“Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes” by Edith Hamilton

Cover of "Mythology: Timeless Tales Of Go...
Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

I’ve been meaning to read this book ever since I once snuck into a classical mythology class while I was in college. I love mythology and folklore and fables and I always wanted to take a class on it but my schedule never allowed for it. So when I saw Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes chilling on a bookshelf in Barnes & Noble, I had to buy it and begin reading immediately.

I was already familiar with most of the stories thus reading Mythology was more of a refresher than an introduction. Still, if you are unfamiliar with Greek/Roman mythology and would like to know about it, Hamilton’s book is one you should pick up. Hamilton relates these stories by summarizing various plays and epic poems by great dramatists and poets such as Ovid, Apollodorus, Virgil, Pindar, Aeschylus, and many others.

Hamilton’s retelling is in story form and is engaging. She also includes small excerpts from the original sources to give readers examples of how the god, goddesses, and other notable people were described:

“Golden-throned Hera, among immortals the queen,
Chief among them in beauty, the glorious lady
All the blessed in high Olympus revere,
Honor even Zeus, the lord of the thunder.”

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Happy Birthday Lewis Carroll!!

Shout out to Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. I am in awe of his imagination because Wonderland is an incredible place. Though I enjoyed his stories, my favorite work of Lewis Carroll’s is his poem “Jabberwocky,” which is in Through the Looking-Glass. I just love the kookiness in Carroll’s work. Below is the first two stanzas of “Jabberwocky”.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’

“Jabberwocky” is the poem of the day on  PoemHunter.com. Read the rest here.

The Cheshire Cat. Isn't he creepily adorable?
The Cheshire Cat. Isn’t he creepily adorable?

Bumped into Nora Ephron at the Bookstore

Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.
Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

A few days ago, I spent my time reading Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing. I had bumped into Ephron’s I Remember Nothing at Barnes & Noble. The book was lying on the table, waiting for me to pick it up, which I did. I’ve always heard of Ephron and of how funny she is. It’s the title of the book that caught my wandering eye and drew me in. I skimmed a few paragraphs in the front and some in the middle. They sparked my interest and I decided to buy it. But—being broke because of student loans and thus on a budget—I flipped over the slim, paperback book to check its price—$14.99.

$14.99! For a skinny, paperback book?

I returned the book to its table and decided instead to get it for free from the library. $14.99, must be mad. Of course, I checked how much the Nook book costs—$9.99. That’s crazy. That’s how much the paperback should cost. So off to the library I went.

I picked up both books and began reading immediately. I enjoyed I Remember Nothing a bit more than I Feel Bad About My Neck because I read I Remember Nothing first and was a little upset to find the some of the same subjects and stories repeated in I Feel Bad About My Neck (actually, it’s the other way around since I Feel Bad About My Neck was published first). But besides that, both books were a joy to read. I would like to revisit them later on in life. At 24 years old, I don’t think that I can relate 100% to Ephron’s essays.

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Confessions of a Book Whore

I Am a Book Whore

I’m such a book whore! Seriously, why can’t I just stick to one? No, instead I start reading one and then another catches my eye and then I’m off with that one too, reading them both at once. Sometimes I feel guilty because I tend to give more attention to one than the other – most times, to the second than the first. I wish I could settle down with just one book but whenever I try to do so, my mind wanders and I begin to wonder if there’s something better out there that I’m missing out on.

For the New Year, I decided to read 30 books. It’s a doable goal. Last year’s 60 books didn’t work out well and I only read 45 by pushing myself hard. “30 books” is more relaxed. So far I’ve read 5 books, which has surprised me because I didn’t expect to read that much in just a month. The month isn’t even over yet.

The first book read was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I was so captivated by this book that it didn’t even cross my mind to consider running off with another. This book lassoed me and held fast. Most times I couldn’t even tear my eyes from the pages. Everything was done one-handed and with a quarter of my attention while I read, which caused many accidents to happen—especially in the kitchen—and shoddy clean-up jobs.

After completing The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I jumped into The Magician’s Guild by Trudi Canavan. This one is a bore. I’m still trying to make my way through it. The chemistry is simply not there and I kept wandering off so I began reading The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. Although Dillard’s book kept me interested, it was not enough to turn me from my whorish ways so I began reading A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin.

I ran off with A Wizard of Earthsea and had a blissful affair. We were involved once when I was a teenager but then I forgot about it—it’s hard to keep up when you’ve been involved with so many books. But it was great hooking up again and rediscovering what we once had. I promise this time I will not forget. It was a good lay.

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“The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard

Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.
Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

Dillard is a great writer, but I did not have the patience to enjoy or appreciate her little book on writing. I snatched Dillard’s book from the Barnes & Noble shelves because I heard of her before and I wanted to know what she had to say on writing.

I was excited to begin Dillard’s book since I’m often told how great she is. I thought that she would share some tips on how she got to be considered great. She does this, kind of, by using little anecdotes that highlight a certain quality that writers should have, or to give advice on the writing life. This is great but I would appreciate it more if I wasn’t impatient while reading.

I could not tolerate Dillard’s slow tread to get to the point. To me, some of the anecdotes go around in circles, like the loops Dave Rahm makes in his air show, before finally getting to the message. This pissed me off. By the way, I simply do not get why so many pages were spent discussing Dave Rahm. Of course, I liked it when Dillard got to the point straight away – “Write as if you were dying” – and then explain what she means or give the anecdote after stating the point.

I also couldn’t stand the weather in this book. It’s cold. Most of the book is spent discussing Dillard’s experience writing in a cold cabin in some woods. I have no idea how she made it through that. I abhor the cold though I live in a cold place and I cannot fathom writing while I froze. The weather turned me off.

