The Epic of Gilgamesh… and how it was boring the sh*t outta me.

After putting it off since, oh I dunno, like FOREVER, I finally purchased a copy and decided to tackle this. One of my reading projects is reading chronologically through the ages (more about that in another post) and what better way to start than with the oldest known epic.

If you are unfamiliar with what this is about, here is a brief synopsis:

*contains some spoilers if you’ve never heard of the story*

The city of Uruk is the self proclaimed most badass city in the world ruled by the handsomest, strongest, bravest guy in the world… Gilgamesh. He’s two thirds divine and also a bit of a douche so the citizens cry out to the gods for relief who respond by creating a rival for Gilgamesh. This rival, called Enkidu, is a wild man who lives out in the wilderness with the animals. Stuff happens and so a temple prostitute is sent out to the wilderness to civilize this guy. We then get an account of how Enkidu is such a man that he has sex with this woman for 7 days and 6 nights straight and suddenly he’s civilized and goes back to the city with her. He decides to fight Gilgamesh and the two decide they should become besties (obviously). They then decide to go wreck shit up in the Cedar forests of Lebanon. Later they get into a shouting match with the goddess Ishtar which culminates with Enkidu launching the thigh of the bull of heaven into Ishtar’s face (yes you read that correctly). Obviously Enkidu needs to die for that disrespect and Gilgamesh is inconsolable. He decides to go on yet more adventures to try and find a way around death and seeks out Utnapishtim, the Noah character of the Sumerian flood story. This ends up not working how he planned and eventually Gilgamesh learns that death is inevitable and so he decides to go back and rule his city that he abandoned.

My thoughts:

I have to point out that I didn’t do a lot of research before beginning this and so I picked up a copy without verifying the version (total rookie mistake). Being such an old story, there are many different versions of it recorded on stone tablets in languages ranging from Akkadian to Babylonian. I knew a little background of the story before reading so I was somewhat bewildered when I started reading and whole sections of the text were missing. Not only is it an ancient text with nothing I can relate to, it was also missing large chunks of the story (see below) and there were long sections where I wasn’t sure what was happening. Needless to say I started getting bored and put it away for days at a time.

Determined to get through it, I bought the audiobook… and LOVED it. Because I purchased the audiobook of the ancient Babylonian version there were fewer gaps and it flowed so smoothly and George Guidall as a narrator is on point. I was able to follow along for the most part with my paperback and the experience went from boring to thoroughly entertaining.

The story itself is difficult to critique. This is a piece of literature that is thousands of years old, so while I cannot stand Gilgamesh, I understand that to an ancient he probably had impressive qualities. I also realize that I probably do not appreciate it for the reasons I should. I was amused and entertained when a contemporary of the work would have been awed and impressed. There were adventures galore but I found myself giggling a lot because Gilgamesh was super extra and a lot of the dialogue amused me.

All in all, I do think the book ended on a serious note and focusing on a solemn theme and I do think there were a lot of adventures but I could not stand any of the characters. I am glad I’ve read this and I would love to hear other people’s opinions of it so please tell me if you loved or hated this.

Advertisements

Last Year in Books

One of my favorite things about the end of one year and the beginning of another is reading people’s posts about what they accomplished and what they plan to accomplish upcoming year. When it comes to books, I genuinely believe that reading even one book a year is something to be proud of in a day and age where a large percentage of society picks up Zero books per year. That being said, I am so happy with how my 2018 reading goals were accomplished, not because of the number, but because I enjoyed myself and I exceeded my goal without panicking and reading books I didn’t want to read.

I love tracking my books read both on Goodreads and in my reading journal. This not only gives me a nice boost to my ego every time I look at it 😉 but it also allows me to further analyze my reading habits by seeing what genres I read the most of and what I’m NOT reading. So breaking it down by category, in 2018 I read:

  • Nonfiction: 2
  • Mystery: 11
  • Classics: 17
  • Middle Grade: 7
  • Fantasy: 29
  • Romance: 8
  • Science fiction: 3

Of these books, 3 were audiobooks. I also found it interesting that I read through 3 series.

