Freitag, 30. März 2012

Finally The Classics Club

I feel like I am the last person in the world to join this, but here is my list
for The Classics Club, the most amazing project ever, hosted by lovely Jillian.
It took me quite long to put this list together and you can't
imagine how many titles were crossed out again and replaced by others,
but I am now so arrogant as to say that once I have read everything on it, I
shoud have gained a tiny little overview of literature.  At least it should
provide me with some knowledge for my further explorations. 
My goaldate is 29/7/2016, chosen because it is my twentieth birhday.
The rules also say we should think of a reward for ourselves. There are
currently exactly 111 titles on my list and I am going to treat myself when
I have read more than half of them, meaning 56. It's in the rules, right?
What I am opting for is one of this lovely pendants I have been admiring
for ages: 

Fellow book nerds: they're available here
All of them have literary quotes on them and currently I would go for the one depicted above, but perhaps this project is going to change all my bookish  preferences? Anyway, here's my list (without any particular order within the centuries):

1.       The Theban Plays: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Sophocles
2.       Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
3.       The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan
4.       The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
5.       The Art of War, Sun Tzu
6.       The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
7.       The Iliad, Homer
8.       The Odyssey, Homer
9.       Paradise Lost, John Milton
10.   The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser
11.   Il Decamerone, Govanni Boccaccio
12.   Macbeth, William Shakespeare
13.   Richard III, William Shakespeare
14.   As you like it, William Shakespeare
15.   Henry VIII, William Shakespeare
16.   Much Ado about Nothing, William Shakespeare

17.  Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe
18.  Clarissa, Samuel Richardson
19. Tom Jones, Henry Fielding
20.   Nathan der Weise, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
21.   Die Leiden des jungen Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
22.  Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift
23.   Candide, Voltaire
24.  The Last of the Mohicans, James F. Cooper

25.  The Devil’s Elixir, E.T.A Hoffman
26.  Persuasion, Jane Austen
27.  Emma, Jane Austen
28.  Lés Miserables, Victor Hugo
29.  The Count of Monte Christo, Alexandre Dumas
30.  The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
31.  Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
32.  The strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson
33.  Good Wives, Louisa May Alcott
34.  Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
35.  The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë
36.   Villette, Charlotte Brontë
37.  Crime and Punishment, Fjodor Dostojewski
38.  The Brothers Karamasow, Fjodor Dostoyevsky
39.  The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle
40.  Middlemarch, George Elliot
41.    North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell
42.  Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
43.  Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
44.  Tess of D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
45.  The House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
46.  The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
47.  Moby Dick, Herman Melville
48.  Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott
49.  Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
50.  War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
51.  Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
52.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
53.  The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
54.   A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain
55.  Walden, Henry David Thoreau
56.  The Fall of the House of Usher & other short stories, E. A. Poe
57.  Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
58.  David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
59.   Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens
60.  Hard Times, Charles Dickens
61.   Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens
62.  The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens
63.  The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins

64.  Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
65.  The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
66.   Collected Poems, W.B. Yeats
67.   Ulysses, James Joyce
68.   A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
69.   I know why the Caged Birds sing, Maya Angelou
70.   A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
71.   A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
72.   The Good Earth, Pearl Buck
73.   If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino
74.   Heart of Darkness, Conrad Joseph
75.   Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
76.   As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
77.   The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
78.   I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
79.   The Sun also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
80.   Brave New World, Alduous Huxley
81.   1984, George Orwell
82.   To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
83.   One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
84.   The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot
85.   The Heart is a lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
86.   Beloved, Toni Morrison
87.   Siddharta, Hermann Hesse
88.   To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
89.   A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Wollf
90.   Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
91.   The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
92.   Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
93.   The Hobbit, J.R.R.  Tolkien
94.   The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
95.   East of Eden, John Steinbeck
96.   Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
97.   The Crucible, Arthur Miller
98.   Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
99.   Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
100.Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
101.Catch-22, Joseph Heller
102.Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
103.Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
104.The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
105.The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene
106.The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
107.Collected Poems, Robert Frost
108. A Passage to India, E.M. Foster
109. A Room with a View, E.M. Foster
110. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
111.The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
What do you say? Good choices? Bad? Are you joining too? Do we have any titles in common on our lists?

