Monday, February 25, 2013

Brain Food, V

More books... There is always more books.
From top to bottom:
* Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities" - I saw it on my friend's bookshelf and she kindly lent it to me, as this is one of the four Dickenses I need for my Classics Club reading list.
* Jane Austen, "Persuasion" - I guess this is as good time as any to confess I haven't read any Jane Austen... Nor do I have much inclination to, but I guess if I want to become a well-read person, one or two of her works should be dealth with.
* Charles Dickens, "Oliver Twist" - pretty, pretty, pretty. On Valentine's Day we went to bookshop with my boyfriend and he gifted me this book (plus I sneaked in that Austen as well, as Penguin Classics were still 50% off). Afterwards we also went to the game shop and I gifted him something he fancied so all's well.
* D. L. Bogdan, "The Forgotten Queen" - and here comes the start of baby steps to historical fiction. I won this book through a giveaway and it's about Margaret Tudor, the not-so-often portrayed Queen of Scotland. Read two chapters and luckily, didn't even feel like I'd want to stop. Promising start, at least.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

C_Club #2 - "Lady Chatterley's Lover" by David Herbert Lawrence

First and foremost - this book is beautifully written. Regardless of my not-so-memorable first encounter with Lawrence through "Sons and Lovers", I have to admit that he is a highly elegant writer.
Now, when it comes to the rest, I have to agree with my fellow Classics Clubber Christine, who pointed out that that this novel is controversial. I thought for a long time after finishing "Lady Chatterley's Lover" - how would I describe it, in short. And controversial is a good word. Controversial because of the themes it examines, and controversial because of the difference in times and trends - back when it was written and how the world looked like then, and the very liberal world of today.
It is actually quite difficult for me to get a grasp my thoughts here - it was the book that I didn't love, yet filled with stick-ins just because it was so beautiful. Not to say that I hated it; it's just that oftentimes I was really doubting how Lady C has survived the test of time. Let's put it that way: as a classics reader in 2013, I can fully appreciate and imagine the meaning and impact that such a book likely had back in 1928; however, as with all the classics, I will never, ever be able to experience the kind of feelings that people of the time had towards this novel. In that sense - some classics novels are more, hm, time-resistant and universal than others, and I think that Lady C falls into the latter category.
How exciting!
Photo lent from here.

My Penguin clothbound copy came with a long introduction written by wonderful Doris Lessing (really, a piece of art of its own, this introduction) and although I am always on the fence whether to read intros or explanations on books beforehand, I am glad I did it in this case. It didn't spoil anything and I was able to understand the novel a bit better.
Constance married Clifford Chatterley in 1917, during the war. When Clifford returns from the war six months later, his whole lower body is paralyzed. From the very first page of the book, reader can fully see what kind of problems there are to come.
Lawrence, who was extremely worried about the future and the fate of England, stated that the country can be saved through "tender-hearted fucking", as Lessing puts it. Taking that into consideration and then considering the fact that Clifford Chatterley was no longer capable of any kind of physical love related action, one can see how the marriage is doomed from the beginning. Clifford and Constance are otherwise also very estranged from each other, and this kind of life is not good for the woman (she gets very thin and, basically, starts withering), so she starts looking for tenderness and love from other men.
"But what do you believe in?" she insisted. [...]
[...]"Yes, I do believe in something. I believe in being warm-hearted. I believe especially in being warm-hearted in love, in fucking with a warm heart. I believe if men could fuck with warm hearts, and the women take it warm-heartedly, everything would come all right. It's all this cold-hearted fucking that is death and idiocy." /p. 206/
In these few lines stands, basically, everything that Lawrence wanted to say, I think. He touches several subjects of concern - people becoming cold and individual and thus becoming estranged from each other; the gap between those who bow to "bitch-goddess" - success and money (the term lent from Henry James, I believe) and those, simpler people, who actually, physically carry out everything that needs to be done - the workers.
I feel like my thoughts are all over the place when it comes to this book. Oftentimes I also found myself pondering how exactly people might have read "Lady Chatterley's Lover" back in 1928. And I must admit, I kind of had this image in my mind much similar to this black-and-white photo up there: I imagined women giggling, underlining "the juicy bits" and I imagined how, most of times, this book was acquired mayhaps only because of its shock value. Well. It definitely has no shock value in our modern world, so it is possible for us, at least, try and peek behind the curtain of "shock" and dig deeper into the meaning of this text.
My clothbound copy ends with a long "A Propos of Lady Chatterley's Lover" written by Lawrence himself. This, too, was a delightful piece of read. Lawrence dissects the story a bit, and talks about the reception and difficulties he had when publishing it (mainly connected to many of pirate copies that were made). I guess it goes without mentioning that Lady C became a famous banned book. I also chuckled a lot when he very directly attacks G. B. Shaw, with whom he seemed to have very different opinions on sexuality. "The Chief Priest of Europe knows more about sex than Mr Shaw does, anyhow, because he knows more about the essential nature of the human being," he says on page 318.
All in all. This was a novel that I neither particularly liked, nor disliked, but I very much enjoyed how it was written. The beauty and elegance of the words! I don't think it was a waste of time; any book that triggers the flood of thoughts is good, whether in negative or positive sense. However, I do warn that there is no point searching for joyfulness and sunshine from Lady C. I don't think I found a single likeable character. I could understand their actions and behaviour - sure, but I didn't like them, nor relate to them, nor particularly symphatise with them. As it was put in a review on the book I read some time ago (unfortunately I do not remember who and where wrote it), the whole book felt like a rainy day. Well, I happen to love rainy days. But I know many of us don't.
How my book looked like afterwards. Springy! :)


