Plot summary – Isabella Harton and her husband run a school for the Talented children whose parents live abroad, providing magical training but also a warm home and genuine love. When Sarah and Nan are welcomed into the school, they bring with them terrible danger – Sarah is a young necromancer, whose gifts make her a target for all those who would abuse her power.
This is a Thursday meme hosted by Jodie at Books For Company to shine a light on those books we’ve had on our TBR piles so long that they’re practically part of the furniture.
To join in, just post about a book you’ve been really meaning to read and then hop on over here and link up. I love looking at everyone else’s TBR piles, so you can see a full list of the other participants over there too.
Right then. This week I’m choosing Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H.Lawrence.
From Amazon – ‘Perhaps the most famous of Lawrence’s novels, the 1928 Lady Chatterley’s Lover is no longer distinguished for the once-shockingly explicit treatment of its subject matter–the adulterous affair between a sexually unfulfilled upper-class married woman and the game keeper who works for the estate owned by her wheelchaired husband. Now that we’re used to reading about sex, and seeing it in the movies, it’s apparent that the novel is memorable for better reasons: namely, that Lawrence was a masterful and lyrical writer, whose story takes us bodily into the world of its characters.’
I know it’s a strange book to be looking forward to reading, but I do like reading the classics and the story behind this one sounds a bit different.
Incidentally, I hate that cover. Is that really necessary?
I’m not sure why I haven’t read it yet really. Other books just got in the way I guess. Thinking about it, I might bump it up.
Yes yes, I know. It goes against all my natural principles too. I have never in my entire life pretended to read a book that I hadn’t, and I’m not likely to start now. After a brief flick through of the book in the library though, I saw that it’s not actually about that, or not really. Instead, it’s a nice, brief summing up of a few major (and minor) classics.
A year or so ago, I read How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard and I’ve never read a book I’ve wanted to forcibly feed to the author quite as much. The premise of that particular little gem (and I’m breaking out in hives even typing that sarcastically) is that reading is pointless and the people who don’t read are actually far more intelligent than those that do. I’m not exaggerating, it’s true.
|Jane Austen – terrifying, right?|
Thankfully though, the premise of Mr. Hitchings book is very different. He states that as such a vast number of books exist, it would be impossible to read every single one of them, and it’s very likely that one day someone you wish to impress will comment on one of those unread volumes. Personally, I still wouldn’t claim to have read it, but at least this book can give you a basic working knowledge of a good few.
It’s not really a book you want to just sit there and read as constantly reading summaries of other books does get repetitive after a while. As a book to just dip into now and again, it’s fairly entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Shakespeare and the Qu’ran, although I do admit to skimming through a large portion of the Poetry section. Those are just my particular preferences though.
The chapters about the books I’d already read interested me more than the ones I hadn’t, which I admit defeats the purpose of the book a little. Thinking about it, it makes sense though. If I haven’t read it already, it clearly doesn’t interest me – and if it doesn’t interest me, why would I want to read about it?
I also liked the little literary facts sneaked in between the summaries. I didn’t know that Charlotte Bronte disliked Jane Austen’s novels or that there was any connection between Kant and platypuses (platypi? Now there’s a question I never thought I’d have to ask).
For me, the most important point in this book’s favour was the humility of Mr. Hitchins. In many books about books, especially those regarding classics, the author’s words are underlined with a certain smugness and arrogance that implies they haven’t read a book that wasn’t first published in Latin since they were three and would rather lick a dead seal than read Agatha Christie. I respect Henry Hitchins all the more for admitting that he has read (and enjoyed) The Da Vinci Code and for quoting Terry Pratchett’s attitude to literature.
I’m glad I’ve read it, although equally glad I didn’t buy it. Having gotten through it once, I doubt I’ll ever feel the need to pick it up again. It’s mildly entertaining and has definitely increased me working knowledge of a few greats.
You may also enjoy:
Jane Austen is quite accessible, if you want to make a starton the classics, especially Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion.
Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is very short and one of my favourite books of all time.
Just make sure you never ever pick up the book of a similar name by Pierre Bayard.
Well, the end of the week has finally dragged its sorry self here. I’ve finished labouring in the GAME shop for two days, and I plan to attack my TBR pile with vigour. In the meantime, here’s what’s been going on at Booking in Heels…
- This week I finally got around to reading The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova, a huge novel which has been on my TBR for more than a year. I also continued my apparent mental illness streak by reviewing Veronika Decides To Die by Paulo Coelho and satisfied a friend who has been begging me to read Mortal Engines.
- I also went on a psychotic rampage in my local library, and brought home far more books than was reasonably necessary.
- On Saturday I took a quick look at three books on my ever-growing wishlist and then naturally lamented my lack of available funds for book-buying.
I’m currently reading Who’s Afraid of Jane Austen? How to REALLY Talk About Books You Haven’t Read. I know, I know, it goes against all my ingrained principles too, but better the devil you know!
So, that was my Sunday Sum-Up – now on to the Hop!
So then, my single day experience… I’m contemplating saying the world from David Eddings’ fantasy series, The Belgariad. It’s a psuedo-medieval world, complete with magic, gods and different races. I’d love to go visit Drasnia especially – the home of the sneaky spies and thieves.
But actually I’m going to be a Cheater Cheater, Sneaky Reader and say I’d visit the BookWorld from Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series. Ms Next can jump into any book she likes, all of which are connected by a huge library and marketplace called the BookWorld. It would be amazing to meet characters from every book milling about the place in their free time and watch how books are put together.
You can take part in the Book Blogger Hop too, just click here.
I first read this back in 2007 (so LibraryThing tells me) and absolutely loved it. Or so I fuzzily seem to remember, as I could recall absolutely nothing about it when I yanked it out of the pile the other day. I reread it because I’ve had the sequel, Predator’s Gold, on my TBR pile for about two years and I wasn’t about to start that until I had a vague understanding of the first in the series. Well that, and my friend Lowri has been beating me over the head with the Philip Reeve Stick for a while now.
From Amazon – ‘Tom and Hester have been thrown together. Truly-thrown out of a city on wheels that’s left them stranded and starving in the middle of nowhere while it hares off after its prey. Hester is desperate for revenge, and Tom is only desperate to get back on board his beloved London.’
I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy it as much this time round. I’m not really sure why, but I didn’t get into it fully until roughly a third of the way through. I just couldn’t summon the interest in the plot until that point.
The ending, however, was just as amazing to me as it was the first time. Seriously. It’s easily one of my all-time favourite book endings. It’s unexpected, fast-paced and… well, brutal, especially for a YA book.
The characters annoyed me a little this time round, as I found Katherine and Tom to be irritatingly naive about Valentine’s motives. The pragmatist inside me says it’s because I’ve become more cynical in the four years of living in the real world between readings, but it’s a bearable irritation nevertheless. More of a slight niggle than full-blown hatred as they don’t act particularly childish in other matters.
The world itself is wonderful and a unique concept. The inner-workings of the Traction Cities (those that move around the Hunting Grounds on tracks) are nicely explained in technical but not over-whelming detail and feel almost believable. I’m looking forward to hearing more about it in Predator’s Gold.
Unfortunately, it did violate one of the BookWorld’s most sacred commandments – Thou Shalt Choose A Tense And Stick To It. Grr. In a few places the narrative stopped using the past tense and switched to present tense for no discernible reason. Good Lord that’s irritating.
Apparently it was Blue Peter’s Book of the Year in 2003 though, and if that isn’t enough of a commendation, I don’t know what is! 🙂
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
You may also enjoy:
Predator’s Gold by Philip Reeve
The sequel to Mortal Engines, still following the adventures of Tom and Hester as they battle against a terrorist organisation called Green Storm.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
A young girl seeks help to rid her of a terrible curse in a castle that wanders around on it’s own legs. It’s set in a completely different world to Mortal Engines, but it’ll quench your craving for more mobile dwellings, should you have such a thing.
Like most of you, I have a wishlist the length of the Nile or, at the very least, the River Severn. It’s long. Most of them will never see the light of day as they were added on a whim or a reading phase I’ve gotten bored of, or have been so trampled on by the newer additions that they languish on page eight, completely forgotten about.
However, Carolyn from Book Chick City has a solution to make all those neglected wishlistees feel loved again. Each week, she posts a few of those books that one day (one day, God damn it!) she will eventually buy.
I have as much guilt over not yet introducing those unloved tomes to my shelves as anyone, so here’s part #1 of my now-weekly Wishlist. These are three books that I might have eventually got round to owning by 2019. Maybe.
This book is supposed to examine the apparent pressure society puts on the little girls to wear pink, act like a princess and cover themselves in glitter. It’s not an issue that’s ever concerned me admittedly, but I do find the concept interesting.
I probably will be buying this soon as it’s a recent (relatively!) addition to the wishlist so I’m waving it at you while I have the chance.
Dearest Anne: A Tale of Impossible Love by Judith Katzir.
From Amazon – ‘After reading Anne Frank’s diary, young Rivi starts a series of writing notebooks that document the angst of growing up in rural Israel. The entries reveal how her crush on her literature teacher develops into a poignant and turbulent love affair that lasts for years before its scandalous end.’
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
I’ve been dying to read this for ages now, but I’m too poor to indulge in book-buying at the minute and there’s a massive waiting list for it at the library. I might have to bite the bullet anyway though – I’ve heard it’s amazing.
From Amazon – ‘Katniss Everdeen is a survivor. She has to be; she’s representing her District, number 12, in the 74th Hunger Games in the Capitol, the heart of Panem, a new land that rose from the ruins of a post-apocalyptic North America. To punish citizens for an early rebellion, the rulers require each district to provide one girl and one boy, 24 in all, to fight like gladiators in a futuristic arena. The event is broadcast like reality TV, and the winner returns with wealth for his or her district.’
So. Those are three of the books tempting me to empty out my already-crying-in-shame bank balance. What’s on your wishlist?