Feb 12, 2019

Top Ten Literary Couples

In honor of the day before Singles Awareness Day Valentine's Day, here's my favorite romantic relationships from literature (in no particular order):

Tatyana and Eugene from Eugene Onegin
Tatyana is a bookish country girl who writes a love letter to Eugene, a worldly and cynical city boy.  Everything falls apart from there...  The complex story and character building make it my very favorite romantic novel, and I absolutely love the Met Opera's 2014 production (due soon for a rewatch).

Arthur and Amy from Little Dorrit
Little Dorrit is like a Cinderella story where the prince is also in trouble.  In the 2008 miniseries, Matthew Macfadyen and Claire Foy brought these two characters to life, and I still can't watch this without major feels for them. 

Percy and Marguerite from The Scarlet Pimpernel
Breakups and adulteries tend to take center stage in literature, so I especially love a good story about a saved marriage.  A bit of swashbuckling doesn't hurt, either.

Natasha and Myshkin from The Idiot
In the eyes of elite society, Natasha is "damaged goods" because of sexual abuse she suffered as a child.  Myshkin understands her and vows to always love and respect her.  It's my favorite proposal scene of all time.

Nastenka and the Narrator from White Nights
The ultimate story of unrequited love between two strangers.  It's the stuff of Hollywood...but somehow, Dostoyevsky makes it work.
May your sky always be clear, may your dear smile always be bright and happy, and may you be for ever blessed for that moment of bliss and happiness which you gave to another lonely and grateful heart. Isn't such a moment sufficient for the whole of one's life? 
Mina and Jonathan from Dracula
Two intelligent characters who stay true to each other through the worst of experiences.  Literature needs more couples like them!

Phileas and Aouda from Around the World in Eighty Days
Verne isn't known for romance, but I always liked these two.

Well, friends, not being too romantic myself, I did my best and could only come up with seven.  Any favorites from this list (or ones I missed)?

Feb 10, 2019

The Cobra's Heart - Penguin Great Journeys

The Cobra's Heart is a succinct yet expansive book about a Polish journalist's experiences and observations in 20th-century Africa.  Just under 100 pages, it's merely an excerpt of Ryszard Kapuściński's full-length book, The Shadow of the Sun.  Upon finishing it, I was happy to find the full version already on my to-read list (added, though forgotten apparently, in 2013) as well as pleasantly surprised that this miniature made me want to read the full book.

Feb 8, 2019

What I'm Reading (and More): February edition

It's snowing heartily again, on top of the 2-4 inches from earlier this week that didn't fully melt.  So I came home early and am looking forward to a weekend "snowed in" - which means reading!

Feb 7, 2019

Fear No Evil: The Classic Memoir of One Man's Triumph Over a Police State

Flickr - Government Press Office (GPO) - P.M. Peres Welcomes Sharansky
Prime Minister Shimon Peres (left) welcomes released Prisoner of Zion Antatoly Sharansky as he steps off the Westwind plane arriving from Frankfurt at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Government Press Office (Israel) [CC BY-SA 3.0]

For many of us the scientific-technological revolution arrived at precisely the right time, with the world of science as a kind of castle where you could protect yourself from the shifting winds of official ideology. (p. xii)
This single sentence from Natan Sharansky's memoir Fear No Evil really grabbed me.  Here is someone I could immediately relate to in a unique way.  I'm not brilliant at chess, math, or computer science like Sharanksy, but I understand him.  In a world where politics and ideology are constantly in our face, some of us cling to science and technology - constants of logic and scientific process - as a way to feel safe and find commonality.

But what happens when not even science can protect you?

Feb 4, 2019

My First Classics Club List

So...contrary to my past practices, I am starting to embrace epic challenges.  Before this enthusiasm leaves me, I've decided to finally join The Classics Club and commit to reading 50 classics within five years.


It's a pretty reasonable goal (ten classics a year), since I mostly read classics anyway.  But I'm making it more difficult by including some chunksters and books I've been putting off for years and some that fall under both (*cough* War and Peace).  I also threw in some rereads that I keep meaning to return to.  The list also came out to 52 instead of 50 (sigh), but I'm only committing to 50.

Feb 1, 2019

Mary Poppins Returns - A Gratuitous Sequel?

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

One day, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) shows up at the door of Michael Banks, who is now grown up and a widower with three small children.  He still lives at 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London, and is scrambling to make his next house payment before the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank boots them out.  Mary Poppins steps in to take care of the kids, leading them on an unexpected adventure through magical lands, London streets, and even the Bank itself, as they endeavor to help their dad find a way to keep the house.