• The History of English Literature by Perry Keenlyside; narrated by Derek Jacobi and Cast
• Audiobook: 0 pages
• Publisher: NAXOS Audiobooks, 2001
• ISBN: 9626342218
• Genre: Nonfiction–Literary History and Analysis
• Recommended For: Anyone looking for a quick overview of the entire history of English Literature, from Chaucer to Ishiguro, in an easy listening audiobook format.
Quick Review: Quick and easy listening to a very, very brief synopsis of the history of English literature. Highly recommended for its quick access to authors and tidbits of English history that one might have forgotten or overlooked. Is also brilliantly read by Jacobi and the rest of the cast, who read snippets from the classics expertly.
How I Got Here: I was returning a book to the library, and decided that I wanted an audiobook for the car. There wasn’t much of a selection, but then I spotted this title and decided it would be perfect for my driver’s short attention span.
The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis
The remarkable story of the world’s richest literary resource, the story telling, poetry, the growth of the novel and the greatest histories and essays, which have informed the language and the imagination wherever English is spoken.
My Analysis and Critique:
This audiobook was perfect for my quick drives to and from work each day! Each track focuses upon one writer from a certain time period, providing a bit of history of the author and the world around them, and then usually providing a reading of a snippet of one of their most notable works. So, usually, I could learn about three to five different authors and works on a one-way trip to my work, and not have to think/listen too hard.
Each disc is also separated into two to three different literary movements/time periods. Being a history, the text obviously moves chronologically. Thus, it is set up as thus:
1. The Age of Chaucer (Middle Ages: Chaucer, Gower’s Sir Gawain, The Bible, and Langland’s Piers Plowman)
2. The End of Chivalry (Mid 15th Century: John Lydgate, Mallory, and Skelton to Sir Thomas More’s Utopia and Le Morte D’Arthur to Wyatt’s love lyrics and Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer)
3. Triumphs of Oriana (Elizabethan Age: Spenser, Raleigh, and Sydney to the trio of Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Jonson, and the poetry and essays by Donne and Bacon)
4. Puritan’s Progress (Restoration: religious metaphysical poetry by Herbert and Vaughan; Cavalier poetry by Lovelace and Herrick; the epic works by Milton; Marvell; Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; the first English novel in Defoe’s Moll Flanders; Dryden’s poetry; and finally, Congreve’s The Way of the World)
5. The Augustan Age (Age of Enlightenment: Pope’s poetry and essays; Swift’s satirical Gulliver’s Travels; Samuel Johnson’s criticism and Dictionary; the novels of Fielding, Richardson, Sterne, and Smallett; and Gray’s “Elegy on a Country Churchyard”)
6. Romantic Revolution (poetry by Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge; Shelley’s Gothic Frankenstein; Austen’s novels; and the poetry of Shelley, Byron, and Keats)
7. Faith and Doubt (The Victorian Age: Dickens; the rise of children’s literature and the detective novel; the Brontes; Arnold’s “Dover Beach”; the novels of George Eliot; poetry by Tennyson, Rosetti, and Browning; the works of Kipling)
8. The Age of Anxiety (Turn of the century/wartime: Hardy’s novels; Houseman’s poetry; the works of Henry James (?!); Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; Wells’ science fiction; controversial D.H. Lawrence; the war poetry of Wilfred Owen; the Irish writers Yeats, Shaw, Wilde, and Joyce; Woolf’s To The Lighthouse; the satire of Evelyn Waugh; Orwell and Huxley; and the poetry of Eliot and Auden)
9. Post-War, Post-Modern(Multitude of voices and styles, as genres mesh: Cecil Day Lewis; Keith Douglas; Dylan Thomas; Ivy Compton Burnett; Jean Rhys; Doris Lessing; Muriel Spark; Iris Murdoch; William Golding; Angus Wilson; Anthony Powell; Kingsley Amis; Philip Larkin; Ted Hughes; J.G. Ballard; Salman Rushdie; Kazuo Ishiguro; Carol Ann Duffy)
While obviously this text is just a brief skim, a tiny overview of the great expanse of British Literature, I appreciated it for its providing me with some authors and works that I need to check out in the future. I also appreciated that it flowed so nicely together that it sounded like a story–the story that is English literature.