335 pages

April - celebrating naturalism through Zoladdiction

In the spring month of April, o over at Délaissé and Fanda from Fanda Classiclit will be hosting a wonderful event called Zoladdiction. It is not overly difficult to guess that we will be reading a lot of Émile Zola that month.
There are three levels available:
  1. Maheude (read 1 book)
  2. Gervaise (read 2-3 books)
  3. Nana (read 4 or more books)
I think I am going for the middle option and try to read two or three books. I have already started "Germinal" (currently on hold), so that will be a sure choice; another one that I will pick up is likely to be "Thérèse Raquin" (a re-read) and if I have time then also "Nana". All those three books are also part of my big Classics Club reading list.
If you are interested, please visit blog posts of the two lovely ladies, o and Fanda, for more information on the event. Everyone is welcome to take part!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Classics Club Spin - #14

Classics Club Spin number was taken out of the top hat a few days ago and it was 14 - which means that based on the list I made for the event, I have to read "Arrowsmith" by Sinclair Lewis by April the 1st.
The book came from "Mh?" category, meaning I have little to zero knowledge about this novel. I have deliberately avoided reading anything related to it and all I know so far is that it has to do with medicine and science, which sounds exciting. I also know that in 1926, Sinclair was awarded Pulitzer Prize for this novel, which he refused to accept saying that all prizes are dangerous and because he did not believe his novel to be what the Pulitzer Prize symbolises (full letter from Lewis to the Pulitzer Prize Committee can be found here).
So, all in all I am quite happy with the choice right now and for over long time, I feel it is good to approach a novel I know nothing of beforehand. I don't even have a copy yet, so first I have to hunt the book down.
And, also good that I don't have to read "War and Peace" yet afterall :)


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top Ten Troubled Women in Classic Novels


Top Ten Tuesday is one of my favourite weekly list-y things to read. It is hosted by the people over at The Broke and the Bookish and today's topic is "Top Ten favourite characters in [whatever genre you choose]". So I decided to go with my Top Ten Troubled Women in Classic Novels. It does not mean that I like and admire all those women, but rather that I found their characters and development interesting to observe. Some I like more than others; some I despise and some I symphatise with. Okay, here goes:
  1. Anna Karenina from "Anna Karenina" (Leo Tolstoy) - one of the most famous female characters out there, Anna has trouble finding her place in society and finding balance between the wishes of her heart and the unforgiving social norms.
  2. Emma Bovary from "Madame Bovary" (Gustave Flaubert) - both Anna and Emma have always been strongly associated in my mind, as Emma too would prefer life away from "boring" husband and decides to follow the whims of her heart.
  3. Rebecca Sharp from "Vanity Fair" (William Makepeace Thackeray) - there is a woman that can send shivers of anger and despise right through your body. Probably one of the most famous climbers of the social ladder in literature.
  4. Margarita from "The Master and Margarita" (Mikhail Bulgakov) - Margarita is a character who also knows that she is married to a wrong man, but unlike the previous three characters, she is portrayed as strong and courageous woman instead. She is so certain she is doing the right thing that readers are drawn to rather admire her.
  5. Sarah Woodruff from "French Lieutenant's Woman" (John Knowles) -  nicknamed "Tragedy", Sarah is a really complicated character, mayhaps a little ahead of her time. She spends many of her days gazing out at the sea, and it is commonly thought that she is waiting for the French Lieutenant.
  6. Daisy Buchanan from "The Great Gatsby" (F. Scott Fitzgerald) - a spoiled brat (excuse the expression); a woman so shallow she has hard time figuring out what it is that she wants.
  7. Frances "Franny" from "Franny and Zooey" (J. D. Salinger) - one of the members of Salinger's Glass family, featured in many of his stories. Being a 20-year old college student, Franny is searching for her spiritual self and it is not easy for her to find.
  8. Charlotte Haze from Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov) - Lolita's mother. The woman forces Humbert Humbert into marriage while refusing/incapable to see how he despises her; she is also unable or unwilling to see her husband's interest into her teenage daughter.
  9. Arwen Undómiel from "The Lord of the Rings" (J. R. R. Tolkien) - elf Arwen has a tough decision to make - she loves a man; the problem is, elves' lifespan goes tens and tens of times beyond that of men. Arwen feels pressure from her father to be "sensible" and take a ship away from Middle-Earth, and remain immortal.
  10. An honourary mention - The Madwoman in the Attic from "Jane Eyre" (Charlottë Bronte) -  no comments needed here. She is clearly very troubled :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Beginnings: Lady Chatterley's Lover

Book Beginnings on Fridays is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. To participate, share the opening sentence of your current read. Include the title and the author. Share thoughts, impressions, or anything else inspiration-worthy.
"Lady Chatterley's Lover" by David  Herbert Lawrence:
Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.
I had no intention to start reading this book yet. But after having read that delicious, almost poetic first paragraph, there was no way to not start reading this book. :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Brain Food, IV

So the other day I was out in the town, and figured I'll hop into my local new-book-store... Just to take a look, right... Oh, who am I kidding. I think all book-a-holics only hop into bookshops in hopes of not coming back out alone, meaning with books.
Well big was my surprise (not!) when I saw that all Penguin Classics softcovers were 50% off. So I figured I'd get a few for my Classics Club challenge list. Let's call the gorgeous fiery red clothbound Penguin one a casualty... ahem.
* Bram Stoker "Dracula" - want, want, want. Could maybe the number coming out of the top hat for the Classics Spin challenge be 4, pretty please? I recall browsing a copy of this book back when I was tiny, but of course I remember near nothing, and it was in Estonian, and whine whine whine. Time for a proper read.
* Charles Dickens "Bleak House" - yes, when I added this one to my Classics Club list, I wasn't aware it's a thousand page book... But it has pictures! And I've been craving for some Dickens for such a long time that I wouldn't even mind if number 6 was picked out of the top hat for the Spin challenge.
* And the casualty, David Herbert Lawrence "Lady Chatterley's Lover" - now I am not a shallow person and under normal circumstances don't give a rabbit's tail for how a book looks like, but this cover I couldn't resist. Red! Phoenix! Also I deserve a nice gift having finished my first classics book for the challenge! Something like that (just as with drinking, one can always find a reason to buy a book). My memories of Lawrence aren't among the best ("Sons and Lovers"), but but but. After having read the first paragraph of this one, I had this huge inner smile growing in me, and now I'm happily about 1/4 done already.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

