Required Reading: Books I read in High School- Inspired by Kristin Kraves

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Yeahhh I’ve been horrible at blogging this month! And I can’t blame school or anything like that, because I graduated years ago and only promise that I’ll be back to blogging properly soon! Since we are well into September though, I thought I might talk about the books that were my required reading way back when. While it may not be fresh in my memory, I still have plenty to say about all the books I studied and was totally inspired by the lovely Kristin Krave’s awesome post on the topic! (Also, dudes, her blog is jam packed with fantastic content and to top it all off is gorgeous to look at!)

the tempest

The Tempest– My first official go at a Shakespeare play in school… and I didn’t really like it. I blame the random person I met at my cousin’s drama college that said it was about “oh look at all the magic I can do… but I’m not gonna bother doing it now!” In fairness, that’s not the best summary of the play, though I still think of that every time I think of the play! Fortunately this wasn’t my only introduction to Shakespeare and had more to look forward to…

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Macbeth– this was my favourite for quite some time, because, let’s be honest, it’s probably the most entertaining of Shakespeare’s plays!

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Othello– I had pretty mixed feelings about Othello- while it is dramatic, well written and has one of the best villains of all time, it never did capture my attention the way some of the others did.

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Merchant of Venice– I’m fairly torn about my feelings for this one. Part of me doesn’t know why every school teacher likes to be edgy by choosing it. Even if it’s not as anti-Semitic as Jew of Malta, thanks to the “Hath not a Jew eyes” speech, the villain is still a racist stereotype. That said it does explore the nature of prejudice, given what a-holes everyone else in the play is. Still, while it’s interesting to study, I’ve never been overly keen on Merchant.

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Jane Eyre– I’ll admit, I was pretty dorky and had already read this by the time it came up on the syllabus, which meant I got to be that annoying kid that said “oh look at the foreshadowing” every so often 😉

to kill a mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird– this should be on the syllabus in every school- not only is it one of the richest texts you can choose to study, but the story is also deeply impactful and has stayed with me all this time… okay admittedly I do also remember it really well because I reread it a lot in preparation for my exam- yet one of the best things about this book is that wasn’t a chore in the slightest!

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All My Sons– I have to admit, I don’t remember as much about this one, though I do recall finding it dramatic and being very invested in it.

yellow wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper– this was such a great book to be set- entertaining, complex and ridiculously short (let’s be real- who doesn’t want that for an exam text?). There are so many reasons why I’m always recommending this one on here- but just in case you haven’t read it, it’s out of copyright, so you can check it out for free on Project Gutenburg (it’ll only take you half an hour and is perfect pre-Halloween reading!)

pride and prejudice

Pride and Prejudice– it was actually thanks to this being put on the syllabus that I ended up loving it. I’d already picked this up a few years earlier and hadn’t been taken with it. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I knew I’d have to reread it, there’s a chance I’d have given up on Austen altogether. Instead, I gave her books another shot and now she’s one of my favourite authors.  But if you want to read more about how that came about you can check out this post.

tess of the d'urbervilles

Tess of the D’Urbervilles– I was pretty ecstatic to be set this, because I already loved Hardy. I know he can be hit or miss for readers- he just so happens to be a massive hit for me! I love the drama, emotional intensity and evocative landscapes. Tess is easily one of his best works, yet I was also happy to use it as a springboard to explore Hardy’s Wessex and other works.

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Rapture– this is the only poetry collection I’m including on here, cos most of them were from all different poets and compiled by the exam board. One poet that examiners all seem to love is Carol Ann Duffy…. because they hate children and want us all to suffer immensely. When I think of this poetry collection my brain still recoils with an UGH NO! I think of all the books on this list, this is the only one I truly DESPISE. Why? Because it’s pretentious, nicks all of the best lines from actually good poems and, contrary to what some critic I had to quote said, it did not “twist cliché into something new”, it was, quite simply, just clichéd.

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The Great Gatsbywhat Gatsby? Okay, if you can’t tell from my lame joke, I’m a fan. While this book isn’t long, there is a lot packed into it: tremendous characterisation, a layered story and exquisite prose.

