Friday, January 6, 2012

For Further Reading

Literary Blog Hop
I have been working on getting a little bit more into the book blog thing this week (new year's does that to me for some reason) and I thought I would give the literary blog hop hosted by Blue Bookcase a try to see if I can meet some like minded bloggers (that would not include the YA fanatic down the block). 

So the question up for discussion for the hop is: Do you like to supplement your reading with outside sources, like Sparknotes, academic articles, or other bloggers' reviews? Why or why not?

I have about two resources I count on when reading classics:
1. a dictionary or footnotes (if necessary) - pretty self explanatory.
2. the book 1001 books to read before you die.  This one is for no other reason than to discover just how far off base they are on their reviews.  I have discussed it before on Goodreads group for this book, but seriously, I would think the literary "experts" they got together would remember a basic thing like plot line or denouement.  I oftentimes think wrong and enjoy calling them on it in the quietness of my own mind.
Otherwise, I tend not to read other academic articles or reviews by other bloggers because I have a serious fear of finding out what is going to happen before I read it.  This happened to me one time and I was bitter about it for quite some time.

So, yeah, that's how I do it.  What about you?  Are you interested in what others have to say or are you a solo-going, my-thoughts-are-the-best-thoughts-so-why-read-anyone-else kind of person?  Discuss.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sweet Jane

As I promised in a recent post, I have thoughts on Jane Eyre.  And here they are:

This was a reread for me.  The last time I read the book was my senior year of high school, when I thought I understood everything there was to know about life.  Apparently my 31 year old self would tell my 17 year old self: "Yeah, right!"  As with other rereads I have done since starting this blog, there was so much more to see than a young person could see at that point in life experience.  Namely, the distinction between a mutually respectful, sacrificial relationship and a mutually respectful, selfish relationship.  Also, I did not remember most of the second book (not a surprise, because most of the second book is boring until you get to the end). 

If you hvae a nook reader, you can get Jane Eyre for .99 here.
Jane discovers through various relationships what true love looks like.  This is not erotic love necessarily, but a filial type of love, based on mutual respect.  But respect can only take one so far down the road toward true companionship.  There must also be selflessness, even sacrifice.  As the reader watches Jane throughout the book, we see a growth of understanding of these things.  It can be compared to a painting Jane describes the process of designing.  She first knows what love is not, establishing the parameters of love like the outline of a painting.  Then she discovers that love is respectful, then gentle, then forgiving, then forbearing, each of these qualities like the brushstrokes of the painting using different shades and techniques.  Then she discovers that love can in fact break your heart through disappointment.  She builds upon that foundation a final understanding that for love to be fully realized it must be returned.  When she has finally discovered love, she has the completed painting before her in the picture of her chosen husband.

Jane Eyre is not so much a romance novel as a coming of age story in which the main character seeks, ultimately, respect.  She seeks a place among society that is not questioned.  She seeks companionship based upon the quality of her character and one's enjoyment of her person.  In this way, it could be considered feminist literature (because those feminists love to take every strong female character and use her for their cause), but it is a human story of growth in love. 

Other things not observed by 17 year old self:
The overt "Christian-ness" of the book.
The mega controlling nature of the relationship between Jane and St. John (some of the things he said to her were doozies!).
The slowness of the plot unfolding.  I don't remember the story taking quite so long to tell.

P.S. Has anyone seen the recent remake of the movie?  I am interested to check it out and see what they left in and left out of the St. John story line.  I am also interested to see how Mia what's her name plays Jane.

Rating: 4.5 out of 7


Monday, January 2, 2012

Here's Hoping

The title of this post is meant to be said in a sort of wistful sarcastic tone.  Reason: I have been such a bad reader lately and I would love to reform myself, but really, life happens and reading is not my life's pursuit. 
So, everyone seems to be setting book reading goals around the book blog community and I have to say, I too have some goals.  Here's hoping.

The Top Ten theme for this week over at The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books I am Excited to Read in 2012.  Since I have a list (just made it this evening), I thought I would share it with you: (in no particular order)

1. When They Come for Us We'll Be Gone.  Not only an amazing title, but a promising non-fiction account of the attempt to save Jews during the Cold War in the Soviet Union. 

2. Forgotten God.  I got this one from my husband for Christmas.  It is Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle's book on the Holy Spirit.  It should prove good.  I loved Crazy Love, so I am really looking forward to delving into this one.

