Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Conquered Chaucer!

"Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is undeniably one of the English
 language's greatest literary achievements."
 ~ Robert W. Hanning ~
My copy!

I did it! I actually read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales! I read them completely! In both Middle and Modern English! And wow was it interesting, challenging and rewarding. 

I had started reading Chaucer back in the early summer, but got bogged down with it and so walked away from it until last week. I picked it up again and breezed through it (not sure what changed... maybe the onset of fall, perhaps?). I read each tale in the Middle English first and then went back and re-read it in Modern English. It was really interesting because I struggled quite a bit with deciphering some of the Middle English spellings. But at the same time, it was rewarding because I was better able to understand the cadence and the rhyme. The Modern English was just as interesting. Especially since sometimes it had to completely change a sentence in order to make sense with the rest of the translation. Again, both translations were challenging, but rewarding. 

I have to admit part of the reason I walked away from it earlier in the year and why it was still such a challenge this last week was that I am not a poetry fan. I have such a hard time reading any poetry because it seems so choppy and to have no fluidity. Granted, that's why a lot of people love poetry. But not this girl. It drove me crazy that I had to oftentimes re-read a section of Chaucer after looking at the punctuation so I could actually know how to read it and how to make it sound right in my head. While parts of it were beautiful and parts of it were fluid, the majority of it was hard and choppy. Too much for my taste. 

My favorite tale was "The Man of Law's Tale" and his story of Constance. It was beautiful! And also the one easiest for me to focus on. I don't know what it was about her, but I was drawn to her story. A story of arranged marriage, betrayal, murder, travel, redemption, renewal and reunions. Constance was a woman of strength who endured a great deal of hardship and she did so with grace and faith. She overcame so many different trials and yet she did it with character. Chaucer did wonders through the "Man of Law" in telling Constance's story. It was my favorite for sure!

While I am not sure I will ever re-read all of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, I am sure I will re-read parts of them. And I will hold on to the story of Constance for a long time. 

Happy reading!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A couple of new favorite series!

I freely admit that I can be a bit of a nerd sometimes. I love to read and I love to read some of the series that most people think are just for geeks or book-snobs. I love Tolkien and Lewis more than words can describe. Not to mention I have a deep, deep love for Harry Potter and his adventures. I have also grown to love a series by author/musician Andrew Peterson called The Wingfeather Saga. I have anxiously been waiting more than a year for book 4 of Wingfeather to come out. He is still writing it and I can't wait for it to be finished!!! And over the last two weeks I have added 2 more series to my lists of favorites and they would be Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus, both of which are by Rick Riordan.

I started reading them after having seen the first Percy Jackson movie about a month ago and then having a conversation about the books with some of our students from church, who then loaned the books to me. I read the first Percy series in about 5 days and the looks on our students' faces when I gave them back were priceless. They were absolutely shocked that I had read 5 books in 5 days. I had told them it wouldn't take me long and I didn't lie! They then gave me the second series and I just "finished" it tonight. Well, when I say "finished" I mean I have finished reading the first 3 books and now have to join the rest of the Percy Jackson world as it waits for Mr. Riordan to finish writing/editing/publishing/releasing book 4, The House of Hades. It is supposedly coming out next month. We shall see and then I will have to work out a plan with our students for getting and sharing it among the 3 of us. 

I really loved all of the books. Some of them more than others. But between the two series the things I loved most were the characters, the conflicts, the settings and the details. So basically everything! I don't even really have the words to praise Mr. Riordan's writing. He wove together some amazing stories and he kept every character consistent the entire time. And I can't imagine that was an easy thing to do with such a detailed series. And not to mention that the amount of mythology, history and creativity he incorporated into his stories was beyond amazing. I can only imagine the amount of time it took to study and research the various aspects of Greek and Roman culture/mythology. He did an incredible job and I loved that they are stories that anyone of any age can enjoy.

