Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday asks who the most frustrating characters in literature are. I know I’ve wanted to shake all of these people at some point.

  1. Father Ralph de Briccasart from The Thorn Birds. He could have been really happy with Meggie, but his ambition to rise in the Church was more important than anything else.
  2. Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye. I think Stradlater said it best when he said, “Shut up, Holden.”
  3. Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights. Oh, come on. Horrible, manipulative snot. Plays on the affections of both men who love her and drove one to vengeful madness.
  4. Willa Alden from The Wild Rose. Quit being a jerk and accept that Seamus loves you. He doesn’t care about your leg.
  5. Romeo from Romeo and Juliet. Can you dial back the impetuosity? You are ruining everyone’s lives.
  6. Pip from Great Expectations. Estella does not deserve you. Quit obsessing over her. She’s horrible.
  7. Lady Bertram from Mansfield Park. Did she get off her butt once in that novel? Because I can’t remember that she did.
  8. Lia in Wintergirls. EAT.
  9. Achilles in The Iliad. Get out of the #$%&@ tent and go fight. Hector thinks Paris is a tool, but he still stands up for his country. Hector deserves more credit. If he had been Greek instead of Trojan, he’d have had it.
  10. Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. As Starbuck says, “To be enraged with a dumb brute that acted out of blind instinct is blasphemous.” Unfortunately, Ahab doesn’t listen to him, and everyone on the ship, excepting Ishmael, of course, is killed.

Honorable mentions go to Sir Walter Eliot of Persuasion, who values all the wrong things in life; Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, who sticks with an abusive (albeit hot, especially as played by Marlon Brando) guy who rapes her sister (for crying out loud!); Ennis Del Mar of “Brokeback Mountain,” who can’t let go of his self-hatred and allow himself to be happy with Jack Twist; Daisy Buchanan of The Great Gatsby, who is just awful; Guinevere and Lancelot in all their iterations because they just ruin everything; Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for being an ass and playing around with a man’s life for sport; Hamlet from Hamlet, who dithers for most of the play and then kills some of the wrong people; and finally, the doctor from The Boxcar Children—why on earth did he not call DFCS when he found out those kids were living in a boxcar? That’s nuts!

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

Top Ten Books for People Who Like X

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

Oooh, I haven’t participated in Top Ten Tuesday in a while, and even though it’s technically Thursday, this one looks like too much fun to pass up. This week’s theme is Top Ten Books for People Who like ______. I’ve been unpacking my books, and I’ve been thinking about the connections among my different reads. My husband made the remark today that we have a lot of good books, and we really shouldn’t need to go to the bookstore in a while given how many great books we have. He’s right.

