Tagged: Read-Along

The Superfluous Brothers Karamazov Read-Along Interlude: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

And apparently, nobody expects their read-along to be derailed by summer vacation. I missed this Monday’s post on Part II due to travel, but I am done the reading, and have surprisingly little to say about Ivan’s Spanish Inquisition story, “The Grand Inquisitor”, despite it being the best-known part of The Brothers K, and thought to sum up its themes.

I’m more interested in talking about “The Russian Monk” chapter, where we learn the life story of the Elder Zozima – surprisingly, as it takes us away from the love triangles and murder aspects of the story.

So while I try to come up with something intelligent to say about that, and essentially bump the whole read-along schedule out by a week, talk amongst yourselves…

Nine links that will help you finish The Brothers Karamazov

If you find yourself in perplexity, go to the master post for the read-along schedule.

Today’s the day: start reading!

If you’re on the fence, or intimidated, take heart. I’ve read Dostoyevsky’s other major works (and a few minor ones), and relatively speaking, at least in Part I, The Brothers Karamazov has a manageable number of characters, is very plot driven, and is pretty light on philosophical debates. I expect that to change at some point, but so far, it’s not too hard to follow. As you’ll see, Part I is actually very juicy! I can’t wait to talk about it next week.

That said, there are a ton of online resources to help you get started. If you’ve found some others, please drop them in the comments.

Character lists

If you use one online resource, make it a character list, especially if you aren’t familiar with Russian nicknames and naming conventions!

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The Full Monte Read-Along Chapters 80ish-117: Adieu, Dirtbag Dumas

If you have trouble maneuvering your ship into port at Marseilles, steer yourself over to the master post.

Me before this read-along vs. me after this read-along:

Well, mes amis, a wise man once said that all human wisdom is contained in these two words: “wait and hope”. Or, more precisely, “attendre et espérer”.

So let’s wait and hope that the next Reading in Bed read-along goes better, n’est-ce pas? Continue reading

The Full Monte Read-Along

I would have posted this much sooner, but I was struggling to find a good name for my momentous fifth summer read-along, in which we will tackle Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo.

Count Along? Count Me In? No. Sometimes you must wait for the muse to show up.

The title is relevant too, because there are abridged versions out there. Do not be fooled. We are going FULL MONTE, people.

Image result for the full monty gifs

Large and in charge

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War & Peace & Women

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Today’s the day: start reading! I tried to break you in gently by starting my first post off in French… hopefully you all remember your French as a Second Language classes, or got a translation where the French is, you know, translated!

But before we get to the bored socialites, glittering ballrooms, and affected French accents, not to mention the gifs, let’s get serious for un moment.

Those of you new to Reading in Bed might not know that I did a whole year of reading women authors in 2016. And my 2016 summer read-along was forgotten but foundational 18th century novel Cecilia, by Frances Burney. I must admit, it feels almost like a betrayal to go back to a dead white dude this year.

In doing my research (Googling “Was Tolstoy a dick?”) (he was), I found out that War and Peace wouldn’t have made it to our e-readers in 2017 without the help of a few lovely ladies. Let’s give them a shout out as we get ready to dive in. Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along

The rumours are true: Reading in Bed’s fourth summer read-along starts July 1, and we’re going to read War and Peace!

I know what you’re thinking: “You’ve done three of these already?” (Yes, go learn everything you ever wanted to know about whales, revolutions, and inheritance law.)

Also, “isn’t there already a War and Peace readalong that started on June 1st?” Well, yes. I’ve been planning this read-along for months. Yamini and Ange’s readalong caught me off guard. I considered packing it in, because they have huge followings, and they’ve both read the book before. What do I have to offer, other than GIFS GALORE (thank you, recent Lifetime adaptation)?

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Anna Pavlova is dubious about the whole endeavor

On the other hand, I thought it would be nice to have a little corner of the internet for War and Peace newbs. We can learn about Russian to English translation, the Napoleonic Wars, and Freemasonry together! And so, I give you the War and Peace Newbies Read-Along!

 audrey hepburn vintage gif war and peace 50s cinema GIF

Tell me more!

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A Tale of Two Cities Read-Along Update #3: It Gets Better

 Having the worst of times figuring our what this is all about? See the master post!

#1Tale2CitiesButton

I’m so late with this post, I considered just rolling it into next Monday’s. But, this section was important because it turned things around for me. I was feeling very “I’ve made a huge mistake” (say that in a Job from Arrested Development voice) about this whole thing until after page 200. But I swear, it kept getting better and better. I hope most of you are hanging in there!