C_Club #1 - "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë

I think my first read of "Jane Eyre" took place some time in early or middle of the teens. It was an Estonian-language hardcover copy (an ugly blue plain cover that gives you no idea of what the book might be about) that I snatched from my grandmother's bookshelf (my grandmother has a huuuuuuuuuuge library, but that is a topic that deserves a post of it's own). I definitely read it in summer, because books that I took from those shelves I read while spending vacation at grandmother's. I liked the story, but it didn't cause any life-changing or wow-effect.
I think my mum saw me read, and said something along the lines "This is a very good book". I think that is one of the only few book-related conversations me and my mother have had. She didn't used to read that much, and now that she does, our preferences in literature don't have much common ground.
Thus, having finished this book now, at the age of 30, I actually went to Goodreads and changed my rating to five stars. Because this book deserves it.
And what an interesting thing. Back in my teens, reading "Jane", I only remember the story. And some fragments of characters, because, well, they are kind of strongly painted. Reading this time, the plot was way in the background and the focus was just drawn to the characters and especially the language/dialogues. That just makes you think... all those books I read when I was younger, maybe one should pay another visit.
Back to the book. I have to confess that I have always been a bit puzzled when (female) readers, let's say, swoon over (male) characters and romances in novels. Secretly I wish I could do that too, but I can't, and I have accepted the fact that there is probably something wrong with me in that sense :p Maybe it means I don't relate enough, maybe it means romances aren't just that big of a deal for me. I do have a lovely boyfriend myself and I need to be taken care of, in real life, but I never look for it in books. (Maybe if it was a yummi very tragic and not-happy ending story...) So, given that, many have taken fancy of the romance in this particular novel and the male lead character. It does trigger my interest that both Jane E and Edward R are described to be plain and not that comely in their looks. I think that is refreshing to read nowadays (especially when put next to all these TV-things that 99% feature "beautiful people"; yes, let's not get into the concept/definition of beauty here). I can relate to Jane when she thinks
And was Mr Rochester now ugly in my eyes? No, reader: gratitude, and many associations, all pleasurable and genial, made his face the object I best liked to see; his presence in the room was more cheering than the brightest fire. /p. 128/
Yes, many associations are those that combine beauty, for me.
It's very difficult not to love Jane's character. She is an excellent role model, without being preachy or coming off fake. Just take a look at that little scene with Jane and Edward in the clothing store:
With anxiety I watched his eye rove over the gay stores: he fixed on a rich silk of the most brilliant amethyst dye, and superb pink satin. I told him in a new series of whispers, that he might as well buy me a gold gown and a silver bonnet at once: I should certainly never venture to wear his choice. /p. 236/
Bang! My kind of girl :)
However. May Edward R be what he is (with all the sneakiness and madwoman-affair), I actually started appreciating him a whole lot more after meeting the character called St John. Oh boy... He just made my hormones go all the wrong ways.
"[...] I shall be absent a fortnight - take that space of time to consider my offer: and do not forget that if you reject it, it is not me you deny, but God.[...]" /p. 362/
he writes in a note to Jane after having proposed. And what follows is
He did not leave for Cambridge the next day, as he had said he would. He deferred his departure a whole week, and during that time he made me feel what severe punishment a good yet stern, a conscientious yet implacable man can inflict on one who has offended him. Without one overt act of hostility, one upbraiding word he contrived to impress me momently with the conviction that I was put beyond the pale of his favour. /p. 363/
PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE MUCH? Yeah, I have issues with passive-aggressive people, even if they appear only in a book... Not to mention I can't really quite fathom such behaviour from any person claiming to be pious... So yes, story around St John did creep me out good while.
All in all, it was a cozy read. I think it'd make a pretty good comfort book. Language is at times lush and also sharp as a surgeon's knife, and the story itself doesn't drag nor hurry overly. If I should one day have a little girl of my own, I'd definitely stick this one in her hands first, over "Hunger Games" and whatnot other popular modern day books :)
401 pages

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spinning around - The Classics Spin!

