Friday Five: William Blake

Happy Friday! I have been M.I.A. for a week because I went on vacation, and when I got back I was not really in the mindset for blogging, but I’m back now and ready to share some quotes for my friday five!

When I was on vacation, I stopped by this awesome used bookstore, where the books were literally flowing off the shelves–it was magical. Well, I couldn’t leave there without buying something, but I also didn’t want to buy a big book, because this was day 1 of my trip and I didn’t really have room for a big book, so I bough a little pocketbook size book of Selected Poetry of William Blake. Therefore, my friday five will feature five quotes from the wonderful poet, William Blake.

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2.

“The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom…for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.”

3.

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4.

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.”

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Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

tragedy-of-hamlet.jpgHamlet by William Shakespeare

Rating: ★★★★★ // so. much. goodness. (and killing). 

Favorite Line: “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

Review:

Am I allowed to review Shakespeare? I don’t think I am…I’m just a mere peasant, after all. Well, this will be a mini-review then, with limited critiques, mainly because I couldn’t find many things to actually criticize.

Why have I never read Hamlet before? Well, probably because I’m a punk and I assumed it was overrated. Also, I already knew the story, so I figured there wasn’t really a reason for me to read it. As it turns out, there is a reason to read it and the reason is because it’s awesome.

“To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.”

Hamlet, for all you other non Hamlet readers, is the Prince of Denmark. The play picks up right after the marriage of his mother to his uncle, which takes place only one month after Hamlet’s father, the King of Denmark, is killed. Hamlet is in a foul mood, for obvious reasons, when he meets the ghost of his father, who tells him he was murdered and must be avenged. This sends Hamlet deeper into madness, and he devises a plan to trap his father’s murderer and take his revenge. He’s also in love with Ophelia.

“Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

The plot of Hamlet is terrific. While I had known the general plot before reading, it really takes a shape of it’s own, and is much more intricate in the play. Obviously in a play the narrative is the main way of moving the plot along, and the way it is done in this play is brilliant (this is Shakespeare, after all).

I always forget how funny some of Shakespeare’s characters are. Even in a somber mood, he frequently seems to bring in the sarcastic, or at least the witty, friend to lighten the mood, or to bring the character back to his senses. Another thing I really liked about this play is that the wisdom, much of the time, comes from insignificant characters. There is a conversation between two gravediggers, I think in Act III, and they are just laying down solid philosophy the whole time, all while telling riddles and jokes to each other. So here we have a play full of royals and scholars, but some of the most intelligent conversation comes in jest between two gravediggers. It’s a great way for Shakespeare to make his point without making it too obvious.

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

The quotes alone are worth the read in this one. This is where the “method in the madness” saying comes from, the “be true to yourself” quote pops in there (of course, it’s in rhyme in the play), this is where the famous “to be or not to be” speech is found, and there is also the amazing line, “get thee to a nunnery!” which is, of course, fantastic.

“Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice; Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.”

Ok, so spoiler alert up ahead for any of you yet to pick up this play, but it’s my only criticism and I want to talk about it. Why did Hamlet have to die? I mean, I assumed it would happen from the beginning because in these plays everyone dies, but it was really unnecessary. The only reason I can think of is that he had no one else to live for, but c’mon man, you’re like 25, you will find another Ophelia and you’ll probably be King of Denmark, so just stay alive. That’s my only real criticism. I really hated that Ophelia died too…she was so sweet, but that one I understand because her life really fell apart fast. 

 

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”

I definitely want to read this one again, because it really is so rich and full of wisdom. So, is Hamlet overrated? Well, to quote Hamlet, Act III, Scene III, line 87, “No!”.

 

Friday Five: Alfred Lord Tennyson 

It was Alfred Lord Tennyson’s birthday this week, so I thought I would share some quotes and part of a poem from one of my favorite poets. Enjoy!

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“I hold it true, whatever befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

3.

4.

“Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?”

