the railway children

Back To The Classics Challenge 2012 – Completion

I love the classics and I loved this challenge. It wasn’t hard but things could have been easier if I wasn’t so pressed for time in 2012. Thanks to  Sarah at Sarah Reads Too Much for hosting it!

Completed Books: 1. A Classic Play – A Midsummer Night’s Dream. William Shakespeare.

2. Read a Classic set in a Country that you (realistically speaking) will not visit during your lifetime  – Twelfth Night. William Shakespeare.

3. Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction – The Big Bow Mystery. Israel Zangwill.

4. Reread a classic of your choice – The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

5. Read a Classic that has been translated from its original language to your language – Aslauga’s Knight. Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué. 

6. Any 20th Century Classic – The Railway Children. Edith Nesbit.

7. Any 19th Century Classic – Bleak House. Charles Dickens

8. Classic Award Winner  The Plague. Albert Camus.

9. Classic Romance – Evelina. Fanny Burney.

Top 10 Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Books I Have Read During The Lifespan Of My Blog

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created & hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s top 10 is all about the books that I have loved ever since I’ve started the blog. For me that means books I’ve loved since March 2011. The list is by no means conclusive and the name & the order may change anytime. Click on the name of the books for my reviews.

1.   Detective Stories. Philip Pullman – 

Detective Stories is a 1998 collection of fifteen short stories and two brainteasers from the detective genre compiled by Philip Pullman.

The book tries to cover the entire detective genre right from Arthur Conan Doyle to Andrew Vachss. Pullman has tried to make a perfect combination of vintage and contemporary stories and he succeeds to a large degree. This collection is mainly aimed at younger readers but adults can equally enjoy it (as I did). Detective Stories is a true treat!

2.  Very Good, Jeeves. P.G. Wodehouse – 

Very Good, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse is a collection of eleven short stories. All of these stories feature Bertie Wooster and his trusted butler Jeeves.

As it is I am really fond of short stories and the Jeeves short stories are definitely right up my alley.

I really enjoyed reading Very Good, Jeeves. It’s a pity it was a library book and I had to return it. This is the kind of book that I’d like to re-read in the future.

3.   Rebecca. Daphne Du Maurier –

For me, Rebecca is about Rebecca. Long after the book ends her laughing, beautiful, cruel face stays vividly alive. She wins, as always, even in death.

4.  The Diary of a Nobody. George Grossmith – 

The Diary of a Nobody first appeared in Punch magazine from 1888 – 89. It was published in book form in 1892.

The writing is lucid. Many have called it dated. I didn’t find it so. This is a very easy to read book. I managed to finish it in just a day.

I know this is supposed to be a satire on the snobbery and the dullness of the middle class folks but I felt rather sorry for Mr. Pooter. Sure, he is boring and old-fashioned but he is a good, honourable man who is just trying to do the best he can. My sympathy certainly lies with him.

5.    The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. Liz Jensen – 

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen was published in 2004. It was Jensen’s fifth novel.

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax is one strange story. What happens in the story is not wholly un-guessable but whatever it is, it is twisted. Overall, this is an enjoyable psychological thriller.

6.  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Haruki Murakami – 

Sprawling, odd, complicated, scary, these are the words that come to my mind when I say the name, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I tried to keep an open mind and take it all in. But still at times I had to stop and think,

‘What on earth is this?’

7.  A Midsummer Night’s DreamWilliam Shakespeare – 

I love Shakespeare’s comedies. The witty dialogues, the general air of light heartedness and above all the wickedly funny plots suit my taste quite well. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is so far my favourite among these.

8.   The Railway ChildrenEdith Nesbit – 

Even though I might have enjoyed children’s classics such as The Railway Children more if I really were a child, I do still find joy in them. Other than a few parts (like the chapter The Pride of Perks) I have greatly enjoyed reading The Railway Children.

9.   The Old Man in the CornerBaroness Orczy – 

Today Baroness Orczy is mostly remembered as the creator of the Scarlet Pimpernel but she also wrote quite a few mysteries. The Old Man in the Corner (1909) is possibly the best known among her mysteries.

The end of the central narrative left me fairly shocked. I really didn’t see this coming.

Overall, I enjoyed The Old Man in the Corner. I would definitely want to read more of Baroness Orczy’s mysteries.

10.   The Fault in Our Stars John Green – 

I am not much into contemporary books. I am just not comfortable with modern fiction though I do try to read at least one or two each year. Also, this novel belongs to a genre that I am not much of a fan of, Young Adult or YA lit.

No, I didn’t need a boxful of tissues as many of my fellow readers said that I would. Books rarely make me cry (Goodbye, Mr. Chips being one of the very few exceptions). So, it’s not really the book’s fault. But yes I liked The Fault in Our Stars much better than I thought I would.