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Picture of Dorian Gray– I chose this as part of an independent study, because obviously I already loved it- yet I will also say that this is always one of my go-tos of “a book that everyone will love”, because I feel like there’s something in it for everyone.

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Doctor Faustus– I chose this to go with Dorian Gray for the independent study and I found it incredibly inspiring- well in terms of writing, I’m not taking notes on how to live my life from a man that sold his soul to the devil!

never let me go

Never Let Me Go– my teacher suggested this and it was supposed to compliment the more anti-hero led works I’d chosen for my independent study, though I can’t say it was a lighter read. If anything, it was the most depressing of the bunch! That said, it was an excellent pick and my favourite Ishiguro to this day.

And that’s about it! What were your favourite books you studied in school? Which books did you hate? Let me know in the comments!

All-Time Favourite Classics #4

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Wahey we made it to part 4!! As I said in the first week, I’m going to pause this series after this post, though I’d like to continue it someday. For now though, I’m working with a more “realistic” (*ahem* mostly) theme to round off these favourite classics:

canterbury talesCanterbury Tales– I was endlessly surprised to find how realistic the characters in this were- not least because this was written OVER 600 YEARS AGO! And yet the fundamentals of human nature haven’t changed. What is also incredible is how complex and layered each of the stories are, how they tales interplay with their role in the prologue and how this all builds up the character study even more.

 

great expectationsGreat Expectations– ahh the king of realism- Dickens. And this happens to be my favourite I’ve read so far. A part of this comes down to how much I adore the story- and yet I find that somewhat imperfect- not intentionally so (I just prefer Dicken’s original ending where *spoiler alert* he doesn’t end up with Estella, it made more sense from a narrative standpoint). But mostly, because I cannot get over that image of Miss Havisham, sitting in her wedding dress. It’s both tragic and horrifying.

 

catcher in the ryeCatcher in the Rye– this one will surprise people straight off the bat, because it is such a Love-it or Hate-it book. I for one won’t pretend that I liked Holden Caulfield- in fact I spent a good deal of time disliking him- and yet… there was something so compelling about him. I could not deny the realistic tenor to his character. Nor could I say that I didn’t grow sympathetic to him over the course of the book. That change struck me and took me by surprise- it felt like getting to know an actual person. Yes he may be whiny and difficult on the surface- however strip away the layers and there is so much more to him. So feel free to love him or hate him, but you can’t deny that this book captures something very real.

 

to kill a mockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird– I genuinely do not have any words for this book. The realistic characters, the finest fictional father figure of all time, the story, the beautiful writing, the message- ah it makes me speechless. If you do not know why it is on this list, then quite simply you haven’t read it.

 

 

king learKing Lear– okay, yes I’m following with a shall-we-say less good fictional father? (yes, I will admit I didn’t know what book to put next). But on the positive side this play made me cry… wait a second… JK- what I mean is this is a deeply moving play (not that I’m a masochist who seeks out stories that will make me cry… okay I totally do that- whatever 😉 )

 

brothers karamazovBrother’s Karamazov– speaking of dysfunctional families (gosh I ought to make a “favourite dysfunctional families” list) In all seriousness, this book is magnificent- not least because this has some MAGNIFICENT characterisation. I have to say that I love the intellectual tussles between Ivan and Alyosha (#teamAlyosha… which is weird because I should rightly pick Ivan… whatever I’ll psychoanalyse that comment later 😉 ). Incidentally, anyone that knows me might be surprised to have found no Dostoevsky’s my favourites so far- never fear, this part has three- pahahaha!

 

hamletHamlet– but if what you’re looking for is philosophical questions, why not get to the crux of the existential issue. To be or not to be– damn I get shivers from that speech every time. There’s a reason it’s quoted a million times. And sure, Hamlet might procrastinate for half the play about whether to avenge his father, but all his romps through faux madness and his eventual spurts of violence are so worth it… err… sort of. Stay in school kids.