  1. If you like the [amazon asin=0545162076&text=Harry Potter] books, you should try Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series: [amazon asin=0142001805&text=The Eyre Affair], [amazon asin=0142004030&text=Lost in a Good Book], [amazon asin=0143034359&text=The Well of Lost Plots], [amazon asin=014303541X&text=Something Rotten], [amazon asin=0143113569&text=Thursday Next: First Among Sequels], [amazon asin=0143120514&text=One of Our Thursdays is Missing], and joining the ranks in October, [amazon asin=067002502X&text=The Woman Who Died A Lot]. Jasper Fforde’s series is hilarious bookish fun, and even has a few references to the Harry Potter series.
  2. If you like Emily Brontë’s classic [amazon asin=0143105434&text=Wuthering Heights], you will enjoy Sharyn McCrumb’s historical fiction retelling of the infamous Tom Dooley case, [amazon asin=0312558171&text=The Ballad of Tom Dooley]. McCrumb herself has described the novel as Wuthering Heights in the Appalachians, and it’s true. The story’s characters greatly resemble their counterparts in Wuthering Heights in many ways. I loved it.
  3. If you liked [amazon asin=143918271X&text=A Moveable Feast] or [amazon asin=0743297334&text=The Sun Also Rises] by Ernest Hemingway, try Paula McLain’s excellent novel [amazon asin=0345521307&text=The Paris Wife] for Hadley’s side of the story. One of the best books I read last year. Highly recommended.
  4. If you liked [amazon asin=0143106155&text=Jane Eyre] by Charlotte Brontë, you will enjoy an updated retelling of the story, [amazon asin=0062064223&text=The Flight of Gemma Hardy] by Margot Livesey. I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would.
  5. If you liked Diana Gabaldon’s [amazon asin=0440423201&text=Outlander] series, try Jennifer Donnelly’s Tea Rose series, beginning with [amazon asin=0312378025&text=The Tea Rose]. [amazon asin=1401307469&text=The Winter Rose] and [amazon asin=1401307477&text=The Wild Rose] round out the series, but the first one is the best one.
  6. If you liked [amazon asin=161382310X&text=Moby Dick], or even if you only sort of liked it because it got bogged down in cetology, but you liked the good parts, you will love [amazon asin=0061767654&text=Ahab’s Wife]. Oh.My.Gosh. One of my favorite books ever. Sena Jeter Naslund’s novel introduces the amazing persona of Una, wife of Captain Ahab, from one line in which Ahab mentions her in Moby Dick, and she’s one of the most incredible fictional people you’ll ever meet. I love her. She is one of my fictional best friends.
  7. If you liked [amazon asin=0316038377&text=Twilight], but you wished you could read about grown-ups, and you wanted less purple prose and better writing, try Deborah Harkness’s [amazon asin=0143119680&text=A Discovery of Witches], the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. The second book, [amazon asin=0670023485&text=Shadow of Night], comes out in about a week. You will like Matthew much better than Edward. Trust me.
  8. If you liked [amazon asin=0143105426&text=Pride and Prejudice] and [amazon asin=0486295559&text=Persuasion] by Jane Austen, and you are a little unsure of all those Austen sequels, try out Syrie James’s fictionalized what-if? novel [amazon asin=0061341428&text=The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen] that wonders aloud whether or not Aunt Jane had a real romance that inspired her great books.
  9. If you liked Suzanne Collins’s thrilling [amazon asin=0545265355&text=Hunger Games series], you will enjoy Veronica Roth’s [amazon asin=0062024035&text=Divergent] and its sequel [amazon asin=0062024043&text=Insurgent]. Not sure when the next book in the trilogy comes out, but I can’t wait. Her books are amazing. They will remind you of The Hunger Games without feeling anything at all like a ripoff.
  10. If you liked [amazon asin=0486415864&text=Great Expectations] and [amazon asin=1612930999&text=The Turn of the Screw], you will love John Harwood’s [amazon asin=B000I5YUJE&text=The Ghost Writer]. The book makes several allusions to both novels, but it also contains four complete short stories within the text of the novel (written by the protagonist’s grandmother), and it’s set in a creepy house with a secret.

Bonus: If you like Victorian novels period, and you want to read a love letter to the Victorian novel, or if you like Daphne Du Maurier’s [amazon asin=0380730405&text=Rebecca], try Diane Setterfield’s [amazon asin=0743298039&text=The Thirteenth Tale].

Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments. Just because my husband says we have a load of good books doesn’t mean I’m not always looking for more.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Favorite Quotes from Books

Top Ten TuesdayBusy week! I didn’t get to the Top Ten Tuesday on Tuesday at all. As soon as I finish this post, I’m off to pack up more books in preparation for next month’s move.

This week’s topic was irresistible, and I decided to participate even though I’d be late: Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes.

  1. And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…and one fine morning—

    So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.—[amazon asin=0743273567&text=The Great Gatsby], F. Scott Fitzgerald

  2. If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.—[amazon asin=0684801469&text=A Farewell to Arms], Ernest Hemingway

  3. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”—[amazon asin=0545139708&text=Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows], J. K. Rowling

  4. “Always,” said Snape.—[amazon asin=0545139708&text=Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows], J. K. Rowling

  5. Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the same horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.—[amazon asin=0061120065&text=Their Eyes Were Watching God], Zora Neale Hurston

