Booking Through Thursday: Stormy Weather

Good Night Irene [hd video]

No, your calendar is not wrong. I didn’t do Booking Through Thursday on Thursday mainly because I had a book to review that day, but I liked the topic:

What’s your [favorite] book with weather events? Hurricanes? Tornadoes? Blizzards? Real? Fiction? Doesn’t matter … weather comes up a lot in books, so there’s got to be a favorite somewhere, huh?

My absolute favorite book featuring a weather event is [amazon_link id=”0061120065″ target=”_blank” ]Their Eyes Were Watching God[/amazon_link] by Zora Neale Hurston. First of all, let’s say a quick prayer of thanks to Alice Walker for bringing that book out of obscurity and doing everything she did to ensure Hurston wouldn’t be forgotten again. Thank you, Alice Walker. In that book, Janie and Tea Cake are caught in a hurricane in Florida. In the ensuing flood, something terrible happens that will change both their destinies forever. Oh, it’s such a wonderful book.

I have to give honorable mentions to the rainstorm at the end of [amazon_link id=”0684801469″ target=”_blank” ]A Farewell To Arms[/amazon_link], too. And without the tempest, we wouldn’t have [amazon_link id=”0743482832″ target=”_blank” ]The Tempest[/amazon_link]. [amazon_link id=”0743484959″ target=”_blank” ]King Lear[/amazon_link] also has a great storm: “Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!”

photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays—June 22, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Paula McLain’s novel about Hadley Richardson Hemingway, [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife[/amazon_link]. I have been reading a lot of books set in Paris this year (compared to usual, I guess). I guess I’m on a France kick. This one is really good so far.

I recently finished reading [amazon_link id=”0743482832″ target=”_blank” ]The Tempest[/amazon_link] by William Shakespeare (review) and [amazon_link id=”1401302025″ target=”_blank” ]The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School[/amazon_link] by Alexandra Robbins (review).

Next I plan to read [amazon_link id=”B0048EL84Q” target=”_blank” ]The Dream of Perpetual Motion[/amazon_link] by Dexter Palmer, and beyond that one, I’m not too sure. I guess I’m open for whatever looks interesting.

The Tempest, William Shakespeare

[amazon_image id=”0743482832″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]The Tempest (Folger Shakespeare Library)[/amazon_image]William Shakespeare’s play [amazon_link id=”0743482832″ target=”_blank” ]The Tempest[/amazon_link], widely believed by scholars to be the last play he wrote alone, is the story of the exiled Duke of Milan, Prospero, who calls forth a storm to shipwreck his brother Antonio, who has usurped his dukedom, and Alonso, King of Naples, who helped Antonio. Following the shipwreck, Alonso and company are separated from Alonso’s son Ferdinand and believe him to be dead. Ferdinand meets Prospero’s daughter Miranda, and the two fall in love at first sight. Prospero is served by two “native” inhabitants on his island—Ariel, a spirit Prospero freed from his imprisonment in a tree by the witch Sycorax, and Caliban, Sycorax’s son. Prospero promises he will free Ariel after he has accomplished his goal of uniting his daughter with Ferdinand and recovering his dukedom.

I first read The Tempest many years ago when I took a Shakespeare course in college. I am not sure I understood it at all, and of all the plays I’ve read by Shakespeare, I think this is definitely one that needs to be seen. I am in the unfortunate position of not being able to do that at the moment. It doesn’t seem as though any version is available on Netflix. The version directed by Julie Taymor won’t be available on DVD until September. I looked around on YouTube, but nothing is jumping out at me. The Julie Taymor film does look good:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDyGl2uIQ-Q[/youtube]

Watching it even in clips in the trailer made me realize just how visual the play is, and probably not the best one to try to read rather than see.

I really found myself drawn to Ariel and Calaban, and the movie certainly seems to play up what I thought was interesting about each character. It’s strange how your memory plays tricks on you because I remembered Caliban saying “‘Ban-‘ban-Ca-caliban” over and over, but he only says it once, in a song—and he was drunk at the time. Ariel was interesting in seeing the way to freedom might be cooperation with Prospero; Caliban refused, and his situation is left ambiguous in the end—would he be freed, too? Or left alone on the island? Reading this again was like reading it for the first time, given the time between readings, and I was surprised to find that Prospero kept his word to Ariel. I didn’t expect him to. I know that The Tempest has been subject to colonial interpretation before, but it is an interesting lens through which to view the play.

I reread this play for many reasons. First, I want to read Dexter Palmer’s steampunk novel [amazon_link id=”B0048EL84Q” target=”_blank” ]The Dream of Perpetual Motion[/amazon_link], which is based on The Tempest, and I thought familiarity with the source material would make it more enjoyable. I’m also participating in the Shakespeare Challenge, and I wanted to read a play I didn’t know well. I have taught [amazon_link id=”0743477111″ target=”_blank” ]Romeo and Juliet[/amazon_link] so many times that I can recite large chunks of it. I have also taught [amazon_link id=”1439172250″ target=”_blank” ]Macbeth[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”074347712X” target=”_blank” ]Hamlet[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0743482824″ target=”_blank” ]Othello[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0743482840″ target=”_blank” ]Richard III[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”074348276X” target=”_blank” ]King Lear[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0743477545″ target=”_blank” ]A Midsummer Night’s Dream[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”074347757X” target=”_blank” ]The Taming of the Shrew[/amazon_link], and [amazon_link id=”0743482751″ target=”_blank” ]Much Ado About Nothing[/amazon_link]. The Tempest is one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays that I was almost completely unfamiliar with.

If I had any problems with the play, I think they arose from the visual nature of everything from the magic to the jokes among Trinculo, Stephano, and Caliban. In a novel, an author describes these events for the reader, whereas in a play, the writer assumes the actors will bring it to life, and Shakespeare, more than any other dramatist I have taught, trusted actors and directors and left little behind in the way of stage directions. I’m not a scholar—lack of stage directions may be a convention of Renaissance drama—but it is something I have noted before and discussed with students. Eugene O’Neill, for instance, and Arthur Miller, too, have explicit directions.

As always with Shakespeare, there is a passage or two that take your breath away with their beauty. My favorite (and it’s certainly one of the most famous Shakespearean passages) was this one:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

I know that some scholars believe Shakespeare meant both the earth and the Globe theater in this passage—that it was his goodbye letter to theater. It’s a great metaphor for theater—it is the stuff dreams are made on, in so many senses of the word.

[rating:5/5] (I can’t give a Shakespeare play any other rating. It’s antithetical to the English teacher code.)

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays—June 15, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading [amazon_link id=”1401302025″ target=”_blank” ]The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School[/amazon_link] by Alexandra Robbins. It’s a really good read, and I think anyone who is a teacher or parent should probably read it for the insight it gives into how painful the teen years can be and what children that age are facing.

I know I said that I would read [amazon_link id=”0743482832″ target=”_blank” ]The Tempest[/amazon_link] next, but I am just not feeling up to it yet. I guess I want lighter fare as the summer begins. I will probably start [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife[/amazon_link] by Paula McLain next—perhaps not tonight, but tomorrow. It looks pretty good. It’s told from the point of view of Hadley Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife.

I recently finished [amazon_link id=”1439191697″ target=”_blank” ]The Kitchen Daughter[/amazon_link] by Jael McHenry (review). Wonderful book! Highly recommended. I also finished [amazon_link id=”1594202885″ target=”_blank” ]A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter[/amazon_link] by William Deresiewicz (review) since last week. Summer means more time to read!

A side note: I am really enjoying seeing my map fill up for the Where Are You Reading Challenge. I am beginning to have a little bit more diversity in terms of setting than I had a few months ago. You can view my map in progress (you can click on the map and drag it around):
View 2011 Where Are You Reading Challenge in a larger map

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays—June 8, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading [amazon_link id=”1594202885″ target=”_blank” ]A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter[/amazon_link] by William Deresiewicz. He has divided the chapters into life lessons he learned from each of the six major novels by novel title and lesson, and I am currently in the chapter about [amazon_link id=”193659451X” target=”_blank” ]Persuasion[/amazon_link], which might be my favorite Jane Austen book. I really love [amazon_link id=”1936594293″ target=”_blank” ]Pride And Prejudice[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”0141040378″ target=”_blank” ]Sense and Sensibility[/amazon_link]. I’m not sure I like the author all that much. The book is part memoir, part literary criticism, and his descriptions of himself are quite candid.

I recently finished [amazon_link id=”B004R1Q9PI” target=”_blank” ]The Secret Diary of a Princess[/amazon_link] by Melanie Clegg. It is a novel about Marie Antoinette’s later childhood leading up to her marriage with the future Louis XVI—an interesting peek into the Viennese court.

I think the next thing I will read will be [amazon_link id=”1439191697″ target=”_blank” ]The Kitchen Daughter[/amazon_link] by Jael McHenry (my sidebar says I’m already reading it, but I haven’t really started it yet) and perhaps [amazon_link id=”0743482832″ target=”_blank” ]The Tempest[/amazon_link]. I do need to finally read [amazon_link id=”B0048EL84Q” target=”_blank” ]The Dream of Perpetual Motion[/amazon_link] by Dexter Palmer.

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays—June 1, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading [amazon_link id=”B004R1Q9PI” target=”_blank” ]The Secret Diary of a Princess[/amazon_link] by Melanie Clegg and [amazon_link id=”1594202885″ target=”_blank” ]A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter[/amazon_link] by William Deresiewicz. I am thoroughly enjoying Melanie Clegg’s book. Not far enough into the other yet to say, but I love Jane Austen.

I recently finished [amazon_link id=”039332902X” target=”_blank” ]The Story of Britain: From the Romans to the Present: A Narrative History[/amazon_link] by Rebecca Fraser. I was reading it for about six months! You can read my review of it here.

I think after I finish my next book, I might read [amazon_link id=”0743482832″ target=”_blank” ]The Tempest[/amazon_link] by William Shakespeare so that I can more thoroughly enjoy [amazon_link id=”B0048EL84Q” target=”_blank” ]The Dream of Perpetual Motion[/amazon_link] by Dexter Palmer. I am looking forward to trying my first steampunk novel.

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays—May 25, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading [amazon_link id=”B004R1Q9PI” target=”_blank” ]The Secret Diary of a Princess[/amazon_link] by Melanie Clegg, The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas, and The Story of Britain: From the Romans to the Present: A Narrative History by Rebecca Fraser. Yep. Still.

I recently finished [amazon_link id=”0670022527″ target=”_blank” ]One of Our Thursdays Is Missing[/amazon_link] by Jasper Fforde (read my review).

I am still thinking about reading [amazon_link id=”0743482832″ target=”_blank” ]The Tempest[/amazon_link] once school is out so I can read [amazon_link id=”B0048EL84Q” target=”_blank” ]The Dream of Perpetual Motion[/amazon_link].

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays—May 18, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading [amazon_link id=”0670022527″ target=”_blank” ]One of Our Thursdays Is Missing[/amazon_link] by Jasper Fforde, The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas, and The Story of Britain: From the Romans to the Present: A Narrative History by Rebecca Fraser (I have been reading it since January, but in my defense, it is over 800 pages long).

I recently finished [amazon_link id=”0670021040″ target=”_blank” ]Caleb’s Crossing[/amazon_link] by Geraldine Brooks (my review).

What on earth am I going to read next? I’m not really sure. I need to think about it. Maybe [amazon_link id=”0743482832″ target=”_blank” ]The Tempest[/amazon_link] so I can read [amazon_link id=”B0048EL84Q” target=”_blank” ]The Dream of Perpetual Motion[/amazon_link]. It has been a really long time since I read The Tempest. I won’t try to pick it up until school lets out, however.

American Gods It Is

OMGIALMOSTDIEDThe other day I needed some help picking out what to read. I think it turns out I just needed a nudge. You voters selected Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I have read the first chapter, and yeah, I think I will like it, but it’s hard to tell at the moment. I totally love Neil Gaiman, so there is, at least, that.

I think maybe before I read The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer, I will re-read The Tempest. I might get more out of the former if I read the latter first. The last time I read The Tempest was college. That has been a while. No takers at all for Gaskell’s North and South, two votes for The Cookbook Collector, and one vote for Becoming Jane Eyre.

At some point, I need to make time for Jasper Fforde’s new Thursday Next book—One of Our Thursdays is Missing. I also decided I need to read Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution. Until I read Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution, I can’t say I was that interested in that time period in France, for some inexplicable reason that makes absolutely no sense to me now. Oh! And I just started participating in book giveaways on Goodreads, and I won the first book I was interested in! The Rebellion of Jane Clarke by Sally Gunning. I hope it will be good. I haven’t read a great deal of fiction set during the American Revolution.

P.S. This was my 1,000th post! Feels like a milestone.

photo credit: J.J. Verhoef