Sunday, May 29, 2022

May Wrap-Up, What's Next for June

First of all, I would like to thank all of you who have left encouraging comments to my last month post. I've read every single one of them, and I'm really, deeply touched by your attention and support! I'm sorry I couldn't make myself responding to your comments, but I really appreciate it. Thanks! 💐

How am I doing now, you might wonder? Apparently, May has brought new challenge for our family. On top of my father's Parkinson's and osteoporotic spinal pains, he has caught a Herpes Zooster. It's a terrible blow, not only on my father, but also my mother and me. But we have to keep going, right?

I was so afraid of going down the mental exhaustion again, that I must find ways to numb my mind and emotion whenever I was idle. Reading didn't give me the expected result, so I turned to Netflix. It worked! I've binge-watched The Good Doctor (5 seasons), Heartland (seasons 14 and 15), Downton Abbey (re-watching the whole 6 seasons, anticipating its rumored of leaving Netflix soon), and re-watching season 6 of When Calls the Heart. I have also been watching season 13 of Masterchef Australia on youtube. Reading? Of course I still read, but not much.

Now I'm looking forward to June. This is always my favorite month of the year, because the air will be cooler, but not too windy. Time to do reading by the window again! (that's the picture of me reading, above).

📚 What I've Read in May

Following your advises in the comments, I have finished my slowl reading of Cather's A Lost Lady (❤ it!). I'm also having been through half of Frances Burney's Evelina (quite enjoyable, though sometimes boring). Reviews will follow soon.

What about you? How's your May reading? Were you having fun?


📊 Total books read: 12
📊 Challenge progress:
* 2022 TBR Pile Challenge: 5
* Back to the Classics Challenge 2022: 8
* 2022 Chunkster Challenge: 1

And so, I am now ready to face the new month!

📚 What's happening in June

I will continue on reading the last half of Evelina, of course.

And I think I will keep #JazzAgeJune going, though I can't make my mind on what to read yet. I don't feel like having too much Fitzgerald's short stories right now. Maybe I'd pick Wharton's Twilight Sleep instead. And combine it later with a few of Fitzie's shorties? Hmm...
By the way, you are welcomed to join me in #JazzAgeJune if you want to.

After that I'd perhaps need a play for a change. A Chekhov's would be nice. The Seagull perhaps?

What about you? Do you have plans for June reading?

Thursday, May 26, 2022

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

✍🏼 This book is probably the best non-fiction-feel-like-fiction books I've ever read so far. In the middle of the reading, I had actually googled it to make sure that the story had really happened in real life, and not a fictional account of a historical event. And it surely is 100% real.

✍🏼 Helene Hanff is an American aspiring writer who loved to read classics or rare books. In 1949, four years after World War II ended, access to rare books was limited. In this condition, Helene wrote a letter of purchase order to a British out-of-print book store: Marks & Co., located in 84, Charing Cross Road, London - a correspondence which lasted in twenty years.

✍🏼 And so this book is a compilation of these correspondences, consisting of Helene's and the bookstores staffs' letters, for over twenty years. And what is amazing and beautiful about it, is that those letters were not only of business issues; they also developed into a warm friendship, not only between Helene and Frank Doel, the corresponding staff, but also with other staffs.

✍🏼 The friendship was even far exceeding the literary matters, which, along the way, felt less and less important. They started telling stories about themselves, sometimes funny, but often touching. Learning about food shortages in Britain as the aftermath of WWII, Helene sent Frank Doel and other staffs food parcels, often during special occasions like Christmas, which delighted them very much.

✍🏼 During those twenty years, everyone became good friends, and we, as readers, witness the most touching and inspiring acts of humanity, only by reading their letters.

✍🏼 It's really a wholesome book to read - light but at the same time, deep. And of course, there are tons of literary discussions and classic books mentions, which are equally delightful for classics fans like me.

Rating: 5 / 5

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Zoladdiction 2022 & April Wrap Up, Reading Plans for May

For me personally, April seems to come and go in one swing. I got quite a severe mental exhaustion during the first half of the month. I didn't know what it was at first, but lately I had been easily irritated, which then grew into cynicism and violent thoughts. I was pretty scared for my health, so I googled it, and found that they are symptoms of mental exhaustion.

While removing the cause (as suggested by some articles) is impossible, I have resolved to make some changes to make my current life more balanced. The long and short of it is that I decided to pick only cozy readings and losen my reading challenges for a while. First step is to discard Zola's L'Assommoir (I know the ending too well, and it's not good for me at this moment) which I've intended for #Zoladdiction2022, and replace it with some light and comfort books; books that I really want to read.

