book review · books · classics · fiction · literature · reading · review

Love Story

We are surrounded by love stories before we even learn to read; fairy tales and Disney princesses condition our expectations of true love. It’s an emotion that influences every tale, evert text and narrative as we try to define this complex emotion.

Erich Segal’s Love Story is an American classic, Jenny and Oliver are an unsurprising couple brought together from two different paths in life. But the power of love is something that is beyond human comprehension. It’s a tale of love and loss; of gaining parental approval and choosing your own way in life.

There is something in Segal’s writing that manages to capture the character’s depth across the short tale. The writing is at times brutally honest in its depiction of the unfair problems of life, but also the moments of pure happiness are intertwined with more romantic prose.

If you’re looking for a short novel for an upcoming summer holiday — this is certainly one to read.

book haul · books · classics · fiction · language · literature · war

September Book Haul

September is in full swing, and unlike the rest of the working world I’m only starting to admit that summer is over. My third and final year has arrived, so here’s a selection of what I’ll be reading across my first semester. img_7932

My first module focuses on the First World War – the literature from within it and also the literature that reimagines the war. This seems to cover quite a range of literature, film and TV (of which Downton Abbey’s involvement may have persuaded me to pick this course). It’s interesting to view the literature that covers such a complex time across the century; from the days of post war Britain to the celebrations surrounding the centenary.

Engaging and a little different to the literature I’ve encounter so far is my experimental literature course; more specifically women’s experimental literature. It covers questions on how women’s writing must differ in its position as experimental and the often misconception that only women’s writing can hold feminist concepts. It’s trying to move away from viewing experimental writing as a failure, and instead show how literature can take any form, genre or purpose.

As you can see I’ve got quite a bit of reading to do as the nights begin to draw in, what are you reading this autumn?

books · classics · crime · fantasy · fiction · literature · modern classic · reading · young adult

An ever-growing collection of books…

Now it may not come as too much of a surprise that I like to read, and I read a lot. As such even my bookshelves are starting to overflow, piles of books are appearing around my bedroom and even I feel the books around my bed may soon become a tripping hazard.

Yet I can never feel the urge to give away, throw away or even lend out my books. I’ve invested too much time into each page, learnt to love or hate the characters and been, for a while, part of their story. Most of the time I revisit these books, wishing to be drawn back into various worlds and escape into a story.

I’m currently re-reading a vast array of my favourite novels, getting through a story week after week. It may be from the freedom of university, that once again I have the choice to pick up any book I please. I want to read stories that I’m certain I’ll enjoy – novels that are well-written, plots that are complex and character’s that I know. I don’t want to be disappointed by the next book I pick up.

I’ll continue picking up my books full of well-thumbed pages, and enjoying each story again, and again.

book review · books · classics · fiction · modern classic · review

The Handmaid’s Tale

 

handmaidTo continue the dystopian literature of 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale is another incredible story of resilience and hope in a new world.

We follow Offred in the religious land of Gilead, living the life of a handmaid. Offred has the rare ability to bear a child and must attempt to conceive with her commander. She holds no political or personal presence, she is simply a piece of property for which the state and her commander has sentenced her to one job.

While the life of a handmaid is exhibited, Offred also gives the reader glimpses of her life before this new regime. A life with purpose, love and hope. It in this, that we begin to sense her rebellion for the current world.

It’s a clever tale that connects our past with a possible future, one that holds complete power and overriding hierarchy. It is certainly a modern classic to be read by all.

books · classics · fiction · literature · reading · review

Nineteen Eighty-Four

This morning I grabbed one of the first books my hand came across as I headed out the door. It’s been at least a couple of years since I’d last read Orwell’s masterpiece, and I’d quite forgotten the treat I was in for.1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four is now a much-loved modern classic, it contains ideas and words we forget were created entirely for the novel. Big Brother and Room 101 still hold power over the everyday public, with little acknowledgement for Orwell’s creation. Similarly, Winston Smith sits as a well-known character, and the tale’s fist line is often featured in a pub quiz. Not to mention the linguistic heaven of Newspeak, an entirely reimagined version of English- a way to control not just our language but our very thoughts. Orwell was incredible.

It’s a story of rebellion, revolution and self-control. But also of love, finding happiness and a desperate search for truth. Orwell encapsulates the desire for justice and a life of honesty. The laws that surround this world, open your eyes to the freedom we have today, not just freedom of speech, but freedom of thought and expression.

Although the world still has a long way to go, this tale allows the importance of truth and integrity to overcome everything, no matter what the cost.

books · classics · crime · detective · fiction · literature · reading

100 Greatest Novels of All Time

The guardian has a long established list depicting the 100 greatest novels of all time. Although the list is in its 13th year, it continues to be regarded with high esteem so I thought I’d see how many I’ve managed to get through in my twenty years.

I’ve placed a little heart ♥ by the books I’ve managed to read as, after all, who doesn’t love a great book? My grand total may only be seventeen, but I don’t think that’s too bad a starting point, I’ve got a lot of books to get through…

The list:

1. Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes

2. Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan

3. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe

4. Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift

5. Tom Jones Henry Fielding

6. Clarissa Samuel Richardson

7. Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne

8. Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos De Laclos

9.  Emma Jane Austen  

10. Frankenstein Mary Shelley  ♥

11. Nightmare Abbey Thomas Love Peacock

12. The Black Sheep Honoré De Balzac

13. The Charterhouse of Parma Stendhal

14. The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas

15. Sybil Benjamin Disraeli

16. David Copperfield Charles Dickens

17. Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë  ♥

18. Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë  ♥

19. Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray  

20. The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne  

21. Moby-Dick Herman Melville

22. Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert

23. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

24. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll  ♥

25. Little Women Louisa M. Alcott  ♥

26. The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope

27. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

28. Daniel Deronda George Eliot

29. The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky

30. The Portrait of a Lady Henry James

31. Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain

32. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson  ♥

33. Three Men in a Boat Jerome K. Jerome

34. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde ♥

35. The Diary of a Nobody George Grossmith   

36. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

37. The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers

38. The Call of the Wild Jack London

39. Nostromo Joseph Conrad

40. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame  

41. In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust

42. The Rainbow D. H. Lawrence  ♥

43.  The Good Soldier Ford Madox Ford

44. The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan

45. Ulysses James Joyce

46. Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf

47. A Passage to India EM Forster

48. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald  ♥

49. The Trial Franz Kafka S

50. Men Without Women Ernest Hemingway

51. Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Celine

52. As I Lay Dying William Faulkner

53. Brave New World Aldous Huxley  ♥

54. Scoop Evelyn Waugh

55. USA John Dos Passos

56. The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler

57. The Pursuit Of Love Nancy Mitford

58. The Plague Albert Camus

59. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell  ♥

60. Malone Dies Samuel Beckett

61. Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger ♥

62. Wise Blood Flannery O’Connor

63. Charlotte’s Web EB White ♥

64. The Lord Of The Rings J. R. R. Tolkien

65. Lucky Jim Kingsley Amis

66. Lord of the Flies William Golding

67. The Quiet American Graham Greene  

68 On the Road Jack Kerouac

69. Lolita Vladimir Nabokov

70. The Tin Drum Günter Grass

71. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe

72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark 

73. To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee  ♥

74. Catch-22 Joseph Heller ♥

75. Herzog Saul Bellow

76. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez

77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont Elizabeth Taylor

78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy John Le Carré

79. Song of Solomon Toni Morrison

80. The Bottle Factory Outing Beryl Bainbridge

81. The Executioner’s Song Norman Mailer

82. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller Italo Calvino

83. A Bend in the River VS Naipaul

84. Waiting for the Barbarians JM Coetzee

85. Housekeeping Marilynne Robinson

86. Lanark Alasdair Gray

87. The New York Trilogy Paul Auster  

88. The BFG Roald Dahl ♥

89. The Periodic Table Primo Levi

90. Money Martin Amis

91. An Artist of the Floating World Kazuo Ishiguro

92. Oscar And Lucinda Peter Carey

93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Milan Kundera

94. Haroun and the Sea of Stories Salman Rushdie

95. LA Confidential James Ellroy

96. Wise Children Angela Carter

97. Atonement Ian McEwan

98. Northern Lights Philip Pullman

99. American Pastoral Philip Roth

100. Austerlitz W. G. Sebald ♥

book haul · books · classics · fiction · literature

Spring Book Haul

The days are getting longer, the sun is starting to shine; I believe spring has sprung. Now, with all this extra daylight, what better way to spend it than reading way into the evening, or if you’re really lucky, escaping to the park with a book in hand on a sunny afternoon. I have some small hopes that the Manchester weather will allow this in the weeks to come, so I’m going to indulge myself with a spring book haul.

IMG_6811First things first are some classics I’ve had on my list, and even on my shelves for a little while now.

