Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Classics Club March Meme: Jane Austen

I would like to lead off this post with some interesting facts about Jane Austen:

1) Jane Austen was born the seventh child out of eight. Wow, that's one big family!

2) Jane Austen was extremely shy and thought of her family as the center of her world.

3) Jane's first love was with the nephew of a friend. Jane and Irishman Tom Lefroy began a romance that was soon ended by Tom's aunt as soon as she caught wind of it because she knew Tom would lose his inheritance if he married a "nobody." Tom Lefroy later became the Chief Justice of Ireland (Jane and Tom's story was made into the movie Becoming Jane, starring Anne Hathaway as Jane and James McAvoy as Tom. It's a great film and I highly recommend you watch it if you haven't already.)

4) Jane's second romance also ended tragically. She fell in love with a young clergyman who she met while her family was vacationing at the coast in Devon. He made plans to meet her family later in their travels (indicating there would be a proposal) but he died before he was able to join them.

5) Jane Austen died at the age of 41 from a painful, debilitating disease that was never diagnosed. Today it is believed to have been a tubercular disease of the kidneys.

You can read more about Jane Austen here.

Also, check out this article: Twelve Little-Known (False) Facts About Jane Austen.
Some of these are pretty funny. The writer really had me going at the beginning. :-D


I have read three of Jane Austen's novels so far: Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. I have her other three books on my Classics Club reading list.

Northanger Abbey is my favorite so far. I really loved Pride and Prejudice as well, but I read it years ago. Almost everything I remember about the story comes from the movie starring Keira Knightley, which I've seen at least a half dozen times. The novel is definitely due for a reread.

I wrote mini reviews for Northanger Abbey and Persuasion on Goodreads, which I'll share here.

My thoughts on Northanger Abbey:

I absolutely loved this book! It's my second Austen book, after Pride and Prejudice, which I had to read for my ninth grade English class. And though I really enjoyed P&P, I still wasn't sure how I would take to Jane Austen's writing style--if it would have long passages and be overly-descriptive (thinking back, I was probably mistaking Austen for Wharton, who I love but you really have to be in a leisurely mood to enjoy one of her books) or if it would be captivating. Luckily it was the latter, and I found myself spending much of my 3-day beach vacation sneaking in moments to read whenever and wherever I could. I was obsessed. I thought Catherine Morland was very sweet and I enjoyed her and Henry's subtle romance.

Catherine was just such a funny character. I loved her imagination and the way that she owned it. That is to say, she wasn't ashamed of how carried away she'd get at times and she never let her delusions control her. They were just innocent thoughts that she flirted with in order to bring some excitement into her life. 

Henry was such a gentleman. He was very down-to-earth and Catherine's complete opposite. I only wish I could have seen them together more. I'm sure there would've been many funny scenarios between them as a couple given how different they were. The great thing was that these differences did not matter to them and that was actually part of the attraction.

And while I don't think that this was the intention of the book (or maybe it was), it made me really want to read a Gothic novel. I'm not sure what Austen really thought of the Gothics, but she got me to put Mysteries of Udolpho on my to-read list immediately after I finished Northanger Abbey. :D

Rating: 5 Stars


My thoughts on Persuasion:

I didn't like Persuasion nearly as much as P&P and Northanger Abbey. Anne Elliot's character didn't interest me that much. She was too docile of a main character to carry the book forward, IMHO.


I was really hoping that Anne would redeem herself by standing up to her selfish family in order to finally get what she wanted. It turned out she didn't have to because her father and her sister Mary now approved of Captain Wentworth due to his new rank and fortune. And that makes me uncertain about Anne's strengths in this relationship. Would she have fought to stay with Captain Wentworth if her family still disapproved? More importantly, would she have stayed with him if Lady Russell had still been against the match?

At the end of the book, Anne tells Captain Wentworth, "I must believe that I was right, much as I have suffered from it, that I was perfectly right in being guided by [my] friend...". What? You mean to say that you were right to break the heart of the person you loved more than anyone because a friend (who doesn't really control you're life) told you that you should just because he didn't have the proper rank in society? Whatever.

Maybe she would have had to break ties with her family, but that wouldn't have been much of a loss. They were awful people. They constantly ignored her and took her for granted, and yet she sacrificed over eight years of happiness and independence for them. Why?

