Breaking Dawn: I Need Junk Food

The subtitle of my post refers to my current need to read something light and fun that I don’t have to think about too hard.  And Breaking Dawn has just been released.  One of my students has been after me to read it already, so I’m running out right now and buying it.  I still want to finish Persuasion and Who Murdered Chaucer? However, as I inferred, my brain is fried, and I need to take a break from the serious reading.

Speaking of Persuasion, it strikes me as I read that my favorite parts of Austen’s books often involve her most annoying characters: Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet, Miss Bates, the Thorpes, and now Mary (Anne Elliot’s whiny sister).  She just cracks me up.

I have had good response to a query about a book club at work, so perhaps my quest to find grown up with whom I can discuss literature may be fulfilled soon.

See you on the other side of the latest vampire romance.  Oh, and as usual, blogging will be light due to the fact that I return for my Master’s degree on Monday, and I’m already so busy with work that I’m wondering how that will work out.  Wish me luck and send good time management vibes in my direction.

Terry Jones: Chaucer Scholar

Not many of his fans know it, perhaps, but Terry Jones is a medievalist.  In my Medieval Literature course in college, my professor told my class he had actually written a fairly interesting argument that Chaucer’s fabled knight was probably a mercenary.  If you enjoy history, perhaps you managed to catch an episode of Medieval Lives or Crusades on the History Channel (or its International cousin).

My next book is Terry Jones’ Who Murdered Chaucer: A Medieval Mystery.  Was Chaucer really murdered?  Well, he did sort of vanish from the historical record.  I am hoping that Jones explores even this weighty topic with his usual sense of humor and interest in the trivial (but) fascinating details of the subject.  Perhaps I can finish the book before I begin teaching Chaucer this year and have some interesting tidbits for my students.

I just thoroughly enjoyed my re-read of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Of all the books I’ve read, it’s the Harry Potter series that I return to time and again and always glean something new from each time.  These books have enriched my life in so many ways, and I will always be grateful I had them during what was otherwise not a very happy time in my life.

The Mother Tongue

I finished Bill Bryson’s book about the English language, Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way, a couple of days ago.  It was at times an entertaining read, and I think anyone who is interested in the English language or teaches English might want to read it.  I found the chapter on the development of English from Old English to Modern English particularly interesting.  Bryson’s wry observations about the strangeness of English are peppered throughout the book.  However, he does rely a bit on the same few scholars (Otto Jesperson and Mario Pei come up a lot), and I felt that the book became less interesting as it went on the point that I had to force myself to finish it (I’d gone too far to go back).

The biggest problem I had with the book, however, is that it is now dated in the age of the Internet.  The book was published in the early 1990’s.  Since the book was published, English has become even more essential for world business as it has become the language of most of the Internet.  As I read the book, I couldn’t help but feel it needs to have a new edition with Bryson’s analysis of the Internet’s impact on the development of English.  Without such an analysis, it doesn’t feel complete.