Montag, 26. März 2012

Back Home

It's been exactly two weeks since my last post and any other life sign from me. I do apologise, but there's a reason for my complete disappearance: I have been travelling England, from Gateshead to Morton, but Thornfield Hall was my favourite place by far.
For those of you not familiar with these names: during the last fortnight I have spent every free minute reading what I dare to call one of my favourite books ever, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

This book! It's been ages since anything captured me so much, I even read during my piano lessons (don't ask me how that's possible) and I freaked out about it like other girls do about boygroups. Reading slump? What was that again?

There was hardly anything about this book not to love: the passionate and clever heroine, the stormy atmosphere, the mystery, the heartache, the lyrical yet fast paced writing and Mr Rochester of course, oh Mr Rochester!

I normally disapprove of books named after their main characters, but in this case I found it totally justified. Little Jane had my understanding when she hid from her cousins in order to read; by the time she hurt horrible John in defense against his attack with the book she had won me over. I could not get enough of Jane, especially since she reminded me to my immense surprise a lot of myself. Some friends who had read the book also noticed the resemblance; this went so far that I couldn't read in their presence anymore because of all the "Oh, she's exactly like you!", which was really nice considering that Jane is described as plain throughout the book (mind you, I am not saying they weren't right. I'll have to take it like Mr Rochester.) The good side is that I completely agreed with all of Jane's decisions and never got annoyed by them, not even by her hastened departure from Thornfield Hall; which brings us to Mr Rochester.

Leaving aside the fact that my fondness for Byronic heroes should probably start to worry me I cannot help loving this man! Some of his conversations with Jane are downright hilarious and had me laughing out loud. Which other Victorian gentleman discusses fairies with his daughter's governess in all earnestness? At other times he was so sweet that he became the subject of a whole lot of my daydreams. Of course the mysterious ambiance about Mr Rochester added to his charms, but that does not mean that I wasn't angry with him sometimes too, namely then when he needed Jane's help but didn't regard it necessary to impart her his secret (at that time I didn't know what a heartbreaking secret it was). I think I need not mention how shocked I was when I found out how injured he'd been in the fire and neither how almost physically relieved I was when he regained part of his sight.

Along with these two impressive characters came two other to join the Walk of infamy of my most disliked book characters ever. Perhaps you'll be surprised to find that none of the Reed family is included here, cruel as they were, but in my opinion Jane quickly grew so superior to them that they could hardly really harm her. Mr Brocklehurst in contrast I despised with all my heart, perhaps because not only strong little Jane but dozens of other poor girls were completely at his mercy; children whom he should have helped and provided for lovingly, instead he treated them doubtlessly worse than the pets of his own daughters, a fault of his character which did not blight his self-righteousness in the least.

The other man I was not overly fond of -though I didn't dislike him half as much as Mr Brocklehurst- is St John Rivers. He was so cold and hard, and while I (like Jane) admired him for his good qualities at first, his persistency in demanding Jane to marry him repelled me as much as his complete refusal of any other point of view than his own. Furthermore I found it rather presumptuous that he regarded Jane as more or less damned only because she would not join him in his missionary life.

Jane Eyre is a book that I see mysel rereading many, many times: I am already tempted to recommence it. I am thoroughly amazed how thrilling and yet romantic it is, and it has proved something essential to me: It is actually possible for a love story to have a plot.

This is a revelation some authors never had (yes, Jane Austen, I am talking about you!).

Sonntag, 11. März 2012

The Magical 11 - Blog Tag

First off: Thank you all so much for the sweet comments on my reading slump post! I have received a lot of great advise and also encouragement from you, and while I haven't dared to really open a book again yet, I've got this feeling that I won't be able to keep this up for too TBR pile looked at me quite seductively again today.

Anyway, Darlyn tagged me some days ago and since I couldn't think about anything else since then, here are the results of my insane brooding.

The Rules:
1. Post rules.
2. Post 11 fun facts about yourself.
3. Answer questions from the person who tagged you.
4. Make up 11 questions for people you tag.
5. Tag 11 people.
6. Let them know they've been tagged.

