Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Page After Page...

I am in this reading mood where I can't seem to read enough. All I have done since my honeymoon is read every chance I get. With not working right now, you would think I would have hours and hours to read. But with learning to manage and maintain a new house, helping with church Vacation Bible School, traveling for receptions and youth events, substituting at the church daycare... my days fill up pretty quick and my reading time starts to disappear. But evenings have proven to be good to me. I have been able to read for a while in the evenings while my husband sits and listens to baseball or works on budgets/bills. I read Candide by Voltaire last week in two days and I just finished The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett in three days. But I still just can't get enough reading in my life I feel like.

It's not a new feeling/desire to me. For as long as I can remember I have always loved and longed to fill my hours lost in the pages of a book. I have always found myself more at home among books and characters (whether fictional or non-fictional) than anywhere else. I have written before about my shy, introverted personality. And through college I did a pretty good job of suppressing that and becoming more of a people person. But now that I have a new home of my own, live in a new town and attend a new church where everyone is unknown to me (not to mention living nearly 6 hours away from my family)... I am finding myself retreating every chance I get. I know that's not necessarily a good thing to do, but I just can't help it. That's just who I am and how I have always done it. My husband had already been working at the church for a month before I got here and I've really only been there once since we got married (other than our VBS week). So he already knows people and is comfortable with things here. I am not. And so books are my comfort. They are my escape. And I just can't get enough of them.
 
When I was reading Candide, I was so not amused or captivated by it one bit. I was frustrated to be honest and really wanted to just through the book across the room more than once. But it was the complete opposite with The Secret Garden. I just didn't want to put it down and I couldn't help but read it quickly. My parents own the movie on VHS and I remember watching it all the time when I was little. But I had never read the book. I don't really know why. I just never did. And let me just say that I am so glad that I finally did. With having seen the movie, I get imagine the characters even more than with other books. I could hear their voices as they spoke Yorkshire. I could imagine their facial expressions and their mannerisms. The story came to life even more than normal for me as I read. I laughed at loud at various points (ask my husband... he will tell you!) and couldn't help but shake my head at other points because of the silliness of Colin and Mary. I fell in love with the secret garden and the peace that it brought. And I thought about the Magic that Colin was so touched by and how for me the Magic is not magic, but rather it's the powerful working of GOD, the LORD of all. HE is the healer. HE is the one who brings about peace and encouragement and renewal and healing. HE is the one who repairs and renews relationships. HE is the one who gives us strength and opportunities for things to change and grow in our lives. HE is not magic. HE is GOD. And that just brought a smile to my face as I finished the last page and closed the book at the end.

I may be shy and introverted and extremely overwhelmed by life right now. And I may be finding every chance possible to escape into the pages of a book. I may have this unsatisfied hunger for words, plots and characters. And that's okay. It's not a bad thing. It's just a part of who I am and how I cope. And I don't see that changing anytime soon!

This is such a good representation of me - reading myself to sleep!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Voltaire...

So I am half way done with Candide by Voltaire. And let me just say that if it wasn't for the fact that I hate starting a book and never finishing it, I would throw it out the window and never pick it up again. I am so completely bored with it and it reminds me of the books I had to read for my Humanities class in college. And let's just say that that class is hated by everyone who takes it that is not a philosophy major. Candide reminds me of Kafka's Metamorphosis or Milton's Paradise Lost. And both of those were terrible and like pulling teeth in my opinion.

The writing style is good for the most part. But the amount of constant change in the plot and the shallowness of every character and event is just killing me. I am going to finish it because that's just me. But we shall see if I can get through it without throwing it across the room. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer Reads

It's "Top Ten Tuesday" from The Broke and the Bookish and this week's topic is about what books am I looking forward to reading this summer. So here's my list!

1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is a re-read for me, but I am excited to do it as a group-read/event.

2. Candide by Voltaire. I am actually starting this one today and looking forward to it since it sounds so intriguing and tackles a tough topic.

3.. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. I have seen the movie countless times, but I never read the book. It's already sitting on my shelf and just waiting to be opened.

4. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I have been wanting to read this book since it came out. But never got the chance. So, I am going to make time for it this summer.

5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I just finished her sister's Jane Eyre and can't wait to be introduced into Emily's writing style.

6. Mixed Signals by Liz Curtis Higgs. I love Liz's writings and have loved the other 6 novels I've read by her. And so look forward to this one just as much.

7. Bookends by Liz Curtis Higgs. See above. :)

8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I have read this before but always love re-reading it.

9. Little Men by Louisa May Alcott. I haven't read this one in ages and think that if I am going to read about the March sisters I may as well read all about them.

10. Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott. What better way to finish off a summer of reading than with the last chapter of the life of the March sisters?


Monday, June 18, 2012

The world of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester...

Let me just start off with saying that this was my first introduction to the Bronte sisters' collection of writings. I have, of course, heard all about their books and read background information on the authors in various literature books/classes for school. But I had never actually sat down and read one of their books. I know a few times when I was in high school I had tried to read Wuthering Heights, but only got past the first page or two before quitting and moving onto something else (like Austen or Alcott). But I can now officially say I have read one of the Bronte books. I have finally read Jane Eyre (which would be counted on the list of books I feel everyone else has read except for me).

I started reading Jane Eyre on Monday, a week ago. It was the first full day in the cabin that my husband and I went to for our honeymoon. And he was kind enough to let me lay on the couch all morning reading (and every morning after). I finished it in a quick 5 days. And had moments where I didn't want to go shower or go to bed because I just couldn't put it down (I read it on my Nook... which again proved to be perfect for traveling and packing light!). I was so completely intrigued by the story and the style of writing that I just couldn't believe that I had waited so long to read it and now can't wait to read more by the Bronte sisters. I've heard great things about all of their books and look forward to getting to read them in the future.

The thing I loved most about Jane Eyre was that Charlotte was 100% consistent with how she wrote. Sometimes I get really bothered if the style and voice change or falter throughout the book. But with having Jane be the narrator of the story, Charlotte did an amazing job of keeping the tone, pace, voice... everything in perfect rhythm and consistency. It really helped me stay engaged with the story and feel as though I was actually sitting down and talking with Jane herself, rather than reading a fictional novel about a fictional character. And that I think is one of the most important things in literature for me. I have to feel like the story is real. I need to connect with and believe in the story. If I don't... I just lose interest and then give up on some books that people are think are just genius and the best in the literary world. But to me they are just fluff or mediocre. And I can't change that no matter how hard I try. But I can honestly say that I don't feel that way about Jane Eyre because of how well Charlotte did in keep the story flowing, consistent, real and engaging.

One thing that was impressive, yet bothersome to me, was the development of Mr. Rochester and St. John as characters. It was impressive because Charlotte really made them interesting characters. She gave them different personalities that developed and changed with the story. They were extremely dynamic characters who always kept me wondering. Especially Mr. Rochester. It was kind of eery how he seemed to play games in an attempt to pull Jane to him, but was never completely honest and forthcoming about anything. It was strange because I could think of people I know that reminded me of both men. And that was a bit bothersome. It made Mr. Rochester and St. John a little too real at times. It was also bothersome because of how Jane interacted with both of them. She was such a strong, independent woman. It didn't make sense to me how she could be so manipulated by both men in completely different ways. It was unexpected, yet intriguing how she was so quick to love Mr. Rochester then leave him and then return to him at the snap of a finger. But I suppose that's how it sometimes happen with people when "love" is the issue. But "love" aside, it still was just a little disconcerting how much control both men desired and eventually had over Jane and her life. It definitely makes me appreciate my husband even more because he is sooo not like that. He gives me plenty of space to be myself without asking too much of me or expecting me to be different than who I am, unlike Mr. Rochester or St. John.

I know there is a lot more I could say about the book. But I am getting tired of trying to make my thoughts and ramblings coherent. So, I am going to just end with one of my favorite quotes from the book. It's one of my favorite quotes because when I read it I couldn't help but think about how I first started to notice that I liked (and later loved) my husband. So, from page 227 of Jane Eyre I leave you with this:

"He made me love him without even looking at me." 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A bit late on this... but oh well --

So things have been crazy in my life the last few weeks. For starters, I got married! And then spent a week settling into my new house and then went on my honeymoon for another week. And our house doesn't currently have internet, which meant I couldn't do this post until now (I'm sitting in my husband's office catching up on all sorts of things related to the internet).  But as crazy as things have been, I have gotten to read a ton. I read two books on my honeymoon. And one of them (Jane Eyre to be exact) was a bit of a chunker. So real quick here are the stats for May/June (I will do another one in a few weeks when June ends, along with a post about my thoughts on reading Jane Eyre coming in a few days if not later today... hopefully):
 
The 4 books I read in the months of May/June (not including Vanity Fair which I finished the first week of May):
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D James - 264
Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux- 280
Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis - 104
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - 558

The number of pages I read in the months of May/June: 
1,206

The number of pages read year-to-date (middle of December 2011 - second week of June 2012): 
7,655

Number of Classics Club books read so far:  
3 of 70

Next on the list: 

The Brotherhood by Jerry B. Jenkins









The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (For the "Putting the Blog in Balrog" reading event... see link on the left)