This post is to inform you that I have moved my base to The Next Chapter at blogger. Those of you following me regularly might know that I very recently changedBreadcrumb Reads to Breadcrumbs with the intention of slowing down the pace and shifting the tone of the blog.
However, this blog has a history that will not stay quiet. There are certain things I would like to blog about that I dare not do so on Breadcrumbs because my readers were gained through the understanding that this blog was purely a blog on books that focused mostly on the classics. Thus, I feel guilty about having to bombard my readers with posts they never signed up for. BreadcrumbReads was never a personal blog. But now I want to get just that teeny weeny bit personal, and this blog does not allow me to do so.
Therefore, I have begun a brand new blog with this post being my last here (hopefully). The Next Chapter is a place for me to ramble as I please. I must admit that most of my rambling will have to do with books, but there will be some serious thoughts on my faith as well. My reading focus has definitely changed, as I mentioned before; and the reason for this change is stated quite eloquently in this quote:
“But an awakened mind which thirsts after the Saviour, and seeks wisdom by reading and praying over the Scripture, has little occasion for a library of human writings.” – John Newton in his letter Reading the Bible.
I find it very hard, these days, to read fiction; especially fiction that has its base in some sort of philosophical premise. If there is no philosophical or theological crux to a novel, I can read it fairly easily since I do not have to wrestle with it. I add theology to the mix because there can often times be a conflict with theological beliefs as well. So often Christians are caught up in the trivialities of religion and lose sight of the greater purpose; and when represented in a novel this can be quite frustrating for me; it would be easier to read it as a piece of non-fiction for then it allows for proper discourse (even if it is in my head).
This is not to say I am giving up on novel-reading altogether. Only that fiction has lost its primary spot in my reading goals. Memoirs, biographies, travelogues and Christian and historical non-fiction are piquing my interest right now. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. I am known to say one thing and promptly do its opposite. However, The Next Chapter will give me the freedom to post as I like without feeling pressurised or restrained like I do at Breadcrumbs.
In case you are wondering why I have moved from WordPress to Blogger, it is for pretty much the same reason as why I am starting a new blog altogether — Blogger is a lot more personal. It is homely in its appearance, and allows for a bit more personality and warmth. WordPress has lovely themes, but they are all so official-looking. I will admit that WordPress has a lot of advantages over Blogger, but for the kind of relaxed blogging I am looking at now, I figure the latter would suit me better.
So, if you, who are reading this, would still like to keep up with my bookish and other ramblings I happily welcome you to The Next Chapter. If what I have in store really isn’t your cup of tea I just want to say thank you for keeping up with Breadcrumbs all these years, and I hope to run into you around the blogosphere every now and then!:)
I came across this interesting post titled Six Degrees of Separation at Brona’s and was a little intrigued by the seeming randomness of the books spoken of; then I clicked on a link and found myself at the source. It is quite interesting, and I thought I would love to try my hand at random bookish rambling that has a starting point.
So Kate at Books are My Favourite… begins this month’s #6degrees with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I’m afraid I’d never heard of this title until now. A quick look-up on goodreads, though, has brought up some very poignant reviews. The blurb itself did not particularly interest me. The moment I read of a nine-year-old boy who was many things from a writer to a jeweller to an inventor to a detective and many things in between, I found myself thinking of Nancy Drew.
During those early teenage years back in the ’90s when The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drewwere quite popular, I was a big fan of the former. Nancy Drew however, got on my nerves because she was one eighteen-year-old who was good at everything! She had no flaws, and was a better detective than her dad because she was good at everything! On the other hand, the Hardy brothers had their issues, their brotherly love and jealousies, their flaws that got them into trouble, and then strengths that got them right out of it; they had friends who were quite useful when they came on the scene, not just stand-bys to cheer the duo on and ponder on how wonderful they were. Sometimes the boys came across cases that they could not solve.
Another young teen detective series I enjoyed was The Three Investigators. These books gave me the chills quite often because the mysteries this trio took up to solve were sometimes quite eerie. I still remember how The Mystery of the Moaning Cave left me sleepless that night. There was always a Scooby-Doo-like explanation at the end of each book with very clever deduction by Jupiter Jones, the leader of the pack.
I suppose the natural assumption after all of this would be my moving onto the likes of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. However, whilst I’ve read two or three Christies and a handful of Doyle’s stories on Holmes, I didn’t take to them as much as I would have thought. I cannot deny that I enjoyed And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, and it ranks among my favourites even today. However, I suppose I loved a lot of action in my mysteries and crime novels. Agatha Christie’s works were mostly deduction, and Sherlock Holmes, like Nancy Drew, was just too perfect. So, from The Three Investigators I found myself between the pages of the likes of Alistair MacLean and Clive Cussler with more than enough action and the right amount of mystery to satisfy my crime-reading tastes of that time.
So, do you have any childhood mystery books you recall with fondness or you simply disliked? Were you a Hardy boy fan or a fan of the girl detective, Nancy Drew? Are you acquainted with The Three Investigators? What do you think of Agatha Christie and SherlockHolmes?
