Monthly Archives: March 2011

Academia: The Language Dilemma

Posted 30 March, 2011 by Lianne in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments




So this dilemma sort of popped up in my life a few days ago and it’s had me mulling. As I started to work on my thesis argument outline on Monday (again), I was struck with an idea for a PhD dissertation and started writing down my thoughts about it (which is crazy because a) I’m not thinking of applying for a few years and b) I need to finish my MA thesis before I could consider a PhD). As amazing, exciting and possibly massive this project could be, there’s a bit of an obstacle that I need to overcome: the language component. At the PhD level, you need two working languages to conduct your research. God willing I pass my Russian translation exam next month, I’ll have one more-or-less. Okay, fine, but here’s the thing: the dissertation topic I started brainstorming the other day will need Spanish as the other language.

That’s right, Spanish. Which is like, diametrically opposed to Russian, since Russian is a Slavic language and Spanish is a Romance language *facepalmdesk* So if I decide undertake this project (which may or may not be plausible because I think departments like dissertations to focus on a very small and particular topic as opposed to a broader theme, especially in history; I must investigate this further), it would be wise to apply to the PhD program with some Spanish under my belt. So I could start this summer, why not.

Here’s where the dilemma comes in: I was planning on taking Italian this summer. I already have a certificate from my time at the University of Trento indicating that I completed the first beginner level of the language so I figured it would be great to continue, have some further knowledge of the language. Some of my Italian is still floating around in my head and there are times when I’m so close to blurting out in Italian so it should be no problem going back into that mode.

But it would be a disaster if I decide to pick up both languages at the same time. It would be more practical for me to pick up Spanish if the chances of me using it in academia is greater, not to mention it’s more widely spoke than Italian. On the other hand, I already started Italian and it would be a shame to not put that into good use.

I don’t know, what do you think? Which language would you pick up?

Meme: Top Ten Tuesdays

Posted 29 March, 2011 by Lianne in Meme / 1 Comment

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This week’s topic: Top Ten Authors That Deserve More Recognition

From who I can think of…

01. Elizabeth Gaskell — Well, she’s gaining recognition now from book circles but she should at least be as big as Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. Her work is just fantastic, particularly (and perhaps especially for me) North and South and Wives and Daughters

02. C.S. Harris — I don’t know if she’s big in the historical mystery base but I read her stuff last year (the St. Cyr mysteries) and they are fantastic! Her protagonist, Sebastian St. Cyr, is just wonderful (think James Bond meets Mr. Darcy) and the stories are just fascinating.

03. Ildefonso Falcones — He’s pretty big in Europe but I feel he should be a lot bigger here in North America. I read his book Cathedral by the Sea last summer when I was in Spain (I had the translated version, lol, but European cover) and it was absolutely enthralling, I couldn’t put it down; it’s quite an epic piece set in medieval Catalunya. I can’t wait for his new book to come out in English xD

04. Tad Williams — He’s well-known in the fantasy genre but I think he really should be up there with George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss as one of the best and well known in the field at the moment. I read his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy a few years ago and it is just fantastic, up there as one of my favourites. I have yet to get around to his other fantasy series but he’s just so imaginative, he should be more widely read.

05. Douglas Coupland — He’s fairly well-known here in Canada but I feel he should be getting more recognition abroad. Granted, I’ve only read two of his novels–All Families Are Psychotic and Eleanor Rigby–but they are quirky, crazy and touching all at the same time.

06. Ivan Turgenev — We’ve all heard of Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky but I think Turgenev should receive more recognition from modern-day audiences. I had to read his book Fathers and Sons for my nineteenth century Imperial Russia course and I found it to be a surprisingly good read (normally when they assign books to read I’m more -_-; about it because it can be so dry and crazy-making). If you know about nineteenth century Russian society it would make the story even more enjoyable but even without it I think it’s a great read. He’s a very perceptive author.

07. Alessandro Baricco — He’s well-known for the story Silk (which was adapted into a movie a few years ago starring Michael Pitt and Keira Knightley) but he’s written some other good books too. I’ve only read Ocean Sea but I remember being amazed by the book. It can be a bit post-modernist in its presentation but it’s also quite lyrical. I hope to read it in its original Italian format one of these days.

…and that’s all I can think of at the moment *blushes* Will come back and add to the list when more authors come to mind xD

Meme: Teaser Tuesdays

Posted 28 March, 2011 by Lianne in Meme / 8 Comments

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
– Grab your current read
– Open to a random page
– Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
– Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Should Be Reading

My teaser for this week: “In the moment months before, listening to the doctor drone on, he had decided to spend his last days in a long space-time jogg. He could fulfil his dream, sliding backward into eras “nested”, as the specialists said, close to his own.” – p. 311 – 312, “Mercies” by Gregory Benford, Engineering Infinity anthology

My teaser is actually from a short story, one of many in this science fiction anthology called Engineering Infinity that just came out earlier this year. It’s the first time I’ve actually read an anthology and it’s pretty cool because you get a glimpse of what’s out there in the science fiction genre at the moment and what sort of ideas and stories and worlds they’ve envisioned. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi despite my love of the genre (as I’ve mentioned in a past TT) so this is just another way of checking out what’s out there. It’s an eclectic mix of stories that are just mind-boggling and fantastic; I wish I was just as creative as they are. If you’re into the genre, it’s worth checking out.

Books: European Literature Podcasts

Posted 27 March, 2011 by Lianne in Books, Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


My shot inside the Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris, France (August 2010)


I’m in the midst of writing my political science paper on the Basques in Spain but I’m also multi-tasking with skimming through the Guardian. The Guardian is doing a series at the moment, focusing on one European country each week. One of spheres they covered are books and so far they’ve covered the following places:

These podcasts are fantastic to listen to because you learn a lot about the literary and bestselling trends in these countries. I’m still listening to the Germany podcast but they’ve also discussed German identity and culture, which is totally up my alley xD Their trends are actually pretty close to North America (vampires are big, international bestsellers are also big but then you have massive tomes on history and the current state of Germany and a lot of health-related books), which is interesting. The podcast on French literature was also fantastic because their literary culture is so different; in a sense, the sort of culture of Voltaire and Rousseau has continued to the present day with the French public’s love of essays. Prices and sales of books are also quite different from the UK or North America (they have a fixed rate) and just the volume and types of books that people read are also very different. So if you’re into European literature and book trends, these podcasts are worth checking out.

This week the Guardian is focusing on Spain, which is exciting because a) I’m writing a paper on them at the moment, b) Spain fascinates me in general and c) I love Spanish literature and poetry (Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Federico Garcia Lorca, etc.) <3

Academics: EU, European Country Videos

Posted 22 March, 2011 by Lianne in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

I came across this video on ONTD (I know, it’s random) and I’m amused by it because, having lived in Italy for some time, a lot of this is just so true (especially the burocrazia, it’s just ridiculous; right up to the day I left I had to deal with the craziness of going from one desk to another just to get to my plane). Still love Italy though xD

Just came across this video too and it’s hilarious: a comparison between the Italians and the Germans: