Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Need by Carrie Jones—Review

If you enjoyed Twilight, Jones' Need is a good book for you. It starts out very similarly: Instead of Arizona girl moves to a rainy little town in Washington, it’s South Carolina girl moves to a snowy little town in Maine. She has to navigate the social climate of a new high school while realizing there’s something not quite right about some of her peers. Something not entirely human. But this time—unlike Twilight—it’s not vampires.

I considered putting the book down. Easy reader level + lack of depth + teenage immaturity is not a winning combination for me. But I kept reading because I really wanted to find out what were these creatures in this little Maine town, creatures masquerading as human at her high school as well as stalking her. Creatures leaving gold dust on the snow.

I’m not going to tell you what the creatures were, in case you hate spoilers as much as I do. But you can go to the Amazon page, because apparently Amazon has no qualms about spoilers. I will tell you the creatures are way more intriguing than the traditional vampire, though they would have been better handled by an author like Susanna Clarke.

I read the entire book, and while it wasn’t a masterpiece, it was enjoyable. It was a quick easy read, and I liked it enough that I’ve put the sequel on hold at the library. It’s a good winter-break book, or whenever you want to dream about dark snowy forests with a cup of cocoa in your hand. But it left me feeling a lack. The creepy antagonists weren't creepy enough. And overall, there was a lack of emotional resonance.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

wanton play

I did it, I finished the most-scandalous Monk. And it really was scandalous, at least by the standards of the eighteenth century. And much more entertaining than I had expected. Ghosts, murderers, rapists, trapdoors, sexism, sepulchres, good Christian values, sorcery, unwanted pregnancies—this book has it all! Here is just a taste of The Monk:

She was undressing to bathe herself. The long tresses of her hair were already bound up...She threw off her last garment...At this moment a tame linnet flew towards her, nestled its head between her breasts, and nibbled them in wanton play.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

all man

[Wordsworth] is all man.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Summer Reading List

I should be diligently writing a paper on Gothic, Romantic, and Sensibilious women authors right now, but my summer vacation starts in 51 hours and I can't help starting to plan my summer reading list. Summer reading list! I rarely stick to reading lists, but they're so fun to make. So here is stuff that I currently am in the mood for. If you have any suggestions of titles in keeping with this list, or random stuff you feel I MUST READ RIGHT NOW, do comment.
  • Finish up The Monk, Children of the Abbey, and any of my other gothic novels I feel like.
  • Romance novels? I should maybe try to wrap up my romance project before I go to Spain, since when I get back from Spain I probably won't have the interest and motivation I now have.
  • Need (just came into the library, I'm going to pick it up in about an hour). This is a YA novel I know almost nothing about except we sell it at work and it's got glitter on the cover.
  • Winterson's Sexing the Cherry. Which has been patiently sitting by my bed waiting to be read for a couple weeks now.
  • The second Charlaine Harris/Sookie Stackhouse book. Even though I wasn't impressed with the first one, I've recently had the inclination to read the second. Maybe it's because I've been admiring the covers of the books for months at work now and it's infiltrated my subconscious. Maybe it's just so fluffy and frivolous it seems like good summer reading.
  • Diana Wynne Jones ftw.
  • The Secret Garden if I can get my copy over here to Idaho.
  • Nonfiction essays. This is kind of self-assigned homework.
  • Magical realism, Ray Bradbury, and Angela Carter short stories. Also self-assigned homework.

Friday, May 6, 2011

the great object

The great object of life is a sensation—to feel that we exist, even though in pain.
—Lord Byron

Thursday, May 5, 2011

cordial pleasure

She enjoyed the pensive luxury of virtuous grief, which mitigates the sharp

                    With gracious drops
Of cordial pleasure.

—Regina Maria Roche, quoting Akenside in her Children of the Abbey

Kail and Oaten Bread

I'm reading Children of the Abbey, an old Minerva Press novel from 1796. Our heroine, in the midst of her woes, has settled into a dejected cottage in Scotland, surrounded by thistles, rocks, and the stormy sea! She sups upon "a few heads of kail, some oaten bread, a jug of water, and a small phial half full of spirits," which just adds to her misery, but it sounds quite pleasant to me. I shall look out my window upon the dripping Idaho evening, and imagine I am in Scotland.

Untaught Harmony of Spring

"Ode on the Spring"
Thomas Gray

Lo! where the rosy-bosomed Hours,
Fair Venus' train, appear,
Disclose the long-expecting flowers,
And wake the purple year!
The Attic warbler pours her throat,
Responsive to the cuckoo's note,
The untaught harmony of spring:
While, whisp'ring pleasure as they fly,
Cool Zephyrs thro' the clear blue sky
Their gathered fragrance fling.

Where'er the oak's thick branches stretch
A broader browner shade,
Where'er the rude and moss-grown beech
O'er-canopies the glade,
Beside some water's rushy brink
With me the Muse shall sit, and think
(At ease reclined in rustic state)
How vain the ardour of the Crowd,
How low, how little are the Proud,
How indigent the Great!

Still is the toiling hand of Care;
The panting herds repose:
Yet hark, how through the peopled air
The busy murmur glows!
The insect-youth are on the wing,
Eager to taste the honied spring
And float amid the liquid noon:
Some lightly o'er the current skim,
Some show their gayly-gilded trim
Quick-glancing to the sun.

To Contemplation's sober eye
Such is the race of Man:
And they that creep, and they that fly,
Shall end where they began.
Alike the Busy and the Gay
But flutter thro' life's little day,
In Fortune's varying colours drest:
Brushed by the hand of rough Mischance,
Or chilled by Age, their airy dance
They leave, in dust to rest.

Methinks I hear, in accents low,
The sportive kind reply:
Poor moralist! and what art thou?
A solitary fly!
Thy joys no glittering female meets,
No hive hast thou of hoarded sweets,
No painted plumage to display:
On hasty wings thy youth is flown;
Thy sun is set, thy spring is gone
We frolic while 'tis May.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nocturnos lemures

Somnia, terrores magicos, miracula, sagas,
Nocturnos lemures, portentaque.
Dreams, magic terrors, spells of mighty power,
Witches, and ghosts who rove at midnight hour.

I'm finally reading that most scandalous, horrid gothic novel, Lewis' The Monk.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

On Esme's Bookshelf

Books I Finished Reading in April

Living Dangerously by Katie Fforde.
Duchess by Night by Eloisa James.
Manfred by Lord Byron.
Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts. Third book in the Bride Quartet.
Matilda by Mary Shelley.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. My favorite Austen novel.

Austen Out-of-Context Quote of the Day

At fifteen...she began to curl her hair and long for balls.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey