Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Opposite of Loneliness

Marina Keegan had just finished her degree at Yale University.  She was a prolific and talented writer. Yet I would never have heard of her had my friend not sent me the link this afternoon. 

It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.

In the article Marina spoke of not letting go of the urge to try for more, to not stop until we reached our goals, and that the end of university did not signal the end of the chances we had to try something new.  

Of course, there are things we wished we did: our readings, that boy across the hall. We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. More than once I’ve looked back on my High School self and thought: how did I do that? How did I work so hard? Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us.

I was shocked when the first comments said 'Rest in Peace'.  So much so that I wondered whether it was another internet hoax.  Sadly it wasn't, instead, here was a talented, determined, hardworking, and loving young woman; who had given so much of her time and energy to promoting a better world, dying in a tragic road accident aged 22. 

We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.

I urge you to read Marina's essay, it has a profound poignancy knowing how little time Marina had after it had been written. Personally it made me want to strive to do more with the time that I have, it made me thankful that I am alive, and forced me to sit down at my desk and finally start writing that play I've been banging on about all year.

Marina's essay can be found here; and some more of the articles which she has written are here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bonjour Tristesse

'Bonjour Tristesse' ('Hello Sadness') tells the story of Cecile, aged 18, whose mother died when she was young so has spent most of her life in a convent. Her father, a ‘very young’ forty year old, has spent her childhood having affairs and womanising and doesn't stop when Cecile leaves school and joins him.

The two go on holiday to the south of France with her father's latest girlfriend, aged 26, Edna is a fair-skinned red headed beauty who, within days of arriving in much sunnier climes than Paris becomes sunburnt, unattractive and neglected by Cecile's father. Cecile begins a romance with a local fisherman, Cyril, following her impulses and trying to avoid boredom – a boredom which means with the changing minute she loves, then lusts after him; allowing him to fall head-over-heels for her. A few days after Edna becomes sunburnt Cecile's father invites his old ‘friend’ Anne down to stay - Anne being around his own age and the closest Cecile has gotten to having a mother. Within a few weeks of Anne arriving she has gotten engaged to Cecile's father, banned Cecile from seeing Cyril and ordered Cecile to spend her days studying for her resit examination at the end of the summer. Cecile has no intention of revising and instead spends her days plotting ways to get rid of Anne - a woman who she doesn't know if she loves or hates.

Francoise Sagan failed her exam aged 18 and decided to write this book. I think there's a strong overlap between Francoise, the writer, and Cecile, the young girl who is feeling so many emotions and doesn't quite know how to cope with them. I immediately felt like the emotions which Cecile felt were real and could relate easily - her reasons and motives behind her actions, even the day-to-day actions of no consequence had a mix of emotions which I felt was more human than her just feeling angry or upset etc. It's such a short story and so easy to read - set in the South of France there's an awful lot of sunbathing, sunshine and swimming in the sea which will make you hungry for a holiday. I'd say this was a book about emotions rather than just 'love' and as such it's a book which will have you 'feeling' rather than 'thinking'.

'I realised that I had attacked a living, sensitive creature, not just an entity. She too must once have been a rather secretive little girl, then an adolescent, and after that a woman. Now she was forty, and all alone. She loved a man, and had hoped to spend ten or twenty happy years with him. As for me.... that poor miserable face was my work.'

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Judging A Book By Its Cover...

We can tell what genre the book we're enjoying belongs to by its cover and despite the saying telling you not to judge a book by its cover, we all do.  There are some very talented book cover designers out there, and I may have spent the afternoon just swooning over the covers alone on my newly bookmarked website, these are some of my faves:

pretty much all of Nabokov's covers are a little bit awesome!
do you have a favourite book cover? share!
source for all images 
// bloglovin' :: goodreads

Monday, May 21, 2012

Delicacy By David Foenkinos

Suddenly he understood that he couldn't stand not having love anymore, that he was suffocating by living in a desiccated world.  No one took him in her arms, no one showed the slightest bit of affection when it came to him.  Why was it this way?  He'd forgotten the existence of kindness.  He was excluded from sensitivity, from delicacy.
Natalie meets the love of her life on the streets of Paris, having grown up in the same town, it seemed like fate when they bumped into each other, got married without a fuss, settled down to happy years of marriage together, until one day, Francois is killed in an accident.  And her life, and love, are not whole any more. She throws herself into her work, rejecting advances from a boss who only hired her because he was attracted to her, she instead falls in love with a quirky nobody of the office who is the eccentric and bumbling to her chic beauty.

