Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed

toptentuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is about second chances and changes of heart. Here are ten books that I’ve changed my mind about over the years, for better or for worse.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed

 

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – When I first read this novel in 9th grade I must have been going through a brooding, melancholy phase (I was; I was 14) because I really enjoyed this book. When I reread it a couple of years ago, I was baffled at how I could have ever enjoyed a book whose characters were so unlovable. I do give Emily Brontë credit for two things, however: she cultivated my love for classic lit and she wrote a story that was intriguing despite its despicable characters.

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Emma by Jane Austen – Oh, Emma Woodhouse. She’s such a spoiled brat, but I feel that I’ve matured along with her and even though I didn’t like this book as recently as 3 years ago, now I actually enjoy it. I love watching and rewatching the movie and miniseries (except for the Box Hill picnic. I always fast-forward that whole scene).

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Twilight by Stephanie Meyer – I started this series when I was a college freshman and I really enjoyed it at the time. But now it’s one of those stories I no longer feel comfortable advocating or recommending to other readers (especially teens). I know I’m probably stepping on a lot of toes by saying this, but Bella and Edward’s relationship is so unhealthy it’s dangerous. Two things I do like about Twilight, however; are Jasper (<3) and the movie soundtrack.

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Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin – Ok, I loved these books when I first read them back in college. Maybe I identified with Rachel’s personality. But the more I think about it now, the more absurd I find it is to sympathize with someone who has an affair with her best friend’s francé. I will admit, though, that I do like the movie. Probably because it has 3 of my favorite actors.

c6b3625ef9060e64ed4bbc8588586476Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery – It is no secret that I love this series. Anne of Green Gables is my favorite book and I reread several, if not all of the books every other year. Anne of Windy Poplars, however, has always been my least favorite and I typically skip over it. Younger me would say it’s because it was seriously lacking in Gilbert! I think if I reread it now, though, I could appreciate the Gilbert-less events more than my teenage self could.

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The Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien – This is a series I did not finish several years ago. I know how beloved it is, but I found it…boring. *waits to be pelted by rocks* I did read all of The Fellowship of the Ring and the first half of The Two Towers and I think that’s giving it a fair chance. Anyway, lately I’ve been having a change of heart and I’m thinking about reading The Two Towers and Return of the King sometime. Mainly it’s because I feel like a bad nerd for not having read the entire series and seen all of the movies!

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – I’ve read one novel by John Green and was not impressed. I was actually really into Paper Towns until Margo showed up and then it went seriously downhill for me. But last week a friend encouraged me to give John Green a second chance and he specifically recommended The Fault in Our Stars. I already know the story but I think I’ll try to read it sometime, anyway.

How do you feel about the books on my list?

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Jane Austen’s Emma

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I wish all books were this pretty!

Emma by Jane Austen
Published Dec 1815 by John Murray
Classic/Romance
Format: e-book; 456 pages
Also From This Author: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Persuasion
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: 4/5

This summer I was on a Jane Austen spree; I read Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and finally Emma. It was my first time reading it, although I was already familiar with the story because of the 1996 film version (featuring the worst period-era wig ever, courtesy of Ewan McGregor).

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Seriously, he looks like the Mad Hatter.

But I never really liked Emma as a character. She’s snobby, meddlesome, and rather immature (like when she gets upset at not being able to decline an invitation because she wasn’t even invited…ugh). However, after finally reading the novel I actually came to *like* Emma, or maybe I just really liked Mr. Knightley ;) His speech near the end was so sweet, and I love this little excerpt afterwards:

He had ridden home through the rain; and had walked up directly after dinner, to see how this sweetest and best of all creatures, faultless in spite of all her faults, bore the discovery. (Chapter 49)

So there were great, swoon-worthy parts of the novel. But the worst, the worst part about Emma is the Box Hill picnic, when Emma maliciously makes fun of Miss Bates in front of all their friends. Because I had already seen the 1996 movie before reading the novel, I was dreading, absolutely dreading that chapter the entire time. And while I was watching the movie again after finishing the novel, I even muted the TV for a good minute and a half during that one excruciating part. There are a handful of books that contain chapters which I dread reading that much, but at least we are able to truly see Emma’s repentant heart afterwards.

Jane Austen’s novels frequently convey the motif of misunderstandings, and Emma is stock-full of them. She misunderstands the attentions and actions of Mr. Elton, Mr. Frank Churchill, and if that isn’t enough, Mr. Knightley as well. Clearly Emma does not possess an appropriate skill-set in order to be a successful matchmaker. Each of Emma’s misunderstandings add to the humor and drama of the plot, but they also help Emma to mature before the reader, and while I started the novel with the opinion of Emma being vain, selfish, and snobby, I ended it admiring Emma for her kind heartedness, compassion, and humility. There were two instances in which I loved Emma the most, the first being after Mr. Elton’s proposal, when Emma feels worse for her friend Harriet than she does for herself:

Every part of it brought pain and humiliation, of some sort or other; but, compared with the evil to Harriet, all was light; and she would gladly have submitted to feel yet more mistaken—more in error—more disgraced by mis-judgment, than she actually was, could the effects of her blunders have been confined to herself. (Chapter 16)

I absolutely admired her selflessness in this passage, and it added greatly to my sympathy for Emma in the second instance, near the end of the novel, when she suspects Mr. Knightley is about to confess his feelings for Harriet. At first Emma silences Mr. Knightley, but then, seeing how she has pained him, puts her duty as a friend over her own heartbreak, and pleads for Mr. Knightley to speak of anything he would like to. That must have taken immense courage.

I am very glad I gave Emma another chance. Even though I would not consider it my favorite Jane Austen novel, nor would I consider any of the characters my most favorite or least favorite, it was an enjoyable read with memorable themes and humorous indirect dialogue, without which I doubt I would have been able to laugh at or sympathize with our headstrong heroine.