Another month has come and gone – and way too fast, if you ask me! I need more time!
Seriously, I’m not kidding… For those of you who want to know what I’m up against, this is my exam schedule:
- September 21: British and American Literature
- September 22: English Linguistics
- September 24: Text Production & Translation (English-German)
- September 25: Methodology of Teaching English
- October 12: Real and Complex Analysis, Ordinary Differential Equations, Function Theory
- October 13: Linear Algebra, Number Theory, Algebra
- October 15: Methodology of Teaching Mathematics
- Hopefully sometime before Christmas: Oral Exam on British and American Culture, Politics, and Current Events
Looks fun, doesn’t it? 😭😭😭😭😭😭
Anyway, I apologize in advance if I don’t read or comment on as many of your posts as I usually do in the next couple of weeks. I might be a little preoccupied 😅 I definitely plan on catching up once exams are over, though! After two years of studying for this thing, I will finally have free time again!! I am soooo excited!!!
Also, please bear with me if my own posting schedule goes a little erratic 😉 I do have a few drafts prewritten, but don’t hold me to any promises…
Speaking of blogging, though: Has anyone been having issues with WordPress lately? Because let me tell you, we’ve been at WAR this last month! Blogs that I’m subscribed to have been mysteriously disappearing from my feed, comments I write get posted twice – in finished and half-finished forms – and when I view posts in the reader, sometimes whole paragraphs seem to be missing? Either that or some of you are writing some pretty impressive thematic jumps and filling in the details a little while later… Why is this happening?! What do I do??!??
However, frustrating study sessions and internet struggles aside, August was actually a great reading month for me. I used the first two weeks to devour as many classics as I possibly could, and I finally reached my goal of reading Shakespeare’s complete works! Of course, there are still about a million books on the required reading list that I haven’t read, but since I really needed to get a move on with memorizing my thousands of pages of notes for all those other exams, I guess I’m just going to have to hope I know enough to pass literature 😁😎📚
Also, since the prospect of reading a chapter of something I actually wanted to read as a study reward was very alluring, I actually did get to a couple of non-classics as well 😉 Feel free to skip ahead to the books that interest you in the endlessly long list that is about to come!
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (4.5/5 Stars)
After reading and LOVING Elizabeth Acevedo’s With the Fire on High in July, I just knew I had to read The Poet X as well. Especially when Scribd practically shoved the e-book into my recommendation feed. I must admit, though – I was also a little skeptical. I knew this book was written in verse, and usually, I’m not the biggest fan of that. I want those long, deep, introspective descriptions that go along with prose!
But, oh boy – to say that The Poet X managed to be deep and introspective anyway is a gross understatement. The main character Xiomara, who lives in Harlem, comes from a deeply religious Latino family. Poetry has always been her refuge – there, she can pour out her thoughts about boys, her body, her lack of faith, her parents, and her possibly gay twin, without having to worry about what others might think. In her notebooks, she can truly be herself. Still, when Xiomara’s teacher asks whether she would like to join the school’s slam poetry club, Xiomara immediately finds herself drawn to the idea. It’s just that she’s supposed to be attending confirmation classes at church during the times the club meets…
Overall, I loved this! It did take me a while to get into the poetry, but I do think this was ultimately the best way to tell this story. Parts of this really punched me in the gut, and I love when books can elicit such a strong emotional reaction. If you haven’t already, please do yourself a favor and read this one!
Persuasion by Jane Austen (4/5 Stars)
I decided to ease myself into my classics readathon with a book I was pretty sure I would like – I mean, it’s Jane Austen, after all! And I did absolutely adore this. Anne is now one of my favorite characters ever; I identified with her so much! And Captain Wentworth was just so swoon-worthy! I was already in love with him, and then he sent that letter 😍😍😍
Typically for Austen, this is a love story with a bunch of commentary about social class thrown in. Anne Elliot, our heroine, comes from a very “distinguished” family, which is why it was deemed imprudent for her to marry Frederick Wentworth, a man with no ancestry to speak of. Several years later, Anne’s family is forced to move out of their estate due to her father’s excessive spending – and their new tenants are none other than Admiral and Mrs. Croft, brother-in-law and sister to the man whom Anne, despite everything, still loves. If you want a good romance with lots of yearning and pining, this is the one for you!
Now to all the Shakespeare plays… I read eleven of them this month,
so I’m going to keep my thoughts a bit briefer than I usually do. Well, I tried 😅 It’s just so easy to get excited when talking about Shakespeare!
King Henry VIII (2/5 Stars): I was severely disappointed by this one. I had thought it would be pretty exciting – I mean, this guy had six wives and started a religious conflict that would last centuries – but none of this stuff was actually at the forefront of this play. Instead, I thought it was rather boring, serving only to show off royal pomp and to suck-up to Elizabeth I and James I as much as possible. I did like the storyline surrounding Katherine of Aragon, but apart from that, Shakespeare really could have done better.