The Classics Club has come up with some random fun - The Classics Spin. We have to list 20 titles from our still unread list of the classics (which is super easy for me since I only started this month and have read one book out of a hundred); come next Monday, a mystery person is going to pull a random number from 1 to 20 out of the top hat and people will have to finish their book under that number by the Fool's Day, 1st of April.
I've just created four sub-categories for this event and each of them consists of five books. I (think) I only added one mega-chunkster - "War and Peace", but otherwise trying to be realistic regarding the given time frame. Also, March is the month for the reading of Modernists, so that could possibly create some conflict of interest, depending on what number will be pulled...
But, without further ado, behold my list of random books:

Category 1: "Gimme Gimme Gimme!"

1. Ray Bradbury ”Something Wicked This Way Comes”

2. Umberto Eco “The Name of the Rose”

3. F. Scott Fitzgerald “Tender Is the Night”

4. Bram Stoker “Dracula”

5. Jane Austen “Mansfield Park”

Category 2: "Noooo! Have mercy!"

6. Charles Dickens “Bleak House”

7. Frank Herbert “Dune”

8. Jules Verne “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”

9. Joseph Conrad “Heart of Darkness”

10. Leo Tolstoy “War and Peace


Category 3: "Mh?"

11. Willa Cather “My Antonia”

12. Kate Chopin “The Awakening”

13. Ralph Ellison “Invisible Man”

14. Sinclair Lewis “Arrowsmith”

15. Yevgeny Zamyatin “We”

Category 4: "Oops... Did it again... Yadda yadda."

16. Gabriel Garcia Marquez “One Hundred Years of Solitude”

17. Milan Kundera “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”

18. William Shakespeare “Hamlet”

19. Patrick Süskind “The Perfume”

20. Fyodor Dostoyevski “Idiot”

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"A Modern March" - Making the Spring New

Allie over at A Literary Odyssey is hosting an event to my liking this March - A Modern March.
People will be (voluntarily!) tackling authors like Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, E. M. Forster, et cetera, et cetera... Stream of consciousness, experiments in literary techniques, multiple narratives, inner monologues, all the Make It New stuff from the late 19th-halfwaythrough the 20th century.
In general, I love modernists. For different reasons. I might not personally like some of them that much, or I might find them very hard to approach (Joyce, Woolf), but I can relate to the movement as such. I enjoy the concept of thinking of something new. Changing the old ways. Progress! Yes. Making It New. I also fancy some of the authors just for making me move my "little grey cells" a tad more than when I read something else, more conventional.
During the literature courses in uni, as much as I am able to recall, I read at least a few modernist pieces. The brightest flame among them Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury"; I was able to rave about this one more than any other book for a good while (and I don't even generally rave over books... almost ever). We read "To the Lighthouse" - to this day I remember the scene with the pot of stew. It was the first time I realised that food can actually act almost like a character in novel. Kafka - how I loved the bureaucratic corridors of human mind in "The Trial", and how it depressed the me in late teens. We read Thomas Mann, to whom I did not take particular liking, but I really want to read him again, and will do that during the Classics Club project. I have read "The Great Gatsby" (Fitzgerald) twice and I loved "Lolita" (Nabokov), which I think is actually hanging on the border of modernism and postmodernism (such is the nature of genres; they mix and melt).
Anyway. I intend to read some modernist goodness this March, yes I do! Crossing over with my Classics Club list is plenty of stuff, so I'll just come up a short initial, spontaneous list (who doesn't love a good list, even if it's short):
* F. Scott Fitzgerald "Tender is the Night" - it's sitting on my bookshelf and I'd love a good excuse to give it some attention rather sooner than later.
* Ernest Hemingway "For Whom the Bell Tolls" - quite the contrary with this one; I think without a good motivational factors I might get to that one who knows when.
* And I'm hoping to pull out a copy of Woolf's "Mrs Dalloway" from the top hat by March, because I reallyreallyreally want to read it (and then I want to read "The Hours" right after it!), so fingers crossed.
The list may, of course, and is likely to, be altered.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Review: "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins

Where was this book when I was in high-school? And why hadn't I heard of Wilkie Collins until as of late?? Dear teacher people, who put together study plans and contents and such, while I appreciate Gogol's contribution to the canon, while I (now, at least) adore Zola's gritty and muddy streets and relationships in Paris, and while I cannot, by no means, argue that Hesse and Camus were are huge literary figures (although they both have passed by me with little impact so far, unfortunately), if you want the late-teens to hopefully pick up at least a few more classics in their later life, let them read Wilkie Collins.
How to even begin... After I had acknowledged Collins's existence (mainly through other book blogs - thanks guys!), I had this unexplainable urge to read "The Woman in White". It sat on top of my TBR pile the whole time while I was plowing through "A Dance With Dragons", and I swear it winked at me and whispered "Come on! You know how much you want me!" And of course I did. Not even the 750-page count scared me the least.

