Bookstore Adventures … and a GWTW Giveaway!

Yesterday, Alexa and I visited Borders … probably for the last time. Literary fiction and children’s books were all 20% off and I was still able to use my Rewards Plus 10% discount. The coupons and member discounts that Borders offered over the recent years allowed me to add so many books to my shelves that I otherwise might not have been able to afford, but I can’t help but feel sad that those savings were probably a large factor in the store’s ultimate demise. I will miss Borders for sure! 😦   The Loot:

I like to give books as part of any baby shower gift, so I picked up these two Curious George selections for my cousin. The one is a lift-the-flap book (I used to have a Paddington Bear lift-the-flap that I adored as a child) and the other is Curious George Visits the Library which I thought was fitting since I am such a book nut.

 

I was excited to grab the last copy of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood, by Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley, that was in the store. I also picked up Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations …

 

 

… and Middlemarch by George Eliot, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and an upgraded copy of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell … which brings me to my GWTW giveaway.

 

 

Erin at the Heroine’s Bookshelf is hosting the Great Gone With the Wind Read-Along this month (click on the button in my right column for a link to her site and more information) and since I have upgraded my copy of GWTW, I am giving away my gently used (read once) mass market paper back edition of the novel to one interested reader. All you need to do is comment on this post with your name, e-mail address (so I can contact the winner for an address), and tell me your favorite GWTW character. The giveaway will close next Wednesday, August 10th when the winner will be selected at random.

Hope you all are having an awesome August!

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (Vol 2)

A lot happens in Volume 2 of War and Peace, which spans about six years (from 1806-1812). *SPOILER ALERT* Count Pierre Bezukhov survives a duel with Dolokhov (who was rumored to be having an affair with Pierre’s wife), consequently becomes estranged from Helene, joins the Masons, eventually decides to live with Helene again (who by this time has gained quite a standing in Petersburg society), and basically continues to bumble through life until finally appearing to fall in love with Natasha Rostov. Prince Andrei Bolkonsky suffers an injury while serving in the military, returns from the dead, loses his wife during the birth of their son (thank God there will be no more references from Tolstoy to her “little moustache”!), and eventually also falls in love with and proposes to Natasha Rostov. His father does not approve of this engagement. His sister, Princess Marya, refuses the proposal of Prince Anatole Kuragin, as she apparently realizes that he is only interested in her money and is actually keen on her companion Mlle. Bourienne. Count Nikolai Rostov finds a home in military service. However, he is called home to deal with the family’s increasingly dire financial state. He is horribly inept at this task, so his mother tries to convince him to take a rich bride to help the situation, but he insists that he will only marry Sonya. Andrei runs off abroad and Natasha spends almost a year waiting for the return of her beloved. Unfortunately, she meets Anatole Kuragin in Moscow and suddenly falls madly in love with him. She hastily refuses Prince Andrei and agrees to elope with Kuragin, who is actually already married. The elopement is thwarted and Natasha tries to commit suicide. And, of course, the French and Russians reached a truce that now seems to be on rocky grounds. Drama, Drama, Drama…I love it!

I continue to be struck by the absurdity of the courtships and relationships in this novel. All these individuals keep speaking of love, yet I do not find love in any of these associations. Attraction, sure…lust, sometimes, but how can they really love someone they barely even know? It all seems so childish to me in many ways, but I suppose that is a reflection of living in our current times where ideas about relationships and marriage have changed. Although my opinions may change as I read on, I find that Natasha is the only character that I am really fond of. In my mind, there lingers this faint resemblance between her and Scarlett from Gone with the Wind. I also kind of like Dolokhov, but everyone else sort of bores me at this point. Marya’s piousness and insistence on playing the role of martyr really annoys me. I expected so much more from Nikolai’s character and remain disappointed in that regard so far. The man pays absolutely no attention to Sonya when he is around, but still plans to marry her?? And Pierre, for all his attempts at finding himself, still remains lost and a bumbling fool. Andrei reminds me too much of Pierre in some ways, although he plays the role with much more class. Everyone just seems so needlessly restless and lost all the time. Is this a reflection of the times, the social class, their youth, or what? Despite these feelings, I still find myself wanting to know how the story ends for all of these characters…

