Saturday, 28 December 2013

European Reading Challenge 2013 Wrap-Up

It's time for a wrap-up. I've been enjoying this challenge, and it opens my mind on how little I know about Europe and how invariable my choices are when it comes to books. When it comes to reading, I realise that I partially tend to choose English books before anything and place French on the second spot. I don't really favour Russian books, and I have no German ones at all. I had Greek play just because I had to read it for another challenge and I list Othello for Italy - an English play with so little reliable reference to the place anyway. 

So here's the list of books I managed to read. I didn't get the five stars I longed for, but at least I was almost there.

LeBlanc - Eight Strokes of the Clock (France)
Euripides - The Trojan Women (Greece)
Shakespeare - Othello (Italy)
Tey, Josephine - Daughter of Time (England)

Hope my choices next year won't be so predictable.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Top 5 Quotes of the Year

Again, Fanda's Kaleidoscope. Quotes are my favourite. In fact, I tried to write down a quote every single week (which failed). Choosing just 5 favourite quotes from massive piles of pages is not an easy task. I have forgotten many of the quotes I found beautiful. So, in order to get those quotes, I consult my weekly meme "Weekend Quote" and my little phone where I read my books.

Here they are:

Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis

Who else has the right to talk about love more than our beloved Will, who speaks of so many kinds of affection? The pain of despair and hope in love, and generally in life, is summed up in these 3 lines.

“Despair and hope make thee ridiculous
The one doth flatter thee in thoughts unlikely,
In likely thoughts the other kills thee quickly”

Defoe's Robinson Crusoe

“All our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.”

Being cast out alone in the middle of nowhere, Robinson Crusoe found that life does not depend on riches, luxury, or comfort. In his island, he found a lot of things to be thankful of, and he realised that when we are thankful for what we have, we will be content, and that makes us happier, despite our circumstances.

Spenser's Faerie Qveene

“And later times things more vnknowne shall show.
Why then should witlesse man so much misweene
That nothing is, but that which he hath seene?
What if within the Moones faire shining spheare?
What if in euery other starre vnseene
Of other worldes he happily should heare?”

Grand things, again. Reading this, I remember that I started to sigh and imagine a vast unknown universe. I started to imagine what the world would be in years to come, what wonders, what miracles could happen. We know so little things that we need forever to discover the world we live in - and even that wouldn't be enough.

Thoreau's Walden

This is the quote I've always wanted to put on my Weekend Quote but always forgot to since I began to read the book a month ago (yes, and I haven't finished it).

"For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of men?"

Really, as I classic lover, I can't help but nodding to that remark. It doesn't mean that non-classics are rubbish. It's just that when a book is classic, it passes the test of time, so it can't be rubbish - at least probably not.

Tolkien's The Hobbit

"This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down."

If there's anything that the poets talk more of than Love and Death, it is Time. I wrote in my diary once that poets seem to hate time so much because time is the symbol of decay, of change, of uncertainty. Ah, goodness, now it reminds me of one of my poems.

So let's end it all. Those above are five quotes I choose for this year. I think those are big. What did I read during the year? I promise I will put down some lighter ones next year. I hope I will manage to find them.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Top 5 Book Boyfriends 2013

Hosted by Fanda, this is one event that I've been waiting for. It has been a year since I last participated, but a year seems so short a time compared to the list of books I want to read. Let's begin.

Don Pedro from Much Ado About Nothing

Adam James as Don Pedro
Sorry, Benedick, you didn't win. I love Benedick, I really do. But there's some cute element in the Prince's personality that I really love: he doesn't feel like a prince at all. I mean, look at the way Ben talks to him. He's full of authority, and yet everybody feels comfortable to speak their minds in his presence. Also his witty comments and his great heart add to his much adored personality. He is loyal to his subordinates. He kindly forgives his brother. Whilst it is a sad thing to 'look into happiness through another man's eyes,' he tries to be happy for his friends although he himself is not a part of that happiness. One special thing, he's still a bachelor. ;)

Arsene Lupin from... well, his series

Apart from the obvious fact that I hate the author for his constant effort to beat Sherlock Holmes, I love Lupin. This gentleman thief has been the model of all name-that-robbery-story. Besides, I can't miss a sweet romantic bad boy, can I? They are just too amazing.

Tom Hagen from The Godfather

Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen
I'm usually attracted to the name Michael. No, not this time. As much as I love Michael in the book, I love Tom Hagen better still. Why? I believe that the old Godfather loved him better than his own sons. Tom Hagen was loyal, trustworthy, and calm. Being the advisor and the right hand of the Don, he held a great deal of power. But he stayed low, and helped the family lovingly, as if they were indeed his family. Even when Michael hid things from him (which I believe with good intention – Michael want Hagen to be part of his 'clean' family, while arranging things to shut down the darker part of it) he stuck with him. He had a great role in reuniting Michael's family by convincing his wife that Michael loved her and his children better than anything in the world. There.

Bard from The Hobbit

Never thought he would be this messy, Luke Evans as Bard
Goodness! Bard! I almost missed that name! I am not going to write down any spoiler here, at least I try not to, but Bard is just amazing. Imagine Legolas, then clone him. Adds a little bit more majesty in it, and there you are, you have Bard. Unlike Thorin with all his grumpiness and selfishness, Bard wants the best for everyone – for Men, Elves, and Dwarves. That's why I love him so much. Just like Aragorn, he stays low and humble after the downfall of his people, but his august and kingly heart is still inside him. His 'crown is in his heart, not on his head' after all.

Robinson Crusoe from Robinson Crusoe

I just can't miss him. The journey through Robinson Crusoe is a journey to our inner self. What I love about him is his resignation to his condition, which is not a passive submission to fate or paralysing despair, but his acceptance of his new life and his effort to make the best of it. Robinson Crusoe teaches us all about what is really important to sustain our lives. Although I cannot say that I love the man or I'd take him as my boyfriend, he is worthy to be on the list.

Done. Those are five book boyfriends of mine this year. If my choice were not limited, Captain Blood would be on the list as well, along with Clarence from Shakespeare's Richard III. But I'm happy with those five, and I can't wait to read about many other men (*clears throat*) next year.  

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Let's Wrap It Up: Narrative Poem Reading Challenge 2013

First of all, I want to say sorry to all participants of this long quiet challenge. As you can see from the number of posts I could manage to write lately, I've been occupied with my new job(s). It's crazy. Before I realised what happened, it's December already and I haven't made any wrap-up post for this challenge.

It has been a great challenge for me, greater than what I have thought before. I thought Narrative poems would be like any other book and I would be able to read them easily but I was wrong. From the number of participants and the poems they managed to read, I have a feeling that you guys feel the same too.

"How was the challenge feel like? Did you enjoy it? Is it too much for you? What's so amazing/boring with narrative poems?" I hope you will gladly share your opinions in your wrap-up post.

I managed to read and to finish Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, which is brilliant and sweet. I managed to finished the first book of Spenser's Faerie Qveene, and I almost finished Shakespeare's Lucrece. Going through pages and pages of Spenser was (I must admit) tedious. The language is beautiful, but I had to force myself through each stanza, partly because the spelling had not been modernized. I don't give up. I'm going to give it another go next year. Shakespeare is better. (I know this is a biased view.) Lucrece is beautiful. I'm going to finish it next year, I hope, and I will write about how it so subtly talks about what happened between Lucrece and the rapist (wait, I don't remember his name).

I generally love narrative poems. It's just Spenser's I find hard to deal with. I still have Eugene Onegin in my list and several other I haven't put in it. I don't think I'm going to host another NPRC next year. Maybe the year after, I still don't know, but I will certainly host something for tribute to Poe maybe in October. Let's see.

How was the challenge for you?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Arthurian Literature Reading Challenge 2014

“I know I love you before I met you.” That's my relationship with King Arthur. Honestly, I have never read anything officially Arthurian. Last year I drag myself through Spenser's The Faerie Queene, and enjoyed the first Book, while the second book felt endless. But hey, I was going to give it another try.

And then I read that Howling Frog Books is hosting an Arthurian Reading Challenge. That's when I thought, “I'm going to love it!” And here I am, thinking about what books I'm going to read for the challenge.

I don't want to be over-ambitious with my picks, so just a few, not more (and I wish these were much thinner too).
  • Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory
  • Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
  • Maybe Idylls of the King by Tennyson
That's it. Hope I'll be able to finish these. Is it to high to aim for the Knight level? Let's see.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Let's Read Plays - Wrap-Up

I don't know if I still need to write a wrap-up considering that I have this post already. I want to do it anyway. Haha.

I have enjoyed the event immensely - it was good, and full of excitement. Sadly, though, I couldn't manage to fully participate in it, since my schedule became so madly chaotic by the end of the year. Anyway, here's what I did (unless mentioned, plays are by Will Shakespeare):
I also want to express my apalogy for not being able to finish the monthly meme for this challenge. Nor did I monthly participate in Character Thursday.

But trust me, if anyone holds similar event in the future, I'm in.