A something in a summer’s day

Featured imageSo, it has been a while since I last posted a blog. I have been crazy busy the last few days – especially since this was already the last week of lectures before summer, and I had to (and still have to) write my final papers. Luckily, I almost finished them! I’m planning on writing a lot of blogs this weekend, but I didn’t wanna wait that long. So, I thought I’d write a short one for now, and just share a poem I really like. 

The weather is really great right now here in the Netherlands, which made me think of a famous poem by Emily Dickinson. I love this poem, it is a beautiful ode to the summer and the wonderful days that come with it. 

A SOMETHING IN A SUMMER'S DAY BY EMILY DICKINSON

A something in a summer's day,
As slow her flambeaux burn away,
Which solemnizes me.

A something in a summer's noon, —
An azure depth, a wordless tune,
Transcending ecstasy.

And still within a summer's night
A something so transporting bright,
I clap my hands to see;

Then veil my too inspecting face,
Lest such a subtle, shimmering grace
Flutter too far for me.

The wizard-fingers never rest,
The purple brook within the breast
Still chafes its narrow bed;

Still rears the East her amber flag,
Guides still the sun along the crag
His caravan of red,

Like flowers that heard the tale of dews,
But never deemed the dripping prize
Awaited their low brows;

Or bees, that thought the summer's name
Some rumor of delirium
No summer could for them;

Or Arctic creature, dimly stirred
By tropic hint, — some travelled bird
Imported to the wood;

Or wind's bright signal to the ear,
Making that homely and severe,
Contented, known, before

The heaven unexpected came,
To lives that thought their worshipping
A too presumptuous psalm.
A something in a summer’s day

Poor – narcissistic – mindset

Featured imageLast weekend, I was rereading Anna Karenina by Tolstoy – which is one of my favorite classic novels, I just can’t get enough of it!-, when I found myself rereading one particular line multiple times. This line seemed to summarize exactly what I was thinking about lately: people on social media who brag about their many “good deeds”. I don’t know exactly why, but it makes me furious.

I love the fact that a lot of people try to do something good for others, but please do it for the right reasons! I just feel like a lot of people do this to feel good about themselves. Still happy they do help other people with their narcissism. Nevertheless I cannot help but feel a little irritated when I see a lot of glorifying comments on their “good deeds”-statuses on social media. This feeling got a lot stronger when I heard the following story from my best friend. It does not have do something to do with “good deeds” in particular, but it does underline exactly what I mean.

My best friend went on a trip to Thailand and Vietnam. She was traveling with a group of people when they met a girl who was backpacking on her own. I think they only saw her for a day, but all the girl did was ask everyone to take pictures of her – the entire time!- . At some point, the group – and the girl – arrived at a place where some (poor) kids were playing. The girl asked my friend (or someone else of the group, not sure) to take a picture. When someone agreed the girl went on, grabbed a kid, smiled for the picture, put the kid down without saying a word and left. I don’t know if it’s just me (well, it was not, because my friend was also stunned by this), but I could not believe this. I mean, how does this even come to a person? This is not normal. Those kids are human beings, like you and me. It was not hard for me to imagine her social media status about “how fun it was to play with those kids” and how “she made them smile” (I also see that kind of pictures a lot).

I don’t think this story exactly applies to the Anna Karenina quote I wanted to share (I will never know for sure if she did post the picture with the kids on social media), but it does embody what I mean about the people on social media I was talking about. Also, I felt like I just had to share this story. It is horrible. So, everyone, please:

“It’s much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it”

– Leo Tolstoy

On the bright side: Anna Karenina is a wonderful novel and it contains many beautiful quotes. I would recommend it to everyone who has not read it yet. Also, still happy a lot of good is done out of a poor – narcissistic – mindset. 

Poor – narcissistic – mindset

This one got me a little scared.

I knowFeatured image I am reading a good book when I go to sleep way too late because I could not put the book down. Well, that was definitely the case with The Shepherd by Ethan Cross. Although, half of the time it was not just because I could not stop reading: I WAS AFRAID. I am a little ashamed to admit it, but yes, I was scared. 

