Jane Eyre Review: Love and Lament

I have been wanting to reread Jane Eyre for the past few months. Also it was one of the books that I could find at the (small) bookstore that (sometimes) got me through college. In the past, if I attempted to read classics for fun it is just that – an attempt. It’s not necessarily because I didn’t like the book – I would read it in my free time and then I get busy, usually with school, and move on to other less fun things, like homework. So I was really happy that I got to read and finish Jane Eyre on my own time.

(this is not the edition I read – I read the Barns and Noble copy, but I like this cover)

I enjoyed the book more than when I read it in 8th grade. I had remembered a few scenes – more than I thought originally – and lots of pop and vocab quizzes from class, so needless to say, I was able to get more out of the book on my own when all I had to worry about was enjoying the plot.

I feel like when most people talk about Jane Eyre they talk about her as a strong female character. Although I feel like this topic can be overdone (and I don’t see myself as a raging feminist), it really is a large portion of the novel. After all, the book title is her name, and it did claim to be a fictional autobiography.

The first person narrative really displays Jane’s character beyond anything else in the novel. Everything the reader learns, from facts about Mr. Rochester, to suspicions about the servant, Grace Pool, is filtered through Jane’s lens, so we get her opinion on everything. And she does have strong opinions on religion, love, marriage, and female roles, – some that go along with her society at the time, and some that don’t. These give her a strong voice and make her a good match for the “dreamy” and dark Mr. Rochester.

Jane Eyre is a Victorian Gothic novel, so horror and love dominate the book. Jane’s life was never easy – ever – which is depressing, but it does strengthen her character a lot. Nothing went well for her for very long before some twist appeared, everything changed, and Jane dealt with it one way or another. Despite its seriousness however, I did enjoy the book. But that might just be because I’m a book nerd…

Finally! Someone’s on my Level!

I saw this the other day in Duane Reade and couldn’t not post it here.

People are finally making “book” perfume! I’ve been saying this should happen for years. I was so happy! Most people like new car smell; I’m not so fond of cars but I love new (or old) book smell. Unfortunately when I sprayed it it was much too perfume-y for me and I wasn’t too fond of the scent – not enough authentic paperback smell if you ask me. But do people really want to smell like ink and paper all day? I probably wouldn’t mind but that’s just me… Still I gave them an A for effort and for brightening my day.

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Book Expo America a.k.a. sooo many books!!

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So the other day I went to Book Expo America with the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, and it was pretty awesome if I do say so myself. My shoulder is still stiff from carrying the oversized bag of books that I got at the conference, but it was totally worth it! I loved being able to pick up and read books that haven’t been released yet. I also have a list of books to get this fall that look like they’ll be pretty good.

So comments on the conference (I definitely want to go back in the future!): judging from where the longest lines were it looks like YA fiction is very popular right now. The line for Kristin Cashore’s book Bitterblue (companion book to her second novel Fire – I need to read her first book Graceling this summer) was filled with avid readers. Other long lines that I saw were for Meagan Spooner’s book Skylark, Maggie Steifvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff’s book The Curiosities, (where the three authors share their creative processes for YA fiction) both of which are coming out this fall, and David Levithan’s Every Day which is coming out later this summer.

Those were the books that I couldn’t get due to line lengths but I did still come away from the conference with quite a few (free) books in tow that I’m pretty excited about, and a new notebook as well. I will delve into that pile once I finish the book I’m reading now (Jane Eyre – review coming soon) so I’m looking forward to that.

As I said before, it looks like YA fiction is really booming right now and after the conference I couldn’t help but ask myself why. Granted, there were teenagers in those hugely long lines that would fall into the median YA age group, but at the same time most of the things I hear about Young Adult fiction I either hear from people around my age or older. I knew I should read The Hunger Games, when my friend was telling me about it, but what solidified it for me was overhearing a conversation about the book between two ladies on the subway after they had a discussion about dress fittings and wedding plans . It was then that I realized, that yes, I did like YA fiction myself, but maybe there was something universal about the genre that gravitates itself towards a wide audience of readers – ie Harry Potter.

So what about this genre makes it so big? As literary agent Meredith Barns told The Atlantic in an article last year, “YA is not to the written word as PG is t0 film”.

So true. Part of why I think YA is so popular is because good YA deals with large issues in a relatable yet serious way. Not to mention that YA plots are fun, enjoyable and adventurous. I think that YA is one of the more diverse genres right now, beyond general fiction itself, although it does go thru strong phases – paranormal, dystopian… Magic, fantasy, relational stories (chick lit), and historical fiction can all be categorized as Young Adult literature under the right circumstances. So what are those circumstances exactly? The general consensus on the internet is that YA stories focus on young protagonists, and generally follow a coming-of-age narrative plot where protagonists ultimately grow and mature as a character. It makes sense that these themes would resonate with young readers, but the universality of the theme of change, and exciting and unique plots, are really what makes YA fiction stand out in the crowd today.

So overall I think that’s why the lines at BEA were so long. Just some thoughts. What do you think?