Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up for October 31, 2010: Monthly Wrap-up and My Really Good News. :)

Wow, I cannot believe that October is over. It seems like a whirlwind thinking back on all of the things I accomplished here on the blog and personally. November is going to be even crazier with my park job ending, NaNoWriMo, and moving into a new apartment!

So, what did I do in October? Well, I participated in the 24-Hour Read-a-thon for the second time and was fairly happy with the reading I did. I also felt that it helped me connect to the book blogging community more than I have in the past. I also made it a goal to comment more on the blogs I follow, which is something I am always working on, as well as searching for new bloggers that catch my interest. I added quite a few to my blogroll and while it is becoming a lot of posts to read each day, I love all the bookish posts.

I also read a great number of books! Here are the titles I completed:
  • Villette by Charlotte Bronte
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
I am THISCLOSE to finishing A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, so I might be adding one more title by the time I hit my pillow tonight. It was a great reading month and I am proud I made it through some heavy titles.

I just decided to go back and revisit some of my childhood favorites as a way to relax during this coming month. I made a nice big list, but I'm not sure how many I'll get through by the end of November. I'm already feeling a pull to a couple titles off my classic list, so this little diversion might not even last that long.

I am also making plans to tackle one of the scariest books on my list in December. Rebecca is taking on War and Peace by the one and only Tolstoy, and I think I am going to read it with her, after I get a copy of course.

But nothing tops what happened this week, and why I have been a little absent.

I interviewed for a long-term sub job at a high school in my home town on Thursday morning. Friday afternoon I accepted a job subbing for the teaching who is going on maternity leave. :) I'll be working and teaching for at least 12 weeks in January. I get to do my own lesson plans and have a classroom of my own for awhile. :)

I was jumping for joy when I got the call. This is an excellent opportunity to get some more experience for the resume in a great school district.

I'm going to be teaching a combination of English and history. I already know that besides teaching a research paper, I'll also be teaching The Crucible and Of Mice and Men.

I am really, really excited. :)

This is probably going to mean less reading time during those weeks, but it will be well worth it.

Anyway, I am going to go edit some more posts and finish A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Happy Reading everyone!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

National Novel Writing Month!

I've seen a few posts around the blogosphere in relation to National Novel Writing Month. I'm participating this year for the first time since 2006 and I am really excited about it. I have a fun plot worked out and it should be an excellent time.

If you follow that link you can go and get some more information if you're curious. It is a lot of fun and you learn a lot about yourself in the process.

I would love more writing buddies! My name over there is the same as here: aliteraryodyssey. Please add me! I'll add you back!

Thursday Treat #30: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

"There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't stay for nothing."

This was one of the titles I sacrificed off of my list. I needed room for a few more titles and since I wanted to keep my list to 250, Fahrenheit 451 had to come off.

This is a novel I almost have memorized. My tenth grade English teacher gave me her own battered copy to read when I told her I was having a hard time finding some good science-fiction to read. I flew through her own copy and eventually bought my own (which is almost as beat-up as hers).

I cannot even begin to count the amount of times I have read this novel. Not only was it one of my favorite books in high school, but I also created a unit off of it in college. My final project, which I had to re-create, was a blended genre paper (a paper composed of multiple pieces in different genres centered around a theme).

It is a book that speaks to me-as a reader and lover of the written world.

Montag is a fireman in the future, but unlike in our day, firemen don't stop fires, they start them. Books have been fully banned. being caught with books in your possession results in the firemen coming, piling your books into a bin, and lighting them on fire. Montag begins to question his role, and the loss of knowledge during the burning of different books.

It is a powerful little book about censorship and government control. This is a great example to use in schools to discuss issues of restriction and society's role in determining what is acceptable to pass along to future generations.

I love every piece of this novel. It makes me appreciate that I am allowed to read what I desire, and to gain as much new knowledge as I want without any kind of restriction. I don't have to worry that the thousands of dollars of books that I have in my home might be taken from me and burned.

If you haven't read this because you hate sci-fi, you need to rethink it. It is powerful and a book meant for all readers.

"What traitors books can be! You think they're backing you up, and they turn on you. Others can use them, too, and there you are, lost in the middle of the moor, in a great welter of nouns and verbs and adjectives."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bleak House Read-a-Long: FINISHED.

I have been participating in this monstrous read-a-long hosted by Amanda at The Zen Leaf of Charles Dicken's Bleak House.

If you have been following for a good amount of time, you should know one thing about my reading habits: I HATE Charles Dickens. I mean, I haven't had a positive experience with his writing ever and the only reason I have him on my list is that well, I can't say I've read a lot of classics if he's NOT on there. Many people associate Dickens with classics, so I feel this huge need to give him a try.

The read-a-long was the perfect opportunity to get this mammoth novel out of the way. My own edition was 818 pages.

I only managed to be on time with my first post, but I finished this monstrosity just in time to post my final thoughts on it.

I should say from the beginning that I was not impressed with the structure and style of the novel as a whole. Large portions are narrated by the heroine-Esther, but random chapters are told from an omniscient narrator. This left me feeling confused. Had Dickens only told the novel from one point of view or the other, I may have had an easier time reading it. Also, Dickens threw in so many sub-plots and characters that I had difficulty keeping track of who was who and what exactly was going on. Taking Amanda's lead, I began reading the Sparknotes before reading the sections to help understand just what was going on.

These were my two biggest issues. I can understand that Dickens released this serially. I can give him props for developing such a massive story that was so incredibly detailed. And, in the end, it seemed to work out. But this is where I have to wonder, how many of those sub-plots, twists and turns were really needed? Dickens was obviously paid for larger and more intricate pieces. much of it was simply padding?

This was my big problem with Great Expectations last fall. The basic story was good. It was the middle part that dragged on and on and on. I liked the story with Magwitch and Pip. It was the ramblings in the middle that I thought were unnecessary.

So, those were my problems. But now you're asking: what is this story all about?

Bleak House is a complicated novel. At the core is a court case (Jarndyce v. Jarndyce) that holds the fate of all in its clutches. It has moved through the courts slowly and has been a huge expense. Obviously, Dickens was commenting on the structure of the British legal system, but much of this was so intertwined with everything else I didn't pay great attention to it. It had a lot to do with wills, inheritances, and the like.

Esther is an orphan (supposedly) and when her guardian passes away, she is taken in by a proprietor, sent to school for six years, and eventually finds a place in his home with his two other wards, Ada and Richard. The three of them are close and eventually Richard and Ada fall in love. While Richard wants to push the court case through to get his hands on what is due to him, their guardian, John Jarndyce, hopes that Richard will choose a profession to support himself and Ada.

There is also the story of Esther's mother, who is not dead and does not know that Esther still lives. Another side plot involving her search for Esther's father (not her husband??) and her discovery of Esther also unfolds.

In all, I liked the idea of Bleak House, but I didn't like the product. There are certain cases where length is needed. And here, I felt that there were large portions that were just excess. I was frustrated by my own inability to follow the story between sections and chapters as the narrator changed and the plot focus constantly switched. Honestly, Dickens needed an editor to tell him to focus his novel on the story of Esther and her role. If she was the narrator he picked, then well, he needed to stick to telling her story.