Why I got back into #1Tale2Cities in this section:

1. Dr. Mannett & Mr. Lorry
I love the scene where Mr. Lorry talks to Dr. Mannett about this affliction, without actually talking about it. A predecessor of the “I have this friend…” I found these two charming in this scene, and I started to understand the role Mr. Lorry plays in their lives.

2. Madame Defarge and The Vengeance
Still bad-ass. First of all, we learn Mme. D’s first name is Therese, which is also my middle name. Then she acquired a sidekick named “The Vengence.” They also behead a couple people in this section. Madame D. also tells Lucie off, which is all good in my books. Lucie is begging for mercy for her husband and child because sisterhood or whatever and Mme. D is all, cool story, Citoyenne, but I will fully kill your husband in the name of la revolution!

coolstory

3. Sydney
Yes, his constant grovelling is annoying. In this section, though, I realized what his ultimate role was going to be – and having finished the book, I know I was right. And I love that. I love that this book is somewhat predictable. It’s a comfort read in a way. Pretty good for a book in which people are horribly killed and mutilated and what not.

4. The Grindstone
I just love this:

The great grindstone, Earth, had turned when Mr. Lorry looked out again, and the sun was red on the courtyard. But, the lesser grindstone stood alone there in the calm morning air, with a red upon it that the sun had never given, and would never take away.

But it’s not all good news…

1. Lucie
She still sucks.

That’s pretty much it. I like everyone else except Lucie. I might like Lucie, if I knew anything about her.

The Best of Blogs

Check out these posts from the #1Tale2Cities readers-along:

If you write an update post this week, link it in the comments and I’ll update here in the main post.

Tales Heard Round the Internet

Tune in next Monday for: the end! 

Did anyone else think it got a lot better in this section?

A Tale of Two Cities Read-Along Update #2: Two Mary Sues

 Having the worst of times figuring our what this is all about? See the master post!

#1Tale2CitiesButton

I know a lot of us are struggling right now. Too many characters, too many storylines, too many WORDS (and this isn’t even a long book by Dickens standards!) Here are some resources:

  • The gold standard: Spark Notes. I do two things when I finish a chapter: read the end notes, and read the Spark Notes summary. Each chapter is summed up in about a paragraph, and there’s some analysis every couple of chapters. Plain language, no spoilers.
  • Reader-along Consumed by Ink wrote a great post just today that lists all the major storylines. She should write for Spark!
  • TOTC was an Oprah’s Book Club selection in 2010. There are a bunch of resources at the link, but my favourite is the super-succinct character list.

On to chapters 6 through 16, Book the Second, in which we meet even more new characters, but at least some of them die right away.

The Two Mary Sues
I know some of you are having a hard time connecting to the characters. I am too. I think it’s because the romantic leads (at this point, anyway) are such Mary Sues. Mary Sue comes from the world of fanfic (what? I have diverse interests) and means an idealized heroine. She’s beautiful, thoughtful, athletic, intelligent, resourceful, and boring as hell. Lucie is a total Mary Sue. She’s described as a doll a few times, and that’s how I feel about her: she’s just a shell. She’s the perfect daughter and every guy she meets falls in love with her.

Charles isn’t much better. He at least has some DEEP DARK secret, but he’s good looking, hard working, devoted, respectful. He’s a total Noel (WARNING link is a six-minute montage of Felicity and Noel moments and may cause nausea, dizziness, and extreme boredom.)

Hopefully Dickens won't try to make Charles interesting by having him go crazy and get a tattoo like a certain someone I know

Hopefully Dickens won’t try to make Charles interesting by having him go crazy and get a tattoo like a certain late-90s show did… ahem

I didn’t like how the courtship with Lucie is totally glossed over – we never find out how Lucie feels about Charles, because I guess it’s just obvious that she would love him? And her relationship with her father is a bit much. She’s always trembling and throwing herself on him and declaring her love. It’s kind of creepy.

There are some great, flawed, INTERESTING characters in this book and so far, when Lucie and Charles are on the scene, I just want to get back to them: Sydney and his alcoholism, Jerry and his grave-robbing, Stryver and his, well, striving.

Vive La Revolution
My favourite part of this section was the Marquis chapters. I usually don’t like it when a character is obviously there just for social commentary, and the Marquis is the embodiment of cruelty and excess of the aristocracy that lead to the revolution. But how can I resist a guy who requires four “lacqueys” to make his hot chocolate? And whose morning agenda appears to be sashaying around his palace? His cruelty is similarly exaggerated, and his offhand remark upon trampling a small child reminded me of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada:

“It is extraordinary to me,” said he, “that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children.”

miranda

I also really like Dickens’ use of repetition – of words, phrases, styles – to (I think) convey the grinding povery and hunger and injustice that just never ends.

