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text 2017-05-14 20:56
Classics That You Should Read

For those who love to read, there is nothing more difficult than someone asking you to put together a list of your favourite books. After all, no two lists will ever be the same and how can anyone possibly choose, it’s like asking which of your children you love the most…

Similarly, those who love to read fully understand how expensive books can be, particularly in this difficult economic climate. Therefore, I decided to put together a few of my favourite classics, some of which are out of copyright and can be online for free. For out of copyright books, I have added a link where the book can be found for free.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Written by English writer Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre is a classic novel which has been hailed as one of the greatest pieces of English fiction. Set against the backdrop of the magnificent Yorkshire Moors, this story follows the coming of age of a plucky young governess who faces a number of great adversaries to find happiness in the arms of her first love.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence

First published privately in Italy in 1928 and later the subject of an obscenity trial in the UK. Lady Chatterley's Lover gained notoriety due to its hugely erotic content. Based in Nottinghamshire where DH Lawrence grew up, the story focuses on a young married woman who becomes disenchanted with her upper class husband. When an injury from the war leaves him unable to connect physically and emotionally with Lady Chatterley, she seeks sexual fulfilment in the arms of Oliver Mellor’s, the gamekeeper.

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

Renowned for its warmth and humour, To Kill a Mocking Bird is loosely based on Harper Lee’s observations of friends and family, but carries an important message about the realities of racism in the 1930’s. A classic piece of American literature, To Kill a Mockingbird is widely taught in schools all over the world and addresses themes of rape, racial inequality, courage and compassion. If you haven’t read this book, it’s one to put on your list of ‘must reads’ immediately!

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

Not everyone’s favourite book, but a book that has earned its place in history. Fifty Shades of Grey tells the story of Anastasia Steel and the ‘emotionally damaged’ billionaire Christian Grey. After a chance meeting, a story of all consuming love begins to unfold. What makes this story stand out, are the BDSM themes and erotic scenes weaved throughout the tale. The book may not have been well received by critics. However, what followed was a sexual revolution that rocked the twenty first century. Sales of sex toys rocketed, BDSM practices which were previously criminalised were normalised and a new age of sexual freedom began.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

HYPERLINK "http://www.literatureproject.com/little-woLittle Women is a timeless tale of four American sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Following their lives from childhood to adulthood, Little Women has been a difficult book to define. Some describe the book as a romance novel, others claim that it is a children’s book. However, for those who have read it, the ongoing themes in this book work together to create an incredible piece of fiction that simply begs to be read.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

With over 20 million copies sold, Pride and Prejudice has certainly earned its crown as one of the most popular novels in English Literature. Using good, solid British humour, Pride and Prejudice tells the tale of the Bennet family – the overbearing Mrs Bennet, the long suffering Mr Bennet and their five daughters. Due to the laws of the land at the time, if Mr Bennet passes away the inheritance cannot be passed onto his own children and falls into the hands of a distant relative. With the pressure on to find a suitable marriage, the arrival of a handsome stranger causes rather a few trials and tribulations for the Bennet family.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Believing that he was a failure and his The Great Gatsby forgotten, F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940 with sales of just 20,000 copies. However, due to the glitz, glamour and sheer escapism of this 1920’s tale, The Great Gatsby saw a revival during World War 2 and fast became one of the greatest classics in American history. The story follows characters from a fictional town called West Egg. Featuring millionaires, shady business connections, unrivalled glamour and scandal, The Great Gatsby worked hard to earn the title of one of America’s best loved novels.

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text 2016-09-29 17:05
Bookhaul #32

In my last bookhaul I told you guys that I was planning on going to a huge booksale thing, so here's my bookhaul! I would too many books in my opinion, but I really want to read them all and I paid less than 20 euros in total for like 8 books, so yay! I also ordered two books and they came in the mail today, so I thought it would be the perfect time to finally show them. 