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Bonus: Part 1 of “The Lady of Shallot”

Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (mini-review)

13622161.jpgThree Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie

Rating: ★★★★// same Christie, just in bite-sized stories

Favorite Line: “She had often been alone in the house before—but she had never before been so conscious of being alone in it.”

Review: 

Agatha Christie not only gave us mystery novels, but also mystery short stories! That’s what we got here in Three Blind Mice and Other Stories. While much shorter than her usual tales, these stories still keep up all the excitement and charm of a classic Christie mystery.

Three Blind Mice is the primary and longest story in this collection, and it is quite wonderful. The best part of Christie novels is knowing that the guilty party is one you would usually least expect, so you begin to accuse pretty much everyone, and yet, you still find yourself surprised at the end. This story finds us in a classic scenario: stranded in a Bed & Breakfast with many strangers, in the middle of a snowstorm…and then, of course, murder.

The other stories all involve murder in some way, but we get to revisit the classic sleuths, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

One of them, The Third Floor Flat, involves and unintentional break in which leads to the discovery of a body. Another, Strange Jest is a fun inheritance treasure hunt. Tape-Measure Murder sends the whole town into frenzy when the seamstress is found dead. Four and Twenty Blackbirds has us wondering what on earth made the old man order blackberry tart, plus more stories to keep you reading though the night.

They are really fun and allow you to have some Christie magic, just in smaller portions.

Top Ten Tuesday: Think about it

Happy tuesday! This is the last week of the Broke and Bookish summer hiatus, so this is that last week of me just making up things to write about 😉 This week I finished a book that contained a lot of philosophical discussion, so I decided to write my top ten about classics that really made me think. Enjoy!

1. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

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“I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

2. The Brother’s Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 

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“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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“Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different.”

4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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“I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”

5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho 

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“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

6. 1984 by George Orwell

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“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley 

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“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

8. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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“It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead.”

9. Animal Farm by George Orwell

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“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

10. The Giver by Lois Lowry

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“I feel sorry for anyone who is in a place where he feels strange and stupid.”

 

That’s it for this week! What book are on your list that make you think? I’d love to add some more to my list. Next week The Broke and the Bookish are back, so I’ll actually have a real topic up here! Have a great week!

Friday Five: G.K. Chesterton

I love G.K. Chesterton. I love everything about him. He writes philosophy, theology, mystery, and fiction…basically everything I love. He was an insane genius; he could write one essay and dictate another to his wife simultaneously, which is seriously impressive. He had such a way with words that his quotes are used over and over again, and will live on forever.

1.

“The first use of good literature is that it prevents a man from being merely modern. To be merely modern is to condemn oneself to an ultimate narrowness.”

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“Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening a mind, as of opening a mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

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“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions”

 

Love this man, he never stops spittin’ truth.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite BFF’s

Happy Tuesday and first day of August! Woah, summer is flying by! I don’t know if the Top Ten Tuesday group is up and running with a new topic this week, so I just went with my own.

I’ve been listening to a lot of The Great Comet of 1812 (the musical) and it got me thinking about literary friendships. If you don’t know, TGC is about a sub-plot in War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, and it deals a lot with friendships. I haven’t actually read War and Peace yet, but I have been so impacted by the friendship of Natasha and Sonya, it made me think of other strong friendships that have impacted me. Enjoy!

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1. Marie-Laure and Werner

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This friendship is sweet and pure. Through the darkness of war this unlikely friendship emerges that brings two children together and shines a light in both of their lives.

2. Anne Shirley and Diana Barry

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 

Is there a more iconic friendship? I think not. Ok, well maybe there is, but not for me. I love these two with all my heart. They taught us the meaning of having a true bosom friend.

3. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

This classic friendship is one we all grew up on, and it shows the purity of childhood friends. It didn’t matter the class of the kids, or what their background was–if they could have fun together and look out for each other, they could be the best of friends.

