I read Madame Bovary painstakingly. It took me longer than a week because I had to put it down over and over again. I was not sure I could finish it. It pains me to see characters – especially women – making foolish mistakes again and again. When I finally came to about 80% of the book, – yes, I read it on my Kindle – I started enjoying it. Why? Because Emma Bovary was finally hitting rock bottom.
I don’t like reckless behavior, whether in real life or in literary fiction. I understand why Susan Wise Bauer included this novel in her list of 32 best novels to read from Western literature. It is the first novel chronologically which puts an end to Romanticism and starts Realism as a current in literature.
Gustave Flaubert shocked many people with the realistic depictions of every day life and the adultery Madame Bovary engaged in while married to Charles Bovary, a country doctor in Yonville, France. Flaubert even got sued over the book, which shocked the sensibilities of many in the 19th century.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece is set in Puritan New England. If you, like me, have only seen the movie, you should really consider reading the book. I have said this before and I will say it again: there is no comparison between immersing yourself in a book and watching a movie adaptation thereof.
This is only 272 pages, so it’s not as intimidating as Don Quixote or Anna Karenina, so really there should be no problem from that standpoint. If you are familiar with King James Bible language, again, the dialogues in this book should not pose a problem. It is actually very neat to read something in that kind of English which is not the Bible – though Scriptural references are peppered throughout. Continue reading »
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is a masterpiece. No wonder then that of all the things the Bronte sisters wrote, Susan Wise Bauer included only Jane Eyre into her list of 32 novels produced by the Western world since the genre was created, around the 1600s. Jane is way ahead of her time. She makes herself the equal of a man (a wealthy gentleman, too) – great feat in 1847! – through conversation and wit and attitude.
But Jane Eyre is more than just an early feminist. She is a Christian who is grappling with injustice, hypocrisy, delusion, and missionarism in the people around her. Some have said this book is anti-Christian because of characters like Mr. Brocklehurst and St John Rivers. These men seem more like caricatures, but have you not met hypocritical characters in your local congregation? Have you not met exalted young missionaries who are deluded into thinking they are doing God and the world a favor through their daily sacrifices? I know I have met my fair share of such people. So this book spoke to me on a very personal level. Continue reading »
Written by Jonathan Swift (an Irish clergyman) and published in 1726, this book has never been out of print. It contains four volumes, each detailing a voyage to a different fantasy land. First and foremost, I want to say that this is NOT a children’s book.
Many of us grew up with a fragment or two of this book in our literature program. Maybe we have watched the cartoon or seen a picture of Gulliver as a giant surrounded by six-inch Liliputians. However, this book was written as a satire on human nature, English politics, and travelling books so prevalent during Swift’s time. Until you read the unabridged book, you don’t really get the whole meaning behind it. Continue reading »
The book for homeschooling parents who are thirsty for more
Not that I find myself with “vast chasms of time” on my hands, to use Thomas Jefferson’s expression. But I got my kids on track with their assignments from The Well-Trained Mind and now I find myself curious, hungry, and eager for filling in the gaps in my own education. When I heard The Well-Educated Mind was being revised and re-published in October 2015, I placed my pre-order in September and waited (im)patiently for it to come out. Continue reading »