As you can see, all above are classics. Those are the ones I bought for less than 20 euros. I'm so excited to read all of them (I've already read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, but I wanted to get his entire collection) and some of them are on the Rory Gilmore list as well. Which one of these are you most looking forward to seeing a review?

I've been wanting to collect (almost) every book of both of these authors so I thought it was about time to get them. The only book I now need to get of Adichie is We Should All Be Feminists (but I already watched her speech on TedTalks so not sure if it's worth to buy it). I also bought This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. First I wanted to wait until this entire series is out, but because I want to get all her books in hardcover I decided to buy them once in a while. My plan is to buy A Darker Shade of Magic and the second book in that series too, because the third and final book in that trilogy will be coming out in February. I also cannot wait to read more by these authors!

 

What is your latest book purchase?

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review 2016-03-17 02:02
Books of 1915 (Part Five)
Lady Chatterley's lover, The Rainbow, Sons and lovers - D.H. Lawrence
Sexual Politics - Kate Millett
Women in Love - D.H. Lawrence
Aaron's Rod - D.H. Lawrence Aaron's Rod - D.H. Lawrence
The Voyage Out - Virginia Woolf
Psmith, Journalist - P.G. Wodehouse
Leave It to Psmith - P.G. Wodehouse
Oakleyites - E. F. Benson
Complete Mapp and Lucia (Pulp Humour) - E.F. Benson
Vainglory - Ronald Firbank,Richard Canning

The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence

 

I loved Sons and Lovers, and who doesn’t love “The Rocking Horse Winner”? So I figured I would like this one too. The Rainbow follows several members of a family through different generations. They live on a farm in the East Midlands of England. There was something incredibly irritating about this novel. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but as I was reading it, I was inwardly wailing, “Wheeeennn will this be oooover??” There were a lot of men who didn’t know how to interact with others or have real relationships, especially with women, which I guess is stark realism but was frustrating for me to read. Also, I have no problem with florid prose per se, just this wasn’t doing it for me. One highlight was a grisly alcoholism-related fatal farming accident.

 

The last family member was a young woman, Ursula, who has a bleak and depressing relationship with another women. You would think I would like that part but I think it was too dark for me. Then she has a bleak and depressing job as a teacher at a brutal school, which degrades Ursula so much that at one point she just loses it and starts hitting a student. And she has a bleak and depressing relationship with a man. Apparently I have blocked out what happens in the end.

 

Luckily, when I complained to my brother about this elusive annoying quality in The Rainbow, he told me that Kate Millett had gotten to the bottom of D.H. Lawrence in her legendary book Sexual Politics. So, here is what your auntie Kate has to say:

 

Millett explains that Lawrence is suffering from womb envy, which I would back her up on, and that the “new woman” (like Ursula) intimidates him. She points out that the chapter where Ursula has an affair with another woman is called “Shame,” which I actually didn’t even notice. (Sometimes I am so steeped in my own attitude that I can’t even imagine what the author intended, which has advantages and drawbacks.) Millett also paid attention to what happened at the end of the novel, unlike me, which was: Ursula fails her university exams and becomes a contented housewife. Millett chalks up the irritating quality of The Rainbow to an underlying sexist oinker agenda. BTW, I am not supposed to be reviewing the books of 1969, but Sexual Politics is nothing like what I expected. I had no idea that it was mostly literary criticism!

 

Anyway, I’m not sure if I can handle Lawrence’s sequel, Women in Love, but I am intrigued by the 1922 offering Aaron’s Rod. With a title like that, what could go wrong?

 

Still to come-Unread

 

The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf

 

I know, I know; why didn’t I read this one? I think I was a little intimidated so I was putting it off. I know Virginia Woolf is super famous and this is probably actually the best book of 1915, so I really will read it.

