Monday, February 2, 2009

Is reading a hobby?

Over the last week or so, I have dedicated a number of hours to my most recent 'hobby'- reading.

Coming from a 17 year old who prides herself on her love of English at school, it certainly sounds strange to announce this is a new venture. Having said that, I like to believe it's better late than never.

Prompted by a conversation over lunch with my brother, I realised I did indeed need to pull my stockings up and do some serious reading.

An hour later, having searched through 'Top 100 Booklists' (and cheating somewhat by looking up plot summaries), I had formulated quite a long list filled with classics in a variety of genres.

Driven by a new wave of determination, I quickly finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray (which I had ever so slowly dragged myself through since November) and read Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey in four days!

I repeat- four days! A record (apart from the sheer un-Maryann-liness when I read the first three books of Limony Snickets in one sitting- not that they are particularly long...)

I was quite proud of myself, and I found I enjoyed the past-time significantly more than when I forced myself to finish Dorian Gray.

My principal objectives in the matter:
A) learning how to read quicker by the time University starts,
B) expanding my knowledge and understanding of the art of storytelling via reading fiction (which will be of good use when I set my sights to become a film and theatre Arts Reviewer),
and finally(and ironically the least influential factor-and yet one I hope to speedily achieve) C) to come to enjoy reading (rather than constantly substituting the experience of reading a book for watching a film- and later having nothing to comment upon or discuss in light of comparisons).

I must admit, in my brief review, I did not enjoy Oscar Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'.

I wrote this in my visual bookshelf on Facebook:
Not at all up my alley. As much as it is fine to understand some of the circumstances of that time period, after reading three pages consisting of lists of all the jewels worn by royalty scattered throughout the world, I knew it was most certainly not for me. With that being said, many of Oscar Wilde's 'one liners' that evaluate the human condition are worth contemplation.

Of course I could rattle on about styalistic features, audience, context and so on, however I will explain my main thoughts. For someone like myself who read the book(on reccomendation from a friend) for pure enjoyment, it tickled absolutely none of my fancies- I did not sympathise with ANY of the characters, at many stages it lacked being driven by plot and rather seemed as if Oscar Wilde had ripped a few pages out of his 'my thoughts on this rotten life' and stickey taped it into the 'story'. The story, although having a moral, seemed very vain(masked by the appearance of being quite deep)- but perhaps it was 'too deep' for my liking.
The only element I did enjoy whilst reading the book were the brilliant one-liners that provided very quaint and witty ways to explain an interesting element of the human condition.
In summary, I would not reccomend the book to many, only those who enjoy reading about someone who thinks an aweful lot and yet masks his thoughts within a foppish world.

On a lighter note, I enjoyed 'Agnes Grey' enough to convince me to read all the Bronte, Austen and Gaskell classics which I previously snubbed for BBC Period Drama adaptations.

My facebook review was short and sweet:
Nothing like her sister's Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, but adequate.

That is precicely my overall impression of the book- adequate. Qutie dull (no surprise considering the protaganist was exceedingly dull), however the novel contained enough sustaining characters and action to make the book a gentle and enjoyable read. It was by no means thrilling and enrapturing(to the extent where you simply cannot put the book down), however, the low-profile life of a governess and her inner turmoil whilst displaying a steely exterior to her michevious pupils is admirable. I could certainly see thematic and styalistic elements that make Anne Bronte unique to her sisters (being well-accustomed to 'The Tennant at Wildfell Hall'), and she is a good writer, but there was no harrowing imagery or moving symbolism(for the more visual) or intriguing plot-lines and envelloping characters(for people like myself) that made the book stand out.
Again, I would not recommend the book to anyone, unless they enjoy reading about dull characters who never grow balls and spend most of their life around condescending people, yet have high morals and principals which are only vehicle for the protaganist's unhappiness.

With all that said, I am looking forward to reading 'A Brave New World' within the next few days.

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