The rules command it, so: 11 Fun Facts about myself

1. Whenever I'm giving a presentation my teachers assume I am nervous because I'm speaking so quickly. I am not nervous in the least, I love speaking in front of an audience, I always speak so quickly, I just tend to forget that most people aren't used to my spaeking pace

2. I am a TV series addict. Blame House, it all started with him! I have seen every single episode at least three times and I own all of them on DVD. When there weren't any new episodes available in Europe I began watching other stuff: that's how Bones, The Mentalist, Gilmore Girls, How I Met Your Mother and Scrubs followed.

3. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien was released exactly 42 years before my birth. This is something I take a lot of pride in.

4. I am an absolute expert in Faerie mythology. When I was a little girl I devoured all books about it, so if you want to know something about changelings, glamour or the Otherworld, just ask!

5. Both of my grandfathers were police constables. They knew each other, but they did not introduce my parents to each other. My parents met at as opponents in a competion for shooting-sports.

6. I love Ikea. Seriously. My mum and I go there at least once a month, eat in the restaurant and dawdle through the shop. We hardly buy anything, but I adore the atmosphere. Don't laugh.

7. When I was eight I read a survey about the best universities in the world. That was the day I declared to my parents that I would study in Harvard. Of course things have changed a lot since then. The new goal is Cambridge!

8. I am angry with my parents for not being English. I have actually used that as an argument during discussions. My life would be so much easier if English was my mother tongue!

9. I have an odd relationship with musical instruments. I've always loved music, but didn't play anthing until the age of 13. When I took the entrance exam for piano lessons at the conservatoire I was the oldest applicant. The other kids were all about 6 years old.

10. My brothers, my sister and I were fanatically obsessed with The Lord of The Rings. This went so far that we spent whole days in the woods, fighting with canes and shooting with our self-made bows.

11. What impressed me most on my trip to Ireland were the dry stone walls which cover the whole island. They were built entirely without mortar and some of them are over 5000 years old!

Now, off to Darlyn's questions

1. Did you become obsessed with a boyband in your teen years? If so, which boyband?
Since I am still in my teenage years it would be fatal to answer this one! No, seriously: I am really militant when it comes to music. I ardently love rock, especially alternative rock, but I can't stand pop music. Listening to it makes me cringe.

2. Who is your favourite Austen hero and why?
Oh, this is excruciating! Now I have to admit the ugly truth I have kept secret for years:
I passionately, wholeheartedly and fanatically HATE Jane Austen!
I don't understand what all the fuss is about; the only thing she does masterly in my opinion is stretching a story for 200 pages out over 500!
Okay, to be fair: I have only read one of her books, the much beloved Pride and Prejudice, which traumatised me for life. It took me one and a half year to finish it because it was so plain boring. Yes, Mr. Darcy is a snob and the oh-so-great Elizabeth has to learn to think before speaking, but, honestly, that's just not enough to fill 300 pages.
So, sorry, but I don't have one.

3. What is the weirdest thing about you?
Again a tough one. There's just so much to choose from! I guess it's the fact that I name everything. Literally. My phone is called Jem, my iPod Lorelai, my parents' car Jabi and my sister's mattress Lorry.

4. What is your dayjob?
Student. Very exciting, isn't it? I have two and a half years of school left and no idea what I am going to do afterwards. The dream would be studying English Literature in Cambridge, but my English is just not good enough for that. See Fun Fact number 8.

5. What is your favourite poem?
I like a lot of Robert Frost's and W.B. Yeats's poems, but my favourite one is from The Lord of the Rings:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken:
The crownless again shall be king.

Anyway, I have to admit that I actually prefer the German translation to the original, probably because I have known it since I was a little girl. I know you don't understand it, but I have to write it down here nonetheless:
Nicht jeder Verirrte verliert sich,
Nicht alles was Gold ist, glänzt;
Die tiefe Wurzel erfriert nicht,
Was alt ist wird nicht zum Gespenst.
Aus Schatten ein Licht entspringe!
Aus Asche soll Feuer loh'n!
Heil wird die zerbrochene Klinge,
Der Kronlose steigt auf den Thron
6. Why did you start blogging?
About half a year ago I came across o's blog completely by chance and was stunned. I had always loved reading, and wanted to read more classics, more "valuable" books, but I had no idea where to start or how to keep it up, since classics were of course great and educating but rather boring nonetheless.
She was so enthusiastic about the classics, she read them for pleasure and all of her posts and thoughts were so sophisticated that I couldn't help admiring her. Some weeks later I had begun working on my own blog.