 

Psmith, Journalist by P.G. Wodehouse

 

I am perpetually one book behind in the Psmith series, so I haven’t read this one yet. Here is my brother’s review:

 

“In the third novel about Mike and Psmith they visit New York, where Mike prepares for a cricket match.  Psmith befriends Billy Windsor, the sub-editor of the children’s journal Cosy Moments.  Billy is fed up with the treacly material it is his job to edit, so when the editor goes on vacation Psmith persuades Billy to revamp the journal.  The current contributors are all fired and Cosy Moments features a new column about the pugilist Kid Brady and a hard-hitting series about tenement slumlords.  It is unusual for PG Wodehouse to focus on the dark underbelly of capitalism, but he does so in his own way.  When a criminal syndicate pressures Psmith to stop publishing the tenement exposé, he declares “Cosy Moments cannot be muzzled.”  It is nice that Mike is not the slightest bit jealous of the relationship between Psmith and Billy, and at the end of the novel Mike and Psmith return to England, where they conclude their saga in Leave it to Psmith, a novel of 1923.”

 

 

 

The Oakleyites by E.F. Benson

 

Thanks heavens my brother read and reviewed this book for me too! As follows:

The Oakleyites chronicles the lives of the leisure class of the seaside village of Oakley, apparently based on Rye, where E.F. Benson lived.  Here we see the Dante classes, picture exhibitions and amateur piano recitals encountered subsequently in his more famous Mapp and Lucia novels.  Among the Oakleyites are three middle-aged sisters, each a devotee and exponent of vegetarianism, Yoga and Christian Science, respectively.  Their rivalries are as funny as anything Benson ever wrote.  The difference from Benson’s later novels is that the Queen of Oakley society, Dorothy Jackson, is a romantic heroine.  She falls in love with the author of facile novels about Marchionesses when he moves to Oakley with his mother on account of her health.  Dorothy dreams of inspiring him to write a really worthwhile novel (apparently this was a very common aspiration a hundred years ago).  I wanted to give Dorothy a little hint:  “girlfriend, there’s a reason this guy is still living with his mother at the age of thirty-five!”  But Benson apparently felt he could not tell the real story...”

 

 

Vainglory by Ronald Firbank

I got this out of the library but it’s due back soon. Firbank’s Wikipedia page says he was an openly gay man who was very inspired by Oscar Wilde, and “an enthusiastic consumer of cannabis.” So that sounds like fun!

 

 

The Little Lady of the Big House by Jack London

This is about a love triangle. I bought this novel but, I’m going to be completely honest here, I will probably never get around to reading it. 1916 beckons!

 

Will Never Read, and why

 

The Genius by Theodore Dreiser

 

The Titan was tough going last year. As described on the Wikipedia page, The Genius is a semi-autobiographical novel about a man who is unable to remain faithful and his “affair” with a teenage girl and then his wife dies in childbirth. I just couldn’t face it.

 

Boon by H.G. Wells

 

This is a satirical novel written under a pseudonym in which Wells lampoons his former friend Henry James. I was interested to read about it, but didn’t want to read the actual book.

 

The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Look, there are over 20 more of these books to come. I’m sure I’ll read another one at some point.

 

That's all! See you in 1916!

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text 2014-01-08 03:52
Best of 2013 and 1913, Part Four: 1913, the first installment
Virginia (Dodo Press) - Ellen Glasgow
Le Grand Meaulnes - Alain-Fournier,Frank Davison
Sons and Lovers - D.H. Lawrence
The Tale of Pigling Bland - Beatrix Potter
The Patchwork Girl of Oz - L. Frank Baum,John R. Neill
The Little Nugget - P.G. Wodehouse

Moscow firemen in 1913 (according to teh interwebz)