It isn't a complicated plot, it's quite simple, but each chapter of prose is punctuated by a snippet of 'real life' information about the characters.  Natalie would get a train, and the details of her journey are listed, or the pages in the novel she was reading, the characters in the play.  It's this sort of intimate details which add thickness and a reality to the plot which is missing in similar novels.  You can see how real life events mirror the books we are reading or the seemingly 'random' choices which we make.

The prose itself is beautifully written.  I believe that the subject matter: love, is something many have attempted to write about and failed.  But Foenkinos takes a new perspective - his writing is delicate, intricate, and refreshing.  You dive into the characters thoughts, musings, passions, emotions and then contrast this with the real-life mundane details as I said before, of the train which they caught or the newspaper article they were reading.
Ultimately, it's a charming read, full of intricacies and a touching storyline, you really do feel for the characters.  I loved every second of reading it!
// bloglovin' :: goodreads

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Storm


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Q&A

 The Rules: 
1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you've tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you've taken part!

What are you reading right now?
Delicacy by David Foenkinos

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
I'm Dancing As Fast As I can by Barbara Gordon.

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
The Places that scare you: a guide to fearlessness by Pema Chodron
The Art of Racing in the rain by Garth Stein

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?

None; blogs are my magazines!

What’s the worst book you've ever read?

It takes a lot for me to be unable to read a book; but I did struggle a lot with The Twilight series - I couldn't finish New Moon, I just thought the writing was so simple, repetitive, and just uninspired really. (sorry twihards!)

What book seems really popular but you actually hated?

See above!

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt.  Undoubtedly my favourite book so I believe everyone else should love it too; it's just so full of mystery, intrigue and darkness, it just swallows you up.  I adore it. (This was actually Rosie's answer, but it's also true for me, you should read this book!)

What are your 3 favourite poems?

The Listeners by Walter de la Mare
The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
Poem for my future love by Clare Pollard
see some of my other favourite poems here.

Where do you usually get your books?
The library, or on my kindle.

Where do you usually read your books?

In bed, or the bath.  This is what happens when I read books in the bath a bit too often though...

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
Every Saturday my daddy and I would journey to our local bookshop and buy a new book.  I was determined to read every book in the Famous Five series!

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
The Hunger Games trilogy!

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

Yes, funnily enough when I was studying Biology we were supposed to read Darwin, I just said that I had, but when I started studying English Literature one of our assignments was to read Darwin.  And I actually enjoyed it, ha.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

I have about three copies of Pride and Prejudice - one I bought just because its cover is gorgeous.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?
Anything by: Roald Dahl (I'm re-reading them in Spanish now!), Enid Blyton, Jacqueline Wilson, Anthony Horowitz.

What book changed your life?
Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin was the first book I read about body issues, eating disorders, it made me aware that sadly this was such a prevalent issue - i posted about it here.

What is your favourite passage from a book?

There is no way that I have an absolute favourite passage, there's simply too many to choose from, but this one stands out from the others just a little bit more...

What are your top five favourite authors?

Jonathan Safran Foer (what that man does with words!)
Virginia Woolf
Ernest Hemingway
J. D. Salinger
The Bronte Sisters (cheating, but they sort of come as a package!)

What book has no one heard about but should read?
Rockettes, Rockstars, and Rockbottom by Keltie Colleen or Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin, both should be essential reading for women, IMO.

What 3 books are you an “evangelist” for?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
How to be a woman by Caitlin Moran

What are your favourite books by a first-time author?

One Flew Over the Cuckoos' Nest by Ken KeseyTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Secret History
by Donna Tartt

What is your favourite classic book?
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It's a little bit wonderful.

5 other notable mentions?

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I tag: Michelle, Emily, Graylin, Jen, Heather, Casee Marie, Bee, and Megan who've kindly shared their favourite book on my blog!  

And many thanks to Kate for tagging me!

If you're inspired to fill out the q&a yourself, please leave a link in the comments so I can come and take a peek!

// bloglovin' :: goodreads

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Currently Reading: 'Delicacy'

I'm a sucker for French films, so when I saw this trailer at the cinema, I knew I'd have to read it.   It's beautifully translated, and I am devouring it, especially since I'm stuck in bed with a nasty cold (euck).
'She walked into her living room, and everything was there. To the smallest detail. Nothing had moved. The blanket, still on the couch. The teapot, on the low table, as well, holding the book she'd been reading.  She was struck by the sight of the bookmark, especially.  The book was cut in two by it: the first part, read while Francois was alive.  And at page 321, he was dead.  What should she do? Can you keep reading a book interrupted by the death of your husband?'
// bloglovin' :: goodreads
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