Books I Haven’t Finished Lately

So here I am again, haphazardly writing about random books that I haven’t quite finished yet… As I said in my last post (months ago!), I have problems finishing books. Well, I still do. I finished more books when I blogged about them regularly, so maybe I will try that again and see how it goes down….

(As a sidenote, I am such an INFP in the Myers-Briggs personality thing. My feelings and my thoughts about those feelings are ALL OVER THE PLACE but only inside my head. Also I have a lot of grand plans for the writing down of feelings and thoughts and the reading and writing of stories, but I don’t always achieve those goals. Don’t judge me! I am still a nice person even if I am not a finisher of everything!)

So these are the books that I haven’t finished recently:

Mansfield Park: yes I blogged about it last time and then I never finished it — I just hate it when everyone tries to force Fanny to marry Henry! Plus also her going back to her family in Portsmouth isn’t really fun times either.

Pride & Prejudice: I’ve already reread this once this year but The Lizzie Bennet Diaries had me on a big P&P high and it is so funny, I just started it as a comfort thing one evening and then I couldn’t stop… until Elizabeth gets to Pemberley and Darcy is all nice. The jokes stop there! (And then Lydia gets a load of slut-shaming and I now think, post LBD, that maybe that’s not such a good thing. She’s just a kid, right? Wickham is the true villain.) And then I lost interest. And I finished rereading Emma instead because 1. Emma never stops being funny, and 2. the worst thing that ever happens is a bad picnic and since I hate horrible things happening to the characters I love, this is good for me, and actually pretty funny in and of itself.

Les Miserables: I haven’t seen the movie yet (don’t judge me! I was going to and then my husband hates musicals and then I thought maybe it would be too sad and then… I just bought the book instead because it looked pretty), but I did really like the first 100 pages of the book. Victor Hugo is definitely an idealist and I love his complex view of French history that goes into how the French Revolution affected everything that happened in the 19th century there and I love how he just made me care so much about two characters, the priest and Jean Valjean, through so much layering on of details about them. I’ve read other classic French authors (Proust, Zola, Flaubert, as well as attempts at Balzac and Stendhal and Laclos) and they’re usually always so pessimistic and cynical and everyone is horrible (Proust is the exception, but then I think part of why I love his meandering, long-drawn out, huge book of memories is because he must be an INFP like me) but then! I discovered Victor Hugo and he’s trying to write to better society, not just to mock it and for me at least one section of French literature was redeemed. So far as I can tell, he seems like a blend of Tolstoy and Dickens and that’s pretty alright by me. So I was really liking it, but then I got stuck on this one part that has all this history thrown at my face and endless explanatory notes and it seemed like too much work to keep going. :/ I wish I could just skip that part; my book says Hugo added it on later and I wish he hadn’t. Or I could skim it? Anyways.

Sense & Sensibility: I was trying to enjoy a different Austen and trying to like Elinor more instead of Marianne for once. My new fun literary game is to try and guess the personality of every Austen character, so I think Elinor is an ISFJ (they’re called the protectors, so yeah, just try to prove me wrong) and Marianne is probably an ENFP (called the champions and come on, when is she not championing her favourite romantic ideals? I didn’t think she’d be an extrovert at first, but then I decided that no introvert would be that annoying about forcing everyone to listen to all of her melodramatic notions All The Time). My personality is closer to Marianne’s (I’m just more introverted and therefore less obnoxious) but ugh I have complicated feelings about her. Sometimes I like that she’s true to her feelings and other times she drives me crazy. Also she’s too much like my overly emotional, overly childish mom and that’s not entirely a good thing… So I know Elinor is the more admirable sister of the two, but I also know that I’m just not exactly like her and never will be (although a beloved aunt of mine is and I’m so glad to have someone like her in my life) and ughh I keep rereading this book trying to solve this conundrum for myself of sense vs. sensibility and where I stand on that and how it’s best to live and maybe I overthink it but I do come back to this book often so it seems to have some deep meaning for me, but I’m always torn when I read it over which sister holds my allegiance or which way of life I think is better to follow or something. It’s hard to put into words even. But right now I am taking a break from that because it’s emotionally tiring and also I wanted to read something newer for a change!

(Side note: if anyone wants me to go into more detail about my opinions on other Austen characters’ personalities, just let me know! I have made lists about this and I keep randomly thinking about it at odd moments and having mental debates with myself.)

Also I am slowly rereading Jane Eyre right now (partly because of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre on youtube right now, which I am enjoying!) and I looove it more than ever, partly because I now think Jane is another INFP like me! Yays.

And I’ve also recently decided to read some mystery novels again, after giving them a break for a few years for being too disturbing. But then this year I’ve gotten really into the tv show Elementary (are there fans out there? It is such a lovely show, don’t be a Sherlock snob and avoid it! Jonny Lee Miller is my current British actor crush because oh he’s just a doll on this show) and then my husband got me watching Hannibal (scary! But also there is Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen and pretty, gothic imagery, so sort of okay…) and other mystery shows and then we watched LUTHER on Netflix (oh my goodness Idris Elba! and Ruth Wilson!! I am taking a break from it because the first season was so intense but oh that’s a really good BBC show, guys) and then I just wanted to read a mystery and not just watch one. So I picked up In the Woods by Tana French because I remember hearing good things about it around the book blogosphere and I’d always been curious about it. So as of this morning I’ve read half of it and was really liking it (I’ve also experienced childhood trauma that I couldn’t remember, so I liked that being in a book) but then I had an unavoidably strong urge to read the end and then that made me sad. I had my suspicions about the killer all along, so that wasn’t it, but oh why Rob and Cassie why? (I’m being deliberately cryptic here so as not to spoil it but if you’ve read it, please come and talk to me!) Anyways, so now I’m not sure about finishing it either.

