So despite only getting a few centuries in to Poisoned Pens,
I did actually enjoy some of the extracts I read. The pieces about the poor quality of Shakespeare quite resonated with me.
I can’t stand Shakespeare. And while you may not think this an uncommon statement, to hold this view as a teacher of literature is somewhat of a taboo. To utter in any English faculty the words
Why do we teach Shakespeare
Is something of a heresy.
In Poisoned Pens there are two excellent writers reasons for holding this view. First George Bernard Shaw
who is as impatient with Shakespeare as I am. And secondly, William Cartwright
who was moved to write poetry about Shakespeare’s egregious nature.
I just don’t know why we study him. Yes the themes are universal, but then we could study then more easily in texts that don’t use such old language. Yes he invented so many interesting and new words and phrases, but why do we have to battle through a whole text just to get to the good bits? And so many other people were writing well at the same time. And in languages other than English too. Why is Shakespeare the person the western literary world has settled on to adore?
My feelings of course don’t extend to the performance of his plays. I would take a ticket to see one any time. I just don’t why we insist on making teenagers read them.
So I’ve had my first book fail of the year. Though I don’t really think of it as a fail because my mantra is to not finish books you don’t enjoy. The only downside to that is the impact it has on my reading challenge. I hate wasting my limited reading time.
In my book buying spree earlier this month I bought a seven dollar book.
It had a good premise. Writers writing mean things about other writers. But it is super labourious. Mostly because it starts with ancient authors and works it way to the ‘present day’. And while I consider myself well read, I don’t really care about the beefs in Ancient Greece or the Elizabethan era. Their language is so dense and soporific, I’ve only just made it to the Romantic era and I’ve been reading since the beginning of the month.
The other problem is you only get the nasty bits. Snippets of essays and letters without context. There are a billion footnotes explaining things, but who has time for footnotes? I don’t feel like I am really learning anything and are often more confused than not.
It’s not a bad book for reading before bed though. If I read a novel then I dream the novel and have an unfitful sleep. If I red this it puts me to sleep, and no dreams. That’s a win.
I finally started watching the TV adaptation of 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I had been putting it off and off because of all the publicity surrounding its creation and the backlash it faced, mostly from schools, about whether or not such a thing should be turned in ‘light entertainment’, that is, TV. But then I’d run out of things to watch when I finally got the TV to myself and cooking and renovating shows get boring pretty quickly.
I remember reading the book and liking it. I have a feeling I bought it for the library when I was still queen of that domain and so don’t have my own copy to refer back to now and compare. Or perhaps I did read it when it came out in 2007 and have just misplaced my copy in the ensuing ten years. Either way, enough time has sufficiently elapsed for me to be interested and surprised by what they have for the TV.
One thing that really strikes me is the modernisation of the text. As YA of the realistic fiction becomes dated very quickly, the TV show evinces just how digital our world has become since then and, perhaps, how much more quickly things can escalate beyond our control (and this may be where the stamp footing aversion to the show being made in the first place comes from too). I know I’m not that old, but the show makes we want to say:
“back in my day…”
as if I can’t keep up with or understand what it is to be a teenager. It also makes me want to yell at the TV a lot to point out how dumb some of their actions are, because I have hindsight and, as the quote above suggests, am actually no longer a teenager.
I haven’t watched it all yet, though I plan too. And I can’t really remember how it ends, so the tension is really working. Like Clay, I want to watch, but I also don’t want to watch. I need to know what happens, but in a sense we already know because Hannah is dead and nothing can change that.
I only just realised what day it was, and therefore I had already reneged on my pseudo resolution. But that’s ok, because it’s only a day later and not the week it could have been.
So far this month I’ve read five books. I’ve been trying to read one a day, and my goal is to do that all month and therefore read thirty one books before I really get back into real life and work. Technically I’m only on holidays until January 28th, but I figure those first few days of work (and the last few days of January) don’t really count. I’ll just be settling back in and reading on the sly.
To this end, I have bought six new books in the last two days. Eight in the last week, one of which I have read already.
What I have realised though, is that a book a day may not be that sustainable. So I’ve started two at once. A fiction and a Non Fiction. I can usually manage the two styles simultaneously as long as the Non Fiction isn’t something with a story; not a biography or some such, rather a compendium of facts.
I haven’t even started thinking about the 2018 Reading Challenge (which I will probably write about next). Instead, I’m just reading and listing my titles down and I’ll fit them into the categories later.
What is slowing me down though, is the way I’ve decided to read this year. With a notebook at hand.
I’m using post-its to tag blog post ideas, but what I’m writing down are interesting words or other books I need to read that are mentioned in the book I am currently reading. Depending on the book I can be stopping every sentence.
I used to read like this when I was very young. I can remember that Dracula had a lot of new words for me and my list for that particular novel ran over two pages. After I had finished reading I diligently looked them all up in order to figure out what Stoker was really saying. This time round I seem to know a lot of the meanings, I’m just writing them down because they sound nice or are awesome words.