Tag: List: So You Want to Read…


So You Want to Read… (Elizabeth Gaskell)

Posted 4 November, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 10 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a new monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

For this month’s So You Want to Read… I decided to go with Elizabeth Gaskell (author tag). Not entirely sure why but it seemed fitting to place this list for the month of November; there’s something about some of her books that seem perfect in the autumn season 🙂 Anyway, I first picked up Elizabeth Gaskell’s books around…2007/2008 after someone recommended the ever-wonderful 2004 television adaptation of North and South; if you haven’t seen it, this is an absolute must. It was also the first time I encountered the wonderful actor Richard Armitage grace my screen 😛 —


(gif source)

*ahem* Anyway, I read the book and absolutely fell in love with it. I picked up a number of her books since, though sadly I don’t have reviews for some of them. Nonetheless, here we are, here’s my recommendations of which of her books to check out if you’re interested in reading her books 🙂

  • North and South (review) — An absolute given 😛 It’s kind of like Pride and Prejudice (review) except it’s set in northern England and really there’s a whole lot more to the novel than the growing relationship between Margaret Hale and Mr. Thornton. This book immediately solidified my love for Ms. Gaskell’s writing, the way she’s able to interweave social commentary to a very engaging and interesting story populated with well-rounded characters. It’s a gem of a read, definitely and highly recommended!
  • Wives and Daughters — Elizabeth Gaskell did not finish this novel due to her death, but the book more or less hints to how the story was going to end (she also told a friend, I believe…and then of course there’s the BBC adaptation starring Justine Waddall and Keeley Hawes; definitely worth checking out, by the way, it’s an excellent series!). Molly and Roger’s budding romance is far more quieter, and punctured with obstacles from Molly’s stepsister Cynthia to family drama on Roger’s side, but it’s quite an interesting read in character and social dynamics and interactions.
  • Cranford — BBC also made two delightful series based on the stories set in the sleepy town of Cranford. It’s a far different read than the first two but just as enjoyable as the town is populated mostly by elderly women facing the modernisations that England was embarking in at the time. There’s of course the social element ever present in these stories, but it’s nonetheless a fun read and quite different (I think) from many of her other works.
  • Ruth (review) — I read this book more recently and omg, the feels. Definitely on the bleaker side of life with everything that Ruth has to deal with and suffer, but it’s an eye-opening read on both a major social stigma at the time as well as the different reactions and perspectives on the subject. But don’t despair too much on the bleakness, there are moments of hope, not to mention it’s just such a read–I personally couldn’t put it down, I was wholly engrossed in Ruth’s journey.

I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s books for the first time! What’s your favourite Elizabeth Gaskell novel? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to check out?

So You Want to Read… (Edith Wharton)

Posted 7 October, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 6 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a new monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

For this month’s So You Want to Read… I decided to go with Edith Wharton. I got around to reading her books a few years ago after hearing so much about her works. Since then she’s quickly become one of my favourite classic authors and while I recently came across a few titles of hers that I didn’t love as much as others, I still find her to be a stellar writer with such a wonderful grasp of language and understanding of human motivation and feeling. I understand that people can be a little ambivalent towards her as many had to study her novel Ethan Frome in high school; I read it earlier this year and I can see why people might be apprehensive to try her other works as omg that book was especially depressing.

So without further ado, here are some of her books that I’d recommend if you’re planning on checking out her books for the first time:

  • The Age of Innocence (review) — This and The House of Mirth tackle some rather hefty issues and the relationships overlap and connect in complex ways, but I still find this novel to be of lighter fare compared to the latter. There’s also the love story, but I thought the social commentary and the representation and status of women were the far more interesting elements.
  • The House of Mirth (review) — This is my favourite novel by Edith Wharton and normally I recommend it first, but you honestly have to be in a particular mood to read it as it can be depressing. You can’t help but feel for Lily as things go from bad to worse, and it’s just heartbreaking, but Wharton’s prose is magnificent and her observation so astute, I found myself identifying with some of the deeper themes that the novel presents.
  • The Bunner Sisters (review) — It’s shorter and thus it’s not as fleshed out as the first two titles but it’s still much more accessible than some of her other stories. Plus, the premise was interesting in that the two main characters featured are sisters; one sister more than the other, but it still has different features compared to some of her shorter works. It also has some similar running themes you’d find in her other novels, but if you’re looking for one of her shorter works to check out first, then either this or the following will work.
  • Summer (review) — Rumour has it they’re planning on adapting this novella into a movie? Anyway, I can sort of see it happening as compared to The Bunner Sisters the characters and motivations are much more fleshed out. It can still be a dark novel as it deals with the subject of a fallen woman, as well as borderline taboo issues, but again Wharton writes with such clarity as readers gain a glimpse into what the main character Charity is going through.

