On This Bookish Day: August 30- Mary Shelley is Born

**Sorry I got really busy and forgot to post this, I am a day late**

Hello bookworms,

Welcome back to On This Bookish Day, where one day of the month I will honour an important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books.

So, on this bookish day:

August 30 – Mary Shelley is born, 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is most known for her novel Frankenstein. Shelley was raised by her father, William Godwin, a political philosopher. Her mother died one month after her birth. Godwin provided his daughter with an informal education, and promoted his own political beliefs.

Mary began a relationship with Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was still married at the time. They left and traveled through Europe, and when they retuned Mary was pregnant. They faced isolation, and the death of their daughter, who was born premature. They eventually married, after the suicide of Percy’s first wife, in 1816.

In 1818, the couple left for Italy, where she gave birth to three more children. One survived. In 1822 her husband died in a sailing accident, when his boat sank in a storm. A year later she returned to England, and focused on raising her son, and her writing/becoming an author. Mary Shelley died at the age of 53, most likely from a brain tumour.

A few random facts:

  • Mary’s father disowned her at the age of 16, due to her romantic relationship with Percy Shelley. When Mary returned pregnant he wanted nothing to do with her.
  • Rumour has it that Mary’s father had Percy’s first wife killed. So that his daughter could marry Percy, to make it a legitimate relationship.
  • When Mary started writing Frankenstein, she was just 19. She was 21 when it was published.

Frankenstein

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

So I think everyone is pretty familiar with this title. It is the story of Dr.Frankenstein who designs a monster, and brings it to life.

I am slightly intimidated by the classics, always afraid of long, boring writing or being unrelatable. This was actually a pretty fast easy going read. I did find the writing style to be a little flowery, but it wasn’t over the top so that I was bored reading descriptions. The story flowed quite well, with a bit of a lull in the middle, but it’s not too long. I would recommend if you feel stuck at the very beginning with the letters, just power through, by page 50 you’ll be hooked.

I found the characters very interesting throughout this book. This story changes points of view, throughout the entire novel I felt sympathy for the monster. The main character Dr.Frankenstein, was a perfect dislikable character for me. I hated him for a good part of this book, but it was in a positive way. I found Victor Frankenstein to be completely self-centred, and ignorant to other people’s feelings.

This is so much more than a book about a monster. This is book explores prejudice, in a very different way. Although the prejudice is towards a monster, I find it is easily relatable to any marginalized group of people. I would say that is why Frankenstein had remained a classic for all these years. It is timeless. Unfortunately it seems to be a problem that sticks.

Have you guys read this classic? If so what should I read next? 

 

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On This Bookish Day :July 18th – Hunter S. Thompson Is Born

Hello bookworms,

Welcome back to On This Bookish Day, where one day of the month I will honour an important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books.

So, on this bookish day:

July 18th – Hunter S. Thompson is born, 1937

Thompson was born in Kentucky, to a middle class family. After the death of his father, his family faced some hard times, which left them in poverty. After assisting with a robbery he spent 60 days in prison and was unable to complete his high school education.

Thompson was most well known for being the founder of gonzo journalism. Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative. Wikipedia link here. This is exactly what his first publication was, Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1967). In which he spent a year living with the Hell’s Angels, hearing their stories first hand. His most well known work is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1971). This was originally printed in Rolling Stones magazine, then later turned into a film starring Johnny Depp.

After a series of health problems, he committed suicide at the age of 67.

A few random facts:

  • Johnny Depp paid to have his ashes shot out of a cannon, as per his will
  • At 15, he made an electric go-kart using a washing machine engine.
  • To improve his writing style and while working for Time he copied F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” word for word, from start to finish.

Thompson had a very, very busy life (and I am sure I have only scratched the surface here) but I hope you guys found that interesting.

Fear and Loathing

⭐️⭐️

This is a book about a man who goes on a road trip to Las Vegas. It is his experience on many drugs and alcohol.

So my summery is two short sentences. That is because nothing really happens in this book…..at all. This tells the story of him on a ton of drugs, all at once, and lots of mixing them with alcohol and of course, driving. I just found myself bored: I don’t really care to read 204 pages of decisions based on what a high brain thinks is a good idea. Looking for ways to get higher, get away from a hotel without paying the bill, speeding while high and drunk without getting caught, and many more bad decisions.

I would have given this book one star normally. But I was trying to look at the big picture: it does give some insight into how an addicted mind is working, their main focus being on drugs and “fun”. Obviously not a good way to learn about addiction, but it does show what is going on up there in Thompson’s brain.