I also relished the lessons learned on the evolution of the novel, as well as the information provided in the Post-War, Post-Modern section (I am shockingly poorly read in modern literature! This needs to be remedied!)
Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone interested in gaining some insight on the history of English literature and listening to some classics read expertly by various voices. I’m not sure how easy this audiobook is to come by, as I just happened upon it at my library, but if you can find it, I recommend it!
If you get a book cover tattooed on your body, you must really love the book. Or, at least, have some sort of connection to the book. Perhaps the art is just that awesome.
After reading Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, my husband loved the book and the book cover so much that he got it tattooed on his arm. It looks like this:
While I have absolutely zero plans to get a tattoo, if I were, I wouldn’t doubt that it would be bookish. Here are some book covers that I would consider tattooing on my body. Each has some sort of reasoning behind it.
1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
This would be such a “tuff” tattoo. I would feel super punk rock with a Clockwork Orange tatt.
2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Marukami
I haven’t read this book, but I love the cover. It would make a lovely “girly” tattoo.
Maybe on my lower back instead of a fairy or dolphin.
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I love this cover, but hate the book. Have read it twice. This tattoo could be a reminder to not
ever try it again!
4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
I have a good friend with an Alice tattoo. I love it. I have always loved this book,
and if I weren’t such a chicken, this would probably be my first choice for a tattoo.
5. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
I have always been attracted to the art of this classic. I think it would make a wonderful tattoo!
6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This would be such an awesome tattoo. It represents so much to me,
as a fan of the book, a fan of the genre, and a fan of the themes. I could see this on my arm!
7. Matilda by Roald Dahl
Perfecto! I love the illustrations by Quentin Blake in this book, and Matilda is so wonderfully
bookish that I feel that this would be a very good, meaningful tattoo.
8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I loved the book, and as a tattoo, Huckleberry Finn could also represent
my young life spent traveling across the states. He was a traveler, I was a traveler. Another great tattoo idea!
9. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
I would be proud to represent Dorothy Parker on my arm. She is (was) a
most awesome woman, and my tattoo could remind me of everything I wish to be as a woman.
10. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Such a wonderfully creepy book cover for one of my favorite horror classics.
This is a sister story, so this tattoo could also remind me of my close connection to my own sister.
This was a tough one, as it’s hard to choose between them all. At the same time, they’re just things, and many I have already read. If they burned up, they’d still be stored up in my memory, much like the rebels at the end of Fahrenheit 451.
So, I chose based upon whether or not I could replace them and/or their sentimental value. Here’s what I came up with:
First, I would have to save my antique books. I’m so lucky that my dad knows that I love antique books–when he can’t think of a Christmas gift, he sometimes buys me a new antique book!
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (beautiful book from 1902)
Next are my books that might be hard to replace because they were signed.
4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
5. A Song of Ice and Fire series (A Dance with Dragons is signed) by George R.R. Martin
6. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
A very underrated set of books are my anthologies from college, which are filled with footnotes and my own personal notes. Surely, these are irreplaceable!
8. The Riverside Shakespeare (it has everything!)
9. Folk and Fairy Tales (for some reason, I sold
this book after I finished the class, and it was so
hard to find to buy again!)
10. The last book that I would grab would be whatever I was currently reading…there might be a lot of down time while I deal with the mess of house fire. Gotta finish my current read!
I’ve been getting all serious and intense with my writings on Dickens, so I wanted to take a break and get all gushy. Which is good because it’s easy and my brain is mush. So, here’s my top ten list of hotties from the different books that I’ve read over the years…
I have to admit, I feel a little silly and school girl-ish writing this one. If my husband reads this, he is soooo going to make fun of me. If you don’t want to read my gushy-ness, tune in tomorrow, when I return to our regular programming. Well, I just had to make that disclaimer.
1. Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A very long scene that reflects what I love about Rochester:
I stood face to face with him: it was Mr. Rochester.
‘How do you do?’ he asked.
‘I am very well, sir.’
‘Why did you not come and speak to me in the room?’
I thought I might have retorted the question on him who put it: but I would not take that freedom. I answered–
‘I did not wish to disturb you, as you seemed engaged, sir.’
