Remember last summer, when NPR hosted that poll about the best science fiction and fantasy novels? Well, this summer NPR had another poll—this one aimed at generating the best ever teen novels, according to NPR listeners. While I rushed to last summer’s, if only to fulfill my obligations as a Tolkien fanatic and devotee of Jacqueline Carey, I didn’t to this one. Why? Because of the rather thin criteria. Whereas last summer’s poll focused on two genres that, at the very least, can be defined in broad strokes, this poll focuses on an audience instead—an audience we’ve only recently invented, and have only recently started catering to.
Horror! Not a genre I’m particularly well-read in. You see, I’m squeamish. It’s the reason that despite my love for Peter Jackson as a director, I’ve yet to see his earlier stuff. (Heavenly Creatures flirts with horror, but doesn’t ultimately go there. That’s quite a good film, by the way, I recommend it.) But there’s still horror on my reading list, because why read if you’re not going to challenge yourself?
I’ve never mentioned it, but I absolutely love poking at my site stats. How people get to my blog (I’m apparently linked on my college’s website! This is completely new information to me!), which posts people read the most (my review of the film adaptation of Atonement and my review of A Clash of Kings), and, of course, the search terms that lead people to my blog. There are many paths to my establishment, it seems, and several of them are paths trod by very confused people. Today, then, I will help these poor souls by answering their search terms, as culled from search terms that led actual people to my blog this September.
Lost in Austen
based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I was pretty much speechless after watching Lost in Austen with a friend of mine; we ended up watching Saturday Night Live, well, live as we recovered. Lost in Austen is unique in that it’s the first Mary Sue Self Insert Fic television miniseries I’ve ever seen and will possibly ever see. (Kiss your productivity goodbye!) It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life, to be totally honest—since Mary Sue Self Insert Fics are an important rite of passage in the lives of preteen fangirls, it felt like reading some (remarkably literary) thirteen year old’s diary. It’s… something to be experienced.
The Gaiman Conundrum: As an author improves in the course of their career, how does one evaluate their earlier work in relation to their later work?
I’ve named this the Gaiman Conundrum because of my experience with Neil Gaiman. As a wee lass of thirteen, I picked up American Gods and was utterly blown away. Soon after, I picked up Good Omens, a novel that never fails me to make me laugh out loud. (And it’s the same joke every time! I’m easy to please.) And Anansi Boys was even better. But when I picked up Neverwhere, I felt a little empty. It was good, but it didn’t measure up to his later work to such a degree that I felt a little disappointed in it. (I suppose the gushing praise from Tori Amos on the cover didn’t help things.) So, how, as a book blogger and reader, ought I deal with this situation?
It’s the last Sunday in 2010, so you know what that means—it’s time for my annual top ten list, taken from the books I’ve read this year, not books only published this year. (I don’t think I’ve even read ten books that were published in 2010.) Here’s last year’s, if you’re so inclined. I have to admit, having an entire year to pull from (as opposed to last year, when I had about four months’ worth of sparser reviews to pick through) made things a bit difficult; there some books I wanted to include, but ultimately ended up deciding against. If you’re interested in what I left off the list, feel free to rifle through the 5 and 4.5 Stars subcategories under Ratings. That said, let’s dig in.
Well, with my review of Persuasion, I’ve read and reviewed the entire Austen canon—except the unfinished Sandition and The Watsons, of course. (Unfinished works are hardly fair play.) With my Austen author study class under my belt as well, I thought I’d talk about a few things you ought to keep in mind when it comes to Austen—as well as a suggested reading order.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
I’m really going to miss my Jane Austen class, I’ve got to say–although I’m certainly looking forward to my young adult and children’s literature class next semester. (Why yes, my school is awesome.) While even I, chin deep in mass paperback fantasy, had heard of Mansfield Park, I had never heard of Persuasion. My only acquaintance with it was encountering the DVD of the film adaptation while poking through my local Blockbuster, trying to find a copy of Star Wars Lucas hasn’t messed with. (A Herculean task, I assure you–ancient VHS tapes are my only recourse, but I digress.) Still, it was a calming 250 pages compared to Emma, and I picked it up with relief.
Emma by Jane Austen
I first read Emma for my high school’s book club a couple years ago. It was my very first Jane Austen and I loathed it. I didn’t like Emma as a character, and the age gap between Emma and Mr. Knightley freaked me out. I kept that opinion well into this year, bemoaning the fact that I would have to reread Emma for class. But when I picked it up again, I was pleasantly surprised–something was different. I don’t know if it was me or the fact that I was reading it academically, but I really enjoyed it.
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Ah, Fanny Price. An Austen heroine so unpopular (well, comparatively) that Mansfield Park wasn’t even on clearance when my childhood Barnes & Noble closed up shop over the summer and that the recent film adaptation had to make her half-Jane Austen to make her appealing. She’s a difficult character, and Mansfield Park is a difficult novel. While I’m going to share my usual feelings with you, I’ll also discuss the novel a bit more academically–because whining about how much I don’t like Fanny or how, no matter how acceptable it was at the time, incest still skeeves me out isn’t going to be very interesting at all.