Now, I am at a loss as to what to read next. I feel a bit deflated knowing that I have to wait for The House of Hades. I feel a bit anxious knowing that the 3rd book left me with a huge cliff-hanger. And because of that I am hesitant to start anything new. I don't want to lose the emotions and feelings that go along with reading an intense but wonderful series. I just don't want to move on yet. Make sense? So for now, I guess I may take a day or two to just sit back instead of jumping into a new book right away.

Happy reading!

Monday, September 2, 2013

August Wrap-Up

This month I participated in the Austen in August Event and it was great! I enjoyed reading some new books by Miss Jane Austen and getting to read and learn about other people's love for her novels. She is definitely a beloved author and I hope she remains so for years and years to come. Along with reading 3 Austen novels, I was introduced and a bit consumed by the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Some of our students from church really love the series and loaned them to me. I read all 5 of them in less than a week. When I gave them back to the students they were in shock. They hadn't believed me when I said I could read them in a week. It was a great series and one I am glad I was introduced to. I am not entirely sure what I am going to read this month. I may return to Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen or Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. But who knows. I am now feeling any particular desire for any particular book. So we shall see what the month brings to my reading habits. But for now, here are my stats for August! 

Books read this month: 
Joan of Arc by Mark Twain 
This Little Britain: How One Small Country Built the Modern World by Harry Bingham  
Mansfield Park  by Jane Austen  
When Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James 
Emma by Jane Austen
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (re-read)

Favorite book read this month: 
Joan of Arc by Mark Twain 
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan 

Least favorite book read this month: 
Emma by Jane Austen 
Emma drove me absolutely crazy!!! 

Number of pages read this month: 
4,106 pages

Number of pages read this year: 
21,468 pages

Number of books read this year: 
80 books

Number of Classics read so far: 
17 of 76

My favorite Austen novel is.....

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE! It was my third and final book chosen for the Austen in August event hosted by Roof Beam Reader. I finished it on the last day of August, which I was surprised by because I was sure that I wouldn't be able to finish it before the end of the month due to just too much going on in my week. But I did it! I finished it! And I am so glad that I participated in Austen in August this year. I will definitely do it again next year and read the other 3 major novels Miss Austen wrote and maybe even some of her shorter works. I can officially say that I really love Jane Austen's books and she is definitely one of my favorites now more than ever before. And my favorite novel so far is still Pride and Prejudice without a doubt. Having re-read it after reading Mansfield Park and Emma, the story of Elizabeth and Darcy is still my favorite and one that I just love dearly. I can't help it. I am a hopeless romantic at heart and Darcy is just one of those true gentleman that you can't help but love despite knowing he is a fictional character.

I love everything about Pride and Prejudice. The characters. The story. The scenery. Everything. I love being able to sit down and read it over and over again and still find things to love. Like how sweet and sensible Jane is. Or how quiet and forgotten Mary is. Or how dear Elizabeth is to her father. Or how protective Darcy is of those he loves. I love everything that makes up the story that so many have loved for years and years. To me it is one of those stories that I can go back to time and time again and find a place of comfort, a place of rest and a place that reminds one of home (even though my home wasn't dictated by society and marital expectations).

Jane Austen wrote such realistic characters and stories. It's not hard to read them and allow yourself to believe that somehow, somewhere the Bennett family lived and loved exactly the way she said they did. And when the last page leaves you with Darcy and Elizabeth living at Pemberley, you have to pinch yourself awake and remind yourself that you were reading a novel and that real-life is a little different and it's waiting for you to come back to it. But nonetheless, Miss Austen's characters stick with you and you find glimpses of them in the people you live life with. Everyone knows a Bingley or a Wickham or a Jane or a Mrs. Bennett or even a Mr. Collins. That's what Miss Austen did with her characters. She breathed life into them and  you can't help but notice them in different people and at different times.

I don't have much more to say about Pride and Prejudice or my love for Miss Jane Austen. I just hope that others will continue to love her in the years to come and that her stories and characters will not soon be forgotten.