What I’m Reading – Austen (again), Shakespeare, Fey

May, the month I failed. Or, to look at it a different way, the month during which I was too busy to read.

I do this every time I go on a trip. I bring about 5 different books, thinking that I’m going to have SO much time and ALL I’m going to do is read and I NEED all of these different options. That’s what happened on my Great (Britain) Adventure – I thought, buses! Buses are boring! I’m going to read on the bus EVERY day and completely run out of reading material. Due to weight restraints, I had to limit myself to three books, and I was actually stressed about running out of things to read.

Um, I didn’t read on the bus. I talked to my friend, I journaled every day, and I looked out the window. I never read.

And so, I only read three books in May instead of the four that my resolution called for. BUT here’s how I justify it:
1) I read 6 books in April, so one of those can count for May.
2) The majority – about 300 pages – of one of May’s books was read in a day, which I find impressive. (Yes, I find myself impressive at time. Someone’s got to.)
3) Another new year’s resolution is to give myself a break and not be so hard on myself. This should be easy, but I’m really bad at it. So, IT DOESN’T MATTER. I’m still a great person who read some great books last month. AND NO ONE CAN CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE.

Here are those great books:

Much Ado About Nothing : This is the one book that I read on my trip. I bought it in Edinburgh at this discount shop called The Works where all books are 1.99 pounds – which of course made me desperate to buy every book I saw. I restrained. I bought Much Ado, because I was going to see it in London, and I wanted to laugh at all of the right jokes like a cultured individual (turns out, it didn’t matter – no one else got the jokes, and so I didn’t laugh because I felt dumb. How does that work?).

Anyway, the whole introduction is a defense of the play as a work of art, which I didn’t realize was so hotly contested. When I read the play again, it make sense – there are some gaping holes in the plot, and it’s not very – shall we say – friendly to the female characters. Basically, Claudio is a dolt. I hate him. And Hero is poorly treated, and the priest gives terrible advice. But it all ends happily this time, and the sparring couple at the center of the story ends up together, as do the dolt and his stupid bride. It’s a fun play, if you focus on Benedick and Beatrice (best names ever). Sure, they’re deceived into falling in love, but does it really matter? They let their guards down and it works out.

Bossypants : This book sold a lot of copies. I want to write a book that sells a lot of copies. But people bought it because every woman feels like she is Liz Lemon, and every man likes a funny girl… if any men read it; it’s kind of about being a girl.

Anyway, it’s by Tina Fey, of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock fame. She writes just like she speaks, especially as Liz on 30 Rock, which makes sense because she writes… nevermind, it just got confusing. Nonetheless, the book is written in her tone, with her pauses, and her cultural humor. Or at least what I assume to be all three – I don’t know her personally. I am currently listening to the audiobook, which is narrated by her, and let me tell you – it is worth it just to hear her Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan impressions. Trust me.

She has a lot of good things to say about her life and how it’s really stressful. She’s self-deprecating but honest about what it’s like to be a woman in a man’s world. Her musings on her childhood are classic, and so much like my life that it’s funny. Her 23-year-old virgin self is pretty similar to another 23-year-old virgin I know…extremely well. It’s a fun read, though, if you’re offended by a smattering of f-bombs, you probably don’t know who Tina Fey is and also do not read this book.

Mansfield Park : Jane Austen once again. I don’t know why I’m on such an Austen kick. It just feels right. Anyway, another lesser-known Austen. It’s a larger tome, and slow as all get-out. That’s not to say I didn’t like it – I just didn’t like it as much as say, Northanger Abbey or the classics.

I feel like a lot of it has to do with the protagonist, Fanny Price. She’s weak, subservient, anxious to please, fearful – the polar opposite of self-assured and proud Elizabeth Bennett. Fanny made me angry, because I wanted her to be stronger. I know I reacted so strongly because of two things: 1) I am viewing this novel with 21st century eyes, in which women are allowed to be strong, and 2) I saw too much of myself in her for comfort.

It impresses me that Austen could write a character like Fanny and one like Elizabeth. And while the conclusion made me a bit uncomfortable (those 21st century eyes again), it was a good read. But let’s be honest, it’s mostly one I’m going to brag about.

There you have it. Slow to post, but I read these books. I’m behind for June again too – yikes. This whole resolution thing is wayyy harder than I thought. Maybe I can fudge the numbers again…

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