"Which way to London?" Lent from here.
Set in various locations in England in 19th century, the book must have been a sensation when it was published (1860). It has it all - mystery, (probably one of the world's first) male-female duo of detectives, big mansions and its loitering inhabitants, old-time mail service (morning post takes your letter to London by evening!), fainting maidens (actually, only one *phew*), a little bit of romance (which luckily doesn't dominate over the rest of the goodness), graveyards, doppelgangers, sneaky counts and hypochondriac uncles... I could go on, honestly.
Although the story itself is very, very decent (told by different narrators and in different forms), when it comes to this novel, the cherry (and what a huge cherry it is!) on top of the cake is the cast of characters. I'd even gladly take a closer look at them. But I have to agree with myself to keep it at, say, two sentences per character, because it could get long. (Needless to say this part can get spoiler-ish, depending on your tolerance level.)
* Walter Hartright - yeah, your typical "good guy", I guess, but he is needed in the middle of this lot, to balance out all the eccentrities. Falls for The Fainting Maiden and is otherwise very helpful and, at times, even unbelievably resourceful.
* Laura Fairlie - aforementioned Maiden; allegedly pretty to look at but I have a feeling if left alone for more than a day, this one would probably go without food and butt naked, as she doesn't seem to be able to do anything on her own. In strong need for a babysitter.
* Percival Glyde (and I refuse to add the "Sir"; in my mind one has to earn that title) - no Santa to visit you, Percival, that's for sure. Just pile some of the worst character traits one can imagine (deceptive, greedy, abusive, hypocritical, not even that bright) and there he is.
* Frederik Fairlie - hilarious character nr 1; uncle of The Fainting Maiden (blood relations between those two explain a lot, actually...). I don't even want to bash him because in his selfishness and secluded way of life, he is to be pitied, but it did make me laugh more than once to see him interacting with the rest of the household (especially the "Don't bully me, I am too weak to take it!" - parts).
* Countess Fosco - wife of Count Fosco. She basically gave out this living dead vibe and was one of the best characters in the sense that I didn't even finally get her - she went beyond me, but in a good, mysterious way.
Count Fosco. Lent from here.
* Count Fosco - hilarious character nr 2; it is impossible to hate a villain with such a brilliant mind and such eccentric ways. A very fat man in love with tarts and intelligent minds.
* The Woman in White - the mystery! *ghostly sounds*
* Marian Halcombe - tat-ta-da-daa! Hilarious character nr 3. Possibly the greatest female heroine e-ver. How she and The Fainting Maiden could share a parent, I do not understand, as the difference between those two girls can be measured in light years. (And yes, the praise to Marian is going longer than just two sentences!) She has all the looks valued at the time except for the face (the misery!), and like another favourite character of mine, Tyrion Lannister, she knows that what she lacks she needs to make up with other means - extraordinarily sharp wit, the kind of gut and spunk that I don't think 95% of other women of the time were able to even grasp in their pretty little often dizzy heads, strong common sense, the way with words (heaven knows I wouldn't have made it if I had to read the diary of Laura Fairlie but Marian's was very enjoyable), and she would not go without food or butt naked, that's for sure. Follows one of the more brilliant and self-sarcastic thoughts from Marian's head:
If I only had the privileges of a man, I would order out Sir Percival's best horse instantly, and tear away on a night-gallop, eastward, to meet the rising sun - a long, hard, heavy, ceaseless gallop of hours and hours, like the famous highwayman's ride to York. Being, however, nothing but a woman, condemned to patience, propriety, and petticoats for life, I must respect the house-keeper's opinions, and try to compose myself in some feeble and feminine way. /p. 225/
I am sure someone has already thought of it, but I am thinking that in honour of wonderful Marian Halcombe, one day I will order a T-shirt saying "Petticoats for life!".
* And somewhat of a honourary mention - Professor Pesca, friend of Walter Hartright (hilarious character nr 4). There was not enough Pesca in the book! One could only theoretise how this novel would have felt like, had Pesca been carrying out the role of Hartright and teamed up with Ms Halcombe.

