Book of the Month – February/March: ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley

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Following my visit last October to the British Museum’s fantastic exhibition on Gothic literature (see my post about my experience for all the details: https://thereadinglight.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/terror-and-wonder-the-gothic-imagination-exhibition-at-the-british-library/), in the ensuing months I have found my interest in the genre to be greatly revived and increasingly informed as a result of the myriad of fascinating things I saw and learned. When it came to writing an article recently for my school’s blog, my personal engagement in the topic saw me exploring the worlds of both literature and fashion by linking Gothicism to the eternal popularity of black clothing; come the composition of my Christmas wishlist, I eagerly asked for a collection of Grimms’ Fairy Tales, curious as I was to delve beyond the familiar ‘Disneyfied’ facades of common stories and discover their gritty, gory and gruesome original versions. And of course, a true interest in any area of literature simply would not be complete without reading (or rereading) a number of the corresponding works of fiction: in my case, my most recent of such reads was the gloriously chilling Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Although I had previously read this book a couple of years ago, I feel that upon a second reading I encountered a number of interesting elements which had escaped my notice the first time round, my familiarity with the plot meaning I was able to completely focus on the intricacies of character, language and narrative voice. For this reason, my reading of this book in late-February and early-March really resonated with me. I have therefore decided to forgo separate February and March ‘Book of the Month’ posts, for the simple reason that I honestly do not think anything else that I read during these two months can even compare to Frankenstein. Continue reading

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Book of the Month – January: ‘Engleby’ by Sebastian Faulks

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Perhaps it was the sudden post-mock surge of extra free time, perhaps it was the child-like excitement provoked by the pile of enticingly untouched books I received for Christmas, or perhaps it was simply my desperate desire to escape the dreary bleakness of January epitomised by the grey sky outside (a perfect real life example of pathetic fallacy if ever there was one); whatever the reason, it seems that during the first month of 2015 I was somehow motivated to transform into even more of a reading machine than normal. From the classic Jane Austen novel Sense and Sensibility to plays by Shakespeare and Arthur Miller, I spent the month immersed in the company of a whole bevvy of characters and a variety of literary styles, and while each text afforded me a great deal of enjoyment the book which particularly stood out to me would have to be Engleby by the fantastic Sebastian Faulks. Continue reading

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Christmas Book Haul 2014

After my recent lack of posts, for which I can only blame the ever-constant, ever-nagging nuisance that is A2s, I can’t help but feel that this blog has been neglected for long enough and that it is high time for me to upload some more material (although I cannot promise that my disappearing acts will not continue whilst the aforementioned ‘distraction’ is still taking priority in my life). Perhaps it is my desperation to cling onto any sentiment of festive cheer now that the only remnants of Christmas are the excessive turkey left-overs, but I have therefore decided to break myself back in gently by divulging the titles of the literary treats which I was fortunate enough to receive this year. And oh my, were there many; it seems that after 18 years my family and friends really have come to know what it takes to put a smile on my face, for it is safe to say that this Christmas saw me being gifted with the highest number of books I can remember ever receiving in one go, much to my inevitable delight:

1) All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
2) The Nation’s Favourite Poems edited by Griff Rhys Jones
3) The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of Grimm Brothers: The Complete First Edition by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
4) The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
5) The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
6) Us by David Nicholls
7) Love and Friendship and Other Early Works by Jane Austen
8) One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
9) Engleby by Sebastian Faulks
10) Classic Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson
11) The Children Act by Ian McEwan
12) Wars of the Roses: Trinity by Conn Iggulden

It surely goes without saying that I simply cannot wait to while away the hours immersing myself in the varied worlds, stories and characters these books have to offer (it being even less surprising that I could not prevent myself from already making a start). I would love to hear from anyone who has already read any of these, and for any fellow fiction fanatics out there, don’t be afraid to share those works of literature which made a welcome appearance under your own trees this year!

By Rebecca.

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‘Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination’ Exhibition at the British Library

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As the oranges and browns of October make way for increasingly chilly and dark November, it seems that these first days of the year’s penultimate month are characterised by the sense of anticlimax which inevitably results from the build-up to that most ‘frightening’ of seasonal holidays, Halloween (either that or the after-effects of one too many at spooky-themed house parties…). Gone are the days when All Hallows’ Eve was purely a Christian observance of remembering the dead: I have to admit that as Halloween 2014 dawned I found myself taken aback – perhaps even more so than in previous years – at the level of noise disseminating from crowds of young trick-or-treaters and penetrating through my windows, at the sheer number of ‘scary make-up’ selfies being uploaded to social media sites, and even at the unexpected excitement my friends and I felt as we completed our own preparations for this year’s Halloween parties. Continue reading

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‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens (read 11/5/14 – 19/5/14)

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If someone were to ask me what my favourite book is, I admit that I would deem it an exceedingly difficult question to respond to. I am a strong believer in the idea that a good work of fiction will never fail to have some kind of impact upon its reader, and that a true emotional connection can be formed if only one will take the time to appreciate the words before them; for me personally, I always know that I have enjoyed a book if I can visualise in my mind’s eye exactly where I was and what I felt as I read it (for instance, I am currently recalling how my little gold-paged copy of the subject of this post was the only thing getting me through those terror-inducing train journeys into school to take my dreaded AS examinations). However, despite the fact that I could quite easily produce a highly extensive list of fantastic reading experiences, it is also true that there have been certain books which have really spoken to me, books which have stayed with me due to both their plots and their beautiful writing, books which have made me wish that I could discover them for the first time all over again. From my perspective, there is little doubt that A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is such a book.

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Happy Birthday to The Reading Light!

I have no qualms in admitting that when I decided to start this blog it was with a feeling of trepidation and a certain sense of the unknown, rooted in the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. In truth, prior to setting up The Reading Light I had had zero experience with the concept of blogging, not just writing blogs but indeed even reading them. Couple this with the rather embarrassing incompetency which I, by no means a techno-addict, possessed in terms of technological ability (beyond the obvious Facebook and internet searches etc. of course) and it is no wonder that the idea of me keeping a blog was a daunting one. Nevertheless this blog was something I really wanted to start solely based on my love for its subject matter of literature; to me writing my posts for The Reading Light has been an invaluable experience, as it has provided me with the perfect outlet to share all the ideas buzzing around in my head which have been generated by the books I like to read for pleasure, writing my posts thus also helping to clarify these thoughts and allowing me to develop them more deeply. Continue reading

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An Extended Musing + ‘Burmese Days’ by George Orwell (read 5/5/14 – 11/5/14)

I have recently returned home from a two week holiday in Mallorca. Staying close to the beautiful Port de Pollenca, the fortnight passed in a blissfully idle blur of the impregnable heat which hit me no sooner had I stepped off the plane, copious amounts of seafood so perfectly fresh as to still retain a taste of the resort’s sparkling salty sea, and, of course, whole days devoted to nothing but reading. For indeed, the beauty of a lack of internet connection (not to mention the fear of racking up extortionate phone bills when abroad), while admittedly something rather discombobulating to a 21st century teenager, is that it enables one to truly be free from distractions for a certain period, not only those caused by one’s social life but also those more stressful ones of work, university research/applications etc. for which a computer or tablet have become almost always mandatory. Continue reading

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