Happy spring! Well, the weather’s been up and down over here but at least we’re slowly moving towards warmer weather…Anyhow, it’s been another one of those busy months for me both on and offline (moreso offline); I’m still working out some kind of schedule in which I get back to comments in due time. In the meantime, here’s what has been going on at the blog:
- Books reviewed this month include: Sylvia Plath’s Ariel (review), Ian Rankin’s Knots and Crosses (review), and Osip Mandelstam’s Voronezh Notebooks (review). You can check out all the books I’ve reviewed recently in the book review tag.
- No ARCs were reviewed this month! You can check out all of the ARCs I’ve read and reviewed to date in this tag.
- For this month’s So You Want to Read…, I focused on the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard for a change of pace. You can check out that post over here. For all my previous recommendations under this feature, check out this tag.
- Tolkien Reading Day was on March 25! Here’s my post celebrating the day, talking a bit about this year’s topic on Tolkien’s poems and songs.
And that’s about it from me and the blog for the month of March! Pretty straightforward, eh? Wishing you all a great April ahead! 🙂
After reading Margaret MacMillan’s History’s People (review) a while ago I decided to revisit two CBC Massey Lectures (see tag) I had previously read but never got around to reviewing here (which also happens to be the two first lectures I’ve read from the series) 🙂
The Malaise of Modernity
By: Charles Taylor
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
In Malaise of Modernity, Charles Taylor focuses on the key modern concept of self-fulfillment, often attacked as the central support of what Christopher Lasch has called the culture of narcissism. To Taylor, self-fulfillment, although often expressed in self-centered ways, isn’t necessarily a rejection of traditional values and social commitment; it also reflects something authentic and valuable in modern culture. Only by distinguishing what is good in this modern striving from what is socially and politically dangerous, Taylor says, can our age be made to deliver its promise.
I read this book back in 2011 after seeing a blogger friend had read it and greatly recommended it. It also happened to be the first Massey Lecture book I had ever read. I found the premise interesting as every now and then I do find myself wondering about the topics mentioned in this book. I greatly enjoyed reading it the first time around, which was still the case the second time around, only this time perhaps it left me a little wanting. I suppose this is the general case with this lecture series as it serves as an introduction to the larger topic without losing its audience entirety with its intricacies.
One major thought that struck me as I was re-reading this book was how this book could really go hand-in-hand with Soren Kierkegaard’s The Present Age: On the Death of Rebellion (review). Much of this book talks about individualism and its impact on changes in the broader social scene, whether it is seen as a detriment to society or not. Intertwined throughout his argument is its impact on the political scene and the socio-economic scene. In retrospect the arguments felt a little more muddled rather than structured–it’s hard to explain in retrospect, but as I was reading it, I wished it focused on each aspect of his argument or each part of the human experience rather than going back and forth between elements. I was also surprised at how the political element played a role in his overall discussion for some reason; it makes sense, of course, given how much the political impinges on general society, but I was expecting the focus to be broader as oppose to individuals and their civic duty.
I had initially gave this book a full five stars but this time around I gave it four stars because, as interesting as the discussion was, it didn’t come to any definitive answer. I suppose any book of this nature can offer any concrete solution or address about the future, but I wasn’t terribly convinced by his wrap-up. It’s nonetheless a fascinating discussion and a book worth checking out if this topic is of any interest to you.
By: Owen Sheers
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Ideas of separation and divorce—the geographical divides of borders, the separation of the dead and the living, the movement from childhood to adulthood, and the end of relationships—drive this poetry collection from one of Great Britain’s rising young talents. The collection revolves around the poems “Y Gaer” and “The Hillfort,” the titles themselves suggesting the linguistic divide in Wales, from poems concerned with childhood, a Welsh landscape, and family to an outward-looking vision that is both geographic and historic.
You might’ve seen me mention Owen Sheers in passing here and there, but I’ve enjoyed his novels (see author tag) and his writing style. I knew he was a poet but I had never gotten around to reading any of his poems until last year when I went on the poetry binge 😛 And here we are 🙂
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day
By: Seanan McGuire
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
When her sister Patty died, Jenna blamed herself. When Jenna died, she blamed herself for that, too. Unfortunately Jenna died too soon. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline.
But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.
I read her novella Every Heart a Doorway (review) last year and greatly enjoyed it. In waiting for the second book in the series, this book came out; the premise piqued my interest and admittedly I had planned on holding off from picking it up but in the end I caved in and picked it up 😛
By: Osip Mandelstam
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Osip Mandelstam is one of the greatest of twentieth-century poets and Voronezh Notebooks, a sequence of poems composed between 1935 and 1937 when he was living in internal exile in the Soviet city of Voronezh, is his last and most exploratory work. Meditating on death and survival, on power and poetry, on marriage, madness, friendship, and memory, challenging Stalin between lines that are full of the sights and sounds of the steppes, blue sky and black earth, the roads, winter breath, spring with its birds and flowers and bees, the notebooks are a continual improvisation and an unapologetic affirmation of poetry as life.
Like Anna Akhmatova (see review), Osip Mandelstam is another poet and writer whom I wrote about when I was writing my Masters thesis but didn’t really read much of his works from, maybe a poem or fragment of work here and there. So when I saw this collection on the shelf during one of my many trips to the bookstore, I picked it up immediately.