 

waiting for godotWaiting for Godot– well since we’re on the subject of existential despair, we may as well go in for a penny in for a pound. And okay, this slightly surreal play is kind of the opposite of the realism theme I’ve been leaning towards here. Despite the strangeness of the play, however, it’s very clear that the themes it plays with- the passage between life and death- are very tangible issues. Some could say the most real of all. And of course, I could give any number of reasons for this being on the list- but what I will say is that what makes this play special is how it makes you feel alive with laughter one minute, and then, all of a sudden the warmth fades away, and you are left with nothing but a chill.

 

notes from undergroundNotes from the Underground– I actually studied this for a “Novel and the Collapse of Humanism” course (I know, cheery stuff). Here Dostoevsky explores the paradoxical nature of man- both alien and atypical of his society. It is a work of pure genius- exhibiting the internal chaos of humankind- as we struggle to find our place in the world (and if you’re in any doubt as to how seriously cool this book is, this 19th century book smashes through the fourth wall, like a Deadpool comic)

 

idiotThe Idiot– and yet it is The Idiot which probably takes the spot as my favourite Dostoevsky. I’ve mentioned time and again how I love the hero, Prince Myshkin (#relationshipgoals), because he is one of the most saintly characters ever written… and that’s his greatest failing. Which leads me onto my rather bizarre favourite thing about this book- it kind of fizzles out at the end- yes, it’s unintentional, but that’s what I like about it- it’s a failed book about failure.

 

judeJude the Obscure– okay, let’s be honest, if we’re going to talk “doomed from the start”, Jude really takes the biscuit. I’m not saying that this is a dark book, I’m saying THIS IS THE MOST DEPRESSING THING I HAVE EVER READ IN MY LIFE. I really don’t blame people for not liking this one to be fair- nonetheless, for me, this is one of the most memorable books I have ever read. I can never shake the images it has planted in my brain. So I guess all that’s left to say is: hey Jude, don’t be afraid… watch out for women who try to trap you in marriage, just sayin’

 

richard iiiRichard III– okay to leave off on a more positive note- let’s talk about someone who actually deserved to get their comeuppance. Cos let’s face it, from the opening speech, we can be certain Richard’s the baddie. And I know, I know, some historians and novelists have tried to rewrite the character in a more sympathetic light BUT there’s no following Shakespeare. He is “determined to prove a villain”- and what a villain he is! Too bad he couldn’t get hold of a horse.

Previous Posts:

All-Time Favourite Classics #1

All-Time Favourite Classics #2

All-Time Favourite Classics #3

I will admit that over the course of these posts I did add to this list, but I’ve decided to give it a rest for now. Anyway, have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Review – March

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Hello all! I know I don’t normally do life updates on my blog, but it’s just been one of those crazy hectic weeks and I’ve not been online much (sorry for being really behind on comments and the like!), so I thought I’d tell you all what I’d been up to aside from work/life/blog…

Firstly, we’ve had pretty heavy snow this week, which is sooo pretty (also a total pain if you actually have to get places and don’t want to freeze in the process)

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Secondly, yesterday was a little known Jewish festival called Purim- the best way to describe it is as a cross between Halloween and Christmas- it’s seriously underrated 😉

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And lastly, I’ve been painting these cartoons of course! (this post is getting somewhat meta…)

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Anyway, this is still my monthly mini reviews post, which means it’s high time to talk about some of the books I read last month. I read quite a few books (before slumping pretty hard over a non-fic at the end of the month), however most of those are gonna get full reviews- which means I only have two for now. For some reason, I was feeling unusually motivated to read lots of Shakespeare at the start of the month. And since I don’t really like doing full length Shakespeare reviews, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts in brief.

titus andronicus

Titus Andronicus– well this might just be the most traumatising thing I’ve ever read. Nearly a month after reading it and I *still* cannot stop thinking about it. It’s not just that it’s phenomenally graphic and disturbing, the imagery is so symbolic. This story, so rooted in the literary tradition, has an untenable link with so much of popular culture- parts of this narrative have travelled from Greek mythology to Game of Thrones. It’s a violent tale imprinted on the Western consciousness. There’s something about it that’s hard to shake- and perhaps that’s why it won’t get out of my head.

