Hurricanes, Libraries, Winnie the Pooh, and Dickens

Happy Halloween everyone! I know that I said I was going to do another post last week – and I was, honestly, but I am here now and ready to write. I decided to spend the night at a friend’s house last weekend which meant I was at her house when Hurricane Sandy hit New York. She lived uptown so we were all fine and with electricity, it just meant I couldn’t really get home in hurricane conditions. So it turned into a 3 day sleep over with me her, and another of our friends. There was a lot of baking amazing gingerbread cookies that I now have the recipe for, reading, and watching season 3 of Downton Abbey online – being inside for extended amounts of time made us cave instead of waiting until January to watch it in America. For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, we only got 3 episodes in but it’s been pretty great so far. We were lucky not to be hit too badly by the hurricane, and my thoughts and prayers go out to people in lower Manhattan, Queens, New Jersey, and anyone else who is dealing with the repercussions of Sandy.

This weekend, before the hurricane hit, my friend and I started our massive 3 day hang out/sleep over by going to the New York Public Library on 42nd street. I had been there before, but had never spent a lot of time inside. The whole building is gorgeous of course, including the Reading Room, and more museum-like than library like. (To get books you can go to the branch libraries, although there is a children’s section in the main library). We had planned earlier that week to go see the original Winnie the Pooh that they have on display in the children’s section. Because who doesn’t like Winnie the Pooh really? (Also we are 5 years old at heart). I got the idea after reading this article. So we met up near my house, walked down Lex, discovered a street fair there, and wound our way down to the library. When we got there we asked this adorable Russian lady where we could find Winnie the Pooh, and she told us that he was her favorite! I want to hang out with that lady!

Image

Anyway, there they are in all their glory! The otter on the left is apparently a character that was added for a later version of Winnie the Pooh, but the rest of the animals are the originals that A.A. Milne gave to his son Christopher Robin. The original book of Winnie the Pooh first came out in 1926, and (according to Wikipedia), the stuffed animal of Roo was “lost long ago”. Sad. But we had a great time going down and taking tons of pictures of the stuffed animals and the paintings on the walls around the exhibit.

After we paid homage to Pooh Bear, we decided to go see the Charles Dickens exhibit that was at the library as well. Winnie the Pooh and Charles Dickens. What a combination. That was also a lot of fun and very interesting, and made me want to reread Great Expectations, which I am working on now. When people think Charles Dickens I feel like they think of super dense and depressing writing, but he also has amazing descriptions and characters in his works. I am going to review Great Expectations once I finish it, and will probably use a lot of information from the exhibit in that post, but it did say that George Orwell said, “No English writer has written better about childhood than Dickens.” So I will be reading Great Expectations this week while we wait for the MTA to get the subways back and running (work has been cancelled due to the subways).

I also promise that I will review The Age of Miracles, which I now finished a few weeks ago. That is coming either later today or tomorrow. Happy Halloween!

Image

Advertisements

Free Books and Mystery Novels

I am sick with a cold so as I type I am lying on a couch with not a lot of energy and a comfy sweatshirt. I had enough energy to get through work today, and it was a good day at work too with good reading and tea. Then I was able to crash when I got home, and now I can just relax and eat cough drops and have hot beverages for a while.

Anyway, at work we have been donating a lot of extra books that we have. A lot of my job this week was collecting the extra books and organizing them so we could see what we had available. People have also been taking books that they want before we donate them. I have taken 3-4 books. I don’t know if I will read them immediately or not (my to read list is still somewhat intimidating) but they are there if I need them.

At work I have been reading quite a few mystery novels for one agent who specializes in them. I have read mystery novels before, and went through an Agatha Christie phase years ago, but I haven’t really been reading them recently on my own, except at work now. Well two of the books that I took from work are mystery novels and I am looking forward to reading them. One of them was recommended to me by a girl I work with. It is part of a series by Michael Robotham, so if its good there are always more. They are psychological thrillers, and I figured I like psychology, and seeing why people or characters do what they do. So I guess I’m going through a mystery thing now? We will just have to wait and see. A lot of the stuff that I have been reading for work has been really good, so I am excited to see more mystery novels in their final published stage as opposed to an earlier draft, even if they are by different writers. Also I’ve been meaning to read Gone Girl forever which also falls into the genre.

I have a book review in the making that I will type up once I feel better and have more energy. It will be for The Age of Miracles that I read last weekend. That will probably be in the next couple of days. Two posts in one week. How exciting!

The Most Magical Circus: The Night Circus

I did not realize this but this month GoodBookScents turned 6 months old – how exciting! I am impressed with myself that I have been able to keep it up for this long – I’m usually bad at starting a routine like that. It’s been a lot of fun and thank you whoever you are for reading this.

