Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, November 07, 2016

My Super-Sized Saturday Book Haul

One of my favorite fall events is to go shopping for bargains at the local church rummage sale in my neighborhood. They hold one twice a year and over the years, I've gotten some great books and other pop culture trinkets that way.

This Saturday,however, was also the day that I had to return the first library book that I've taken out in over a decade(last month, I got a New York Public Library card and enjoyed reading Curtis Settenfeld's Eligible). So, this became a super sized book haul for me and I pretty much made out like a bandit, as they say. To share my joy with you all, let us begin by looking at the books that I picked up at the rummage sale:

A DOUBLE DOSE OF DOSTOYEVSKY: I haven't read a lot of Fydor Dostoyevsky, especially The Idiot, a novel I first heard of in The World According to Garp(the leading man was reading it at one point).

The title refers to a member of the Russian royal family, Prince Myshkin, a naive and trusting soul who others find to be a complete fool. His journey through society reveals a lot about the people around him as well as himself. I have to say that the cover art caught my eye(it's a 1968 edition,which accounts for the psychedelic design) and hopefully, this particular translation by Henry and Olga Carlisle is as engaging as well.

I know that I did read Crime and Punishment but it was so long ago that it's high time I got reacquainted with that story. From what I remember, the whole plot revolves around a premeditated murder by tormented student Raskolnikov of a local woman whom no one likes.

Yet, Raskolnikov finds himself conflicted once the deed is done. Once he is caught, plenty of moral arguments are made regarding the nature of murder but salvation for his sins becomes the ultimate goal. I was in my teens when I read this book(and The Brothers Karamazov as well), so rereading it now should be interesting, to say the least:

MEETING WITH THE MARGARETS: The recent passing of  renowned sci-fi author Sheri S. Tepper makes me regret not having read her work sooner. When I spotted a copy of one of her last books, The Margarets,  on the sales table, it felt like an opportunity that I shouldn't miss.

The story is set in a distant future, where young Margaret Bain learns to survive the harshness of her life at a Martian work colony by dividing herself into seven different personas, each of whom go off in different directions on other worlds.

Bringing these diverse yet connected selves back together is the key to saving humanity from those out there who feel justified in keeping this particular species under their control. The book does sound promising and I'll give it a fair shot. My interest in science fiction is on and off there but having a female lead with secrets to discover(several, in this case) is a good way to get me involved:

A DEVILISH GOOD READ: While C. S. Lewis is best known for the Chronicles of Narnia fantasy series for kids, he also wrote a few books intended for adults. The Screwtape Letters are meant to be a satire dealing with morality, as newbie demon Wormwood gets advice on how to handle humans by letters from his elder uncle Screwtape.

Wormwood's first assignment is to tempt a man called "The Patient" into damning his soul, a task that proves difficult to say the least. The humor of this book has gained it fans such as John Cleese, who narrated an audio book version and the late David Foster Wallace who ranked as one of his Top Ten favorite books.

I happen to be a fan of the TV series Lucifer and this book sounds the perfect group read for most of the characters on that show,especially Mother Morningstar, who is still getting use to living among mortals and so not loving it:

QUITE THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER ACT: I found this last book purely by chance and once I saw it, I couldn't resist. Charlotte Gordon wrote a duel biography of English feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and her perhaps more famous daughter Mary Shelley entitled Romantic Outlaws, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award last year.

Wollstonecraft died while Mary was still a baby, yet the child grew up in the shadow of her mother's reputation and made certain choices in her life that echoed her lost parent's. Both had to get married to leave oppressive homes and both were criticized for the company that they kept, not to mention their writing.

Learning more about these literary icons will be great, particularly since I've always liked Shelley's Frankenstein. Getting a more in depth look into the birth of that book ought to be a real eye opener there:

 And now for the library:

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD: I may well be one of the last HP fans to check out this newly written play that takes Harry and friends into adulthood.

From what I have heard, the plot is strongly focused on a friendship between Harry's youngest son Albus and Scorpius, Draco Malfoy's one and only offspring. The boys meet at Hogwarts,of course, and a Time Turner falls into their hands which inspires them to change a certain moment in Harry's history that has more far reaching impact than they expected.

I have heard various reports on the quality of this play to puzzle me exceedingly, with the best reviews merely giving this extension of the Potterverse an "it's alright" rating. I like the concept of Harry and Draco's kids being friends yet I know full well that this story was written by two other people(with J.K. Rowling's approval) than the original author.

 Since the new Potterverse movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them , is arriving in theaters this upcoming weekend, this is my way of getting back into this world and hopefully will be just as fun as this film looks to be:

THE ICE CREAM QUEEN OF ORCHARD STREET: Author Susan Jane Gilman is best known for her nonfiction work yet this debut novel was inspired by legendary ice cream seller Tom Carvel.

Her leading lady is Malka, who was abandoned by her parents as a child after an accident involving a horse driven cart leaves her right leg permanently altered. Taken in by the Dinellos, the family of Italian ice makers that caused her injury, she changes her name to Lillian and learns all she can about their sweet treat business.

When she grows up, Lillian wants to take part in the Dinellos' new ice cream parlor but she is quickly shut out. Out of sprite, she starts up a rival company and becomes the seemingly sweet faced ruler of her own edible empire. This book has a snappy flavor that I know will make it a truly tasty read:

THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT: I've heard many great reviews of Alexander Chee's latest novel, so much so that I had to put it on hold. Lucky for me, it was available just in time as I was returning Eligible.

The story is set in the opera world of Paris in 1822, as top ranked singer Lillet Berne is about to star in a show written with her in mind. Trouble is, the plot of the opera is a rather thinly veiled retelling of her past, which is filled with various secrets and lies.

Lillet knows of at least four people who have such knowledge and might be willing to embarrass her in public like this. While figuring out who spilled the beans, she goes over her memories of those rough and tumble times to see if there's a chance that this could be a blessing instead of a curse.  Granted, my knowledge of opera is limited at best but the rags to riches tale of a musical diva is the little black dress of storytelling-it never goes out of style:

Well, my reading cup is definitely overflowing here. I do have other bookish plans, including my TBR for the upcoming Christmas Spirit readathon from Seasons of Reading later this month and that one has a Jane Austen theme, so stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, I hope that things go well tomorrow in regards to the election. I have been keeping this blog a neutral zone in that department yet I will say that we all need to come together in a positive way once this whole thing is over and done with. It's in all of our best interests to find and share our mutual joys and strengths as we move forward.

My best advice for that night is to take a break from the election coverage and watch a nice movie with your friends and family. I plan to enjoy Star Trek Beyond during those prime time hours and I did find a few good films at the rummage sale such as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. It's a two disc special edition and a wonderful take on this classic book that should be suitable as we all turn this particular corner together:

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