‘What have you been doing in my absence?’
‘Nothing particular; teaching Adele as usual.’
‘And getting a good deal paler than you were– as I saw at first sight. What is the matter?’
‘Nothing at all, sir.’ […]
‘Return to the drawing-room: you are deserting too early.’
‘I am tired, sir.’
He looked at me for a minute.
‘And a little depressed,’ he said. ‘What about? Tell me.’
‘Nothing–nothing, sir, I am not depressed.’
‘But I affirm that you are: so much depressed that a few more words would bring tears to your eyes- indeed, they are there now, shining and swimming; and a bead has slipped from the lash and fallen on to the flag. If I had time, and was not in mortal dread of some prating prig of a servant passing, I would know what all this means. Well, to-night I excuse you; but understand that so long as my visitors stay, I expect you to appear in the drawing-room every evening; it is my wish; don’t neglect it. […] Good-night my–‘ He stopped, bit his lip and abruptly left me.
At this point in reading, I knew
A. Mr. Rochester had it bad for Jane,
B. I had it bad for Rochester, and
C. My #1 for 10 years, Mr. Darcy, had been bumped from the top of my book boyfriends!
2. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.
Oh Darcy. How I love your social awkwardness and your upfront ways. You had me at “she is tolerable.”
3. Julian from The Forbidden Game by L.J. Smith
Light to darkness, Jenny. Darkness to light. It’s always been this way.
My teen crush. He was the antagonist AND the love interest–it totally threw me for a loop that I was crushing on a bad guy. This one definitely influenced my love for Spike from Buffy.
4. Bill Denbrough from IT by Stephen King
Bill was here, and Bill would take care; Bill would not let things get out of control. He was the tallest of them, and surely the most handsome. […] Bill was also the strongest of them–and not just physically. There was a good deal more to it than that, but since Richie did not know either the word charisma or the full meaning of the word magnetism, he only felt that Bill’s strength ran deep and might manifest itself in many ways.
-Richie Tozier on Bill Denbrough
Before I liked bad boys, I liked the good boys. And Bill was the best. I was 11, he was 11, it was perfect. This was before I knew that the class clown was the way to go–Richie Tozier would have been my book boyfriend if I read IT a few years later.
5. Benedick from “Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare
Benedick, Act 1 Scene 1: it is certain I am lov’d of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love no one.
Bendedick, Act 1 Scene 1, later: In faith, hath not the world one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore again?
Benedick, Act 2 Scene 3: The say the lady is fair; ’tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous, ’tis so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her. I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, because I have rail’d so long against marriage; but doth not the appetite alter? […] No, the world must be peopled.
Oh Benedick–you have no interest in love and marriage until you find out Beatrice loves you, and then you’re all lovey-dovey. Benedick and Beatrice are one of my all-time favorite couples, as they are both so witty and are one of the most well-matched and equal pairs in literature.
6. Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
My mind is my weapon. My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer, and I have my mind […] and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.
The beauty of Martin’s writing is that his characters develop so much and slowly through the book, that you find yourself and your opinions of them developing without your even noticing it! This was the case with Tyrion, whom I was amused by at first, then admired, and then, come A Feast for Crows, Tyrion is no longer in the book, and I truly missed him. And no, that’s not a spoiler!
7. Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Nothing mattered much to me for a time there, after you told me you could never love me, Anne. There was nobody else–there never could be anybody else for me but you. I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.
I think Gilbert might have been my first book boyfriend. Interesting how the very good guys get pushed aside for the rogues, scoundrels, and jerks as we grow up…I wonder what these book boyfriends say about me…
8. Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
‘Sir,’ she said, ‘you are no gentleman!’
‘An apt observation,’ he answered airily. ‘And, you, Miss, are no lady.’
This line runs through my head constantly, as I am truly not a lady either, and can hear Rhett in my head whenever I fall down stairs, curse, burp, punch, etc. I love Rhett’s honesty, and I love that he loves that Scarlett isn’t a lady. He’s the best kind of man–the kind who will let you be exactly who you want to be and are, and love you all the more for it. Plus, he’s witty and generous and experienced! Rhett is the best!
