Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Reading Lists

For some of you, this post will be the most boring thing you could possibly read. So if you read the title and thought, "Gross, I thought I was done with those," then please do yourself a favor and skip it! My feelings won't be hurt!

Others of you, however, have indicated interest in learning what I've been assigned to read in my various classes. So without further ado, here are my reading lists. (I've also included links to anything I've reviewed, so you can check those out if you want.)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Candide by Voltaire

I originally put this book on my Classics Club list because I heard it was short and funny, and then it worked out perfectly because I was assigned to read it for my World Literature class this semester.*

I'll be honest; I didn't think Candide was all that funny. Well, it was sort of funny in a really sarcastic way, but it was also atrocious, which made it a lot less funny to me. The introduction in my book made it sound like Voltaire was such a master of humor that he could make the worst injustices seem rip-roaringly hilarious, but I was never quite on board with that. Not that it pulled at my heartstrings, really; Voltaire didn't seem to have much sympathy for his characters. I wasn't sad; I was repulsed. Yeah, I get that he was making fun of people who think "everything is for the best." That doesn't make it any more amusing to read about rape, prostitution, deliberate disfigurement, torture, and all the other lovely events related throughout Candide. Don't get me wrong, I can see how someone might think it's funny, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tartuffe by Moliere

I actually read Tartuffe as a homeschooled teenager. (Am I sensing a trend around here lately?) The only thing I really remembered about it, before reading it this time around, was the positively insufferable (yes, the uppity word "insufferable" is called for here) rhyming couplets that made up the entire play.

Well, thankfully, I read a different translation this time, and that made all the difference. The translation in the Norton Anthology of Western Literature, which I was assigned this time, was by Richard Wilbur, and although it kept the rhyming couplets, it managed to make them sound a little more elegant and a bit less contrived. Whatever translation I read as a teenager sounded like a seven-year-old had written it.

But anyway, once the rhyming couplets came out right, they did their job of keeping the entire play light on its feet. After spending several weeks immersed in King Lear, this play was exactly the right thing to read. It was fun and hilarious, short and sweet. I can imagine it would be even more fun to see it played onstage.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Obligatory Bloglovin Post

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

(So I finally decided to claim my blog on Bloglovin, heh, and apparently in order to do that, you have to write a post with this link at the top. Here you are. No pressure--but I do recommend Bloglovin; I've been using it for several months now. I also recommend my blog. Yep. Shameless self-advertising.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

King Lear by William Shakespeare

I have to say that reading Shakespeare as an adult is way more fun with the past experience of having read it as a homeschooled teenager. I first read King Lear when I was about 12. Probably needless to say, I hardly remembered it at all when I started it this time around. Here's a comprehensive list of all the details I remembered:
  • The first scene is very long and it involves King Lear misinterpreting something his daughter said. 
  • Goneril and Regan are jerks. 
  • Something gross and violent happens (who knows what). 
  • People die at the end. 
Yeah, okay, Shakespeare may not have been my primary focus as a 12-year-old. (What's King Lear in comparison with cute boys?) But I do remember liking the play, believe it or not. It was my first real introduction to Shakespeare, and although I barely understood a word, I loved it. 

So it was sort of nostalgic to read King Lear again, for the first time since those fateful few weeks as a 12-year-old.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Austenland by Shannon Hale

How long has it been since I read a book like this? Ummmm...over a year. I'm not kidding. At all.

This year I made a goal to focus on fun books, which works out perfectly with a book club I joined. (I finally joined a book club!) Some of the other members of the club are students as well, so most of the books we're planning on reading are short, easy, and fun.

Austenland was the first pick. I was excited about it because I've been interested in Shannon Hale since I read Princess Academy as a teenager. But I also felt a little weird reading YA for the first time in a long time. I felt even weirder when I got totally hooked, blowing off studying and housework and other important things in order to read it. Of course, I finished it within a couple of days, after carrying it around with me and reading it in spare moments.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

I finished this book early last December and I've been working on this review ever since. I'm finally just putting it out there, even though it still feels unfinished. 

I think I found a new favorite author.

Okay, of course, it's hard to say that when I've only read one book by George Eliot. But it's such an exquisite book. It felt like the book I've been waiting for, one of those positively delicious books that you can't help but drink right in. 

This book has all the elements I love the most in books. Characters that are beautiful and complex and inherently flawed. A story that is meaningful and important without needing extravagant epic proportions. A message that comes through, but that will necessarily look and feel different for every single reader. And above all, gorgeous writing. 

I honestly don't know how to praise this book enough. After reading it, I can't imagine not liking a book by George Eliot. It's just that wonderful.