Reads & Recs: History, Classics, and a Kiddy Book

What is everyone reading this weekend? Here’s my weekend literary list and some great recommendations for you guys!

Anne-Boleyn-Ives  HISTORY: Yesterday I took The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn off my shelf for a long overdue re-read. The book, written by the late (but still great) historian and scholar Eric Ives, is the closest thing we’ll get to a definitive account of Anne Boleyn’s life and the circumstances that led to her untimely death. You may not know this but my blog is actually named for Anne Boleyn. I’ve been fascinated by her since I bought a children’s book about her when I was 10. She’s a very interesting and always inspiring historical figure, often maligned and almost always misunderstood. Eric Ives’s biography attempts to set the record straight about who she really was, and I think he succeeds.

Another good Anne Boleyn book I read recently was The Creation of Anne Boleyn. I wrote a review of it for this blog a while back, which takes a look at Anne Boleyn and how she’s considered a contemporary feminist icon. The review was also recently featured on  the author’s (Susan Bordo) press pages! Check it out here, and definitely read those books if you want to learn more about the real Anne Boleyn.

Les-Mis-PenguinCLASSICS: This weekend I’m going to set aside some time to write about the book I recently finished, Victor Hugo’s brilliant tour-de-force, Les Miserables. Ugh, I can’t even talk about it. I saw the film when it was released and just recently saw the musical revival on Broadway, so I knew the story. But at the end of reading the novel, I felt like I was a part of the story. Some books change you, some books are unforgettable, and some pull you in like a black hole and don’t ever let go. This was one of those books. It’s about the goodness of the human heart and about redemption, but most importantly, it’s about charity for your fellow man, regardless of their flaws and vices. It’s also extremely political and taught me a lot about France’s political turmoil from 1789 to the 1860s, far more than you’ll ever get from any European history textbook. Also–Gavroche! You gotta read it.

Also: the Penguin Classics clothbound edition sucks. Every time I picked up the book, the pretty printed design came off on my hands and now the cover looks so faded and worn. For such an expensive edition, it should at least be readable, not just attractive. I should have bought a secondhand one instead!

Westing-GameKIDDY BOOKS: I just got another job tutoring a sixth grader who is reading The Westing Game in class. Since I have to read it with her, I picked up a copy of the book I read when I was about 11 or 12, and let me tell you, it is kicking my ass. It’s simple to read but there’s so much action and so many characters, and coming from a long novel with more commentary than action, it’s a lot more difficult than it should be! I keep having to go back and reread what I just read, certain I missed something. It’s also a murder mystery, so attention to detail is of the utmost importance.

Still, this book reminds me what it was like to fall in love with reading when I was young, and it reminds me why I became the voracious reader I am today. I love YA and still read the books I bought when I was young. They never get old, in my opinion.

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  • I have never rea or seen Led Miserables, may have to download that on to my tablet now, I keep telling myself to read more clasics. Even though half my degree is in Literature I feel like I have very little knowledge of anything that isn’t American or Shakespeare! So many books, so little time!

    Also I briefly reviewed children’s books for a Manchester blog and loved the excuse to read something more fantastical x

  • Man all three of them sound great! Completely agree that people should learn history not from textbooks, but from books actually written at the time 🙂