Rambling on about “North and South” by Elizabeth Gaskell |IcthusBookCorner

The first thing I want to do is try and explain why I picked up this book in the first place. I read online that North and South was great as a political and/or historical analysis. I am quite interested in both history and politics, especially how those two interact with each other. So when I read that this book was a good portrayal of the class war going on during the Industrial Revolution, I knew I had to pick it up. 

I started to read this book at the beginning of the year, but I stopped doing so almost right away. The first few chapters weren’t really my cup of tea. Not in an unpleasant way, it just felt like any other classic from the 19th century, and that wasn’t what I was looking for. I was expecting this incredible social/economic critical masterpiece which wasn’t happening. When, for some reason, I decided to pick it up again, the aspect (or concept) I was looking for in the first place just appeared before my eyes.

Now, I wanted to try and explain why given what had been said about the book, I thought it would be such a good representation of the time it is depicting. But before, I want to emphasize that I have no higher education in political science or history. So whatever I say here, please that it with a grain of salt.

As I said, the book was written and set during the middle of the 19th century. As we know, the Industrial Revolution was what preceded Feudalism, and what gave birth to Capitalism as we know it today. When we first step into Industrial Revolution, the military aspects of Feudalism were no longer accurate to their original form, but the economic system we were living in was pretty much Feudalism. One of the first places where this change began to happen was in England (where the book takes place) because there is a crazy amount of coal there which was used to make machines work. (please don’t come to this blog for knowledge, I don’t know what I’m saying)

Anyway, the novel touches on several topics that I find incredibly compelling. These include union politics, middle-class rebellion, Industrial Revolution, industrial discontent, gender roles present in Victorian society, and, for those who enjoy it, there is plenty of romance to fill your little hearts.

In this novel, Gaskell navigates the complex exchange between different stations of society. The author does an incredible job exposing the complex nature of the struggle between employees and employers. Incredibly, she gives each character a personal relationship with the struggle, rather than letting them become caricatures. Elizabeth Gaskell wrote what is, for me, a nearly perfect novel. My only complaint is really just the amount of romance, but that is a “me thing”.

I am incredibly excited to read her earlier book (Mary Barton), which is the story she actually intended to write. This, according to the introduction available on the Oxford World Classics edition of North and South.

North and South is probably one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read. If you are into politics, history, and classics in general, I highly recommend it.

Bye, keep on reading. 


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12 CLASSICS I WANT TO READ IN 2022 |IcthusBookCorner

If you have been following my blog for a while now, you know I usually make one of these lists every year. The books on this list are the ones I hope to read rather than my top priority for the year. I don’t see them as the books that I have to read because, when it comes to it, I truly am a mood reader, and I have never been able to fully finish one of these lists. As per usual, I will choose books that I already own. This year, I will go for classics, as you might have read in the title (specifically ones that intimidate me, because I probably want to fail). Honestly, I just really love reading classics.

Last year, the list only contained a book that actually intimidated me (one of the two I did not read). Because of that, I have decided to add it to the list again this year, as well as some books that I have acquired more recently (which make me really excited).

So, enough rambling, let us get to the books!

