October Reads

As Autumn rolls in at full strength and everything gets colder, it’s nice to curl up with a book.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
The second book in the MaddAddam trilogy is a brilliant book that explores a corrupt and violent world within the limits of our own. The science and captailist corps are close enough to our reality that it makes you uncomfortable. With Ren and Toby as the narrators, we gain a view of the world from the dance clubs, Secretburgers and Gods Garderners; all levels of this broken society. The gene slicing, animal and human experimentation and mass extinction help pull the reader into a world that is not quite science fiction. The book almost seems like a warning, as the book engages the reader in a world we wish no connection to.
The Dead by James Joyce
The commentary on Irish politics through Joyce’s prediction of what his life would have been like if he had stayed in Ireland is a short story that reveals more and more layers with each reading. On first impression the reader might just take the events of the party and those between Gabriel and Gretta to be simple, but Joyce cleverly explores through subtly a range of themes. As the weather starts turning The Dead is a great short story to read on a chilly afternoon.
The Piers Falls by Mark Haddon
After attending an event that involved Mark Haddon in conversation, I brought the book and tore through the short stories that in turn tore through me. Each story is brutal in itself and even he pointed out that there is a death in all but the last. Opening with a story about the collapse of Brighton Pier and aftermath of tragedy, the reader is pulled into the book and is forced to watch tragedy and chaos throughout the stories. It feels like watching a car crash and probably isn’t the best thing to read before bed if you’re wanting to go to sleep easily.
Dubliners by James Joyce 
After reading The Dead on its own, I brought the whole collection. The collection captures life in Dublin wonderfully and the bare bones of humanity in it’s characters. The stories may lack climax but all being a revelation to the characters in Joyce’s classic style. It’s a good collection to read that covers a range of stories and themes. The stories are the perfect length to read inbetween tasks to make the day more interesting.

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June Reads

As the days get longer and warmer, the summer days that invite you to lie in the sun with a book are more and more regular luckily.

Space Odyssey 2001 by Arthur C. Clarke
The narrative of the journey of the discovery one on its journey to Saturn. The vivid descriptions of space as the planets and moons pass by help show the beauty of space. Further the mystery and action drive the plot forward as the reader tries to solve how mankind, alien and machine all link together in the great stage of time and space.
My side of the mountain by Jean Craighead George
The sweet story allows the reader to run away to the mountains and survive in the wilderness. The children’s book is considered a modern classic and it is filled with beautiful drawings and animals that surround Sam. Jean Craighead George creates a childish desire to explore the world and test survival in the reader that I have not discovered in any other book.

May Reads

Unfortunately with exams looming and starting it’s hard time to find time to read, but it is a great way to relax from stress.

Atonement by Ian McEwan
The metafiction novel has a narrative that switches among the characters to highlight themes of unreliable narrative and perspective. Starting on the hottest day of the year, in the shade of the approaching war, tensions rise and lead to two crimes that shape everyone’s lives forever.

The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal
The mournful narrative of longing and unknown or hidden desire sweeps you up in the world of Jim. He’s a drifter who is trying to chase one day from long ago, travelling everywhere searching for something that even he can’t identify. With the pressure and secretary of the time period shapping Jim’s experiences as he has affairs with actors and writers whilst trying to copy the lingering attraction he felt to Bob years ago.

Mythology and Literature: Melpomene

Melpomene was the one of the nine Greek muses, and the Muse of Tragedy. Muses were goddesses of music, song, and dance. She is often portrayed with a tragedy mask and a sword. Melpomene’s name means to celebrate with song. As part of Aristotle’s traditional definition of Tragedy, Aristotle talks about the important of song and music within a tragedy as the the chorus should contribute to the overall play and should link the other factors. So in traditional plays tragedies such as Oedipus Rex, there is a chorus but song and music feature in tragedies since then. In Othello, Desdemona sings a song that reflects and foreshadows her own situation called Willow willow, acting herself like a greek chorus:

Take this for my farewell and latest adieu, 
Write this on my tomb, that in love I was true… 

Melpomene features in the Disney movie Hercules as part of the chorus.

MelpomeneLouvre

Mythology and Literature: Lamia

In Ancient Greek mythology, Lamia is a child-eating daemon. She was the daughter of Poseidon, and a queen loved by Zeus. When Zeus’s wife, Hera grew jealous, and accounts vary, saying that she either killed all of Lamia’s children or stole them away. Lamia is driven mad and is transformed into a monster by devouring other children in revenge.

waterhouse_lamia_knight_1905

Lamia was the influence of the poem by John Keats, entitled Lamia. In the poem there is no mention of Lamia being a children-eating monster, rather she is trapped in the form of a snake with a woman’s mouth and human teeth. Lamia desires to have the form of a woman and manages to become human through a deal with Hermes. The only possible link is that it is never explained why Lamia is in the form of snake, so Keats could be implying she is there in punishment for eating children.