And now I’m going to end this post before I ramble any further. Thank you for joining in. (Also in my personal life, I’m now finished my medical transcriptionist course and will hopefully soon have a job at a hospital! So I’m pleased on that front. And I continue to buy too many books that I then don’t read right away, so what else is new.)

thoughts on how I like to read and Mansfield Park

So it’s been almost a year since I’ve last written here, but tonight I made myself a cup of chamomile lavender tea (due to reading a passage from Proust about tea) and thought of this blog again (the title Lavender Tisane is a bit of a reference to Proust, even though he talks about lime blossom tisane, not lavender. Close enough.).

I’ve been taking a break from book blogging because I was tired of feeling forced to read all the right books that everyone else was raving about. Sometimes it’s nice to be challenged to read something new and different, but personally, I have to feel free to read whatever I want, whenever I want, and to not feel guilty about being myself when I read.

Last year I read a lot of fantasy, for teens, adults, and kids, including four different takes on the Beauty & the Beast fairy tale (my favourite is Beauty by Robin McKinley), and I went back to The Lord of the Rings because I loved The Hobbit movie. I also read some adorable kids books, like The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart and The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall (the third in the Penderwicks series, which are about four sisters and are the absolute BEST, so read them if you want modern-day Little Women homages and general nostalgic the bestness). I also read lots of my lovely Jane Austen, as usual, and more Georgette Heyer. What I didn’t do was force myself to read a ton of books I wasn’t completely into. I didn’t even finish 50 books last year! I just felt sick of putting so much pressure on myself over something that’s supposed to be a fun, relaxing hobby.

One thing about my reading style is that I start a lot of books that I just don’t finish. I have tried to resolve that I will finish more books, but if I’m not in the mood for them, then it’s just not going to happen. I started Little Dorrit last year in the fall (at a very stressful family wedding out in the Maritimes–I finally got to see the Anne of Green Gables museum and all that at Prince Edward Island, but my husband wasn’t able to come with me and there were crazy family times) and had to take a break from it because it was making me too depressed. I picked it up again this year, but the same thing happened. Will I ever finish it? Who knows, hopefully, but I’m not going to push myself. Part of the reason is because I already have depression and don’t need what I do for fun to make me feel worse. I want to read to feel better. Other people have different motives for reading and that’s good too, but I no longer want to feel pressured into copying whatever everyone else is doing.

In the past, I’ve read the entire Twilight series because I enjoyed it. I’ve also read the entirely of In Search of Lost Time, also because I enjoyed it. I love variety in my reading, as long as it’s something I chose and that I’m enjoying.

Anyway, now that that reading manifesto or rant is out of the way… I’m currently rereading Mansfield Park. I love Fanny even if she’s not the most exciting Austen heroine (I’m very fond of all of them and can relate in different ways to all of them too), but I find it hard to read about her struggles with Mrs. Norris and the like because I’ve also been super shy and overlooked or looked down on and didn’t always know how to speak up for myself. I’ve never been a big fan of the Crawfords, although it varies with each reading how more or less sympathetic I feel towards Henry Crawford.

When I read it last year, I felt bad that Edmund couldn’t see Fanny’s beauty sooner, as Henry Crawford does. I wanted Fanny to be with someone who loved her passionately, like Henry does. But this time, all I see is how selfish Henry’s love is. He’s all excited that he’s going to raise poor little nobody Fanny to a position of importance due to his power and of course she will be eternally grateful to him and since she’s so gentle she’ll never have her own opinions but always do whatever he wants, blah blah. He never stops to consider if she actually loves him or if he’s worthy of someone as good as she is, he simply assumes that because he’s rich and charming she’ll be thrilled. Mr. Darcy also assumed that Elizabeth would jump at him for his money and whatever else (certainly not his charm), but when she proved him wrong, he went out and CHANGED for the better. He didn’t try to manipulate her, he actually listened to her and became a better person because of her. 

(Sidenote, I’ve been watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on youtube and very much enjoying them, although I hate waiting for the next one! I don’t know if other book bloggers are watching them, but hopefully some are so we can talk about it!)

So I am reading Mansfield Park slowly, because I have to stop to feel sad for Fanny and worry about the next drama coming her way via Mrs. Norris and the Crawfords, whether it’s an unwanted and pressured marriage proposal or a difficult day out cutting roses in the sun! I’m sensitive enough that a lot of conflict in books gives me grief. I also enjoy just savouring Jane Austen’s writing and not rushing through it. There are other books I want to read after this, but I like taking my time to really live in Austen’s world.

I read Pride & Prejudice before this (due to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and the 200th anniversary of P&P) and also read it slowly. The language and dialogue of Pride & Prejudice especially is so familiar to me, so iconic, that I didn’t want to just rush through it and only enjoy the wit on the surface, I wanted to see beneath to the real characters and their motivations. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries really helped me to see the story in a fresh light, when sometimes in the past it’s felt a little stale to me, and I was intrigued by the story of Elizabeth and Darcy and seeing them not just in a romantic light, where all their fights are ooh so sexy, but looking at them as people still growing up and finding themselves and how they influence each other and change each other.

Well, I think this is enough for now. I don’t know how often I will write here in the future and I certainly don’t plan on getting involved in reading challenges and whatnot, I just wanted a place to share some of my thoughts about the books I read.