Anyway, I am glad I can mark another Dickens novel off my list. It was the biggest, so I am glad its over with. I have five more Dickens novels to go. I can only hope that they are not as painful.

Back to my Roots:

So, here's a thought.

While it may not seem like it, I have been in a bit of a reading rut. The obsessive nature I once had to read all the time is gone. Reading recently has become a slight chore and I am frustrated with my inability to find a good book from my list to sink my teeth into.

I think a large part of it is the fact I haven't been feeling well the last few weeks. Yesterday was my day off and I spent the day alternating between trips to the bathroom and sleeping in bed. I haven't accomplished anything worth anything recently and I am a bit frustrated with the halt in my progress recently. I mean, at the rate I am going, it is going to take me five or six years as opposed to the three I had planned for to complete this project.

So what is the solution?

I am beginning to see reading and writing here as a chore. I have been slogging through Bleak House without much enthusiasm. I felt this need to read it to say that I did. Yes, its on my list, like many other books I have put aside when they didn't grab my attention. But reading that book was like a chore my mom assigned me to do and it made me incredibly unhappy.

And again, a small part of this problem is the fact that I feel incredibly stressed out. Between the saga of my toe, various other ailments, moving, and work at the park coming to a close on November 7th (my park job is technically only a seasonal job. I work full time from the end of March through the middle of November. Normally they keep a few of us on over the winter, but because of budget cuts they aren't this year). All of that is stressing me out and I find that the free time I do have...well...I don't want to read something heavy.

I've decided that I am taking a short break, and reading a few things that are going to bring me back to my roots. It will ease the transition when we move and hopefully get me over the rough patch I have had recently in terms of devoting myself to what I am reading.

I kind of owe Jillian for influencing me to take this break. She is reading the Little House series right now, and I decided I want to re-read them as well. I am also going to read a few other favorites from my childhood in hopes it'll remind me why I love to read. I could spend forever on re-reading books from my past, so I am going to limit myself to this list. :) I hope you will all enjoy my little excursion back into my childhood with me.
  • The Little House series: This includes Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, The First Four Years all by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
  • The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger by Lois Lowry
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins and Thunder Rolling in the Mountains by Scott O'Dell
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  • A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle
  • The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  • The BFG, The Witches, and Matilda by Roald Dahl
Anyway, those are the childhood titles that I desperately want to read right now. I'm going to cut myself off at the end of November no matter how many I get through. I hope you'll all forgive me for taking a break from my list. I think I have just lost sight of who I want to be in terms of this blog and my project. I think I need to remind myself why I started this in the first place.

I'm going to begin reading from this as soon as I finish Madame Bovary. You'll still see backlogged posts from the other books I have finished recently. I will only be writing one post per each title from this list. I hope you enjoy this little side project!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book 59: On Part Two.

Part two of Charlotte Bronte's Villette continues the sad and isolated tone from the first part. Where I felt that the first part focused on Lucy's introversion a little too much, the second part began to expand on who Lucy appears to be to those around her.

Lucy connects with Dr. John after falling ill, and soon realizes that he is Graham Bretton, the son of her godmother that she stayed with years before. Discovering that John and his mother both live in Villette seems to open up a part of Lucy. She stays with them during her recovery, and continues to visit with them. She begins a correspondence with Dr. John that opens her up.

Lucy begins to change from a sheltered and lonely woman, to someone who is finding her inner strength. Her life at the school seems to pick up. She interacts more with the girls and teachers around her, including the teacher M. Paul Emanuel. She and Emanuel begin a pseudo-relationship. He begins to pull her from her shell.

Lucy also spends time with the Brettons, and little Polly, who also happens to be living in Villette with her father. Where her friendship with Dr. John solidifies Lucy, it is her renewed relationship with little Polly, who is all grown up, that has a further impact on Lucy. Even more, her inner strength continues to grow.

What I loved the most about this section was the slow and gradual change I began to see in Lucy. No longer was she sheltered and alone. She began to find people to surround herself with that added to her personality and strength. Dr. John's friendship seemed to show her that relationships with others was something she had sorely been lacking. After being alone for so long, Lucy craved the closeness of another individual.

And, I can certainly see where the novel is going. Her encounters with M. Paul Emanuel hint at a relationship forming. It is the slow kind of love the burns underneath before the two individuals realize it. I am looking forward to seeing how this isolated and quiet individual realizes what she needs.

I think I mentioned in a post as I was reading that I felt a kinship to Lucy, which is why it is taking me so long to finish this novel. A very big part of me is a hermit. I love being at home. I am content with my solitude and my own thoughts. For that, I am very similar to Lucy. I enjoy being alone. But Matt is the social part of myself. He makes me go out and interact, and encourages me to try new things. I guess you could compare him to what Emanuel does for Lucy-he pushes her and challenges her.

We all need that kind of push and shove at times.

Anyway, there were a few more passages I want to share from this section. I just adore Bronte's writing style. It really captures the mood of the characters.

"There are human tempers, bland, glowing, and genial, within whose influence it is good for the poor in spirit to live, as it is for the feeble in frame to bask in the glow of noon," (223).

"For once a hope was realized. I held in my hand a morsel of real solid joy: not a dream, not an image of the brain, not one of those shadowy chances imagination pictures, and on which humanity starves but cannot live; not a mess of that manna I drearily eulogized awhile ago-which, indeed, at first melts on the lips with an unspeakable and preternatural sweetness, but which, in the end, our souls full surely loathe; longing deliriously for natural and earth-grown food, wildly praying Heaven's Spirit's to reclaim their own spirit-dew and essence-an ailment divine, but for mortals deadly," (270).

"If there are words and wrongs like knives, whose deep-inflicted lacerations never heal-cutting injuries and insults of serrated and poison-dripping edge-so, too, there are consolations of tone too fine for the ear not fondly and for ever to retain their echo; caressing kindnesses-loved, lingered over through a whole life, recalled with unfaded tenderness, and answering the call with undimmed shine, out of that raven cloud foreshadowing Death himself," (279).

I can't wait to finish Bronte's beautiful and haunting work. If I feel this strongly about Villette, I can't wait until I read Jane Eyre!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up for October 24, 2010: My Bum Toe and Motivation.

This has been a craptastic week. I've been dealing with toe drama for over a month and while it is finally being treated properly, it has completely wiped me out. And if you are confused you can go here to read about how it all started.

After being off work last week, I had another appointment Monday at the occupational medicine center, where the doctor wanted to wait another week before sending me to a specialist. I was near tears when I left to go to our Human Resources department to talk to the woman in charge of all this excitement. Thankfully, she agreed with me that enough was enough and helped me get in to see a specialist.

Wednesday afternoon found me in the office of a podiatrist, who listened to my story and the multiple treatments with disdain. He pretty much agreed with me that the doctors I dealt with were idiots. They constantly contradicted each other and switched the treatment on my constantly. In the last month, I have been on three different antibiotics!

He looked at my toe and asked if it was okay if he just went in. I said yes and after numbing my toe, he dug in and said he solved the problem (when I dropped the brick on my toe, it broke off pieces of nail, which were down in the toe and nail-bed). He told me I could go back to work as long as I wear my super-cool medical shoe. He also gave me pain pills, which I have only been taking when absolutely necessary.