So, with this week’s topic at The Broke and Bookish being Top Ten Favourite Book of X Genre, I decided to go with historical fiction that I have loved. So, in no particular order of preference the follow:
Memoirs of a Geisha
Shadow of the Moon by M M Kaye
1. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Llew Wallace
Set in Jerusalem during the time of Christ. It’s a beautiful tale of a young man who is wrongly accused of a crime and is sent to die in the galleys. But he survives the harsh sentence when he saves a Roman commander, and he is finally given the opportunity to avenge his name and that of his family. However, we see a change in him as the people around him are stirred up by the hope that the Messiah has come and will finally overcome the Romans and set Israel in the seat of power.
2. A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka (a brief review)
This story is set in Word War II Portugal and in the Portugal of the 1990s. Two different generations, each told with a different voice — one with a sense of a dark fairy tale, while the other is deeply rooted in the restless youthful voices of the ’90s. It’s a very well-told narrative.
3. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (my thoughts)
This novel has three parts. It was the last one that clinched it for me. Set during the time of the French Revolution, Dickens brings out the underlying tension and currents of the time so powerfully (and historians say more accurately than is major resource material by Thomas Carlyle). The romance was typical Dickensian mush, and this book would have faded away from memory had it not been for Part 3.
4. Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini (my review)
Another story set during the French Revolution. It begins, “He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” Quite the beginning, isn’t it? It’s a fantastic, swashbuckling tale.
5. Shadow of the Moon by M. M. Kaye
This is an epic love story set during the time of the Indian Sepoy Mutiny (now know as the First Indian War of Independence) of 1857. It’s an absolute favourite. While it’s been written by an English woman, it has obviously been written with love for the land and its people.
6. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (a brief character analysis)
Beautifully epic! Scarlett and Melanie are such amazing, breath-taking women. And as I know close to nothing about American Civil War history, this was quite the novel experience.
7. Dance the Moon Down by R. L. Bertram (my review)
I will always be grateful that the author approached me with this book. It is set in England during World War 1 and tells the story of how the women left at home became the backbone of the country and managed to survive the running of things while their men were out fighting the war. Lyrical writing with strong female characters and a solid story line.
8. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
This one is set in the late 19th to early 20th century Japan. It follows the tale of Chiyo Sakamoto who is sold as a young girl and finds herself in training to be a Geisha. We plunged into a story of beautiful, unhappy women, and a secret longing with such picturesque language that brings out the history and the culture of the time this novel is based in.
9. Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini (my review)
This is a swashbuckling adventure of the high seas set during the mid-1600s. Peter Blood is a surgeon who is wrongfully accused of treason and is shipped off to the Indies to be a slave. He escapes and becomes a pirate. Jolly good fun with a nicely complex character in Peter Blood.
10. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (underrated; under-appreciated)
This one has its setting in Regency England when Napoleon Bonaparte was on a rampage. But the story is really about two magicians and their rivalry. One is a theoretical magician while the other is a practicing one, and there is much debate and contention over this fact. The novel is a thick volume of over 1000 pages, and is chockfull with footnotes on ‘magical’ history and the fae. Oh yes…there is a strong, eerie vein of the faery that runs through this novel.
Honorary Mention 11. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy (a brief character sketch)
My first ever book on the French Revolution. I read it back in the 9th Grade and loved Percy Blakeney. It’s a swashbuckling romance, of course!
Yasuhira’s castle stands beyond the Koromo Barrier, seemingly to protect the Nanbu gateway from invasion by the Ainu. There at Takadachi, Yoshitsune and a chosen band of loyal men tried to entrench themselves – but their heroic actions turned in the twinkling of an eye to nothing more than clumps of grass:
The country is destroyed; yet mountains and rivers remain. Spring comes to the castle; the grass is green again.
With my hat as a seat, and these lines running through my head, I stayed there weeping till time seemed no more.
mounds of summer grass – the place where noble soldiers one time dreamed a dream
in deutzia flowers Kanefusa seems to me – oh, such white, white hair (Sora)
— The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Matsuo Basho (transltd. by Tim Chilcott)
No matter how often it has been said, Matsushima is the most beautiful place in all Japan, and can easily hold its own against T’ung-t’ing or the Western Lake in China. The sea surges in from the southeast into a bay seven miles across, its waters brimming full like the Zhejiang River in China. There are more islands than anyone could count. Some rise up steeply, as through thrusting towards the skies; some are flat, and seem to crawl on their stomachs into the waves. Some seem piled double, or even three layers high. To the left, they appear separate; to the right, joined together. Some look as if they carried others on their backs, and some as if they held them in their arms, like a parent caring for a little child or grandchild. The pines are of the deepest green, and their branches, constantly buffeted by the winds from the sea, seem to have acquired a twisted shape quite naturally. The scene suggests the serene charm of a lovely woman’s face. Matsushima truly might have been created by Ōyamazumi [God of the Mountains] in the Great Age of the Gods. What painter or what writer could ever capture fully the wonder of this masterpiece of nature?
— The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Matsuo Basho (transltd. by Tim Chilcott)
I read this tag over at Jillian’s, who in turn had been tagged by Shannon of Reflections of a Reader. I liked it, so I’ve decided to post it here at Breadcrumbs.
