Karen from Books and Chocolate suggested the audio for Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, saying it was “the funniest books I have ever read,” and she’s read it a number of times. I certainly have to agree that it is a ridiculous satiric Victorian novel and completely unlike the stereotypes of Victorian literature that some foster.
As much as I love to read, I am not a book buyer, and I especially I don’t have any special feelings for independent book stores, which I equate with less selection and higher prices. I buy used books online via various marketplaces because, even with shipping, it’s normally cheaper than buying a new or a used book in a bookstore, and the selection is seemingly infinite. Or, far more often, I borrow books from the library. Other than the property taxes I pay, my local library is free, even for Interlibrary Loan requests from neighboring university libraries. FREE. I can read essentially anything in print (and much out of print) through a library request or via a public domain online text.
So, I suppose it is not surprising that Lewis Buzbee’s memoir of bookstores, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, did not do much for me. It is a combination of a history of bookselling and a memoir of his own addiction to bookstores, and I spent the bulk of the book wishing it was about a love of books or a love of the written word or a love of a specific author. I was the wrong audience, and I had been hoping for a different book. I also speed read it in order to have a post ready for the Spotlight Series today. If I hadn’t made that commitment, I’d probably not have finished it at all or I’d have read it slower. Maybe if I had not read it all at once, I would not have been as irritated by parts of it. I’m not a memoir person, and this volume reinforced that. (more…)
As I helped compile the listing of Imperial Russian Literature for the Classics Circuit a few months ago (found here), I found my TBR list growing exponentially: there are so many authors I want to read that I just don’t know when I’ll get to them all. Through my searches at the library and at Amazon.com, I discovered a volume by Penguin Viking: The Portable Nineteenth-Century Russian Reader. It was just what I was looking for: stories, novellas, and poems from twenty different Imperial Russian writers.
I intended to read the entire volume for the Circuit (about 600 pages), but I’m finding that summer living has made reading time scarce. Even reading half the volume, though, makes for quite a long post here, so I hope you don’t mind. I read the authors I had never read before and share my thoughts below: Aleksandr Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Mikhail Lermontov, Sergey Akaskov, Karolina Pavlova, and Ivan Goncharov. Some of them are writers that I intend to revisit. Other writers were a good read, but I’ll probably not revisit them.
According to Merriam Webster, superfluous means “exceeding what is sufficient or necessary: extra; not needed: unnecessary.” As I read the collection of stories, poems, and novellas, I couldn’t help thinking of that word. Ivan Turgenev wrote the novella “The Diary of a Superfluous Man” in 1850, which focused on one of the gentry who lived a rather aimless life. I haven’t read the novella (it is not in my Reader), but I read Mel u’s post about it early in the Classics Circuit Tour. As I read my selections, I kept thinking about how each story or poem seemed to discuss one of these “unnecessary” people in Russian society. Reading Russian literature in that light is quite depressing, yet the stories are, for the most part, wonderfully drawn together. (more…)
I loved to read The Victorian Art of Fiction: Nineteenth-Century Essays on the Novel because what could be better than essays by Victorians about Victorian novels?!1 I really enjoyed the essays I read, but I should begin this post by clarifying that unfortunately, my Interlibrary Loan expired before I finished the book. I only got through about 8 of the 22 essays in Rohan Maitzen’s collection. I barely touched the surface and didn’t have time to read deeply.
Nevertheless, in a few years, when I’ve (hopefully) read a greater amount of Victorian literature, I’ll have to revisit the collection. I think having actually read the major novels they are talking about would make it even more enjoyable! (more…)
- I suppose such a thought puts me forever in the “geek” category. I do not even care! ↩
Claire at Kiss a Cloud recently called Eileen Chang’s stories “anti-love” stories, and I think that is an apt description. Eileen Chang, who wrote in the 1940s, captured relationships in her stories, and her perspective is unfailing bitter. These stories do not, for the most part, have happy endings, even when the man and the woman do get together. I loved the insights into Chinese culture, but that said, my favorite story of the collection (“Sealed Off”) was one that was more universal in setting, emotion, and culture. In fact, I loved it and wish to add it to the “great short stories” hall of fame.
I read the copy of Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang, published by NYRB; there are a total of four novellas(more…)
- I read three of them; I skipped the novella “The Golden Cangue” because after starting it about three times, I still could not get into it at all. ↩