I know that many people love this book and list it as their favorite Austen. Perhaps I'm missing something, and I'm not completely against rereading it sometime down the road to see if I get more out of it the second time. But I just could not stand the characters in this book, especially Anne's family. They were all just horrible, selfish, close-minded people. Of course, Captain Wentworth's letter to Anne was incredibly sweet and romantic (the best part of the novel), but I could not see how she even deserved him. Please don't hate me for saying that. It's just how I felt reading the book. I welcome others' opinions and will be sure to keep them in mind. 

Rating: 2 Stars

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Classics Spin

The Classics Club is hosting a classics spin! I found out about it through Délaissé's blog.

List your choice of any twenty books you have left to read from your Classics Club list – in a separate post.

This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books in February & March. (Details follow.) So, try to challenge yourself. For example, you could list five Classics Club books you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favorite author, rereads, ancients — whatever you choose.)

Next Monday, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by April 1. We’ll have a check in or something in April, to see who made it the whole way and finished the spin book.

Okay, so since I'm late beginning this challenge (it began on February 18), I'm changing the date from April 1 to April 18. That way, I still have 6 weeks to read it. Here's the list I made up (and I swear on the life of my pets that I did not cheat by looking at the spin number first!; What fun would that have been?)

5 Books I'm Dreading:
1. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
2. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
4. Metamorphoses by Ovid
5. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

5 Books I Can't Wait to Read
6. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
7. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
8. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
9. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
10. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

5 Book I'm Neutral About
11. Emma by Jane Austen
12. Wasteland by T.S. Eliot
13. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
14. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
15. Tess of D' Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

5 Free Choice Books
16. The Reivers by William Faulkner
17. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
18. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
19. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L' Engle
20. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


And the spin number is . . . . . . . . . . . 14!!

My book will be Out of Africa, one of my neutral books.

I'm so excited about this challenge! I really haven't been doing well with my Classics Club list, but I really want to turn that around this year. And to prove how serious I am, I'm not taking part in any other reading challenges in the blogosphere this year (the only other challenges I'm taking part in are the two seasonal challenges hosted by my favorite Goodreads group, which I have almost always participated in since I joined the group three years ago and the Rory Gilmore Challenge, which is more or less a work-at-my-own-pace challenge with no deadline).

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Top Ten Series I Need to Start Reading

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find upcoming topics at their Top Ten Tuesday page.

1. Percy Jackson and the Olympian by Rick Riordan: I actually started this series a couple of years ago, but only got as far as Book 2, which I read back in October 2011. I really need to start reading this series again. I mean, it's about Greek mythology, which I have been in love with since the 6th grade. This series should have been a priority read for me.

2. Jessica Darling by Megan McCafferty: I've heard so many great things about this series and intended to pick up Sloppy Firsts years ago. I really want to see what all the fuss is about with this Marcus Flutie character :)

3. Castor Chronicles by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl: I just saw the movie and really enjoyed it. I loved that the two main characters were portrayed as such avid readers. I own the first book, so this should definitely be a series I'll start sooner rather than later.

4. Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer: I've heard nothing but good things about this series, and I love modern day fairy tale retellings, so this series sounds like it'd be a definite winner for me.

5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver: I can't even tell you how long I've owned this book. I want to say it's been going on two years now, at least.

6. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: This series sounds so awesome and funny and quirky. Plus, I remember watching a clip from the movie in  a math class in college (it was the scene where the computer gives the number 42 as the ultimate answer to the universe--spoiler?) and it was absolutely hilarious! I've been dying to watch the rest of the movie, but I don't want to until I read the book first. I bought the volume with all five books at a yard sale for about $2, and I can't wait to dig into this beast.

7. Firelight by Sophie Jordan: I was so excited for this series and I bought the first book the moment it came out . . . and then I never read it :/

8. Gone by Michael Grant: This series sounded so incredible when I first heard about it. It sounded a lot like The Girl Who Owned a City, an older post-apocalyptic YA novel that was a favorite of mine in middle school. I'd been looking for similar story lines ever since, and when I happened upon Gone, I knew it was a must read. I still can't believe I haven't started it yet.

9. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare: This is another series that I've heard countless praise for. I told myself that I'd finally start it as soon as all of the books in the series have come out (that way, I don't have to be tortured by those long waits and those cliff hangers!).

10. Prague. Art. Chimaeras. I could go on and on about how incredibly awesome this series sounds just from reading the three paragraph summary. I can't believe I didn't jump into this novel as soon as I was able. I must be crazy. However, I did buy a copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone with my birthday money, and I have every intention of buying all of the other books for this series.I just know this is one I'll love to death before I've even read the first page.