A poem for your weekend: ‘Hope is the Thing with Feathers’

Hands up if you love Emily Dickinson. I thought I’d share a favorite poem of mine today, one that I constantly think of, “Hope is the Thing with Feathers.”聽I love the imagery of hope being a bird, a bird that never asks anything in return, and always comes back to help those who need it most. Just reading this poem is enough to infuse some happiness and hope in me, and it’s ironic and lovely that this poem is, in essence, hope. At least for me! It always lifts my spirits.

I absolutely adore this poem, and I know so many of you do, too! Enjoy, and have a wonderful Saturday! I’ll be celebrating Fourth of July here in the States, so just a lot of barbecue, beach, and beer. = perfect. 馃槈Read More 禄

Lit Quote // Know your flaws

To continue in the theme of Pride and Prejudice, I have a lit quote today from that book, the greatest of all books, that distinguishes between pride and vanity. The quote is spoken by Lizzy’s little sister Mary, the pedant who thinks she knows everything and is better than everyone, making this quote kinda ironic.

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It’s ironic because Mary is verrrryyy proud, and Lizzy is both proud and vain! I love Pride and Prejudice for a very many reasons, but one of them is because the two main characters are proud and flawed, and each has to come to terms with their own pride/vanity/what-have-you before they can get together. Title makes sense now, don’t it? 馃槈

It also reminds me that even though Elizabeth Bennet is one of the best characters in literature聽ever, she’s still so far from perfect. There’s a lot to learn from a character like that.

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Book Rec // ‘Villette’ by Charlotte Bront毛

Next on my to-read list for this year was a Charlotte Bront毛 novel I’ve been meaning to read since college:聽Villette. I’m slowly working my way through my classics shelf via my Over Drive app (yay for audiobooks!) and I’m happy to have read this amazing book.

Jane Eyre is the Charlotte Bront毛 novel most people are familiar with, but this one,聽Villette, was Charlotte’s last novel and her most autobiographical. Even though it took me forever to read, this classic is a must-read!

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Favorite author of the moment // Daphne du Maurier

daphne du maurierMy love for Daphne du Maurier has been a slow burn. In high school, like approximately 97% of us, I read Rebecca and utterly loved it. Then we read “The Birds” in class and I loved that, too. Last year, I read her other short stories in a collection, and those horror-infused short stories still haunt me to this day. Then later on in 2015, I visited a secondhand bookstore in the city and bought three of her novels: Frenchman’s Creek, Jamaica Inn, and The House on the Strand. I absolutely adored Frenchman’s Creek, her romance novel with themes of female freedom, and now I am looking forward to reading the highly-esteemed Jamaica Inn. Daphne du Maurier is my favorite author of the moment, and here’s why you should definitely put her books on your TBR.
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Happy May Day // a Sappho poem for you

Today is May Day, a day I have recently associated with spending time with my sisters, usually putzing around the Bronx Botanical Gardens and eating takeout, or聽reading my favorite books. May is my favorite month of the year; somehow it always seems magical to me, and May Day is an ancient, pagan ritual that goes back centuries. Now, we celebrate it for fun, but it used to mean a lot to a lot of our ancestors.

It was originally a celebration of spring and a day to worship Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers. It was also associated, at times, with witches and the occult, whether it was positively skewed (as in healers and mystics) or negatively (during Puritan times).
But that’s all in the past. Anyway, I digress. I would like to share a poem here from one of my favorite poets, Sappho. Her work only exists in fragments, but her capacity to describe love, desire, heartbreak, and the strength of nature is undiminished despite the works’ brevity. Her work reminds me of spring, so it seems fitting to share here on May Day.

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Some Shakespeare for your Saturday

So, today, April 23, is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and according to some sources, his birthday as well! To honor the Bard in a small way, here are his first and last sonnets.

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From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And tender churl mak’st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.