So, it has been a long and stressful week, with a lot of hobbling around on my part. I had to stop taking the pain pills today, since they were ripping apart my stomach, but some Motrin has been working to keep the pain to a dull ache.

I go back in another week to make sure its healing, but I am optimistic. Even with the ache, this is the best my toe has felt in over a month!

With all of that, blogging took a back seat this week. I have about 12 posts written in draft, but they need to be edited. I will be taking a look at them tomorrow (I have the day off) and getting them scheduled to go up. I have two more posts for Villette, as well as posts for Lolita, The Waste Land, Brave New World, The Little Prince, and A Separate Peace. I also missed the second post for the Madame Bovary read-along, so I will be posting the second and third part comments in one post on the 28th (Thursday I believe). I am also a mere 50 pages from the end of Bleak House, that other read-along that I have not posted about since the first week. I gave up on trying to catch up, so full thoughts on the whole book will be up on the 27th (Wednesday).

It is probably safe to say that you'll be seeing 2 posts/day a few times this week.

Overall, I feel like I am in a big slump. I fell into it back in September, and seemed to pull out of it during the read-a-thon, but I feel no motivation to carry on with this project. I think its more of a "I need more time" kind of thing as opposed to a feeling of wanting to give up. But a big part of me is frustrated with my seemingly lack of progress recently and I am craving the need to move forward. I'm sure it will pass eventually, but probably not as soon as I would like. After all, I am doing NaNoWriMo this year (my name is aliteraryodyssey over there too-add me as a writing buddy!) and moving during the month of November.

Anyway, how do you pull yourself out of a slump?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Not Today...

I have a couple posts in draft that I have been meaning to get up, but its not going to happen today, and maybe not tomorrow. I'm not "with it" enough to read through them and edit them as needed.

I had surgery on my poor little toe today and am feeling a little woozy from the pain drugs, so I will write a much better post either tomorrow night, or Friday. And alas, I have no "Thursday Treat" posts written either, so that will have to wait until tomorrow as well. You might see a few posts pop up tomorrow night.

In any case, I am going to drink my Diet Coke, eat a brownie that my husband made, and watch some TV. :)

Have a wonderful night!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Keeping Track of Quotations.

Hello fellow bloggers!

I come to you today with a couple questions about how you log and keep track of book quotations. I'm mainly asking because my own method is a little all over the place and I was looking into some new ideas.

Now, writing them down when I come across them is not an option. I'm in the flow of reading and already have a method for marking them (those little post-it flags are my best friend for this). I mark A LOT of passages as I am reading and usually only feature a select few when I am writing about my experience with my book. I am looking for a way to store these favorite quotes permanently so that I can refer back to them at a later date.

I've seen some bloggers with different storage methods. I saw that someone keeps a completely separate blog to log in quotes for each book they read, while another keeps a journal.

So, here are my questions for you:

Do you mark quotations as you read? If so, what do you do to mark them?

Do you store your favorite passages and quotations? If so, tell me how!

Do you think I am crazy for wanting to store my favorite pieces of each novel? ;)

Thanks! Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blog Recommendations.

I'm in a writing kind of a mood tonight and in addition to working on my WIP, I decided some blog posts, other than reviews, might be in order.

I follow quite a few blogs and I am horrible about commenting. Sometimes I feel I don't have anything intelligent to say, so I just keep my mouth shut (or my fingers still). Commenting regularly is something I continue to work on, so forgive me if I randomly just stop commenting on your blog. I don't mean to.

But I do read a lot of blog entries. Generally speaking I am a very fast reader. While some classics challenge this skill, I can read at least 2-3 pages per minute, if not more.

In any case, there are a few blogs that I am loving, so I thought I would share some links and some info about the bloggers to steer you in the direction of some fabulous reviews (I tried to limit myself to only a handful, but I'll be sure to post more soon)!

  • Amanda at The Zen Leaf: This is one of those blogs I read every post because the books she chooses are just so interesting. Amanda is very intelligent and that shines through in the way she discusses literature. I also like that she is open, honest, and reads a variety of things. Her blog focuses a lot on the classics, which is great, as not that many seem to. She is also hosting that Bleak House read-a-long that I should be up to date with (but I'm not), is home to Classics Blogger Directory, and let's face it, is an all around all-star. If she's not on your feed, she should be. Trust me.
  • Jillian at A Room of One's Own: Jillian is a relatively new-to-me blogger who takes after my own challenge. She originally started with 100 books, and has progressed up to her own list of 250 books she wants to read. They are a combination of classics, children's literature, and contemporary fiction. Each of her posts is well-written and I feel a strong kinship to her. We both view our independent projects in the same light-the urge to read these important works as fast as we can. I admire her for her own project and wish her well.
  • Pam from 100 Books. 100 Journeys.: The focus of Pam's blog is to read the Modern Library's 100 best books from the last century. It includes similar titles to my own, but Pam is reading them down from #100! I know that I have to pick and choose my own novels at will, so I love that she boldly reads each novel in order! I love that her own project started around the same time as my own. I love reading her posts and seeing how her thoughts compare to mine. She is an excellent writer-you need to go visit her. :)
  • The Avid Reader's Musings: This is another favorite! She focuses on all kinds of literature: from contemporary to classics to young adult. You can count on her reviews being well-written and insightful. I read her reviews of YA books as a guilty pleasure, since I won't be reading the books any time soon. :) I also love that she has lists of the books she has read in past years (before blogging). It gives great insight into the kind of reader she is!
  • The Literate Man: It is safe to say that most of the book blogger world is dominated by females, so when you find a guy reviewing books, its glorious. The author of this blog also reads a diverse mix-including many classics! I love seeing his views on these great works, and how they differ from my own. His reviews are well-written and thoughtful, which is something I appreciate!
  • Kathy at The Literary Amnesiac: This is another blogger who likes her classics (are you sensing a theme yet?). Her posts are original and fun! My favorites include her "Words of the Day" which highlight those difficult words we all stumble over. She has a very effortless writing style and gives deeper insight rather than just another review.
  • Park Benches and Bookends: This is a blog written by a couple (Jessica and Chris) and that is one of the main reasons I love it. They both write posts and share their blog as a common place to talk about the books they read. Jessica participated in my Cranford read-a-long, which is how I discovered their wonderful blog. They are both excellent reviewers and I love seeing how their reading tastes differ.
  • Iris from Iris on Books: Iris is a blogger I discovered shortly after she started her blog. I have been reading for so long that Iris seems like a long-lost friend. :) Her posts are always beautifully written. She explores a lot of classic literature in addition to small-press novels. She's starting her own classics project in the new year, which will be really exciting to read about!

I hope that I have steered you towards some new blogs to read! Do you have any suggestions for me? I am always looking for new blogs!

Weekly Wrap-up for October 17, 2010: The Great Toe Debacle.

Back in September I dropped a landscaping brick on my right "big" toe. I didn't do it on purpose, obviously, but now I almost wish I had for a better excuse. A week after I hurt it, my toe started to throb and um...not look so good. I was sent to city hall (I work for a city park as a seasonal park ranger right now) and they sent me to the local hospital's occupational medical center. The doctor (Dr. #1) took an x-ray, then gave me some antibiotics and sent me home, only to return two days later.

