Role Models: Literary Villainesses

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You may have noticed that I took the weekend off from posting, which was nice because I didn’t have anything I very much wanted to get out.

But today I’d like to talk about some of the women in literature I find to be very inspiring- the women who are pretty much the devil incarnate.

Putting aside issues of women’s representation in literature and other arts, and how it may or may not be more connected to men’s imagination than female actuality… some of my favorite characters are strong, selfish, and mean people.

I’m not sure why this is, especially because I’d like to think that I personally am nothing like that.  But it’s also not difficult to see why their drive, anger, and uncompromising attitudes are appealing.  After all, the world is a scary place and women are frequently expected to be easy victims of it. Continue reading “Role Models: Literary Villainesses”

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The Runt of the Literature

Ayyy, get it? It’s like ‘runt of the litter’, but books and the written word, so literature.
…I’ll see myself out.

Having recently written about my favorite standout works from amazing authors, I decided it was time to do the opposite.  That is, rudely single out my least favorite works by some of my best-beloved authors. Blasphemy.

I think my greatest hope, when I write about books, is that people will be inspired to feel like the classics are less remote.  It’s logical that, looking at the whole of the history of writing and authorship, you can find better pieces than were published in the past five or ten years.  For me personally, writing styles from longer ago are more pleasing than current writing (again, speaking very generally).  But I do think that we have a tendency to venerate classic literature kind of excessively.  Which makes people hesitant to read it and interact with it.  They’re just books like any other, and books are there for people to read and enjoy.  A book should never make you feel bad, and you should never feel ‘unworthy’ of a book or guilty for having a negative opinion about one.  It’s like trying on clothes.  If you try on something that doesn’t fit, it’s the clothing that doesn’t fit you, not you who doesn’t fit the clothing.

Okay, rant over.  Here’s a collection of books from my favorite authors who can by and large do no wrong.  And these are examples of the doing wrong (again, by me).  Books that I am perfectly content to not like.

Continue reading “The Runt of the Literature”

The Real chef d’œuvre

What is a masterpiece?  Usually there’s a general critical (or at least cultural) consensus on what the ‘best’ novel is by any given author. Maybe it’s not explicitly called the ‘best’, but everyone recognizes it- it’s the book you’re assigned in high school and again in college, the one that people namedrop (title drop?) and the one you see on book lists. Which is really unfair because there are lots of under-appreciated books that deserve more love.  And because I’m all about spreading the love ❤ here are my favorite books that I completely subjectively think are the best by some veddy important authors. Continue reading “The Real chef d’œuvre”

Back with Books

And we’re back.

It’s taken me a while to regain the desire to blog (or do anything, for that matter) post-election. I haven’t made the fact that I’m fairly liberal a secret, on this blog or anywhere else. And I’m very distressed about the looming prospect of a Trump presidency.
However, this is something I’ve talked about on various other social media, and for now I don’t see this blog becoming a platform for that. In very great part because it’s not something I’m ready to talk about to a general audience.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to broach the subject of the election here. This is all there will be for now.

And in the meantime, I’d like to let you in on some family dynamics. Some family reading dynamics.  We’re all rather literate.  I read more than either of my parents do. I also think about and talk about books a great deal more.  There are over 400 distinct titles on my ‘to read’ list at the moment, and at one point it was over 2000.

I love recommending books to people (especially when people are willing to talk about their other favorites so I can get a good idea of what they like)- this may sound a bit strange, but I’ve realized that searching for ‘the perfect thing’ is one of my favorite things to do.  I do it with movies, books, gifts, names, everything really.

In a horrible twist of fate, I don’t like taking recommendations very much.  Especially when it comes to books.  Books take a little while longer to get through than movies, and while I will not infrequently add things to my reading list based on recommendations, I’m not likely to let some upstart recommendation jump the 400+ line of books waiting for my love and attention.  And you have to read a book when you’re in the right mood for it.  I can’t just be in the right mood for a book because someone recommended it.

But to the point of this post: My parents and I trade recommendations pretty frequently.  Or they sometimes recommend things that I eventually get around to and the rest of the time I’m shoving an elite selection of books at them, desperately trying to get them to read when really they have lives and other hobbies and I… well, I do, but not as much.

So a dissection of this over the years, starting with Mom- I’ll do Dad tomorrow: Continue reading “Back with Books”

My Favorite Authors

What qualifies an author to be counted among my favorites?
I have very high standards, as befits such a coveted distinction.  You know Orwell is just rolling over in his grave because he’s not on here.

It’s a fairly simple standard actually: if a book is written by one of these authors, I don’t have to worry too much about the risk of disliking it… because I generally won’t.

So in no particular order:

 

Henry James

The first book I read by Henry James was The Portrait of a Lady and it took me so long to begin because the first sentence was so convoluted I was terrified. But it’s an absolutely beautiful book, as are most of his novels and short stories.

Continue reading “My Favorite Authors”