The first thing that jumps out at me when looking at this breakdown is how few nonfiction I read. I was actually a little disappointed with myself at first and then I gave myself a little pep talk. I mean I read 87 books, and of those, 17 were classics. 17 classics, most of which apply towards my 5 Year (60 book) Classics Reading Challenge. So when I look at it like that I become very proud of myself. I had a great reading year because I enjoyed most of what I read and I made a sizable dent in my Classics challenge.

So although I do have reading resolutions and things I’d like to change in my reading life this year, I can look back on this past year and smile… and I hope all of you are doing the same in regards to your Reading lives! Happy New Year…

The Classics Club 50 Question Survey

1 Share a link to your club list.

My list.

2 When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club? (We are SO CHECKING UP ON YOU! Nah. We’re just asking.) 

August 2017 and I have read 17 so far.

3 What are you currently reading?

Wuthering Heights

4 What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it?

Just reread Dracula and loved it just as much as before.

5 What are you reading next? Why?

Brave New World.  I’m in a dystopian kind of a mood and I always hear about this book in conjunction with 1984 so we will see.

6 Best book you’ve read so far with the club, and why?

I’d say it’s a toss up between North and South and Dracula.

7 Book you most anticipate (or, anticipated) on your club list?

Anything by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

8 Book on your club list you’ve been avoiding, if any? Why?

Moby Dick. Because I just can’t. I have started this book three or four times and have always ended with me quietly closing the book and placing it back on the shelf.

9 First classic you ever read?

And Then There were None.

10 Toughest classic you ever read?

I had a hard time with Villette because it felt long and I couldn’t identify with any of the characters.

11 Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?

Madame Bovary made me angry and though I understood her frustration a little, I wanted to smack her around a little.

12 Longest classic you’ve read? Longest classic left on your club list?

War and Peace is probably the longest and The Tale of Genji is probably the biggest I haven’t read yet.

13 Oldest classic you’ve read? Oldest classic left on your club list?

Utopia is the oldest I’ve read to completion but I have read parts of works by Plato and other Greek works.

14 Favorite biography about a classic author you’ve read — or, the biography on a classic author you most want to read, if any?

My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass. I was blown away.  It read like a fiction novel rather than an autobiography.  It was excellent.

15 Which classic do you think EVERYONE should read? Why?

1984.  Really makes you think about what it would take to get to that point.

16 Favorite edition of a classic you own, if any?

I own a beautiful copy of The Tale of Genji, the collected works of Jane Austen, and my pop up version of Alice in Wonderland.

17 Favorite movie adaption of a classic?

The most recent adaptation of And Then There Were None.

18 Classic which hasn’t been adapted yet (that you know of) which you very much wish would be adapted to film.

The Shuttle.

19 Least favorite classic? Why?

So far, I’d have to say The Dumbhouse.  I get the whole trying to make you think, but I have a hard time reading about cruelty to children or animals and this one had both.

20 Name five authors you haven’t read yet whom you cannot wait to read.

Lady Muraski

Edith Hamilton

Emily Bronte (currently reading)

21 Which title by one of the five you’ve listed above most excites you and why?

I’m excited to finish Wuthering Heights because I wasn’t enjoying it at first but I’m starting to really enjoy it and I have heard about this book for years.

22 Have you read a classic you disliked on first read that you tried again and respected, appreciated, or even ended up loving? (This could be with the club or before it.)

Pride and Prejudice. I was not as familiar with the culture and language when I first read it and now I love it and frequently read regency and Victorian literature.

23 Which classic character can’t you get out of your head?

Frankenstein’s monster.

24 Which classic character most reminds you of yourself?

I really identified with Anna Karenina when my first marriage failed.

25 Which classic character do you most wish you could be like?

26 Which classic character reminds you of your best friend?

Merry from Lord of the Rings. She’s cheerful and carefree.

27 If a sudden announcement was made that 500 more pages had been discovered after the original “THE END” on a classic title you read and loved, which title would you most want to keep reading? Or, would you avoid the augmented manuscript in favor of the original? Why?

Lord of the Rings. Hands down.

28 Favorite children’s classic?

ANYTHING by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I loooooove all of her children’s lit.

29 Who recommended your first classic?

Nobody really.  I just wanted to read more difficult books and picked up Pride and Prejudice when they released one of the movie adaptations.

30 Whose advice do you always take when it comes to literature. (Recommends the right editions, suggests great titles, etc.)

There are a few people on Booktube who I tend to listen to because they have similar tastes as me.