I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading Edith Wharton’s books! What’s your favourite novel by Edith Wharton? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to check out?

So You Want to Read… (William Shakespeare)

Posted 7 September, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 12 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a new monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

It’s September! Back to school for everyone who’s still in school…and keeping with the theme, for this month’s So You Want to Read, I will be featuring William Shakespeare (see tag) *cackles gleefully* Regular readers of my blog probably noticed that other than the Shakespeare Reading Challenge I hosted last year, I really got into reading dramatic plays this year, including more Shakespeare. The stories and the characters can be so exciting, the dialogue and soliloques thought-provoking, and I’ve seen some excellent filmed productions to date.

Maybe you want to get back to checking out some of Shakespeare’s works on your own, or maybe you want to read one for the first time. Here are 5 plays I’d recommend checking out (barring Romeo & Juliet because by now everyone must know something of it):

  • Twelfth Night (review) — My favourite comedy from Shakespeare <3 I studied this play in Grade 10 English (which really enjoyed; plenty of good memories there) and re-reading it earlier year, was just hilarious. Cross-dressing, mistaken identities, lovelorn individuals doing crazy things, yellow stockings. Oh, also recommend the 2012 Globe production (review) 😉
  • Much Ado About Nothing (review) — The first time I read this play last year I liked it enough but I had some issues with the main storyline. So why am I recommending it here? Because it does fare well in memory/gets better the more I remember it (hence the re-read; review), and I love Beatrice and Benedick’s story. I could read a whole play of the two of them bantering back and forth. My personal favourite production of this play has to be the 2011 Globe production (review).
  • Macbeth (review) — For the tragedies, Macbeth certainly comes to mind as one of the most accessible. I studied this play in Grade 12 English and it’s just a fascinating psychological study of how a crime can weigh heavily on the conscience and tear relationships apart. Plus, there are witches and it’s set in Scotland.
  • Othello (review) — Another familiar tragedy that many probably studied in school. I didn’t, so it was interesting to check out this play on my own. Again, it’s a very accessible play, and pretty suspenseful: you know things are going to go down poorly and yet you can’t quite turn away.
  • Richard III (review) — From the histories, I was sort of 50/50 recommending Richard III for first time readers at first as I normally recommend reading everything in order starting from Richard II (review; commentary) right through the Henriad to get a sense of why things were the way they were by events of Richard III. But as a standalone it’s excellent, with lots of well-known dialogue, intriguing characters, and plenty of action. So yes, I highly recommend this play, it’s one of the best that I’ve read this year.



I hope this list of books helps if you’re interested in revisiting or reading Shakespeare for the first time! What are your favourite Shakespeare plays? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which plays have you been meaning to check out?

Also, what’s your favourite edition of Shakespeare’s plays? I enjoy the editions published by Modern Library in conjunction with the RSC. They’re so informative and very pretty 🙂

So You Want to Read… (Jane Austen)

Posted 12 August, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 13 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a new monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

Happy August! I hope your summer (or winter, depending) has been fun and wonderful. For this month’s So You Want to Read… I decided to go with Jane Austen (author tag). Thought it was a good time, especially as there is the event Austen in August happening right now 😉 Many of you know that I’m a big fan and reader of Jane Austen’s novels; I first encountered Jane Austen in high school, where we studied Pride & Prejudice for grade 11 English. But it wasn’t until university when I went back to her books and absolutely fell in love with them (and from there braching out to the other classic authors).

So without further ado, here’s my recommendation of what order you should read her books in. There’s no right way to do it, of course, and it really depends on what interests you as a reader, but for new readers, maybe you want to try it this way?