Sidenote: I watched the film version with Anthony Hopkins after and, man, it was pure GENIUS. It made me want to watch every other film by Julie Taymor.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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The Winter’s Tale– I already knew this as one of the “problem plays” and after my not-so-good experience of Measure for Measure, I didn’t think I was going to like it. I was pleasantly surprised though- it was a surprisingly good story, considering everything I’d heard. I kinda think of this as King Lear 2.0: Where Everything Works Out Despite the King’s Pride. I do understand why people say it’s hard to place in terms of genre- it has a tragic feel, yet ends as a comedy. Nonetheless, it was tonally consistent, which meant it felt somewhat experimental, yet ultimately successful.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Okey dokey- hope you enjoyed that! Have you had a nice week? And have you read either of these? Let me know in the comments!

All-Time Favourite Classics #2

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Well hello again- and welcome back to my second week of ALL-TIME FAVOURITE CLASSICS. I went into a bit more detail last week about how I’m doing this, so in case you missed it, you can read that here. Anyhoo, in the interest of saving time I’m not going to go into all that again- just know this is the second in a two part series, and each week will have a loose theme. Speaking of which, this week’s theme is gothicy, supernaturaly, childhoody stuff… yes they don’t all go together, they just go together more than the others did (I’m not wedded to this theme idea guys)

confessionsConfessions of a Justified Sinner– this takes me back so much. As you may (or may not know) I went to uni in Scotland, so was lucky enough to study a lot of Scottish literature. This happens to be one of the most striking, underrated gothic stories I have ever read. I really don’t want to spoil anything- only give you a taste- there’s murder, there’s madness, there’s mystery and there’s potentially even devils… (it also makes me laugh, which I often forget and catches me by surprise every time)

 

Arkham cover D finalPicture of Dorian Gray– I have loved this book ever since I first read it. Then I read it again and again and again. It never gets old. This book has a little taste of everything- romance, tragedy, wit, moral questions, an intense plot… and all of that packed into a short space. This is actually something I’d recommend to virtually everyone, because I see something in it for every sort of person.

 

jekyll and hydeDr Jekyll and Mr Hyde– this is just a great story. Sure, I know there’s a lot of depth to it, yet what gets me every time I read this one is how dramatic the story is– which is great if you have to read it loads for uni 😉 No matter how many times I read it, I was never bored.

 

 

turn of the screw 2Turn of the Screw– I’m really not into creepy books, yet I’m glad I had to read this at uni. I love books that pit madness against the supernatural- so you’re never quite sure how reliable the narrator is and there’s a surprise at every turn. Admittedly, I’m easily scared and had to turn on *ALL THE LIGHTS* half way through, just so I could get to the end.

 

frankensteinFrankenstein– I know a lot of people aren’t keen on the writing style for this but OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE IT. It’s no surprise since it is rumoured to have been edited by Percy Bysshe Shelley himself and naturally I am a huge fan of the Romantic poets (especially the later set). The language is succulent and exquisite- it’s exactly the kind of lyrical prose I enjoy most. On top of that, the story is engaging, I was invested in the romance (I know, me and no one else) and I frankly love the moral questions it deals with. Incidentally, that leads me onto…

 

The_Golem_(Isaac_Bashevis_Singer_novel_-_cover_art)The Golem– the myth of the Golem is the said inspiration for Frankenstein’s monster- yet they are very different stories. Where the drive for creation in Shelley’s story is hubris, the myth focuses on love and fear. Bashevis Singer perfectly adopts those elements in one of the most beautiful and heartfelt books I have ever read. It’s short and poetic, tying history to legend. I adored this book and it led me straight into the arms of one of my mother’s favourite writers.

