
  23. U.S.A.(trilogy) by John Dos Passos
  24. WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson
  25. A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster
  26. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE by Henry James
  27. THE AMBASSADORS by Henry James
  28. TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  29. THE STUDS LONIGAN TRILOGY by James T. Farrell
  30. THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford
  31. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
  32. THE GOLDEN BOWL by Henry James
  33. SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser
  34. A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh
  35. AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
  36. ALL THE KING’S MEN by Robert Penn Warren
  37. THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY by Thornton Wilder
  38. HOWARDS END by E.M. Forster
  39. GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN by James Baldwin
  40. THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Graham Greene
  41. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
  42. DELIVERANCE by James Dickey
  43. A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME (series) by Anthony Powell
  44. POINT COUNTER POINT by Aldous Huxley
  45. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway
  46. THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad
  47. NOSTROMO by Joseph Conrad
  48. THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence
  49. WOMEN IN LOVE by D.H. Lawrence
  50. TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller
  51. THE NAKED AND THE DEAD by Norman Mailer
  52. PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth
  53. PALE FIRE by Vladimir Nabokov
  54. LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner
  55. ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac
  56. THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett
  57. PARADE’S END by Ford Madox Ford
  58. THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Wharton
  59. ZULEIKA DOBSON by Max Beerbohm
  60. THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy
  62. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY by James Jones
  63. THE WAPSHOT CHRONICLES by John Cheever
  64. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
  65. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
  66. OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
  67. HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
  68. MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis
  69. THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton
  70. THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET by Lawrence Durell
  71. A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA by Richard Hughes
  72. A HOUSE FOR MR BISWAS by V.S. Naipaul
  73. THE DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathanael West
  74. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway
  75. SCOOP by Evelyn Waugh
  77. FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce
  78. KIM by Rudyard Kipling
  79. A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster
  80. BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh
  82. ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner
  83. A BEND IN THE RIVER by V.S. Naipaul
  84. THE DEATH OF THE HEART by Elizabeth Bowen
  85. LORD JIM by Joseph Conrad
  86. RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow
  87. THE OLD WIVES’ TALE by Arnold Bennett
  88. THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London
  89. LOVING by Henry Green
  90. MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie
  91. TOBACCO ROAD by Erskine Caldwell
  92. IRONWEED by William Kennedy
  93. THE MAGUS by John Fowles
  94. WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys
  95. UNDER THE NET by Iris Murdoch
  96. SOPHIE’S CHOICE by William Styron
  97. THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles
  99. THE GINGER MAN by J.P. Donleavy
  100. THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS by Booth Tarkington
So, I've come up with a goal for 2011. I'm going to read 25 books in this list (at least!). Hopefully, I succeed.

What are you planning to read this year?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thoughts: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Who would have thought that I’d find a book narrated by Death funny? But such is the case with Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Death narrates the adventures of Liesel Meminger, an orphan sent to live with foster parents during World War II. He—I’m assuming Death is a he—sees her stealing a book, The Gravedigger’s Handbook, during her brother’s burial. The book thief’s illustrious career, according to Death, begins there. But then the book thief’s life isn’t just about, well, stealing books. When her foster parents hide a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s life is changed forever.

Right off the bat, I fell in love with Liesel Meminger. She was spunky, tough, and slightly vulnerable, but I didn’t fall in love with just her. I fell in love with the entire cast of The Book Thief—Rudy with his lemon yellow hair, the almost-angelic Hans Hubermann, the scary but lovable Rosa Hubermann, and the Jewish fist-fighter Max Vandenburg. I even liked the door-spitter Frau Holzatpfel even if I could barely pronounce her name. The bottom line is, I cared deeply about the characters, and a book hasn’t managed to make me feel that way in a long, long time.

Gah, this book was depressing which is funny because it made me laugh out loud, too. Every time I was on the verge of crying—which was about every twenty pages, and, no, I’m not overly emotional—Zusak defused my tears by cracking a joke. But then what else could I expect about a book set in World War II Germany which also reflects about human nature? I mean, don’t we all try to see the silver lining during dark times?

By the end of the book, I was bawling like a baby. Bawling! Mockingjay managed to cloud my vision a bit, but a book hasn’t reduced me to a shivering heap of tears in a while, not since I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows three years ago. I felt like someone reached into my heart and squeezed it. The Book Thief made my heart hurt, but it also gave me hope about humankind. I mean, if Death sees the good in mankind, then I should see it as well.

Rating: 5/5 for being completely amazing and teaching me some German swear words. Awesomesauce!

Note: I am aware that The Book Thief is a relatively new book, but I feel it's already on its way to becoming a classic...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 New Year's Resolutions

via Tumblr
Whoa, my first post for 2011. First off, I want to greet everybody. Happy New Year! The dawn of the New Year has got me thinking about my personal goals for this blog. Last December, I posted in a rather haphazard way with memes and my thoughts on books all thrown together. This year, I want this blog to be a little more organized. Here are my blogging goals for the year:
  1. Come up with at least one weekly feature, book-related of course. I still have to think about this one.
    1. Last month, I only posted my thoughts on two books. Hopefully, I can post about three or more books monthly.
    2. Start discussions on book or literature-related topics at least once a month. I usually say "I'm-on-the-fence" when asked about my opinion on a particular topic, but I think 2011 is a great year to start being opinionated.
    3. Comment on other people’s blogs more. This might sound creepy but I tend to be a lurker when it comes to other people’s blogs. I read what they have to say about certain topics, but I don’t comment. I have to cure this habit of mine.
    I hope I can accomplish my 2011 blogging goals. I've only been blogging for less than a month, but I've already interacted with so many amazing book bloggers, and, wow, I can't believe I have fifteen followers already. If you're reading this, thanks for stopping by this little blog of mine.

    How about you? What are your blogging goals for 2011?


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