Dickens, Doyle and Eliot

I feel like Darla from Finding Nemo.

All three of my fish died tonight. What the heck?! Rest in peace Dickens, Doyle and Eliot, mummy misses you.


Castle Rackrent

What a charming short novel this is! It’s almost like listening to your grandpa tell a story (unless your grandpa isn’t Irish… then I guess it’s just like listening to an old Irishman tell a story). It's written as a narrative and you can almost hear the voice telling the story aloud. Castle Rackrent is considered the first of its kind in many categories, the first regional novel written in English, the first novel to bridge the Anglo/Irish gap, the first history of a family generational line and so on. It chronicles a fictional family who live in Castle Rackrent, all from the point of view of emotional and deeply loyal servant, Old Thady. Castle Rackrent is short and sweet, and totally worth a read!


Vanity Fair

This is a major book and a huge undertaking even for the determined reader. Don’t let that dissuade you though, it’s just a warning. Most people take a look at the size of the novel and panic… But the truth is, it’s incredible. Thackeray’s “Novel Without a Hero” is pretty aptly named, and the humorous author cleverly keeps his reader oscillating between admiring and loathing his characters. Those characters sweep in and out of Thackeray’s great juggling act of a novel; it’s amazing how he could keep so many plotlines going at once! My favorite plotlines were the constantly skewing stories of Amelia and William Dobbin (Ah, Dobbin, the true hero of Vanity Fair).

All in all, I’m at a loss for words… aside from sharing some of my favorite quotes and highly recommending this novel.

“The world is a looking glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it and it will look back sourly at you, laugh at it and with it, and is a jolly kind.”

“It is in the nature and instinct of some women. Some are made to scheme and some to love…”

“How long had that poor girl been on her knees! What hours of speechless prayer and bitter prostration had she passed there! The war-chroniclers who write brilliant stories of fight and triumph scarcely tell us of these.”

“A woman may possess the wisdom and chastity of Minerva, and we give no heed to her if she has a plain face.”

“And so, if you properly tyrannize over a woman, you will find a h’p’orth of kindness act upon her and bring tears into her eyes, as though you were an angel benefiting her.”

“But have we not all been misled about our heroes and changed our opinions a hundred times?”

“He had placed himself at her feet so long that the poor little woman had been accustomed to trample upon him. She didn’t wish to marry him, but she wished to keep him. She wished to give him nothing, but that he should give her all. It is a bargain not unfrequently levied in love.”

“It was a fond mistake. Isn’t the whole course of life made up of such?”



It’s a strange book, yet quaintly intriguing in all of its naïveté. The world More created is simplistic to the point of being ridiculous, but that makes his ideas no less interesting. I first read his book when I was 11, it didn’t strike me as comical as it did this time around… In fact, in my childish and innocent mind, Utopia sounded kind of brilliant. Mainly because at that age, I was an idealist and I was optimistic to a fault. I hadn’t experienced the world yet, nor did I understand humans and the way we relate to each other.

Utopia has some very interesting ideas in it, but as you read it, you’re aware of a paradox: yes, these ideas could be great in practice, but there would never be an all around consensus... Therefore, it would end up being a heavily flawed socialist experiment (as history has proven). Maybe I’m too pessimistic at this point in my life, but many of More’s proposals in Utopia sound terrible to me. Rather than tear the book apart, I’ll give the main example that swam around my head the whole time I read it: an utter lack of artistic expression would be the death of civilization. More thought it would be wonderful if everyone looked the same, did the same things over and over, and there seemed no place for art in his “idealistic” world.

I found the novel to be considerably more humorous than serious, maybe because I am aware of the aforementioned paradox: try as we might, wish as we may, it is simply unattainable, so much the better because if there were no place for artists… what good would Utopia do me?


Dear Kindle, I hate you.

