It was 2013 and I was browsing old paperbacks in a local bookshop that sadly no longer exists. I remember the shop well, it was one of those cozy narrow stores that was crammed full of leaning stacks and overflowing shelves. I liked it because they had low prices on classics, and bought used books for store credit. So I shopped there a lot, always looking to add something to my collection that I didn’t already have. I had never seen or heard of this book before, but when I saw it and had to have it.
I honestly couldn’t place what drew me to Lost Horizon. Perhaps the stunning vintage paperback art style and the striking sprayed pages? Maybe it was the smell of old book that greeted me every time I flipped a page? Or simply that the short tale captured my imagination and took me on an adventure. At the time I was really into hiking and maybe I was drawn to the mountainous cover art, or maybe my wandering soul craved the isolated utopia I found within the book. I guess it was all of it, the experience as a whole.
Lost Horizon is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La, a fictional utopian lamasery located high in the mountains of Tibet. Though I had heard of Shangri-La before, I never really thought about what it symbolized or where it came from. Until I found Lost Horizion.
This story follows the rise and the fall of a respected Nigerian Igbo leader as he challenges European colonialism and modernization. We begin to see a changing culture that starts questioning traditions, which threatens the old customs. As new beliefs and institutions are introduced to the community, the Igbo culture collapses and, for our hero, ‘things fall apart’. It is a classic tragedy and is regarded as a milestone in African literature. This copy has been with me since high school english, but I didn’t really understand the implications until I had to re-read it for African Lit. There is a lot to unpack in this book but it is incredibly influential and definitely worth reading, at least once.
“Having spoken plainly so far, Okoye said the next half a dozen sentences in proverbs. Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.” ―Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
This quote alludes to the highly sophisticated art of rhetoric practiced by the Igbo by comparing food and words. The metaphor of words as food is appropriate, given the agricultural nature of Igbo society. Food is respected in Igbo culture and is regarded as the sustenance of life. They award the same value that they place on food to words, the sustenance of interaction and hence community. In the way that palm oil must be consumed, so must words and conversations. Continue reading
For years I have been out-of-the-loop. I never watched a single episode of Game of Thrones, nor picked up even one single copy of the books. I didn’t understand the obsession with The Known World of Westeros, didn’t join in the gossip, and definitely didn’t ‘get’ the memes. I was an outsider. I know, I am late to the party. But better late than never, right?
Before Christmas, a friend brought it up, and (again) recommended I watch the series. Later that week, I was gifted the password to the family HBO account. And thus my obsession began. I binged the series in three or four days, and went back again to re-watch everything more carefully. I loved the costumes, the mythology and house history, and of course, the plot twists. And once I was sucked in, I couldn’t pull away. Next, I had to read the books. And once I started reading them, I could not put them down! I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on. Continue reading
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is the best romance writer of all time. Don’t @ me.
Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen’s now classic romance novel, has been beloved by readers for the last 200 years. The story charts the emotional development of Elizabeth Bennet, who learns the error of making hasty judgments and comes to appreciate the difference between the superficial and the essential. The comedy of the writing lies in the depiction of manners, education, marriage, and money during the British Regency period.
“Till this moment I never knew myself.”
― Pride and Prejudice
Pride & Prejudice is one of the most loved and widely adapted of Austen’s works. Since it was first published in 1813, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has sold over 20 million copies, and is now one of the most recognizable names in British literature. Though it was written over 200 years ago, it remains relevant. Not only is it a beautifully written love story with a happy ending, but it contains timeless insights about human nature that reminds readers that first impressions can often be wrong. Continue reading
I read The Handmaid’s Tale in high school, and I didn’t ‘get’ it, TBH. I understood it, of course, but it didn’t resonate with me in the way my teacher had hoped it would. It wasn’t until watching the new Hulu adaptation that I was really interested in the story. But I couldn’t understand why my memories of the book were so far from what the show was saying, so I dug out my old copy, still covered in post-its and margin scribbles, and forced myself to give it a second chance.
With my first reading, for whatever reason, I had a very obscure picture of the world Atwood was writing about. I wasn’t able to imagine what it would be like. But, after watching the series, I was able to really picture the world of Gilead, and it made me want to understand it better. So I decided to revisit the book, and I re-read it while watching the show. It completely changed my opinion of the novel, and now I love a book that I once hated.
Although I loved both the book and the series, I can’t ignore their differences. Though both are important and relevant, they have different missions and different lessons. The ideal would be for audiences to read and watch both; they inform each other, each provides what the other lacks. Continue reading
Alice Hoffman returns, 22 years later, to tell the first part of the story. The Rules Of Magic follows Franny, Jet, and Vincent Owens as they uncover the mystery of their witchy heritage, and try to break the curse that haunts their fate. This prequel to the 1995 best-seller Practical Magic is an essential prelude to the first book, providing a fundamental understanding of the family and the secrets that follow them.
In The Rules Of Magic, we are introduced to Maria Owens, the Salem witch Hoffman uses to root the family tree in witchcraft and magik. The plot opens with Franny, Jet, and their younger brother Vincent, and explains to readers why they are the way that they are. Witch-y.
“What mattered was the blood that ran through him, the same blood that flowed through Maria Owens.” (53).
Roald Dahl is most beloved and best known for his best-selling children’s works: James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The BFG, The Twits and George’s Marvelous Medicine.
I did some research on his birthday (September 13) and decided to order Skin, because I had never heard of it before. It is perfect for the Halloween season, and I am really pleased with its realism. His children’s stories are, of course, a little magical, but his tales for adults are creepy in the I-Could-Actually-Imagine-This-Happening-And-Its-Super-Creepy-kind-of-way. Continue reading
Homesick For Another World, Ottessa Moshfegh’s collection of short stories, comprises a selection of her previously published pieces, culminating in a grand anthology that exemplifies Moshfegh’s work precisely. The published book helpfully gathers most of her published short stories together in one accessible volume (excluding only three: “Medicine”, Vice, December 1, 2007; “Disgust”, The Paris Review, No. 202, Fall 2012; and “Brom”, Granta, Issue 139, 2017). A Better Place is the only chapter that was written for the book itself. It stands alone as an ending to the book, but also as a new piece within itself.
The author of the best-seller Eileen has a distinctly identifiable style:
You know, I like weird characters. I don’t know any normal people [laughs]. I do like cliches in my satire: the hipster in the story dancing in the moonlight is a distillation of all the hipsters I knew when younger. I tend to be mean, huh? I’m really hard on men, especially older men.
Moshfegh deliberately chooses to write about the dirtiest and grimiest of our human activities, describing things we all do, the dark things, and finds beauty in the fact that we all indeed have that same darkness within. These stories illuminate the dark truth of human nature, told raw and real, with a morbid sarcasm and dry wit. Continue reading
The sequel to Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel The Star-Touched Queen remains equally adventurous as the first, transporting the reader to the far-away otherworldly lands of Bharata & Ujijain, Alaka and beyond, this time following Mayavati’s younger sister Gauri on her own journey of self-reflection and self-discovery. Filled with adventure, politics, friendships, sisterhood, romance, illusion, transformation, sacrifices, trials and tribulations, A Crown of Wishes weaves an otherworldly story, carried on the wings of birds with feathers of glittering gold.
In A Crown of Wishes we find Gauri, the legendary warrior princess of Bharata, exiled and imprisoned in Ujijain at her brother Skanda’s command. Scorned by her people for the lies Skanda has spread, Gauri faces execution in Ujijain. But Vikram, the cunning ‘Fox Prince’ of Ujijain, sees her potential and offers Gauri a chance at redemption. Together, they enter the Tournament of Wishes with hopes of winning a wish from The Lord of Treasures that would secure them their greatest desires. Continue reading