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Saturday Poem: ‘The Duck and The Kangaroo’ by Edward Lear

Said the Duck to the Kangaroo,
“Good gracious! how you hop!
Over the fields and the water too,
As if you never would stop!
My life is a bore in this nasty pond,
And I long to go out in the world beyond!
I wish I could hop like you!”
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

“Please give me a ride on your back!”
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.
“I would sit quite still, and say nothing but ‘Quack’,
The whole of the long day through!
And we’d go to the Dee, and the Jelly Bo Lee,
Over the land, and over the sea;
Please take me a ride! O do!”
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

Said the Kangaroo to the Duck,
“This requires some little reflection;
Perhaps on the whole it might bring me luck,
And there seems but one objection,
Which is, if you’ll let me speak so bold,
Your feet are unpleasantly wet and cold,
And would probably give me the roo-
Matiz!” said the Kangaroo.

Said the Duck, “As I sat on the rocks,
I have thought over that completely,
And I bought four pairs of worsted socks
Which fit my web-feet neatly.
And to keep out the cold I’ve bought a cloak,
And every day a cigar I’ll smoke,
All to follow my own dear true
Love of a Kangaroo!”

Said the Kangaroo, “I’m ready!
“All in the moonlight pale;
“But to balance me well, dear Duck, sit steady!
“And quite at the end of my tail!”
So away they went with a hop and a bound,
And they hopped the whole world three times round;
And who so happy – O who,
As the Duck and the Kangaroo?

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Literary Pet Names

Quite a few days ago, a lovely little kitten came to live with me in my apartment. Despite some minor health issues and a few tantrums here and there, the most difficult part was to give her a proper and not-so-usual name.

As a bookworm, the first thing that came to my mind was that my cat deserved at least a literary name. So, I did some research and I came up with a list of the most popular literary pet names.

Fictional Cats
Crookshanks (Harry Potter series – Hermione’s ginger grumpy cat)
Mrs. Norris (Harry Potter series – Argus Filch’s pet cat)
The Cheshire Cat (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – who doesn’t know this cat?)
Dinah (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Alice’s pet cat)
Buttercup (The Hunger Games)
Pluto (The Black Car by Edgar Allan Poe)
Ribby (The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan by Beatrix Potter)
Behemoth (The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov)
Cat (Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote)
Greebo (Discworld by Terry Pratchett)
Noboru Wataya (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami)
Aslan (The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – not really a cat, but it belongs to the feline family ;) )

Character Names
Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
Bartleby (Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville)
Katniss (The Hunger Games)
Atticus (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
Godot (Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Gatsby (The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Bilbo or Gimli (The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien)
Puck (A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare)
Drogon/Rhaegon/Viserion (A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – if your cat is uncontrolable like those dragons, I can’t find any better fitting name)
Coraline (Coraline by Neil Gaiman)
Door (Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman)
Prufrock (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot)

Favourite Authors
Virginia
Atwood
Philip K.
Beatrix
Whitman
Dickinson
Ezra
Ginsburg
Sylvia
Murakami
Austen

Of course, this is only a small list of literary names and I’m sure there are thousands more heuristic ones.

As for my own feline friend, I will probably name her Luna, due to both my favourite Harry Potter character and my favourite childhood animation kitty in Sailor Moon.

What about you? Have you given your pets any literary names? Or what name would you like to give to your pet if you owned one?

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Little Book Haul (September 2014)

Whilst I am currently on a ‘book diet’, along with another lovely BookTuber/blogger named Abbie, a few new tomes have fallen into my possession over the last couple of weeks.  I was aiming to have excellent willpower whilst trying to get through Mount TBR, but all of them came about as purchases because I had to reach a certain amount in order to get free delivery.

1. Mr Toppit by Charles Elton
2. The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
3. Lysistrata by Aristophanes
4. Collected Works by Nathanael West

Have you read any of these books?  What did you think of them?  Which are the newest books which you have bought?

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Great Book Club Choices (Part Two)

Following on from last week’s ‘Great Book Club Choices (Part One)’, here are ten more novels which I feel would warrant stimulating and lengthy conversation in a book club environment.

11. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
“Rene is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building. She maintains a carefully constructed persona as someone uncultivated but reliable, in keeping with what she feels a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Rene: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Rene lives with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever. By turns moving and hilarious, this unusual novel became the top-selling book in France in 2007.”

12. The Double by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Double “is a surprisingly modern hallucinatory nightmare-foreshadowing Kafka and Sartre-in which a minor official named Goliadkin becomes aware of a mysterious doppelganger, a man who has his name and his face and who gradually and relentlessly begins to displace him with his friends and colleagues.”

13. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
“When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D’Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future. With its sensitive depiction of the wronged Tess and powerful criticism of social convention, Tess of the D’Urbervilles is one of the most moving and poetic of Hardy’s novels.”

14. Villette by Charlotte Bronte
“With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls’ boarding school in the small town of Villette. There she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, an initially suspicious headmaster and her own complex feelings, first for the school’s English doctor and then for the dictatorial professor Paul Emmanuel. Drawing on her own deeply unhappy experiences as a governess in Brussels, Charlotte Bronte’s last and most autobiographical novel is a powerfully moving study of isolation and the pain of unrequited love, narrated by a heroine determined to preserve an independent spirit in the face of adverse circumstances.”

