Quote of the Week:
The Library is a wilderness of books.
(Henry David Thoreau: Journal, 16 March 1852)
The Library is a wilderness of books.
(Henry David Thoreau: Journal, 16 March 1852)
The universal cry of Not Fair! can be heard all of over the land wherever there is a moody teenager, usually accompanied by sulky looks and followed by petulant silence. Well, we’ve all been there; contrary to what moody teens believe, it’s a familiar territory for all of us. And like us, they will come out the other end, (hopefully as civilised adults).
In the meantime, perhaps we can try to make the life of our moody teens – and our own – a bit more tolerable. Reading is fun and can be a solace (not to mention instructive and character forming). So here are a few books to add to a moody teen’s library – all suitably full of dark and gloomy landscapes, sinister occurrences, brooding heroes, monsters, misfortune, madness, ghosts and star crossed lovers… the lot. If they show a slight feminine bias, it’s because, well, I’m a female and so are my children – the younger of whom is currently in the moody teen phase. (Moody Friend of the Elephants, this is for you!)
For all the fans of the dozens of s***ty teenage vampire series out there, this one is a must. Read it on a stormy December night while the rain is lashing against the window and the wind rattles the panes, with the room in deep shadow outside the circle of light thrown by your reading lamp. Ensuring your parents are out for the evening adds to the atmosphere!
Then donate those s***ty teenage vampire series to the charity of your choice because you’ll never waste time on them again.
You can’t have a better teenage book than one written by a teenager. If my memory serves me well, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein when she was only nineteen, just to show to those stuck up men in her company – the poets Byron and Shelley – what she could do. Well, what she could do was to write a book that ensured that her name is at least as well known as that pair of literary giants.
You might not think of it particularly as a book for teenagers, but they will respond to the familiar theme of Nobody Loves Me! on part of Frankenstein’s monster. Besides, teens nowadays seem to be quite fond of the Gothic.
Talking about Gothic… why not read the original Gothic story that spawned all the rest? It starts with a sinister prophecy, followed by a sinister accident, and it only gets more sinister from then onwards!
A gloomy story of ill fated love, revenge and general misery set on the bleak windswept moors of Northern England. Classic teenage girls’ stuff, from the 19th century.
…Followed by a similarly classic teenage girls’ read. You have to wonder about the Bronte family, was something wrong with them that they all ended writing miserable love stories?
Title character Jane Eyre goes from unkind relatives to a grim orphanage, and from the orphanage to a strange household with sinister happenings… where she gets entangled in a somewhat ill fated love affair. (That’s the Brontes in a nutshell for you.)
A book that should be on every teenager’s bookshelf: the classic modern (as in 20th century) story of teenage angst. To say more would be spoiling the story. 🙂
Another author who penned both poetry and short stories in a Gothic and macabre vein. The Murders in the Rue Morgue is widely regarded as the first modern detective story, featuring the amateur detective C. Auguste Dupin, forerunner of Sherlock Holmes. If you want sinister, don’t miss Edgar Allan Poe.
What happens when you let all those moody teenagers loose on a desert island without adult supervision? Well, nothing good, really.
Not for the fainthearted, this family saga of troubled relationships is set in the Salinas valley in California, parallelling the Bible story of Cain and Abel.
Pair it with the old 1955 film version, in which teenage icon James Dean played moody Cal before he died young in a car accident aged only 24.
The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page.
(Saint Augustine of Hippo)
El mundo es un libro, y quienes no viajan leen sólo una página.
(San Agustín de Hipona)
It’s hard to believe – especially given how small the readership is – but the blog is actually turning 3 years old this month. This prompted me to look back on the early days and I have to admit: I was the typical swaggering, pretentious, self-important blogger who thinks that her opinion matters.
Er… nothing changed there then.
Africa has a lot going for it as a continent – like elephants – but somehow it doesn’t often feature among my readings. (That could be because I don’t keep re-reading Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.)
I read Red Strangers for a reading challenge a couple of years ago and boy, was it a challenge!… But the last paragraph made up for it all.
(Do let me know what you think of it!)