In this book we meet Francis Ackerman Jr., a serial killer who claims to give his victims a “fair chance”: he plays a game with them. Whoever wins, lives. Readers will get a look in the mind of a serial-killer (I really liked this, because most of the thriller/crime books I read are from the perspective of a policeman or a victim). While Ackerman is enjoying himself with a murder here and there, former police detective Marcus Williams just arrived at his new residence Asherton. At the same time, Asherton’s sheriff and his deputy’s are looking for Ackerman. The game truly begins when Marcus William’s neighbor gets murdered: Marcus gets into Ackerman’s sight and he sees in him his counterpart. Meanwhile, the sheriff and his deputy’s are also doing suspicious things: let the game begin!

So, I just confessed this book got me afraid. Let me explain why: the passages in which the murder-games by Ackerman are described are pretty terrifying! This book gave me a Jigsaw meets Dexter vibe – which is a good thing, saw had potential (one movie would have been enough though) and I love Dexter -. While reading I was sure I was not safe at my own home and that I would find myself playing a game with Ackerman any minute. Luckily for me, that did not happen. The fact that it got me afraid means I liked it. I like to get scared, so for me it’s a good sign.

The only thing I was a little disappointed by is that the narrative shifts between Ackerman, Marcus and the sheriff. It’s not that I did not like reading the other narratives (I did!), I was just hoping to read more about Ackerman’s murder-games. What follows is a game of cat and mouse between the three man. Just don’t expect The Shepherd to be just about a serial killers mind (which was what I expected beforehand). Also, the ending is pretty exciting!

This is just the first part of The Shepherd – Series, and I am definitely going to read the next one!

Also, this book first got my attention because of its cover, which is really awesome (see featured image). I did read it in dutch (in dutch its called ‘Ik ben de nacht’, which can be literally translated into: ‘I am the night’) so I guess not everyone has seen this version.

This one got me a little scared.

I wandered lonely as a cloud

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I recently read Jamaica Kincaid’s novel Lucy. I really liked the novel and also the fact that the poem ‘Daffodils’ by William Wordsworth is mentioned in it  -although the character of Lucy in the novel hates the poem-. I love Wordsworth’s work. So, I thought I might as-well share this particular poem. Also, I would recommend Lucy to anyone who likes to read the cosmopolitan, au pair-narrative kind of literature (in short, the novel is about a teenage girl who moves from the West Indies to the United States to work as an au pair).  

The poem is best known as ‘Daffodils’ but it was officially published as ‘I Wandered lonely as a cloud’. Wordsworth altered the poem multiple times -probably reflecting his own life and mind at that time- , this (final) version was published in 1815.

 I wandered lonely as a Cloud
   That floats on high o'er vales and Hills,
 When all at once I saw a crowd,
   A host, of golden Daffodils;
 Beside the Lake, beneath the trees,
 Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 Continuous as the stars that shine
   And twinkle on the milky way,
 They stretched in never-ending line
   Along the margin of a bay:
 Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
 Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

 The waves beside them danced; but they
   Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
 A Poet could not but be gay
   In such a jocund company:
 I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
 What wealth the show to me had brought:

 For oft when on my couch I lie
   In vacant or in pensive mood,
 They flash upon that inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude,
 And then my heart with pleasure fills,
 And dances with the Daffodils.
I wandered lonely as a cloud

5 Fictional characters I would definitely want to know in real-life.

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Sometimes a book is that great, it makes me feel like the characters in it are ‘real’. Like I know them personally. As if these characters are close friends of mine. I am sure this is something many of you can relate to. I also think this is one of those things that determines whether I like a particular book, or not.  These are five of the – many – fictional characters I would love to know in real-life:

1. Sancho Panza – Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes  

This man acts as a squire to Don Quixote. He is loyal, realistic and funny: the perfect sidekick. I would definitely want him as my companion on some weird road trip!