Madame Defarge: Just Keep Knitting
Mme. D. is my favourite character so far. In this section, she is described as having “the steadfastness of Fate” and as seeing and hearing “something inaudible and invisible” so I’m pretty sure she’s got super powers.

The Best of Blogs

Check out these posts from the #1Tale2Cities readers-along:

If you write an update post this week, link it in the comments and I’ll update here in the main post.

Tales Heard Round the Internet

Tune in next Monday for Book the Second chapters 7-24 and Book the Third chapters 1-3. 

What did you think? Who are your favourite characters so far?

A Tale of Two Cities Read-Along: Knitting for Dummies

Having the worst of times figuring our what this is all about? See the master post!

#1Tale2CitiesButton

This first section is, in a word, disorienting. The writing style, the cast of characters, the seemingly unrelated storylines, the mundane shoved up against the absurd, and of course, the movement between the two cities, are making my head spin. At the worst of times I wanted to put the book aside to give my brain a break. At the best of times I wanted to shove the book in people’s faces and say, “look! This is hilarious! This is unlike anything you’ve ever read, including everything that’s ever been called Dickensian!” I hope to get into a better groove in section two.

Knitting for dummies
The pattern on my edition of the book shows something (a scarf?) being knitted. So I can’t take credit for noticing the heavy symbolism of Madame Defarge’s constant knitting, but I’m thinking it has something to do with The Fates, who weave the fabric of a person’s life (and cut the thread when it’s done) and HOPEFULLY it means all the people and storylines introduced in this first section will be knit together into something coherent. There are a LOT of people, and things, and honestly I’m not always totally sure which of the two cities we’re in at any given point. I gather I’m not alone from some of the #1Tale2Cities tweets I’m seeing!

Can you imagine reading this in weekly installments, as it was serialized in 1859? I would have forgotten everything in between!

That Madame Defarge. What a hipster.

That Madame Defarge. What a hipster.

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A Tale of Two Cities Read-Along: Start Reading!

Having the worst of times figuring our what this is all about? See the master post!

#1Tale2CitiesButton

Have you started reading? I’m on page 12, so there’s plenty of time to catch up. As we get down to business, let’s check in on a couple of things:

Editions
Editions abound for a classic like this, that’s been around so long and has been assigned reading for countless students. The ebook selection was overwhelming, so I decided to go old school with the clothbound Penguin Classics. It’s got a nice weight to it, and a built-in bookmark, and lots of introductions, appendices, and notes. It also bit my two-year-old’s thumb today, according to him. Please note that I did comfort him before grabbing the camera.

What edition are you reading?

 

Henry reviews TOTC: "My thumb. Ow. Don't like book."

Henry reviews TOTC: “My thumb. Ow. Don’t like book.”

Read-Alongers (Readers-Along?)
The master post is updated with the list of participants, but I wanted to give some shout-outs today, because there are some awesome bloggers joining us!

  1. Tony: My brother-in-law. Please address any complaints about book choice to him.
  2. Cait at 1227 Miles: My sister. Oh and by the way – Cait and Tony are officially engaged as of this weekend! Congrats!
  3. ebookclassics: I love how CJ digs up the most interesting and random tidbits about books. I also love her celebrities in classics series – let’s say we have similar tastes (90s forever.)
  4. Cedar Station: We recently bonded over our love of The House of Mirth. OMG – Wharton read-along next?
  5. Consumed by Ink: A serious reader of CanLit and big supporter of book blogs – she writes the best comments!
  6. Romanoir: A new-to-me blogger who has a seriously intimidating Classics Club list, heavy on pre-1600 lit.
  7. Amanda’s Weekly Zen: New-to-me blog, but based on the recent post of Wuthering Heights quotes which contained many of my favs, I think we’ll get along juuuust fine.
  8. Doing Dewey: Best blog title and concept I’ve seen in a while. Reading her way through the Dewey decimal system!
  9. Jayne’s Books: Super prolific reader and Moby-Dick read-along alumni.
  10. Reading in Winter: Partly responsible for this blog being what it is today. Yay Kristilyn!
  11. Lost Generation Reader: A celebrity in the classic-lit-bloggers world. Really excited to have her AND her Dickens action figure joining us!

Tales Heard Round the Internet
This is a regular feature with news and notes about A Tale of Two Cities or Mr. Dickens. Today, I found out that the ubiquity of “A Tale of Two Cities” as a catchy title makes it real hard to do a proper Google search. I did manage to find out that The Invisible Woman was released on DVD in Canada last week. This looks like something I need to watch immediately. Psst, CJ, have you done Ralph Fiennes in your Celebrities in Classics yet?

Happy reading, and see you next Monday for our first check-in!