Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (a day late)

I know it's not Tuesday, but the book I am reading has some great lines that I thought might intrigue other readers! I am currently reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and I'm loving it!!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My Teasers:

"But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face." (pg. 6-7) 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Read-a-Thon Wrap-up

How nice it was to set aside a weekend just for reading! I was able to read about 200 pages of Stoker's Dracula, 20 chapters (they are very short) of Anna Karenina, and begin Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

I had full intentions of finishing Dracula, but I failed. I cannot bring myself to finish this novel. . .so frustrating! I have about 50 of the 416 pages left. It was such a slow read for me. I believe I had a shoddy edition of this novel because the grammatical errors were distracting me from the story! That has never happened to me before. In trying to assess my disappointment with the novel, I guess the modern vampire legends may have influenced my expectations more than I realized.

Has this every happened to my fellow readers? It just sounds absurd to toss the book aside with so little left. I wonder if the ending would sway my opinion any?

On a better note, I am completely enthralled by what I am reading in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I will be reading this book until the end of the year, but so far I am really liking it.

For a change of pace, I picked up Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. I have been wanting to read this for a long time and hope that I can set aside the time to get it read over the next couple of weeks. I haven't read enough to form an opinion of the work so far. Have any of you read and particularly like this novel?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Anna Karenina: Week Two

I picked up this book several years ago while browsing in a bookstore. I was attracted to the beautiful cover as well as the challenge of tackling such a chunkster! I began reading the book but did not even make it to the middle. I guess you could say life got in the way. Two summers ago, I picked up this book again. While reading at my in-laws cabin, a visitor publicly scolded me for reading such a book. I was so embarrassed! I have never had anyone tell me I should not read a book, especially someone who is only an acquaintance. This reader was disappointed in the actions of the title character  which led her to despise the book. To say the least, that incident, once again, caused me to put the book back on my bookshelf. Luckily, this read-a-long awakened my desire to actually read this book from beginning to end. Third time is a charm, right?! Having the support of fellow bloggers is really encouraging and a perfect "excuse" to give this novel another try!

I am really enjoying the story this time around. Tolstoy has revealed some universal "truths" about society thus far; although, there is a side in many of us who would probably like to deny these truths. For instance, in Part II, Chapter VI the narrator tells us, "The conversation had begin nicely, but precisely because it was much too nice, it stopped again. They had to resort to that sure, never failing remedy -- malicious gossip" (134). And of course they guests begin discussing the relationship that appears to be budding between Anna and Vronsky. Doesn't gossip seem to get the best of us sometimes?

At this point, I can't decide if I like Anna. At times I think she is arrogant, but then I wonder if she is just being honest. She states that Kitty is jealous of her. . .could Anna have done anything to discourage this attention from Vronsky? Or, is Anna a victim? I am looking forward to reading more about her family situation.

And now, Levin. How could one not like him? I feel sorry for him and don't at the same time. I feel sorry for him because of the pain of rejection he endured from Kitty. However, I think he is in a better situation than many characters we've met so far. If I was to be any character, I would want to be Levin.

Looking forward to reading other bloggers' posts!

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon

I am signed up for the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon! It begins TODAY, October 21st and ends this Sunday, October 23rd! This is a Halloween themed read-a-thon; however, one is not restricted to only Halloweenish books.

I am halfway through Dracula, and my post for it is due tomorrow. So, that is number 1 on my list of books. I am still deciding what I will read next. . .I may try Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray as well as Wuthering Heights. I also need to get at least one Shakespearean play and a little bit of Anna Karenina under my belt as well.

I will keep y'all updated! Happy reading everyone!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Anna Karenina Read-a-Long: Week One

This week we read chapters 1-20. Below are my responses to the some of the chosen discussion questions:
2. Talk about the first sentence of the novel. “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Do you agree with its assertion?
I can't say  that I agree with this assertion. If all happy families are alike, then unhappy families can be alike as well. . .won't it be the same emotions that qualify some as happy and others as unhappy?
3. Early in Part One, we meet the Oblonsky family in the middle of a very tumultuous situation: Stiva has admitted to his wife Dolly that he has had an affair after she found a letter revealing his secret. What are your first impressions of Stiva, Dolly and their household?
How can I not be mad at Stiva for what he has done? But should something positive be said about him since he is both concerned with his wife and the governess with whom he had the affair? However, there is also a part of me that feels that his sole concern should be for fixing his own family. After all the governess was aware that this man had a family. . .Maybe  I lack sympathy?
I have a heavy heart for Dolly; however, I do wish she would forgive her husband and also help in amending the torn family relations. Once again, I am unable to empathize with this sort of turmoil. 
4. In Chapter V, we are given background into Stiva’s character—he is described as “liked by all who knew him.” Does he seem likable to you? Why or why not?
Because I am the all-knowing reader, I don't think I like him as many of his contemporaries do. I can see how everyone would like him though because he appears to be a people pleaser. Stiva goes along with the crowd. 
6. When we meet Kitty, she is tangled in an interesting web of courtship with two men. Do you get the sense that Kitty will make a good decision for herself? Do you feel she acts “rightly” towards Levin? What does the author say that’s interesting about each of the men and Kitty’s feelings about them?