Revisiting the Reading List…

Other “classics” projects that I have discovered, via the world of blogging, all seem to have set a finite number for their project. For example, some plan to read a set list of 100 or even 250 books. I purposely did not set my project reading list at a specific number. Instead, I chose for the project to remain fluid thereby allowing the project room to develop and transform as time went on. Since it is the New Year, I decided it was time to take a look at the list and make some updates.
In one of my initial posts, I indicated that certain books had not been added to the list because I had read them rather recently for various college courses: Robinson Crusoe…Daniel Defoe, The Scarlett Letter…Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emma…Jane Austen, The Red Badge of Courage…Stephen Crane, Uncle Tom’s Cabin…Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Awakening…Kate Chopin, East of Eden…John Steinbeck, and A Prayer for Owen Meany…John Irving. After further consideration, I have decided that A Wrinkle in Time…L’Engle, Gone with the Wind…Margaret Mitchell, and Revolutionary Road…Richard Yates should also have been omitted from my list. I did not read these three for any college class, but had read them before the project started in October of 2010. I had planned to post my thoughts on the three before the end of 2010, but it turns out that they would have really required a re-read for me to do them any proper justice. I will say this: both A Wrinkle in Time and Gone with the Wind are new personal favorites of mine with Revolutionary Road truly not trailing far behind. If you have the chance, read them all!
Now the question becomes…what would I like to add to my list? First, I have to say that I have become rather interested in the authors behind all of these “classic” selections. So, as a compliment to my reading I may continue to add a few selections regarding the actual authors to my list. For now, I have chosen: Sylvia Plath Method and Madness…Edward Butscher, Rough Magic: A Biography of Sylvia Plath…Paul Alexander and Edgar Allan Poe – His Life and Legacy…Jeffrey Meyers.
By Sylvia Plath, I am also adding The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath and Collected Poems. I intend to spend a month or more of 2011 focused on Ms. Plath. I am also adding the following: Othello…Shakespeare, The Painted Veil…W. Somerset Maugham, Mrs. Dalloway…Virginia Woolf, and 18 Best Stories by Edgar Allan Poe. If my math is correct, this brings my new list to 52 selections. I will be updating the actual Reading List accordingly sometime this evening.

Checkin In…Happy Thanksgiving!

1. After reading a recent post over at Jillian’s blog, A Room of One’s Own , I have been wondering if I, too, should have made the intent of my blog more clear. So: My blog is a journal that follows my reading project. I am not an official book review blog.

2. I am finished with Part One of Little Women and will be starting Part Two! So far, reading this as an adult has been a much different experience than I remember it being as a child. Did anyone else feel this way?

3. Playin along with Jillian… a “book quiz”: (Play along with us!)

1) What author do you own the most books by? Jane Austen…

2) What book do you own the most copies of? I only own 1 copy of each book…

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions? No, although I suppose it should since I was in college to be an English teacher…

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with? Rhett Butler…Scarlett was such a damn fool!

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)? Probably The Bridges of Madison County by Robert Waller or The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks…

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old? Little Women and the Little House series…

7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year? Drood by Dan Simmons…this is a fictional tale about Charles Dicken’s obsession with Edwin Drood as told by the author Wilkie Collins, but it is just super dark and bizarre…not at all what I expected…

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be? A New Earth By Eckhart Tolle…

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature? ????

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie? I don’t know…the book is almost always better than the movie anyway…

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie? Drood! Ugg…I cringe at the thought!

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character. I don’t believe I have ever had a dream of this sort…

14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult? Although I don’t consider it to actually be lowbrow…some do…so I will say The Twilight Series…I loved it!

15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read? Faulkner or Joyce…

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen? I have never seen Shakespeare on the stage!

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians? For literature? The Russians!!!

18) Roth or Updike? I have never read either…

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers? David Sedaris…

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer? Shakespeare…

21) Austen or Eliot? Austen…

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading? I have not read much history or science fiction or poetry…

23) What is your favorite novel? ????

24) Play? A Long Days Journey into Night…

25) Poem? I am fascinated by Sylvia Plath…

26) Essay? ???

27) Short story? Anything of Poe’s!!

28) Work of nonfiction? I love nonfiction…so it is hard to chose one…but I love biography/memoir…

29) Who is your favorite writer? I really don’t have just one…yet…

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today? J.K. Rowling…sorry Harry Potter fans…

31) What is your desert island book? Maybe Gone With the Wind…

32) And … what are you reading right now? I just finished a collection of letters written between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto…As Always Julia…Julia Child has such a unique and delightful voice!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! I can’t wait to have turkey dinner at my Mom’s tomorrow!