Top Ten Tuesday: To Read or Not to Read?

toptentuesdayFinally! I’m finally home after lots of traveling and vacation which means I’m actually able to sit down and post this Top Ten Tuesday post on Tuesday. This week’s meme topic is “Books I’m Not Sure I Want to Read,” but I’ve also included books I do want to read, but have put off for months/years, and also books that I know I never want to read.

Top Ten Books That Have Me Asking Myself, “To Read or Not to Read?

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – This book has been all over the place this year (even though it’s from 2011), but that is not the reason I don’t want to read it, neither is the fact that I already know multiple big spoilers. I don’t want to read it because I don’t feel like being wrecked by a book that I know is going to wreck me in advance…if that makes sense. I may watch the movie one day, and who knows? Maybe I’ll even read the book, but for now it’s on my “Do Not Read” shelf, as much as that has shocked some of my friends.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – I’ve heard that this series is great, and despite mixed reviews of the film version, I think I may like the story. But I haven’t had enough interest to check the book out. Not yet, anyways.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini – I own hardback copies of the first three books in this series, and my husband really loves these books. BUT, the reason I haven’t read the books yet is because I saw the movie and. It. Was. Awful. Even though I know the books aren’t awful, I just haven’t wanted to read them yet.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett – Another book/movie that I’ve heard so many good things about. I received this book from a Secret Santa this past Christmas, and I’d really  like to read it this year, but, like most of the other books on this list, I haven’t had the desire to read it yet (I think I’m dreading crying).

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – Ok, the reason I haven’t read this series yet is because two years ago I bought the first three books in French, hoping it would help me work on my French, but I gave up after the first chapter took me hours to read. I’m currently trying to read another novel in French and, although my level has improved enough to get me halfway through the novel in a week, I’ve been procrastinating on finishing it as well because reading in French is tiring… I am determined though!
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A Feast For Crows (and the remainder of A Song of Ice and Fire series) by George R. R. Martin – I bought a bundle of the first 5 books in this series with an entire Amazon giftcard that I had received for my birthday 2 years ago and I am still regretting it. I read A Game of Thrones, freaked out and read A Clash of Kings, gradually feeling more and more turned off by the vulgarity and graphic nature of the writing, and by nearly all of the characters. But I kept on reading up until halfway through A Storm of Swords, and right after the “Red Wedding,” I had enough. I skimmed the synopsis for the rest of the series (so far), just to find out the fate of some specific characters. I have no intention on finishing this series, or watching the TV show. It’s just not for me.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – This is a play that I’ve been told multiple I would enjoy, and it’s on my Classics Club List, so I know I’ll get to it eventually. I am really looking forward to finally reading it one day!

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – The movie version of this book is one of my favorite movies. I love sad movies (which may sound contradictory to my reasons for not reading The Fault in Our Stars…), and this movie had me crying for literally 15 minutes after I walked out of the theater. But I LOVED it, and my mom or my brother bought me this book for the following Christmas and I’ve just never gotten around to reading it. I definitely want to, though!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – I’ve read two of Rainbow Rowell’s novels, Attachments and FangirlAttachments, an adult fiction novel, is one of the best novels I’ve read this year. Rowell’s young adult novel, Fangirl, however…I really wasn’t into. So since Eleanor & Park is also a YA novel, I’ve been putting off reading it. Maybe one day?

All’s Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare – This is probably the most random entry on this list, but it was a play I wanted to read while I was doing a mini-Shakespeare thing on my blog back in April, but I kept putting it off. I am such a procrastinator! It will get read this year, though. I just don’t know when ;)

What are some books you are on the fence about reading?

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Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Literary Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In

toptentuesdayThe actual topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the lovely ladies of The Broke and the Bookish Blog) is “Top Ten Things on My Bookish Bucketlist”, but I opted to choose a past topic instead: “Top Ten Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In”. This was actually a rather difficult post for me to write, because all of these worlds listed here are dark, gorey, and hopeless. But to cheer myself up I added a little surprise at the end ;)

Top Ten Literary Worlds I’d Never Want to Live In

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Panem (from The Hunger Games trilogy): 

For anyone who has read the books or seen the movies, this is a pretty obvious choice. In the futuristic dystopian world of Panem, children ages 11-18 are entered into a lottery each year, a lottery that chooses 12 boys and 12 girls who will be forced to fight to the death in a harsh arena. Only one child survives.
Besides the annual “Hunger Games”, there are also strict rules that the citizens have to live by day-to-day. Each district has its own “Peacekeepers” to terrorize and taunt the citizens into submission. When I first read these novels I was constantly on the edge; there was no “down time”. I was always feeling anxious and scared for everyone (so much so that I had a nightmare wherein Peeta and Katniss were being physically threatened by a pack of 20 Careers. This is how I knew I needed to read something happier…like Jane Austen. Now there’s a literary world I’d love to inhabit!). I love that the author, Suzanne Collins, was able to make me feel this way, but I love even more that I do not have to feel this way in real life! No Panem for me!

lordofthefliesThe Deserted Island (from The Lord of the Flies):

What a fascinating book, but what a messed up world. If this pig on a stick image doesn’t bother you, maybe you should imagine it talking to you while flies swarm disgustingly around its dead head. Yeah, this novel gave me the creeps in many ways, but the pig head could arguably be the least disturbing part for me. The group of savage boys was much scarier, especially after they started killing off the younger ones.
Technically, this deserted island isn’t some fantasy world, but a means by which to draw out the savagery that inhabits all of us. Scary thought, isn’t it?

oneflewoverthecuckoosnestThe Mental Hospital (from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Unlike most of the other novels listed in this post, I did not enjoy reading (or watching) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It doesn’t help that it features Jack Nicholson (great actor, but there’s a reason he usually plays creepy roles), but I read the book first and I didn’t enjoy it either. I usually stay away from novels and movies involving mental heath issues as they don’t tend to sit well with me.
The scariest character in this “world” is the tyrannical Nurse Ratched (I mean, with that name you can’t be expecting someone like Princess Buttercup). Instead of trying to cure her patients’ illness, she uses them to maintain her power. She even tries to convince the non-insane protagonist that he is insane. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s obvious that it’s not a happy one (or else this novel wouldn’t be on my list).

wonderlandWonderland (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

This magical world is most likely someplace that a lot of bookworms would love to visit. Not me. I recently read this novel for the first time, and I was greatly disappointed. I’ve always enjoyed the films, even though they are very bizarre, but the book drove me insane. Obviously Wonderland is a confusing place, but I was literally getting headaches from trying to follow along with Alice’s adventures. I don’t even want to imagine what that place would be like if it actually existed.

mostdangerousgameThe Jungle (from The Most Dangerous Game)

I guess this is technically a gothic short story? I’m not sure, but I did like reading it, despite the fact that the story follows a man who is unknowingly invited to another man’s private island so that he can be hunted. Not the happiest of tales, but–spoilers–it ends well. Still not the type of place I’d ever want to live in.

1984Airstrip One (from Nineteen Eighty-Four)

This is one of the first dystopian novels I ever read (I believe the very first one was The Giver), and this genre has definitely become one of my favorites despite the fact that I would never want to live in any of the dystopian worlds, like the setting of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Here free-thinking, individualism, and a sense of personality are forbidden as we are dominated by Big Brother. Obviously there are real places in this world that mirror this fictitious place, but I’ll let the conspiracy theorists argue about the extent to which it exists.

macbethAny place featured in Shakespeare’s tragedies (mainly the supernatural world of Macbeth)

Hamlet is not only my favorite Shakespearean work, it is also my favorite play, but between the ghosts and the insanity, it’s hard to find anything positive about the Prince of Denmark’s world. And Macbeth’s world is even worse. If it’s not the witches that tempt him with visions of power and success, it’s his wife, Lady Macbeth, who is essentially responsible for most of the deaths in the play.
And then there’s Romeo & Juliet, also known as the saddest story ever. I love Shakespearean tragedies (except Macbeth…I’d be fine never reading it again), but I’d never want to live in one, even as a minor character who is fortunate enough to stay alive.

waroftheworldsEarth under alien attack (from The War of the Worlds)

I’ve actually never read this novel (it is on my TBD list for this year, though!), but I’ve seen the Tom Cruise movie and that was enough to know I’d never want to experience a bloodthirsty alien attack. I highly doubt I’d survive something like that, and even if I did it still wouldn’t be enjoyable.

pillarsoftheearthKingsbridge (from The Pillars of the Earth)

I haven’t read this novel, but I did watch the miniseries and it was enough to convince me that I would not enjoy the book. Medieval England was not a happy place for anyone, not even for those in power, and certainly not for women. Despite the fact that I don’t enjoy this type of literature and that I’m extremely grateful that I don’t live in a medieval society, I actually do like one thing related to The Pillars of the Earth: it board game based on the sequel, World Without End. It is probably my favorite strategy game, ironically because you actually feel like you’re playing for your life. I know, I’m such a contradiction.

westerosWesteros (from A Song of Ice and Fire series)

Normally these lists aren’t actually in order, but in this case I can say that, without hesitation, I would rather live anywhere than Westeros. I tried reading this series after the Game of Thrones series became hugely popular, but I seriously regret every buying the books. So many graphic images and unforgettable horrors, especially involving women. I can’t fathom why anyone, if they could visit any fictitious world, would pick Westeros. And with that being said…

To cheer myself up, because it wasn’t pleasant coming up with this list, I am ending this post by sharing the one literary world I’d love to visit above all others:

avonleaAvonlea, Prince Edward Island (from the Anne of Green Gables series)

*sigh* Sometimes, I think I’d like to live in Edwardian eastern Canada permanently, and pretend to be imaginative Anne Shirley and take long walks down dirt roads and have picnics outside with my best friends every single weekend. The only competition with Anne Shirley’s world would be a Jane Austen world, but Anne, as a woman, has so many more opportunities at living an independent life and I think it would be too hard to have to rely on marriage in order to survive. Wow, I didn’t think this post would become so feminist before I wrote it ;)

So what are some fictional worlds you would never want to live in? Or, if you’re like me and would rather think about happy thoughts, if you could live in one book world, which one would it be?

Everyone loves a survey!

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I came across this fun little bookish survey over at Covered in Flour and it reminded me of my MySpace survey-posting days (Ahh, high school). I had some time to kill this evening so here you go!

Author you’ve read the most books from: Lucy M. Montgomery. I’ve read her beloved Anne of Green Gables series (8 books total) multiple times.

Best sequel ever: I adored Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I remember staying up all night to read it, and even having to take pauses to deal with all the feels. That was probably my favorite novel in the series.

Currently reading: I read Jane Eyre last week (started and finished…I couldn’t put it down), so I am currently in between books. But I will be starting Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in a few days.

Drink of choice while reading: Tea, in a nice mug, or water, if it’s hot outside. Sometimes very rarely I will drink coffee if it’s rather early in the morning or late at night and I need caffeine to help me stay awake.

E-reader of physical book?: I love the smell and feel of physical books, yet I love my Kindle as well. Most of the novels I read are on my Kindle, and I love not having to pick and choose what books stay in France and what books stay in the U.S. Every now and then I will buy a paperback, and of course I have hardback editions of my favorite series (except for Anne of Green Gables…I only have the paperback box set that I received as a Christmas present when I was 12. I love reading those copies the best, but I have the series on my Kindle as well).

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My husband, knowing my quirky love of smelling books as I read them, brought me home this edition of Jane Eyre earlier this week. Guess I have to reread it! ;)

Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school: Ahh, I was always intrigued by the mysterious, yet charismatic guys the most in high school, but I don’t know if I would have actually dated one. Possibly, but I think I’d be more inclined to date a Captain Wentworth or Gilbert Blythe.

Glad you gave this book a chance: Jane Eyre, definitely. I was turned off by it for the longest time and fortunately I came across this read-along last month and now I will consider it one of my top 5 favorite novels.

Hidden gem book: I think I’ll go with The Giver by Lois Lowry. I love those types of dystopian novels.

Important moment in your reading life: Just the fact that I was so encouraged to read by my elementary school teachers. They made it fun, we had challenges, and we were always encouraged to read if we finished our lessons early. That stopped once I got to middle and high school, but it was too late by then because I had already become an incurable bookworm!

Just finished: Jane Eyre! I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Kinds of books you won’t read: Game of Thrones and 50 Shades of Grey type books. I read the first three A Song of Ice and Fire novels and I would be happy to never read another book like them again. I have a hard time getting past the violence, crudeness, and graphic imagery in those types of reads. And do I need to elaborate on my reasons for not reading 50 Shades of Grey type novels? I read the Twilight series in high school and that is already over my limit.

Longest book you’ve read: Moby Dick.

Major book hangover because of…: There are three answers that complete this sentence: Jane Eyre (I am still on that hangover…), Pride and Prejudice (finally got off that hangover after 3ish weeks), and the Anne of Green Gables series (was on this hangover earlier this summer). I only seem to have book hangovers after reading classics. I think it’s because I get all nostalgic and wish I could time travel back to somewhere between 1700 and 1900.

Number of bookcases you own: A lot of my books are e-reader format, but I would say I have at least 4 bookshelves of various heights.

One book you have read multiple times: I’ll pick one that I haven’t yet mentioned, and that will be Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer. My guilty book pleasure (but I don’t really feel guilty about it) is reading historical Christian fiction, and this is my favorite, along with To Win Her Heart by the same author and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I love the period-era atmospheres, the entertaining characters, and the positive themes. It’s my pick-me-up genre.

Preferred place to read: right now I love reading on my living room couch with the back door wide open and fresh autumn air blowing through the curtains.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: one of the few favorite quotes I have that I can actually recite from memory is this one by John Keats from his “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (my favorite poem): “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter: therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;” It’s become one of my life mottos.

Reading regret: Besides Game of Thrones, like I previously mentioned? Probably waiting so long to read Jane Eyre. It was never assigned to me in high school or college, but I had heard of it sometime after reading Wuthering Heights in 9th grade and just never desired to read it. Shame on me.

Series you started and need to finish: Percy Jackson. I own the first three installments, in French, and that is why I have not yet finished the first book *guilty and lazy*

Three of your all-time favorite books: I have already mentioned four of my top five favorite novels (Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), so I’ll give you the last one: Persuasion.

Unapologetic fangirl for: My first fictional crush, Gilbert Blythe (sorry Miss Shirley) and Peeta Mellark of Hunger Games fame. Yep, unapologetic.

Very excited for this release more than all the others: You know, I do not read a lot of modern novels. When I do, it’s only after it’s been out for a year or two. I remember waiting for Harry Potter sequels to come out while I was in high school, and the anticipation was excruciating! I would love any recommendations for books/sequels that are being published soon!

Worst bookish habit: probably looking up things about a book before I’ve finished reading it. And I don’t mean I go and look up the endings, I mean I just go to Pinterest and type the title of the book in, especially if it has a film adaptation, and then things get ruined…

X Marks the spot (start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book): Super Stitches Crochet. Yay for reference books!

Your latest book purchase: Most of the novels I read are free because–classics! But the last book I bought, which I have not yet read, is another by Karen Witemeyer: Stealing the Preacher (spin-off from Short Straw Bride).

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY too late): I consecutively spent multiple evenings last week reading Jane Eyre until 2 in the morning…

Jane Eyre Chapters I-XI

As previously mentioned, I am participating in a Jane Eyre read-along this month, so for those of you who have not read at least the first 11 chapters of the novel, be prepared for some spoilers.

This is my first time reading Jane Eyre, and before I started I had absolutely no idea what it was about, and had only heard mixed reviews on whether I should like it or not. Typically I do enjoy Gothic literature, especially Gothic short stories (A Rose for EmilyThe Cask of Amontillado, and The Lottery are just a few of my favorites), but I had always assumed that Charlotte Brontë’s novel would be similar to her sister Emily’s Wuthering Heights, which I have continued to like less and less since I read it almost 9 years ago, mainly because of how awful the characters are to one another.

And so when I finally started reading Jane Eyre last night, I was rather discouraged before I even reached the third chapter, and this can all be contributed to the horrid Reed family, who have probably succeeded in winning the “Quickest Character(s) to Earn My Undying Hatred” Award (move over, Dolores Umbridge).

But in all seriousness, John Reed MUST have been George R. R. Martin’s inspiration for Joffrey Baratheon. Consider this lovely (and somewhat lengthy) passage, which serves as our introduction to Jane’s malicious cousin:

     “What do you want?” I asked, with awkward diffidence.
“Say, ‘What do you want, Master Reed?'” was the answer. “I want you to come here;” and seating himself in an arm-chair, he intimated by a gesture that I was to approach and stand before him.
[…]
Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair: he spent some three minutes in thrusting out his tongue at me as far as he could without damaging the roots: I knew he would soon strike, and while dreading the blow, I mused on the disgusting and ugly appearance of him who would presently deal it. I wonder if he read that notion in my face; for, all at once, without speaking, he struck suddenly and strongly. I tottered, and on regaining my equilibrium retired back a step or two from his chair.
“That is for your impudence in answering mama awhile since,” said he, “and for your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for the look you had in your eyes two minutes since, you rat!”
Accustomed to John Reed’s abuse, I never had an idea of replying to it; my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow the insult.
“What were you doing behind the curtain?” he asked.
“I was reading.”
“Show the book.”
I returned to the window and fetched it thence.
“You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen’s children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama’s expense. Now, I’ll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they ARE mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows.”
I did so, not at first aware what was his intention; but when I saw him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl it, I instinctively started aside with a cry of alarm: not soon enough, however; the volume was flung, it hit me, and I fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it. The cut bled, the pain was sharp: my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded.
“Wicked and cruel boy!” I said. “You are like a murderer–you are like a slave-driver–you are like the Roman emperors!”
[…]
“What! what!” he cried. “Did she say that to me? Did you hear her, Eliza and Georgiana? Won’t I tell mama?[…]”

This.

Fortunately, after reading through Chapter 11 I can safely say that the book has greatly improved, although some of the chapters did seem to drag on a bit. I did however love the goodbye scene between Jane and Helen Burns. It was so beautiful and emotion-filled. I love heart-wrenching stories like that. I know it’s pathetic, but those types of emotions always have a greater impact on me. I am sad to lose Helen as a character, though…she was so good and kind-hearted. I admired her forgiving spirit, and the fact that she never held a grudge ever. I know that if I had to pick between which of these girls I am most inclined to be like, it would without a doubt have to be Jane. I was pretty convicted in that regard. But through Helen and Jane’s relationship I was able to relate to our heroine and find a connection with her, which is an essential factor in me being able to like the novel. This is also why I classify myself as being a part of the minority of Austenites who love Fanny Price/Mansfield Park.

So I can truthfully say I am now eagerly looking forward to the rest of Miss Eyre’s story, as long as there are no more appearances from the Victorian Joffrey (and if there are, all of you who have already read Jane Eyre are encouraged to laugh pitifully at me).

But I really do love modern-classic crossovers, so here are two more little funny gems for you all:

Joffrey

“How to be a Turd” written by John Reed

Hamlet

Unrelated, but still amazing.