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Showing posts from August, 2018

End of Season 2 - Summer Break

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If you missed it in last Monday's episode, I mentioned Episode 30 was the last installment of Season 2.  I've also decided to take the rest of August off, as well as the whole of September, before coming back for Season 3 in October.

This break gives me a chance to make improvements to the podcast, diversify my reading, and work on other projects such as writing.  It also happens to be a good time personally, since I'm going through some sudden changes at work which will need more of my attention (and energy).

In the meantime, be sure to catch up on older episodes, suggest new books or topics, and follow me on Instagram (@classicsconsidered).  There is a lot of new content coming to this site as well, so watch for more updates in the coming weeks!

Books I Gave Up On

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Two weeks ago, I mentioned I was reading The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux.  Well...I'm still reading it, and I'm not even halfway.

For a story about a family moving to the jungle, this book is extremely slow.  I keep thinking "I'm finally getting into it!" only to get bogged down by endless descriptions of Allie's (the dad) smart-aleck comments and ego bigger than the commune he's founding.  So yeah, I'm thinking about calling it quits.

It irritates me to give up on a book...I'm a completist by nature.  Since 2012 (when I started keeping track), I've given up on 14 books, which spread out over 6 years is still more than I'd like.  On the other hand, there have been books I wish I'd given up on (Kafka's The Castle) but for whatever reason just couldn't bring myself to do it.

With that in mind, which are the 14 that made the unlucky cut?  In roughly reverse-chronological order:

14. The Kill by Émile Zola - I talked about this a few…

Finding 'A Room of One's Own' - Episode 30

In A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf takes us through a history of women in fiction, from the unknown poets of Elizabethan times to 18th and 19th-century writers like Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë.  This little book is not only for feminists, but for anyone interested in the life and classic writings of female authors.

Apologies for the intermittent background noise, near the beginning of the episode.  It was probably me leaning on my "lectern" - i.e. a white cabinet on wheels, which may not be the most stable setup...  I'll be taking extra precautions in the future!

Sources / Further Reading:
"Virginia Woolf Was More Than Just a Women’s Writer" - Humanities magazine
Virginia Woolf's suicide note (Wikisource)
Napoleonic Code (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Clara Schumann's Lieder - A Classical Cousin

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Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own has me currently entranced with its gentle, yet poignant questions about women's history - not just in fiction, but in culture and arts generally.

According to a Washington Post quiz (which, given its loaded questions, ought to be taken with a pinch of salt), I come under the umbrella of "Yes, but..." feminists, meaning I identify as somewhat feminist but am also critical of feminism as it stands today.  Without getting deeply into the topic - I am trying, by a thread, to stay apolitical on this blog - I would say that's a fairly accurate summary of my outlook.

My main concern for women's rights are those basic ones which are still lacking in other countries.  In Woolf's book, I am reminded that women in the West underwent similar struggles.  For example, as lately as 100 years ago, a choice of career was limited:
...I had made my living by cadging odd jobs from newspapers, by reporting a donkey show here or a weddin…

When We Were Orphans - A Study in "Meh"

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It's London in the 1930s, and Christopher Banks has what most people want: his dream job.  After a childhood of playing detective with his best friend Akira, Christopher grew up to be one of England's leading private investigators, highly sought after both professionally and socially.  In spite of his success, he can't forget the life he left behind him in Shanghai, nor the fact that his parents remain missing there and unaccounted for.  Christopher's greatest hope is to go back to Shanghai to find them, even if it means returning to a war zone.  It turns out, however, that new relationships - including his love for a lonely socialite - make committing to his past the hardest case to solve.

This book could not have had a more promising premise.  I've raved about the nuances of Empire of the Sun (another story about an English boy in Shanghai), and I know Ishiguro can be incredibly subtle.  I also love a good mystery with a Sherlock Holmesian character.  Put all th…

Reading and Podcasting: Behind the Scenes - Episode 29

How did I first get into classic literature, let alone podcast about it? This week's episode features a glimpse into my reading life and podcasting journey, as well as some tips and technology which have helped me along the way.

Opening quote is from South by Sir Ernest Shackleton.  It has no bearing on today's topic; it's just a nice quote on a topic that's been on my brain.

Links:
Classics Considered on Instagram - Follow to get sneak peeks of future episodes!
Noonlight Reads - My all-purpose reading blog.  Links to my stories can be found here.
RSS Owl - A free, open-source RSS / blog reader
Lithium (app) - Useful for reading Project Gutenberg ebooks on an Android tablet
OneNote Online

What I'm Reading: A Little Bit of Everything...

It's been an interesting week.  As I shared on my personal Instagram, it's been a rough one, too.  What do I do when I'm having a bad week?  Read, obviously.

The last couple of weeks, I've been juggling a veritable carousel of books.  Here's the rundown:

The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux - I fully expected to finish this one in time for next Monday's podcast episode.  (It didn't happen.)  Basically, this is a dark comedy about a prepper, Allie Fox, who uproots his family from rural Massachusetts and relocates to Central America.  It's as weird as it sounds.  I find a steady diet of cynicism to be a bit much, but there are some genuinely humorous moments.  Be warned, offensive (not funny) language also abounds, as well as racial slurs.  I am curious to see how it ends, though I can't imagine it ends well.

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro - On Goodreads, I described this as "Sherlock Holmes meets Empire of the Sun."  It's not Ishig…