A Love for Literature

"I cannot live without books." --Thomas Jefferson

Things I've Written

I never seriously considered a career in writing, but I've always enjoyed it as a hobby. I've uploaded a few of these works here.

  • Aristocracy Amplified--a short story I wrote for a college course.
  • An Examination of The Great Gatsby--I also wrote this for a college course, but I loved getting into the characters of this book so deeply.

    Playing the Critic

    It saddens me how little most people read these days...not only children, but young adults and the elderly alike. Thanks to my literature-loving parents, I've been an avid reader all my life. Reading is an infinite source of entertainment, inspiration, and wisdom. I have listed below my humble opinions of some of my favorite books. Please note, though, that I am very much a fan of the classics. You won't find much in the way of current authors on my list, mainly because I find most of them comparatively insipid. I am far from being a literary scholar, but having grown up on the classics, I do have some rather definite opinions...

    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

    If you want to engross yourself in complete and utter romance, extremely well-written prose, and heart-palpitating dialogue, this is the book. Set in 19th century England, Jane Eyre is the story of an orphan girl who grows up, becomes a governess for the ward of a wealthy English landowner, and unknowingly finds the love of her life--but not without a price. An engrossing tale of moral dilemmas, dramatic emotions, and a hopelessly romantic leading man. I have the majority of the dialogue memorized; however, each time I read this book, I become totally engrossed in the story and lose touch with reality...certainly the sign of a masterpiece.

    Persuasion by Jane Austen

    My favorite of the Austen books, although I love them all. Anne Elliot, the heroine, is the Austen character to whom I most relate, and the tale of thwarted love is wonderfully suspenseful. Also contains the most beautiful love letter ever written! Just be prepared to read carefully, because the extended familial relations can become quite confusing.

    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

    The classic of classics. So many quotable lines... Elizabeth Bennett and her sisters embark on a manhunt in the English countryside. On the way, she delivers some of the best lines ever written, and Mr. Darcy is the perfect English gentleman...after he's humbled by Elizabeth, of course. The 1995 BBC miniseries adaptation of the book is also terrific.

    Emma by Jane Austen

    Another Austen book, and once again, the writing is exquisite. Emma Woodhouse is the matchmaker in a small but elegant English country village. While fixing other couples up, she falls in love herself...with the most perfect and gentlemanly leading man ever created. Also recommended: the movie version with Gwyneth Paltrow and (sigh...) Jeremy Northam.

    David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

    I just finished reading this Dickens work in February of 2002, and I can hardly describe how much I enjoyed it. One of the first signs of a great book is a sense of "loss" or disappointment when you finish the last page, and that certainly happened with me. I became thoroughly engrossed in the life of the main character. Along with Dickens' common themes of justice and the struggle against class prejudices in England, he presents an incredibly moving story of a memorable and truly worthy hero. What makes this book even more special to me as a Dickens fan is that the book is semi-autobiographical. Definitely at the top of my Dickens list so far!

    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

    As a huge Dickens fan, this masterpiece is one of my favorites. Even though I read it first many years ago, the characters arrested my youthful attention amazingly. Even in non-comic books, Dickens is a master of wit.

    The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    The best mysteries ever written. Sherlock is the ideal detective--proud, distinguished, scrutinizing, a perfectionist...and a clever wit. Every story is enveloping--and the stories are so well-written, you can never solve the mystery until Holmes explains all at the end. The BBC adaptations (with Jeremy Brett) of many of these stories are excellent, and they first introduced me to the stories. Brett is the embodiment of Holmes.

    Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

    Another great Dickens work, with terribly witty commentary and a great social statement for the newly industrialized England.

    A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

    Very involving tale of a small group of colorful characters caught up in the French Revolution and the horrors it entailed. The pace is a bit slow in the first few chapters, but becomes extremely gripping later on. Contains one of the most truly heroic characters I've read, and frighteningly realistic depictions of the French Revolution.

    Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

    Almost everybody has seen the musical My Fair Lady, but much fewer have read the original play. A great work which is as good or better when read, the story is the fascinating tale of the transformation of a London street urchin into a lady fit for the royal court, all because of the work of her phonetics teacher.

    The Night the Bed Fell by James Thurber

    Never in my life do I laugh as hard as when I read this short story. It's nearly impossible for me to read it out loud and be understood between the hysterical guffaws. So if you need a good laugh, read this! And keep Kleenex nearby...you'll laugh so hard, you'll cry.

    Creating Minds: An anatomy of creativity seen through the lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Ghandi. by Howard Gardner

    A great book with mini-biographies of the great minds listed above. This gives fascinating insight into the frailties of people whom much of society views as superior human beings. An easy read, and the personalities are selected from widely varying fields of talent.

    My Love Affair with England by Susan Allen Toth.

    A semi-autobiographical work by a professor who is enamored of England. This isn't a tourist book per se, but it gives some very nostalgic descriptions of quaint England. I thought there were a few too many personal details and not enough about the country itself, but it's definitely worth a read if you're as in love with the UK as I am.

    The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux.

    Not surprisingly, this is the book on which the play of the same name is based. As a huge fan of the play, I decided it was time to read the original, and I wasn't disappointed. The work suffers somewhat from the obvious translation from French to English (the dialogue sounds a bit choppy in places), but the story is captivating. I do prefer the more sympathetic portrayal of the Phantom in the play vs. the book, but reading the full story definitely cleared up a lot of questions I had about the plot and background. A relatively quick and easy read, and thoroughly enjoyable!

    Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

    This was Jane Austen's first major work, and while its youthful perspective is quite obvious, it's a great plot. It's also a great satire on the "frivolous" novels of the day. It tells the typical "girl gets boy" story that Austen excels at describing, and the heroine, though not terribly smart or attractive, is thoroughly likeable, while her love interest is the perfect "nice boy."

    Shirley by Charlotte Bronte.

    Set in Industrial Revolution-era Yorkshire, Bronte set this novel in a setting with which she was very familiar, and to great effect. Probably my second-favorite C.B. novel, it boasts some unusual, if meandering, plot lines, as well as a great love story--my favorite part of Charlotte's novels.

    Current Reading--Barnaby Rudge, by Charles Dickens.

    "Read, every day, something no one else is reading.
    Think, every day, something no one else is thinking.
    Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do.
    It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity."
    --Christopher Morley