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Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

I’m a very lucky lady.

I have had so many amazing role models in my life, and two of the most inspiring are my maternal grandparents. I often write about my Grandmother because I seem to have inherited a lot of her creativity { I even wear some of the things she had  long ago sewn for my Mom, and do my stitching on her sewing machine }, but I don’t want to neglect telling you about her husband, Stanley, and his equally respectable character.

Recently, his World War II journal was published, and I was given one of the very first copies. My family found it among his belongings when he passed away in 2002, and my Great Uncle Bob { who really is great! } painstakingly transcribed it into type. I remember looking through all of the photographs that are included, for there are many, and newspaper clippings about his efforts, as well. But I had never sat down to read the whole book until I began it the other night.

It feels completely surreal to embark on this journey with him. I keep forgetting that he’s my Grandfather, as he describes the heaviness of the cannoned ship in which he crossed the ocean. And when he speaks of his last sighting of the Boston skyline, I wonder how different it must have looked then to him than it would now to me. I also continually find myself imagining where my Grandmother, his future wife, would have been as he willingly heads toward the warfront and away from her.

My reading list will have to wait for a little while. For, when my Mom handed me this newly bound journal, it immediately took precedence.

Sundays are made for reading.

xx.

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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Remember when I told you that I’m an incredibly slow reader?

Well, if you didn’t believe me then, you will now; I started reading Frankenstein before Halloween and I finished it today. Part of that is the fact that I’m busy all of the time and feel a little guilty when I sit down to read because I think about what I should be doing instead { cleaning, working, etc. }. But another part of it really is that I’m a slow reader. Either way, I will make it through the reading list I came up with, and polishing off this piece has gotten me one step closer to the end!

Here’s what I thought of it:

When I first lifted the cover of this story, I was full of expectations. Throughout my life I’ve continuously seen images of “FRANKENSTEIN” the green tinged zombie with a flat head and a bolt in his neck. I knew that Frankenstein was actually the name of the monster’s creator rather than the creature himself, but that was about all I knew of the book. Anything else I thought I knew was a complete fabrication. Wasn’t Dr. Frankenstein supposed to have a sidekick named Igor? Wasn’t the creature supposed to be a big dumb oaf? Didn’t it all take place in a huge stone castle at the top of a mountain where the weather was constantly stormy? I thought all of this to be the case, so when I was a chapter or two in and following some guy named Walton who was sailing a ship toward the North Pole, you can imagine my confusion. Turns out the book was completely different than I had expected!

But I was pleasantly surprised. I swooned over the fondness of nature that Shelley described through the eyes of her main character. His affection for Switzerland was tender and sweet, and made me sick for my own home. When I wrote my novel this fall, I struggled to describe the autumn foliage that burns with colour, but provides no warmth. Every day that I wrote, I searched within myself for the appropriate words to capture this phenomenon, but came up empty handed or with a little something compromised. Shelley, I have now found, had already written the very words I was in search of. She described exactly what I hoped to, with infinitely more eloquence than I could ever hope to muster. She wrote: “…the sun shone on the red leaves that strewed the ground, and diffused cheerfulness, although it denied warmth…”. And that wasn’t the only occasion. Several times her words struck a chord with something I had felt a million times while walking through my native woods, but never known how to put in English. Bravo for that, Mary!

And she describes terrible things, too, with the same accurate descriptions. For in this story, there are many terrible things. That, I will leave for you to discover.

What a comment on humanity, necessity, and religion this piece was! What exactly is the relationship of creator and created? What do we as humans really need to survive — just shelter and nourishment, or also affection and companionship? All of these grand questions could be gleaned from her story even if it takes you months to finish. So, really, you should give it a try. I highly recommend it.

See you tomorrow, friends!

xx.

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I have been waiting for this movie to come out for such a long time.

I’m so fascinated by the debate about Shakespeare. Did he write or did he not? Was he even a real human? What’s the story behind one of the greatest storytellers in history? Of course, I know he was real, + an actor, but this whole mystique about him is captivating to me. And, no matter what conclusions I may draw, the truth is long lost + never to be uncovered.