2. Gandalf the Grey – Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien 

I have so many reasons for this one. But mostly just because I think he is the wisest man in literature. I need someone that wise in my life. Just imagine being stressed out about some deadlines when suddenly Gandalf appears, being all wise: “All we need to do decide is what to do with the time that is given to us”. I am sure everything would seem a lot easier after that!

3. Lizzie Bennett – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

To me, she is one of the smartest and strongest women in literature. I think she is a great roll model, especially in her time (if I remember correct the novel is set around the year 1700). I would be proud to have her as a friend!

4. Ron Weasley – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling 

Ron is another great sidekick he is loyal and funny as well. He is also really afraid of spiders, which is a big plus to me. I hate spiders more than anything else and it would be great to have a friend who fears them even more than I do.

5. Lisbeth Salander – Millennium series by Stieg Larsson    

First of all, who doesn’t want to have a female friend who is that good in hacking computers? That would be one of the coolest things! Second, she is cool, strong and fierce. Would not want to get in a fight with her!

I am really curious about the fictional characters you guys would like to know in real life! I am sure I missed a lot of characters who are really worth mentioning! 

5 Fictional characters I would definitely want to know in real-life.

As if a novel had to be about only one thing.

I rFeatured imageecently read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – which I consider to be one of the best novels I have read in while. Also, I would totally recommend this novel to anyone who likes to read about race, immigration, racism and -also, yes!- love. While reading, I stumbled upon a lot of quotes I would like to share. I still have to list them all and I soon will, but I would like to share this one quote in advance. This is so true, yet sometimes so hard to explain. Thanks to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I now have a quote ready when someone ‘pops the question’: 

“Why did people ask “What is it about?” As if a novel had to be about only one thing.” 

As if a novel had to be about only one thing.

I considered myself well-nigh a second Columbus

Featured imageA while ago I started reading the classic Reveries of a Solitary Walker by french writer and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In this ‘reverie’ Rousseau describes how he left society to try to find himself in nature. It was one of those works of which I was not sure if I would like it. It turns out, I loved it. It is definitely a book I would recommend, because it is both as funny as it is sad. So, I thought I’d share one of the many great parts of this work. 

This particular part is from the seventh walk (instead of chapters, this work is divided into ‘walks’), in which Rousseau is on a botanical expedition on the hillside of a Swiss mountain, where he finds all kinds of plants. During this expedition he is daydreaming about the place being unknown to the whole universe, he is so sure he makes the following comparison:

“’Doubtless I am the first mortal to set foot in this place.’ I considered myself well-nigh a second Columbus.”

Unfortunately, this state of mind is interrupted by a familiar noise:

“Surprised and intrigued, I got up, pushed through a thicket of undergrowth in the direction of the noise, and in a hollow twenty yards from the very place where I had thought to be the first person to tread, I saw a stocking mill.”

This made me kind of sad, because the ‘Columbus’ part made me laugh: I could really See Rousseau walking happily through the mountains, pretending to be the next Columbus. But the second part clearly showed how hard it might be to escape from (modern) society. Here he finds himself in a perfect state of solitude: to be interfered by a stocking mill.

I considered myself well-nigh a second Columbus

An ode to R.L. Stine and J.K. Rowling: childhood nightmares and dreams

I am convinced dreams are as important as nightmares. Although dreams are more preferable, I think we do need an occasional nightmare for our dreams to remain valuFeatured imageable. When I was about eight years old I discovered both R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series as well as the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: both scared the hell out of me (although the fear I got from Goosebumps was on a whole other level, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named appeared in many of my nightmares as well). Nevertheless I am also very grateful to have read both as a kid. 

First, I would like to thank R.L. Stine for starting my endless love for the genre called horror, no doubt it started with his Goosebumps (and later on, Fear Street). I have read them all, and every single one of them gave me nightmares and numerous midnight cries. My parents always wondered why I kept reading them (luckily they never took the books away from me), and I myself do not have a clue either, except for the fact that they are also just a very good read. And still, I do this to myself: I know I get scared by scary stories, but I read (and watch horror movies) all the time. Recently, I have read and reread a lot of R.L. Stine’s work, every single one of them was as scary to me as it was eighteen years ago. It made me happy.

