Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Room with a View: Beginning

The next book I'm reading is A Room with a View by E. M. Forster.  This book was published in 1908 in England. 
The book is about a young woman, Lucy Honeychurch, and her struggle between convention and passion in the repressive society of Edwardian England.  The story is split in two parts, the first part taking place during a summer holiday in Italy, and the second at Lucy's home in England.  The themes of the book include love, resistance against religion and coming of age.
A Room with a View has been adapted many times both for stage and film.  Of some interest to me, is the references to this book in the episode of TV show: The Office.  In one episode the characters create a "Finer Things Club" where they discuss cultured things such as art, music and literature and at one point they are reading this book.
This piece has long been considered a classic by many, and in 1998, the Modern Library included it on their list of 100 Best English-Language Novels of the 20th Century. 
My Kindle copy is 215 pages long and can be found here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Barchester Towers: 100% Complete

I powered through the last little bit of Barchester Towers over the long weekend, so it's finally complete.  I want to be clear here that this lull in my reading motivation had very little to do with the book I was reading at the time.  All in all, I rather enjoyed this book: it was witty, humorous and rather different from other period novels.  I would give it three stars out of five.  As an aspiring novelist myself, I especially enjoyed Trollope's observations on the art of writing novels.  One of the aspects of it that I didn't enjoy so much was that it seemed like it was a bit too long; like it could have been better if he had shortened it somewhat.  It was one of those stories that just portrays a section of life for a town, rather than one with a definite story arc: beginning, middle and end.  I'm probably revealing my modern sensibilities here, but I prefer the latter type of story.  But those are my only complaints.  It's not my favorite of the books I've read so far, but it was pretty decent.
I have one last funny quote to share with you all.  This one is another little aside which Trollope inserts into his story. He writes:
"Morning parties, as a rule, are failures.  People never know how to get away from them gracefully.  A picnic on an island or a mountain or in a wood may perhaps be permitted.  There is no master of the mountain bound by courtesy to bid you stay while in his heart he is longing for your departure.  But in a private house or in private grounds a morning party is a bore.  One is called on to eat and drink at unnatural hours.  One is obliged to give up the day, which is useful, and then left without resource for the evening, which is useless."
So that's it for Barchester Towers.  Next up: A Room with a View by E. M. Forster.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Barchester Towers: 82% Complete

I actually have done quite a bit of reading so far this weekend; I feel like I'm finally getting back on track.  So that's good.
The vocabulary word of the day is "toxophilite" which means "a student or lover of archery" (definition from The New Oxford American Dictionary).
I have two quote for you today, to make up for the lack of one in my last post, both of which I found humorous.  First:
"Men of fifty don't dance mazurkas, being generally too fat and wheezy; nor do they sit for the hour together on river-banks at their mistresses' feet, being somewhat afraid of rheumatism.  But for real true love--love at first sight, love to devotion, love that robs a man of his sleep, love that 'will gaze an eagle blind,' love that 'will hear the lowest sound when the suspicious tread of theft is stopped,' love that is 'like a Hercules, still climbing trees in the Hesperides'--we believe the best age is from forty-five to seventy; up to that, men are generally given to mere flirting."
As someone with a weakness for older men, I can appreciate this.  The quoted passages are all from Act IV, Scene III of Shakespeare's Love's Labours Lost. 
And secondly:
"He had lived too long abroad to fall into the Englishman's habit of offering each an arm to two ladies at the same time--a habit, by the by, which foreigners regard as an approach to bigamy, or a sort of incipient Mormonism."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Barchester Towers: 70% Complete

So first of all, I want to offer up my most humble apologies for the lack of updates lately.  The truth is, I've hit a slump.  I'm just completely unmotivated to read, and although I have picked up my Kindle a couple of times over the past week, it has been rare. The lack of interest stems partially from the fact that I'm getting a bit bogged down in Barchester Towers, and the fact that I'm getting ready to apply to nursing school in two weeks but mostly I just haven't been in the mood for reading a lot. Any of you who know me in real life know that my interest and fascination tends to flit eagerly from subject to subject and right now it's not on reading. 
Now rest assured I am absolutely NOT giving up on the project.  I knew when I started this that there would be times like these where I just didn't want to read any more and now, three and a half months into the project, here I am.  But I'll keep trying to plug forward and let the interest come when it will (and it will, I'm sure of that). 
You all, my faithful readers, have been so kind with your comments and encouragement and I thank you for that.  I've felt guilty enough about not reading and not blogging that I've been avoiding Blogger and Twitter all together the last several days, but I decided enough was enough and you all deserve an update even if there isn't much to report
The good news is that I did so much reading early on in the project that I think I'm still ahead of schedule (I haven't actually calculated it, but I shouldn't be much behind if any).  So even though things are a bit slow at the moment, do not be alarmed, I shall be back to my usual bibliophile self after a bit!
Because of the lack of reading, I don't have a quote for you all right now, but I will share a word I found that I thought was funny.  The word is "bugbear" and in the context that Trollope used it, the definition is "an imaginary being invoked to frighten children, typically a sort of hobgoblin supposed to devour them."  The other, apparently more common, definition is, "a cause of obsessive fear, irritation, or loathing" (definitions from the New Oxford American Dictionary).

Monday, January 7, 2013

Barchester Towers: 68% Complete

I'm still plugging along on Barchester Towers. The truth is, I'm getting a little tired of reading this book; it feels like it's taking forever! I'm getting anxious to be done with it so I can move on to something new.  The book is still good; I'm just getting bored of reading it.
The vocabulary word for today is "bairn" which is a Scottish word (Trollope uses it when he's quote Robert Burns at one point) meaning a child.  I love the way Scottish words sound and this one sort of rolls off my tongue.
I have a couple of light-hearted quotes for you today.  One thing I like about this book is how often Trollope inserts funny little things into serious situations.  First of all, our dear Mr. Arabin is pining for the love of the young widow Mrs. Bold:
"Then he made up his mind not to think of her any more, and went on thinking of her till he was almost in a state to drown himself in the little brook which ran at the bottom of the archdeacon's grounds."
And here in the second quote, old Miss Thorne is throwing a party, about which she is very concerned with every detail, and she is going over last minute preparations with one of her servants: Mr. Plomacy.
"'But,' said she in a dolorous voice, all but overcome by her cares, 'it was specially signified that there were to be sports.' 'And so there will be, of course,' said Mr. Plomacy. 'They'll all be sporting with the young ladies in the laurel walks.  Them's the sports they care most about now-a-days."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Barchester Towers: 64% Complete

I started school today for winter quarter, so I'm hoping that getting back into a routine will help me get back on track with my reading.  Hopefully I'll be better about updating you all regularly as well.
Today's vocabulary word is one which I always thought was a made up word.  The word is "especial" and can be used relatively interchangeably with "special."  For some reason, I never realized that this was a real word!
I just have two very short quotes for you today, nothing too exciting.  One thing I especially enjoy about Trollope is the little insights into human nature that he inserts into the story.  Both of these quotes demonstrate that.  First,
"We English gentlemen hate the name of a lie, but how often do we find public men who believe each others words?"
And second,
"Is it not a pity that people who are bright and clever should so often be exceedingly improper, and those who are never improper should so often be dull and heavy?"