Context Matters: Criticizing the Classics

I guess it was about a year ago now that I re-read Sense and Sensibility,. As I do, I went to goodreads to see what the popular reviews were saying. Most were pretty predictable Austen reviews, but one in particular snagged my attention. It made me so angry, and I’m still thinking about it a year later.

I’m keeping the author of the review anonymous, obviously, and I’m only going to quote here a small portion of the review. If you want to read more you’ll have to do your own digging on goodreads.

It said:

Reading Sense and Sensibility made me realize why I don’t like Jane Austen’s books, and probably never will: she was a brilliant author, and her novels are funny and well-written, but at the end of the day, her characters spend 90% of their time talking about boys. Nothing else happens: they go to a ball, where they worry about which boy isn’t dancing with them; they have tea, where they talk about which girls have snagged which boys; and they write letters about which girls have done scandalous things with boys. It’s just pages and pages of “I like you but you hate me!” “No, I really love you, you were just misinformed!” “My, what a silly misunderstanding!” “I agree! Let’s get married!” and all its variations and it bores me to death. I love the humor, and I love the characters, I just want them to do something interesting. This is probably why Pride and Prejudice and Zombies resonated so well with me – finally, the Bennett sisters got to do something besides sit around and mope about the various boys who weren’t talking to them for whatever reason!

Okay. Breathe.

  1. If you don’t like Jane Austen’s novels (or as she says at the beginning of her review, romantic comedies), then why are you reading one?
  2. Saying nothing else in this book happens other than they talk about boys is a gross exaggeration and just plain not true. The very first thing to happen, for example, is their father dies and they are forced out of their home before they are even done mourning him.
  3. Even if that was true and nothing else happens except for boy stuff, it is unfair to place your 21st century expectations for a novel on a book written in the early 19th century.

This third point is the one I want to talk about today. Continue reading

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Review: The Girl in the Tower

34050917The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Series: Winternight Trilogy
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction
Maturity Rating: 4
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop. 


The Girl in the Tower was not quite as amazing as The Bear and the Nightingale, but was still an outstanding read.

Continue reading

Ranking Austen

Since Star Wars Episode 8 came out about a month ago, I’ve seen TONS of lists ranking the Star Wars movies from worst to best, favorite to least favorite, whatever. Oh my gosh, it’s so much fun, and I just had to do it too! Which led to a LONG list ranking my favorite Marvel movies (lots of unpopular opinions there!), and then led to me talking about all the bookish rankings I could do.

Oh my gosh. Ranking books and movies is my new addiction.

So, for absolutely no reason at all other than this is what I WANTED to do on a Sunday morning while I’m stuck in bed having braxton-hicks contractions, my list of Jane Austen novels from most favorite to least favorite. Enjoy! Continue reading

Favorites February – I NEED YOUR INPUT!

Favorites February

Hello friends!

So as I mentioned in my 2018 post, I’m really looking forward to starting a short-term blog series titled Favorites February this year. I like re-reading things, and that’s about the time of year I usually get stressed at work and don’t feel like reading anything I’m not already in love with. Plus, alliteration.

This year I’m re-reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. And I’m so stoked. I’ve been wanting to re-read it for several years and just haven’t had time. Rick Riordan always makes me laugh, and it’ll be the perfect light read post-baby.

Buuuuuuuut… I’m not really sure what I’m doing. lol

I need YOUR input! Below I’m posting a link to a survey. Please take a minute to let me know what you would be interested in reading.

https://goo.gl/forms/qBjdcE862sNySCtF3

Also, if you would for some reason be interested in like, reading with me or something, let me know in the comments. I’m not planning on doing a read-along or anything, I don’t have time to organize it. But a partner might be nice. 🙂

Thanks for your feedback! So excited guys!

Review: Hamilton: The Revolution

26200563Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Genre: Non-fiction, Play
Maturity Rating: 5
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆


Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.

Hamilton: The Revolution gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–“since before this was even a show,” according to Miranda–trace its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 40 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don’t throw away their shot.


I was given this book as a Christmas gift, and expected it to be basically a coffee table book. I’ve had Broadway collectors’ books like this in the past, and they’ve always been basically scripts/librettos with a bunch of really high quality pictures. Occasionally they might have a note about the costumes or actor bios or something, but usually just song lyrics. So I picked this one up Christmas evening expecting to just kind of flip through and look at the pictures.

Boy was I wrong.

Continue reading

#notall Book Tag

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This tag from the Orangutan Librarian really left me chuckling. You’ll have to check hers out, it’s very entertaining. Also, she made it, so if I tag you be nice and link back to her. 🙂

But it also really made me think in some good ways. I love talking about rules and generalizations, but I love talking about the exceptions EVEN MORE. So this is going to be good fun.

#notall Cover Changes – A cover change you liked

Ooooooo, I HATE cover changes!!!! They drive me crazy! Except when the original cover was awful and they fix it. Which is 100% what happened with Throne of Glass. 

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I mean, look at that original and tell me it doesn’t look stupid, lame, and everything bad. And I just love the art style on the new one! Very badass.

#notall Adaptations – An adaptation you love more than the book

I love that it just says adaptations, not movie adaptations, because it gives me a chance to rant about something that I’ve been holding in for a very long time.

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Wicked is pretty much my least favorite book of all time!

Seriously, there are not words to express how much I hate this book! It’s just … everything about it. And it was such an amazing idea too. Which is why I’m so glad the folks from the musical got ahold of it, because they told the story in an amazing way. I am in love with Wicked, and I’ve seen it three times or something. (Once on Broadway!!!!) My all-time favorite musical, which is really saying something if you know how much I love musicals.

