"Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and"Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas."
In honor of the Christmas season that is now upon us, I decided to finally read this short book. Of course I know the story well—my family used to see The ACT Theatre’s production of the play every season for many years—but I had never actually read Dickens’ text. Sure, I can quote parts of it by heart from all those trips to the ACT and viewings of A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, but there are a lot of details those adaptations leave out or change. (I had no idea that the Ghost of Christmas Past is actually a man in the book, not a young woman.) If you have a couple spare hours and haven’t read the book, definitely give it a go this December....more
I didn’t know this until recently, but the book is told exclusively through written works. The personal journals of its characters, as well as lettersI didn’t know this until recently, but the book is told exclusively through written works. The personal journals of its characters, as well as letters and newspaper clippings, are strung together to create a linear narrative about the discovery of Dracula, and the ensuing hunt to destroy him. Although nearly everyone knows about Dracula and the commonly understood traits of the mythical vampire, the rest of the story was new to me, from Jonathan Harker’s time spent in Transylvania to the curious illness of Lucy Westenra....more
There are a lot of books that I just never read. The Grapes of Wrath was assigned in high school, but I read approximately six chapters of it, beforeThere are a lot of books that I just never read. The Grapes of Wrath was assigned in high school, but I read approximately six chapters of it, before I completely lost interest. Aside from A Christmas Carol, I’ve only ever read one book by Charles Dickens. I think somewhere along the line, I passed on most so-called “classics,” because I thought I knew the stories enough not to actually have to read them. Such was the case with Frankenstein, but I added it to my list anyway after listening to the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast on its origin. (I thought it would be interesting to read one or two of those classic monster novels in the run up to Halloween.)
(As most people well-know) the book is about a man named Victor Frankenstein, who slaves away to gave life to a creature he made, only to completely shun him once he succeeds. As a result of this abandonment, the creature escapes to the woods, learns about the world and how to communicate, and discovers that he is quite unlike the humans he studies. Unable to find compassion among mankind, he becomes bent on revenge against his creator, determining to ruin his life by murdering those whom he loves.
I’m definitely glad I finally read this book. Though the book was written nearly 200 years ago, the older English wasn’t hard to get used to, and the plot was quick enough that it really held my interest. I do find it interesting how the image of Frankenstein’s monster has evolved from the time when the story was published until now. I don’t quite understand how the green-skinned man with a flat head and bolts in his neck came about, and I had a hard time picturing the creature in the novel as the same character. Regardless, this was a great book to read in these weeks leading up to Halloween!...more
I’m not really going to say much about the book, since I think I’m pretty much the last person on the planet to read it. It’s about a man named BillyI’m not really going to say much about the book, since I think I’m pretty much the last person on the planet to read it. It’s about a man named Billy Pilgrim who is unstuck in time following his abduction aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. The novel follows him as he time travels between various points in his life, including when he was a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II.
I’ll say that I liked the book, but I didn’t love it. I’m not sure why. It was definitely interesting, and I thought that it told a story about the war in a very unique and effective way....more
I’m pretty sure Animal Farm is another one of those books you’re supposed to read in high school, and in fact I believe my class was supposed to in 9tI’m pretty sure Animal Farm is another one of those books you’re supposed to read in high school, and in fact I believe my class was supposed to in 9th grade, but that never happened for me. So in an attempt to catch up with my reading timeline, I finally read this (super short) book.
For those who don’t know, it’s basically about a bunch of animals on Manor Farm who are fed up with their current situation (not enough to eat, too much work, constant tyranny from mankind) and decide to rebel against their master, Jones. When it actually happens, all is well and good for a little while, with animals all equal to one another and denouncing anything that is decidedly human (i.e. wearing clothes, sleeping in beds, drinking alcohol, etc.) They rename the farm Animal Farm, and decide that they will run things better than the humans ever did under the rules of Animalism (Communism). Two pigs—Snowball and Napoleon—step up to be the decision makers, since they are the smartest of the bunch, but when Napoleon realizes he isn’t getting his way, he stages a coup and Snowball is chased off the farm. Things go downhill from there, until there really isn’t a difference between when the pigs are running the farm and when Jones was in charge.
I didn’t actually know that much about the plot when I picked it up, but I was confident it would be a good read since 1984 is one of my favorite books. It’s message is pretty clear, with Napoleon used as a stand-in for Joseph Stalin, but the manner in which this is presented is a very unique idea, especially for that time. It’s pretty bizarre to imagine animals building windmills and making sketchy deals with neighboring farms, but that isn’t Orwell’s point. Like Russia during the early 20th century, what sounded good and beneficial to all in the beginning became corrupt and elitist in the end. Through absolute power and the use of false propaganda, Napoleon was able to completely denounce everything that the Utopian vision of Animal Farm was supposed to be, all the while managing to convince the lower-class animals that they were really better off than before. Their initial principle of “All animals are equal” gradually evolves to “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Evil pigs…...more
I last read To Kill a Mockingbird in 2000 when it was required reading for my ninth-grade English class (just as it is for most kids at that age). ThrI last read To Kill a Mockingbird in 2000 when it was required reading for my ninth-grade English class (just as it is for most kids at that age). Throughout my time in high school, I typically regarded any assigned book with a bit of annoyance and plenty of hesitation. “How could this book possibly be any good if I’m being forced to read it?” I applied those same feelings to this book at that time, and begrudgingly slogged my way through it. (I did finish it, however, unlike almost every other book our teachers handed us, such as Grapes of Wrath and My Antonia.)
When I decided to read the book again this year, I initially couldn’t remember much about it, except for a few of the major plot points. I knew the narrator was a young Southern girl named Scout whose father, Atticus, was defending a black man in a controversial case and that they had a reclusive neighbor called Boo Radley, but that was about it. As I starting making progress, however, the narratives were instantly familiar, and yet so much more eloquent and poignant than I remembered. The characterization is strong, and Scout’s observations are just as important today as they were when the novel was released. I really don’t know what else to say that hasn’t been said a thousand times before, but I will tell you that I enjoyed it a lot this second time. There is a reason this book is a classic, and if you somehow haven’t read it, there’s no better time to pick up a copy....more