Culture Corner – January 2015

2015 01-04 License Plate GameI can’t believe it’s been four months since I last did a Culture Corner (September 2014), but the blog wasn’t lacking for culture! With the end of my 30×30 list we got to visit the Somerville Museum, finish touring the MFA with my friend Caroline and I finally attend the Boston Symphony Orchestra again. But since then, I’ve done a lot of travelling and visited quite a few museums.

One of the big things I’ve never talked about as a cultural experience is travelling. I generally focus on what I do when I get there, but driving from Boston to North Carolina and then flying from North Carolina to Omaha, Nebraska and then back to Boston really made me think about the culture of travelling.  I won’t go into it in this post, but I think I’ll probably write about it when I attempt to revive Now Entering Adulthood in the coming weeks. What I AM going to write briefly about and show lots of pictures of are my whirlwind trips in December to DC and North Carolina and my January trip to Omaha! And then throw in a few pictures of my most recent MFA visits.

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Book 328: A Jane Austen Education – William Deresiewicz

Deresiewicz, William - A Jane Austen EducationWarning: Goodreads rant – skip to second paragraph. I’m not sure what jumped up everyone’s butts on Goodreads (I shouldn’t really be surprised), but this book doesn’t deserve as much vitriol as it has received on the site. So many people trashed it without even finishing the book, many obviously had read the synopsis (Amazon Affiliate link) and yet were shocked at what they read.

The book definitely deserves a lot of the criticism, but it doesn’t deserve the pure vitriol that Goodread’s reviewers thew at it. Sure, I wanted to smack Deresiewicz for being an insufferable grad student, but it’s very clear in the synopsis that the book was going to be full of naval gazing. He made a couple of questionable sexist and classist comments and he may have reduced a lot of Austen’s genius down to basics, but it would definitely work for people who are not familiar with Austen. Seriously, if you can’t find the good in a book, why bother finishing and trashing it? Just move on to the next book.

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Book 327: The Host – Stephenie Meyer

Meyer, Stephenie - The HostI figured I would check this out after making my way through the Twilight Saga to see if Meyer’s writing was any better when she wasn’t dealing with a manic-depressive teenager girl, oh wait she’s still doing that—sort of. Joking aside, unfortunately, this is another prime example of when a better writer could’ve created a book 100 times better than the one Meyer created, but I won’t knock her she has creative ideas and is a storyteller at heart. Check out a synopsis of the book here (Amazon affiliate link) if you haven’t read it.

Perhaps her writing isn’t as terrible as I think it is, but it’s just so simple that it makes it hard to read sometimes. And to be completely honest I almost didn’t make it past the first 10-15 pages of this book because it was so bewildering and horribly written. I’m pretty sure this was a style choice for the situation, but it did not make me want to read the book that’s for sure.

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Book 326: What Matters in Jane Austen? – John Mullan

Mullen, John - What Matters in Jane AustenNeither a bad end to 2014, nor a bad start to 2015, this was well worth the read. It wasn’t all I thought it would be, but considering it was a galley I got ages ago (2012 I think) and never read (Sorry!) I’m glad I finally read it. I think I’m going to spend a lot of time with Austen this year. A few friends and I are doing a Jane Austen book club and I have quite a bit of non-fiction I’m looking forward to reading about Austen and her life. I hope everyone sticks with me throughout! I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and received nothing in return for my honest response.

What worked best for this book was the selecting of 20 themes and then talking about them across Austen’s novels. I’ve read all of her novels at least once and a few of them much more. You can look at the chapter titles to see the themes, but the ones that stood out most to me where when Mullan spoke about Austen’s mastery of novels and groundbreaking skills as a writer.

“She did things with fiction that had never been done before. She did things with characterization, with dialogue, with English sentences, that had never been done before.”

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December (And Year!) 2014 Recap

2014 12-08 Washington MonumentWhat a busy and exhausting month December was! It’s been almost a full week into the new year and I’m struggling to get a recap together so it’s going to be pretty basic. I did a lot of traveling from a birthday trip to DC (right) to my annual winter trek down to NC, with a side trip to Virginia where I completed my 30×30 list with a literary inspired tattoo, and topped off the month and kicked off the new year with friends in Charlotte, NC and a wedding in Omaha, Nebraska! I’ll do a separate December/January Culture Corner to do a recap on my traveling to DC and Omaha as I went to so many museums and traveling in itself is a type of culture!

I’m going to do a quick monthly recap in the next paragraph and then after that will be my yearly recap and a couple of small changes you’ll notice in the new year.

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