  6. “Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow’d night,/Give me my Romeo; and,/When he shall die,/Take him and cut him out in little stars,/And he will make the face of heaven so fine/That all the world will be in love with night/And pay no worship to the garish sun.”—[amazon asin=0743477111&text=Romeo and Juliet], William Shakespeare

  7. “I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

    I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”—[amazon asin=0486295559&text=Persuasion], Jane Austen

  8. “Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”—[amazon asin=0061743526&text=To Kill a Mockingbird], Harper Lee

  9. “It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.”—[amazon asin=1612930840&text=Northanger Abbey], Jane Austen

  10. The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.—[amazon asin=1619493845&text=Walden], Henry David Thoreau

You know, I could really go on and on with this list. In fact, from my favorite book:

“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff!”[amazon asin=0143105434&text=Wuthering Heights], Emily Brontë

Ten Fictional Crushes

cap on yellow

Some time back, I discussed some historical crushes, and I have previously discussed my ten fictional best friends. Why not share my ten fictional crushes? Since this weeks’ Top Ten Tuesday is a “pick your own” topic, this weeks seems like the perfect time. Don’t necessarily view these in a particular order.

  1. James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. If you have read the [amazon_link id=”0440423201″ target=”_blank” ]Outlander[/amazon_link] series, I don’t need to say any more. You know exactly what I’m talking about. My husband is a redhead, and let’s just say my crush on Jamie may have contributed to my interest in red-headed men.
  2. Severus Snape. OK, I admit this one is weird. He’s mean. He’s given to pettiness. That comment he makes about Hermione’s teeth in [amazon_link id=”0439139600″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire[/amazon_link] is pretty much unforgivable. I just really love his characterization. When I discovered in [amazon_link id=”0545139708″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[/amazon_link] that he had carried a torch for Lily Evans Potter for most of his life, I was sold. In fact, my favorite chapter in the whole book series is “The Prince’s Tale” in [amazon_link id=”0545139708″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[/amazon_link]. Plus, Alan Rickman.
  3. Faramir. Yeah, Aragorn was never my cup of tea, but Faramir is a really cool guy, and I was glad when Eowyn woke up to that fact and ditched her awkward crush on Aragorn for true love with Faramir. He’s noble and brave. Pippin thought so highly of him that he named his son after him, you know.
  4. Father Ralph de Briccasart. Just like Meggie. Sigh. Richard Chamberlain in that miniseries probably contributes as much to my Father Ralph crush as Alan Rickman’s portrayal does to my Snape crush.
  5. Rhett Butler. So bad. So smooth. And yet so in love with Scarlett (for whatever reason!). Honestly, Margaret Mitchell had to have been thinking about Clark Gable when she wrote the novel because he’s just perfect for the part. I remember when I read the book the first time, even though I hadn’t seen the movie, I knew Clark Gable played the role in it, and I thought even then that she had to have been thinking about Gable. I have to say, that first time, I pictured Scarlett as a redhead, even though she’s described as having dark hair, but now Vivian Leigh just is Scarlett.
  6. Captain Frederick Wentworth. Come on. You’ve read that letter, haven’t you? If you have, you need no further explanation. Plus, he’s a keeper. Even though he was rejected, he was still in love with Anne, and he gave her a second chance. I can’t imagine they were anything but perfectly happy together.
  7. Louis de Pointe du Lac. Lestat was a bit stuck on himself for my taste, and favorite book in the Vampire Chronicles has always been [amazon_link id=”0345409647″ target=”_blank” ]Interview with the Vampire[/amazon_link].
  8. Speaking of which, Edward Cullen. Yeah, I know. This one is really wrong. I don’t like this about myself, but there it is.
  9. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Naturally. I actually have a mug at work labeled Mrs. Darcy. I had a travel mug with the same label, but it broke, and a friend bought me a new Mrs. Darcy mug for Christmas. That is a good friend.
  10. This last is a bit of a cheat, but Nate from the book I’m currently writing, which is as yet untitled. I see him as a sort of amalgamation of Jeff Buckley and Jack White. He’s kind of dreamy. He is based on the Irish hero Naoise from the Legend of Deirdre.

photo credit: Darwin Bell

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Books I Want to Reread

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a list of the top ten books I want to reread (in no particular order).