 

dr faustusDr Faustus– not only do I love the language in this play, I love the ideas at the heart of it. The puzzle of Faustus’ pride and the question of ambition have been something that’s fascinated me for half my life. I love the tussle here with literal devils, as Marlowe plays out the inevitable rise and fall of hubris.

 

 

macbeth2Macbeth– since we’re talking of hubris, what better play than Macbeth? I read recently someone saying they didn’t like it cos Macbeth’s an unpleasant human… well duh. The point is that it captures the fallible human nature in us all- the part which strives and the part which falls short. I love this play, partly because it captures that struggle in us all and partly because it’s got plenty of sheer entertainment.

 

lorna dooneLorna Doone– speaking of entertainment, I love this book. I know it’s not a technically perfect book and I doubt it’ll blow people’s minds given how obvious some of the plot points are- but back when I encountered this the first time, I’d never read anything like it and thoroughly enjoyed the story (incidentally, the BBC adaptation is no masterpiece either, but it sure is fun!)

 

armadaleArmadale– this is also a lot of fun. Like most of Collin’s work, it does have a slightly mysterious, dark feel, though it’s not supposed to be his best. It is, however, one of those books which has stayed with me for one reason or another- it could be the adventurous, exciting spirit, it could be the complex plot, or it could very well be that it has a villain beyond compare!

 

peter pan and wendyPeter Pan– if you want to talk about staying power, this book is pretty unforgettable. At this point, the character and story have slipped into common parlance, so I really have no need to explain the appeal of a boy who never grows up and who can fly! I will say that I happily admit to suffering from just a teensy bit of Peter Pan syndrome- and I make no apologies for that 😉

 

Alice's_Adventures_in_WonderlandAlice in Wonderland– ahh one of the wackiest books in history- I adore it! As nonsensical and eccentric as can be, it’s also highly imaginative and oddly relatable. I think I’d have to be “mad, mad, mad as march hares” not to love it!

 

 

Previous Posts:

All-Time Favourite Classics #1

That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments! I’ll have another of these next week!

All-Time Favourite Classics #1

Well hello! After my post the other day, where I showed off my bookshelves, and just generally talking a lot about books I love a lot recently, I thought it might be fun to share some of my favourite classics. Now of course, I quickly realised that there was no way I could do this in a single post, so decided to turn this into a mini-series. I’ve arbitrarily decided these posts will go out on Tuesdays for four weeks (basically because I wrote four posts before deciding to put a lid on it) so that’s what you’re getting… for now 😉

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Obviously, this list is not the “best” classics- just books that hit me on a deeply personal level. Nor is it a “finished” article: a) because I’ll be adding to it as I read more and b) because there were books that are hovering just outside the list and I’m always careful about saying whether a book is something I love vs a favourite. To my mind, it takes a significant amount of time and emotional connection for a book to be established as a favourite.

In the interest of keeping this list to a reasonable length, I also won’t be including: fantasy, sci fi, non-epic poetry, literary fiction or basically any other genre fiction. This is not a comment on whether they are/could be classics- only that I would prefer to talk about them in other lists- in fact I have a favourite fantasy list which I *definitely* plan on adding to with new favourites at some point cos they’ve been mounting up.

Lastly, before we get into this week’s selection, I’ve split these vaguely based on theme and don’t be alarmed by the fact there’s an uneven number each week (even after everything I’ve just said, I didn’t want to be stuck with silly, self-imposed rules)

Okay, rather long winded preamble- let’s get started with my rather romantic first set of favourites:

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_coverEmma– what could I actually say about Emma that hasn’t already been said? There’s a reason why this has been dubbed the perfect novel: the character growth, the plot structure, the romance, the friendship and the lessons that are so subtly woven into the story. I could go on, but the reason why this hits a personal note for me is that this was the book that made me appreciate Austen’s humour (though it was not the first Austen I read) and it’s because of this that I came to love all her work. I also happen to think Mr Knightley is the most appealing of all Austen’s love interests- sorry Mr Darcy fans 😉

 

little womenLittle Women– oh gosh, this book gives me the warm fuzzies whenever I think about it. There’s so much to love about it- the romance, the heartbreaking ups and downs of the story, the characters- however one of the biggest elements which always strikes me with this story *has to be* the family dynamic- the March sisters really capture that feeling of sisterhood.

