Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Books (and authors) I couldn’t possibly live without

I admit I have a problem when it comes to books. Though my pasty skin can be mainly blamed on genetics, I’m sure my habit of reading for hours on end (inside or in the shade) contributes to my ghostly look. I also spend a lot on books, but I justify it to myself because I read most of them multiple times. I also like to decorate with books. But anyway.

I’ve been asked to give a short list of must-reads, so here are some books I’d drag with me to that desert island after the shipwreck (they would, of course, get priority on the plank of wood keeping me afloat. I can swim).

1. Everything Jane Austen wrote, but especially Pride and Prejudice, Northhanger Abbey, and her juvenalia (Lesley Castle, Lady Susan, Love and Freindship). And yes, it’s spelled that way on purpose.

2. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

3. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

4. Multiple works by Joyce Carol Oates – two of my favorites are Firefox and High Lonesome, a collection of short stories.

5. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

6. The Portable Dorothy Parker by, well, Dorothy Parker

7. Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers

8. Everything by Jasper Fforde

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

10. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

What books could you never live without?

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Summer reading list

One of the nice things about being out of school and unemployed (though unemployment is not a state I want to be in) is the oodles of time to read. At school, I was swamped with work, and could barely make it through 10 pages of a novel before falling asleep. And what I had to read for school took up the rest of my time. Though William Strunk’s The Elements of Style is a fantastic resource for journalists, it is not exactly an exciting read.

Anyway, I am using the time (when I am not job hunting) to read. I have just finished Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, and enjoyed it immensely. The next new book on my list is A Garden of Earthly Delights by Joyce Carol Oates. But first I have to finish Pride and Prejudice, which I’m reading for the umpteenth time.

It’s lovely revisiting books – I find that a good story never gets old. Along with Pride and Prejudice, here is a partial list of books I plan to revisit this summer: Continue reading

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Classics + monsters

We are in the grips of vampire/werewolf/monster fever. And I’m not talking about Twilight (though if you want a soap opera of ridiculous proportions, read it). Instead, there is a rash of books out now that incorporate monster story lines into classic texts. A great idea. To a point.

I was thrilled when I was able to get my hands on a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Austen’s witty, acerbic banter peppered with scenes of Regency-era characters kicking zombie butt? Brilliant. Elizabeth Bennett is Austen’s feistiest, most independent heroine. It is not too much of a stretch to imagine her an expert at physical as well as verbal sparring. At first the backstory about the Bennett sisters’ training in Japan seemed a bit far-fetched, but it was easy to believe that Jane was prized for her zombie-killing skills as well as her beauty. The integrity of Austen’s work remained intact, and the results were hilarious.

But I have to admit, I’m skeptical about the two followups: Dawn of the Dreadfuls (the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Elizabeth Bennett can handle monsters. But Elinor and Marianne Dashwood? If Marianne ran into a sea monster, she would scream and faint dead away. (Preferably into the arms of a strapping young officer – much more romantic that way). Elinor would manage to keep herself rational, but it is much more feasible to see her leading her family to safety rather than plunging into battle. Continue reading

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