Tag Archives: Classics

ex02 — Annotated TBR, Baby Bookshelves Edition

The Annotated TBR #01

Here’s the first installment—because I expect there to be many—of The Annotated TBR. That is: Here’s a selection of some of the books in my to-be-read list; here are the books that, when I first held them at the bookstore, I felt that I should read at the very soonest, read right that minute, possessed and squirreled away. Basically: Here are the books I’ve ignored for the longest time. Maybe it’s a way to make amends? Maybe it’s a way to push myself? Maybe it’s a way to revisit that initial need and that urgency. We’ll see. [Continue reading.]

LAWRENCE - Lady Chatterley's Lover

On constancy

Of course I would love Lady Chatterley’s Lover, of course, of course, of course. I will always be partial to restless women—restless for one reason or another—and Lady Constance Chatterley belongs now to that specific pantheon in my head, with the likes of Emma Bovary, of April Wheeler. Women who desire, women who want something and want for something—these are the people my bibliophilic heart beats heaviest for. (And, hah, not to mention their illicit loves and the series of delightfully cathartic poor judgment calls and the convoluted ways they try to make themselves happy.) [Continue reading.]

DOYLE — The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

“He must go the way of all flesh, material or imaginary.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, in his preface to The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes: “I fear that Mr. Sherlock Holmes may become like one of those popular tenors who, having outlived their time, are still tempted to make repeated farewell bows to their indulgent audiences. This must cease and he must go the way of all flesh, material or imaginary.” The insistence: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson would go, as would their stories, and would remain gone. And now: I have read all of the canon. That is: There are no more Sherlock Holmes stories for me to read, for the first time. [Continue reading.]

PROUST — Days of Reading

“Merely the noblest of distractions.”

“For myself,” Marcel Proust writes, “I only feel myself live and think in a room where everything is the creation and the language of lives profoundly different from my own, of a taste the opposite of mine, where I can rediscover nothing of my conscious thought, where my imagination is exhilarated by feeling itself plunged into the heart of the non-self.” I feel immensely giddy that I am allowed a more literal interpretation: I am in the mad throes of love with my room. The good books are better, and the blows are softened when I’m with the books that don’t like me so much. I’m savoring every moment I have in this room, and I’m looking forward to the days and nights-into-days of reading that it will host. Sure: The detritus will find a way to rise, inch across my desk and on the floor; the books will ever so surely contrive a disarray; Real Life will intrude and I’ll be too weary to even try to stop it. But—and, yes, almost a chant of mine now—I will keep reading, I will immerse myself in what Proust rather earnestly dubs as “merely the noblest of distractions”—for as long as the floors gleam, for as long as I have a clear view of every book in the room, for as long as that red chair will hold me. And even after, of course—of course. [Continue reading.]

BRONTE - Jane Eyre 03

“More vivid kinds of goodness.”

When I closed the book, it was as if I’d been cut adrift. Having been submerged so intensely in Charlotte Brontë—to have cared, again, and always so immensely, for Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester—to have realized something about myself and about the small, still Janet—and then having to return to the real world. Returning to the real world and my mind realigning to look upon landscapes as stormy moors, to look upon clusterfucks as madwomen in my attic. To spy Blanche Ingrams and Mrs. Reeds and St. Johns and scolding my brain whenever it strays towards what Rochesters this world has to offer. And to look upon that book now closed and replaced on the bedside table, waiting for the next time I’ll read it again as though it were the first time, as though it was just another marker in this long-and-longest bibliophiliac constancy. [Continue reading.]

IMG-20130929-02375

Clean slate

Apologies in advance for whatever craziness you may find in the post that follows. I’m feeling a little strange—I’m running on a cocktail of painkillers and antibiotics and the threat of ache and sleeplessness and worry. (Nothing strange about all that, though, except for the antibiotics.) (I need to go visit my grandfather in the hospital [he was rushed there this morning, pneumonia, goodness, our hearts can’t take this anymore], and I need to let the haze pass, and so now I’m sitting in a café with too much sunlight and too much people, and I’m hoping the relevant parts of my brain align at the soonest.) [Continue reading.]

IMG-20130923-02355

Approximating normal

I’ve been—knock on wood—sailing calmer waters lately. Sure, my ever-lengthening list of gripes remains handy, but the clusterfucks are at a manageable, if not tolerable, level. I’m only able to articulate this now, actually—at the close of a day that’s oddly restful despite the terrible weather and the work that comes with it; at the close of a weekend that was fun and the happy kind of exhausting, give or take a few grumbles from my frail, mortal body. I’m in a good mood, if only because I’m not in a foul mood. Yeah, that’s cheery. Here’s another: The reading’s picking up, if only because the reading actually exists. [Continue reading.]

BRONTE - Jane Eyre 01

“Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine.”

My love for Jane Eyre seems to me one of my constants. It’s up there with Madame Bovary being my spirit animal, with Barthes’ “extreme solitude” ringing true time and again, with the implacability of Hogwarts. I first read Jane Eyre when I was about nine—having stolen my mother’s Bantam paperback edition from her dresser—and promptly avowed that spunky Jane was my best friend; was as furious and indignant with the slights and injustices at the Reeds, at Lowood, at Thornfield Hall, and wherever goddamned moor she stayed in much later; and fell violently in love with the odd Edward Rochester. I’d return to the book over the years, never something set; Jane Eyre would accompany me from one house to another, editions growing in number, the marginalia growing more and more confident (even in sometimes-quiet). [Continue reading.]

classics

Back to the classics

Back in 2011—because despite some of my favorite books having been written by now-dead people—I realized I needed to read more of the classics, to have them become a more integral part of my reading life. And although the rigid 2011 plan kind of tapered off, there are more classics on my shelves; and it’s become easier for me to approach these books as, well, books, and not homework. (Not that most of those books of my shelves have been read.) Enter The Classics Club, which has been going around the internet being its awesome self. It took a while for me to jump in—that Iris joined recently was a pretty major nudge—but I figured I’ve been needing a stronger nudge to get cracking on those classics shelves. Anyway. Here’s is a list of fifty books, and I’ll be reading them up until 2016. Yikes. Challenge accepted, Internet. [Continue reading.]

PLATH _ The Bell Jar

I Was Esther Greenwood

Books are deceptively tidily-packaged keystones of great power—and, if you’re lucky (as I consider myself to be), years of reading will arm you with presentiments about what a protracted brush against that power might do [to] you. And I had that hunch with The Bell Jar. I’ve known everything there was to know about the novel before I read it, and every little thing was bad news for someone like me. Call it readerly superstition, call it a far-too-strong awareness of my own psychological climate: I stayed away from Plath’s novel because it was about me.

And once I closed the book, I went back to the little gauge in my soul. There was the usual hum that runs through you after a good and/or timely book. But beyond that: I felt strange—both superior and self-pitying; I looked at all the teenagers that swarmed that coffee shop, all those souls that would never ever need to be scared of a book like The Bell Jar—all for naught or otherwise. [Continue reading.]