Saturday, January 15, 2011

200 & Counting...

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's first (published) novel, Sense and Sensibility. Her story of the Dashwood sisters and their quest to find security and love in life is still cherished by millions of readers around the globe. It was the very first Jane Austen novel that I read and still holds a special place in my heart. Here are some things to help kick off this year of celebration:

1) Be sure to read the book. As I said, this holds a special place in my heart. It may not be as "perfect" as say Emma, Pride and Prejudice, or Persuasion, but it is still a must read for all lovers of classic lit (not just JA fans). See my full review here.

2) Watch an adaptation. My favorite is the 1995 version starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. A must-watch Austen adaptation. You should also check out the 2008 Masterpiece version starring Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield. Not necessarily the best, but it does compliment the '95 version pretty well.

3) If you are into reading challenges, you can join "The Sense and Sensibility Bicentennial Challenge" over at Austenprose. She's giving away some great prizes, so sign up if you're up to a year devoted to Austen.

4) Be sure to share your favorite S&S moments and memories here. Got a favorite quote? A favorite character? A favorite scene? Let us know.

Here's a portion of my favorite scene in the whole story...Happy Birthday S&S!!

"Elinor could sit still no longer. She almost ran out of the room, and as soon as the door was closed, burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought would never cease."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Return of the Classics

Masterpiece Classic kicks off tonight with a re-showing of its 2008 film My Boy Jack. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, David Haig, Kim Catrall, and Carey Mulligan. See my original review here. Definitely worth seeing if you haven't already. Then next week continues with the acclaimed ITV production of Downton Abbey starring Hugh Bonnevile and Maggie Smith. Welcome back Classic!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year...New Books!

I can't believe it's 2011! Where on earth has this year gone? 2010 was a great year in books for me. I discovered lots of new favorites and read lots more modern lit than I have in a long time. Here is a breakdown of my top 5 books for 2010:

Honorable Mentions: The Trial by Franz Kafka and Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. Though neither of these books quite made it into the top 5, I still felt that they deserved a mention here. The Trial was my first taste of Kafka and I loved every bit of it. Kafka's world is at once mesmerizing, haunting, and intense. Once you've been there you'll never forget it. And Agnes Grey is just another example of why the Brontes are often considered some of the best Victorian writers. Definitely a must read for fans of Jane Eyre and/or Wuthering Heights.

#5: The Flower Drum Song by C. Y. Lee. This Asian-American classic is a great read on many levels. Not only is it a glimpse into the drama and history of life in San Francisco's Chinatown in the 1950s, it is also a wonderful story of establishing one's own identity, and accepting the changes time makes on cultures. Better than the musical!

#4: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Definitely one of the best Dickens stories I've ever read. The first half of the book is fresh, new, and unlike any other Dickens novel out there. Though this wears off by the second half, it is still great story-telling with many heart-wrenching moments. I'm still crying over Ham.

#3: I Capture the Castle by Dodi Smith. Absolutely wonderful book. Pure and simple. The writing, the characters, the setting, the story...all of it was to die for. I utterly enjoyed every second of this coming of age story. If you haven't read it read it NOW!

#2: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Wow. That is the only word to describe this book. Though on the surface the plot sounds rather dull, the hidden truths in this gem of a book make it achingly beautiful. Plus, Robinson's writing is so luscious and captivating. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

#1: Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann. So how good was this book? I finished it in less than 3 weeks. Yes, a 700+ pg book without having to renew it. Honestly, this book sucked me in from page one. I could barely tear myself away, and "wasted" (my mom's words) lots of time by laying on my bed reading it. It has been a long time since a book has grabbed me like that. A great intro to Mann, a great intro to German lit, a great book period!

I hope that your 2010 was great and that 2011 will be a wonderful year in books for all of us. Here is a sneak peek of the books I'll be reading during the first part of this year:

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens: My quest to read all of Dickens' works continues with his story of a young girl growing up in the Marshalsea Debtor's Prison. Though it involves many problems of the Victorian era, I think that even modern readers will recognize our own world in the pages of this classic.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote: The well-known story of Holly Golightly, the country girl turned New York society woman who is perhaps Capote's most famous creation.

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry: Berry is an American poet/writer and member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Jayber Crow is part of his Port William Fellowship collection that tells the story of an aging barber in a small community in Kentucky.

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope: Back in 2009, Newsweek published a list of books most important for understanding our times. At the top of their list was this 1875 classic. This story of financial ruin and ultimate greed should look very familiar.