Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
- I have read it before. It isn't often that I buy books that I haven't read before because I'd hate to spend money on the book and then not care for the story. The only exceptions I make are for older books (more on that later) or for authors that I trust. I know there are some people who choose not to re-read books, but I am not one of them. If I really like a book, then you can be sure that I will read it many times over.
- My public library doesn't have it or can't get it. I don't think I've ever had to buy a book because my library couldn't get a hold of a copy. Shoot, I've even had my library purchase a copy because I requested it and they couldn't get one. But there is always that possibility, so I'll keep an open mind when it comes to these situations.
- I can get a good edition. To me books aren't something you just spend money on, they are an investment. A good book can last a lifetime and beyond. So I generally tend to buy hardback and new when I can get them. I'm not completely against buying paperback, but I would rather save my money and invest it in a nice edition rather than buying the cheapest one. Of course, they must also be "Complete and Unabridged".
- They are antique editions. I'm a sucker for old books. I love the look, the smell, and the feel of them. This is the main area where I break my "I have to have already read it" rule.
Finding good editions of books can sometimes be difficult. Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble are great places to start of course. If you have tons of money laying around you can check out The Book Collector's Library which offers rare editions and signed copies of many famous works. There was a signed copy of The Old Man and the Sea that caught my eye, but I don't exactly have $20,000 within easy reach. For those of you who are like me and want nice editions of classic literature without having to take out a loan, I would suggest giving "The Collector's Library" editions a try. They are put out by CRW Publishing which is a British firm. Some of you may recognize them from when B&N used to carry them. They are portable and reasonably priced (ranging from $8 to $16 depending on exchange rate) but are wonderfully put together with cloth-covered hardbacks, gilded edges, some illustrations and ribbon book marks. Though they are no longer widely available here in the US, they are available through the CRW Publishing website as well as Amazon UK. I'm pretty sure that Amazon UK will ship to the US.
If you know of places to get nice, affordable editions of classic literature, please share them. Also feel free to share your criteria for what you add to your personal library.
"Good as it is to inherit a library, it is better to collect one." - Augustine Birrell
Saturday, February 14, 2009
I'll go ahead and admit that I'm a bit of a romantic at heart. I love a good love story, whether it's on the screen or in a book. Though most of the stories have many common elements, each one is still unique in its own way. In honor of today's celebration of love, here are some of my favorite literary couples and what makes their stories great.
Anne Shirley & Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery
Anne and Gilbert were one of my earliest favorite couples. If anyone deserved to get the girl of his dreams, it was Gilbert Blythe. The poor guy put up with a lot from the spunky redhead and finally had to come close to dying to get her to wake up and realize what the rest of us already knew: they were meant for each other. Maybe he should have smacked her with a slate! It takes patience, perseverance, and three books, but we finally get our happy ending.
"I don't want sunbursts and marble halls. I just want YOU."
Jo March & Prof. Friedrich Bhaer from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
When I first read this book as a young teenager, I wasn't too happy with the ending. I wanted Jo to marry Laurie. But as I got older and re-read the book (several times), I realized that Marmee was right. While Jo and Laurie were good friends, they would have had a horrible married life. Jo needed someone who could act as an anchor in her life and encourage her to pursue writing not for money, but for herself. Professor Bhaer was perfect for this, and though I still have friends who prefer Laurie, my heart has gone to the kind German.
"Ah! Thou gifest me such hope and courage, and I haf nothing to gif back but a full heart and these empty hands," cried the Professor, quite overcome. Jo never, never would learn to be proper, for when he said that as they stood upon the steps, she just put both hands into his, whispering tenderly, "Not empty now," and stooping down, kissed her Friedrich under the umbrella.
Elizabeth Bennett & Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Though I love all of the Austen couples, Elizabeth and Darcy have the most complex and electric relationship. Who else goes from utter hatred to overwhelming love in only 61 chapters? I think that what captures most readers' fascination is the realization that these two people simply can't love anyone else. They were MADE for each other. Whenever I need a good dose of lighthearted romance, this is where I usually turn first.
"You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.'' Elizabeth, feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure his present assurances.
Margaret Hale & John Thornton from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Don't get me wrong, I really like Margaret. She's a very intelligent woman. But she missed what is probably the biggest "Well, duh!" moment in all of literature! Saying yes to John Thornton should have been a no brainer. Oh well. I'll forgive her because she finally gains some sense and accepts him in the end. I don't think any flesh and blood female could have refused a man like that when he was whispering her name in her ear anyway.
'Take care.--If you do not speak--I shall claim you as my own in some strange presumptuous way.--Send me away at once, if I must go;--Margaret!--' At that third call she turned her face, still covered with her small white hands, towards him, and laid it on his shoulder, hiding it even there; and it was too delicious to feel her soft cheek against his, for him to wish to see either deep blushes or loving eyes. He clasped her close. But they both kept silence. At length she murmured in a broken voice: 'Oh, Mr. Thornton, I am not good enough!'
Jane Eyre & Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I've said it before and I'll say it again...I LOVE Jane Eyre. Everything about it. In Jane we have an innocent, yet strong and intelligent female who demands our respect. And Rochester is the very picture of the Byronic hero. He's brooding, he's sarcastic, and he's magnetic. Sure he's got a mad wife locked in the attic, and sure he tried to marry Jane when he couldn't do it legally. Despite all this, there is just something that draws Jane (and us) to him. When I'm in the mood for a good romance (or any other mood for that matter!), this is the book I grab first. It's my chocolate!