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

Lately I have been making up for lost time. Growing up, I have missed out on a lot of children’s classics. The Railway Children is one of them.

The Railway Children written by Edith Nesbit was serialised in The London Magazine in 1905. It was published in book form in 1906.

After their father is sent to prison, siblings Bobbie (Roberta), Peter and Phyllis along with their mother move into a house near a railway station. The railway station soon becomes the focus of the children’s lives as they become friendly with the local people and the mysterious ‘Old Gentleman’ who always rides the 9:15 down train.

I liked how the children in the book seem real. They do have a lot of adventures and are at times insufferably good but they are also impatient and immature a lot of the time. Things like their everyday fights and trivial shenanigans are also given importance in the narrative. Like the exchange between Peter and Bobbie after Peter gets hurt during their fight over a rake or Phyllis’s honest (and often hilarious) thoughts and opinions on things,

‘He called me un-un-ungentlemanly,’ sobbed Phyllis. ‘I didn’t never call him unladylike, not even when he tied my Clorinda to the firewood bundle and burned her at the stake for a martyr.’

Nesbit was accused of plagiarism in 2011. Apparently a lot of the plot points of The Railway Children were very similar to that of The House by the Railway (1896) by Ada J. Graves. These accusations notwithstanding, I would love to read more of Nesbit’s books, particularly The Enchanted Castle.

Even though I might have enjoyed children’s classics such as The Railway Children more if I really were a child, I do still find joy in them. Other than a few parts (like the chapter The Pride of Perks) I have greatly enjoyed reading The Railway Children.

Welcome Home: Books that Arrived in January & February 2012

“The good, the admirable reader identifies himself not with the boy or the girl in the book, but with the mind that conceived and composed that book.” ― Vladimir Nabokov

“Which literary character/hero/heroine do you most identify with?”

This is definitely a ‘frequently asked question’. Many readers I know identify with Anne from Anne of the Green Gables, Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, some with Hermione, Ron or Harry from the Harry Potter series of books, others with the characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy; etc, etc. Whoever you identify with, the fact of the matter is that most readers identify with someone. But being the weirdo that I am, I almost never have identified myself with any literary character. Rather I have identified with the people behind the words and the characters, the writers.

The author I most identify with is Emily Brontë. I grew up in a place that is quite similar to Haworth, Yorkshire. Not only do I have the same birthday as her but I also share a lot of her characters traits. Shyness and suffering from severe bouts of ‘social awkwardness’ are only two of them. I, of course, do not have her talent. She wrote about raw and unrestrained human emotions without the fear of meeting with the disapproval of the 19th century audience. She is probably one of the most honest writers I’ve ever come across.

Alright, enough of comparing myself with one of the greats of literature. Here are the books I bought in the months of January & February 2012.

January 2, 2012.

The Agony and the Ecstasy. Irving Stone.

The Day Of The Jackal. Frederick Forsyth.

The Railway Children. E. Nesbit.

Measure for Measure. William Shakespeare.

Cranford. Elizabeth Gaskell.

I have been wanting to read Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy for a long time. I have seen this book on shop shelves but never picked it up till now. I have recently started it. Lets just say I shall reserve my judgement till I write my review of it.

The Day Of The Jackal, classic suspense from the 60’s. Do I need any other reason to pick it up?

I have been making up for lost time for the past two years. Growing up, I have missed out on a lot of children’s classics. Even though I may have enjoyed children’s books such as The Railway Children more as a child, I do still find joy in these books.

I bought Measure for Measure while participating on the Shakespeare Reading Month this January. I have always been kind of intimidated by the Bard but after breaking the ice with two of his comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night, I felt much more confident. And Measure for Measure didn’t disappoint.

I have been watching this battered copy of Cranford lie neglected in a book shop for over a year now. No one seemed to be interested in it. I felt sorry for the book (yes, I quite often feel sorry for books) and having never read anything by Elizabeth Gaskell decided to bring it home.

Feb 18, 2012.

A View from the Bridge and All My Sons. Arthur Miller.

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is one of my all time favourite plays. I had been eying this Penguin edition of two of Millers most famous plays f0r a while. I hope to enjoy A View from the Bridge and All My Sons as much as his Death of a Salesman.

The Friday 56

The Friday 56 is a bookish meme hosted by Freda’s Voice.

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link up at Freda’s site

Today’s sentence comes from  The Railway Children by E. Nesbit.

“ ‘Now, Lady Grave-airs,’  he said in the hall to Bobbie, ‘I suppose you’ll want to be head-nurse.’ ”