The Collector – John Fowles; When Frederick takes his butterfly collection to the next level by capturing an art student and keeping her in the confines of his cellar. Dark and eerie, the tale explores the desire for ownership at all costs and the fight for freedom and understanding that unfolds.

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller; Heller’s masterpiece has been on my to-read list for years, the war tale of the century will have me gripped to see what this ordinary man will achieve.

The Hanging Garden – Patrick White; Another war-time tale, this time, two children find themselves evacuated to Sydney, trapped at the other side of the world, they bond through their shared abandonment. A story of finding hope and adventure in the unknown.

IMG_6812The next two books seem to share a few similarities; they are both trying to find their relatives and strangely both begin their tales with the arrival of a suitcase.

The Finding of Matha Lost – Caroline Wallace; Martha is lost, abandoned and alone. She embarks on a tale of returning, lost possession to their owner and even herself to her parents. It’s a search of beginnings to find endings.

Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase – Louise Walters; Two stories are wound together through this novel, Roberta’s love for collecting old letters and postcards takes her on her own mystery. While Dorothy, hides a secret that takes 60 years to unearth.

I’ve given you a peak at what I’ll be reading in the coming months, let me know what you’re reading this spring.

book haul · book review · books · classics · literature

Thoughts on African American Literature

I’m currently in middle of a module on 20th Century African American Literature, and it’s got me thinking of the way we categorise literature, place labels upon it, in a way to control it further.

IMG_6219Early 20th Century African American Literature is often placed as political work. That an African American who is able to express himself for the first time since slavery, must, and often this is the case, want to write about the world he has discovered himself in. A world of racism, prejudice and violence. His work is used to express this rejection, this removal from society; somewhere across this line literature and politics collide.

Literature becomes a place to express ideas, experiment with an ideology and look towards a new world. It’s a place of freedom we sometimes take for granted, yet it can also act as propaganda, have high influences upon our current lives. It makes you think of the importance literature can play, and its impact, on politics, on history and everything in-between.

It’s made me appreciate how much literature has and continues to play a part in our lives. Whether this be freedom of expression, of tackling innovation or it’s ability to somehow go against the status quo. Literature is incredible, and holds a large proportion of our lives in its hand.

Hopefully this wasn’t too deep a topic for a Sunday morning, if you’re interested in these topics I certainly would recommend a few titles:

  • The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B. Du Bois
  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man – James Johnson
  • The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin
  • Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
books · classics · fiction · illustration · literature · review · Yorkshire

The Secret Garden

The Secret GardenThe Secret Garden may be a very well-known and well-loved children’s classic, but it was only this year that I finally read this famous book. I already knew the general story line, the expectations of what the tale would include, after all a secret garden needed to be found.

Yet I didn’t expect the descriptions of Yorkshire, the development of the characters and the captivated spell the book held over me. It transported me to Misselthwaite Manor, to Mary’s world, her discovery of not simply a garden, but friendship, trust, hope and life. It reminded me of simplicity of the world a ten-year old can see, of the clear right and wrong, and the adventure life holds.

It may be a simple tale, beautifully told and illustrated in the folio edition I received. As much as I feel I should have read this earlier, maybe from an adults perspective I appreciate the tale more now, then if I’d read it ten years ago.

Regardless of your age, The Secret Garden is a classic we all need to read, to remember how precious and wonderful life can be.

classics · Lawrence · literature · review

The Rainbow

The RainbowAs famous as D. H. Lawrence is, I have to admit it was not until this week as my course reading specified, that I sat down to read my first Lawrence novel: The Rainbow.

It certainly surprised me. I was under some illusion it would be long over-descriptive romantic language, pleasantly this is clearly a modern book on nationhood, progression and society.

Banned back in 1915 after its first publication, Lawrence alters the status quo on what was acceptable to have in literature. Full of modern ideas, contrasts of generation and certainly with Ursula a sense of modern time is unearthed and rewritten. It presents, especially in terms of women, the vast growth in possibilities, education and freedom unknown in the restriction of the past. Yet as our knowledge grows, so too must our desire to explore this new world.

I loved the resemblance this novel holds with Wuthering Heights, the story of generations, altered heroines; new yet utterly familiar. It creates an impression of honest change at the beginning of the 20th Century, as we face a time of exploration; internally and externally. The continuous mother and daughter relationships echoes the novels need to move forward, as time demands.

This novel rose above my expectations and is a classic everyone should read.