  1. [amazon_link id=”1936594528″ target=”_blank” ]Sense and Sensibility[/amazon_link] by Jane Austen. I always love visiting Aunt Jane, and this year is the bicentenary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility. I’m participating in Laurel Ann’s Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge, but I haven’t made any progress at all.
  2. The [amazon_link id=”0545162076″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter series[/amazon_link] by J.K. Rowling always stands up well on a reread, and I have read it many, many times. Maggie and I were reading together, but we have missed our daily readings over the last month or so, and she asked me just last night if we could get started again.
  3. [amazon_link id=”0141439580″ target=”_blank” ]Emma[/amazon_link] by Jane Austen. I didn’t like it as much as [amazon_link id=”0143105426″ target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link], Sense and Sensibility, or [amazon_link id=”0141439688″ target=”_blank” ]Persuasion[/amazon_link] when I read it some time ago, and I want to see if it improves on a reread.
  4. [amazon_link id=”0143105434″ target=”_blank” ]Wuthering Heights[/amazon_link] by Emily Brontë. Winter seems like a good time to curl up with those frosty characters.
  5. [amazon_link id=”0393320979″ target=”_blank” ]Beowulf[/amazon_link] translated by Seamus Heaney. I am thinking about writing an article for an upcoming issue of English Journal about Beowulf as a character, and I think I need to reread the whole thing in order to do it justice.
  6. [amazon_link id=”0679735909″ target=”_blank” ]Possession[/amazon_link] by A.S. Byatt. I loved it very much about ten years ago when I read it. I think I’d like to reread it.
  7. [amazon_link id=”0345409647″ target=”_blank” ]Interview with the Vampire[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”0345419642″ target=”_blank” ]The Vampire Lestat[/amazon_link] by Anne Rice. I haven’t read these books in over 15 years, and I think I would like to reread them and see if they are as good as I remember. I recall them being absolutely wonderful then. I was such a huge fan of Rice until I found her books weren’t living up to my memories of the earlier books in the series. Lestat is such a great character.
  8. [amazon_link id=”0192803735″ target=”_blank” ]The Tain[/amazon_link] translated by Thomas Kinsella and [amazon_link id=”0140443975″ target=”_blank” ]Early Irish Myths and Sagas[/amazon_link] translated by Jeffrey Gantz. Research.
  9. [amazon_link id=”0618640150″ target=”_blank” ]The Lord of the Rings[/amazon_link] by J.R.R. Tolkien. It has been a long time since I read the whole series. I love Frodo and Sam.
  10. [amazon_link id=”0061990477″ target=”_blank” ]The Thorn Birds[/amazon_link] by Colleen McCullough. Man, I remember that being such an awesome book.

What do you think you want to reread?

Musing Mondays

Monday Musings—September 5, 2011

Musing MondaysThis week’s musing asks: Who do you think is the hottest male/female character from a book?

Ha, ha! This is a funny question. I only had to think about it for a minute. James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s [amazon_link id=”0440423201″ target=”_blank” ]Outlander[/amazon_link] series, of course. Listen, my husband is a redhead, and he and all the other redheads out there can thank Jamie for making everyone else understand why redheaded men are sexy.

Why is Jamie “hot”? He is not afraid to be a man and have whatever feelings he has. He never tries to hide his feelings. He also has the courage not to impede Claire from being whatever she wants to be, which is an unusual trait in a man of his time (eighteenth century Scotland). He also loves Claire with an intense and lasting love that transcends time. He can be stubborn and frustrating at times, but honestly, it’s always in a predictable way—it’s usually because someone he loves feels threatened, and he thinks they are being kind of stupid. Not that they are necessarily being stupid, but that he thinks they are, mind. Another thing I like about Jamie is the joy with which he approaches life and his sense of humor. He has more funny quotes than any ten other characters in that series. In addition to all of that, he is also strong, a survivor. He has been through some of the worst humanity can throw at another person and come out the other side if not unscathed, then at least with a sense of humor and a sense of himself intact. He also shows a surprising open-mindedness for a man of his era—his affection for Lord John Grey, even after find out Grey is homosexual and is attracted to Jamie, is sincere and undiminished by the news, and his acceptance of Claire (even as outlandish as her tale truly is) is pretty remarkable.

Sorry, ladies, no pics. This one has not been made into a movie, and I prefer not to speculate (you can Google it if you’re curious), but here is a link to all the Jamie Fraser merch you could want at Cafe Press.

Honorable mentions:

Fitzwilliam Darcy from [amazon_link id=”0143105426″ target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link]

Rhett Butler from [amazon_link id=”1451635621″ target=”_blank” ]Gone with the Wind[/amazon_link]

Louis de Pointe du Lac (had to be at least one vampire… wait, I do have another one—hang on) from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, but specifically [amazon_link id=”0345409647″ target=”_blank” ]Interview with the Vampire[/amazon_link]

Captain Frederick Wentworth from [amazon_link id=”193659451X” target=”_blank” ]Persuasion[/amazon_link]

and Matthew Clairmont (no pics—no movie… yet; also my other vampire) from [amazon_link id=”0670022411″ target=”_blank” ]A Discovery of Witches[/amazon_link].

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Underrated Books

Top Ten TuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is the top ten underrated books. I elected to choose just books I’ve read and absolutely loved, but don’t hear much about from others, whether book bloggers, Goodreads users, or just the general populace. I don’t understand why these books aren’t more popular than they are.

  1. [amazon_link id=”0060515139″ target=”_blank” ]A Plague of Doves[/amazon_link] by Louise Erdrich (review). This multigenerational epic is one of the best books I’ve ever read, but it’s not the first book anyone thinks of when they think of Erdrich. It’s a beautiful book and would be great for book clubs. I don’t know that many people who’ve read it, though.
  2. [amazon_link id=”1400096057″ target=”_blank” ]The Commoner[/amazon_link] by John Burnham Schwartz (review). This novel is based on current Japanese imperial family. It’s an interesting look at this traditional if widely ceremonial institution. I wouldn’t have ordinarily read it, but it was mentioned on one of my favorite GPB radio programs, which convinced me to try it. Really good book, but no one I know has read it.
  3. [amazon_link id=”014241557X” target=”_blank” ]Wintergirls[/amazon_link] by Laurie Halse Anderson (review). I think this novel is eclipsed by [amazon_link id=”0142414735″ target=”_blank” ]Speak[/amazon_link], which is phenomenal, but I truly learned a lot about eating disorders from this other, lesser-known novel of Anderson’s.
  4. [amazon_link id=”193659451X” target=”_blank” ]Persuasion[/amazon_link] by Jane Austen (review). Most people think of [amazon_link id=”184317569X” target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”1843175703″ target=”_blank” ]Sense and Sensibility[/amazon_link], or even [amazon_link id=”0062085654″ target=”_blank” ]Emma[/amazon_link] before they think of Austen’s last work, but it’s my personal favorite. I love Anne Elliot’s steadfastness and good sense, the naval officers, the Cobb where Louisa Musgrove fell, Bath, all of it. What a tightly written, fantastic book.
  5. [amazon_link id=”0385739893″ target=”_blank” ]Tiger Eyes[/amazon_link] by Judy Blume. We hear a lot about her other classics, like [amazon_link id=”0440904196″ target=”_blank” ]Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret[/amazon_link], the [amazon_link id=”0142409065″ target=”_blank” ]Fudge series[/amazon_link], maybe even somewhat scandalous books like [amazon_link id=”0385739850″ target=”_blank” ]Deenie[/amazon_link] or [amazon_link id=”1416934006″ target=”_blank” ]Forever[/amazon_link], but sometimes I think people forgot about Tiger Eyes. It’s my favorite Judy Blume book, and I read pretty much all of them published up through the early-to-mid ’80’s. I was a huge fan of hers. I just loved the heroine and the setting. So many YA books in my youth were set in New York. I started to wonder if YA authors realized people lived other places. Davey lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but most of the book takes place in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where her aunt and uncle live. As a kid living in Colorado, it was nice to read about a state closer to home, with physical attributes (such as mountains) more like my own home.