31 Favorite memory with a classic?

Relaxing with my newborn in my arms and reading through all the Frances Hodgson Burnett children’s classics.

32 Classic author you’ve read the most works by?

Agatha Christie, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Jane Austen.

33 Classic author who has the most works on your club list?

Probably Frances Hodgson Burnett.

34 Classic author you own the most books by?

Agatha Christie.  See my Agatha Christie Collection.

35 Classic title(s) that didn’t make it to your club list that you wish you’d included? (Or, since many people edit their lists as they go, which titles have you added since initially posting your club list?) 

I added My Cousin Rachel because I found a copy of it and wanted to read it.

36 If you could explore one author’s literary career from first publication to last — meaning you have never read this author and want to explore him or her by reading what s/he wrote in order of publication — who would you explore? Obviously this should be an author you haven’t yet read, since you can’t do this experiment on an author you’re already familiar with.  Or, which author’s work you are familiar with might it have been fun to approach this way?

I am sort of doing this right now with the Project Poirot that I’m participating in.  Reading all of her Poirot books in order.  It has been interesting to see how Christie’s handling of characters and plot progresses.

37 How many rereads are on your club list? If none, why? If some, which are you most looking forward to, or did you most enjoy?

There are four re reads on my list. I have already re read Dracula but I am very excited to re read Persuasion and War and Peace.

38 Has there been a classic title you simply could not finish?

Moby Dick has been like this for me but I intend to get through it before this challenge is over.

39 Has there been a classic title you expected to dislike and ended up loving?

Dracula. With all the cheesy movie adaptations I expected the worst and it ended up being one of my all time faves.

40 Five things you’re looking forward to next year in classic literature?

Reading more nonfiction and translations from eastern literature.

41 Classic you are DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?

Mythology by Edith Hamilton.

42 Classic you are NOT GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?

This one depends on my mood.

43 Favorite thing about being a member of the Classics Club?

Finding titles I’ve never heard of and sharing a love of classic literature.

44 List five fellow clubbers whose blogs you frequent. What makes you love their blogs?

I will have to come back to this question later because I haven’t really come across many.

45 Favorite post you’ve read by a fellow clubber? See above.

46 If you’ve ever participated in a readalong on a classic, tell about the experience? If you’ve participated in more than one, what’s the very best experience? the best title you’ve completed? a fond memory? a good friend made?

I began a readalong of Crime and Punishment with my cousin and it didn’t work out the way I’d like because he didn’t read at the same pace as I did and it wasn’t a priority the way it was for me.  We ended up finally having a little discussion about it long after I had finished the book.

47 If you could appeal for a readalong with others for any classic title, which title would you name? Why?

Moby Dick so I have to finish and because other people’s thoughts might help me to see the book from a different perspective and be more inclined to finish.

48 How long have you been reading classic literature?

Off and on since I was 13.

49 Share up to five posts you’ve written that tell a bit about your reading story. Reviews, journal entries, posts on novels you loved or didn’t love, lists, etc.

War of the Worlds: My thoughts

Messy bookshelves

A Dr Seuss birthday

You force your toddler to read?? In which Nicky rants… just a bit.

Back to the Classics 2018

50 Question you wish was on this questionnaire? (Ask and answer it!)

How has Reading classics affected your life?

I think I am more aware of the world around me. When I’m in certain situations, I might think “wow, this is just like in insert book title here!” I feel like I have a better appreciation for different human natures and let’s face it, my vocabulary is fabulous now. 😉

The most disturbing book I’ve read this year…so far

Hello fellow readers. Today I wanted to discuss a book that really disturbed me. I am still gathering my thoughts and I am unsure as to whether I liked or hated this book. The book in question is… the Dumb House by John Burnside.

A brief synopsis:

Young Luke is fascinated with the secrets of the human soul and how it relates to human language. He becomes obsessed with a story his mother told him as a child about the Dumb House, a palace where children were raised in complete seclusion and never hearing human speech. He decided to conduct his own experiment with children and creates his own version of the Dumb House.

