Monday, March 13, 2017

Recently Read: The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho
Genre: Fiction/ Modern Classic
Publication Date: 1999
Page Count: 177
Rating: 3/5

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This novel is a modern classic, originally written in Portuguese. I decided to pick it up as part of my Short Reads February TBR, as I have been meaning to read it forever. It follows Santiago, a young Shepard, who has a reoccurring dream about a treasure at the base of the Egyptian Pyramids and sets out to find it and his destiny.

This novel reads like a combination of a fable and a religious tale. It's simple in its language and plot, but rich in theme and wonder. This novel deals with the ideas of fate and destiny and how these concepts work in tandem with the universe. It's heavy in life advice and wisdom, but it doesn't feel preachy. I can see why this novel has earned the title of modern classic, and I think it will continue to be read in the years to come by many readers. 

This is a novel I can see myself rereading in the future and is worth checking out if you haven't read it yet. I am always interested by works that deal with the ideas of fate and destiny and this is a great examination of those topics.

I rated this novel three stars because although it was pleasant and enjoyable, I find myself without a lot to say about it. I expected a tiny bit more from it because of its reputation, but overall, I did enjoy this work and its message. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day Reading Recommendations

Happy International Women's Day! I'm here today with some recommendations of books by women from around the world. I'll be posting again this month highlighting some of the books by women that are on my TBR, because most of my TBR fits that category. Please leave me your favorite books by women below! For some classics by women that I have loved, check out my Women Writers page and my Women's Lit Classic Club Page. 

Passing By Nella Larson- America
This book is not read enough! It was written during the Harlem Renaissance and deals with the choices of two black women who were childhood friends; one chooses to pass as a white woman and one decides to continue to live in the black community. 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou- America
Maya Angelou is my hero. Her autobiographies are second to none. This novel made me so emotional and proud. A must read. 

Gigi and The Cat by Colette- France
I enjoyed both of these novellas as they were my first Colette works. I'm eager to read more of her works. I thought Gigi was a thought provoking read, and is something I wouldn't mind revisiting. 

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb- Pakistan 
This is another must read. Malala is so young but so wise and full of compassion. Her narrative voice is so honest and smart. 

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Dunn- Worldwide
This is a nonfiction work about women's tribulations around the world and how they overcome them. This work changed my feminism for the better. 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley- Britain
Shelley's most famous novel is a masterpiece. She pioneered the genre of science-fiction and wrote a novel that is endlessly thought provoking. This novel is what great literature is meant to be. 

Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding- Britain 
I love this book! Bridget is the hero of all single women! If you need a laugh, pick this up. It's even funnier than the movie. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Recently Read: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Author: Muriel Sparks
Genre: Classic/ Fiction
Publication Date: 1961
Page Count: 128
Rating: 4/5

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Miss Jean Brodie is a woman in her prime. She is a teacher at a girl's school and doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the teaching staff. She is eclectic and unpredictable; she teaches her girls about life, love, and art and butts heads with the headmistress over educational philosophy. Miss Brodie has her set of favorite girls, and the novel follows them and Miss Brodie through the years. 

I really didn't know what to expect from this short novel. It was my first Spark, and I knew almost nothing about the plot. I had heard good things about Spark, and I loved this beautiful Penguin version, so I decided to add it to my February Short Reads TBR and I'm glad I did. I was surprised by how captivated I was by this novel and really enjoyed it. 

Although this novel is very short, it is packed with complexity. Sandy and Miss Brodie become the most developed characters and are very real. Both characters are so flawed and complicated on their own, that they combine to make a point about the complexities of human emotion and motivation. This novel is an interesting comment on how children view adults, and how they can admire them, hate them, love them, and be intimidated by them, all at the same time. It's also an interesting comment on loyalty and trust, as well as the enigma that is romantic entanglement. 

This is a novel I would have had a lot of fun writing a paper about, as it is short but packed full of complex and very-human themes and ideas. I may lose myself in the rabbit hole of academic writings on this novel the next time I find I can't sleep (totally normal to read academic journals when you can't sleep, right?) I'm interested to see if people are writing about this novel still, and if so, what they are saying. 

I'm really interested to pick up more of Spark's work now, and equally interested in the movie adaptation where Maggie Smith plays Miss Jean Brodie!