Ever just need to rant about something that drives you completely insane? I do. Hence this blog. Here’s the deal… I hate a lot of technological advances (odd thing for a blogger such as myself to admit). The truth is, aside from a couple of things, I believe technology on the whole is responsible for the downfall of our society. I could get into the use of Facebook as a serious form of communication, the practice of emailing thank you letters for gifts, E-Vites, the fact that you can’t sit for two minutes without everyone pulling out their cell phones to text or check the internet… But this is about my most hated item: Kindles, Nooks and anything similar to those wretched things.

Upon seeing the gigantic novels I drag around with me everywhere, I’ve had dozens of people ask me the same question: “Why don’t you dispense with the big books and get a Kindle?” My thoughts are usually along the lines of: “I dunno, why don’t you mind your own business, grow a brain and read a proper book?” However in the interest of keeping friends and keeping from angering family members, I calmly explain my thorough distaste for such contraptions and try to move on. I find those electronics reprehensible, gee why don’t people read anymore? Maybe because they’re busy tooling around on their stupid slim-line, electronic, downloadable, not-proper-book pieces of crap.

The first time I saw one of these stupid things in person, the friend showing it off to me tried to make me understand the wonder that was his Kindle. My only reaction was the sudden and dire urge to hurl it with a brutality hitherto unsuspected in my nature; I just wanted it to go away. Luckily I think the disgust showed on my face and he took it away to show off to someone else. Still shaking with anger and loathing, I hugged my novel (you know, those funny things with covers and lots of pages that smell like libraries) and decided then and there that Kindles, Nooks and I were sworn mortal enemies. The next one to cross my path will receive my full wrath. If you have one that you like, for your own sake, keep it far away from me!

Now let me get to another point greatly bothering me. Barnes and Noble’s terrible new Nook fetish. It seems to me that one can hardly buy books on their website anymore, because everything has that idiotic Nook icon. Why on earth would I buy an overpriced, overgrown calculator looking thing, on top of which I’d have to pay the same price I do for my lovely [tangible] books? You can get applications for it, you can dress it up in lots of little covers, you can download all sorts of things at once… Ah, but does it have that wonderful book smell, or the feel of the pages? Certainly not. So why this sudden obsession with those stupid eReaders? One can only hope they’ll go by way of Furbies, Giga Pets, Yak BAKs and other joke toy items.


Help Me!

I need help. I have a major impulse control issue when it comes to bookstores. It always happens the same way, I walk into a store, full of excitement, with my list in my hand. Every time I intend to buy something specific (note the use of the singular: "something" not plural, "somethingS") and then I walk out a couple hours later having spent way too much money.

Camelot: my undoing. Yesterday I thought, "I need one book, I'll go to Camelot for a minute, get it, and leave." Oh, what a simpleton I am! I bought considerably more than one book, but I kept seeing ones I absolutely had to have, not to mention ones I've searched for for years. From now on, I need to be very careful when I pick up a book, very rarely do I put them back once they've made the journey from the shelf into my hands.

Well, I've acquired a beautiful copy of Don Juan, Frankenstein, Sons and Lovers, Ulysses, The Castle Rackrent, The Absentee, John Donne's complete collection of poetry and my 5th copy of A Tale of Two Cities (Don't ask.) Hey, at least they have great prices there.

Did I mention I don't have any more room on my bookshelves? I'm getting extremely creative in my stacking.


Jane Eyre

This is one of my all time favorite novels. I deeply relate to Jane’s personality and innermost thoughts. How often she thinks things that simply cannot or ought not to be voiced, and yet remains silent with her musings… And the variance of thoughts and emotions she displays are so familiar to me it’s remarkable. Edward Rochester has that dark quality that I find insanely attractive in a man (if only a guy like that existed in my life… maybe minus being married to a violent lunatic and cross dressing as a gypsy woman). He is certainly one of my favorite literary men, if only for the fact that he’s so mysterious, passionate and brooding.

