Book 395: Tropic of Capricorn – Henry Miller

Miller, Henry - Tropic of CapricornI didn’t think it was possible, but I liked this one even less than Tropic of Cancer. Seriously, I was in no way a fan of this book. The amount of raunchy sleazy descriptions in Tropic of Capricorn, if possible out weight those in the first novel.

The only thing I can truly say I’m grateful for is that I got it off my shelf where it’s languished since the 2010 Boston Book Festival (it was the last one!). It also counts toward my Classics Club list so yay for that too!

I can’t even pretend it’s hard to say why I didn’t like this book, it really was just too much sex, misogyny, sexual assault and crass language. When you add in the stream-of-consciousness I’m surprised I even got through the book. It’s no wonder the book was banned in America (Wikipedia link) for 30 years. I don’t believe in book banning or censorship, but this really tested my limits.

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Book 390: The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Plath, Sylvia - The Bell JarThis is one of those books that has so much umph in the cultural milieu that it’s a wonder I’ve never read it before. I squeezed it in just in time this month to get a podcast recorded to be released at the end of the month. If you’re in the Boston area and you want to record one let me know! :-D But, more importantly than podcasting, this book counts as the 43 book of my Classics Club journey. (See, I told you I was still chipping away). I’m so far off target it’s not even funny, but I’m glad that I’m still occasionally reading from my list.

Let’s start with the big to-do about this novel. Maybe it’s not that much of a to-do, but it felt like one. I still don’t know how much of this novel to believe is fiction. It’s very clearly labeled as fiction and yet it is very clearly Plath’s own personal story. I mean her mom wrote a letter to the American publishers saying these are real people and real stories thinly veiled as characters! There is one point where I couldn’t help but laugh because Plath writes Esther, the main character, writing a novel about a character doing the same thing. HOW META CAN YOU GET?! This is the same story being told by three different people all of whom are telling/experiencing the same story.

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Book 389: Emma (Manga Classics) – Stacy King, Crystal Chan and Po Tse

King, Stacy and Po Tse - Emma (Manga Classics)Having just finished reading the Marvel Illustrated version of Emma, I figured why not try the Manga Classics version! I received a copy from Udon Entertainment in return for my honest opinion with no compensation. And let me tell you, I am very glad I requested it!

The closest thing I’ve ever come to reading manga is watching Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z in high school and I never thought I would actually read one. I’m glad however, that I happened to listen to this Good Job, Brain! podcast the week before I read this! I felt so knowledgeable going in. This won’t be a side-by-side comparison of the two graphic adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma, but I’m sure I will refer to the major differences between the two. But first, let’s start with how to read manga.

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Book 388: Emma (Marvel Illustrated) – Nancy Butler and Janet Lee

Butler, Nancy, Jane Austen and Janet Lee - EmmaBefore I conquer Dr. Mütter’s Marvels, I decided to read the Marvel Illustrated version of Emma. If you’re not aware, Emma is my least favorite of Jane Austen’s novels. (Gasp! Horror!) This being said, I’m getting ready to read my first manga which also happens to be Emma, so maybe I’ll find something to enjoy in the story.

I will start that having already read Northanger Abbey, also adapted by Nancy Butler and Janet Lee in the Marvel Illustrated series, it made reading this one a bit easier. I think a large part of this is a direct response to the cover art of Northanger Abbey, it was so different from Lee’s illustrations. This one had the same illustration style for the story AND the covers. It definitely helped and didn’t set up any false expectations.

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Book 381: Northanger Abbey (Marvel Illustrated) – Nancy Butler & Janet Lee

Butler, Nancy, Jane Austen and Janet Lee - Northanger AbbeyI’m so glad I’m on Austen overload this year. I’m not really sure what I do on the years I don’t read this much Austen. Does that actually happen? I should start tracking my Austen reads in addition to everything else I track.

This is the second of the Marvel Illustrated Jane Austen series and I have to say I’m impressed so far. Butler knows how to reduce down the stories to their key elements without losing any of the wit and humor Austen infuses into her work. I preferred the illustration style of Hugo Petrus from Pride & Prejudice versus Janet Lee of Northanger Abbey. Which is interesting because I know it took me a while to adjust to that style, maybe when I read Emma, also illustrated by Lee, I won’t have as many issues. All of this being said, I really enjoyed this adaptation.

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Book 369: Symposium – Plato

Plato - SymposiumI understand how important this work is, you know, history and stuff (hello sarcasm), but there is no need for the introduction to be roughly half the length of the entire work! Seriously, by time I actually got to the work which I would say is about 60 pages long, I’d read 30 pages and knew almost the entire story! Whoever wrote the introduction quoted almost all of it.

Mostly this book brings back the time in my first year of undergrad where I thought I wanted to study Ancient-Medieval history and then I scrapped by with my worst grade ever in my Greek history class and spent the next three-and-a-half years trying to make up for it and improve my GPA. On the plus side, this book counts towards my Classics Club reading list and I’m slowly chipping away. Finishing this, I’ve now passed the 40 books mark (41/100) and I’m nearing the halfway point. I’m behind schedule, but I threw the schedule out the window ages ago.

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Book 368: Anthem – Ayn Rand

Rand, Ayn - AnthemGoing into Ayn Rand’s Anthem I had very little “real” knowledge of her, her writing or her politics. Everything I know about her is word-of-mouth and I’m sure exaggeration. I have no plans to change that. If I write something incredibly wrong please someone point it out, I’m just writing about my response to this story as a piece of literary fiction. And that response is wow.

I’m not sure why Rand’s masterpieces Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead get all the credit when this is a big piece of work in such a tiny package. I mean Rand was writing about post-apocalyptic dystopias before it was cool. She was contemporaries with Huxley and their bleak views  really must’ve inspired modern-day writers or maybe I’m just seeing connections where I want to see them. Either way, I would be shocked to find that the likes of Atwood, Collins and Orwell to name a few hadn’t read this work.

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