7. Who is your favourite Disney princess?
Mulan all the way!!! She's tough, she's kick-ass, she's chinese. What's not to love?

8. Who is your favourite actor/actress?
Jamie Campbell Bower. Remember that name! He has had a tiny appearance as Gellert Grindelwald in Harry Potter, as Caius in New Moon and alongside Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd. Not only is he cute, an amazing actor and can sing, he will also be the new Robert Pattinson or Daniel Radcliffe in one or to years since he is playing the main character in the movie adaptation of The Mortal Instruments.

Picture From
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9. What is your favourite film genre?
Thrillers and crime movies! Blame my mum, I grew up believing that The Silence of the Lambs was the cherry on the icing of modern cinema.

10. Which Pixar movie do you like best?
Definitely A Bug's Life! This movie makes me laugh every time I watch it, and no, I am not too old for it!

11. The BONUS QUESTION: Answer any question that you really, really, really want people to ask you. Well, then:
What sparked your love of reading?
When I was in kindergarten my mum started reading the first Harry Potter novel aloud to me and my older sister. She read one chapter to us every night and that was the beginning of my love affair with books.
Years later I learned that my mum only chose the Harry Potter novels for her children because there was so much religious controversy about them!

Here are my 11 questions:
  1. If you could live in any age (present-day included) you wanted to, which would you choose?
  2.  Is there a literary character you identify with?
  3.  The world is divided into two different kinds of people: those who plan their own funerals and those who don't. To which do you belong?
  4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
  5.  How do you manage the balance between reading and going out?
  6. What is your favourite quote?
  7. The eternal question: Which is better, Oxford or Cambridge?
  8. Is there a song which has a special meaning to you?
  9. What is your favourite quote?
  10. Romantic comedy or thriller?
  11. Why do you read?
My victims The people I tag are:
  1.  o from Délaissé
  2. Diana from Autobiography of an Anglophile
  3. Melanie from Dear Helen, Dear John
  4. Jean from Howling Frog Books
  5. Caro from Reading against the Clock
  6. Trish from Desktop Retreat
  7. Reading Rambo from Reading Rambo
  8. Danny from Reveries on Literature
  9. Bear Allen from The Black, White & Read Book Challenge
  10. Amanda from Simpler Pastimes
  11. Soffi from Nothing worth having comes easy
I hope you don't suffer too much! Have fun!

Donnerstag, 8. März 2012

Revelations and Reading Slumps

In February I learned something about me which I never believed possible, and as usual, it was books which taught me. Since I am not hiding anything from you, my dear readers, here it is, the ugly and unpleasant truth:
I am impatient.
Considering that I'm often practising one bar on the piano for literally hours, that I actually enjoy waiting for the bus and, perhaps most importantly that I've been learning French for five years without giving up, this is something I really did not expect, but the last month showed me the limits of my patience: long books.

I know that this is a horrible confession for anyone who is interested in literature, but I just can't do anything about it and I've tried, believe me, I've tried. The problem with me is that I'm really bad at reading more than one book at the same time; I have to finish one book first in order to enjoy another one.
I started reading Les Misérables in February and even though I actually liked it very much I was getting more and more annoyed every time I opened it. After two weeks I had read 300 pages, which isn't bad considering my slow reading pace and family occupations, but when I realised that this was not even one-fifth of the whole book I was really irritated. I began to read even if I wasn't in the mood to and didn't really pay attention to the story, just to the page numbers. I liked the book but didn't see any progress and that is something which gets me. No matter what I'm doing, I have to see some progress of any sort, otherwise I'm losing interest, and this is exactly what happened to Les Misérables.
I hardly read anything during the last two weeks (that is the reason there haven't been any posts) and to be honest I am not in the mood to read anything now either. I guess one could say this is my first reading slump since starting this blog, and it annoys me beyond measure.
There are so many great books piling on my shelves, not to mention my poor Hugo which I have completely abandoned and yet I can't animate myself to even open them. I have no idea how to get out of this slump again.

To make it short: I am disappointed in myself, I am miserable and your advice would be greatly appreciated.