Love’s Labour’s Lost (3/5 Stars): This play was just really silly, though I did appreciate the mockery of besotted men reading love poems to the objects of their infatuation 😁 In this one, a king and three of his lords swear an oath to avoid all contact with women for the next three years, so that they can dedicate themselves entirely to studying. Their resolutions barely last a page, though. When the Princess of France and her ladies come to visit, all four men are absolutely infatuated, and try to make advances without their friends becoming aware of their oath-breaking. This one is funny, but it didn’t really stick out from Shakespeare’s other plays.
Measure for Measure (4/5 Stars): The plot of this play is all kinds of problematic, but I still found myself enjoying it immensely. Yeah, I guess you can see a theme to my reading tastes (*cough Midnight Sun cough*). Anyway, the Vienna of this play has pretty much become a moral dumpster-fire, so Duke Vincentio decides he needs to put someone else, someone stricter, in charge. Pretending to have urgent business out of town, he hands over power to Lord Angelo, who immediately uses it to come down hard on the city’s brothels and to sentence a nobleman called Claudio to death for having sex out of wedlock. What follows is a bunch of chaos and scheming…
The Merry Wives of Windsor (3.5/5 Stars): I definitely need to see this on stage! True, it doesn’t exactly have a lot of depth, but it does have a lot of Falstaff, a character I absolutely adored in the Henrys. And in this one, he somehow got the “brilliant” idea to woo two different married women at once. The wives, though, are much smarter the knight and have no intention of cheating on their husbands. However, they do decide to have some fun with Falstaff (and their husbands) before they resolve the situation, and it was absolutely hilarious!
The Two Noble Kinsmen (2/5 Stars): In my opinion, this is Shakespeare’s worst play. I already didn’t think this story was particularly engaging when we covered Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in my first semester of university, but Shakespeare and Fletcher manage to stretch out the source material into something even longer, even more boring, and even more ridiculous. Palamon and Arcite flip-flopped around like nobody’s business, and by the middle of the play, I kind of just wanted both of them to die because they annoyed me so much. I wouldn’t recommend starting your Shakespeare journey with this one, that’s for sure.
King John (3/5 Stars): It took me two acts to realize that this was the same King John as in Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe – yeah, I’m dumb – but once I did, it made this even more enjoyable. King John just such a villainous idiot! Actually, if I’m being honest, all the kings in this play are pretty stupid. They let their power-hungry mothers and the church steer them into the most pointless wars ever, and corruption is pretty much ever-present. Somehow, though, this still managed to be funny. Arthur’s death was just one of the most ridiculous scenes ever!
Troilus and Cressida (2.5/5 Stars): This one was also a bit of a disappointment. I mean, it’s an account of the Trojan War! It should be exciting, right? Instead, both Troilus and Cressida (and also Paris) behave like complete idiots, Achilles spends all his time moaning around in his tent, and Ulysses makes these really long and beautiful speeches that I had to read about three times before I figured out what he was actually saying. Thersites did make some good points but was a bit vulgar for my tastes. My final verdict: This was rather boring, and there are definitely better stories about the Trojan War out there.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona (4/5 Stars): I actually really enjoyed this, though the rushed (and honestly pretty misogynistic) ending did annoy me a little. The play follows two friends, Valentine and Proteus, as they leave Verona behind in order to attend to the Duke of Milan. Proteus is heart-broken – after all, he has just secured the love of the girl he had been lusting after for ages – but once he catches sight of the duke’s daughter Silvia, he forgets Julia immediately and turns into a backstabbing traitor. Julia, however, is pretty spunky, so in true Shakespeare fashion, she disguises herself as a boy and goes after Proteus… Overall, I had a lot of fun with this one – and guys: it has a DOG in it!!!
Pericles (3.5/5 Stars): Incest, it turns out, seems to be a very popular theme in Jacobean drama… I mean – this one isn’t anywhere near as extreme as John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore, but still! Basically, this king and his daughter have a little bit too much intimacy going on, and to keep up appearances (and stop anyone else from ever marrying her), the king comes up with a horribly difficult riddle that prospective suitors have to solve – or die. Of course, though, none of this stops our boy Pericles, who solves the riddle immediately and realizes the horrific (*incestuous*) nature of its meaning. Grossed out, Pericles decides he doesn’t want the princess after all, and the king gets really mad that Pericles knows about the incest and decides to kill him. Only not right away, since Pericles needs time to make a run for it. The plot that follows is a little all over the place, but I actually did really enjoy this!
Timon of Athens (3/5 Stars): This play was off to a good start: Timon, the poor soul, just wants to have friends and make people happy, so he spends a bunch of money throwing lavish parties and buying extravagant gifts. The only problem: Timon isn’t actually THAT rich, and soon, all his creditors are coming for him and none of his so-called friends want to help. Honestly, the friends’ excuses were the worst ever! 😂 Then, though, this play gets decidedly boring. Timon goes into solitary forest confinement, hating everyone and everything, and I just wasn’t enthralled… However, I did love the relationship between Timon and his servants! I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much non-romantic inter-class loyalty in a 17th century play before!
