Reading Diaries – v. II

As promised, an update on my reading list this week. Happy New Year!

Kim bookcoverKim. I don’t know how to describe Kipling’s novel, except that I wish I could relive the experience of reading it all over again. Initially, I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the storyline – I’d read Laurie R. King’s The Game, which sets Mary Russell and Holmes in the backdrop of Kim’s colonial India. But reading Kim itself was re-immersing myself in that world. Kipling’s sensory descriptions of places and people are phenomenal, and the narrative balanced the fast-paced action of the Great Game with the spiritual reflections of Kim’s lama. Although I draw issue with the blatant sexism(s) within the novel, I didn’t find it as overtly pro-Imperialism as I thought I might (Conan Doyle, I think, may be more of an Imperialist than Kipling is in Kim).

15808242My light read for today was Magnus Flyte’s City of Dark Magic. I think this one falls under the new(er) genre of New Adult, which is (from my understanding) a mix of YA-like narrative with the uncensured Adult genre. So, essentially, this novel is Prague + magic + art/music history + sex. It’s quite engaging, and a good read. I love the amount of research that went into this novel (it’s all about Beethoven), and spinning a fantasy tale from said research is certainly intriguing. That being said, as much as I’d enjoy Sarah (the protagonist and narrator) in real life, I found her narrative voice slightly annoying and somewhat predictable. (Note that this is one of my major complaints about the YA genre in general… yes, my YA-loving friends, don’t act so shocked.) Still a fun read, and it was a good way to transition from Kim to my next classic novel.

Reading Diaries – v. I

It’s finally post-Christmas – post-crazy, if you will. These are the two weeks of break that I am most looking forward to. Catching up with friends, reading, and brainstorming for the next semester. Tomorrow is New Years Eve, and I’m celebrating for the first time by going to a few parties with the Boy.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be using this blog as a space to reflect on the copious amounts of reading that I’m doing – I love writing about what I’ve read; I think it’s an incredibly healthy reading habit, and one that I hope to partake in for reflection purposes.

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Yesterday’s books were A Holiday for Murder by Agatha Christie and The Shelf by Phyllis Rose. The former, I’d already seen via the BBC Poirot adaptation, so no surprises there, sadly. But it was still a good read. After not reading (for pleasure) for a long time, it was absolutely delightful to start up again with something easy and enjoyable. If I’d started with Rose’s work, then I might have been less inspired to continue.

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Not that I didn’t like Rose’s book. Actually, I think it’s one of the better scholarly-lite works that I’ve read in quite a while. If you’re not familiar with her, Phyllis Rose is a feminist literary critic and essayist. She’s done a bit of work on Virginia Woolf, which is how I first became acquainted with her (although I’m not a particular fan of her approach to Woolf, I must note). However, I was entranced by the premise behind The Shelf, where Rose picks, at random, a shelf of library books that she has not read, and reads (+ writes) her way through them. LEQ to LES. Each chapter in the book is a mini-essay – some more scholarly than others (her chapters on “Women and Fiction: A Question of Privilege” and “Domesticities: Margaret Leroy and Lisa Lerner” are both phenomenal discussions on women and writing), while others are more anecdotal or take the shape of personal reading diaries.

This book is scholarly, but readable. It’s Rose both approachable and transparent, and through those qualities, I think I’ve come to love her scholarly approach – far more so than when I attempted to read her more formal work(s). The New Yorker concludes that “Rose’s stunt is useless – and wonderfully so” because it reminds us that reading doesn’t have to have an agenda or a due date behind it (source article). Besides the fact that this is directly relevant to my current reading experience (thank you, university), I’m just thoroughly entranced by this book. If this sounds at all interesting to you, please do read it. I think you’ll be surprised by it, in the best possible way.

Happy reading, and happy New Year, mes amis!

What I’m Reading

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Happy Friday! One of the most common questions I get as an English major (besides “What do you want to do with your life?” ) is what I’m currently reading or who my favorite author is. Word to the wise: you’ll get a much better answer if you ask the former, since most of the time, I know what I’m reading right now, but I have a difficult time deciding on one favorite (of anything, let alone books/authors).

I’m currently reading James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManThe Short Stories of Katharine Mansfield and a volume of G.K. Chesterton’s short stories, fairy tales and mystery stories. My favorite of the three by far is Katharine Mansfield – I cracked open the volume and read two short stories. “She’s my spirit writer”, I commented to my mother, who I’m sure thought I was out of my head. But Mansfield’s short stories are little pieces of magic, early 20th century pieces where the reader and narrator are the observers of a larger world that they don’t belong in. In terms of writing style, Mansfield reminds me of Virginia Woolf’s Night and Day. Chesterton is excellent, as per usual, and Joyce is Joyce.

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On another note, I wanted to show you a recent bookish find (you old book lovers will appreciate this). Last week, for a father-daughter date, my dad and I went to the local used book store. I found a number of other books, but this volume was my favorite. I love Agatha Christie, and this just so happens to be a US first edition of Partners in Crime (with Tommy and Tuppence as the detectives). Unfortunately, it seems to have had a run-in with a significant amount of water, but seems to be in decent condition otherwise.

Your turn – what are you reading? Let me know in the comments below!

p.s. Headed back to school over the weekend, so “see” you on Monday with an inspiration post!

School and Back Again

Merry Christmas Eve, my friends! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, since the last time you heard from me was in the midst of finals. Thankfully, they’ve been finished for over a week, I have decent grades, and now that I’m home, I can eat, sleep, read and repeat. I’m so thrilled to start posting again on this little blog of mine. (I have exciting news for you, but it will have to wait until later.) Now that I’m home on break, I’m going to attempt to return to a blogging schedule, so expect to hear from me more often.

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One of my projects from this past week was to organize my bookshelves. Let’s face it – I’ve worked in a library since high school, and I am never at peace in my room unless my shelves are reordered. This, among other things, is a huge OCD issue for me, so coming home and realizing 1. the state of my shelves and 2. the amount of books I’d brought from college that would have to fit on those shelves forced me to totally reorganize. (I brought a suitcase+ full of books home from college. Only about 10 of those are library books.)

The above picture shows the shelves that are devoted to my family’s children’s books collection. During the last few years, the books have gradually migrated to my shelves because of space issues. The below picture shows (some) of the books that make up my personal collection. The large group of Agatha Christie’s novels on the bottom shelf may or may not be some of my favorite high school reads…

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I still have five semesters in school though, so needless to say, I have requested more bookshelves for Christmas.

Have a lovely holiday, friends!