I thoroughly enjoy the matter of fact way Jane tells her story, and how she doesn’t see herself as a heroine, merely as a narrator who happens to be at the heart of this tale. This novel contains all of the necessary ingredients for a thoroughly romantic, lovely and dramatic story. Amidst the ups and downs, are some of the most interesting characters, such as inspiring Maria Temple, kind Alice Fairfax, contemptible Blanche Ingram and the severely devout St. John Rivers. If you haven’t read the novel, or you read it as an assignment in school and didn’t like it, please, please read it again, it's magnificent!

A few quotes I love:

"I knew you would do me good in some way, at some time; - I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you: their expression and smile did not - did not strike delight to my very inmost heart so for nothing. People talk of natural sympathies: I have heard of good genii: - there are grains of truth in the wildest fable. My cherished preserver, good-night!"

"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will."
"Reader, I married him."


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

What is it about this novella that enthralls readers so much (myself included)? I still can’t figure it out; I think it may be the fact that it’s so wonderfully understated in its horror. It is by no means serene in its plot, yet it leaves you to imagine so much. In a very short amount of pages, Robert Louis Stevenson creates a respectable doctor and a dastardly monster; the proverbial “two sides of the same coin”. Though told from multiple vantage points, it in no way complicates matters to have a few main characters.

Oddly enough, it never struck me until this read through: I always thought of Hyde as the “evil one”, but what about the fact that the good Doctor Jekyll simply cannot contain his need for self expression (in the form of Mr. Hyde)? Ah, Doctor Jekyll seems to have more of that Mr. Hyde dark side than he lets on. Anyways, it’s quick, it’s fantastic and an absolute must read.

For a crazy-good modern twist on the well known story, check out Jekyll with the sexy James Nesbitt.


Paradise Lost

As many novels and poems I’ve read, I’ve never come across anything quite as breathtakingly beautiful as Paradise Lost. John Milton’s amazing epic poem is splendid and absolutely worth a read whether you’re interested in religious writings or not. No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to do justice to Milton, therefore, I’ll share a few of my favorite quotes.

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”

“They themselves decreed their own revolt, not I. If I foreknew, Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault.”

“Behold me, then: me for him, life for life, I offer; on me let thine anger fall; Account me Man: I for his sake will leave thy bosom.”

“O unexampled love! Love nowhere to be found less than Divine! Hail Son of God, Saviour of men! Thy name shall be the copious matter of my song henceforth, and never shall my harp thy praise Forget, nor from thy Father’s praise disjoin!”

“My fairest, my espoused, my latest found, Heaven’s last, best gift; my ever-new delight! Awake!”


I can’t remember the last time I read a book that was so ludicrous in its hilarity; Volpone is an immensely impressive satire. At several points during this story, I actually laughed aloud, which is saying a lot. It’s easy for a story to make me cry, but actually laughing out is a pretty impressive feat.

How often to do you read a play about a man pretending to be on the verge of death in order to receive extravagant gifts (and in one instance, access to Corvino’s wife, Celia) paired with characters such as Nano “the dwarf”, Androgyno “the hermaphrodite” and Castrone “the eunuch”? Seriously funny, seriously brilliant.
Yet another treasure from my beloved "Camelot Bookstore", for just $2, I was provided with one of the surprisingly greatest plays I've ever read.


Wuthering Heights

A happy New Year to all! I must say, my New Year's Eve was the best I've ever had... I spent it reading. I finished Wuthering Heights (not to mention the other 2 novels I started and finished), needless to say, I've needed these past several days to settle down from the emotional toll that novel takes.

I find Wuthering Heights an agonizing yet beautiful story. Let me qualify that statement: the love it depicts is most certainly not beautiful, rather, it's everything you hope love isn't. The beauty is in the fact that an inexperienced young woman was able to draw forth such a colorful, painful world full of fascinating characters. The shifting of the narratives from Nelly to Lockwood (and tenses, past to present) seem to be what confuse most people, but it gives the story a lively rhythm. Perhaps it's not a novel for those wishing for a lovely, sweet romantic story, you have to have an appreciation for the dark and sometimes brutal side of love. Give it a try and make sure you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally!