Dracula by Bram Stoker

I always had a tender spot in my heart for Sesame Street’s Count von Count. He had his organ and a mysterious castle, and mysterious music. I love Toccata and Fugue to this day. (My dad can play it on the organ and it sounds so cool!). The Count was just plain cool.

Now that I’ve experienced the story of the original Count (Count Dracula), I have to wonder why Sesame Street wants to align themselves with such a morbid creature. I’d never read a vampire story before (of any kind), and I have to say, I really don’t think they are for me. There’s something about the dripping blood. While at first I was excited for an adventure story, by the end I was a bit disgusted by the bloody concepts. (I didn’t include a cover picture here because they all look disgusting.)

I was glad when Dracula by Bram Stoker had finally ended.Continue Reading

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

As I mentioned in my previous post, I loved Holden Caulfield when I first read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I was probably about 16 years old, which is Holden’s age. I read it again in college (20 years old) and I likewise enjoyed Holden’s story.

I didn’t love Holden on this third reading (age 28). In fact, as I read the first sentence, I groaned. Would I have to put up with this kid’s whining for another 214 pages? But in the end, I couldn’t hate Holden Caulfield, even after 215 pages of whining and complaining. His compassion redeemed him for me, and I’m so grateful I reread his story so I could experience it again from this perspective.

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Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

When I started blogging about books, I didn’t know what “graphic novel” meant. In fact, in June 2008, I wrote a post explaining my confusion. But at Dewey’s urging, I gave some of them a try. Since then, I’ve read a few graphic novels. But I admit that I still hadn’t completely understood the concepts behind writing a novel (or a memoir) with pictures. Why? Shouldn’t we focus on learning to read, not handing our teenager illustrations?

It seemed odd to me, and although I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve read, I didn’t understand it, I’m sorry to say.

Thanks to a tweet from Nymeth, I found Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud, which is a nonfiction comic all about comics. It’s kind of like a poem about poetry, except that analogy fails, for poetry is limited to words. Comics (or graphic novels, if you will) are multi-dimensional compared to a poem.

McCloud illustrates the power of comics by showing the reader what it can do. This is a book that literally shows, not tells.

Yes, Understanding Comics is nonfiction. If you do not normally read nonfiction, you may be bored. It goes through a brief history of comics, it analyzes what makes a comic good, and it gives some background on how comics interact with the reader. If you, like me, are interested in understanding what is meant when someone says “comics” or “graphic novel,” you will, like me, be fascinated by Scott McCloud’s book.Continue Reading

September in Review

In an effort to simplify my blogging life, I’ve decided I will no longer host the quarterly Martel-Harper Challenge. That challenge was to read two works per quarter from the list of books that Yann Martel sends to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Dewey started the project in October 2008, the month before she died, and I wanted to continue it in her memory. However, there has been little interest in the project and I don’t feel able to “advertise” it properly. I still personally intend to read books from the list, but from now on, I’m considering it a personal project rather than a public challenge. If anyone else wants to take lead of the quarterly challenge, please let me know. I’d be happy to send links your way.

At the same time, I made my life more complicated by starting The Classics Circuit. The first author tour will be Wilkie Collins (sign up by Saturday morning), followed by Elizabeth Gaskell (sign up begins next week).

My reading this month was more subdued, meaning I read more classics and not much nonfiction or modern stuff. I also read less because BBAW got me busy blogging and not reading! BBAW gave me a confidence boost I felt I needed and I look forward to the future of Rebecca Reads. I’ve added tons of new bloggers to my Reader and I am so excited to “meet” so many people through the community projects that I’m a part of.

Although I finished just nine books in September (as opposed to August’s 16 books), I feel it was a great month, and I think it’s good to slow down my reading occasionally.Continue Reading