My thoughts:

The book is told from Luke’s perspective and I have to say that it was very disturbing to be inside the mind of a psychopath. The book opens where it eventually ends and we go back into Luke’s childhood and his relationship with his parents. From the onset it is very apparent that his family environment is unhealthy. Without over analyzing, I saw that he was governed completely by his mother who haunts the rest of the story. His relationship with his father is almost nonexistent. As he grows older, his twisted tendencies go unchecked (you might even say that they were encouraged) and he takes it upon himself to begin experimenting on animals seeking answers about life and the question of where soul comes into play. His later relationships with other characters are twisted and when he performs his biggest “experiment” I was appalled.

As a human and especially as a mother I was completely disgusted and uncomfortable throughout the whole book. I found certain parts very difficult to read.

The writing was excellent. The sentence structure and language were well done and narrating the book from Luke’s thoughts were a great way to present such disturbing content. I was inside his mind the entire time and I was uncomfortable even while I kept reading. Beginning the book at the end and then working from his childhood to the end was probably the best way this story could have been told. While I would consider it a psychological thriller, it is not the quickest paced book out there. Nevertheless, even with the disturbing content and relatively slow pace, I found myself turning pages wanting to know what happened next and hoping it wouldn’t get any worse. It did.

All in all I found it to be disturbingly interesting though I probably won’t read this again. This is not a book I’d recommend to everyone but if you are looking for something disturbing to read that isn’t as gory as some other more horror type books than this might be worth your time (though I’d recommend checking out my warning below).

Warning ⚠️

This books contains elements of child abuse, possible child molestation, rape, exploiting of mental illness, and cruelty to animals.

If you’ve read this book please tell me what you thought. I’m still gathering my thoughts and can’t tell how I’d rate it but I’d love to discuss with someone.

Creepy (but not too creepy) books for fall…the classics

Greetings fellow readers! I am beyond excited we recently said goodbye to summer and hello to fall. Even though I typically veer towards gothic reads, I am still a mood reader but fall always tends to put me in an even more gothic mood than usual so I find myself reading a lot of more melancholy books this time of year. So today I thought I’d discuss some books that are creepy enough for this time of year but are considered classic literature.  Being the fan of Gothic fiction that I am, this is right up my alley and I had a lot of fun coming up with classic titles that embody the eery atmosphere that we all like to come across in books during this time of year.

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker

I love the format of this book and it remains one of my favorite books of all time.

2. Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

Melancholy and full of suspense. The setting and the suspense make this story a great fall read.

3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I have a love/hate relationship with this one. Dr. Frankenstein is a character I want to reach through the pages and shake some sense into but it is fascinating and has very creepy parts.

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Another all time favorite. Typical gothic fiction complete with mansion, brooding man and young female heroine.

5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The book that kindled my love for Agatha Christie and scared the pants off 13 year old me.

6. 1984 by George Orwell

The paranoia in this book makes it terrifying. Definitely enjoyed this.

7. In a Closed Room by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Nothing at all like her other works (which I love). This one has ghosts and children. Spooky and sad.

8. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe

I am still reading this one but definitely worthy of being on this list.

9. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

You can’t get much more gothic and suspenseful than this book. A worthy classic that I loved.

10. Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell

I am currently reading and enjoying so far. This is a collection of shorter stories that are all creepy in a different way.

So that’s it. I decided to keep this shorter because I could have kept going on and on. If you have any creepy classics you think I should try please recommend them to me!

Gothic Book Tag

Greetings, all! While I will read a little of everything, my love has always been Gothic Fiction (and fantasy).  For years I devoured gothic type books without even realizing there was a Gothic sub genre beneath the all encompassing “fiction” genre.  I’ve always been drawn to brooding and moody period pieces (Probably the reason Dracula and Jane Eyre are two of my favorite books of all time) As a teenager I read Agatha Christie and read and reread every book Victoria Holt ever wrote under that pen name (her gothic historical fiction pen name) When I noticed a lot of recent activity in the Classics Club (games and tags) I was excited and when I came across the Gothic Book tag, naturally I was over the moon. So without further ado, here is the Gothic Book Tag:

1. Which classic book has scared you the most? 

This is hard because two books immediately come to mind.  In 1984, Orwell masterfully set the scene with intense paranoia and it really stuck with me. In And Then There Were None, there was a growing sense of dread that really affected me as a 13 year old reading it for the first time and I’m just as spooked every time I reread it.