  6. [amazon_link id=”1250000939″ target=”_blank” ]The Prydain Chronicles[/amazon_link] by Lloyd Alexander. Do kids read these books anymore? I loved them. They might have suffered from a [amazon_link id=”B003RACGZM” target=”_blank” ]really poor Disney adaptation[/amazon_link]. They are such good books, though. You just never hear about them anymore. My fourth grade teacher read us [amazon_link id=”0805080481″ target=”_blank” ]The Book of Three[/amazon_link], and I remember her telling us that just because there was a guy with a skull for a head with antlers sprouting from his, well, skull, that we girls should not be put off because it was a really good book. I was skeptical, but I gave it a shot and immediately had to read the next book in the series, which might be even better than the first. I even liked the one book in the series that my teacher said wasn’t as good as the others.
  7. [amazon_link id=”014029628X” target=”_blank” ]Girl in Hyacinth Blue[/amazon_link] by Susan Vreeland (review). Perhaps because it is one of her earlier books, it doesn’t seem to have gained the same sort of traction as, say, [amazon_link id=”1400068169″ target=”_blank” ]Clara and Mr. Tiffany[/amazon_link]. I have a real love for this book, which begins with a novel concept: tracing the ownership of a painting from the current day back to its moment of creation. Plus, Vreeland introduced me to the artwork of Vermeer before I read [amazon_link id=”0452287022″ target=”_blank” ]Girl with a Pearl Earring[/amazon_link] by Tracy Chevalier.
  8. Arthur Phillips’s [amazon_link id=”0812972597″ target=”_blank” ]The Egyptologist[/amazon_link] (review). Sometimes I think I am the only person who liked this book, but it’s chock full of some black humor that I thought was hysterical. I loved the ending, especially, which was so comically horrible I didn’t know whether to feel bad I thought it was funny, or feel good that the antihero had his comeuppance. It’s hard to feel good because of a certain major twist that makes you feel sorry for him, but still.
  9. [amazon_link id=”0385737645″ target=”_blank” ]Revolution[/amazon_link] by Jennifer Donnelly (review). How come everyone isn’t reading this one? It’s been my favorite read of the year, and I never see anything about it anywhere, even from people who read more YA than I do. It’s such a great book.
  10. [amazon_link id=”0807114103″ target=”_blank” ]I Am One of You Forever[/amazon_link] by Fred Chappell. OK, granted, this one is published on a small press, and I would never have heard of it if I hadn’t been required to read it for Southern Literature in college, but it’s an amazing book, especially if you like magical realism and Southern literature. I have described as a book that drilled a hole right through my heart when I read it.

What about you? What books do you think are underrated?

Friday Finds

Friday Finds—June 3, 2010

Friday FindsI found this week’s books either through reviews on blogs or Amazon. It’s a very Austen assortment. First up, I discovered that Robert Morrison has edited a new annotated edition of Austen’s [amazon_link id=”0674049748″ target=”_blank” ]Persuasion[/amazon_link], which is my favorite Austen novel, for Belknap Press at Harvard. I also discovered two new books via Austenprose: [amazon_link id=”0711231893″ target=”_blank” ]Tea with Jane Austen[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”071122594X” target=”_blank” ]In the Garden with Jane Austen[/amazon_link] by Kim Wilson. I am a terrible gardener; I have the worst brown thumb ever, and it’s particularly bad considering my mother and grandfather seem to be so good with plants and gardens. However, this book looks so interesting. I am a bit more intrigued even by the tea book. I am a huge fan of a great cup of tea. I am looking forward to purchasing these books so that I can pore over the images.

[amazon_image id=”0674049748″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium”]Persuasion: An Annotated Edition[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”0711231893″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium”]Tea with Jane Austen[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”071122594X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium”]In the Garden with Jane Austen[/amazon_image]

Persuasion Audio Book

Persuasion (Complete Classics)After a great deal of consideration, I have decided Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. I had to read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion twice before I came to that conclusion. I haven’t been able to finish Mansfield Park yet—it’s on my list for the Everything Austen Challenge—but I didn’t really like Emma as much as the others. I think what clinched it for me was Juliet Stevenson’s reading of the novel in the Naxos audio book. She’s simply perfect; there’s no other way to put it.