Question #1: an overhyped classic you really didn’t like
Hands down, this ‘honour’ goes to Wuthering Heights. This is one book I haven’t been able to read completely. I have tried picking it up many times. I have puzzled over the fact that people love this book which is considered a great romance. And I still absolutely cannot stand it — not the writing, not the story, not the characters. ‘didn’t like’ is a bit too nice to describe how I feel about this book.
Question #2: favourite time period to read about
The French Revolution!
My interest in this period was piqued ever since I first read The Scarlet Pimpernel, and a few other books in the series. Whilst I cannot say I am passionate about the period (I don’t think I am passionate about anything really), it is a period that fascinates me. I have read a few essays on and from that period in France. And as I have the tendency to read books from the Georgian era in England, there is quite a bit of the French Revolution spilling over into these books as well.
Question #3: Favourite fairytale
The Goose Girl. I’m not sure why, but this was one Grimm’s fairy tale that I loved reading from my giant book of fairytales. I suppose the illustration had a lot to do with it. I also have to mention Donkey Skin. It creeped me out quite a bit, but still fascinated me.
Question #4: What is the classic you are most embarrassed about not having read?
I don’t know that I am embarrassed about not having read a book. The way I see it, if I feel like it, I will pick it up and read it. If it doesn’t interest me I will keep it aside. Instead I shall mention a classic I would really like to read, but keep putting off for another day.
Question #5: Top 5 classics you would like to read soon.
I’m not particularly interested in reading anything soon, but the top 5 I would like to read are these:
Paradise Lost The Robe Beowulf Mere Christianity Three Men on the Bummel
Question #6: favourite modern book / series based on a classic
So it turns out I haven’t read any modern adaptations of classics. And to be honest, when I know a book is an adaptation I don’t touch it. Twice I let my guard down, and both times I was put off. No more! (If I can help it.)
Question #7: favourite movie / TV series based on a classic
I’m going to mention three.
1. Much Ado About Nothing (1993) — based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name — starring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh.
2. My Fair Lady (1964) — based on Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion — starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
3. The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982) — based on Baroness Orczy’s book of the same name –starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour.
Question #8: worst classic-to-movie adaptation
Hmmm… I find this one hard as I don’t watch many movies. However, of all the classic-to-movie adaptations I have seen I probably liked the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice the least. Whilst Macfayden was likely the most handsome Darcy, the movie was too stylistic and none of the characters were at all likeable.
Question #9: favourite edition(s) you’d like to collect more classics from
This question isn’t relevant to me these days as I’ve stopped collecting printed books, for the most part. However, the classic editions I have the most of on my shelf currently are the Penguin Popular Classics. Simple really.
I had more than these before the weaning. I love their covers!
Questions #10: An under hyped classic you would like to recommend to everyone
Shadow of the Moon by M. M. Kaye. If you loved Gone with the Wind, I believe you will love this one also. It is set during the time of the Indian Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, and it is beautiful!
From Tim Chilcott’s translation of Matsuo Basho’s Oku No Hosomichi: The Narrow Road into the Deep North.
In the town, there was a painter called Kaemon. I had heard he was a man of truly artistic taste, and I got to know him. He told me he had spent several years tracing places mentioned in poetry that had become hard to locate; and one day, he took us to see some of them(…)
I will bind iris
blossoms round about my feet —
straps for my sandals
The matter of place in Japanese poetry seems to be quite significant.
I also loved the following quotes for the timelessness of certain thoughts and experiences. This one…
Time passes and the world changes. But here, before my eyes, was a monument that had endured a thousand years. I felt that I could understand the feelings of the people of the past. ‘This,’ I thought, ‘is the traveller’s reward. This is the joy of having lived so long.’ I forgot the hardships of the road, and was moved to tears.
…and this one…
That night, I listened to a blind singer reciting a north-country ballad (…) He was performing close to my bed, and I found the rustic tones of his voice very noisy. But then I realised how admirable it was that such fine old customs were still preserved in this distant land.
…it truly amazes one, doesn’t it? This was written back in the seventeenth century, sometime between 1690 and 1694. And I could so relate to monuments that have ‘endured a thousand years’ as I recalled my experience at the Golconda Fort. I’m telling you, I could hear the distant echo of tinkling laughter and secrets shared, and see the glittering array of bejewelled women even before I realised I was in the women’s quarters of the fort.
The second quotation made me laugh because of the number of times I have thought the same when listening to our old music. Some things never change! And still we are enamoured of all things gone by. History has a mystic hold over us — antiquity! “When thou wert, thou wert not antiquity – then thou wert nothing, but hadst a remoter antiquity, as thou calledst it, to look back to with blind veneration; thou thyself being to thyself flat, jejune, modern!” Charles Lamb has it down pat.
Just one more…
Everywhere among the pine trees, graves were spread. They filled me with a great sadness, reminding me that all the vows to be ‘a single pair of wings or intertwining branches’ came in the end to this.
The quotation within the above quotation is from a celebrated poem called ‘Song of Everlasting Regret’ by Po Chu-i. I would like to read it. I sense a rich history and a journey of discovery.