4. Frodo and Sam/Merry and Pippin/Legolas and Gimli

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

I can never decide which friendship I like the best in this book, so I just put down my three favorite. These pairs prove time and time again the lengths they will go for their friends, and they are examples of the power good friends can give each other.

5. Jo March and Theodore Lawrence

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Clearly the main friendship in this book is that between the sisters, but I have always cherished the friendship between Jo and Teddy. Although, when Jo denied his marriage proposal…yeah, that was tough.

6. Bailey, Poppet, and Widget

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

This friendship was, for the most part, a sub-plot in the book, but it became a treasure in itself. Poppet and Widget bring Bailey into their lives without question, and show him a sense of belonging he had never felt before.

7. Theo and Boris

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I did not like this friendship at first because I blamed Boris for most of Theo’s problems, but as I moved further into the story it dawned on me that Boris was of Theo’s most constant friend, and he was always there for him, no matter what.

8. Sherlock Holmes and John Watson

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

Ok, maybe this is the more iconic duo…how can you not love these two? Whether it’s in the books, movies, or tv show, Holmes and Watson never disappoint, and they never fail to show how much their friendship means to each other (even if they show it in odd ways).

9. Liesel and Rudy

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

This friendship broke my heart because it was so precious. I mean, c’mon, everyone needs a friend who is willing to steal books with you!

 

10. Athos, Porthos, Aramis, & D’Artagnan 

The Three Muskateers by Alexander Dumas

“All for one and one for all!” This friendship is more than a friendship because it is a brotherhood. These men know that friendship means to die for the other, and they are more than willing to do so. It means you can quarrel and you can disagree, but in the end you come together again as one.

 

What are some of your favorite literary bff’s?

 

Around the World in 80 Posts: New York

I’ve started this series to highlight my favorite real world settings for books and what makes them so good! Feel free to join in on the fun and explore the world through your books! 

New York

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1.A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

I have said a few times that this is one of my all-time favorites (top 5 actually), but I really can’t praise it enough. This book shows the beautiful mess that is life. New York is a vital character, as well as setting, in this book, and the protagonist’s relationship with the city is wonderful.

“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

That this classic takes place in NYC is no secret. The city is alive in this book and it shows us a glimpse of what it was like in the 1920’s. This is one of my favorite summer reads, and it is best served with gin.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

3. The Horses of Central Park by Michael Slade

This one brings me back to my childhood. After reading this book (and then reading it again, and again), I wanted nothing more than to move to NYC and explore central park. This book isn’t well known, but as a kid, I thought it was the best book I had ever read.

 

4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

While this book takes place in both Las Vegas and New York City, NYC plays a bigger role than Vegas does. NYC is where the protagonist feels safe and content. It’s where he thrives and it brings him the most joy: in a word, NYC is Home.

“You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life”

 

There are so many more books I want to read that take place in this glorious city, I just don’t know where to start! What are your favorite NYC books?

 

 

 

Friday Five: Beatrix Potter

Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter!

The lovely woman brought us the unforgettable Peter Rabbit, and continues to be a cornerstone in children’s literature.

Here are five of my favorite Potter quotes in honor of her birthday!

  1. “There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”

  2. “Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.”

  3. “If I have done anything, even a little, to help small children enjoy honest, simple pleasures, I have done a bit of good.”

  4. “The place is changed now, and many familiar faces are gone, but the greatest change is myself. I was a child then, I had no idea what the world would be like. I wished to trust myself on the waters and the sea. Everything was romantic in my imagination. The woods were peopled by the mysterious good folk. The Lords and Ladies of the last century walked with me along the overgrown paths, and picked the old fashioned flowers among the box and rose hedges of the garden.”

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The Goldfinch 

41S2y8O6oXL.jpgThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Rating: ★★★★ // Beauty immersed in hardship. 

Opening Line: “While I was still in Amsterdam, I dreamed about my mother for the first time in years.”