#notall Tropes – A trope you’ll never tire of seeing

I will never be tired of love at first sight. I don’t really believe in it in real life, but books aren’t real life and it’s soooooo romantic when done well! I will fight with you to the death on the value and romance of Romeo and Juliet.

#notall Instalove – You instaloved this instacouple

Obviously, I’m not tired of “instalove”, lol. My favorite example is Aragorn and Arwen. He walks into a glade, and he sees her, and he just KNOWS. And she falls in love with him and is willing to give up her immortality and her family to live with him and his children. *sigh* Sometimes I pull down my copy of The Return of the King and read just their story in the appendix and nothing else.

#notall Love Triangles – An example of a love triangle done well

Uh… I don’t mind a good love triangle, but I don’t know that I’ve ever read it done particularly well, lol.

OOOOOOO! I don’t know if this should count, but I found one!

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Ron-Hermione-Krum. Okay, so it’s not *really* a love triangle, because Hermione isn’t particularly romantically interested in Krum. (Okay, Harry thinks she probably kissed him, but I don’t buy that. He’s waaaaaaaay too old for her, and she knows it.) But I love that this “romance” is what caused Ron to kind of realize he liked her. And I have been hardcore shipping Ron-Hermione since the first time I read their terrible fight at the end of the Yule Ball when I was 11. You want to fight be on that, we can duke it out. I’ll win. Come at me bro.

#notall Parents – Bookish parents that, you know, parent!

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I loved the mom’s character in The Fault in Our Stars. It’s impossible to empathize with what she is going through, but I think it’s so clear just how difficult it is. I can’t even imagine. Anyway, she doesn’t always do the best job parenting, she makes mistakes, but she always does her best. And really as parents, that’s all any of us can do. I really admire her.

#notall Villains – A villain you love

So this one was really hard, because I don’t like villains. Like, ever.

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But in House of Hades Percy and Annabeth spend the entire book in Tartarus with a bunch of villains. And everyone is trying to kill them, even though they’re already dead… Anyway. They make two friends along the way, a baby sabretooth cat, and a Titan who has had his memory wiped who Percy calls Bob. These characters raise the question (to quote Wicked): “Are people born wicked, or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” They help our heroes when they should have been mortal enemies. Both were killed by Percy in life. But somehow in Tartarus they are re-born … different. And they seem to have the power to choose their own destinies. I love that.

#notall Chosen Ones – A Chosen One you can get behind

Again, technically this probably doesn’t count since if you ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK there is no such thing as “The Chosen One”. Whatever. I love Harry Potter and I love that he gave up everything to take the job of killing Voldemort because he was the only one who could. Harry is a true hero.

#notall Hyped Books – A book that lived up to the acclaim

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I love love LOVE all books by Rainbow Rowell, and Eleanor & Park was the first one I read. I was honestly half expecting to be let down, but it is just everything. EVERYTHING.

#not all *Insert Favorite Genre* – A book your not keen on from your favorite genre

I don’t know that I have a favorite genre… I love to read a variety and mix of things. However, I have said more than once that “The Classics” are probably my favorite.

The funny thing about the classics though, is that there are SO MANY that are just … NO. Like, if you’ve never tried to read Gulliver’s Travels, go ahead, I dare you. And it’s no secret that I pretty much hate Dickens. Dude got paid by the word and it is so obvious.

But for this I’m going to stick with just Jane Austen, because I adore her. All of her books except one.

mansfield-park

Jane, I don’t know what you were thinking with Mansfield Park, but I wish you could come back to life and give it a second chance. I hated the characters, and I hated that Fannie didn’t figure out that Edmund isn’t really better than anyone else. This book is so dang LONG, and nothing ever happens. And even though I know it’s supposed to be ABOUT how jerky people are, I just could not get over it. Mansfield Park is the only Jane Austen book I don’t like.

#notall *Insert Least Favorite Genre* – A book you liked from a genre you don’t often read

My least favorite genre is definitely romance. Not my thing. And I say that having only read like, 1 and a half romance novels at a young age. But that’s all it took for me to realize it isn’t my thing. So I don’t really have an answer for this one. I’m sure all my readers who love romance novels are going to be upset at me for this one, but I just can’t, guys. Sorry.


Tagging:

Hope you guys had as much fun with this as I did. So tell me, what are YOUR favorite bookish exceptions?

 

What’s Ahead in 2018

I’m not a huge planner. In the past the things that I’ve planned have always seemed to … not work out. You can plan and plan and plan, but inevitably something doesn’t go the way you thought it would, and you have to re-do EVERYTHING. So I’ve sort of stopped planning. I keep ’em vague.

I DO like goals. That’s different. But let’s not go into that, lol.

All this to say, I don’t really have a plan for this blog going into 2018. I’m just going to do what I did this year: do whatever I want and see which direction it goes.

But there are a couple of things that are solid and (probably) going to happen, so let’s take a look at those.

Goodreads Challenge

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Setting my goal for 30 books. This is a lot less than 2017, but there’s a few good reasons.

  1. Giving birth and maternity leave. I’m trying to be realistic here.
  2. As you’ll read below, there’s a couple of behemoths on my list. Like, 800 pagers. They’ll slow me down quite a bit.
  3. I can always bump it up, but not down. I mean, you can, but how would you live with yourself?

*Side note* I love how goodreads is like, “You’re on track!” even though I’ve read 0 books. Bless January 1st, lol. Continue reading