When I returned, I saw Dr. #2, who told me I needed to keep a bandaid with ointment on it at all times. No matter what. So I did.

A few days later, I returned and Dr. #1 told me my toe was on its way towards healing. I was to finish my antibiotics and keep the toe wrapped with ointment until it healed. That was on September 27th.

Over last weekend I started to notice that when I put new bandaids on, my toe began to itch something fierce. And then it got scary. I reported I needed to go back in on Tuesday where I talked with Dr. #3. He was a little more thorough, took more x-rays, and gave me stronger drugs. His theory is that my skin is either having a reaction to the ointment and bandaids, which caused a new infection to pop up, OR I have a lovely staph infection. I am oh so happy about this, let me tell you. To make matters worse, I'm not allowed to work until it clears up...and when you have an hourly job, that's not good.

So, I have been home and getting things done around the apartment. We went and found a new apartment in the town over that we put a deposit on Friday! As long as everything gets set, we'll be moving in sometime in the middle of next month. This means packing...and I am not looking forward to moving some of our heavy things. I'm going through my books and seeing if I can cull any. I found some that are in good condition that I might try to give away. We'll see if I can swing the shipping.

All I know is that I am glad to get away from our apartment complex and move somewhere a little safer. And the best news is there is more wall space for bookshelves, so perhaps I might be able to convince Matt to get some more in a few months. :)

In reading news, I finished A Separate Peace on Monday night. I forgot how much I loved that book! I am also in the middle of Madame Bovary and picked up Dracula the other night as well. I read Frankenstein last year for Halloween, so Stoker's novel is a good choice for this year.

Anyway, I plan on finishing both this week. And I really want to dive into something meaty, so I might be brave and try Anna Karenina...Not sure though. I haven't read any Tolstoy, but I have loved all the Russian literature I have read so far, so we'll see.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? I usually pick from random on my list, but nothing else looks particularly exciting at the moment.

And, hopefully I'll be back to work because while sitting around is fun, I need to move around a bit and make some moola. :)

Happy Reading everyone!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book 59: On Part One.

Villette is the story of a woman named Lucy Snowe, a woman who appears to be cold and isolated from the people around her. It opens with her standoffish observations of the people in her godmother's house, and continues as she journeys to a place where she will find acceptance.

In this first part, we are introduced to Lucy as a resident of her godmother's house in Bretton. In addition to Lucy, her godmother Mrs. Bretton, her son John Grahan Bretton, and little Paulina. The opening pages describe the relationships between them, as Lucy observes. Its obvious that these characters will appear later in the novel, and that little Miss Polly has a crush on John. Their relationship and Polly's views of the world are the beginning focus.

Eventually Lucy leaves the Bretton home and finds another place to work. She is alone with no family and flounders for a bit in her new role. After her mistress passes away, Lucy boards a ferry across the water to Labassecour (supposedly Belgium) in hopes of finding work to do, even though she doesn't speak French. There she meets Madame Beck and lands a job working in her boarding school. It is shortly after that Lucy finds herself teaching English to the girls and finding a place.

There is a great cast of characters who appear in the school around Lucy. And while Lucy narrates and discusses them, you get the idea from Lucy herself that she considers none of them loved ones. She seems so alone and desolate-forced into a role that she perhaps never wanted.

It is this sadness that lays over the entirety of this novel (so far). While the world around Lucy seems brights, the girls in her school happy and young and bubbly, Lucy seems to pull away from the love and light around her. The other teachers acknowledge her and talk with her, but I wouldn't consider any of them her friends or people to rely on.

But Lucy is content with her solitude, which is something I can relate to. In many ways I am a hermit. I like having my own time and space to do what I need. I am happy to stay in with a book rather than go out with a group. Perhaps this is why I feel so deeply for Lucy. I know how she feels.

I also love Charlotte Bronte's writing. It is deep, lyrical, and beautiful. I find myself marking passages left and right and letting her language seep over me in a deep wave. I would give anything to write this way, to evoke such deep and powerful emotion with every sentence. She was certainly a master of her craft.

This first passage shows a little of Lucy's optimism:

"A strong, vague persuasion, that it was better to go forward than backward, and that I could go forward-that a way, however narrow and difficult, would in time open, predominated over other feelings," (52).

And this passage is my favorite so far. A female student is speaking to Lucy, confronting her if you will:

"You have no relations; you can't call yourself young at twenty-three; you have no attractive accomplishments-no beauty. As to admirers, you hardly know what they are; you can't even talk on the subject; you sit dumb when the other teachers quote their conquests. I believe you never were in love, and never will be: you don't know the feeling, and so much the better, for though you might have your own heart broken, no living heart will you ever break. Isn't it all true?" (164-165).

So powerful and beautiful, and Lucy admits it all as true.

Yes, I am loving the power and beauty of Villette, and I cannot wait to see what will happen to Lucy Snowe.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Madame Bovary Read-A-Long: Part One.

When I saw that there was going to be a read-a-long for Gustave Flaubert's Madama Bovary on Nonsuch Book, I knew I had to participate.

And where most of the participants are reading from the new translation by Lydia Davis (seen at left), I could not justify purchasing a new edition when I already own. I am reading from my Penguin Classic edition and my vintage hardcover will sit lovingly on the shelf with my vintage Austens.

Madame Bovary was one of the first classics I really tried to read to "culture" myself. I can remember purchasing it while knowing hardly anything about it. This was about 3 or 4 years ago when I began to realize that if I wanted my students to read such heavy literature, I needed to read it to. I brought it with me to school during one of my placements to read it during silent reading time.

I loved it in that first reading. I'm not sure why, but perhaps the feelings Emma had about being trapped and wanting more was something that resonated within me at the time.

But I am getting ahead of myself. The first part is short and apparently, forgettable. The beginnings of Emma and Charles relationship seemed overshadowed in my mind. I also forgot the older Madame Bovary, and the manipulation of her own husband. This first part seems to line up the falsities that plague the characters throughout the rest of the novel.

First there is the knowledge that Charles was doing poorly in school. His mother, the elder Madame Bovary, covered this him to his father until he passed his exams. There is also the lie of his first marriage, which was made for fortune. When it turned out that his wife had no fortune, Charles despaired, but of course, things worked out and she passed away.

The set up of Charles meeting Emma also seems false. He only meets her by treating her father, who soon believes he is a far better doctor than he actually is. The lies and deceit seem to pile up after their meeting. I certainly found no romance in their courtship, or in the beginnings of their marriage.

I had forgotten all of these things from my earlier reading, but now I can see how important they are.

Emma, throughout the novel, seems desperate for love, romance, and devotion. The question is whether the reader will sympathize with her, or condemn her for her choices. I'm not sure where I am on that scale, but I am curious to see how I feel on this second read.

Book 59: Villette and Book Stats.

Title: Villette
Author: Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)

First Published: 1853
My Edition: Barnes and Noble Classics
Pages: 571

Other Works Include: Jane Eyre (1847), Shirley (1849)

I should say right off the bat that I haven't read Jane Eyre, and until this point the only other Bronte work I have read is Wuthering Heights. I chose to read this title first for a couple of reasons.