Well, this weekend I was able to finish The Night Circus. I haven’t been able to sit down and get a good chunk of reading done lately, mainly because I have been working on figuring out my life, so it was nice to curl up at night with a good book. And it was a very good book. I have been wanting to read it for a while, and I’m glad that I did.

There is a mental list I keep of authors whose prose I really enjoy. The true sign is when I have to stop, set the book down for a second, and process what I just read. Usually my thought process is half “Wow that was amazing” and half “Why didn’t I think of that!” Billy Collins is one writer on the list. Barbara Kingsolver is another. And now Erin Morgenstern is as well.

Usually this awe comes from the style of prose, and the way that an author can look at life. Billy Collins, for instance, takes mundane everyday experiences and is able to twist them into poetry through a fresh eye. With The Night Circus I was undoubtedly impressed with Morgernstern’s prose to be sure, but also the ideas that she comes up with. She has created her own fantastical world of magic and inserted it seamlessly into the early 1900’s. She has a real understanding of how magical realism is supposed to happen in a book.

I should probably give a brief description of what this book is about. It’s been getting a lot of attention recently (debut novel and #1 NY Times Best Seller and all). The plot revolves around two characters, Marco and Celia, who at a young age are bound in a magician’s duel. It’s hard not to give things away, but ultimately this duel happens at The Night Circus, a circus that is only open at night and features an array of interesting black and white tents. Morgenstern weaves character’s lives together through the circus, and it seems like it becomes a character itself, the main character, really, and is more important than any single character on their own. I think you have to read it to really understand what I am saying.

The Night Circus is one of those books with tons of small details that all weave together in the end of the story. I know that if I read it again, which I am looking forward to doing in the future, I would catch more small details than I did on the first read, which would make the book even more interesting. It’s one of those books. It is very visual with all the black, white and red imagery, which makes for an easy and enjoyable read, but Morgenstern’s ideas are so magical and unique -like Celia’s dress that she wears to a party that changes colors to compliment whoever she is with, that I could not help but be impressed. The detail of the book is amazing, and the nature of the magic is very interesting. It is clearly more than trickery and mirrors – it is real, but it is also an art form that can be taught. There is a certain element of mystery about the hows and whys of magic in the story, but that, I think makes it more interesting. There is also a definite dark undertone to the book and the world that Morgenstern has created. It’s magic for an adult audience.

I am still gathering my thoughts about this book, but I know that it was a very good read, and that overall I am impressed. I want to visit the world of The Night Circus and talk about it with Erin Morgenstern, and get inside her head. She also has an interesting blog on her website that has some pretty cool flash fiction on it as well. The Night Circus is not a book, I feel, that can be summed up easily in one little blog post, but it is an great and rather unique read.

Writing Again

Over Columbus Weekend I went to visit a good friend of mine in Maine. I have known this girl since I was 5 when we met in Long Island, and she has been trying to get me to visit her house in Maine pretty much since then so it was nice to finally be able to go. We went to school near each other from K-12, were both in the Boston area for college, and  have matching families (older brothers who are close in age, fathers went to the same school(s) etc.) which we realized a few years ago. Our parents are friends as well, and the two of us have been known to stay up late and watch movies (Harry Potter marathons and other movies) until all hours of the night. It’s kind of our thing.

Anyway what I was trying to say was I couldn’t post over the weekend because I was doing Maine things (like failing at an axe throwing contest – no one was injured I just missed the log). So no posting but lots of fun.

But I DO have a story idea. It is very much in the works right now and I am still figuring out some of the bigger details like what kind of story it is, how the plot works etc. Right now it is a list of questions that just seem to constantly grow, and a list of characters and settings. I also have what could be the first paragraph or so. There might be some historical aspects to the story so I might need to do some research or just background reading on that. I don’t usually do historical stuff but there also might be some sort of science fiction in there too (time travel mostly). I also don’t know if its YA or not. Pretty much I don’t know a lot of stuff, but it gives me something to mull over on the way home from work or while I am going to bed (I find that I write best very late at night which is not always convenient for my sleep schedule).

Also, I am not sure when this excessive story planning thing started. I had a story idea the summer before last that I ultimately dropped but I was approaching it very similarly to the way I am approaching this. When I was little I used to just write scene after scene at the drop of a hat. Granted the term scene should be used liberally there as well as the term plot because I was 8 and didn’t really think those things were important. Even during my fiction writing classes in college I did more actual writing than planning, although I did plan a lot as well. But there were no lists and lists of questions. Those were very different stories than this seems to be though, and they were all short stories instead of a novel length thing.

Oh well, I’ll guess I’ll just have to see what happens to see if this is going anywhere. Potential updates later.