In the end I would not recommend this book. I originally intended to watch the movie to add a paragraph about how I thought it compared to the book. But as you may have guessed, I’m really not interested. Right now I would rather watch some iZombie.

On This Bookish Day : June 15th – Daniel Keyes Died

Hello bookworms,

Welcome back to On This Bookish Day, where one day of the month I will honour an important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books.

So, on this bookish day:

June 15th – Daniel Keyes died, 2014

Keyes was born in New York in 1927. He went to New York University for a short time before joining the New York Maritime Service, when he was 17. He later returned to New York to earn his bachelor degree in psychology.

After graduating he went to the publishing company Magazine Management, where he became one of their editors for Marvel Science Stories. Keyes then began writing for their comic books line, Atlas Comics (which eventually evolved to become Marvel Comics). Magazine Management eventually changed to publishing paperbacks and men’s adventure magazines. At that point Daniel Keyes was an associate editor of Atlas, under Stan Lee. He wrote a synopsis for the idea that later became Flowers for Algernon: “The first guy in the test to raise the I.Q. from a low normal 90 to genius level … He goes through the experience and then is thrown back to what was.” Keyes recalled, “[S]omething told me it should be more than a comic book script.” He never submitted it to Stan Lee.

Flowers for Algernon was published as a short story in 1959, in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. In 1966 Keyes turned the short story into a full novel. At that time Keys started teaching creative writing and English at Ohio University.

He died in his home on June 15th, 2014, from complications of pneumonia.

A few random facts:

  • He was awarded the Author Emeritus honour by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2000
  • Keyes novel, The Minds of Billy Milligan, was adapted into a 2008 movie The Crowded Room.
  • Won the Nebula Award

There are not a lot of facts on this guy, I tried my best to find some interesting stuff.

Flowers for algernon

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is the modern classic Flowers for Algernon. It is about Charlie, a man with a low IQ. He undergoes a surgery that has previously only been tested on mice, to raise his intelligence. The story then follows how he changes as his intelligence changes.

I loved this book!! I had read some excerpts in high school, and I remember enjoying it. But I am so glad that I finally took the time to read the full story.

The writing was perfect to fully immerse you in Charlie’s life. The story is told from journal entries written by Charlie. As his intelligence changes, you can see his vocabulary and spelling changing as well. The most interesting aspect for me wasn’t just the IQ changing but his ability to comprehend. The question I had been asking myself is if your mind ability changes does that mean your personality changes too? Well you guys will have to read to find out how Daniel Keyes told it.

The character development was amazing, slow and realistic changes. This is a book that made me think. I asked myself, “Is ignorance bliss?”, and after reading this book I can honestly say I still have no idea. I think everyone should read this book, we can all take something out of this novel.

Have you guys read this modern classic?

On This Bookish Day: May 22nd-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is Born

Hello bookworms,

Welcome back to On This Bookish Day. Where one day of the month I will honour and important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books.

So, on this bookish day:

May 22nd-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is Born, 1859

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is most well known for his stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Where he later studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School. While studying he started to write short stories, and even had one published in the Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal. After graduation Doyle was then employed as a ship surgeon on a trip to the West African coast. Then in 1882 he set up a private practice in England, while waiting for patients he started writing fiction.

His first story featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson was published in 1886, and received good reviews. As it turns out Doyle had mixed feelings about his most famous character Holmes. He wrote his mother saying that he wanted to kill off the character to work on other things and she replied “You won’t! You can’t! You mustn’t!”. To try and prevent the publishers from requesting more Holmes he continued to up the price of his stories, which they were willing to pay. This made him one of the best paid authors of his time.

Doyle died of a heart attack at the age of 71, his last words were to his wife ” You are wonderful”.

And a few random facts:

  • He wan’t knighted for his fiction, he was made a knight for his work on a non-fiction pamphlet regarding the Boer War.
  • Doyle ran for parliament twice, once in Edinburgh in 1900 and once in Border Burghs in 1906, both times he was not elected.
  • Why he killed of Holmes: he told a friend “I couldn’t revive him if I would, at least not for years, for I have had such an overdose of him that I feel towards him as I do towards pâté de foie gras, of which I once ate too much, so that the name of it gives me a sickly feeling to this day.” But it turns out that in the same year that he killed off Sherlock Holmes, his father, and alcoholic, died in an asylum.

There is a lot more to know about this man, but I guess I just want to pique you interest with a bit of information. I don’t want to write a whole paper on this, I have been out of school for a while and I no longer have to write essays.

The Adventures of sherlock holmes

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I have now read the first three Sherlock Holmes books, and they are just fun.  As a lot of you will know, he writes crimes stories and Mr.Holmes solves them in the most peculiar ways. Almost always by deduction.