9. Four from Divergent by Veronica Roth
‘You think my first instinct is to protect you. Because you’re small, or a girl, or a Stiff. But you’re wrong.’
He leans his face close to mine and wraps his fingers around my chin. His hand smells like metal. When was the last time he held a gun, or a knife? My skin tingles at the point of contact, like he’s transmitting electricity through his skin.
‘My first instinct is to push you until you break, just to see how hard I have to press.’ he says, his fingers squeezing at the word break. My body tenses at the edge in his voice, so I am coiled as tight as a spring, and I forget to breathe.
His dark eyes lifting to mine, he adds, ‘But I resist it.’
‘Why…’ I swallow hard. ‘Why is that your first instinct?’
‘Fear doesn’t shut you down; it wakes you up. I’ve seen it. It’s fascinating.’ He releases me but doesn’t pull away, his hand grazing my jaw, my neck. ‘Sometimes I just want to see it again. Want to see you awake.’
I don’t know how, but Four made me feel fourteen all over again! He is the newest inductee into my book boyfriends, the latest since Rochester. This scene in particular made me want to write “I heart Four” on my notebook cover and squee! with my girlfriends.
And then there’s this poet who wrote the most beautiful poem that I’ve ever heard. I didn’t quite realize how beautiful it was until I heard it read aloud—and it was read aloud by Heath Ledger, so that really made me take notice. I recommend you listen to it! A big thanks to Amy at Lucy’s Football and GreenGeekGirl of Insatiable Booksluts for introducing me to this poem and Heath Ledger’s reading of it!
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
I’ve been hard at work, writing difficult reviews and researching Dickens for a profile post, so I thought that I would take it easy on the blog today and submit my answers to the interview questions presented at Booking through Thursday. It was a fun meme, and I encourage you all to participate! Here are my answers:
1. What’s your favorite time of day to read?
My favorite time to read is afternoon to evening. This is when I allow myself to simply be and do as I please. No concerns for getting work done, running errands, or cooking. My favorite time of day.
2. Do you read during breakfast? (Assuming you eat breakfast.)
Yes, though I’m not reading books often at this time, as I am usually at work when I eat breakfast. I spend breakfast reading student essays or texts to be taught in class. Pleasure reading during breakfast only occurs on the weekend!
3. What’s your favorite breakfast food? (Noting that breakfast foods can be eaten any time of day.)
Pigs in a Blanket, served at a little diner my husband and I eat at occasionally. It’s scrambled eggs and sausage rolled up in a pancake. All of my favorite breakfast foods rolled into one–genius!
4. How many hours a day would you say you read?
On vacation (which I am still on), I read somewhere between 10-11 hours. During the normal working year, I read anywhere between 2-7 hours.
5. Do you read more or less now than you did, say, 10 years ago?
I am reading more than ever! Actually, I might have read nearly as much as a tween, but with parental restrictions on my daily habits (“You should go outside and be with your friends, Mandy!” or “Turn out that light and go to bed!”), I doubt that I read more than 3 hours a day. Although, I think I did get a lot of secret reading in at school, so I’ll say that I am probably reading as much as I did when I was 11-13.
6. Do you consider yourself a speed reader?
Yes and no. I do read relatively fast, but only as the book dictates. I tend to pick up speed as I move through the book, picking up momentum as I gain familiarity with the plot and style. So, it depends upon the book and at which point in the book I am.
7. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
The ability to fly–that’s a recurrent power I have in my dreams, and I really enjoy the experience!
8. Do you carry a book with you everywhere you go?
No–only if I plan on being somewhere for a while. I have to have a certain kind of environment when I read, and if I don’t have it, my comprehension suffers, so it’s a waste of time.
9. What KIND of book?
But, if I do bring a book with me, it doesn’t matter what kind. Usually it’s simply whatever my current read is. Last night, I took Bleak House with me and read while I waited for my takeout order. It was pretty much a fail as I had to re-read everything once I got home. As mentioned in the previous answer, the noisy restaurant wasn’t an ideal reading spot and my comprehension suffered.
