Books I’d Like to Re-read

I read a review of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility today at The Bookshelf of Emily J.  It was a re-read for her and she “yawned” through the novel even though she remained aware of the importance of Austen’s work in terms of women’s issues in her time.

That got me thinking…would I agree or disagree with Emily on this?  How would I read books now that I loved in my younger years?

It’s not like my TBR list isn’t long enough, but I’d like to plunge into these books for a second (perhaps third) time and see if they will impact me the same way as they did when I first read them.  In no particular order:

I loved this book.  I had a journal full of quotes from Ellison’s work.  The protagonist was so utterly lost and trying to find himself.  He had no idea where he belonged…the journey of self discovery…a very real journey for most people in their early twenties.  I wonder if I’d read it with the same passion now that I feel “found”.

(image from rosati.net)

After reading Emily J’s review, I would add this to my list.  I didn’t love Sense and Sensibility as much I loved Pride and Prejudice.  I wonder if Austen’s works can still work their magic on me.

(image from kelseyrolfe.wordpress.com)

This book left me confused yet enthralled.  Garcia Marquez’s writing is unbelievable. I almost feel the need to read this novel again so I can absorb the beauty of the author’s writing, hopefully understand it and maybe, I’ll still love it.

(image from jestersdozen.com)

I really hated Estella and Miss Haversham.  Would I feel the same way today?

(from rereadinglives.blogspot.com)

What books from your younger reading days would you reread?

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Top Ten Books I’ve Read Since I Started Blogging!

(a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish)

This week we have been asked to list the top ten books we’ve read during the lifespan of our blogs.  My blog will be 1 soon!  Here are the top ten books I’ve read this past year:

1. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson – great story.  great characters. powerful storytelling. a beautiful read.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – SO much fun! A girl who kicks ass and has two cute boys vying for her attention?  What’s not to love?

3. The Awakening by Kate Chopin – oh what women have gone through…

4.  The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan – an absolute fun, fun time!

5.  The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson – cool.  intriguing story.

6.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – I didn’t write a review or my thoughts on this one…but it is a long-time favourite that I love to re-read every so often

7. The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp PhD. – because I’ve become the toddler-ese Queen (toddler-ese is toddler language)!  Yes, this language still works with a very upset pre-schooler.  This book helped me to communicate with my son – it is remarkable to see his eyes light up when he feels understood and validated.

8. Splat the Cat books by Rob Scotton – have you read Splat the Cat?  Your toddler/preschooler will love Splat.  He is funny and whimsical.  The stories are highly creative (yet, simple) and the art is brilliant.  Please read Splat the Cat to a child near you.

Share yours with me in the comments below or at The Broke and the Bookish through the above link.

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Want to Be for 24 Hours!

(a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish)

This week I’ve been challenged to think of characters that I’d switch places with for 24 hours:

1. Marianne Engel from The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson – she is the epitome of feminine confidence.  Beautiful, exotic and can remember her past lives.  In love with the same man for 700 years!  She is a also a master storyteller – yes, she is schizophrenic, but who cares?  The rest of her is uber cool.  For 24 hours…when she’s sculpting like crazy.

2. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – me and half the female population on earth.  For my 24 hours I choose to go traipsing around the English countryside where Elizabeth manages to snatch up the guy with the biggest estate and income.

3. Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – Can I spend 12 hours in Italy eating, then 12 hours in Indonesia swimming off the weight I’ve gained at a spectacular beach?

4. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – because she’s brilliant, she can do anything and I’d love to go to Hogwartz for a day.

5. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins I don’t know that I’d survive the hunger games as well as Katniss does, but I could go for all the pre-games primping.

6. Emma Woodhouse from Emma by Jane Austen – more problems of the upper class…love, matchmaking, gossip and rumour.  I’d like to be the immature version of Emma for 24 hours – spoiled, the center of attention, every whim, satisfied.

7. Ria Lynch or Marilyn Vine from Tara Road by Maeve Binchy I like the idea of switching homes & lives with someone for the summer and in the process, learn more about your own happiness.

8. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – just because I’d love to hack into computer systems all over the world for 24 hours.

9. Tina Fey from Bossypants by Tina Fey – because I’d love to be as funny as she is for 24 hours.

Can’t think of a tenth….lots of movie characters I’d love to be…Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman for instance, but can’t think of another character from a book…

Who would you switch places with for 24 hours?

 

Jane Austen’s Persuasion

After indulging in Dickson’s Illustrated Treasury of all things Jane Austen a few months ago, I knew I had to dive into an Austen novel again.  The Back to the Classics Challenge 2012 gave me an excuse to delve into the seemingly simple world that Austen creates.