I don’t read short stories very often, but this is one time where I prefer short stories over the novels. The way Holmes solves the cases, I don’t find the need for the full novels. They move a lot faster and I find them to be most entertaining when the stories are short and sweet. I found a couple of the stories to sort of drag on and I got a little bored with them, when he isn’t solving there usually isn’t a whole lot going on.

The character are really quirky and a lot of fun to get into. The crimes usually missing people, or other nonviolent crimes. Holmes solves them with the science of deduction, which is my favourite part. It so fun to watch him explain how simple it is to solve crimes, like everyone should just pay a little more attention.

Overall I get why these stories are a classic, they are really fun and I see how they became so popular. I would recommend these to people trying to venture into classics, they are short and really easy to get into.

 

On This Bookish Day: April 10th-The Great Gatsby was Published

Hello bookworms,

Welcome back to On This Bookish Day, where one day of the month I will honour an important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books.

So, on this bookish day:

April 10th- The Great Gatsby was published-1925

The Great Gatsby is considered to be a literary classic and a great American novel. When it was published in 1925, it wasn’t a great success. It received mixed reviews and only sold 20,000 copies in it’s first year. Turns out that it didn’t become popular until World War II, when it was sent over seas to the soldiers and then became part of American high school curriculum. Sadly he did not live to see it’s popularity grow. The Fitzgeralds moved to Long Island in 1922, after the birth of their child. He was inspired by the parties he attended while visiting the north shore. He then started planning it out in 1923. Fitzgerald wrote 18,000 words, but edited most of it out, which then became a short story “Absolution” published in 1924.

A Few Random Facts:

  • At the time of its publication in 1925, the novel cost just $2.
  • Zelda Fitzgerald wrote that the silent film based on the novel was “ROTTEN and awful and terrible and we left.”
  • The poet who “wrote” the novel’s epigraph never actually existed. He was a character in Fitzgerald’s previous book, This Side of Paradise.

So this one had a super short bit of history, but there isn’t quite as much to say about a novel. But since it was the day that book was published I wanted to talk about the novel not the person, well this time I did.

The Great Gatsby

★★★★☆

This one was a four star read for me. It wasn’t quite as good as I had been expecting, but just because it seems that everyone gives it five stars. I thought it was going to blow me out of the water. Don’t get me wrong it’s a really good book, I just have issue with hyped up books, so I probably did this to myself.

I found the beginning of the book to be pretty boring and it had me a little worried. The start is all about people spending money on big parties. The people are just so superficial, they only care about things and where you’re educated and who you know.

**Spoilers ahead**

Once the story moved on and it was about Gatsby and Daisy, I was much more interested. I’m not someone who reads love stories, but it wasn’t about that. For me it was so hard to read about Gatsby, he just tried so hard. Daisy just care less it seemed, she says she loved him, but really she wasn’t interested when he didn’t have any money. Then she just seemed to give everyone the run around. After all that he went through and taking the fall for the car accident, I felt so bad for him when it ended with his death.

***Spoilers done***

I can totally see why this became a classic. The way it describes the 20’s. Also as I found out with the bit of research I did, the inspiration that he saw from the mixture of “old money” and “new money”.  I really enjoyed this novel and I hope to read some more of his work.

What did you guys think of The Great Gatsby?  

On This Bookish Day : March 26th-Walt Whitman Dies

Hello bookworms,

Welcome back to On This Bookish Day, where one day of the month I will honour an important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books.

So, on this bookish day:

March 26th-Walt Whitman Dies, 1892

Walt Whitman, the father of free verse. He was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. His work was considered very controversial for its time, especially Leaves of Grass, for the sexuality. Whitman’s most famous work Leaves of Grass, was supposed to be for the common person.

Walt Whitman started off by working in the print industry, but had difficulties finding work due to a fire in the printing and publishing district. Then he moved on to teaching intermittently, but ultimately decided it was not satisfying. He then decided to start up his own newspaper, called the Long Islander. He worked as the editor, distributer, publisher and even did home deliveries. After ten months, he sold the newspaper, then wrote a number of editorials for three newspapers in New York.

The first edition of Leaves of Grass was printed in June of 1855. Critics considered it to be trashy and obscene, to the point that after the second edition was already printed they considered not releasing. Once the Civil War started he continued to write poetry. He wrote of his experiences from the war, seeing mass amounts of amputations and wounded soldiers affected him quite deeply.

