Archive for February, 2013

Richard III – William Shakespeare

Richard IIITitle: Richard III

Author: William Shakespeare

Date Finished: 23/02/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club 

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

Finishing and enjoying this book has made me feel rather proud of myself!  From what I’ve heard, it is quite a long Shakespeare, it is a history (my first) and it is one that I had absolutely no idea of the story of before.  Therefore, I am proud because it is the first Shakespeare I’ve ever read without knowing the story beforehand.  I was kind of apprehensive, as I thought I wouldn’t be able to understand the language etc but I am really happy with this read – looking forward to seeing the performance in March now.

The plot in Richard III is quite exaggerated from the historically accurate version, but it is gripping and shocking nevertheless.  Obviously, with it being a Shakespeare drama, everything is quite over the top and I don’t think I have ever read about more murders within 100 pages in my life!  I read the first half of this book over the time I was in Uganda, which is quite impressive too, as I didn’t really have much time for reading – a bit on the plane and then a page or two in the evenings.  The plot wasn’t too hard to follow, but I didn’t get bogged down with trying to understand every little thing – when I see the play, I will really get everything.

The characters are obviously quite numerous and confusing, with this being a history.  There are lots of different Lords, Dukes etc etc and I spent a lot of the time thinking ‘Richmond’ was Henry VII’s actual name and not where he was earl of!  Never mind – it doesn’t really matter if I make small mistakes here and there!  Richard was obviously very evil and manipulative, but it did seem a little too easy for him to manipulate some characters in the story, most notably Anne!

The language of Shakespeare is always challenging, but not too bad (as I have now realised).  I enjoy the drama format with speech and stage directions although sometimes it feels a bit unnatural to have the descriptive passages verbalised as speech by a character.
The setting of England isn’t really described as much as some of the other plays I have read/seen – Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in particular seem to focus more heavily on the scene around them, but this wasn’t a problem.

Overall, I can’t say that I loved this story, however I definitely did enjoy it and I am very much looking forward to seeing it in Bristol in a few weeks times.  Has anyone else read/seen this play?

Review of my Classics Club List

Hi everyone, this post is just to formalise what I have been thinking about recently.  It has been almost a year since I joined The Classics Club and wrote my list of 60 books to read in 5 years.  Since then, I have read 11 out of those 60 and it seems the right kind of time to do a small review of my list.  If any of you don’t know what The Classics Club is, then the blog devoted to it is here.

I don’t like the idea of crossing books off the list before I’ve even tried them, so I have decided to add in some more books as ‘alternatives’.  What I mean is, I have to try to read 60 books within 5 years as normal, but they can be any 60 out of my list, so that I don’t have to read every single book I chose last year if there are some that are too daunting or I just don’t fancy.

I came up with these books usually due to buying them and realising they weren’t on the original list or just because they have cropped up as something I want to read.  Here they are:

Alternative Classics Club Books:

  1. Charlotte Brontë – Shirley
  2. Charles Dickens – Dombey and Son
  3. Charles Dickens – The Pickwick Papers
  4. Stella Gibbons – Conference at Cold Comfort Farm
  5. William Shakespeare – Richard III
  6. William Shakespeare – Two Gentlemen of Verona
  7. Anthony Trollope – The Warden

I bought Shirley in the new PEL editions, not realising it wasn’t on my list; I saw Dombey and Son as a musical-ish version in Bristol and enjoyed it so I wanted to read it; a friend gave me The Pickwick Papers; I enjoyed Cold Comfort Farm and wanted to read something else by Gibbons; I am seeing Richard III and Two Gentlemen of Verona in Bristol in the next few months so I wanted to read them before; I randomly bought The Warden.

Now, I am not saying that this will be my only review of my Classics Club list, as in a year’s time I will probably have a few more books to add on.  For example, if I enjoy The Warden, I am likely to add in more Trollope books and the Shakespeare plays I see next year will probably determine some more to read for that.  I am still really enjoying being part of The Classics Club, as it is a real community and gives a lot of structure and direction to the otherwise enormous and overwhelming number of books we want to read in out lives.

Is anyone else thinking of having a review of their list?  Let me know!

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

pride-and-prejudiceTitle: Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Date Finished: 21/02/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Literary Classics & The Classics Club

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

Surprisingly, I didn’t actually love this book, even though I kind of assumed that I would with it being so many people’s number 1 classic.  I have a feeling that this may have been down to the fact that I took way to long reading it, as my life got very busy before my trip to Uganda (which was absolutely incredible by the way).