For those unfamiliar with the story of Persuasion, it is the story of Anne Eliot, daughter of the baronet Sir Walter Eliot of Kellynch, who had the misfortune to have three daughters and must pass his estate to a cousin who has little to do with the family. Anne is the under-appreciated, sensible daughter in the family. She is now 27, and her prospects of marriage look dim now that she has “lost her bloom.” Her older sister is snooty and vain, like their father, and her younger sister is a silly hypochondriac. Their mother has been dead for some time, but a friend of hers, Lady Russell, has taken on that sort of role, and Anne looks to her for guidance and support—certainly not more so that eight years earlier when Lady Russell persuaded her to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, who seemed at that time unlikely to produce a fortune adequate to deserve the daughter of a baronet. But Anne has pined for Wentworth ever since, and their paths cross once again. Anne has no reason to hope they will have a second chance, especially after Captain Wentworth seems to have an eye for Anne’s sister Mary’s sister-in-law Louisa Musgrove. Can he be persuaded that Anne made a mistake before and to give her a second chance?

Juliet Stevenson’s characterization of the silly Mary Musgrove and the pompous Sir Walter Eliot were hilarious. I loved the line from Admiral Croft, after noting he removed several mirrors from his dressing room at Kellynch, about Anne’s father being a “dressy sort of man” to have had so many mirrors. Where Juliet Stevenson really shone, however, was in evoking feeling in parts of the novel that previously haven’t really struck me in the same way. She read with a tremble, as though fighting back tears, Captain Harville’s line to Anne, “Poor Fanny! she would not have forgotten him so soon!” I don’t think I’ve been moved to tears by Captain Harville before. And forget about Captain Wentworth’s letter. I was driving on I-285, sitting on the edge my seat, my hand over my mouth, and it was impossible not to feel the same way as Anne Eliot as she read those words. And then, “Such a letter was not soon to be recovered from.” Well, I pretty much laughed out loud. Of course it wasn’t.

[rating:5/5]

I listened to this book for the Everything Austen Challenge.

Everything Austen Challenge

Full disclosure: I won this book in a contest at Austenprose.

Reading Update: September 11, 2010

TeaIt feels each day like fall is just around the corner. Fall makes me think of tea. I truly wish we had a little tea place like this, where I had a great pot of tea several years ago. We have a few branches of Teavana, but none close by (that I know of) have a little place to sit. Sort of like Starbucks, but for tea. Because Starbucks’ tea is only OK.

What goes with a great cup of tea? Books, of course! So I finished The Hunger Games series, and am currently experiencing the withdrawal symptoms that go with finishing the last book and wishing it wasn’t the last book. I did pick up The Heretic’s Daughter, and so far it’s fine, but it doesn’t have me by the hair yet.

I had to abandon American Music. It has some great reviews on Amazon, but it looks like some of the folks on Goodreads were in agreement with me. It sounds like an interesting premise, but I just wasn’t interested, and I decided not to spend any more time on it. I realized I needed to just stop listening to the book in the car when I was trying to find other things to do—listen to all of my podcasts and music—rather than listen to it. It might be better to actually read rather than listen to, but at any rate, I don’t think it’s for me. When I decided to stop listening to it, it was sitting on about two stars for me, and life is growing too short to spend on two-star books. So I am listening to Persuasion, and Juliet Stevenson is a brilliant narrator. I love her characterization of Sir Walter Eliot. Plus it’s part of my Everything Austen II Challenge, and since I feel behind on that one, I need to give it some attention.

I have what I think is a pretty good idea for a reading challenge in 2011, but I’m keeping quiet about it for the time being.

Now I’m going to go fix a cup of tea and work on my portfolio a little while before I read. How are you spending the weekend? And what are you reading?

photo credit: Prakhar Amba