Brain Food, III

Okay, here come some bricks books I have hunted down during the past ten days or so. I have to admit that I am beginning to get slightly intimidated by all those chunksters that seem to find their way to my home... But what can you do. I love chunksters!
Let's go from top to bottom, then.
* Stephen King, "Bag of Bones" - because you need a good bite of King when feeling like taking a break from all these wonderful (but sometimes a bit exhausting) classics.
* William Shakespeare, "Hamlet" - I purchased this Penguin version for my Classics Club Challenge. Looking forward to being reacquinted with the Scandinavian Prince again. And look what a tiny little book it is (compared to the rest of the pile)!
* Charlotte Brontë "Jane Eyre" - ditto to the last one. I made the mistake of "I'll just take a little peek into this book...", which resulted in not enough sleep last night. I better just finish it off and be done with that :)
* Arthur Conan Doyle "The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes" - oh boy. How did I end up with this book, and for 5 (!!!) euros only? Because we have awesome second-hand bookshop here in Helsinki, basically in our back yard... ("Jane Eyre" and "Bag of Bones" were 2 euros both. Why was I ever buying new books?) Anyway... Mr Holmes weighs a ton, has 1200 pages and very small font. I predict this one's gonna take some time. Good thing is that you can read a novel or a story now and then and not feel disconnected from the characters or the overall atmosphere.
* Roger Zelazny "The Great Book of Amber" - and the inevitable dose of fantasy. While Sherlock was a brick, this one's a bloody foundation panel... It is the collection of all the 10 books in Zelazny's "Amber Chronicles" series. I read them, or at least most of them, being young, and in Estonian. Lately I really started missing some good soap-opera-fantasy, an easy read but not the like to dull your mind. This series is all about the characters, and the characters are ... hilarious. Imagine members of a royal family/kin, who smoke, drink, swear and constantly attempt to stab each other in the back? Yep. That's Amber.
So, out of these, I am already halfway through "Jane Eyre", I started "A Study in Scarlet" and also couldn't resist taking a peek into the scheming in Amber (25/120 pages of the first novel read - yes, they are that short!).

Friday, February 8, 2013

Book Beginnings: Complete Sherlock Holmes

Book Beginnings on Fridays is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. To participate, share the opening sentence of your current read. Include the title and the author. Share thoughts, impressions, or anything else inspiration-worthy.

"(Every story ever written about fiction's most famous detective in) The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes" by Arthur Conan Doyle:
In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the Army.
So begins A Study in Scarlet, the first novel in this enormous, 1100-page-small-font brick of a book.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Closing the lid of January

The first month of the year has ended. You know what that means. Only February to suffer and then it is almost legitimate to start waiting or spring. Being a citizen of a Nordic country this is a big deal for me because the snow piles, low temperatures and overall darkness can get a bit uninspiring.
Anyhow, the upside is that when it's cold and uncomfortable outside, the more time to read.
I finished 6 books in January, which was my first month of blogging and more "systematic" reading. Six is not maybe that much, but considering that two of them were chunksters, I think it is more or less decent number.
In total I read 3039 pages in January.
The books were

I have no idea how February will turn out. I am still reading "1Q84" (which is a little bit disappointing in many ways, but I will write about that at later day), I started "Germinal", which is awesome but which I want to devour in small pieces, I started "Howards End" in Estonian and made it until page 90 before fully realising that reading Forster in Estonian equals a small sin, and I also started the ultimate Sherlock Holmes collection I found this weekend. I also found a nice copy of "Jane Eyre" and am quite tempted to start that re-read (it has been many, many years and I am very curious how I might see this book at this age).
Plans for blog posts this week include thoughts on "The Woman in White", which I haven't had time to write about, and show off the new books from last week.