First, I have a definite feeling that I will really love Jane Eyre and so I wanted to "save it" until near the end of my challenge. Second, I don't want this novel to pale in comparison. I have heard mixed things about Villette, so I want to generate my own thoughts.

If Charlotte is anything like Emily, I know I will enjoy this. But, I have also heard that in some ways she is a little more talented than Emily, so who knows. I don't know a great deal about the Brontes, truth be told, but the little I do know is fascinating. Poor Anne is not on my list, but eventually I will have to give her a try as well.

In any case, its time to read another heavyweight and get another title ticked off!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book 57: Finished.

Since I read this all in one sitting, one post with all of my thoughts will have to suffice.

I haven't read the whole novel since that magical experience in eleventh grade, but I have read bits and pieces over the years to get my fill of Holden.

During this reread, I was struck with a huge wave of nostalgia for what life was like for me as a teenager. I think every one of us feels like we are all alone at some point and have no one to turn to. At times, I still feel that way as I battle feelings of depression. For that, I love Holden.

While he does complain about the phoniness of the people around him, I really feel what his character is saying. There have been many times that I have pretended to be something else to get through a rough situation, or something uncomfortable. I can think of a few moments of my short teaching career where I have felt that "phony" quality coming out as I spoke to students. It never sat well with me and when I sense people are being fake it certainly bothers me.

I know that many of my peers thought that Holden was the one being phony when we read this way back when, and while it may be true that he is, I don't think it takes away from what Holden is trying to say. He's alone and has dealt with heavy things at a young age (although, it seems many kids are dealing with things now that they "shouldn't" have to). There is a part of him that wants to shelter who he really is, so he creates an image and lives it out.

The scene with Holden in New York and the prostitute is an example of that. (For those of you who haven't read it, Holden hires a prostitute, but once she arrives, he freaks out). Holden wants to have this carefree image, but the person inside can't live up to it. He might call that phony in other people, but to me, that's just life.

In terms of writing, the novel flew by. The narrative voice is almost soothing it feels so natural. I was reminded of a male student I had a couple years ago in the way Holden speaks, and that took a little bit to get over. But I have to give props to Salinger for developing a true, angst ridden teen voice. And while I don't know if Salinger truly intended this novel to be solely for teens, I can see why adults would pull little from it, or find Holden Caufield to be irritating. By the time we reach adulthood and maturity, we don't have to pretend to be something we're not for other people. Most of us have figured out our identities and who we are meant to be.

In any case, I still loved the novel. I think that had I never read it at a younger age I would have hated it. So instead of irritating me, it reminded me of who I once was and who I am now. I loved that. It was a great and fast read and yet another check off of my list.

Anyway, I'll leave you with a passage of the book. I would leave you more, but since I marked about 50, here is one of the most well known:

"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I do want to say I'm sorry for announcing winners on Sunday. Life has been a little chaotic since then, as I have been catching up on all that sleep I lost and working.

But, in any case, I decided to announce the winners of my giveaway this morning before I head off to work.

As I said on Saturday, the winners will have 48 hours to get back to me so we can plan out which books will be on the bracelet, or featured on your bookmarks.

I drew all of the names through's generator, and Matt was my witness.

So here are your winners:

The winner of the the customized bracelet is: AliBird

The winner of the five customized bookmarks is: Jessica

The winner of the three customized bookmarks is: KarenLibrarian

Congratulations to all of you! If you see this before I get a chance to e-mail you tonight, feel free to e-mail me (aliteraryodyssey (at) gmail (dot) com). Each of you has some thinking to do about what you want made!

And I have some books I am going to be giving away in the near future (mainly doubles of books I already have). They are classics (mostly) so keep your eyes peeled!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Book 57: The Catcher in the Rye and Book Stats.

Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger (1919-2010)

First Published: 1951
My Edition: Little, Brown Books (seen at left)
Pages: 214

Other Works Include: Nine Stories (1953), Franny and Zooey (1961), Raise High the Roof Beam (1963)

This is another re-read for me. Salinger's novel was required reading as part of my high school's eleventh grade curriculum. Had I not read it then, I doubt I ever would have. Just knowing what it is about wouldn't have appealed to me then.

But I am glad we read it. As a high schooler, I really loved the angsty Holden Caufield. I related to him and found a lot of similarities between how he viewed the world and how I viewed it. However, I was one of a few students in my class that liked the novel when we finished it. A lot of my classmates found Holden to be whiny and annoying.

I have heard that when people who loved this novel as a teenager re-read it at an older age, they hate it. I hope that doesn't happen, since I have always considered this one of my "favorites."

In any case, I am looking forward to my second dabble into Salinger. I own a copy of Franny and Zooey, but haven't read it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Read-A-Thon Wrap-up.

Well, I really tried to get back up this morning after going to bed at 3:30. In fact, when my alarm went off at 6:30, I jerked right awake. But then I sat there and realized that if I did get up, read until 8, write my post, I would be incredibly tired this afternoon at work. I have an 8 hour shift to work, and well....sleep won out. :)

I feel better now after getting about 6 hours of sleep as opposed to 3, and while I slept through the end of the read-a-thon, I'm happy with my decision. I did read more before falling asleep last night, so I'll add those to my end results.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Probably near the end of the night (around hours 19 and 20). I was really tired and felt frustrated from not reading earlier in the day. Next time, I think I am going to make it clear to certain people that this is something I really want to do. Or I just need to hide at the library or other locations so I am not bothered.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I really liked everything I read this year. When I posted my list, people thought I was bonkers for sticking with my classics, but I really thought about what would hold my attention when I grabbed a bunch of things off the shelf. Finishing Lolita was a great idea. And Brave New World was the perfect length and topic to get me out of my slump after my unwanted 7 hour break.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I thought that the posts on the site were a little wonky. I didn't always see results or links, which was frustrating. Also, some of the links we were sent to were off. There was also a "reader" to comment on that had word verification, which resulted in a delay for announcing winners.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I really liked the challenges. I participated in a few and felt that they were fun! I remember some of the challenges from the previous read-a-thon and remembered a few were too lengthy.

5. How many books did you read? I finished 4: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery. I also started A Separate Peace by John Knowles and made decent progress.

6. What were the names of the books you read? See above?

7. Which book did you enjoy most? Brave New World for sure!

8. Which did you enjoy least? I enjoyed everything I read!

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? I wasn't, but I was grateful to those cheerleaders who came to see me. :)

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I will definitely participate. I have some personal things to work out to make sure that I can focus on doing my reading. I also need to make sure that I visit more readers. I really didn't comment on anyone else's blog and I should have. Next time I will have a better system!

I want to add my own stats here.

Books read: 4
Total pages read: 667

Woot for that. :)

Read-A-Thon Updates:

Rather than write a whole slew of update posts, I am going to stick with one main post that I will edit as needed. I'll add the new edits to the top, so you can look here to see my progress.

I also want to give the link for my read-a-thon giveaway one more time so you can enter. So click it. And enter. :)

End of Hours Eighteen and Nineteen:
Title of book(s) read: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery (finished) and A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Pages read: 135
Books finished during Read-a-Thon: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery.
Running total of pages read since you started: 632
Amount of time spent reading: 60ish minutes
Running total of time spent reading: 355 minutes (about 6 hours worth-boo!)