Review:

Many books gives you snapshots of a character’s life, allowing you to fill in the gaps as you wish or as you assume they would happen. This is not the case with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Prepare to be immersed fully into Theo Decker’s conscience, as you watch and experience the up-and-down roller-coaster of his life.

Summary (via GoodReads) 

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

There were times I went from loving the story to not liking it as much, but my overall 4 star rating comes from this being a very well written book, with a complex plot, characters, and the silent suspense that lurks throughout the story. I say silent because the main conflict on the story stays buried under the bed (quite literally) until the final quarter of the book, in which all hell breaks loose. At times I actually forgot what the main conflict was, aside from the protagonist having a hard life, but then it would pop out at the right moment (mainly right as I was getting bored), and the suspense would be back. This is a unique, yet brilliant, way of telling a story.

The characters were fantastic. They weren’t all exactly “normal,” meaning some weren’t people I see myself knowing or getting involved with, but they were normal enough to convince me they existed. I really grew connected to them, and even the some I thought I disliked in the beginning, grew to show their good sides, or at least their strengths and not just their weaknesses.

“Every new event—everything I did for the rest of my life—would only separate us more and more: days she was no longer a part of, an ever-growing distance between us. Every single day for the rest of my life, she would only be further away.”

One aspect of the book that worked really well for me was the structure. The plot was written mostly linear, but there were frequent times the protagonist brought us back to stories and events that were seemingly cut out of the linear story because of irrelevance, but became relevant later in life. For example, a walk with a girlfriend was not told when it actually happened, but later when an argument took place, we were brought back to the walk because it suddenly became important. This narration technique makes the story feel real, because we see this non-linear reflection happen in our own lives.

“I had the epiphany that laughter was light, and light was laughter, and that this was the secret of the universe.”

The Goldfinch is not a short book. It spans many years and through many lifestyles. At times the pace slows down, but I found it sped up at exactly the right moments. There are moments when the story is very harsh and difficult to get through, but there are other moments that are so wonderfully joyful and beautiful, it just fills your heart. And, there are also times you want to smack Theo (the protagonist) upside the head for being a complete and utter baffoon!!

“We can’t choose what we want and don’t want and that’s the hard lonely truth. Sometimes we want what we want even if we know it’s going to kill us. We can’t escape who we are.”

I think this book could have been edited down a bit, there were quite a bit of information that was repeated, which did serve as a reminder, but was ultimately unnecessary, and made the book longer than it needed to be. There were also certain sections in the book that seemed long and mundane, and those were the parts I got bored in—take those out and this would be a five-star book for me.

I haven’t read many fictional books revolved around art, and while I love classic art I know very little about the painters and time periods in the art world, yet this book was still easy to follow. It really made me want to become an antique dealer or a painter (or a forger, but I won’t get that carried away…). I really enjoyed the art aspect, and I’m glad she didn’t just skim the surface of it, but dove deep into the topic.

“—if a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think, ‘oh, I love this picture because it’s universal.’ ‘I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you.”

When I think back on this book, I feel like I’ve read two separate books. One, I absolutely loved and I think about the plot often, the second one made me pretty uncomfortable because the content was so harsh. There are parts that deal with hard drugs and gangs, and normally this is a tough topic to read about, but Tartt does such a good job making it seem real, that it makes it much harder to read than usual.

Some reviews I have read compare this book to a Dickens novel, and I think that’s fair because it reflects on the hard life, but while reading it I read it more like a Russian novel because it has that hardship, but it also has the philosophy and light that isn’t always clearly found in a Dickens’ novel.

My advice on this book is, first of all, go for it. It’s rich and hard at parts, but I think the ending and the main plot are worth the read. The most difficult part is when he is living in Vegas, but this part passes and the book improves again after he leave. Hang in there, it’s worth it.

the_goldfinch_by_carel_fabritius_poster-rfcf3dd39ee404428ad75f3b36c27f9ea_wve_8byvr_540.jpgThe Goldfinch, Carel Fabritius