Many of Austen’s critics believe(d) her writing to be “fluffy”…not of serious substance.  But she truly understood the nature of relationships and most of all she understood the plight of women who were unable to marry:  destitution and being at the mercy of their relatives awaited.  This made for some pretty silly tactics used by women trying to present themselves as a most suitable candidate for Mrs.  Austen’s most admired protagonists are women who are aware of their predicament: marriage, and therefore a lifetime of security or a life of ridicule and poverty.  Yet, they refuse to settle for anything less than love.

courtesy of questionmarkmag.com

Anne Elliott is by far, my favourite Austen heroine – closely behind is Elizabeth Bennett, naturally.  Anne is mature and exudes the many characteristics, that for some reason, have fallen to the way-side in our modern society.  Presently, it seems that in order to be admired and in some cases to succeed, a personality that is open, boisterous, busy (and, all things extroverted) is required.  Humility, patience, restraint, thoughfulness, reflection, silence (in favour of thought) ~ all things introverted ~ are not quite so readily acceptable, or admired.  Only once the introvert has “opened up” if you will, do others notice that we can be just as charming as our extroverted pals.  This is precisely why I think Jane Austen created such a wonderful character in Ann Elliott.

courtesy of irelandslstory.blogspot.ca

In Persuasion, Austen brings us into the daily life of upper class country families.  I wish I could spend my days walking through fields, reading, writing and receiving notes, having tea, shopping and visiting friends; then having a really great dinner at my in-laws that would inevitably turn into a lively night of drinking and dancing -being able to sleep in the next morning, and then doing it all over again the next day.  Oh, what a difficult life, indeed.  Please note, this is the life of Anne’s married sister, Mary.  Anne joins in the fun with a controlled temperament, knowing that she is considered extended family and she will have to leave behind all the fun with the Musgrove family soon.

Austen allows us to peek into the feelings of a woman who knows she made a mistake in her youth.  She must now watch the man she still loves, Captain Frederick Wentworth (gotta love his name), almost ten years later, appear to fall in love with a much younger, much livelier and lovelier woman whom Anne actually likes.  Simultaneously, she must cope with constant belittlement at the hands of her sisters and silly father.  Her restraint is astounding.

In the past I’ve heard people say that Austen’s novels are just so boring, and that nothing happens.  I can’t argue with that – her plots aren’t exactly quick and exhilirating.  But, I guess I love the study in character.  And, in case you haven’t picked up on this from my previous posts, I am enamoured with knowing about the way women have lived across the ages and how we still tackle our lives.

Anne Elliott does not “go after her man”.  She remains true to her principles.  She is herself – quiet, intelligent, a good conversationalist, sweet, compassionate and strong-minded when required.  Austen moves the action from the country to Lyme and then to Bath – offering us a deeper look into Anne’s personality with each move.

Wentworth notices that Anne has matured into a centered, beautiful woman.  Naturally, it helps that his jealousy is peaked when he sees that Anne is being openly courted by her cousin (an acceptable, even desired, occurence in Austen’s day – that way Anne would get to keep the name Elliott and its accompanying fortune).  Inevitably, Wentworth must face his feelings for Anne Elliott and decide which woman he wants.

I have to admit, there were moments where I felt like I was reading an adolescent’s diary of paintstaking details like “he looked at me and then I looked at him and then I had to leave before I could say anything”…but, it was fun.

Persuasion is a short Jane Austen novel with a mature character.  If you loved Pride and Prejudice and haven’t gotten around to any other Austen novels, definitely give Perusasion a try.  It will not disappoint.

Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury

I received this book just over a week ago as a Christmas present from one of my beloved students.  I was touched that a student had taken the time to think of a gift that I would appreciate and like.

I have always loved the works of Jane Austen – even though that might not be a fashionable statement amidst those who believe she is not really literature.  This book by Rebecca Dickson begs to differ.

Dickson divides her book very neatly into an introduction and detailed chapters that are ordered according to the publishing  dates of Austen’s works.  Each chapter focuses on the details and plots of each novel, offers interesting notes on the nineteenth century and provides insight into Austen’s personal life.  Dickson peppers her work with anecdotes about the many films that have been made based on Austen’s work and incorporates many works of art that truly capture the feeling of the nineteenth century.  Amidst all of this, there are copies of portraits made of Jane throughout her life, copies of handwritten letters, poems and even editing notes Austen made to her last novel, Persuasion.

Dickson makes many interesting parallels between Austen’s life, the people who surrounded her and the characters and stories of her novels.  Dickson’s claims are substantiated by solid research and her easy writing style makes you feel like you’re chatting to a friend who is well schooled in all-things-Austen and not a high-brow professor of literature.

It’s been a few years since I have read a Jane Austen novel.  Between teaching English, being parent to a toddler and tyring to write more – little time is spared for reading anything new, never mind sitting down to an old favourite.

Dickson’s book has changed my mind.  Recently, I posted about my new BlackBerry Playbook and the desire to start reading ebooks.  I was debating whether to read something new or begin my ereading experience with something old and comforting.  At the time I was leaning toward new, but Dickson’s book has changed my mind.  I crave to read one of Austen’s books in light of all my new knowledge from Dickson.  The question now is, which one will it be?

All in all, Rebecca Dickson doesn’t present any mind-blowing information about the author.  She creates a portrait of a woman who knew very well what she hoped to achieve through her writing and a writer who knew enough about the cultural constraints of her time to reach those goals with humour and disguise them with themes of love.

It’s fun to poke through the clear envelopes, held together by seals of Austen’s silhouette, and (try to) read Austen’s handwriting and look at portraits.  Dickson makes the foray into reading about Austen as much fun as it is to read an Austen novel.

Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury

Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury is as pleasing to read as it is to look at.  As an English Teacher, Rebecca Dickson’s book will definitely be part of my arsenal to sell Jane Austen to a new generation of readers the next time I teach one of her works.  I believe any fan of Jane Austen will devour this book that will adorn a coffee table well and offer insightful research on a beloved writer.