I fear that Kitty is not making a good decision for herself because at one point in this reading Vronsky is described as "luring a young lady without the intention of marriage" (57). I also thinks she has true feelings for Levin but does not understand those feelings at this point. Her mother also seems a bit overbearing and may be responsible for planting the idea that Vronsky is a better match for Kitty. 
8. Do you feel Anna’s relationship with her brother and his wife Dolly is a good one? Discuss this dynamic and how you think it may play out as the book progresses.
When Anna first arrived it seemed like she was prepared to tell Dolly anything in order to get Dolly to forgive Stiva and return back to the way they were before. However, I also get the impression that Anna is slowly starting to understand how Dolly must be feeling. I think it is also very likely that Anna is realizing that she herself may be experiencing some of the same feelings as Dolly. Obviously I also think this visit was "bad" because Anna now has met Vronsky whom she appears to already have her eye on based on the conversation Anna has with Kitty. 
I look forward to reading the next week's reading!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wild Nights! by Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is one of those authors I have been meaning to read for a while now. About two years ago, I read her short story "Where are you going, Where have you been?". It was disturbing, but it is also one of those stories that just stuck with me. The disturbing effect it had on me as a reader was a really new experience for me. I had never read anything like it. So, this past summer I checked out one of her novels from my local library. I'm ashamed to say that I couldn't finish it. Maybe it was too raw, too real? I don't know how to explain the effects her writing seems to have on me.

Fortunately, the next work I read by Oates, I thoroughly enjoyed! Wild Nights: Stories about the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway is a collection of five short stories that combine fact and fiction to recount the final days of these famous writers. These stories are disturbing but oh so captivating as well! Some are even absurd! Oates also cleverly employs the writing styles of the authors which she features in the stories. And, if you like analyzing what you've read, there are some amazing connections one can draw between the various stories. . .an English major's dream!

If you enjoy short stories or have an interest in any of these five authors, I think you would enjoy reading this collection as well.

If you have read these stories, what effect did they have on you?

Anna Karenina Read-a-Long

Yep, I am signing up for another read-a-long, and I vow to one day actually be on schedule with a challenge! Being that the first post is scheduled for tomorrow and I haven't even started yet, I am in for a long night of reading. . . but there are worse things!  I have actually read the beginning a couple of times, so hopefully, I will be able to jump back in relatively quickly. I have been trying to finish this book for several years now. A read-a-long sounds like just the motivation I need in order to actually finish it this time!

Here are the details:

The Anna Karenina read-a-long is hosted by Unputdownables. Visit the website and print the character bookmark to help you as you read along!


Beginning Friday, October 7th and ending Friday, December 30th.
Week #/ dates :: Place in which to STOP
Week One/ Oct.7-13 :: Part 1 Chapter XX
Week Two/ Oct. 14-20 :: Part 2 Chapter VIII
Week Three/ Oct. 21-27 :: Part 2 Chapter XXIX
Week Four/ Oct. 28-Nov. 3 :: Part 3 Chapter XII
Week Five/Nov. 4-10 :: Part 3 Chapter XXXI
Week Six/ Nov. 11-17 :: Part 4 ch XVIII
Week Seven/ Nov. 18-24 :: Part 5 Chapter XV (please note: this is Thanksgiving! Might want to get ahead the previous week.)
Week Eight/ Nov. 25- Dec. 1 :: Part 6 Chapter I
Week Nine/ Dec.2-8 :: Part 6 Chapter XX
Week Ten/Dec.9-15 :: Part 7 Chapter VII
Week Eleven/Dec.16-22 :: Part 7 Chapter XXIX
Week Twelve/ Dec.23-30 :: Finish book! You made it!!  (please note this is Christmas week! Might want to get ahead the previous week.)
Post #/ date post should be up on blog:
Start up Post/ Today!
Week One/ October 14th
Week Two/ October 21st
Week Three/ October 28th
Week Four/ November 4th
Week Five/ November 11th
Week Six/ November 18th
Week Seven/ November 25th
Week Eight/ December 2nd
Week Nine/ December 9th
Week Ten/December 16th
Week Eleven/ 23rd
Week Twelve/ 30th (Final Review)
** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each Friday and share your thoughts in the comments section of my weekly  Anna Karenina  review (see below for more information).**

How it Works:

  1. Each week, on Friday, share your thoughts about the previous week’s reading. If you are stuck on what to comment about, you can respond to my post or others’ comments.Regardless, you MUST check in each week, even if to say you are behind in the reading (two weeks without  a response and you will be taken off of the list — see below for details on why). *please refrain from posting ahead, even if you have read ahead, as to not spoil the book for others*
  2. Feel free to post reviews of the each week’s reading on your own blog (if you are a blogger), and to visit each other’s links. If I, or other readers, have extra time we will gladly try to visit your blog if you also leave a link to your post about this book. However, please make sure to share your thoughts here on this blog, as this is where the main conversation will be happening.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I recently read this novel for the Read Your Own Books Read-A-Thon. Although I have read several short stories by Bradbury, I had never read this novel. It was a quick read and very enjoyable! Before reading the novel, I knew the basic story line, but never thought I would enjoy it as much as I did!

Fahrenheit 451 is a futuristic dystopian novel in which people are no longer allowed to read books. Guy Montag, the protagonist, is a firefighter, which means that he burns books. Rather than reading, people live a scripted lifestyle that is closely monitored and fulfilled through interacting with their tv families.

However, people are not  satisfied living this sort of life. Suicide became so prevalent that doctors did not even have to see the patients; instead, teams traveled from home to home pumping stomachs of those who had overdosed.

With a little prompting from Clarisse, Montag's rebellious neighbor, he too begins the realize the crime he is committing by burning books and the importance of slowing down to observe nature. I will let you read the novel for yourself because, if you haven't read the novel yet, you are probably aching to know what happens to Clarisse and Montag, aren't you?!

Also, if you enjoy short stories, I highly recommend Bradbury's "The Pedestrian." I actually read this story about a year ago, but as I was reading Fahrenheit 451 I immediately saw the connection between the two and had to reread it!