Double Falsehood by Lewis Theobald (3/5 Stars): This might not technically be a Shakespeare play – people are apparently very divided on whether it might be Shakespeare’s lost Cardenio – but since it’s part of the Arden Shakespeare collection, I thought it would only be fair to include it in this section 😉 And anyway, it reads like Shakespeare! It has intrigue, cross-dressing, betrayal – pretty much all your go-to Shakespeare elements. But can I just say: Violante deserved so much better than Henriquez! Honestly, what a douchebag!
Silver in the Wood (Greenhollow Duology #1) by Emily Tesh (4/5 Stars)
I read this because Line from First Line Reader raved about it in her July wrap-up – and rightfully so! This book is beautifully atmospheric and completely captures that dark fairy-tale-esque feeling I love so much 😊 The wood 😍😍 It’s so magical and creepy, so old and new, so calming and mysterious! I was drawn in immediately.
Since this is a novella and rather short, I don’t think you actually need to know much more than that. Though I am just going to put it out there that this has a bunch of superstitious villagers who might be onto something, some pretty great gay tension, and an absolutely amazing cat!
The only reason it doesn’t get five stars is because, when a new character is introduced in the middle of the book, it feels as though they know too much way too soon. I would have liked to see a little more build-up there!
Also, I read this on Scribd, and the e-book had really weird formatting – why was all the text centered and why were certain passages printed in absolutely gigantic font?? Was it supposed to look like that??? Because I certainly hope not! It was so distracting and drove me nuts!!!
Still, weird formatting aside – go read this!! It’s awesome, particularly if you’re looking for a quick read.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (3/5 Stars)
I was very underwhelmed by this one. I mean, this is counted as one of the greatest English classics of all time, and Tessa and Will Herondale constantly obsess over it, too. It’s got to be good, right?
Well, you can’t deny that the writing was flawless. Dickens just has a way with words – so beautiful and poetic! But the story? The first 100 pages, I was hopelessly confused and didn’t have a clue what was going on. In the next 200, I finally figured most of it out, but was extremely bored. The last 100, though – those were epic! I finally saw what all the fuss about Sydney Carton is about, and the way themes like rebellion and rape were handled shook me to the core.
This is definitely a very dark and insightful novel, but it does take a long time for all your reading to pay off. Plus, the characters in here are some of the flattest I’ve ever seen. Everyone is a type; no one really has a multi-facetted personality.
So yeah, overall, I wouldn’t say this is Dickens’ best – except for quite possibly that ending!
Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer (4/5 Stars)
Yes, this book is kind of trashy. And misogynistic. BUT I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! Oh my god, I had soooo much fun returning to this world and being in Edward’s head. Honestly, I think the way this was written is a stroke of genius. It is unnecessarily long and analyzes absolutely everything, and because of that, it does absolute justice to Edward’s overly analytic, emo personality. And he’s so self-aware! Quotes like this one had me dying from laughter:
Bella was sleeping peacefully when I climbed up to her bedroom window early Monday morning. I’d brought oil to grease the mechanism – entirely surrendering to that particular devil – and the window moved silently out of my way.(Meyer 176)
Yeah, I had a blast. I might even have reread the entire Twilight series to see what my new knowledge added to the story 🙈 Anyway, if you’d like to know more of my thoughts on this book, you can check out my reaction post here!
Englisch unterrichten by Engelbert Thaler
I hate this book with a passion, because for the last two weeks, I’ve been doing pretty much nothing other than learning it by heart. This is the holy grail of English teaching methodology in Germany, and you bet it’s going to be exam relevant.
Honestly, though – I think it’s absolutely pointless that the ministry of education expects us to memorize this. I mean, most of the stuff in here is pretty common knowledge. Like, for example: the advantages of the blackboard. I can now tell you that the blackboard has a structuring, disciplinary, documentary, learning-improving, motivational and differential function, because it structures the lesson, focusses students’ attention, documents what was done in the lesson, helps students take notes that they can then learn, motivates them because their ideas can contribute to what is written on it, and addresses different types of learners (auditory, visual, haptic). Blah, blah, blah. None if this is new, and I’m pretty sure everyone knows this intuitively. But I had to waste hours of my life pounding this kind of terminology and who came up with it into my head.
And you know what? The last chapter included an overview of things you shouldn’t do when posing exam questions. Well, one of the points mentioned was not to make students memorize complete textbook passages and ask questions on insignificant details, because that doesn’t contribute to any type of understanding. Maybe these exam people should actually read the stuff they’re testing us on 🙄
So yeah, that’s it for my August wrap-up! If you’ve made it until the end, kudos to you 😄
If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Also, what are your plans for September? I hope they’re a little less stressful than an exam that covers (almost) your entire university education 😉