Top Ten Wishes I’d Want the Book Genie to Grant Me

Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, discusses our dreams and fantasies. If a genie appeared in front of you to grant you ten wishes, what book-related things would be on your list? (And no, “infinity more wishes” cannot be an answer, you cheaters!)

I will be revealing my top 10 in my favorite form: the gif listicle! Let’s get started!

1. A library to rival the one in “The Beauty and The Beast.” Floor-to-ceiling shelving, the comfiest of couches, you name it!

2. The ability to understand all languages, so I’m no longer limited to reading books published in English. It would be great to discover more international authors!

3. A redo of the movie adaptation of “The Golden Compass,” this time made by filmmakers who are unafraid of pissing off the Catholic Church. In fact, let’s erase the original from all our memories while we’re at it.

4. An adults-only Harry Potter prequel about the Marauders, in which Lily and Snape have a hot-and-heavy romance. I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP.

5. A chance to time travel to 100 years from now so I can read the books created from the Future Library, starting with Margaret Atwood’s!

6. On the flip side, to go back in time to save the ancient Library of Alexandria from being destroyed in a fire. Imagine what we could learn!

7. For George R.R. Martin to finally complete writing the Game of Thrones series already! Stop torturing us and get back to torturing your characters!

8. To host a roundtable of my favorite living authors where we can have a fancy meal while nerding out on literature all evening!

9. For all children, regardless of their gender or socioeconomic class, to be able to attend school and read books without the threat of violence. Can’t have all my wishes be selfish!

10. A private Shakespearean poetry reading by Tom Hiddleston. Ok, this last wish is completely selfish 😉

It was so difficult to narrow down all my wishes to just ten. Which one of these would you also like to be granted to you? (Except #10, you can’t pick that one. I’ve already called dibs!)

Top Ten Books With Characters Who Commit Infidelity

Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is pretty much a free-for-all, since the topic is “Top ten books which features characters who…” and it’s up to us bloggers to finish the sentence.

Why did I pick the oh-so-controversial subject of adultery? Because my first thought turned to English class during my junior year of high school, the theme of which I had dubbed, “Women who cheat on their husbands.” Not all the required reading fit into this category, but a whole lot of it did.

Call me a harlot if you want, but there’s something so captivating about women trapped in loveless marriages and seeking passion outside of them. Many of these novels were written during historical periods in which it was taboo for women of a certain age to be unwed, and I don’t blame these characters for rebelling against the prison that society coerced them in. No one gave the husbands any grief for cheating, so I say down with the double standard!

Thus, here are my top ten books with characters (both men and women!) who commit infidelity:

TTT Cheaters 1

TTT Cheaters 2

Women Who Have Wandered

1. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
3. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Men with Mistresses

6. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
7. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
8. Medea by Euripides

Classic Cheaters I Need to Read

9. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
10. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Hey, English Majors: Are Dead White Authors Still Relevant?

Those of you who studied literature in school are familiar with the term, “Western canon,” a politically correct phrase meaning the dead white men (and select dead white women) who are deemed worthy enough of academic study. The laundry list of these authors include Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Poe, Twain, Melville, Faulkner, the Bard himself of course, and occasionally Austen and a Bronte sister every now and then.

After hundreds, even thousands of years studying the Western canon, in 2015 more and more scholars are asking: should we still be caring about dead white authors? This question was recently brought up by online publications The Atlantic and Gizmodo.

Irvin Weathersby Jr., an African-American educator, writes in The Atlantic that he had difficulty explaining to his students of color why dead white authors mattered. He goes on to say this:

In fact, the power of literature lies in its interconnectedness, the ways in which authors and ideas overlap and communicate. If this dialogue is muted through an unwillingness to embrace difference, the value of reading is nullified.

His point is not to isolate any particular group, either by reading only dead white authors or by reading only authors of color. He asks that we teach black history year-round, not just during February. Racial segregation is clearly wrong, and that applies to our English classrooms as well.

In Gizmodo, Saladin Ahmed, an Arab-American sci-fi and fantasy writer, discusses the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Twitter movement, in which readers are challenged to stop reading straight, cisgendered, male authors for an entire year. Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi, and Daniel Handler were among the banned to show their support.

Someone once told me they wanted to read my books but were reading only women for a year. I said, cool, my books will be there in a year. – John Scalzi

Ahmed points out that the publishing industry upholds the white patriarchy just like every other, noting that 98% of the NYT bestseller list is composed of white authors. Unless you actively seek out marginalized writers, most books you’re exposed to will be written by white men. He ends with this:

Now certainly, one could spend one’s life reading only books by straight white men, and never run out of wonderful material. But this is akin to spending a lifetime’s worth of vacations visiting only Disneyland.

He means that no one is obligated to read anything, but limiting yourself to the default option is–let’s face it–boring. He agrees with Weathersby Jr. by believing that interconnectedness provides readers a more fulfilling experience.

So what do I think? I agree with these writers that the publishing industry should be more egalitarian. Although the college I attended, UC Santa Cruz, does a better job by including diverse authors (even calling the major “Literature” instead of “English” to avoid the bias toward English-speaking countries), I realize that my education was still heavily skewed toward dead white guys.

Do I love reading the Western canon? Absolutely. But I also believe that Chinua Achebe and Toni Morrison have as much literary merit as Charles Dickens and Joseph Conrad. And you can’t deny that the latter gets more exposure in academia than the former.

