Books

Book 581: The Jane Austen Book Club – Karen Joy Fowler

The last time I read this a good friend loaned it to me and we were still living in the dorms in undergrad! (So a really long time ago.) I don’t even know where this copy came from that I picked up, but it was a pleasure to revisit. I can’t believe it’s been FOUR YEARS basically since my friends and I did our own JABC.

Re-reading this was like visiting an old friend. They made a pretty true-to-the-book film adaptation in 2007 (IMDb link) that makes it feel like it hasn’t been almost a decade-and-a-half since I last read this.

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Books

Book 404: The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (Paula Spencer #1) – Roddy Doyle

Doyle, Roddy - The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (Paula Spencer #1)After seeing someone else post about Doyle recently, I decided I needed to bump this one up my list. It’s been on my shelf since December 2012 when I picked it up at the Harvard Bookstore Warehouse Sale. I had no idea it was a two book series until I started this one and Goodreads had the convenient link to the other book, Paula Spencer, which I will read at some point.

Let’s start by saying that if I judged Ireland solely by the books I read it would be full of gays, wars, alcoholics and abuse. For some reason, perhaps it’s that chip on Ireland’s shoulder, but every single book I’ve read set in Ireland deals with the darker side of humanity. And as much as I know this isn’t true, it makes me wonder what else is out there in Ireland because it can’t all be this depressing!

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Books

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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Books

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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Books

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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Books

Book 341: Funny Girl – Nick Hornby

Hornby, Nick - Funny GirlThe only other Hornby I’ve read is High Fidelity (the film adaptation was meh). And I loved the film adaptation of About A Boy, so I wasn’t sure where this novel would go. I hadn’t planned on reading it, but one of my favorite podcasts, Pop Culture Happy Hour, announced they were going to do an episode a few months ago so I put it on hold and timed it almost perfectly to listen! (I missed the exact episode by a little less than week.)

I think the podcast hit the nail on the head when they talked about the story being more focused on “the show [Barabara (and Jim)] rather than the funny girl of the title, Barbara/Sophie. But what Hornby didn’t do, was show us the show; he only ever referred to specific gags, situations or dialogue. Someone on PCHH said it should’ve been called “The Show” and I can’t agree more. It would be a better title and I would definitely have chosen to read it if that were the title too!

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Book Group, Books, The Classics Club

Book 339: Emma – Jane Austen

Austen, Jane - EmmaFor book two of our Jane Austen Book Club, my friends and I decided to conquer Emma (Amazon Affiliate link). It has always been my least favorite of the six and reading Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education both confirmed that and helped me get around this problem. His talking about Emma and it’s belief in the importance of every day trivialities, as well as Margaret Drabble’s excellent introduction led me to think about the book differently.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still boring as anything in most points, but Austen wrote it this way. According tot Drabble, Austen wrote this novel in such excruciating detail in direct response to the detractors of her previously published novel Mansfield Park, which I love. Drabble says, “This is domestic realism almost with a vengeance.” (xix) AND it is! The hyper focus on every detail, the incredibly limited scope of setting, characters and even conversation topics is overwhelmingly mundane. It is an assault on the senses, and as a fellow JABC member said “i’m diagnosing myself with ’emma-induced narcolepsy.'” (Thanks Dalton!)

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