It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 21.0

Happy Monday everyone! This week, I’m participating in the “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme. It’s been a long time since I’ve done this two weeks in a row…we’ll see if I can keep it up!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

My thoughts on books I recently finished:

robinson crusoe

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Who has not dreamed of life on an exotic isle, far away from civilization? Here is the novel which has inspired countless imitations by lesser writers, none of which equal the power and originality of Defoe’s famous book. Robinson Crusoe, set ashore on an island after a terrible storm at sea, is forced to make do with only a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He learns how to build a canoe, make bread, and endure endless solitude. That is, until, twenty-four years later, when he confronts another human being. First published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe has been praised by such writers as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Johnson as one of the greatest novels in the English language.

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) trained for the ministry, became a political journalist, and finally, to many, became “the father of the English novel.” He is also the author of ‘Moll Flanders’.

Does anyone else remember the Accelerated Reader (i.e. AR) program? My middle school used this program to encourage us to read, and we had designated number of “AR points” we had to get every quarter. The number of points a book was worth depended on the difficulty of the book, and being a bookworm I always exceeded the number of points I needed, usually by a very large margin. During one quarter in 7th grade I tried to read Robinson Crusoe because it was worth a lot of points (27 to be exact…I just looked). I knew it was a classic book and I put in an honest effort, but I just couldn’t get past the first chapter. It’s bugged me for years that I was never able to finish it, so I finally decided to give it another chance.

From the first sentence I could see why I had a hard time reading it all those years ago–the prose is wordy and written in a form not easily decipherable for (younger) modern readers. Of course being a more mature reader now, I was able to get past this and even enjoy it a little bit since I knew I was reading one of the first novels written in the English language. The book is also slowwwwwww, which might have hindered my enjoyment of it 15 years ago. Sometimes I enjoyed the leisurely pace, such as when Crusoe was describing how he set up his dwelling and tamed a flock of goats. Other times I thought the book was redundant and didactic to a fault, like during the diary sequence. Honestly, the first half of the book was pretty boring at times, but thankfully the pace really picked up once he found the footprint in the sand. If not for the last third of the book, this review might be much different.

*Be warned, some spoilers ahead*

My feeling about Robinson Crusoe the man is ambivalent at best. To my modern eyes, he seems sort of like an imperialistic jerk who kind of deserves all that happens to him. His actions in the first half of the book frequently defy reason–seriously how many shipwrecks/other disasters do you need to convince you to just stay home?!?! Also, his quick disposal of the boy who helped him escape slavery was pretty upsetting and infuriating to me. On the other hand, he is a very self-aware jerk who readily admits that he has made a lot of mistakes along the way. I also found it really interesting that looking back on it all, he realizes the best times of his life (mentally, morally, and spiritually) were spent alone on the island.

Overall, I’m glad I finally read this book. Not only is it a classic adventure novel, but it also has some good points on how youthful haste can lead to later regrets. Admittedly, I found it to be very slow at times and I’m not sure I can say I actually liked it, but I do think it is worth reading at least once. 2.5/5 stars (rounded up to 3 stars on Goodreads).

Books I recently read:

tellthewolvesI'mhome

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

This Week I am reading:

middlemarch bn

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Subtitled “A Study of Provincial Life,” the novel is set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch during the period 1830–32. It has multiple plots with a large cast of characters, and in addition to its distinct though interlocking narratives it pursues a number of underlying themes, including the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism and self-interest, religion and hypocrisy, political reform, and education. The pace is leisurely, the tone is mildly didactic (with an authorial voice that occasionally bursts through the narrative),and the canvas is very broad.

Despite the fact that it has some comical characters (Mr. Brooke, the “tiny aunt” Miss Noble) and comically named characters (Mrs. Dollop), Middlemarch is a work of realism. Through the voices and opinions of different characters we become aware of various broad issues of the day: the Great Reform Bill, the beginnings of the railways, the death of King George IV and the succession of his brother, the Duke of Clarence (who became King William IV). We learn something of the state of contemporary medical science. We also encounter the deeply reactionary mindset within a settled community facing the prospect of what to many is unwelcome change.

This Week I am listening to:

dangerous women cover

Synopsis adapted from Amazon.com:

All new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in Dangerous Women include work by twelve New York Times bestsellers, and seven stories set in the authors’ bestselling continuities—including a new “Outlander” story by Diana Gabaldon, a  tale of Harry Dresden’s world by Jim Butcher, a story from Lev Grossman set in the world of The Magicians, and a 35,000-word novella by George R. R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones.

Also included are original stories of dangerous women–heroines and villains alike–by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Sherilynn Kenyon, Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn,  S. M. Stirling, Sharon Kay Penman, and many others.

Writes Gardner Dozois in his Introduction, “Here you’ll find no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights the monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie these women to the railroad tracks, you’ll find you have a real fight on your hands.  Instead, you will find sword-wielding women warriors, intrepid women fighter pilots and far-ranging spacewomen, deadly female serial killers, formidable female superheroes, sly and seductive femmes fatale, female wizards, hard-living Bad Girls, female bandits and rebels, embattled survivors in Post-Apocalyptic futures, female Private Investigators, stern female hanging judges, haughty queens who rule nations and whose jealousies and ambitions send thousands to grisly deaths, daring dragonriders, and many more.”

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What are you reading this week?

It's Monday

Linking up with Book Journey!

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lindsey
    Mar 24, 2014 @ 13:57:57

    I remember the Accelerated Reader program! I was a tiny bookworm like you and I championed my way through so many books so I could get all of those points!

    I remember reading Robinson Crusoe in college. As a story, it’s not great but I agree that it’s important to see where novels started and how far they have come!

    Reply

    • exlibrisheather
      Mar 27, 2014 @ 13:14:08

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who remembers AR! I really loved that program. I also totally agree about Robinson Crusoe. I was excited to read it and am glad I did…I’m just not sure how much I actually enjoyed it.

      Reply

  2. eloisej
    Mar 24, 2014 @ 15:58:38

    I read Robinson Crusoe years ago and I don’t remember much about it but I remember enjoying it.
    I’m curious to see what you think of Middlemarch. I read it a few years ago and it is an interesting read.

    Reply

    • exlibrisheather
      Mar 27, 2014 @ 13:15:37

      I’m loving Middlemarch. I’m so so close to finishing (like 15 pages) but I’m trying to take my time. Some books (even though they are super long) are worth taking the time I think. I’m glad it sounds like you liked it too!

      Reply

  3. islandkylie
    Mar 24, 2014 @ 18:12:55

    I really struggle with “the classics”. Think I might give Robinson Crusoe a miss! You can check out my Monday here http://www.kyliesreads.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/its-monday-what-are-you-reading_24.html

    Reply

  4. Annie
    Mar 24, 2014 @ 18:45:23

    The Dangerous Women anthology sounds amazing! And the list of authors who’ve contributed is epic. I shall have to look out for it – I wonder why the cover’s so plain… It wouldn’t have immediately caught my eye on a bookshelf. i hope you enjoy this week’s reading. 🙂

    Reply

    • exlibrisheather
      Mar 27, 2014 @ 13:17:39

      It is pretty interesting so far! I can’t recall the last time I read an anthology, but I am loving it. It’s nice to be able to read a short story…and then move on to something else (especially if you get tired of it). Your right the cover is kind of plain, although for some reason the text reminds me of a Harry Potter cover.

      Reply

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