Second step, I'm reducing my blogging time, and only focusing on what matters most: my fulltime work, caring for my Parkinson's father, and the never-ending household stuffs. I thank you all who have joined me in #Zoladdiction2022. I have done my best to retweet or tweet your posts, but I might not be able to read them, let alone leaving comments. Please don't feel me rude if I don't respond to some of your comments on this blog. I would love to keep reading your comments, though (I'd feel less stressful to know that there're people out there who still care for me 😊), but I also understand that some of you might feel unproductive to comment on inactive blog. It's perfectly understandable, don't worry about me. I wish I could say how long this will happen, but I can't, and so, for the time being I'll just read for leisure, and blog about it whenever I feel like it. (Painting: Woman Reading on Couch by Michael Shane Neal, 1968)

📚 What I've Read in April

For a Night of Love is my first (and only) book for #Zoladdiction2022. I read it right before the mental exhaustion took over me. It's so-so, but short story has never been my cup of tea anyway.

While cancelling off L'Assommoir, I've been thinking what book should I read next, when I stumbled upon this book on Twitter: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. I googled it, and the premises of an elderly club in a senior house investigating murder, intrigued me right away, that I immediately bought an e-copy, and read it. It was entertaining - a little humorous, but a little sentimental too.

Next I picked a newly arrived book order - another warm and cozy read which I enjoyed very much: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (review will follow soon). And it is perfect to replace Bhagavad Gita, which I've picked earlier for Non Fiction entry for Back to the Classics 2022. Splendid!

My last April read is: Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (review will also follow). It's my third of fourth read, so there's not much I can add, other than Christie's neat and genius plot (which, I'm sure, many of you have realized too).

What about you? How's your April reading? Were you having fun?


📊 Total books read: 11
📊 Challenge progress:
2022 TBR Pile Challenge5
Back to the Classics Challenge 20227
2022 Chunkster Challenge1

And so, I am now ready to face the new month!

📚 What's happening in May

I've decided to keep my seasonal reading of Willa Cather or #CatherInMay on. A Lost Lady is my pick.

I will also keep my original plan of 18th century reading for 2022, and am now reading: Frances Burney's Evelina, or, A Young Lady's Entrance into the World. I love it so far, a comical satire of inexperienced young girl among the English society.

I think both books will be enough to amuse me during the whole month.

Do you have plans for May reading?

Monday, May 2, 2022

For a Night of Love by Émile Zola

💜 For a Night of Love is a collection of three stories with one similar theme: love. But, this is from Zola, so don't expect anything romantic - it's far from it! 😄

💜 Title of this collection is lent by the first story, which is also the longest - it might have been between short story and novella: For a Night of Love (Pour une nuit d’amour). It tells a story of a shy and unattractive young post office clerk, Julien, who lives in a small flat, and loves to play tunes in his flute. Opposite his flat is a large building occupied by a wealthy family with a beautiful daughter. Julien often watches her from his window, plays his flute for her, and eventually falls in love with the girl. But the girl, Thérèse, usually ignores him. One day she throws him kisses from her window, and summons him to come; not out of love, apparently, but to help her getting rid of the dead body of her lover.

💜 This first story sets the tone of the whole book - or at least the first two stories - which is the excessive crave to be loved.

💜 Nantas is the title of the second story, but also the name of its protagonist. He's a poor but intelligent young man with huge ambition, who comes to Paris to reach his dream, but desperately unsuccessful. On the brink of committing suicide, someone offers him a huge sum of money to marry a prominent young girl who is pregnant from a married man. He accepts the "business proposal", makes himself the most powerful man in France, but is unhappy because his wife doesn't return the love he eventually comes to feel for her. This one is my favorite from the the three stories. It is written superbly, and the ending is quite unpredictable.

💜 The last story is rather anticlimactic and rather out of theme. Fasting is about religion hypocrisies. In a church, a baroness seems to be fascinated while listening to her favorite priest's sermon about fasting - except that she is struggling to stay awake. The priest, on the other hand, seems to be preaching earnestly about fasting - except that all he's thinking all the while is going to a concert and having dinner with a countess. It's rather a funny satire, which talks nothing of love. Or, maybe, this whole thing is not meant to be about romantic love after all, but more about unsatiable desire, Zola's main topic in most of his other books.

💜 I am never a fan of short stories, as I always find them lacking of depth. They are usually sharp, yes, but it's like when a thorn is pricking your finger - you definitely feel the pain, but an hour later you won't feel anything, and would completely forget the incident. Though I appreciate Zola's brilliant writing in this collection, I still think his novels are much better.

Rating: 3,5 / 5