“We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time; keep back tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, “Oh nothing!” Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts — not to hurt others.”
— George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Middlemarch
Can you believe that after sixty-four reasons to keep living, “books” hasn’t been one of them? Well, it certainly has, I just haven’t written about it yet.
Of course, there was Reason #37 to Keep Living: Old Books That Stay Young, in which I wrote about classic literature that continues to push, poke, and pinch the heart and brain; there was Reason #17 to Keep Living: Libraries, in which I wrote about those magical places that offer books for free. There was Reason #2: Comics and Reason #14: Story Time.
But there hasn’t been a post for books in general or books in their entirety. This post is for old books and new books and children’s books and comic books and all the books that have ever been written by anyone. It’s for the books that comforted and joked and taught and horrified. This post is especially for those books that challenged, that kept me up at night, made me think, and, best of all, made me change. Continue reading
“Ah, we men and women are like ropes drawn tight with strain that pull us different ways. Then tears come, and like the rain on the ropes, they brace us up, until perhaps the strain become too great, and we break. But King Laugh he come like the sunshine, and he ease off the strain again, and we bear to go on with our labor, what it may be.”
— Bram Stoker, Dracula
“It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I — nor for that matter anyone else — will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.”
— Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
“Such is the World, such Man, such Love. What are we (I ask) but puppets in a show-box? Oh, omnipotent Destiny, pull our strings gently! Dance us mercifully off our miserable little stage!”
— Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White
“She would not say of anyone in the world now that they were this or were that. She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxicabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.”
— Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway
I’m a sucker for old, frilly prose. The kind that are old but feel young. The kind that make you shiver when you reach the end…
While going over Frankenstein once more while finishing a final paper today, I couldn’t help but feel connected through my reading to something deeper and ancient, something which emanates like a sharp breath through the pages. Continue reading
“For a couple of minutes, his head bowed in an expression of mental effort, he stood motionless with the revolver in his hands and considered. ‘Of course,’ he said to himself, as if a logical, continuous and clear train of thought had brought him to an unquestionable conclusion. In fact, this ‘of course’ that he found so convincing was only the consequence of a repetition of exactly the same round of memories and notions that he had already gone through a dozen times within the hour. It was the same memory of happiness lost for ever, the same notion of the meaninglessness of everything he saw ahead of him in life, the same consciousness of his humiliation.”
— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s book of Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism is one of those books I will never abandon, no matter how full my bookshelf becomes. I bought this book for a literary feminist class I never ended up completing, but it continues to be invaluable “light” reading when I’m not in the mood to open a novel. It pertains specifically to me because many of the essays delve into the topic of Woman as Writer. Continue reading
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings