Two great classics: Great Expectations and The House of Mirth

It seems that I’ve missed a whole month!  Where did January go?  I’ve not posted since the end of December – have you missed me?  Probably not…

My neglect has been bugging me, but honestly, I’ve not had the time to act on that niggle in the back of my mind.  I started a new job the week before Christmas, and new hours and a new location have meant that I haven’t been able to use my usual blogging time – i.e. on the train! – to write.  And I’ve not felt like putting my laptop on at home.  I look at a screen all day, and my evenings and weekends have become very precious to me.  The idea of using them to look at a computer for any longer, even to write, fills me with lethargy.

However, on Friday my first magazine at my new job went to print, and after a hectic few weeks I feel a bit more myself again!  I felt like a new start, and so thought a blogging update was in order.  I’m still following Savidge Reads and AJ Reads’ Classically Challenged, and reading along with them, but the reviews have been getting behind.  I was already behind on my reviews before I started my new job, and now my “to review” shelf is filling me with despair!  But I want my blog to be fun, not a chore (another reason why I haven’t forced myself to blog while I haven’t felt like it), so I thought that I could combine a little update with two short reviews in one.  Hopefully you won’t feel too short-changed! More

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eBooks: Friend Or Foe?

As I mentioned fleetingly in my last post, Hard Times by Charles Dickens is the first eBook that I’ve read on my Kindle.  It’s a very different experience to reading an actual book, or “pBooks” as I’ve recently heard them called (excuse me while I repress a shudder).  I have to admit that reading the novel’s first chapter on the Kindle felt utterly soul-less.  It was like looking at a snapshot of a puppy compared to having the warm and furry real-life version cuddling up on your lap.  I’m aware of how mad that sounds, but I’m afraid that’s how I felt.

At first, I thought that I’d made a terrible mistake even owning this strange device: I was trading the magical sensory world of the paper book for this flat, dreary alternative!  I confided my fears to a colleague who is also a fellow book-lover and Kindle-owner.  “Of course it’s soul-less!” she replied cheerily, “But you get used to it.”  This made me feel a little better; it was apparently fine for eBooks not to be cuddly.  What they offer is an alternative reader experience, which suits some people enormously and is quite simply not for others.  The book-lover must accept this fact and move on, either embracing the eBook’s differences or acknowledging that they’re not comfortable with them.  But I do think it’s important to at least give them a try.  Otherwise how can you judge them fairly?

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Book Review: Hard Times by Charles Dickens

 

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

“I entertain a weak idea that the English people are as hard-worked as any people upon whom the sun shines.  I acknowledge to this ridiculous idiosyncrasy, as a reason why I would give them a little more play.”

In celebration of the great man’s 200th birthday on 7th February 2012, a diverse range of literary and other tributes are planned or have already taken place: Claire Tomalin’s new biography Charles Dickens: A Life has been well-received amidst much publicity; the BBC screened a lavish three-part adaptation of Great Expectations over Christmas; and many locations associated with Dickens, such as Rochester, have arranged commemorative festivities.  Oh, and my book group decided to read Hard Times, although unfortunately we’re not able to meet on the date itself.

Hard Times isn’t the first book which comes to mind when I think of Dickens, but it is considered to be one of his best judging by recent collections of his major works.  I actually found Hard Times a lot more accessible than some of his other more famous tomes, not just because it’s his shortest work at a mere 280-odd pages (depending on your edition).  More