  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: I got this book soon after reading Anna Karenina, which made me fall in love with Tolstoy’s writing. War and Peace focuses on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 while following three main characters and studying their humanity.
  2. The Leopard (Il gattopardo) by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: A lot of friends and people I trust when it comes to books really love this book, so I decided to trust them. The Leopard is a story of a decadent and dying aristocracy threatened by the forces of revolution and democracy.
  3. Man’s Fate (La condition humaine) by André Malraux: A family member with an impeccable taste in literature gifted me this book for Christmas. I am super hyped to read it. This book is an account of a crucial episode in the early days of the Chinese Revolution, foreshadows the contemporary world and brings to life the profound meaning of the revolutionary impulse for the individuals involved.
  4. My Childhood by Maxim Gorky: I shared my adventure of getting this book on my social media recently… it was pretty fun. In short, I went to a second-hand bookshop (Bookshop Bivar) and found a cute vintage edition from 1965 of this book. When I went to pay, the lady at the counter told me Gorky was her favourite Russian writer, and I couldn’t stop gushing because he’s mine too. This is the first volume of a trilogy recounting the author’s childhood and youthful memories. Fatherless, abandoned by his mother, he tells about his unhappy childhood with his grandparents.
  5. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare: There isn’t much to say about this choice. Last year I started to actively read Shakespeare’s plays (having read Hamlet long before), and this is just the continuation. I have no clue what this play is about…
  6. Macbeth by William Shakespeare: Much like A Midsummer Night’s Dream this is just a continuation of what I started last year. I find it difficult to not know what Macbeth is about, but if you don’t know: this play follows the Scottish general Macbeth after being told by three witches that he will be King of Scotland. (If you haven’t, watch the 2021 adaptation with Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand.)
  7.  The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov: I was recommended this book by a friend from uni and bought it right after. I read Heart of a Dog by the same author in 2021 and thought it was just okay, but I have high hopes for this one. This book’s synopsis is literally: “One hot spring, the devil arrives in Moscow, accompanied by a retinue that includes a beautiful naked witch and an immense talking black cat with a fondness for chess and vodka.” Who on earth wouldn’t want to read this?
  8. Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.: I just want to read this to get a bigger insight into the civil rights movement in the united states. This is an open letter written on April 16, 1963, by Martin Luther King Jr.. I believe this is where the quote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” comes from.
  9. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams: I love plays! They are usually an easy read but no less packed with social commentary. It is supposed to present a sharp critique of how institutions and attitudes of postwar America placed restrictions on women’s lives. Super hyped to read this!
  10. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: I just love Russian classics, in case you could not tell. This is a family tragedy centred around a father and his sons. It is narrated from varying perspectives. The story begins around 1865 when the brothers return to their hometown after many years away from home.
  11. Orlando by Virginia Woolf: I read both A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas and, from where I stand, they are both masterpieces of non-fiction. It is time to read her fiction. The book is about someone that undergoes a mysterious gender change, at the age of 30, and lives on for more than 300 years into modern times without ageing.
  12. Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis: I have never read anything by Machado de Assis and believe that to be a crime. Please, don’t send hate my way. The novel intends to be an autobiography written by the unreliable Bento Santiago, a lawyer from Rio de Janeiro.

That is it! Those are all the books on my list of classics I want to read in 2022! If you liked the list, please let me know. Have you read any of these? Do you have any books you really want to read during 2022? Let me know!

Bye, keep on reading. 


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How did I do on my 2021 (really small) TBR? | IcthusBookCorner

Hello fellow humans!

So, in case you didn’t know, in February 2021, I published a post telling you all about the 8 books I really wanted to read that year: 8 Books I Plan on Reading in 2021. I’m here to let you know that I didn’t complete the said TBR list. 

I did, however, read 5 of those books. I reckon that in this case, 62.5% is not that bad. Here is how I rated them all…

  1. Unholy Ghosts by Richard Zimler: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
  2. The Lower Depths by Maxim Gorky: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 (This was just the perfect read for me.)
  3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
  4. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
  5. Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Overall, that is 4 four star ratings and 1 five star ratings.

I obviously read more than 4 books this year, many of which have an available review on my blog. Therefore, I will be posting a *2021 in Books* type of post later this week.

Did you read any of these books? What did you think about them? Are you planning on reading any of these books in the future?

Bye!


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As You Like It by William Shakespeare – Book Review|IcthusBookCorner

“All the world’s a stage”, said Jaques.

This was the first Shakespeare play I read in English, I had only read “Hamlet” in Portuguese before. I honestly enjoyed it a lot, even though I had some difficulties getting into Shakespeare’s language and writing style at first. At the moment, having read “Much Ado About Nothing“, I feel like I’m much more comfortable with his writing. 

“As You Like It”, a five-act comedy by William Shakespeare, was written and performed around 1599 and first published in the First Folio of 1623.

This play has two main locations: the court that Frederick has taken over from his brother (the rightful Duke), and the Forest of Arden (where the Duke and his followers live in exile).

The central theme of “As You Like It” is love, much like other comedies by Shakespeare. It’s a light-hearted and amusing read where there is disguise, family feud and romance. However, while reading it, I kept thinking about how it might also be about the fluidity of gender, how it could be interpreted as an analysis of queer identity both of gender and sexuality. It is light, has loveable characters, happy messages and not to mention amazing quotes! 

Rosalind was my favourite character in this play. She represents an excellent and ahead of its time female character, whom I enjoyed reading as she experimented with her recently discovered liberties as Ganymede. This is, Rosalind disguises herself as a young man (Ganymede), for the majority of the play, to pursue the man she loves and advise him on how to be a better, conscientious companion and lover. 

In contrast to Jaques, who refuses to have an all-in approach to life and always has something to say about the stupidity of those around him, Rosalind gives herself fully to every moment of her existence.

That is pretty much it, I have nothing else to say about this play. Let me know if you have read this before or watched any of the film adaptations.

Bye, keep on reading.


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Mr Palomar by Italo Calvino – Book Review|IcthusBookCorner

Mr Palomar is a 1983 novel by the Italian writer Italo Calvino. Its original Italian title is Palomar.