What this debate makes us conscious of is our own reading habits and what we can do to improve them. Although I have no problem including female authors given my preference for young-adult fiction and romance, I recognize that most of the people I read are white heterosexuals. I know that I’m missing out on unique perspectives, and I hope to remedy that in my reading.

This means I’ll need your help! I’d love to hear your recommendations of diverse authors. I can’t read them if I’m not aware of them, so let’s spread the awareness! By making our reading more well-rounded, we thereby become better human beings.

Top Ten Quotes from My Favorite Books

Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is about our favorite quotes from literature. Books have the power to put your deepest, most complex thoughts into words that stick with you for your entire life.

I’ve separated these ten quotes into three categories: existential ideas that make you think, timeless adages that make you appreciate each moment, and heart-wrenching words that make you pine for love and mourn its absence.

Let me know what you think of these quotes, and feel free to add your own!

Evoking Existentialism

1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik

2. The Stranger by Albert Camus

3. Demian by Hermann Hesse

The Traveling of Time

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Love and Loss

7. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

8. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

10. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Book Review: The Buried Giant

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5

In anticipation of meeting Kazuo Ishiguro this Thursday, I’ve just completed his latest novel in ten years: The Buried Giant.

I have already discussed at length why I love Ishiguro’s writing so much in this recent blog post. Needless to say, after such a blockbuster success with his last novel Never Let Me Go, fans’ expectations were extremely high while reading this book!

The Buried Giant is yet another one of Ishiguro’s experiments with genre. It features Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple living in a mythical, post-Arthurian Britain. Due to a mysterious mist, people have fallen victim to forgetfulness: it’s not uncommon for the villagers to get riled up about something only to forget their troubles the next day.

Unsure of their estranged son’s whereabouts, or even if he is living or dead, Axl and Beatrice set off on a journey to find him. Along the way, they befriend a skilled Saxon warrior, his young cursed apprentice, and Sir Gawain of King Arthur’s court.

This misfit group of travelers face ogres, pixies, and other monsters, but once they discover the cause of this mist, they must confront an even more fearful obstacle–whether to regain their lost memories or continue living in blissful ignorance of the truth.

As you can probably tell, this is no ordinary fantasy tale. Ishiguro packs so much metaphor into this story that what’s more interesting is what’s going on between the lines. His use of simple, stilted dialogue gives the impression that these characters are allegorical, and you quickly adjust from asking yourself what this book is to what this book means.

By far, the most intriguing part of The Buried Giant is the insertion of Greek myth with the enigmatic boatman. Rumor has it that couples who do not share a most cherished memory do not get ferried together, so how do Axl and Beatrice avoid separation when they cannot remember the past?

Although I did not enjoy The Buried Giant as much as Never Let Me Go, it’s still a fascinating tale of love and loss, as well as an apt reminder that history does indeed repeat itself for a reason. This book may not fit in with others in the fantasy section, but it will make readers appreciate a unique kind of magic: our memories.

Book Review: Texts from Jane Eyre

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ever since this book was published in November, I have been itching to get my hands on it, and after procrastinating on my purchase, I finally broke down and bought it this month. Was $14 worth what was essentially only a couple hours of reading? That’s certainly debatable, but you love book humor, you’ll probably find the money you spend worthwhile.

Author Mallory Ortberg is the co-creator of comedy site The Toast, and presents Texts from Jane Eyre as a collection of text conversations between literary characters of popular novels. She includes everything from classics like Moby Dick and Odyssey to bestselling YA like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

Want a sneak peek of the fun that awaits you? Here’s an example:

Image via The Huffington Post

Reading these will make you think that literary texts are such a perfect parody and wonder why no one else has seen this kind of success writing them. There’s something so hilarious about imagining Hamlet as an angsty teenager or Daisy Buchanan as that ditz who is always trying to bum rides off you. I definitely had many moments internally screaming, “This is priceless! Why didn’t I write this book?!?!” while waving goodbye to all that cold, hard cash I could have made.

So open your wallet and wave goodbye to your own cold, hard cash, because Texts From Jane Eyre is a bookworm’s wonderland. You’ll laugh out loud and want to text photos of the pages to all your friends. It will make a great book for your coffee table or to gift to your favorite English teacher. If I had to give stocking stuffers to all of you fellow book bloggers out there, this is exactly what I’d give you!

Let’s open the discussion: If you could snoop through the smartphones of fictional characters, whose texts would you be most interested in reading? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Top Ten All-Time Favorite Books Since I Started Blogging

Image hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I created Book Club Babe in July 2011, and it’s crazy to think that three and a half years have flown by since then. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, the oh-so-fun meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, has bloggers discussing their all-time favorite books in the past three years, and I thought to extend that timeframe a bit longer to celebrate all of the amazing stories that I have read since I started blogging.

Divided into their respective categories, here are my all-time favorite books since founding Book Club Babe!

  

Comedy

  1. Bossypants by Tina Fey (2011)
  2. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (2014)
  3. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (2014)

 

Young Adult

  1. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman (2011)
  2. Every Day by David Levithan (2013)

 

Historical Fiction

  1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2011)
  2. The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (2012)

  

Classics

  1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1921)
  2. 1984 by George Orwell (1949)
  3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)