Top Ten Books for Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

This is a rendition of thebrokeandthebookish.com’s Top Ten Tuesday. This week it’s the Top Ten Books for Blank, and I have chosen….for those that love Alice in Wonderland.  Because that’s how my writing desk ravens and my mushroom resizes.

1. The Chrestomanci Chronicles by Diana Wynne Jones

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-Zaniness, strange logics, and spunky young heroines and heroes.

2. Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

-Because pixies convinced they are dead are a good start and a young girl with an extreme fondness for logic and good advice follows through.

3. Candide by Voltaire

-Adventures with a satiric take on the world, characters that continuously pop back up, and naivety making the world strange.  Didn’t think I could make that case, did you?

4. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salmon Rushdie

(Review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/167/)

-Genies finnicking with faucets are a great continuation of rabbits with pocket watches.

5. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

-If you like Alice and her attitude of trying to be sensible amidst the bizarre, you ought to like Ella and her attitude of being a rebel amidst exact obedience.

6. The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

-Weird worlds, weird peoples, and Englishness…Englishocity?

7. Le Petit Prince by Antoine St.-Expupery

-Talking flowers, new views, and wonder.

8. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

(Review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/the-grand-sophy/)

-I like to think that Alice sighs over Sophy’s antics, and then turns around and achieves exactly the same results.

9. The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern

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-Wonderland loves to delve and explain the illogical.  The Princess Bride takes the logical and explains them so thoroughly they become fantastic and strange.  They belong together.

10. The Poems of A.A. Milne

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-Englishocity, royalty with obsessions, children fooling adults, etc.

So, what do you guys think?  Have you read anything more Wonderlandian?

Top Ten Classic Books

This week’s Top Ten list from http://www.brokeandbookish.com was about favorite classics. There are so many it’s hard to choose! *cracks knuckles* My definition of a classic for these purposes does not include plays or fairy tales because it would be like all fairy tales and praising Oscar Wilde’s sass and Shakespearean insults. Here we go!

1. The Complete Works of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
-I’d bounce, sing like a raincloud, chase “dragons” (geese), get a little bit of butter for my bread, and bless India rubber balls every chance I get!

2. Scaramouche by Raphael Sabatini
-This book is the epitome of the older definition of romance that included adventure! He also does outlaws, revenge, and true love, so basically-if you like the Princess Bride in any format, you should definitely read this!

3. Persuasion by Jane Austen
-This is my favorite Austen novel.

4. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
-The torture chamber episode wins everything. Why is it not properly in films??? And for that matter, the Phantom’s original backstory-it’s much more exciting and intriguing than what Andrew Lloyd Webber and others have come up with!

5. Candide by Voltaire
-Giant sheep, horny eunichs, and characters that get away with acting like whack-a-moles with Death.

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
-I tried to only have one, but no-this is up here, too.

7. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
-I love most L’Engle books, but this one does have just that perfect balance to it.

8. Narnia by C.S. Lewis
-Walking through wardrobes, intricate dancing every first snowfall until someone gets hit with a snowball, turning into a dragon…these are the imaginings I love.

9. Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie
-I’ve read all the Hercule Poirot novels but this is still my favorite.

10. The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe
-The man wore motley!

What classics do you love?

Top 10 Books I was forced to read:

This is a meme from The Broke and the Bookish: http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.com/

I no particular order, these are books I was assigned to read in school and that I loved.

 

 

1. Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llewelyn (undergrad)

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-This tale of Brian Boru is both accurate enough that I could read it for an Irish history course, and so moving and glorious that I often reread parts.

2. Idylls of the King by Sir Alfred Tennyson (high school)

-I love Arthurian lore and am a fan of Tennyson’s verse.

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (high school)

-This not only captured my attention for witty and romantic reasons, but was often read aloud in excerpts during class.  (Mr. Collins’ proposal was coerced out of my future fiance when he fell asleep and dropped out of his desk in class.  Although I had no interest in him at the time, I do treasure that memory now.)

4. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (undergrad)

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-Again-I adore Arthurian lore, and this legend in particular has a special place in my imagination as mixing decapitation and romance so colorfully.

5. Candide by Voltaire (undergrad)

-We don’t know what you’re doing with your monks, indeed!

6. Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (high school and undergrad)

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-Ah, elegance, raunchiness, and insults wrapped up with a sarcastically pious bow.  Who can resist that present?

7. Caucasia by Danzy Senna (graduate school)

-This novel really hits on so many racial and coming-of-age notes, it’s remarkable.  Plus, it’s secretly a version of “The Juniper Tree.”

8. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (high school)

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-*begins to eat muffins*

9. King Lear by Shakespeare (high school)

-This is my favorite Shakespeare tragedy.  Have you READ the jester’s insults?  They are his absolute best, which is saying a lot.  Plus, fake madness.  I love a good fake madness, and in here it beats Hamlet’s.

10. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard (high school)

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-Now, if we came from back there, and it is morning, than the sun would be over there.  And if the sun is really over there, then…it’s the afternoon.

 

Any thoughts, additions, or objections?

Fairy Tale Christmas Comforts

The Christmas tide is very near and things may seem very stressful.  That means it is once again time to keep things in perspective by noticing all the ways in which your holiday festivities will probably NOT resemble a fairy tale:

 

1. Even if you don’t get around to sending everyone their Christmas cards, you won’t have to worry about your children being cursed in retaliation.

2. The delivery people for your balls, toys, and treasures will not ask to share your bed as a reward.

3. If, instead of buying, you are spinning raw materials into gifting gold, you can rest assured that even big mistakes or delays will not result in you losing your head. (Or your baby.)

4. Any unwelcome visitors who trick their way into your house will likely settle for Christmas dinner, or perhaps even Christmas cookies, so your flesh is pretty safe.

5. The gingerbread men will not insult anyone.

6. No matter how sick you get of Christmas carols, even the awful ones will not have the power to lure your loved ones away from you.

7. At least you weren’t asked to build a jeweled palace overnight for anyone’s gift.

8. Even if you don’t have someone’s gift ready on time, you will not have to make up for it by giving up “the first thing you see” or “the first one who greets you” upon your arrival home.

9. Even if your family doesn’t allow you to sleep on Christmas Eve, at least you don’t have to face the big day with no sleep AND exhausted feet.

10. Reveling in your new possessions will not land you in hell or cause you to lose control of your limbs, even if those new things are red shoes.

11. No matter how mechanized the new toys are, none of them will carry your children off into the sky (even if you would like them to).

12. Don’t worry if a gift exchange seems uneven-even the presents that seem like small beans can show just how much magic there is in your relationship.

13. Even if you received a living thing, you won’t lose it if you don’t pick out the right name right away.

14. Even if a gift starts to fall apart, just remember: it has no control on anyone in your household’s looks, love, or ability to handle cutlery.

 

Happy 200th anniversary of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales and Merry Christmas!  Just remember, it could be worse-it could be a fairy tale.

There are 14 reasons today because the Grimms’ anniversary demanded 10 all their own, and there were a few non-Grimm fairy tale references I could not resist adding.  25 Points for every fairy tale reference.  55 for every new one added.

Literary Classics Gift-Giving Guide

For those who prefer to get their advice from sources more reputable than Disney, I have here a few gifting tips from the literary classics.  Names of works or authors are accepted.  24 points per reference and 50 points to any new references you add.

 

Literary Classics  Gift-Giving Guide

 

1. Make sure to get gifts in the desired color-it keeps things rosy.

2. Don’t give gifts that are too big-it might become an invasion of their space.

3. Consider giving gifts you made yourself-anything that could become an intimate password response just makes home feel more yours.

4. Musical instruments are marvelous romantic gifts, if you can afford the right quality.

5. Things that light up are good gift ideas-it’s always good to have one more light in dark places, in case all other lights go out.

6. If your gift is taking someone else’s place for something distasteful, like chores, remember that it helps to have a good motto to get you through it-preferably about the satisfaction of giving.

7. If getting something engraved, be sure to include both your name and the recipient’s.  It might just help your name reach the ears of someone it’d be very interesting to meet.

8. Getting something in the recipient’s style is far more important than getting something more fancy or expensive.

9. Stories are even better gifts if you can make the recipient the star of the tale.

10. It’s generally agreed by the classic authors that medieval weapons are a great gift idea-more modern arms, not so much.

 

Hopefully these signposts will help you further along in your great holiday gifting quest.  Good luck!

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – YouTube

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – YouTube.

 

These things are fantastic!  About 3.5 minute increments of a modern day Lizzie Bennet video blog.  She has two sisters.  Jane is spot-on Austen and Lydia is hilariously updated to modern obnoxious boy-crazy.  She dresses up and does voices for her parents.  I think my all time favorite things are when she’s being her mother.  It makes me smile and is surprisingly hard to stop watching, considering I know where it’s going.  Perhaps it’s the editing touches (done by Charlotte), or the true-to-life sibling interactions, or the minimal costumes, or the stronger connection to the character in this setting.  After all, I am also a ‘DREADED MIDDLE CHILD’, etc.  It’s a wonderful, fun pick-me-up that makes me smile.

La Belle or Le Clueless?

During my visit this past week I watched two movies.  The first was a rewatch of Clueless.  The second was new to me, the cult classic La Belle et Le Bete (Jean Cocteau’s French film of Beauty and the Beast).  Unexpectedly, I discovered that these two films-American and French, modern and black-and-white-have much in common!

List of Similarities between Clueless and La Belle et Le Bete (some spoilers may apply):

1) Both protagonists have lost their mothers.

2) Neither Cher nor Belle can bear to leave their fathers.

3) Smoke causes a great deal of shame in both stories, by marking Travis as running in inferior circles and humiliating the beast for his beastly eating habits.

4) Makeovers are absolutely essential! (Tai, Cher’s soul, Belle’s clothing transformation, the Beast’s change…)

5) Both heroines put up with a man who’s constantly in their home and with their family, even though there’s no real family tie. (WHY is Avenant always there???  He doesn’t need to marry Belle to enjoy any money her father gets, he’ll be there enjoying whatever they’ve got anyhow.)

6) The role of lighting plays a huge part in dealing with the opposite sex. (Cher’s lighting plan, arms with torches…)

7) Both girls take it upon themselves to rehabilitate a social pariah. (Cher with Tai and Belle with the Beast, of course.)

8) Neither Cher nor Belle has any difficulty getting blunt and contemptuous with suitors. (“Clean yourself up!” “As if!”-Now, imagine those being used interchangeably with Cher ordering the greasy high school boys to ‘clean up, already!’ and Belle answering the Beast with ‘As if!’)

9) Neither are at all responsible when it comes to the practical things in life. (Cher’s driving, Belle’s failure to keep track of the key or to return on time.)

10) When they feel guilty, they both play sick. (Cher saying she’s physically unwell because her masseuse said she had a lot of tension after the encounter with Elton.  Belle lying in bed claiming illness from worry over her father while wearing a freaking crown-and-veil combo!)

The more I think about it the more this version of Beauty and the Beast seems like Emma-where the person you end up with is that one who’s been around, getting under your skin for ages.  Only the more modern tale made the male’s righteousness idealistic instead of arrogant or creepy.  (Can we talk about how absurd it is to hug someone to your chest by pulling an arrow across them?  I know I can’t, I can only stare agog.  Avenant is totally the Elton of the fairy tale universe.)  The other major difference is, of course, the posing.  The French classic takes posing literally and extremely seriously.  The Austen modernization interprets it more loosely as projecting a certain lifestyle over yourself.  So much else seems the same-a magic mirror would probably work exactly the same as the phone connection between Cher and Dionne.  Amber dressing in the same clothes as Cher effects her just the way Belle’s sister reacted to seeing herself reflected as a monkey.  Cher’s computerized clothing system and moving closet is akin to being dressed by invisible hands-though thankfully Cher has nothing as creepy as Belle’s moving blankets.  Belle’s feeling of power that the beast drinks from her hands, in spite of how clearly the event pales compared to his wild-animal instincts, is akin to Cher’s entitlement when she calls Josh to rescue her after being abandoned by Elton.  She assumes he will come when she calls, even though he has no real motivation.  Josh’s interest in the law and therefore Cher’s circle due to his own parents’ disinterest in him could arguably be akin to the Beast getting pushed into magic due to his parents’ angering of the spirits.  Now, if only I can figure out how this connection can explain the flying at the end of La Belle and Le Bete…

Belle is “a strange girl.”  On the other hand, Emma/Cher actually end up with their brother-types, instead of just getting stuck with someone in their body (though I’m sure the symbolism there means more in its lesson to girls about who the best man to end up with is).  In any event, it all ends with a big kiss frightfully soon after the switch from brother-type to suitor is made.    In really frilly clothes.  Because the girl will “get used to” the man telling her how to think and act, whether he’s a beast, prince, or college kid.  Because clearly, the man must know what is best for the woman.  Perhaps because he has the power of movement: Josh can drive.  The beast had all sorts of transportation devices.  That must be why he can fly at the end!  To show that in spite of losing his magical objects, he still has the power to move, to make his way in the world.  That is why he’s still acceptable-even if he’s a bit too familiar, Belle won’t be stuck in the same place again.  (Avenant offering to take Belle away didn’t work because he had no magic/power to back it up.  The man had no driver’s license!)

Well…smoke my statues’ faces and send myself flowers and chocolates: I know why the ex-beast can fly!  Now…why did the father seem more upset about riding through fog than the fact that he just lost his entire fortune?