Thursday, January 20, 2011

You'd have to persuade me to read Persuasion again.

So. Here I am, many months later. I finished Persuasion I don't even remember when, and I also don't remember the book. Ack! Then I got distracted by the 7th Harry Potter movie coming out. I had to re-read (for the hundredth time) all seven Harry Potter books and then I got distracted by Twilight (just because, you know, it's Twilight). Then I read this totally weird book that was my dad's. It was called Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley. It was interesting, and very short. I read it in just a few hours. Now I'm in the middle of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, after reading everything in that series starting with The Hobbit. Anyway, I do like to read (a lot!), but I'm having a hard time sticking with The List. That said, I own Mansfield Park, and I intend to read it after I'm done with LotR. But, to be frank, Jane Austen is kicking my behind. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chapter 5: Persuasion is shorter!

I grabbed the next couple of Austen books - Mansfield Park and Persuasion. I had a decision to make - which one to read first? I chose based on laziness. Persuasion is about half the pages of Mansfield Park, so it's the one I'm reading next. Real scientific, I know. And go.

Finished Emma...right on time

If I keep taking four months to read one book, this is going to take a really, really, really...really long time. I figured out that if I read one book per week, it would take almost two years. Well, I am going at a WAY slower pace than that. I even talked to my mom about it and she said, "It's a lifetime goal." I don't really want it to be a lifetime goal, so I am going to try a lot harder to get these books read in a timely manner.

I keep getting distracted by other, easier books. I've kind of gotten into the habit of reading the entire Twilight series before one of the movies comes out, so I read all four of those books (for the 5th or 6th time) before tackling Emma. So, I guess I can't be too hard on myself - I mean, I read five books in four months. Actually, I read one of the Percy Jackson books, too, so six books in four months. That doesn't sound nearly as bad. We'll stick with that.

So anyway, about Emma - it was tough. I read about 300 pages and was kind of dying. I went back and read the introduction that was included in my copy, and it said that Emma is often criticized for its lack of action. I'm glad I wasn't the only one thinking that! I actually really enjoyed it in the end, but it was very hard to get through until the last 60 pages or so. Jane Austen's books are used by scholars and historians a lot of times because her descriptions of everyday life in the 19th century are very detailed. Well, that is true - tediously so. I only started liking the book when Emma turned into more of a human character after her spat with one of the other characters. Her regret and remorse for speaking without thinking was something that I have felt many times. I could finally understand and commiserate with her.

I am going to stick with Austen for now, but I do have to warn you - I bought the rest of the Percy Jackson series and will probably read those before I read another classic.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chapter 4: Austen Marathon, here we come!

I've started Jane Austen's Emma this week, and so far, it is much, much, MUCH (...much) different than the French authors. Obviously. Balzac made me puke a little, so Austen is a welcome change. My mother (remember, the English major?) told me not to read the Austen books on my list, but said there were better ones. Well, that wasn't really the point of my list, now was it? I spent a lot of energy and thought in picking up that conveniently located peice of paper at my library, and darn it, I'm gonna read the books on the list. The end. I'm excited for Austen, and maybe, if my eyes haven't fallen out of their sockets by the end of 100 classics (especially if the majority are like Cousin Bette), I will read her very knowledgeably recommended suggestions. Love you, Mommy!

My goal is to post my conclusion to Emma before July. :S

Holy Incredibly Long Time to Read a Book, Batman!

So I started reading Cousin Bette in November. It is now March. The book is not 10,000 pages long, but instead, a manageable 400-something. I pretty much suck. Well, I do have a couple excuses. 1. I fell down a driveway and broke my fibula. For those of you who don't know, the fibula is the smaller of the two bones in the lower leg. (Don't be ashamed if you didn't know; I didn't either, but will now be haunted with the knowledge for the rest of my life!) 2. I started a new job as an elementary school music teacher, which is fun, rewarding, stressful, frustrating, and time-consuming all in one $12 an hour package! Anyway, those things are not good excuses, but excuses they are, so I will use them.

But I digress. Cousin Bette made me want to poke my eyes out. It was not fun. Hence, taking 4 months to read one little book. Firstly, it was in such an annoying format. There were no chapters, and only a small (*) to break up a section, oh, every 80 pages or so. So every time I left it and came back, I had to reread about 2 pages to remind myself what was going on. Exasperating!

The story was about a family in 1800's France, shortly after the reign of Napoleon. It was very obvious how the author felt about politics, social classes, and general daily life in those times: he hated everything about them. The title character, Elizabeth (or Bette), was a viciously manipulative, bitter, and resentful woman who I frankly did not care for. That was, of course, the point, but I need to love somebody in a book, and I didn't love anyone. Even the cousin of Bette - Adeline - who is supposed to be the opposite of Bette, is frail and flawed. I couldn't stand it.

So, I realize that books with subjects other than sparkly vampires and pubescent wizards are hard to read, and not always very fun. I did know that already, but I'm feeling it now. Can I please get a book with a happy ending? Unfortunately, "classic" often times is equal to "rediculously sad and intentionally cruel, but there's a life lesson in there if you think about it hard enough". Meh. On to Austen!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chapter 3: Skip to Balzac (no snickering!)

I know. How immature can I be? I can't help it. Well, my library didn't have any of the Austen books on hand, so I stuck my name on the hold lists and grabbed the next book down the line, Cousin Bette by Honore de Balzac. I just wanted to inform anyone that is trying to follow along with my supposed "alphabetical by author" story (lies!).

My first impression of the book is that this is another French author, and the story takes place in the mid-1800's. It will be interesting to see Balzac's point of view on Paris and French coulture compared to Fournier. There is an introduction at the beginning of the book that explains that this is only part 1 of 2 books, the second titled Cousin Pons. I don't know why Bette is on The List, but Pons is not. I might have to read the other as well, but we will see how I feel after I finish this one.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Le Grand Meaulnes is pretty grand!

I finished reading The Lost Domain (or as it was originally titled, Le Grand Meaulnes) last night. It was definitely a tough read, even for being a little tiny baby-sized book. There are two reasons why I think this book was hard for me: 1. It was originally written in French, and although the translation is wonderful, some of the sentences are still a bit off; 2. The time/culture/environment of the story is not familiar to me at all, having never grown up in 1890's France. Now I know that I will probably say this about almost every other book on the list, since most were written/take place a hundred years or more ago. But this book was quite foreign to me, and hard, and so I use those excuses.

With all that said, I enjoyed this book so much that I will most likely be adding it to my book collection. Said collection includes Harry Potter, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Twilight series. Seriously, that's about it. Needless to say, this book will get its very own shelf because the others don't deserve to be near it (don't hate me!).

The Lost Domain is an interesting story narrated by not the main character, but by a character who idolizes the main character so much that no other characters are really examined. Le grand Meaulnes (pronounced like "moan"), as he is called in the story, is the only character that gets any real attention from the narrator. To be honest, I know very little more now about the narrator character than I did when I first started the book. The same is with all the other characters. So much so that I found myself having to go backwards in the book to find answers as to where a certain character came into the story, or the significance of that character.

The book is a romance in the very literal meaning of the word. From the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a romance is (1) : a medieval tale based on legend, chivalric love and adventure, or the supernatural (2) : a prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious. The Lost Domain is a romance and also a fairy tale, but what makes it truly wonderful and unique is that it includes very real to life themes - sorrow, pain, and death. The addition of the bad makes the good so much more satisfying.

In conclusion, never judge a book by its cover, but especially never judge a book by its size (or lack thereof).