The plot was a strong point for me, but only really towards the end of the book – I didn’t feel particularly gripped early on and everything seemed a bit silly.  Again, I think this is due to me only being able to read a few pages every night and just not getting into the story.  The last third of the book was much better and I did actually want to read on, even if I couldn’t.  Up until then, I would have probably only given it 3/5!

The characters are (obviously) very ‘Austen’, and for me, that means a bit over-exaggerated.  I do prefer characters to at least have some realistic attributes but it seems with Austen that they are all almost one-traited.  For example, Jane is known as being very kind and always looking for the best in people, so she has to be almost naïve and gullible throughout the story, which is just totally unrealistic.  Almost all the characters got on my nerves at least once during the book and I didn’t really sympathise or empathise with any of them, but I think this would change with a re-read.

The setting and language are very nice if you have time for appreciating them, but a few pages a day meant that I wasn’t getting very far because of the complex language and sometimes extensive description.  However, this is just a fault of my reading style and not of the writing itself.  Again, with a re-read I would expect to appreciate the language and setting a lot more.

Overall, I didn’t dislike the book at all, but compared to the expectations that come with being top of so many lists and the favourite of so many bloggers, I think it’s fair to say I was slightly disappointed.  However, it is going on the re-read list now and I am still looking forward to my next Austen for The Classics Club.  I am not sure what this will be yet, as I don’t actually have one on my TBR shelf but I am inclined to save Sense and Sensibility and go for Mansfield Park next.

Friday Quick Wrap-Up

Hello everyone, sorry I have been very quiet recently, but at the moment I am in Uganda. I am having the time of my life and the people here are so nice and genuine. Take any opportunity to come to Africa if you can.

In terms of reading, I didn’t finish Pride and Prejudice before Ieft which was a shame and here I haven’t really had any chance to read. I have read about 40 pages of Richard III, about 100 of Big Bang and about 40 of The Host. No where near finishing any of them! I am back on Monday so I will fill you all in then!

January Wrap-Up & February Plans

I say this every month without fail, but January 2013 has flown by!  It was Christmas and suddenly it’s now February!  Well anyway, January was quite a busy month for me, as I had 5 exams which (mostly) went well thank goodness…I get the results in March!  Also, there was all sorts of crazy weather including a large dumping of snow which shut school…except I had to go in anyway for an exam! :O  I’m sure February will prove to be just as crazy and busy, as I am off to Uganda for 8 days next Sunday!  It is going to be an amazing and eye-opening experience for definite but also a 9 hour plane journey seems like prime reading time!

Here’s what I read in January 2013:

Villette – Charlotte Brontë

The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz

The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

This is good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is more than I read in December, which is good.  My aim of 1200 pages a month was fulfilled as I read 1340 pages.
For the first 3 weeks of January I had no problems keeping up my 30 minutes reading a day, despite my exams, but as soon as I started Pride and Prejudice, I couldn’t maintain this – I just can’t really get into it!
I need to read a science book next month to keep up with my target of at least one science book every two months.
I definitely fulfilled my at least one classic a month target as I read two – The Hobbit and Villette.
Lastly, I try to stay an active blogger and I have worked on this – commenting more and when not commenting still reading posts.  I also came across quite a few new blogs due to The Classics Club Readathon.

So as you can see, I have met pretty much all of my targets for January 2013, so hopefully I can keep it up in February.

Challenge Progress in January 2013:

The Classics Club :  10/60 books read  (2 this month: Villette & The Hobbit )

The Literary Classics Reading Challenge: 6/15 (Villette) (This challenge has been discontinued but it does no harm to keep track anyway!)

I have some more classics to add to my Classics Club list and I really need to do this before Uganda – I hope I have time!

Currently In Progress:

At the moment, I am reading Pride and Prejudice but it is taking me FOR EVER!  I think this is because I haven’t really had the time to dedicate to it that it deserves and the days have just slipped by.  I am really hoping to finish it before Uganda.

February Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are Middlemarch still, Richard III and Le Petit Nicholas.  I am leaving Middlemarch, but I am taking Richard III, The Host and Big Bang (Simon Singh) to Uganda with me so I have some varied reading.

Challenges:  When I do my Classics Club review, Richard III will count towards that and the next classic I plan for after that will probably be 1984 (a re-read).

Yes my reading has been a bit sparse over the last week or so, but the rest of January was really good for me, especially as I loved The Hobbit so much.  I hope you all discover some new favourites in February like I did in January. 🙂