 

i capture the castleI Capture the Castle– speaking of families and relationships, this one is slightly more dysfunction. Still, this quirky coming of age story is set in a crumbling castle and will always have a place in my heart (and inspires me to one day live in my own derelict castle… even though I hate the cold… whatever it’s a nice dream 😉 )

 

rebeccaRebecca– so, spoiler alert, next week I’ll be doing more gothic-y themed books and this book could certainly compete there. However one of the best things about this book is the romance- no not the romance between the unnamed protagonist and her new husband- but the ongoing romance with his dearly departed wife. I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t read it, but this book illustrates what it feels like to be a third wheel… even though the third person in the relationship is in fact already dead.

 

wuthering heights bookWuthering Heights – speaking of more gothic-type books, this certainly has that feel some of the time. Yet it also is one of the most intense romances I’ve ever read. Now, I will admit that there are some faults on a structural level- however the heart of this book is one of the most sublime, passionate affairs I’ve ever read. And yes, Heathcliff and Cathy are horrible people- that’s half the point- their sole redeeming quality is there love for each other (well, it’s also their doom, so there’s that)

 

jane eyreJane Eyre– we can’t speak of one Bronte sister without mentioning another, and this book is wonderful in a different way. Of course, the main characters are flawed, but they’re not totally unlikeable; there are elements of destructive love, but it’s not the end of the world (mostly); and I can safely say the structure is tidier. And, above all, the romance still captures my imagination (that and the mad woman in the attic)

 

tess of the d'urbervillesTess of the D’Urbervilles– however if you’re looking for something slightly more on the tragic side- look no further. It’s such a sob-worthy story, from beginning to end. Poor Tess can’t catch a break. This is the book that made me fall in love with Hardy’s bleak, fatalistic outlook and visualistic world. Yes, I admit it, I’m somewhat pessimistic and this appeals to my dark side.

 

romeo-and-juliet-one-sheetRomeo and Juliet– speaking of star crossed lovers- where would we be without the ultimate ill-fated duo? (still referring to Tristan and Isolde no doubt, but I digress) I have two reasons for adoring this play: 1) the language and 2) the play with genre (yes I’m a dork)- it’s a fairly straightforward ploy of tricking the viewer into thinking it’s a comedy and then *BAM* Mercutio gets it and we’re into tragic territory. Simple, yet genius.

 

persuasionPersuasion– a slightly more romantic Austen, I read this one last in my Austen journey, and it’s always competing in my mind with Emma for the position of favourite Austen (incidentally most Austen books could have ended up on this list). Unrequited or long lost love really gets to me, so I found myself crying when they kept being frustrated in their romance (yes, I know it’s not a sad book, only the heightened romantic feel gets to me, cos I’m a sap)

 

midsummer night's dreamMidsummer Night’s Dream– this was my first ever Shakespeare play and can always put me in a good mood. Lighthearted and fun, there’s a spirit of mischief in the air. One of my absolute favourite things about it though, is how Helena’s story in particular captures that feeling of being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back. It’s still just as poignant as ever.

 

Importance_earnest_dvdImportance of Being Earnest– and let’s round this off with the play that is the most fun of all! Why do I love it? Because this is Wilde at his wittiest and honestly this can still make me laugh, no matter how many times I hear the jokes (I also highly recommend the 1952 movie version)

 

 

Hope you enjoyed that- I loved making it. Have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments! And I’ll have another one of these next week…

The Shakespeare Awards- And The Winner Is….

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Okay, so I’m later than planned with this post- firstly because of Game of Thrones in all its glory and secondly because I was reading the most incredible book (more on that later!) But for now, it’s time to wrap up my Shakespeare Awards and announce the winners! As voted by you!