I read all of The Little Prince, which was a beautiful little novel. I can't believe I never read it as a child. It is one I will have to read again (numerous times). With its completion, I finished three full novels today, and "The Waste Land." My goal was 3 novels, and while I am happy with that, I really thought I could get to five (darn those seven hours wasted). But, I accomplished what I set out to do.

I spent some time in the last 2 hours visiting some people and cheering. My eyes are super heavy and I am beginning to find it hard to concentrate. Seeing as it is 3 am and I have been up since 6:30, I am pretty darn sleepy. The energy drink wore off and now I think I am going to turn in for a nap.

The plan is to get back up at 6:30, have some tea, and attempt to read for another hour before the end of the read-a-thon. There is a chance (a big one), that my alarm will go off, I will grumble, and turn it off without even waking. In that case, I'll be sure to post my closing thoughts sometime in the am.

But now? I am going to crawl into bed with the kitties and the husband and read a little more of A Separate Peace, but no more updates for a couple hours.

Good luck to those of you still going. More power to you. I guess I am getting too old for this. ;)

End of Hour Seventeen:
Title of book(s) read: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Finished!!)
Pages read: 51
Books finished during Read-a-Thon: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
Running total of pages read since you started: 497
Amount of time spent reading: 35ish minutes
Running total of time spent reading: 295 minutes (about 5 hours worth-boo!)

This is going up into Hour 18, but since I posted late last hour, it has only been about a "40 minute hour" if that makes sense. I finished Brave New World and really LOVED IT. It was a great novel to read today and I marked a million things I'm going to want to talk about in the future. PHENOMENAL novel if you haven't given it a go yet!

I decided I am going to read The Little Prince by Antonie de Saint Exupery next. It is 111 pages in my edition (with some pages being pictures plus caption), so it should be a quick and delightful read. I feel a second, or third wind coming on.

If you are still reading, Go you! It is after 1 am in these parts and my cats all think I am crazy for still being up. They are keeping me company, napping on my lap.

Keep reading!

End of Hour Sixteen: I lied. :)
Title of book(s) read: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Pages read: 137
Books finished during Read-a-Thon: Lolita (finished during this reading spurt as promised) and "The Waste Land" (technically this is a poem, but it counts as a "book" towards the project I am working towards on my blog).
Running total of pages read since you started: 446
Amount of time spent reading: 60
Running total of time spent reading: 260 minutes

This was another good hour of focused reading, but I'll be honest: my eyes are TIRED. It is a little after midnight and I have been up since 6:30 this morning. I finished my first monster and I am debating a Diet Coke. I feel like I need to stay up until at least 4 to make this seem like I put in a ton of effort. And my grumpiness came back about wasting 7 hours earlier. bah.

I also have an idea of giving myself two mini-read-a-thons next weekend. I have both Friday and Saturday off, with no real plans. I think I might to two 12 hour read-a-thons each day to get more reading done. I feel this huge need to make as much progress as possible towards my blogging goal.

That might be the tiredness talking. Remind me I said this in the am.

Also, the silence is killing me (Matt is gone to a friend's house for a party and won't be back for another hour or so). I moved the ihome into the living room, and I pulled out the Snuggie again. Now I am listening to the soundtrack to The Fellowship of the Ring (I can only listen to instrumental music while reading-otherwise I get distracted).

Only 50 more pages left in Brave New World!!!!!


End of Hour Fifteen:
I'm still not going to update page count. I'll take care of that as soon as I finish Brave New World. I got some reading done this hour, as well as some writing (blog posts). I am feeling a little less grumpy and angry at the circumstances that were out of my control.

I am slowly sipping my first Monster Energy drink and I am reminded of all those late and sleepless nights in college. I wrote a lot of papers the night before and pull all-nighters at least once every week. I must be getting old because I am finding it difficult now. :)

But I am pushing on. I am close to finishing Brave New World and have another book in the wings...I'll most likely write again in another 2 hours. Keep reading kids!

End of Hours Ten Through Fourteen: aka the Grumpy Hours.
I'm not filling out my form since I haven't read anything in the last 5 hours. And I want it known that it was not my doing and I am incredibly unhappy about. Like I said earlier, our plans changed this morning and our friends decided to come over instead of us meeting them for a quick lunch. They just left and it is 10pm our time. I feel pretty discouraged and pissed, but I'm going to push on and read some more.

I bought two energy drinks. I am staying up now that I lost a grand total of SEVEN hours today to crap that was out of my control.

Brave New World: I will OWN YOU!

End of Hour Nine:
Title of book(s) read: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Pages read: 71!
Books finished during Read-a-Thon: Lolita (finished during this reading spurt as promised) and "The Waste Land" (technically this is a poem, but it counts as a "book" towards the project I am working towards on my blog).
Running total of pages read since you started: 309
Amount of time spent reading: 45ish (I was also watching the game-we're winning at halftime!)
Running total of time spent reading: 200 minutes

This was a really good hour or so! I decided on starting Brave New World as my new book and immediately got sucked in. I managed to fly through the first 71 pages pretty quickly, so hopefully I can finish this in a few more hours.

It is currently half time of the University of Michigan vs. Michigan State, and my proud State Spartans are winning! I tried not to get too distracted, but its hard not to cheer for my team when they're on.

I'm going to be slacking on the reading in the next couple of hours. I am heading over to my parents' house across town to let out the doggies (they're out of town for the day). After that, we're making some tailgate style food and watching the end of the game with our friends, so I hope I can get back to reading again soon!

End of Hours Seven and Eight:
Title of book(s) read: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot
Pages read: 133
Books finished during Read-a-Thon: Lolita (finished during this reading spurt as promised) and "The Waste Land" (technically this is a poem, but it counts as a "book" towards the project I am working towards on my blog).
Running total of pages read since you started: 238
Amount of time spent reading: about 80 minutes during these 2 hours
Running total of time spent reading: 155 minutes ( that's only about 2 and half hours worth of reading!!)

This was a good two hours. I finished Lolita, which was an excellent book! It was a great read for today once I got the chance to really dive into the end of it. I also flew through the 25 page long poem "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot. It counts as a "book" for the purposes of my blog (but 25 pages is a bit of a stretch), so I am glad to knock out another easy read. It was an interesting poem to follow Lolita, but I really liked it and have a lot to say about it. I marked quite a few passages to discuss in the future.

I'm not sure what I am grabbing next, as I haven't made it to the pile to see. I am thinking The Little Prince, but my football game is on (against our rival school!) so I don't want to get too distracted from the book (since I have heard it is amazing). We'll see!

End of Hours Five and Six:
Title of book(s) read: None. :(
Pages read:
Books finished during Read-a-Thon:
Running total of pages read since you started: 105
Amount of time spent reading:
Running total of time spent reading: 75 minutes

I showered, as planned. Then got swept up cleaning with the husband. I think I mentioned that we were having a friend from out of town come in today and we were supposed to go out to lunch. Well....plans changed. He is now coming here and while I was okay with the state of our apartment, I was not okay with anyone else seeing it for the first time. So, Matt and I have been cleaning and I finally said I was done. Matt is vacuuming now, and then he's going t clean the bathroom for the first time in the 11 months we've been living here (I always do it).