Although Voldermort was almost as scary to me as R.L. Stine’s Slappy the Dummy (in Dutch he is called ‘meneer van Houten’, which sounds way less scary!), J.K. Rowling is the one I would like to thank for my childhood dreams. My parents gave me my first Harry Potter book (which I do suspect to be an attempt to distract me from my Goosebumps collection, and additional nightmares). From the first page I was in love with Harry. I dreamed to be in Hogwarts all day, I have never hoped more for a fictional world to be real. I think all this dreaming made me a more creative person then I would have been otherwise: I created my own ‘wizarding world’ inside the one J.K. Rowling presented to me, a world that I could be part of. It started my own love for writing, and fed my love for reading.

An ode to R.L. Stine and J.K. Rowling: childhood nightmares and dreams

4 pieces of literature that really got me thinking.

I have read a lot of books that I enjoyed. I sometimes also encounter books that I did not enjoy at all. Now and then, I read books that I loved. Very occasionally, I read a book that changed Featured imageme. This is the kind of book that gives you a very sad feeling when you are turning the last few pages, although you really want to know the ending, because it makes you feel like you are losing one of your best friends/ you are forced to step out of a world that became your home/ you are not ready to be in the ‘real’ world yet. I think my list of these kind of books contains about 30 to 50 books. The following four pieces of literature are definitely on that list, these are the ones that really got me thinking:

Note: Harry Potter is always the #1 on every single one of my lists, I think it is better for the sake of every one that I leave this one out. It will never stop appearing in each and everyone of my blogs once I start writing about Potter.

1. One, No One & One Hundred Thousand by Luigi Pirandello 

I have to admit, it took me a while to start reading this one. From what I have heard, it seemed to me like it was just a cranky story written by a cranky Italian writer, about a sorehead old Italian man. I WAS SO WRONG. Well, I was kind of right, it is about a sorehead cranky Italian man, but I did truly love it. I finally started reading the first pages of the book when I realized I could really identify with the main character. Which was something I found to be quite remarkable, because I was identifying with a cranky Italian man who seemingly experienced some sort of mid-life crisis.

Continue reading “4 pieces of literature that really got me thinking.”

4 pieces of literature that really got me thinking.

Paper Towns – John Green

Peeing is like a good book in that it is very, very hard to stop once you start.

– John Green, Paper Towns 

Paper Towns Paperback

I felt like I missed out on something, not having read (or watched) John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Nevertheless, I wasn’t planning on reading it any time soon. I guess it kind of scares me because it’s supposed to be really sad (don’t get me wrong, I like to have a good cry over a book every now and then, but I think this one will get under my skin a bit too much).

Then, I happened to come across the trailer of Paper Towns, which is an adaptation to John Green’s same name novel. The trailer starred Cara Delevingne (I love Cara!) and it seemed like a movie I would definitely enjoy to watch. So I immediately went to a bookshop and bought the paperback version, following my number one rule (which I will not ignore ever again): always read the novel before watching the movie, because you know you are going to regret it if you don’t. Also, I had just finished reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace, so I really needed something more ‘light’ to read.

In short, Paper Towns describes how main character Quentin Jacobsen’s crush Margo Roth Spiegelman disappears after the two had a pretty adventurous night. Quentin starts looking for Margo using the clues she left for him all around town. I don’t want to spoiler anything, so this is all I will say about the plot.

It took me exactly one day to read it. For the most, because I just needed to know the ending. It really felt a bit like peeing (see this posts quote). I just could not help myself, all I cared for in the 24 hours I spent (mostly) reading the novel, was what happened to Margo Roth Spiegelman. But, to be honest, I found the ending to be a bit disappointing. Although, that might have been the consequence of my own expactations while reading it. Nevertheless, the novel itself was a very easy read, with nice characters and an exciting storyline. For me, Paper Towns embodies what I expect a YA-novel to be.

Now I am only left wondering if I should read The Fault in Our Stars after all.

xx

Paper Towns – John Green