  • Pride & Prejudice (review) — Surprised? There’s a good reason why Jane Austen’s most famous novel gets first billing on my recommended order list. The main protagonist, Elizabeth Bennett, is witty and vivacious and headstrong, and the dialogue is quite electric (as is the narration, now that I think about it). It’s quite the story of mannerisms and characterisations and class and family so yeah, it’s a good place to start.
  • Northanger Abbey (review) — Jane Austen’s earliest novel that was published posthumously. It’s certainly not as complex as her later novels, so why did I rank it so high up my recommended order list lol? Simply put, it’s because of it’s simplistic storyline and just the fun of it all that I ranked it pretty high for new Austen readers to check out. Yes, some of the late 18th century pop culture references might fly over your head, but it’s the characterisations and reactions are relatable and it’s just all around fun. Not to mention the lead character is a reader with quite the active imagination 🙂
  • Persuasion (review) — This was the last novel Jane Austen more or less completed before she passed away and certainly the most mature of her body of work. It’s also my personal favourite from the six because of everything about it–from the characters to the themes to the contemplative nature of the story to the letter at the end (you’ll know what I speak of when you get to it) 😉 I’m surprised more people haven’t read this book, it’s absolutely amazing (and the first time around I couldn’t put it down because I just had to know how things would turn out).
  • Emma (review) — Personally not my favourite Austen novel of the six but I can see why people love it (I’ve only come to appreciate the book only more recently). Emma Woodhouse playing matchmaker with the people in her community, resulting in misunderstandings and hijinks all around. I ranked it where it is because it’s still more accessible than the remaining books I will be listing (plus, Mr. Knightley is such a hoot 😛 ).
  • Sense & Sensibility (review) — I love S&S but I learned the hard way that it’s not quite an easy book to recommend to readers, even if they loved P&P. I remember the first time I read it that the language used is and felt a little older than P&P and later novels, and I admit, it can be a little dry. But the story is fantastic, the characters are great, and if you get to this book I encourage you to try to stick through it because it’s such an amazing story with a lot to think about and great character dynamics and the nature of human emotions and passions.
  • Mansfield Park (review) — I love Mansfield Park and like S&S it pains me to rank it rather low on the list of which order to read her books in but this book is pretty different from the others in that it’s much more inclined towards social commentary and character study. It’s also a lot longer (I think–not that this should be a deterrent 😛 ). Many Austen readers do not find Fanny as sparkling or as witty as Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse or as passionate as Marianne Dashwood but I urge you to stick through this book. The family dynamics are absolutely intriguing and Fanny is a very strong character in her own way.
  • Her other works (Lady Susan, Sandition, etc.) — And when you’ve run out of her books to read and want to read more of her books, there are her incomplete works (which Penguin Classics does have compiled–at least the larger works). Lady Susan is complete and is a very interesting story as it’s all told in letters. Sandition and The Watsons were pretty promising but alas, she died before she could write any further. They may be incomplete and leave you wanting but they are nonetheless worth checking out because they’re quite different from the above, completed novels.

I hope this recommended order list of books helps if you’re interested in revisiting or reading Jane Austen for the first time! What’s your favourite Jane Austen novels? Which would you recommend for first-time readers (or in which order)? Or which books have you been meaning to check out?

So You Want to Read… (Alice Munro)

Posted 1 July, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 2 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a new monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

Firstly:

So for this month’s So You Want to Read…, I thought it would be appropriate to feature Canadian author Alice Munro. She’s well-known for writing short stories, and received even more acclaim a few years ago when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I admit, I didn’t get around to reading her books until last year, but since then I’ve been trying to read more. She has such a way of crafting stories out of everyday life and activities, they’re quite introspective and filled with character and thoughts.

So, never read any of Alice Munro’s stories and want to try them out? Or maybe you want to expand your literary horizons to include short stories? Look no further, here’s my 3 recommendations on where to start:

  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (review) — I cannot recommend this book enough, it is a solid collection from start to finish (there was not a single story in this collection I didn’t like) exploring themes of friendship, bonds of family, love between couples, etc. Two movies also sprang from two stories in this collection, which is pretty cool (Hateship Courtship and Away from Her).
  • Runaway (review) — I read this collection earlier this year and again, a solid book from start to finish and OMG all them feels. This book features stories of women facing dilemmas and inner crises of all sorts, searching for happiness, for relief, longing for self-actualisation, etc. Another book I would whole-heartedly recommend.
  • Selected Stories (1968 – 1994) (review) — Okay, I would recommend checking out the above two titles first before checking out this book. While this book features Alice Munro’s earlier works, I find it to be rather different compared to her later works, sometimes not as compelling, but they paint a very interesting picture of life in rural Canada in the early half of the 20th century. Still worth checking out, but read the above two first.
  • Bonus: Family Furnishings (1995 – 2014) — I haven’t picked up a copy of this collection yet (am waiting for the paperback to be released later this year) but it looks like an excellent collection of her later stories (you can see the list of stories included in this collection over here).

I hope this list of books helps if you’re interested in reading any of her works! Have you read any of Alice Munro’s stories? If so, which collections or stories would you recommend to new readers?