It is a work of fiction but reads more like a philosophical understanding of the world we live in. There is no plot but rather an organized account of varied observations made by the main character, whose name is Mr Palomar.

In a series of tweety-seven stories or analyses, he takes his everyday experience from the world as a series of problems in looking and interpreting the nature of reality itself. These episodes or essays sometimes have an aura of magic, spiritual introspection, or philosophical experiences.

The author’s words are beautiful and candid, or at least the translation (William Weaver) is. Calvino chooses his words so carefully and wisely that not one sentence seems expendable. This book is nothing like anything I’ve read before.

Mr Palomar views each object of his attention in length, as a whole, in its details and even possible variations. I reckon everyone at some level can relate to him quite a bit, at least everyone whose mind wanders off or who sets themselves to mull over the puzzles of life. My favourite chapter was titled “The Universe Looks at Itself”, I found the way in which the protagonist beholds the universe to be breathtaking and, I believe I feel like that because it’s pretty similar to the way I do it.

I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys flowery prose and likes to contemplate the human experience. Please, let me know what to think about this book.
Bye, keep on reading.


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My Thoughts on “Much Ado About Nothing” (play and film)

I watched and read Much Ado About Nothing, and here is what I think.

First, let’s talk about the 1993 film. It is wonderfully acted, let me tell you. With the magnificent ensemble of Keneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington and Kate Beckinsale, who could expect anything less?

I have to give all due respect to the cinematographer (Roger Lanser) for using the landscape available so beautifully. Not to mention, the soundtrack (Patrick Doyle) goes amazingly well if the overall absurdist feeling of the film. Overall, the directing style (Kenneth Branagh) was suitable for the story being told.

Just like the original play, this film manages to maintain its fun, lively and light feeling, while somehow adding to the play’s Pythonesque tone.

Listening to Emma Thompson reciting Shakespeare is an entire experience in and of itself, which I didn’t know I needed. What’s more, I believe I feel a bit in love with Denzel Washington, but that is neither here nor there.

Now, allow me to explain the plot. Claudio catches a glimpse of Hero and is immediately in love, and by her expression, she lets us know she reciprocates. While this is happening, Benedick and Beatrice are becoming aware they too are attracted to each other. However, unlike the other pair, their passion is expressed through quarrels and insults.

Since this is, what I would call, a Shakespearean romantic comedy, there is quite a bit of mockery, farce, zingers, and there is melodrama beyond contempt, but it all is right in the end.

The original play is known as one of Shakespeare comedies, and it was written around 1598. But let me tell you, it was only one step from falling into tragedy.

The play’s action is remarkably gamelike. There are dances, eavesdropping, disguises and misunderstandings, which gives us a lighthearted and upbeat pattern.

Something I realized after watching the film was that the play was very much dominated by two side characters. I found myself overlooking the main couple and rooting for Beatrice and Benedick. I reckon this is the result of their intellect and strength when compared to that of other characters in the story. However, I also believe they are afraid of rejection and of being the object of ridicule, so they choose to pretend they hate each other’s guts, for that reason too.

Beatrice is, without a doubt, my favourite of all Shakespeare’s characters. She is both sharp and fierce. Beatrice invented feminism, and we are just living but her rules.

I truly enjoyed this play, mainly because it overflows with wit and has a beautifully engaging set of characters. Furthermore, I applaud the play’s exploration of relevant themes such as betrayal, hypocrisy, and gender roles. (I can’t believe Shakespeare really brought light to the problem with gender roles.)

Please, let me know what to think about this film and play if you have watched or read it. And your experience with Shakespeare overall.
Bye, keep on reading.


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My Thoughts on Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov |IcthusBookCorner (my biggest review yet)

Hey everyone! Today I want to talk about a book that did nothing but worsen my mental state, Lolita by Nabokov.

I’ve talked about this book on my bookstagram (follow me there if you want to follow my readings more closely), and I had a lot of feeling while reading it. This book was published back in 1955, and it is now considered a classic by a lot of people. You probably know it is a book about and from the perspective of a paedophile, Humbert Humbert. It follows him during his middle age as he finds himself obsessed with the nymphet Delores Hayes.

I had been hearing about this book my whole life and knew people either loved it or hated it, so I decided to put it off for a while in fear. Once I finally decided to read it, I went into it with no preconceived judgements so it wouldn’t ruin the experience.

The first thing I need to say about this book is that I loved the writing style, really really loved it. Can we talk about the fact that Nabokov isn’t an English native speaker? I applaud Nabokov’s mastery of the English language. He uses English better than most writers whose first language is English. He is daring with his words; he is pure genius. It is the type of writing I love, you know? It’s poetic, and it’s not sparse, and he uses flowery language.