Special thank you to all my contributors: eclectictales, Pages Unbound, Captain’s Quarters, Claire @ Art and Soul, Kat @ Life and Other Disasters, Annette @ Book Blather, Sammie @ Bookshelves and Biros, Read Diverse Books, Nicole Alter @ Thoughts on Fantasy, and Samfalston

And thanks to all the people outside of the Blogosphere who I roped into doing this!

So without further ado- here are the results:

most tragic

Both Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet had the same number of votes- which I’m kind of happy about because they’re both tragic for their own reasons- one is the power fate as to destroy us, the other is the power we have to destroy ourselves- both are tragic in their own way and who am I to decide which is worse.

best comedy

Midsummer Night’s Dream won hands down! Which makes me happy because it was my first ever Shakespeare! I mean, what’s not to like: fairies, idiot actors and love are all clearly the recipe for the best comedy!

most romantic shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet grabbed a second win- understandably so- because it is one of the most romantic stories of all time.

most entertaining

Macbeth– and I agree with this wholeheartedly too! I mean, who doesn’t at the very least enjoy watching the “forests move” at the end of the play? It’s like the Ents smashing Saruman! (gosh- just when I thought I couldn’t get more dorky- I compare Shakespeare to Lord of the Rings!)

best history

Richard III– which I was also happy about, because nothing beats the shenanigans in this play.

best sonnet

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds”
Sonnet 116

best film adaptation

Branagh’s uncut Hamlet

An honourable mention goes out to 10 Things I Hate About You– which I loved as an answer for ingenuity and Heath Ledger alone!

most beautiful language

Hamlet– let’s face it the language in this one is exquisite so totally deserved. And if I had a category for the most deep, this play would have won hands down too.

weirdest

Measure for Measure– because let’s face it, it’s one weird play/story/thing (I mean what even is this?!?)

most unpopular

Tempest– which “won” because clearly a lot of the people I know feel the same way about it as I do. But a “dishonourable” mention goes out to Henry VIII, which I’m sure if more people had read would have taken the biscuit.

And that’s it! Until next time Shakespeare has a big birthday in a hundred years or so…. :p

I’m Not OK With The Ending to Henry IV

henry IV

So as I mentioned some time ago, I struggled to get through Henry IV Part 1 and 2. Even though I was supposed to read it at uni, I really was not a fan, and just couldn’t finish them. But now I’ve finally got through the whole thing and I have to say I AM NOT OK WITH THAT ENDING!! Goddamn you William Shakespeare for making me feel like this!!

(Apologies cos I’m about to get a little ranty and spoilery)

Because you cannot stab Falstaff in the back like that- it is not okay! No, just no. Of course it makes sense and was realistic that a king would act like that- but I just couldn’t bear to see it unfold. Especially after the hope Falstaff had expressed that they would have a king who was finally on his side- only to have said king stab him in the back!

Of course it was realistic that a king would do something like that. In fact, it speaks volumes about the divide between the aristocracy and the poor. At the end of the day, the poor were just there to be ridiculed and were not to be taken seriously. Much like Shakespeare’s other work, the lower classes were just there to be mocked. They are seen as lesser people on a lower rung of society. It is a tragic indictment of the society Shakespeare lived in. No matter how funny Shakespeare gets, there’s often something sinister going on under the surface.

When you see this cruelty played out in Henry IV you finally get to see the harshness of Shakespeare’s universe. In the moment when Falstaff is cast aside laughter turns to tears. What could have been such a joyous, triumphant moment ends up leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. Because the reality of the play is too harsh for words.

And that is the power of Shakespeare- even 400 years after his death- he has the ability to get under your skin as if he wrote it yesterday. The drama of it is insanely accurate- which is a true testament to his genius.

Okay, so I know that was fairly ranty and had little to do with the play as a whole, but I just had to get that off my chest. Do you ever feel like that about books? And who’s your favourite non-contemporary author that just taps into your feelings perfectly? Let me know in the comments!

And, just to let you know, I’m posting my results for the Shakespeare Awards tomorrow, so today’s your last chance to vote on your fave Shakespeare plays!