The first sonnet is addressed to a male friend of Shakespeare’s. He’s trying to convince his friend to have children, so his beauty and legacy can live on. He’s urging his friend not to be niggardly and end his family’s line, that it would be “cruel” to the world. Wouldn’t this sonnet convince you to have children? 馃槈
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‘Candide,’ optimism, and laughing out loud

Oh, man. Candide is one of those books everyone should read once in their lives, if only for the laughs. Written by the genius wit Voltaire in the late eighteenth century, this slim satirical novel is basically an candideevisceration of the common “optimistic” ideology of the time that basically argued that tragedy (war, natural disasters, crime, murder) is no big deal, because evil serves a greater purpose: to bring good into the world. Voltaire HATED this philosophy, and so he wrote a funny little novel about it. (A funny little novel that cemented his status as one of the great genius thinkers of his time, and ensured his immortality in literature and culture.)

What it’s about: Candide is about optimism. Plotwise, it’s聽about a man named Candide who lives on a manor estate in Germany and who has been taught by a philosopher named Pangloss that the world they live in is “the best of all possible worlds.” Pangloss is a vehement Optimist, and instills in Candide the idea that tragedies happen for the best (for the greater good), and that the world they live in is the best it could possibly be. Right afterward, Candide and a dozen of other characters undergo a series of absurd, over-the-top, ridiculous sufferings, so that Voltaire can basically make fun of an ideology he abhorred so strongly.

I wasn’t kidding about the laughs! Everything each character goes through is so unbelievably exaggerated, like Pangloss being hanged, burned, and cut open, and yet at the end of the novel he comes rowing up to Candide like nothing ever happened. I read this mainly on audiobook, and I was laughing hysterically on my commute!

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A new favorite book: ‘Howards End’ by E.M. Forster

howards endToday, I finished one of the books I’ve been wanting to read forever, Howards End by E.M. Forster. Forster wrote one of my top 10 favorite books of all time (A Room With A View), and it’s clear from how effing amazing this book is that this is truly Forster’s聽masterpiece. It’s unique, endlessly poignant, surprising, and makes you go, “OH MY GOD THAT IS SO TRUE.” A new favorite, truly! Here’s what the big deal is all about.

What it’s about:聽It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what Howards End is聽about, because it’s about so many things: women聽versus聽men, socialism versus capitalism, town versus country, the inner life versus the outer, and our relationship to the earth. It’s also about home, and has a touch of magic to it.

However, the actual plot centers upon two families: the cultured London sisters Margaret and Helen Schlegel, and the Wilcox family of cold and practical businessmen. These two families are complete opposites and frequently butt heads, and their meetings, fights, and unions are characterized by rich discussions about all of the Big Questions of life. It’s also an indictment of common English practices and rigid social classes.

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A poem for your Saturday // William Wordsworth

Happy Saturday, everyone. I thought I’d share a poem here today, by one of my favorite poets William Wordsworth.

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

william wordsworthI wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed鈥攁nd gazed鈥攂ut little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

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My favorite quotes from ‘Great Expectations’

Earlier this month I read Great Expectations, and previously, the only other Charles Dickens books I’d read were Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol. Recently, I’ve been making an effort to read the classics, and since this is where I talk about books, I thought I’d share some thoughts, highlights, and favorite moments from Great Expectations, a classic, beloved story (because clearly, “reviewing” the classics is utterly useless!).

great expectationsEven if you haven’t read Great Expectations, you probably know a little about the story: a poor little boy named Pip lives with his sister and her husband, and is set to be a blacksmith when he gets older. However, he has these wild fantasies of being a gentleman, and is ashamed of his poverty, his low status in society, and of his family, who are like him. His “great expectations” are to be a proper gentleman (and to come into money), and eventually, he gets what he wants鈥攂ut not the way he thought he would.

Along the way, he meets people from all corners of society, and learns that social circles and maintaining status are difficult and superficial. There’s Miss Havisham, an old woman who has never changed out of her wedding dress (or thrown away the cake) since her groom abandoned her on her wedding day decades ago.

There’s also Estella, the adopted child of Miss Havisham, who was raised to be a weapon by which Miss Havisham can get back at men for what her groom did to her. There’s also Joe Gargery, the simple, proud, and loving father figure to Pip, whom Pip utterly abandons when he comes into money. And then there’s Pip himself, a man who has a good heart, but whose obsession with money and status makes him forsake the people who loved him unconditionally.

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