In the beginning, it was quite tolerable, but as it went on became progressively more upsetting. The first person narration was making me feel sick. Sometimes it physically hurt me to read this book, like someone was squeezing my heart. Never in my life had I read a book that made me this uncomfortable. I’m just glad I’m someone who can enjoy a book and dislike the main characters, otherwise I’m pretty sure this book would have killed me.
Because it’s first-person narration, we are inside Humbert’s head, and the problem is that this person’s head is a terrible place. We have to be beholders of grooming, gaslighting and abuse. Humbert has no redeeming quality, which is both terrible for the reader but the only correct choice. Nabokov created a character that no one could pity because he (Humber) is just a horrifying human being. However, the author was still able to create a multi-dimensional character, and that is not usual and something I appreciate. There is a lot of depth, there is a lot to dig into, I love it.

This book was notably hard to read, but for some reason, I couldn’t stop. One reason for this was, like I said, the writing. Even so, there was something else, something that made me want to know what was going to happen next, something that got me hooked.

The book is divided into two parts. The first one is before the abuse, and it follows Humbert from his pre-adolescent self to when he gets to be a disgusting human to Lolita. The second part accompanies him from the moment the first part left off to when the book is supposedly being written. The first half of the book was much easier to read than the second, most likely because there is a smaller amount of sexual assault.

The only negative aspect of this book, for me, is the last two chapters. The book could have an amazing ending, but, for some ulterior motive, Nabokov decided to go with underwhelming.

To end this, I feel the need to say a few things. First of all, I don’t believe this book romanticizes or glorifies paedophilia. From what I read from the author, and what I gathered from reading Lolita itself, I believe Nabokov wanted to create a reality which the average person wouldn’t have access to. He wrote one of the most brutal accounts of abuse there is. I think this is an important piece of literature, if not one of the best.

Finally, I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it to everyone who can get into a story without liking the main character and to whom abuse is not a severe trigger.

Bye, keep on reading.

8 Books I Plan on Reading in 2021 | IcthusBookCorner

What is up people?

Today I’m going to talk about eight books I plan to read in 2021. I’m not a tbr list type of person, but this allows me to focus on my reading goals for this year without making me feel restricted. So without further ado, let’s dive into this glorious list.


Unholy Ghosts

I’m going to start this list with a book that will be obvious if you have been following me since I first started this blog and this is Unholy Ghosts by Richard Zimler. This book was first published in 1996, I believe, but was translated into Portuguese last year (2020). Unholy Ghosts is about a man who decides to leave the United States and look for a new life in Portugal when he finds out that his most talented student tests positive for HIV and threatens to take his own life at the age of twenty-four. This pick isn’t a surprise because if you know me you know I love Zimler’s books and I’m sure this one will be just as amazing.

Out of Africa

The second book I want to read is Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). I can once again say that you aren’t new here this won’t be a surprise, you can probably find one of my blog posts from 2017 where I talk about wanting to read this book. It has been on my tbr pile for five years now I can’t keep looking at my shelves and see it there. I don’t really know muck about this book except that Hemingway said it was a good book and here on the blog we believe in Hemingway’s word.

War and Peace

The third book I’m bringing to the table is War and Peace by Tolstoy. I’m a massive fan of Russian classics, even though I haven’t read that many. I loved Anna Karenina, Mother and How Much Land Does a Man Need and loved them with all my heart. If you don’t know what this book is about it focuses on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 while following three main characters and studying their humanity.

The Lower Depths

Continuing with Russian literature we have The Lower Depths by Maxim Gorky. Apparently, it is the best known of Maxim Gorky’s plays and since I love Gorky’s work I feel like I must read this play. The theme of this play is the harsh truth versus the comforting lie and that seems really interesting.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The fifth book I plan on reading this year is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. (It’s becoming increasingly obvious that I feel the need to read all the classics.) This book is the tale of a young man who purchases eternal youth at the expense of his soul. It’s the only novel written by Oscar Wilde and it received a lot of backlash from reviewers with it first came out.

Orlando

Next on the list, we have…drum roll, please… Orlando by Virginia Woolf. If you follow me on social media you probably know that I’ve been fangirling Woolf like a crazy person. I read A Room of One’s Own and now I’m reading Three Guineas, from where I stand they are both masterpieces of non-fiction. So my little brain thinks it’s time to try to read her fiction. The book is about someone that undergoes a mysterious change of sex at the age of 30 and lives on for more than 300 years into modern times without ageing.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller

The seventh book is If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino. The first time I heard of this book was while watching one of Emma Angeline’s videos on youtube (her channel is amazing, please go check it out). She talked about the book with such enthusiasm that, on that exact moment, I knew I had to read it. It’s about a reader trying to read a book called If on a winter’s night a traveller, emphasis on the TRYING.