3. The Woman in White.  I read another novel by Wilkie Collins a couple years ago and wanted to take a good long break in between, so now is the time. 

4. Curse of the Narrows.  Another non-fiction account of events in Halifax, Nova Scotia during WWI: a crash of a munitions ship and another vessel, an atomic-bomb like explosion that caused a tsunami, and a blizzard that cut Halifax off from the outside world (all occurring on the same day).  Until I picked up this book, I had never even heard of these events, but the dust jacket is so riveting, I can't wait to hear the rest of the story. 

5.  The Crossing.  I started the Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy a while back and loved the first entry.  This is the second, and I assume it will be wondrously sparse, just like all the rest of his works.

6. Room.  I got this for my sister in law for Christmas last year and she read it very quickly and recommended it highly.  It has been sitting on my shelf way too long.  It will beckon me very soon.

7.  Half Broke Horses.  I started reading this the week before I gave birth last year, but never got back to it.  I loved the opening stories so much, I look forward to reading the rest.

8.  An Expensive Education.  Highly recommended thriller and who doesn't need a little thrill in their life?  If you get a chance to look at the picture of the author, Nick McDonell, on the back of the paperback, please tell me if you think he looks like he belongs on the cover of a romance novel?  Too funny!

9. The Great Gain of Godliness.  From my absolute favorite Puritan (yes, I have one).  I have a long standing goal to read all of the works of Thomas Watson I can get my hands on.  This is the one I will be reading this year.

10.  Only Time will Tell.  I was waiting on my dad to finish this one so I could save myself the cost of the book, but he lost it.  I will be buying it for my nook color soon.  So excited!  Archer is my favorite contemporary author!

What is on your list for this year?  Have you read any of my future reads?  Any advice on them?

New Year's Read

I am of the opinion that all reading done in the month of December should be light reading.  I am also of the opinion that all reading done during the week between Christmas and New Year should be simple, almost to the point of mindless. 
Thus, I met my goal for this month by reading 3 books at the end of December, all of which fall in line with my opinions. 

First, I finally finished Jane Eyre (a re-read put on hold by a certain small being needing almost constant attention for 6 months and my lack of a nook color reader during the intervening late night feedings).  But I will review that one later.

Then, I started and finished (emphasis on both of those events because of the aforementioned long pause in reading) Babywise: Book Two.  But I may not review that one on this blog ever because it is really just about introducing food to your baby (not riveting stuff, folks).

And lastly, I started and finished Vince Flynn's Transfer of Power.  This book very easily falls into the category of simple reading.  I have read approximately 4 of Flynn's Mitch Rapp books and find them action packed enough for a road trip/beach read.  They are nothing great in terms of characterization (most of the characters are painted with a broad brush - the politicians are incompetent for the most part, and the men on the front lines are the heroes; which I must say, I don't necessary disagree). 

Transfer of Power has one distinction from the other Rapp books I have read in that it was written before 9/11.  This was before Americans had a concept of jihad, radical Islamists, or terror in their own backyard.  Thus, Flynn proves prescient at points in the novel and at others, it seems a little implausible.  The story revolves around a 9/11-light terror attack on the White House during which the terrorists storm the White house and take hostages.   The number of people actually killed by terrorists in the book is extremely low (leading a post 9/11 reader to wonder, "What makes that such a big deal?") and the idea of hostage-taking terrorists is a bit more 1970s/1980s style terrorism than the Al Qaeda style multiple suicide attacks of the twenty-first century.  But at it's heart, Transfer of Power asks many of the questions that confront Americans (and indeed all the world) when terrorists strike: Is negotiation a feasible solution?  Is one man's life more important than another's?  How should terror suspects be brought to justice? 

Overall the book is a good rest-your-brain and watch the action kind of read.  It is surprising that one of his books has not been adapted into a Hollywood screenplay yet, but I assume it is in the works.  What each of Flynn's books (this one included) end up saying is the good guy is the one who takes down the terrorists without remorse and without flinching while the politicians sit on their hands and wonder what the best course of action is. 

NOTE TO VINCE FLYNN:  PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get a better editor (both content and grammar).  Goodness gracious, you misspelled your main character's name in this one.  The errors get so tedious!

Sorry, just had to put that in there in case he reads this. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 7