So, you can imagine my excitement about Anonymous. I can’t wait to see it + get caught up in that world again. I highly suggest you see it, too, if you have any interest in this sort of thing. If the only bit of Shakespeare that you’ve gotten is from some droning high school English teacher, then you should try him again starting with the book above. Bryson’s wit + the simplicity of his writing style make Shakespeare totally approachable {and -gasp- interesting}! Go on, have a look, then!

Have a lovely Saturday!

xx.

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Wuthering Heights | My Thoughts

In the bones of winter, from my experience, there is but one option for escape: a good book.

Yet, there I was a couple of weeks ago, in the last dreamy days of a golden summer, hiding away between the pages of one of the dreariest stories ever penned: Wuthering Heights. (Yes, I should have made this post awhile ago. I clearly don’t time things well.)

The interesting bit is that the whole story was concocted within the imagination of a very unlikely writer; a sheltered young girl probably not unlike Cathy (one of the main characters) herself.

But the power of the stormy heaths had propelled me to read on, and I finished the book almost wishing that I had never started it at all. That beast of a human, Heathcliff, leaves a bad taste in my mouth after all is said and done and I think it would have been great if he’d never been imagined at all. Still, I would encourage you to read the story at least once in your life, but do it in the darkest days of winter, and know that real life exists as an escape from that miserable world.

I’m now in the midst of Frankenstein, and will let you know my thoughts on that when it’s done.

Read on, my friends, read on.

xx.

(Click image for source!)

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Next On My List

I’m slowly making my way through this list that my BFF and I made!

The next piece to complete: Frankenstein. And could the timing me more perfect? I think not. It’s almost Halloween, after all!

The other night, I had some great conversations with our friend Andy about books! He, too, is working through all of the classic to-reads, and I can’t wait to show him the list. He’s gotten further into it than I have just by reading on his own. Still, I’m so excited to have someone to chat and get excited about books with (in this city). When I finish Frankenstein we’re going to read a few novels at the same time.

What’s your current read?

xx.

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In the spirit of the upcoming Halloween season, how about this “what if”…

What if we all gave each other a spooky tale for Halloween instead of giving out candy? What if we passed along copies of H.P. Lovecraft and Agatha Christie and Edgar Allen Poe. Here‘s where I got the idea (thanks to Ryan for passing it along). Ah, I live in an ideal world, don’t I?

I just think it would be so amazing if, on Halloween night, instead of seeing children running up to a house, grabbing candy greedily, then running to the next, I saw a group of children gathered at each stoop listening intently to a ghost story told by the costumed elder stationed at the top of stairs, whose homely figure was outlined by the light from a flickering candle just inside.

Were this truly the case, here’s the tale that I’d choose as my All Hallow’s Read for you. So, settle in, dim the lights, and be prepared to get spooked!

Happy October to you!

xx.

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My best friend loves to read even more than I do.

She came over last week, and together she, Ryan, + I compiled a list of books that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. I do often feel like I’m a bit behind when it comes to the classics, and before I get any further from my youth, I thought I’d just nip that one right in the bud.

So here’s what we came up with:

| I will read every single one of these classics |

- Catcher In The Rye - J. D. Salinger

- Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë

- Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë

- Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

- Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

- 1984 - George Orwell

- Macbeth – Shakespeare

- Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare

- Civil Disobedience - Henry David Thoreau

- To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

- Of Mice + Men - John Steinbeck

- Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

- The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

- The Crucible - Arthur Miller

- Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

- Pride + Prejudice – Jane Austen

- The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

- Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

- Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf

- A Room Of One’s Own - Virginia Woolf

- Dubliners - James Joyce

- Madam Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

- War + Peace - Leo Tolstoy

- Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

- Little Women -  Louisa May Alcott

- Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut

- The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

- On The Road – Jack Kerouac

- Lord of the Flies - William Golding

- A Farewell To Arms - Ernest Hemingway

- The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien

- Moby Dick - Herman Melville

- Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

- The Stranger - Albert Camus

- Paradise Lost - John Milton

- For Whom The Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway

- Light In August - William Faulkner

- The Sound + The Fury - William Faulkner

- 100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez

- Walden - Henry David Thoreau

- Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

- Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

- The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

- Into The Wild - Jon Krakauer

- A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

We tried to represent as many influential writers and eras as we could think of, but it’s pretty likely that we’re leaving someone out. You did so well at filling in the gaps when I asked for your help with summer movies, so I must ask again…

am I missing anything?

xx.