10. How old were you when you got your first library card?
I was five or six, and I remember the day. It was a children’s library event at the local library in Tucson, and there were balloons and lots of other children, and I received some stickers that featured a cute green reading frog. It must have been really exciting to leave such an imprint on my memory.
11. What’s the oldest book you have in your collection? (Oldest physical copy? Longest in the collection? Oldest copyright?)
The oldest physical copy: The Dramatic Works of William Shakspeare (seven volumes), printed in 1815!
Longest in the Collection: What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry (been in my family since the late ’60s).
Oldest Copyright: The Epic of Gilgamesh (pre-copyright, obviously, as it is the oldest written story on Earth, written on tablets, some time between 2750 and 2500 BC)
12. Do you read in bed?
Yes, although my preferred spot is on the couch. I fall asleep quickly in bed, and use reading in bed as a tool to fall asleep–it’s not reading for reading’s sake, but reading for sleeping’s sake.
13. Do you write in your books?
I write on Post-Its in my books. I don’t think I’ll ever write in my books again!
14. If you had one piece of advice to a new reader, what would it be?
Start with what you know you love. If you love a movie based on a book, read the book. If you loved a movie not based on a book, read a book similar in genre and/or themes. If you love history, read a nonfiction book delving in a favorite era. If you love reptiles, and so on… Start with what you love and go from there!
Booking through Thursday is a weekly meme about books and reading.
Please note: This list is compiled in no particular order. It is simply a list of my favorite books for this particular genre read in 2011.
Adult Contemporary Fiction
• Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (British)
Really enjoyed this novel. It worked as a comedy of manners with a sweet love story. Pettigrew’s son infuriated me regularly, and while I was often angry while reading, it was very hard to put down.
• Empire Falls by Richard Russo (American~Pullitzer Winner)
This wonderful novel included excellent, well-rounded characters, a page-turning plot, and a haunting development at the climax. Highly recommended to anyone.
• No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (American~Mystery/Crime)
Beautifully written, creepy at times, with edge of your seat thrills. While the Coen brothers did an amazing job with their film adaptation, the novel will provide you with more context and understanding of the plot and characters.
• March by Geraldine Brooks (American~Historical Fiction)
Paralleling Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, this novel considers what Jo March’s father’s experience was during the Civil War. The language and descriptions were moving, and I actually think that I prefer this novel over Alcott’s classic. Like Little Women, it is based upon the actual life of Amos Alcott and draws it sources from Alcott’s journals and letters, as well as from the writings of Walden and Thoreau, who were friends of the Alcotts and appear in this novel. Very good historical fiction!
• The Help by Kathryn Stockett (American~Historical Fiction)
A very good novel with fully developed characters and an interesting plotline. I was full of nervous energy as I read each chapter.
• A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (American~Pullitzer Winner)
Remember, this is my list. And I loved this book! I loved the characters, I loved the themes, and I loved the alternative writing structures utilized throughout the novel. Loved it! 5 stars loved it! However, so many readers hated this book, ripping their hair out hated it, that I have a special recommendation for those who are interested: if you check it out, read the first three chapters. If you don’t like them, stop. That simple. Nothing to get angry about. My full review will appear next week. But, I loved it!
Allen is the master of Southern magical realism. In each of these novels, Allen spins a magical thread into what is simply a lovely depiction of a North Carolina small town and its delightful residents. I love all of Addison’s beautiful novels. Recommended for any occasion when you just need a breath of fresh, sweet air!
Young Adult Fiction
• Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Fantasy/Horror)
One of the scariest books I’ve read all year, and it’s a children’s book! Highly recommended for its imaginative plot and creepy pictures. Gaiman is a master!
• The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Historical Fiction)
This historical fiction novel was very haunting and sad as it followed the short tragic life of a young girl in WWII Germany. Was also a very unique novel as it was narrated by Death.
• The Giver by Lois Lowry (Science Fiction~Dystopian)
A rather sad dystopian novel. I had been hearing about how wonderful this book was for years, and I was pleased to see that it lived up to its expectations. Highly recommended to all of you dystopian lovers out there!
• Divergent by Veronica Roth (Science Fiction~Dystopian)
Really enjoyed this dystopian YA novel. Check out my review here.
Tomorrow’s Post: Top Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Read in 2011