15. The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer
“In the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, rare-gem dealer Isaac Amin is arrested, wrongly accused of being a spy. Terrified by his disappearance, his family must reconcile a new world of cruelty and chaos with the collapse of everything they have known. As Isaac navigates the terrors of prison, and his wife feverishly searches for him, his children struggle with the realization that their family may soon be forced to embark on a journey of incalculable danger.”

16. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
“An elderly artist and her six-year-old grand-daughter while away a summer together on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. As the two learn to adjust to each other’s fears, whims and yearnings, a fierce yet understated love emerges – one that encompasses not only the summer inhabitants but the very island itself. Written in a clear, unsentimental style, full of brusque humour, and wisdom, The Summer Book is a profoundly life-affirming story.Tove Jansson captured much of her own life and spirit in the book, which was her favourite of her adult novels.”

17. My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young
“A letter, two lovers, a terrible lie. In war, truth is only the first casualty.  While Riley Purefoy and Peter Locke fight for their country, their survival and their sanity in the trenches of Flanders, Nadine Waveney, Julia Locke and Rose Locke do what they can at home. Beautiful, obsessive Julia and gentle, eccentric Peter are married: each day Julia goes through rituals to prepare for her beloved husband’s return. Nadine and Riley, only eighteen when the war starts, and with problems of their own already, want above all to make promises – but how can they when the future is not in their hands? And Rose? Well, what did happen to the traditionally brought-up women who lost all hope of marriage, because all the young men were dead? Moving between Ypres, London and Paris, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You is a deeply affecting, moving and brilliant novel of love and war, and how they affect those left behind as well as those who fight.”

18. Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
“At the heart of this epic saga, set just before the Opium Wars, is an old slaving-ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean, its crew a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a truly diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt Raja to a widowed villager, from an evangelical English opium trader to a mulatto American freedman. As their old family ties are washed away they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais or ship-brothers. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races and generations. The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the exotic backstreets of China. But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, which makes Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive – a masterpiece from one of the world’s finest novelists.”

19. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
“Northern Iceland, 1829. A woman condemned to death for murdering her lover. A family forced to take her in. A priest tasked with absolving her. But all is not as it seems, and time is running out: winter is coming, and with it the execution date. Only she can know the truth. This is Agnes’s story.”

20. The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
“In this delightful, funny and moving first novel, a librarian and a young boy obsessed with reading take to the road. Lucy Hull, a 26-year-old children’s librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both kidnapper and kidnapped when her favourite patron, 10-year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly anti-gay classes. Lucy, a rebel at heart beneath her librarian’s exterior, stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours, with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan. Desperate to save him from the Drakes, Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian. The odd pair embark on an improvised road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets and an inconvenient boyfriend thrown in their path. Along the way, Lucy struggles to make peace with her Russian immigrant father and his fugitive past, and is forced to use his shady connections to escape discovery. But is it just Ian who is running away? Who is the strange man on their tail? And should Lucy be trying to save a boy from his own parents?”

Purchase from The Book Depository

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‘Selected Short Stories’ by Virginia Woolf ****

Virginia Woolf is one of those authors I avidly want to read but due to various circumstances I hadn’t really had the opportunity to do so. I have found some of her novels in bookstores or my university library (and I have read only excerpts of her work so far), and despite them seeming undoubtedly enjoyable, I always hesitated picking them up in case I was disappointed or not particularly drawn to their storyline.

selected-short-storiesTherefore, when I stumbled upon one of her short stories collection in a bookstore, I thought the time to actually read her work had come.

‘Selected Short Stories’ is a rather slim book of approximately 100 pages, yet it took me a couple of days to finish it. Her writing style is sublime, and even though I didn’t enjoy all of the stories to the same degree, I felt like I needed a break sometimes between the stories to fully absorb them and what they had to say.

My favourite stories off this collection were The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection and The Duchess and the Jeweller. Some stories, like Solid Objects and The String Quartet, I found rather peculiar, while others like A Society, The Mark on the Wall and A Haunted House were simply brilliant.

What I really liked about all these stories, no matter how enjoyable or not I found them, was the different style each one of them was written in. Woolf seems to be rather apt in experimenting with all these different writing styles, and the result is everything but unnoticeable. I liked how some stories were half a page long, while others occupied almost 15 pages. Woolf also experimented with the voice, producing pieces that were in second-person narration as well as in third. The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection started and finished with the same sentence. It was always a pleasure to discover in what stylistic aspect the next story would differ from the previous one.

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories, and I believe it would be a great introduction to Virginia Woolf and her writing. The actual Introduction that is included in the beginning of the book is also pretty interesting and informative, as it sheds some light on not only the creative process of each story, but also on what Woolf herself thought or said about some of the stories.

“Suppose the looking-glass smashes, the image disappears, and the romantic figure with the green of forest depths all about it is there no longer, but only that shell of a person which is seen by other people – what an airless, shallow, bald, prominent world it becomes!”