Still, a part of me appreciates this book and has fallen in love with Dillard’s style and her descriptions of things and the way she sews the lesson into the seam of the anecdotes. It’s a small part of me but it greatly influences the rest of myself so I did not dash aside the book when impatience slowly tried to rule.

I will read this book again at a time when I can relax and appreciate the way Dillard crafted it. At a time when I can truly appreciate Dillard’s use of language and will not be put off by the pages spent discussing Dave Rahm. I will understand why she spent such a long time discussing him when I’m not trying to rush through the book,.

This one is not for a novice: someone who’s just entering the battle. This is for those who’ve been there a bit and need some insight or guidance. Dillard does make some great points and is funny in a dry sort of way.

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“Literary Graffiti From All Over the World” — Flavorwire

For those, like me, who are lovers of both literature and art, here is a post that you’ll enjoy. Flavorwire fused both into a list of graffiti inspired by literature. Some are artistically great and others are hilarious. These two are my favorites:

Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche

Totally hilarious!

J.G. Ballard
J.G. Ballard

Some talent here. Love the detail.

Click here to see the others.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Loved it. I am glad to have picked this up. It kept me totally engrossed to the point where I was walking around my house with my nose in the book. Charlie’s voice drew me in and made me curious about his life. But I wondered why he is so innocent for a teenage boy.

The story opens with a letter from Charlie to an unknown receiver that discusses his last year of middle school and the death of his close friend. It ends with Charlie mentioning that he is apprehensive about beginning high school. His first day of high school was actually not bad despite Charlie being attacked by a bully. But Charlie comes out on top by defeating his bully, using fight moves he learned from his older brother, and later crying about it. Charlie cries a lot.

Other than this, everyone at school simply passes by Charlie, not acknowledging him. He is a wallflower. Simply there, observing what’s around him but revealing none of what he knows. He sees many things – his sister getting hit by her boyfriend; the quarter-back of the football team kissing Patrick (Charlie’s friend); his father crying – and in all those situations he is asked to keep silent and he usually does. I guess it’s because he’s silent about so many things that he cries so much or maybe he is autistic, which many readers claim. The story never says if he is or not. The story simply lists symptoms – crying a lot, very smart, withdrawing into self and not interacting – and readers draw their own conclusions. Apparently, this is also due to a trauma experienced during Charlie’s childhood.

It’s hard to walk away from Charlie’s voice and his clear observations of the muddled lives around him. Charlie’s detachment from the events around him enables him to see things for what they are. Despite this, Charlie is unable to discern the muddled elements in his own situations. He was unable to tell that he was in a relationship or was even entering one with Mary Elizabeth. But that’s simply who Charlie is – there yet detached.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a great read and is now one of my favorites. I’m in love with the way it is written. It’s memorable. My only problem with it is that at fifteen years old, Charlie acts and thinks younger than his age. And he cries too much. Otherwise, great story.

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“A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula Le Guin

Available on Amazon and at your local book store.
Available on Amazon and at your local book store.

Just finished Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea novel and I am in awe. I decided to buy and read this book because throughout my college years, I kept being reminded of an image from a book I read while in high school: a wizard sailing to the edge of the world. I could not recall what story I imagined that image from but I searched to find it.

I kept hearing of Ursula Le Guin (especially after reading about J.K. Rowling) and decided to look her up. Her named sounded familiar. When I came across A Wizard of Earthsea, it seemed familiar as well. A part of me kept pushing to check it out because it was probably that book that the image that haunted me was from. Still, another part of me doubted it since I could not recall a story by Le Guin.

As I began reading, I got swept up in Le Guin’s storytelling. She is a master storyteller and weaves such a strong spell in her narration that you’re unable to put the book down until you’ve reached its end. It’s not all action and cliff-hangers as the majority of young adult books are today. But still it moves you along. You get caught up in the life of Ged, the protagonist who is destined to become a great wizard, and you become as curious as he is about his destiny and his shadow.

Quick summary:

Ged, a boy who was once called Duny is from a poor village in the mountains of Gont, one of the islands in the archipelago that makes up Earthsea. He bumps into his powers by accident when he overhears his aunt, a local witch, speak a word and he repeats it calling the goats he looks after to him. They come to him but would not leave and his aunt has to unbind him from them. At that moment, his aunt realizes that her nephew has some power and begins to teach him some of what she knows. Soon, he can call animals to him and later gains the nickname Sparrowhawk in his village since he is usually seen with a bird of prey.

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“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by J.K. Rowling

Available on Pottermore and at your local book store.
Available on Pottermore and at your local book store.

I was so excited to re-read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s my second favorite book in the series simply because it is the first Harry Potter book I’ve ever owned. When I was probably 12, I sent my father to Borders to battle with other parents and procure a copy for me since I was not in the country when it was released. A few days before the release date, I left to visit relatives in Jamaica. My father bought the book and brought it to Jamaica for me. I was elated. Great dad!

As soon as he gave it to me, I started to read it. I read all day and by nightfall, I had finished the book and was upset. I no longer had a Harry Potter book to read. I regretted not dragging out my reading, stretching it so that the book would last for days. But still, it was near impossible to do so since it’s hard to put down a Harry Potter book when you first pick it up.

Such was not the case this time, 13 years later, when I reread Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I had to put the book down many times. Not because I wanted to but because I have matured and now have stupid adult responsibilities (like work and bills and work) that do not allow me the leisure and pleasure of reading all day, even though I was on vacation. The one thing that remained the same is my enjoyment of the story.

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