Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

I thought I understood satire when I read Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” But reading Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels solidified the meaning of satire for me. The two works seemed to illustrate the difference between telling and showing. Reading “A Modest Proposal” was like reading a textbook example of satire, while experiencing the nuances and humor of Lemuel Gulliver’s story was instead an immersion in fluency. “A Modest Proposal” seemed to be an historical commentary, while Gulliver’s story was a more universal commentary on human nature.

Of course, the two Swift works are different genres, so comparing them is probably not fair: it’s like comparing apples to zucchini. “A Modest Proposal” is an essay, and Gulliver’s Travels is a full-length novel. “A Modest Proposal” was, I believe, written in response to a certain political situation and thus was intentionally political. Gulliver’s Travels is primarily a story, and thus is a more universal criticism of human nature. Yet, even the word “criticism” seems wrong when I consider this novel: Lemuel Gulliver’s cynicism is amusing and yet still highly relevant. It was neither an easy nor a challenging read, and it’s surprisingly accessible tone, amusing anecdotes, and pertinent commentary made it a completely satisfying read.Continue Reading

My Life, According to Literature

I’m working on my review of Gulliver’s Travels (which I finished reading weeks ago) and I have about three other reviews to work on too, not to mention all my BBAW posts that I’d like to have pre-scheduled for next week.

Instead of being productive, I’m writing my life according to literature: version 2009. Continue Reading

Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture and City Planning by C. Mark Hamilton

Since I just spent a long weekend in Utah, I suppose it’s appropriate to review the book I recently read about Mormon architecture! Except for the Kirtland Temple picture, the pictures below (and the links to additional pictures) are ones I took this weekend.

As I read about Chicago architecture last month, I found myself curious to read about Mormon architecture (such as the Salt Lake Temple) as well. The only published book I found that talks about the architectural aspects of Mormon architecture, from Kirtland to Utah, was Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture and City Planning by C. Mark Hamilton, an academic volume on the subject.

Because it is academic (published by Oxford University Press), I’d suggest it’s only for extremely curious readers. I liked reading it, but I was specifically looking for it! I was mostly interested in the Temple architecture when I picked up this volume, but I admit that all of it interested me to some extent.Continue Reading

Reading Journal (9 Sep): What is Rebecca Reads?

I didn’t even respond to comments over my short vacation weekend. It was so refreshing, and yet for some reason, I feel like I was being neglectful. That suggests to me that I’ve been tied to the blog a bit too much, and I think I may make it a habit to not check the blog every once in a while. (Is that just sad?)

I did read a little bit this week, in between the family dinners and my son’s early-birthday picnic (he’s just a few weeks away from age 2). I finished my reread of Beloved, which I loved, and I read a shorter book for my book club.

Because I’ve been away from the blog, I’ve been thinking about why I blog about books to begin with. I’ve wanted to explore what my blog is, and when Lezlie wrote a post pondering how her blog is perceived by her readers a few weeks ago, I put that idea on my radar too. I’m not sure how my readers perceive this blog (that’s a question for another day), but here are some my thoughts on why my blog is what it is, and what I see it as. Continue Reading