Sunday, January 9

I Like to Talk About Books


New year, new stack of books to read! This is what I've picked out to read (and some already started that I'd like to finish...) in 2011. Not included in the photo is whatever I decide to read that is assigned in my classes.

The Time Machine - H.G. Wells
The War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells
A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett
Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
Black Folktales - Julius Lester
The Suicide Club and Other Stories - Robert Louis Stevenson
The Lost World - Sir Arthus Conan Doyle
The Oddyssey - Homer
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
Favorite Celtic Fairy Tales
Woman Hollering Creek - Sandra Cisneros
When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals - Jeffrey Mousaieff Masson
White Teeth - Zadie Smith
Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle - Ellen Gilchrist
Sula - Toni Morrison
Journey to the Center of the Earth - Jules Verne
In Love and Trouble - Alice Walker

Lots of science fiction and short story collections; not enough children's literature, so I'll have to add on later. This is only my first stack and it's only January. There will be plenty of edits to come.

I'm trying to finish up things I've already started first. I finished As I Lay Dying last night (super good) and am almost finished with Great Expectations. Since I finished one book already I'm going to take up another. I know I should pick The Oddyssey since I've been reading it since 2009 but the translation I have is thick and I really want something lighter since Dickens can be a little trying.

I really really loved As I Lay Dying and I'm loving Great Expectations. Aside from the stories and the writing and yadda yadda, for the first time in so long I felt really attached to and intrigued by particular characters.

In As I Lay Dying, the plot is told in first person sections and each character gets to narrate a particular part of the story. The youngest character, Vardaman Bundren, was such a brilliant, sad little character. He's about 8 years old and trying to comprehend the death of his mother and the insanity of his family. I found myself really compelled to keep reading just so I could see what he was going to say and do next. The story itself and all of the characters were really intriguing, but Vardaman made the book for me. My favorite line in the whole book was spoken by Vardaman's older brother, Darl, but it was about Vardaman who was trying to get a ride on a horse at the time; "He sounded like a cricket in the grass, a little one."

Great Expectations has two characters that I just love: Joe Gargery and Wemmick. They are just the loveliest dudes! Joe is Pip's uncle but they are really more like buddies and allies against Mrs. Joe. Joe is really dumb and slow but he is so kind and gentle and loving and he adores Pip. In the beginning of the novel, when Pip is about 6 or so, they play a game together during dinner where they take a bite out of their respective slices of bread and then hold them up to compare the size of the bites. There are so many lovely lovely funny sweet things that Joe does and says that I can't write them all but here is an excerpt from a letter that Biddy writes to Pip for Joe:
"P.S. He wishes me most particular to write what larks. He says you'll understand ... I have read him all ... and he wishes me most particular to write again what larks."

The other character I like is Wemmick, who is Pip's lawyer/guardian guy Jaggers' assistant. At work and around Jaggers Wemmick is very serious and tight lipped and his mouth is described as a "post office," meaning the little slot in the door where mail comes in through. But when he leaves work he becomes a completely different dude. He maintains a "castle" with a moat (it's a very small moat, though, you can just jump over it) and a draw bridge and he lives there with his very old, deaf father whom he refers to as "The Aged. P." Every night at 8 o'clock he shoots a small cannon for his father who can hear and enjoys the loud noise. Wemmick also has a little system set up so that when he comes home he pulls a secret cord at the draw bridge and inside the house a flag goes up to alert The Aged P. that he is home. Later in the novel Wemmick gets a girlfriend named Miss Skiffins and he sets up a little flag for her, too. Here is an excerpt from chapter 37 where Pip visits Wemmick. They all sit and listen to The Aged P. read the newspaper while Wemmick tries to get secretly grabby with Miss Skiffins.
"As Wemmick and Miss Skiffins sat side by side, and as I sat in a shadowy corner, I observed a slow and gradual elongation of Mr. Wemmick's mouth, powerfully suggestive of his slowly and gradually stealing his arm round Miss Skiffins' waist. In course of time I saw his hand appear on the other side of Miss Skiffins; but at that moment Miss Skiffins neatly stopped him with the green glove, unwound his arm again as if it were an article of dress, and with the greatest deliberation laid it on the table before her. Miss Skiffins' composure while she did this was one of the most remarkable sights I have ever seen, and if I could have thought the act consistent with abstraction of mind, I should have deemed that Miss Skiffins performed it mechanically.
"By and by, I noticed Wemmick's arm beginning to disappear again, and gradually fading out of view. Shortly afterwards, his mouth began to widen again. After an interval of suspense on my part that was quite enthralling and almost painful, I saw his hand appear on the other side of Miss Skiffins. Instantly Miss Skiffins stopped it with the neatness of a placid boxer, took off that girdle or cestus as before, and laid it on the table."

And here is my excellent outfit from yesterday when I did lots of neat things like Watch TV and Play Dance Central and Eat.

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