2. Scariest moment in a book?

Again, I have two.  The final scene in And Then There Were None with Vera and the moment when the Martians start using their tripod looking machines in War of the Worlds.

3. Classic villain that you love to hate?

Dr. Frankenstein.  It is unclear whether he is the protagonist or the villain but I really feel that he brought all of the trouble on himself and I was so angry at him every time he interacted with his creature.

4. Creepiest setting in a book? 

It’s hard to beat Hell from Dante’s Inferno.  There are some really terrible images. There is also the lonely island in And Then There Were None.  The Jamaica Inn was definitely creepy and so was the castle in Dracula.

5. Best scary cover ever?

I used to own an illustrated copy of The Inferno that had a painting of people being tormented in hell but alas, I misplaced it years ago.

6. Book you’re too scared to read?

Might not be a “classic” but the book It by Stephen King is a little above my scary threshold. Plus I tend to like moodier stories as opposed to gory, violent books.

7. Spookiest creature in a book?

I find the tripod things in War of the Worlds extremely spooky.

8. Classic book that haunts you to this day?

Frankenstein because I’m still bitter about the way he behaved towards his creation.

9. Favourite cliffhanger or unexpected twist?

The whodunit in, yes you guessed it, And Then There Were None.

10. Classic book you really, really disliked?

I mildly disliked Villette but mainly because of the ending.  I also disliked My Cousin Rachel.

11. Character death that disturbed/upset you the most?

Dr. Frankenstein’s wife and family

12. List your top 5 Gothic/scary/horror classic reads.

  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  • Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt

13. Share your scariest/creepiest quote, poem or meme.

I’m going to cheat here and say the entire Tell Tale Heart.

I had a ton of fun answering these questions.  I realize Gothic fic isn’t for everyone but there’s something about it I just love.  I hope you enjoyed this post and if you aren’t a member already I hope you go check out The Classics Club.

You can find my Classics List here.

Tolkien Blog Party 2018

As if I needed an excuse to have a celebratory second breakfast this morning, today is the birthday of the Shire’s two most famous hobbits.  I mean, when two of your favorite characters in all of literature have a birthday on the SAME DAY, it would just be rude and disrespectful to refuse second breakfast.

But second breakfasts aside, I was reading the comments on a post in the Classics Club blog and came across Hamlette.  When she mentioned that she would be hosting her 6th annual Tolkien Blog Party from September 22-29, I knew I had to participate.  She will have posts running all week and she created this tag as a way for the rest of us to participate. So without further ado, here’s a Tolkien tag!

Tolkien Tag 2018

1.  What’s your favorite Middle-earth story/book?  My favorite has to be the Fellowship of the Ring.  There is so much going on and I love every freaking page.

2.  Do you have a favorite subplot?
I absolutely love the Tom Bombadil scenes and the Ent scenes. (I also adore how the friendship between Legolas and Gimli progresses)

3.  What’s your favorite theme in Tolkien’s books?  (Can be in one specific story, or overall.)
I love the element of friendship and solidarity.  Everyone plays a part and they work together to defeat evil.

4.  Do you have a favorite weapon from Middle-earth?
I wouldn’t mind having Sting the next time I get tossed into a group of Orcs.

5.  Would you like to be a hobbit?
I think I have been living as a hobbit for my entire life.

6.  Do you have a favorite romance/couple?
I’m a fan of the Aragorn/Arwen romance, but I really hope Treebeard finds his lady Ent.

7.  What’s your favorite Middle-earth creature?  (Can be “real” or “imaginary.”)
Ents! With Elves as a close second.

8.  What character do you look the most like?
Well, I’m short with brown hair and I enjoy the above mentioned second breakfast, so I’ll have to go with any of the hobbits.

9.  Are there any books about Middle-earth or Professor Tolkien (but not written by him) you recommend?
I have this awesome illustrated Guide to Tolkien by David Day that I would recommend.

10.  List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotations from the Middle-earth books and/or movies. 

“It’s the job that’s never started as takes the longest to finish” -Sam

“Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised” -Aragorn

I am so excited to get to participate in Bilbo and Frodo’s Blog party.  I have been a fan of Tolkien for years now and I never get tired of rereading the books or talking about the books.

If you are a Tolkien fan, I would recommend checking out Hamlette’s blog party!

Tolkien Party Hobbit Hole 2018