So, even though it is 1:40 and before the end of hour six, I am posting this. And I won't be back until I finish Lolita. So help me!

End of Hour Four:
Title of book(s) read: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Pages read: I am up to 209 in Lolita, which means I have less than 100 pages left!
Books finished during Read-a-Thon:
Running total of pages read since you started: 105
Amount of time spent reading: About 30 or so.
Running total of time spent reading: 75 minutes

This was a good hour. The husband woke up, so we were talking a bit near the beginning of the hour and while he was making food. He made me some delicious hash browns, which distracted me a bit!

I am in desperate need of a shower, which I am going to take care of now. I probably won't update until 2 or so (its noon now). See you then!

End of Hours Two and Three (will also be called the "Whoops" Hours):
Title of book(s) read: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and the backs of my me.
Pages read: my bookmark is in the middle of pages 166 and 167 and I am assuming that is where I left off, which is not so good.
Books finished during Read-a-Thon:
Running total of pages read since you started: 61
Amount of time spent reading: I'm assuming only 20 minutes?
Running total of time spent reading: 45 minutes

I apparently fell asleep. I say apparently because I do not remember placing my bookmark in place, setting the book down, or snuggling into the couch to sleep for over AN HOUR. But I did. And I only woke up when one of the cats came to cuddle and meow to be fed.

I can't be too mad at myself. I have been feeling under the weather the last few days and probably need the extra hour of sleep. I was also feeling all warm and cuddly in my Snuggie (yes, I own a Snuggie and it is one of my most favorite things ever. I'll elaborate later). I made some oatmeal and a cup of tea and am getting ready to move forward in Lolita. I have to say, I have been reading through this quickly. I find it fascinating, scandalous, and intriguing all at the same time.

How are you all holding up?

End of Hour One:
Title of book(s) read: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Pages read: 40. I finished the first "part" of the book and have about 150 or so pages left.
Books finished during Read-a-Thon:
Running total of pages read since you started: 40
Amount of time spent reading: I only read for about 25 minutes before coming back online. I started a little late in the hour as I was reading posts. :)
Running total of time spent reading: 25 minutes

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Read-A-Thon Mini-Challenges.

To save you all the aggravation of exploding feeds and numerous posts, I will be placing all of my mini-challenges for the read-a-thon in one post. A few other bloggers are doing it this was as well, and I just feel it is the right thing to do. :)

Yet again, I want to encourage you all to enter my read-a-thon giveaway!

Six Word Celebration of the Read-a-thon!

For this mini-challenge, you must create a six-word celebration of the 24 hour read-a-thon. This is hosted by Andi at Estella's Revenge.

Here is my entry: Reading with tea, friends, books-Woohoo!

Read-A-Thon Away I go!

Well, we're off. And since I promised myself I would be more of an active participant this year, here are my answers to the beginning questions posed on the main Read-A-Thon site.

Where are you reading from today?

Shelby Township, Michigan! And if my husband drives me batty, the library in Rochester Hills. :)

3 facts about me …

1. I am currently in the midst of a project where I am reading only classics! Woot!
2. I have an unhealthy obsession with Diet Coke.
3. I have three kitties: Hemi, Sparty, and Lily.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?

I added a couple more options last night, but I think I have about 16 or 17 books sitting on the nightstand. I know I won't get to all of them, but I wanted some options!

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?

My main goal is to have a good time. I do want to finish at least three books, but I already know two that I will finish early in the day. Well, technically "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot is a poem, but it counts as a completed "book" for my own project. And I am trying to read for at least 18n hours before calling it a day.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?

Have fun! And take breaks to rest your eyes. Also, look on the main site for fun memes and distractions. Even if you aren't reading, you can participate, which is something I didn't do last year!

Read-A-Thon Giveaway!


I am extra chipper this morning, as the enthusiasm and excitement of reading for as long as possible before passing out kicks in. :) And with all of that excitement comes my own read-a-thon giveaway hosted here!

Here is what is up for grabs (but be warned, it comes with a small backstory).

About a month ago, I received a package in the mail from a good friend from college, Sabrina, who commissioned a bracelet to be made for me with seven of my favorite books as charms. She had asked me in cryptic way to name my seven favorite books, which was quite difficult, but I was in love with my bracelet the minute I opened it. I knew that since then I would have to give one away to my readers!

The winner of the giveaway will get to choose seven books to be placed on a bracelet and customized for you. It will look like this one (This picture is of a Jane Austen themed bracelet, but gives you the idea of what it will look like. Each image is a book cover, and it is repeated on the reverse side):

It is the perfect thing for a book nerd and I hope you will be as excited about it as I am.

But, I will also be giving away TWO other prizes!

Second place will receive FIVE customized bookmarks, complete with quotes from your favorite novels. You will choose the quotes, and the bookmarks will reflect your favorite novels.

And third place will receive THREE customized bookmarks, again, with quotes from your favorite novels.

Each prize will be mailed out as soon as the item (s) are complete.

So, what do you need to do to enter? Here are the rules and requirements:
  • You need to comment on this post saying you would like to be entered! But I'm also going to give you a little work and ask you to leave your top 7 FAVORITE books. I'm looking forward to seeing what you consider your favorite books of all time!
  • Leave me an e-mail address so I can contact you if you win! No e-mail and I can't let you know you've won!
  • Your comment/entry needs to be in by the END of read-a-thon hours. If you comment after, you will be disqualified.
  • Have fun! This shouldn't be stressful, but fun!
  • This contest is open INTERNATIONALLY.
I will look at all the entries and post the winners on Sunday night. The winners will be randomly chosen and given 48 hours to respond to my e-mail before I pick someone else.

I would also appreciate it if you passed the word along, since this is not an official giveaway through the read-a-thon organizers, and yes, it is more fun with more participants.

Good luck!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

More Read-a-Thon Preparations!

I am still gearing up for the 24-hour read-a-thon madness that is happening tomorrow.

I will be hosting a giveaway during the event tomorrow (its not through the organizers-I signed up for an official mini-challenge too late), but I do hope that you will spread the word tomorrow if you are participating. Even not, stop by and see if you are interested in entering. It requires a little thought and planning on your part, but not any heavy duty thinking. And the prize is book-themed (but not a book), and customizable...I hope that got you interested!

I read all of your comments from my previous post, and I wanted to respond to some thoughts and questions.

I am well aware that my book list is lengthy...and heavy. Believe me, I know I am not going to get through all the titles, and I don't hope to. With this kind of reading marathon, I am sure I am going to be flipping from book to book hoping that something will catch my attention. But again, my goal is to finish 3.

Yes, I plan on staying up for all 24 hours, but I won't be actively participating in about 4 of them. Matt and I have a friend coming in from "up north" (Traverse City area) and we are taking him to lunch. In addition, my college, Michigan State, is taking on our rival, Michigan, in football. I am sure that a couple hours in the afternoon will be spent with the husband on the couch wearing our green white, cheering on the Spartans, and consuming some adult beverages.