He suffered a paralytic stroke in 1873, but continued with his work. Whitman produced other copies of Leaves of Grass over the following years, in 1891 he finished his final edition nicknamed the deathbed edition. Afterwards he wrote “L. of G. at last complete—after 33 y’rs of hackling at it, all times & moods of my life, fair weather & foul, all parts of the land, and peace & war, young & old”. He died in 1892, he was 72.

A few random facts:

  • Walt Whitman volunteered as a nurse during the Civil War.
  • He paid for the first edition publication of Leaves of Grass.
  • He denied any one faith was more important than the others.

That was much longer than I was expecting, I thought there wouldn’t be that much information about him. Turns out there is a ton of stuff about him. If you guys are interested there is so much more to know about him, but I didn’t want this to be 17 pages long.

Leaves of Grass

★★★☆☆

So for this one I gave it three stars, and I found it really hard to pick a rating for this one. It’s a collection of poetry so I can’t say anything about plot or characters. But I can talk about writing style.

I completely understand why his writing was considered for the common American. This was probably the easiest poetry I have read so far. Then again I have barely scratched the surface of the poetry genre. It seemed to be written mostly like a narrative, not abstract at all, which I can appreciate. I especially liked his descriptions of nature and the outdoors in general. He has a way to paint a very beautiful picture, so vivid.

So that all being said, this wasn’t an amazing collection for me. I could appreciate the writing, and I understand why this is a classic. But the poems were long….Very, very long. I just don’t think I can concentrate on a poem that long; the first poem was around 60 pages. For a person who doesn’t even like 20 page chapters in a novel, that’s just too much. They also seemed to be divided up a little weirdly for me. Within the poem they seemed to be split up into numbered sections, it seemed like they would have been individual poems. They seemed to jump around a bit in subject matter, but yet they were all the same poem. So I found it a little confusing, but maybe I just don’t know enough about poetry at this point.

I would recommend this for people to try out. It is very different from the more modern poetry I have read so far, but still very accessible. It’s a classic, and it’s quick, so give it a try. Have you guys read this yet or is there more classic poetry I need to try?

On This Bookish Day: February 11th- Sylvia Plath Dies

Hello bookworms,

Welcome back to On This Bookish Day. Where one day of the month I will honour and important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books.

So, on this bookish day:

February 11th- Sylvia Plath Dies, 1963

Sylvia Plath was a poet, novelist and short story writer. She excelled at Smith College, where after her third year, was given the position of guest editor of the Mademoiselle magazine; for a month, in New York City. It was not at all what she expected, but it was the inspiration for her novel The Bell Jar. After her first attempt at suicide, she spent six months in psychiatric care, where she received electric shock therapy. After what was thought to be a good recovery, she returned to school and graduated with highest honours.

Eventually her depression returned and then worsened. After several suicide attempts, she was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. She was 30 years old.

And a few random facts:

  • At the age of 12 her IQ was recorded at 160, literally a genius.
  • Plath had her first poem published in the Boston Herald at the age of 9.
  • She worked her way through Smith College even though she had been accepted to Wellesley for free. She worked on a farm doing manual labour.

There are many more interesting facts about her. But after reading about her depression and death I wanted some happier facts. To honour her I chose to read and do a quick review of her only novel The Bell Jar.

the-bell-jar

★★★★☆

I had originally given this book three stars. But after I sat with it a bit and I think let it soak in, I decided to change it to a four star book. This was a short and very powerful book for me. Her writing is phenomenal, it flows beautifully. She has a way of describing that kept me engaged.

The book is about a young woman who goes to New York City for a month on behalf of the magazine she writes for in college. When she comes home from the trip she goes into a depression and is hospitalised…..Sound familiar.

The first half of the book is her experience in New York City, and it was pretty much a let down.  The first half of the book honestly didn’t really interest me, she wasn’t whiny or annoying, I just found it kind of boring. I was expecting this thought provoking book about depression. Near the end of her trip you could see some depression beginning to show.

Well that brings me to the second half of the book. You get what seems to be a real look into what depression feels like. The thought process they go through. The parts where she describes the electric shock therapy, seemed very real. Keeping in mind this would have been treatment from the early 50’s, it still sounds pretty traumatic. The second half of the book was what really hooked me, it was seeing depression and treatment form the inside. I won’t give you guys any more because with a short book you can’t say much without spoiling.

I have seen a lot of mixed review for this book, some people just couldn’t seem to identify at all with the main character. The ones that loved it seemed to be people who had suffered from depression themselves in the past. Although I haven’t experienced it myself I do find psychology interesting, so I really enjoyed this book.

I would recommend this to anyone interested in depression, or have perhaps experienced it. Or really anyone who wants to read a modern classic, I would just warn that the first half was slow for me, but I felt it was worth it.