Monday, November 26, 2018

All I Want for Christmas is…Reading!

It’s near that time of the year again…. Christmas—the jolliest and merriest of all time of the year! It’s also the only time I regret of being born in Indonesia. Here, Christmas is not celebrated much in public (except in malls—with huge discount, or in Hotels). I can do decorating at home, of course; however, living in an apartment has its limitation. To compensate, I always try to fill my Decembers with Christmas-themed readings. Maybe I can’t see much of Christmas trees or lights around me, but I can certainly experience it through books! :) So, this is my Christmas reading plan through the coming December:

Dombey and Son
I am now in one third of the book (p. 277) and plan to finish it through December. This will also be my last entry for my 2018 reading challenges.

A Christmas Carol
What is Christmas without A Christmas Carol? We are indebted too much to it to not reading it every year (or two)! A bookstagrammer @dickens.and.docks is hosting an interesting event: #DickensDecember with readalongs and photo challenge. I am interested mostly in A Christmas Carol readalong, which begins at December 3rd, one chapter a day, and ends with Discussion Day at December 8th. It looks really fun; but I have not decided my participation yet. Should I??

Dickens at Christmas
This beautiful book has been my Christmas “bible” (along with A Christmas Carol, of course) since last year. I have enjoyed reading slowly The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth, and planned to read some (or all – but maybe I better leave some for next years) of the rest after finishing A Christmas Carol:

The Battle of Life
The Haunted Man & The Ghost’s Bargain

From Household Words:
A Christmas Tree
A Christmas Dinner
What Christmas is, as We Grow Older – hey, this must be interesting!
The Seven Poor Travelers

From A Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire:
The Poor Relation’s Story
The Child Story

Form Another Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire:
The Schoolboy’s Story
Nobody’s Story

Anthony Trollope
I have yet to get acquainted with Trollope. His Christmas stories should be the best way to begin. Plus the edition is so lovely!

It consists of:

Christmas at Thompson Hall
Christmas Day at Kirkby Cottage
The Mistletoe Bough
The Two Generals
Not If I Know It

Have you read any of them? And how will YOUR Christmas reading be?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Classics Club Spin – My Comeback!


My spin book is number 1: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest!


I have just realized that my last Classics Club Spin was: Five. Years. Ago! I almost didn’t believe it. How could I take so long a break from one of the coolest events of The Classics Club? I can only blame it on my everlasting tight schedules and the too-many-things-on-my-plate. But it will change now. For the first time after five years, I will be taking The Classics Club Spin, YAY!

Rule of the game:
At your blog, before next Tuesday 27th November 2018, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list. On Tuesday 27th November, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by 31st January, 2019.

The idea this time is daring us to tackle huge (chunkster) books which we have been neglecting so far. My list of the second round is quite random, as it consists of many out-of-my-comfort-zone books. Thus, for this spin, I opt to list these books, along with some books I've been waiting or curious to read for some times. Here they are:

1. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kessey
2. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
3. This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya A. Toer (the only Indonesian lit on my list)
4. The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
5. The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper
6. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
7. Persuasion by Jane Austen
8. North and South by Elizabeh Gaskell
9. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
10. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
11. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
12. The Warden by Anthony Trollope
13. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
14. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
15. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
16. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
17. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
18. O Pioneers! By Willa Cather
19. Othello by William Shakespeare
20. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Based on my list, which number do you wish I get? :) I hope it would be number 3—as I am most excited to read the book (yeah… I haven’t read the number one classic from my own country—shame on me!) before the movie adaptation is released on 2019.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Possession by A.S. Byatt

Confession: I have always thought that A.S. Byatt is a man. Silly me! When started reading Possession, I still had no idea what I would face. As the story unfolding, I have felt it a bit odd that a man should write so femininely a prose. Then I googled about the book; and only then I realized that A.S. is actually Antonia Susan. Byatt is a woman!

When I said Byatt wrote 'femininely', it is partly due to the amount of poems scattered throughout the book, and partly because both poems and prose were thick with feminism. 

Possession is a kind of literary detective. Two modern young scholars investigate an unknown love affair of two fictional Victorian poets: the famous Randolph Henry Ash and the unknown—albeit as talented as her lover—Christabel LaMotte. Roland Mitchell—a scholar who is obsessed with R.H. Ash—has accidentally found draft of letters slipped inside an ancient book. They were written by Ash (a married man) to a mysterious woman, indicating a love interest. Roland’s investigation leads him to LaMotte's distant relative who is also an established scholar on the poetess: Maud Bailey. The pair studies tons of letters, poems, and diary entries of and about Ash and LaMotte, to unveil the mystery. But it turns out they are not alone, their colleagues seem to be attracted to the mystery also, and compete with them to find what was believed as the key evidence of the love affair: a letter buried in Ash's wife's coffin. Parallel with the investigation, the readers follow also the lives and struggles of Roland and Maud (and their blooming love).

I can't say I enjoyed Possession very much. The combination of metaphysic, poetry, and feminism is not my cup of tea. I skipped most of the poems (it's long and blubbering - for me at least, because I had no idea what those are about).  What I could enjoy was only the fast-paced literary investigation and a bit spark of attraction in Roland's and Maud's relationship. Added with a little twist in the epilogue, this book would have been promising, but, like I said, I just couldn't chew overdoses of feminism. Maybe Byatt is just too sophisticated for me.

3 / 5