Notes from Underground

And finally, the last book on this list is Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky. (Yes, yet another Russian classic. Who knew?) This book presents itself as an excerpt from the rambling memoirs of a bitter and isolated retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg that remains unnamed. I don’t know much more about this book but you know, Russian literature is Russian literature.


And that is my list of books I really want to read in 2021. If you liked the list, please let me know. I’ll make a part two because I could very well go on with this, there are a lot more books I want and plan to read this year. Also, let me know the books you plan on reading in 2021 because I really want to know what you are looking for to read this year.

Bye, bye, bye. Keep on reading!


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The Classics Book Tag

Hello, people of the internet!

As you can probably tell by the title of this post, today I’m going to do the classics book tag. I’m aware that this tag is almost as old as the internet itself, but you know I love classics so, here I am.  
So, let us start!

  • An overhyped classic you really didn’t like.

My answer is a common one, which is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. This book was far too melodramatic for my liking. Personally, if the plot is more drama intense I need there to be a self-awareness from the characters, which is not the case in this book.  

  • What is your favourite time period to read about?

I have to go with the late 19th century and the yearly 20th century. There is a revolutionary feel in books from that time which I love. 

  • Favourite fairy-tale.

I’m not an avid fairy-tale reader or fan. So, I don’t know. I had a Grimm Brothers’ book when I was younger I liked, does that count? 

  • What is the most embarrassing classic you haven’t read yet?

I have never read a book by Jane Austin, feel free to judge me. I picked up Sense and Sensibility once and just wasn’t feeling it. 

  • Top 5 classics you would like to read (soon).

I do know this one, I have a list:

  1. A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf.
  2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.
  3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
  4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
  5. And the one I just bought, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. 
  • Favourite movie version/tv-series based on a classic.

The 1954’s adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four by the director Rudolph Cartier. 

  • Worst classic to movie adaptation.

I don’t know. I really don’t like the 2012’s adaptation of Anna Karenina but I highly doubt it’s the worst classic to movie adaptation, it’s just not for me.

  • What is your favourite edition you’d like to collect more classics from?

Easy, Oxford World Classics. They have both a good font and a nice size. Not to mention, the introductions and notes. Love it. 

  • An underhyped classic you’d recommend to everyone.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy! I have to recommend Mother (in the original: Мать) written by Maxim Gorky in 1906. It’s about revolutionary factory workers, as well as the story of the radicalization of an uneducated woman/mother. It’s amazing!

So, that is it. That is all I have for you today, hope you enjoy. Talk to you next time.
Bye, keep on reading!

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – Book Review

I have two words to describe this book: MEANINGFUL DRAMA.

I’ve always been afraid of picking up Anna Karenina, I have a problem with big books, I’m always afraid I won’t like them and afraid to end up forcing myself to read them, as I do with all the books I end up not liking (I just can’t dnf a book). When books over 800 pages came along, I became truly afraid. As you can easily understand, forcing myself to read 800+ pages of something that doesn’t bring me joy is quite more dreadful than 300 unfulfilling pages.IMG_20190711_223955_408

Anna Karenina by Tolstoy is a Russian classic written in the nineteenth century. To me, the book serves to show us how difficult life can be and that all families have their own problems. It’s, in essence, a story about life at its core.

The writing is magnificent, the author manages to talk about farming methods, political policies, or philosophical discussions without making you feel bored. He’s also able to betray every single character in a flawless manner, you truly get to know and understand everyone’s perspective on life and on what is going on in the story.

If there is one problem if the story it’s the amount of drama, which might as well be a “me” problem. From time to time I had to stop and read other things in order to reflect on everything that was going on. There are so many subplots I just couldn’t keep up without before taking a step back.

Tolstoy has this incredible power of being capable to show how one person can change their mind, how a person, can become so infatuated with something or someone and then with the blink of an eye, the feeling can change (this made me think a lot about relationships and so on).

Anna is the heroine and the villain, you love her and you hate her, you want her to be okay and then at times you just want to shout “don’t be so stupid and start accepting the consequences of your actions!” HOW DID TOLSTOY MANAGE TO DO THIS??????

This book portrays an impulsive affair, a man questioning his beliefs, an unpleasant divorce and a woman questioning her mental health. All these are still incredibly relevant nowadays, ergo its timeless appeal.

Instead of listening to me, I recommend that you read it for yourself.

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.