Ah, it's 1913. There'll never be another war. Although if you live in Mexico, Pancho Villa is leading a revolution. If you are Emily Davison, British suffragette, you make a slight miscalculation and are trampled to death by a race horse as you attempts to drop a banner on it. If you're a Norwegian woman, though, you may now vote. If you are the House of Lords, you reject an Irish Home Rule bill, and then on "Bloody Sunday" police injure 400 people in Dublin. If you live in New York, you get a new, uglier Grand Central Terminal and also the Woolworth Building, the tallest building in the world! If you live in Dayton, Ohio, a flood destroys your home. You lucky American, you may also smoke your first packaged cigarette (a Camel.) If you are a balletomane in Paris, you riot when you see Diaghilev's Rite of Spring, set to Stravinsky. If you are tired of the Ottoman empire, you attend an Arab conference with other Arab nationalists. If you are Black in South Africa, you are officially outlawed from owning land. If you live in Copenhagen, you enjoy a beautiful new statue of The Little Mermaid. If you are a miner in Wales, you may be killed in an explosion; if you are an Indian miner in South Africa, Mohandas Gandhi leads you on a march. If you are Greece, you annex Crete, which had just barely shaken off Turkey. If you are Woodrow Wilson, you sign the Federal Reserve into existence. If you are Yuan Shikai, you are the first elected president of the Republic of China.

 

But what will you read to while away the hours?

 

Virginia by Ellen Glasgow

A forgotten masterpiece about a woman named Virginia from Virginia who has an "ordinary" life with marriage and children. The downfall of this marvelous book: racism. My long review here.

It's on the table, next to my cat.

Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier (also called The Wanderer)

I read this book in 1998 and I remember how beautiful and haunting it was and what a special experience it was to read it, but I remember almost nothing about the plot. There was a little boy. . . another boy. . . a school. . . a house. . . a party. . . . a girl. . . a journey. That might not even be right. It wasn't about the plot. I think it was about innocence.

I just inherited my mother's two copies, one in English and one in French. I remember we talked about it when I read it and she told me how much she loved this novel. You can tell she loved it, because she didn't read French but she had a French copy.

From L to R: my original copy, my mom's copy, my mom's copy in French.

Her bookplate.

Sons & Lovers by DH Lawrence

I read this in the mid-1990's, so once again I don't remember it well. It's about a sensitive, artistic boy who doesn't fit into his working class family (his father is a miner?) but he's very close to his mother. As I recall, there is some sex and it seemed very emotionally authentic.

 

The Tale of Pigling Bland by Beatrix Potter

I did read this as a child, but what I chiefly remember is that we had a record of Claire Bloom reading it out loud. She really gave a killer performance, bringing all the depth and meaning to the surface. The parts I remember best: "Beware of bacon, cream, and eggs. Always walk on your hind legs!" and the ending (sorry for spoiler) "Over the hills and far away, she danced with Pigling Bland." I think it's about a pig who goes on an errand, gets into trouble, meets another pig, and they escape.

 

The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum

One of three books the prolific Baum published in 1913. I remember this as one of the best of the Oz books. The Patchwork Girl is a stuffed doll brought to life for the convenience of humans, similar to the Scarecrow. My brother pointed out what a terrible conundrum it is that Ojo the Unlucky must break the most important rule of Oz (do not harm any living creatures) in order to save his uncle's life.

 

The Little Nugget by PG Wodehouse

Every book I have read by PG Wodehouse has been charming and diverting, and this was no exception. Until now I have mostly read Jeeves books so I was surprised at the differences in this one—specifically, that there was gunplay, a proper romance, and the main character was of near-average intelligence. There were two butlers though—but there’s something suspicious about one of them! My favorite character was Smooth Sam Fisher. The book design was lovely--the publisher was Overlook. Unfortunately there is one use of the “n word” which I think a good editor should take out in the next edition. Oh, I should say, the novel is about a kidnapping, or a series of attempted kidnappings. Agatha Christie said this was her favorite Wodehouse novel. But Wodehouse was very offended by this because he had written dozens more since then, so he thought that meant she hadn't read any of his later work. I bet she did, but she just liked this the best.

 

 

Up Next: More of the Best of 1913!

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