But, besides that, I plan on having a book in my hands for a good chunk of the remaining time. Matt is in charge of feeding me since he has the day off, and to go get me more Diet Coke (my other addiction besides books).

I am also planning on taking an hour of time tomorrow to work on writing some overdue posts-a good excuse for a break from reading, and a way to get some blog work done in the peak of blogger happiness. :)

Anyway, enough for one afternoon. :) I hope to see many, many read-a-thon posts from you tomorrow. If you haven't already, please let me know if you are participating so I can stop by and cheer you on.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book 56: Finished.

(I want to apologize first for not posting this earlier this week. I thought I had scheduled it. Turns out, I didn't. Brain fart on my part. It happens).

I really enjoyed my time spend with Tan. It was like visiting an old friend I didn't even know I had. There was something very comforting in reading this tale about mothers and daughters, and the gaps that come between them.

I am fortunate that I have a really good relationship with my mother. We disagree sometimes, but we go out to lunch and talk about everything. I am grateful that I have that and can count on that.

So perhaps I cannot relate to the women in this book, who cannot understand who their mothers are, or why they are the way they are. We all have private experiences that make us who we are and that we cannot even begin to explain to even those who are closest to us.

This novel is an example of those moments-those places and times where we fall within ourselves and discover things that we hold private.

I want to share a few small sections that I loved. This first one is from "The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates,"

"When something that violent hits you, you can't help but lose your balance and fall. And after you pick yourself up, you realize you can't trust anybody to save you-not your husband, not your mother, not God. So what can you do to stop yourself from tilting and falling all over again?" (128).

Here is another section from "Queen Mother of the Western Skies,"

"I know how it is to be quiet, to listen and watch, as if your life were a dream. You can close your eyes when you no longer want to watch. But when you no longer want to listen, what can you do?" (242).

My favorite is from the chapter or story called "Feathers from a Thousand Li Away,"

"I wiped my eyes and looked in the mirror. I was surprised at what I saw. I had on a beautiful read dress, but what I saw was even more valuable. I was strong. I was pure. I had genuine thoughts inside that no one could see, that no one could ever take away from me. I was like the wind," (53).

So yes, the book is about discovering the differences between East and West, the old and the new, and the stories we all have inside and never tell. It is powerful without being overbearing and shouting in your face. It is simple, and beautiful, and everything I needed to read.

"So this is what I will do. I will gather together my past and look. I will see a thing that has already happened. The pain that cut my spirit loose. I will hole that pain in my hand until it becomes hard and shiny, more clear. And then my fierceness can come back, my golden side, my black side. I will use this sharp pain to penetrate my daughter's tough skin and cut her tiger spirit loose. She will fight me, because this is the nature of two tigers. But I will win and giver her my spirit, because this is the way a mother loves her daughter," (286).

Thursday Treat #29: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

There are quite a few books and movies that I wish I would have discovered when I was younger. Its not that I don't appreciate them now, but I feel that I would have LOVED them as a kid or teenager. But, these are the books that I'll make sure I share with my own kids so that they can enjoy them.

Anyway, I didn't read Michael Ende's The Neverending Story until college and my young adult literature class. I had seen the movie a year or two earlier with Matt and thought it was a little weird. Matt had raved about it, and about seeing it as a kid at home. We even purchased it on DVD to watch it because it was "necessary we own it."

I can't remember if a lot of my class loved the book or not, but I know I did. I know for a lot of the people in that class, it was just another novel we had to read. And truthfully, many of the people in that class were not in love with YA literature and reading in general (I guess the whole topic of English majors who don't read is another rant I can go into). But we did talk a lot about the importance of this book and how it does pertain to reading and the reading process.

The story follows a boy, Bastian, who is hiding from bullies. He finds a book called The Neverending Story and begins reading. Immediately he is taken into the world of the book, Fantastica, and begins imagining a place where stories are real. And Bastian has the power, as the reader, to change the world he reads about and to imagine it as he sees fit. He can make changes to the scenes around him and decides the fate of different creatures he comes across.

The overall effect is magic. It is a book lover's dream-the ability to change a mold the world of a story to your desires as the reader. And while I loved the movie, the book was on a completely different level. It was deeper, more involved, and went further than the movie could hope to. It was beautiful.

The magic of the world of Fantastica inspired me in many ways as a reader, and I probably pulled more away from that book than I did from any other we read in that class, even though I loved almost every novel we picked up.

It is a book and a world that I can't wait to share with my own children when they're old enough to understand and love the way you can fully immerse yourself into the world of a book.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Read-A-Thon Plans.

I'm sure that many of you already know about the 24-hour read-at-hon taking place this Saturday. If not, here is the site that can give you more information, and here is the post to sign up.

I missed the first read-a-thon that took place since beginning my blog, but I did participate in the one that took place in April. And I loved it! It was a great excuse to spend a lot of time on the couch reading, and making progress towards my goal.

One of the best parts was going to the site every hour to look at challenges and find some inspiration from the other participants. I added quite a few bloggers to my own feed that day and had a lot of visitors.

Anyway, in April I finished three books, as well as getting large portions of reading done in other novels I was starting (My wrap-up post is here). I hope I can be as successful this time around and have already started pulling together a list of books that I might grab. The pile includes the following:
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (If I don't finish before then)
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles (see above)
  • Othello by William Shakespeare
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens (in short spurts only or I'll go batty)
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • The Little Prince by Antonie Du Saint-Exupery
  • The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
  • Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert (I need to get through 60 pages for a read-along)
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  • Antigone by Sophocles
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
That's a big list and I know I won't get through all of it (that WOULD be amazing, wouldn't it?) but I want to have a lot of options. I also don't want to stick myself with one long book, so a bunch of smaller things might be easier to push through. :)

The main goal is to get through at least THREE more titles completely, as well as catch up and read my commitments for my two current read-a-longs (Bleak House and Madame Bovary). We'll see how it goes. My college has a big game this weekend-it is rivalry week against that dratted University of Michigan, but I know my Spartans are going to win. That game, depending on how it goes, might mean a few more hours taken out of my day!

Let me know if you are participating in the read-a-thon, and check in that day. I MAY/MOST LIKELY will be hosting a giveaway during the day, so make sure to keep your eyes out for it. :)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up for October 3, 2010: Glad September is Over

I am so glad to put September behind me. It was a month where nothing seemed to get accomplished!

In reading news, I finished a grand total of ONE book. And it wasn't even a book off my list. Instead, it was a book I grabbed out of frustration off my shelf one night. So, no progress was made towards my goal.

In some ways, that makes me feel like a failure, but it was bound to happen. I just kind of sputtered to a halt, and hopefully that is at an end.

As for Villette, I finally finished it this morning. It took me over a month to read it, and I am so glad to be moving on to some other novels. I really did love it, but you'll have to wait for my full thoughts on it.

I still have Bleak House waiting for me on my nightstand. I haven't touched it in awhile, but I know I need to finish it in time for the end of Amanda's readalong.

I have a few other titles lingering on the nightstand that have been there for awhile: Lolita, On the Road, A Separate Peace...One of those might be read first.

Anyway, I hope to get at least ten titles read this month, including a spookier read in honor of Halloween. Wish me luck!

Happy Reading!