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I operate seasonally.

This is something I’ve come to know about myself. In the winter I knit and sew a lot, in the summer I need to be outside, and in the fall I read and write. The weather in New England is as pervasive to my mood as that of Wuthering Heights.

And it seems I’m not the only one. Hello Giggles posted a fantastic piece recently called “Get Thee To A Bookstore Before It’s Too Late“, and as soon as I read the title, I just knew I’d be so fired up about the article.

You see, I’m rather opinionated at times (perhaps you’ve already figured this out on your own). And I just love the atmosphere created when books are stacked and piled and displayed as they are in bookstores and libraries. To think that I’m standing amidst a sea of stories is something akin to standing at the top of a hill during the worst of a storm — it’s powerful, bewildering, and most of all, exciting.

So I do worry about the future of our bookstores these days due to the prevalence of e-books and free/cheap downloads. When I moved to my city just three years ago there were at least five bookstores that I applied to for a job just within walking distance of my house. Since then, not only have three of those five have closed, but so have their locations in other towns, and we all know about the recent Borders disaster, don’t we?

Basically what I’m trying to say is, I think bookstores are simply magical, but they’re in serious danger now that we’re all too lazy to get off of the couch and walk to them. Shall we all decide together that we’ve learned a lesson from The Shop Around The Corner in You’ve Got Mail, and know that the internet will always be here for us, but that our bookstores might not?

After all, autumn is the perfect time for reading…

xx.

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How fun is this display in the side window of the Green Hand Book Store?

I took this photo months ago meaning to share it with you then, but I just kept forgetting. I love the aesthetic in this book shop so much that it inspired a more in depth post from me over a year ago. This display, though, necessitated another post if for no other reason than to share the chuckles. Super cute.

Keep it up, Michelle!

xx. Julia

P.s. If you like their piccadilly collars, check this out!

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I was thinking last night, as I watched the previews before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 began, that this would be the last time I ever watched a Harry Potter movie on the big screen.

I thought about when I first heard that lovely tinkling little tune now so reminiscent of a magical world. It was ten years ago. An entire decade. I was sitting in the theatre and the lights dimmed and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone began rolling.

And last night as I waited to see the ending of it all play out before me, I thought about when the imagination of J.K. Rowling first opened up to me. My best friend, a profoundly avid reader, led me into a quiet room in her house. She said, “I’ve got to show you something.”

She shared a bedroom with her two younger sisters, so she sought the only quiet space where we could fall into the wizarding world without distraction — her parents’ bedroom. It was here that she told me of the grand adventure that had begun unfolding itself in front of her via those eggshell pages and the ebony lettering. Excitedly (I knew this was going to be something good), she opened up the very first book in the series and read to me the first page.

I was glued immediately, and she handed me the book. I remember seeing her in the hallway of our school the next day and running up to her. “I just met Hermione!” I blurted out with childish enthusiasm. Only, we had no idea how to pronounce the name, so we called her Her-me-own. It wasn’t until the movies came out that we realized that wasn’t how it was supposed to sound.

I remember getting to page 100, and thinking that the stars next to that page number looked especially enchanting.

On the day that each subsequent book was released, my Dad or I would rush to pick it up (I got him hooked, too!). I’d read it as fast as I could then hand it over to him. Of course, Julia — my speed-reader best friend — had likely finished it on the same day that she lifted the cover, so she and I would gab immediately about how wonderful the story was — how captivating.

In college, I started pre-ordering my tickets and waiting in line at midnight to see the movies as they were released. It became a tradition that I looked forward to with an incredible lust. It was truly the epic of our time. And now it has come to a close.

I was such a different person way back then. I feel like maybe I wasn’t even myself at all. I was a product of my family and my environment, but I didn’t know anything about my self. I knew Harry Potter before I even knew myself.

And when I left The Nickelodeon theatre last night, I walked out as an adult woman who has a profession, a partner, who lives in her own apartment, who has pets that depend on her, who has a college degree, who owns her own car, who hasn’t even lived in the same State as her parents for several years.

I grew with the characters from a First Year and now the era has ended. It’s a strange, strange feeling…

I just had to share.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to. And if you haven’t read the books, it’s never too late to start.

xx. Julia

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