Visits to Chatham Historic Dockyard, home among others to the diesel-electric submarine HMS Ocelot, and to the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth, home to HMS Alliance, a submarine built at the end of World War II, means I’ve got some photos of the outside and inside of the submarines to share. (Click on the gallery to enlarge photos.)
This being primarily a book blog, the photos are accompanied by a book list – half a dozen books set on submarines. Not a definite list, by any means; I have heard of several others well spoken off (but I haven’t got round to reading them yet). If you’d like to recommend a book on submarines that you enjoyed, please leave a comment below.
The serendipity of chance discoveries that bookshops can bring – and the love of the tangible book – are irreplaceable. A bookshop is Aladdin’s cave of chance encounters.
For an end-of-the-year round up, twelve books that entertained, educated or disappointed me in the last twelve months:
The winter’s first – and in these parts possibly only – snowfall put me in mind of books in which winter features prominently. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ones that came to mind immediately were children’s stories. So here are seven snowy stories to surprise your children (nieces, nephews, grandchildren, your best friend’s horrible brat…) with. Perhaps for Christmas? 🙂
It is a most wonderful comfort to sit alone beneath a lamp, book spread before you, and commune with someone from the past whom you have never met.
Yoshida Kenko: A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees
(Essays in Idleness)
En septiembre 1931, el poeta Federico García Lorca hizo un discurso por la ocasión de la inauguración de la biblioteca pública en su pueblo natal, Fuente Vaqueros en Granada.
In September 1931, the poet Federico García Lorca made a speech on occasion of the inauguration of the public library in his hometown, Fuente Vaqueros in Granada.
¡Libros! ¡Libros! He aquí una palabra mágica que equivale a decir amor, amor, y que debían los pueblos pedir como piden pan o como anhelan la lluvia para sus sementeras.
(Federico García Lorca: Medio pan y un libro)
Books! Books! Here is a magic word that is equivalent to saying love, love, and what people should ask for like they ask for bread or yearn for rain for their crops.
(Federico García Lorca; Half a Bread and a Book)
The book is green with golden letters, cloth bound. Sunlight faded the spine into autumnal yellow so that you can no longer make out the title and the author very well. When you open it, the yellowed pages rustle, feeling slightly stiff to the fingers. The title page is followed by the picture of the author printed on smooth, glossy paper that contrasts with the coarser pages that follow it. I turn the pages and think: they don’t make books like this anymore.
And then there’s the way it smells. The smell of decades which lingers on your fingers even after you put the book down.
There is always room and occasion enough for a true book on any subject; as there is room for more light the brightest day and more rays will not interfere with the first.
(Henry David Thoreau: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers)
Picking up where I left off on Monday night… that is, the problem of re-reading books.
A few days ago on Zenda Libros I read the transcript of a group interview with three authors: Mario Vargas Llosa, Arturo Pérez-Reverte and Javier Marías. One of these I’d follow to hell, another won the Nobel Prize and the third one is still on my to be read pile.
Which kind of reader are you:
Some books have unforgettable First Lines – others have unbeatable endings… (And some have both, with some pretty impressive stuff in between.)
Unos libros tienen inolvidables primeras líneas – otros tienen insuperables finales… (Y algunos tienen los dos, con algo muy impresionante en medio.)
Some books have unforgettable first lines…
Unos libros tienen inolvidables primeras líneas…
Okay, so your work sucks and you only live for the holidays, right? Or maybe your work is the best thing ever, but even so you do go on holidays sometimes – right? So you need a book to read that’s just the right length for a short-haul flight.
(I’ll let you know my recommendations for long-haul when I’ve managed to get further than three hours’ flight.)
Books are not merely a source of entertainment but also of knowledge… (today’s cliché). How many of the following nine facts do you know?
Los libros no son sencillamente una fuente de entretenimiento, pero también lo de conocimiento… (cliché de hoy). ¿Cuáles de los nueve hechos siguientes ya sabes?
In the past week I’ve been engaged in looking at my statistics… And since the blog moved from being self-hosted to wordpress.com during the year, I had to collate the statistics manually, a task during which I found myself evaluating the pros and cons of…