January 26, 2008 archive

Eva’s Reading Meme

My friend Jill from The Magic Lasso tagged me for this fun meme…I had to put on my thinking cap for this one!

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

This was easy – The Harry Potter books. Everyone seems to love them, yet I haven’t had any desire to read even one in the series. Maybe some day…

If you could bring 3 characters to life for a social event, who would they be and what would you do?

Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, Selena Peake from So Big, and Liesel from The Book Thief. All of these characters are strong, vibrant females with the gift of communication – and all have a fascinating story to tell. They share a positive and loving philosophy of life. I would have a hearty meal served in front of the wood stove…and I would sit back and soak up the conversation!

(This is borrowed from the Thursday Next series.) You are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for a while, eventually you realize that it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

Hands down … Catch-22. I rarely quit on a book, but I think I made it less than 30 pages into this one before I heaved it aside. Classic or no…this one bored me to tears.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?

Silas Marner. This was assigned in my senior year of high school and I hated it. I struggled through a few pages, then scanned it, and finally resorted to listening to the class discussion to ascertain the answers to the test. I’ve never actually read the book cover to cover, but when people ask, I usually say I read it!

Has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realize when you read a review or go to “reread” it that you haven’t?

I can’t think of any books like this. Usually it is the other way around – I’m sure I haven’t read it, but once I start, I realize it sounds familiar!

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (Go ahead and personalize the VIP if it helps.)

The Book Thief – probably the best book I’ve ever read. I blew through the over 500 pages and wept through the last third of it. A tremendously moving book which has some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever had the joy of reading.

A good fairy comes along and grants you one wish: You will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

Russian – I love the sound of this beautiful language, and the Russian novels are some of the best.

A mischievous fairy comes and says you must choose one book you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can reread other books as well). Which book would you pick?

Do I have to pick one? If so, it would be The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak. If I can pick several they would be: Charlotte’s Web, by EB White; The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck; and A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.

I know that the book blogging community and its various challenges have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you discovered from book blogging?

I never used to write book reviews. Book blogging has taught me how to write a review and the importance of doing it so that I can remember the details of what I read. Also, I have expanded my horizons – reading from genres I used to avoid (like science fiction or translated works). 

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now she’s granting you your dream library. Describe it. Is everything leather-bound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few authors have inscribed some of the books? Go ahead — let your imagination run free!

Oh, it would have floor to ceiling bookshelves with full collections by some of my favorite authors. There would be a comfy couch and big armchair with wide arms to snuggle into next to the stone fireplace. I’d have perfect lighting and a huge picture window that looked out onto a forested view. And of course there would be a butler who would bring me steaming hot cups of herbal tea whenever I requested them!

Anyone who has not yet participated in the meme, please do give it a try!

The Literacy Site for Children

I saw this over on Kimbooktu today and thought “Wow, what a great idea.” Simply follow the link below and you can help bring literacy to children.

The Literacy Site

Great Expectations – Book Review

My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip. -From Great Expectations, page 1-

Pip grows up in a small English village, an orphan who is raised by the abusive hand of his older sister. Pip also lives with Joe – a forger with a kind heart and gentle spirit. Fate introduces Pip to the beautiful Estella (adopted daughter of the strange and damaged Mrs. Havisham) whose comment about Pip being a commoner changes his world view and sets him upon a destructive path. When Pip one day receives a gift of a large sum of money from an unknown benefactor, he follows a course of misguided expectations and dark mysteries.

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens hefty classic – is about the cleansing process of human suffering, redemption, the consequences of living a material life, and the loyalty of family bonds.

Dickens includes some memorable characters in this gothic style novel. Most notably Mrs. Havisham who suffers from a broken heart and lives in mostly darkness among her ruined wedding gown.

So she sat, corpse-like, as we played at cards; the frillings and trimmings on her bridal dress, looking like earthy paper. I knew nothing then of the discoveries that are occasionally made of bodies buried in ancient times, which fall to powder in the moment of being distinctly seen; but, I have often thought since, that she must have looked as if the admission of the natural light of day would have struck her to dust. -From Great Expectations-

I must admit to struggling to get through this book.  Victorian era literature is wordy and includes endless details of everyday life that I found tedious.  The middle third of the book dragged for me, but the novel redeems itself over the last third when the reader begins to uncover the mysteries and Pip sees the error of his ways.

I wanted to love this novel. I have read The Tale of Two Cities, as well as A Christmas Carol – and loved both of these. I know I must have read Great Expectations in high school, but I honestly have no firm recollection of it.  The truth is,  I found it to be a mostly boring story with a good ending. Not something I would recommend to most people. Although if you love Victorian literature, you may find the novel satisfying.

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