Tag Archives: Classics

Gray’s Anatomy by Henry Gray

Overview
Barnes and Noble | Grays Anatomy | Henry Gray P.R.S — Heebie Jeebies

Title: Gray’s Anatomy
Author: Henry Gray
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, MedicalNon-fiction
Dates read: 18th February – 11th May 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Leatherbound
Year: 1858
5th sentence, 74th page: When a small quantity can be collected, it is found to resemble lymph, and like tha tfluid coagulates sponatneously; but when secreted in large quanities, as in dropsy, it is a more watery fluid, but still contains a considerable amount of proteid which is coagulated on boiling.

Synopsis

No longer need you search through second-hand bookstores for a scarce, used copy of this grandfather of all anatomy books. It is here in this unabridged facsimile of the 1901 edition — with a full 1,257 pages and 827 illustrations!

Thoughts

I started reading this because I wanted to understand a bit more about human anatomy for my Jiu Jitsu. I mean, how else can you figure out how best to bend people and make them tap if you don’t know how bodies work? It didn’t necessarily quite work that way. But it was still a supremely interesting read.

The language in this is hard going. Which is kind of expected, because it is a textbook. And it is most definitely of the sort that I will have to read again and again to even get a drop of the knowledge in this textbook. But, it’s also presented in a way that is actually quite accessible.

Human anatomy has always perplexed and confused me (for whatever reason, animal anatomy makes sense to me when human doesn’t, go figure). So I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of the writing in this went completely over my head. But, I still enjoyed it.

This is an awesome, beautiful book to have on my shelves. The fact that it is the Barnes and Noble Leatherbound edition just makes it all that much prettier and fun. Definitely a book I will flick through again and again.

<- The Complete Sherlock HolmesFairytales from Around the World ->

Image source: Heebie Jeebies

Dracula and Other Horror Stories by Bram Stoker

Overview
Image result for barnes and noble leatherbound dracula and other horror stories book cover

Title: Dracula and Other Horror Stories
Author: Bram Stoker
In: Dracula and Other Horror Stories (Bram Stoker)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Horror
Dates read: 14th September 2020 – 11th May 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Collection
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Leatherbound
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: I trust her feeling ill may not be from that unlucky prick of the safety-pin.

Synopsis

Dracula and Other Horror Classics collects the most memorable tales of horror by Bram Stoker. In addition to Dracula–the landmark vampire novel that set the pattern for virtually all vampire fiction written after its publication in 1897–this omnibus collects the novels The Jewel of Seven Stars and The Lair of the White Worm. In also includes a dozen of Stoker’s short tales of the macabre, including “Dracula’s Guest,” a sidebar to his famous novel.

For more than a century, Bram Stoker’s fiction has inspired countless writers of horror and fantasy fiction. This volume allows readers a unique opportunity to appreciate the full range of his dark imagination.

Dracua and Other Horror Classics is one of Barnes & Noble’s leatherbound classic editions. Each volume features authoritative texts by the world’s greatest authors, in exquisitely designed bonded-leather bindings with distinctive gilt edging and an attractive silk-ribbon bookmark. Decorative, durable, and collectible, these books offer hours of pleasure to readers young and old and are an indispensible cornerstone for every home library.

Thoughts

I seriously enjoyed Dracula. And I do have a bit of a penchant for reading classics late at night over a glass of wine. Bram Stoker is the perfect mood writer for such a penchant too. I mean, a collection of mystery-feeling horrors that have a super eerie feeling. Late at night, with a glass of red wine? Seriously awesome vibes there.

Although I enjoyed this collection, it took quite a while to get through – there is only so much mood writing that you can read before you have to switch to something a little simpler… And, honestly, some of this started to feel a little same-same. Still enjoyable, but just too similar to a certain point.

Towards the end of this collection, I did begin to skim read a little. However, even in skim reading, I found that I was enjoying the storylines.

This might have been a bit of a rushed read at the end, but it is most certainly a collection that I would read again. There are so many wonderful nuances to Stoker’s writing that I can’t wait to see what I pick up on next time!

<- The Dualitists; or, the Death-Doom of the Double-BornDracula ->

Image source: Amazon

Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker

Overview
Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker

Title: Lair of the White Worm
Author: Bram Stoker
In: Dracula and Other Horror Stories (Bram Stoker)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics
Dates read: 12th February – 11th May 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Leatherbound
Year: 1911
5th sentence, 74th page: I feel that I can open my heart to you about anything.

Synopsis

In a tale of ancient evil, Bram Stoker creates a world of lurking horrors and bizarre denizens: a demented mesmerist, hellbent on mentally crushing the girl he loves; a gigantic kite raised to rid the land of an unnatural infestation of birds, and which receives strange commands along its string; and all the while, the great white worm slithers below, seeking its next victim…

Bram Stoker, creator of Dracula, is one of the most enduring and masterful influences on the literature of terror.

Thoughts

I absolutely loved Dracula. I really wanted to love this story as a result. I mean, I love going down the rabbit hole with certain classics writers. Sadly, that really wasn’t the case with this book. I just… “eh”. Which seems to be a bit of a trend lately.

I still loved the style of writing in this story. And the way in which Stoker was able to retell a story from a different point of view. I love that this story is told in reflection. And I seriously enjoyed every moment of style throughout.

Sadly, I just couldn’t get into the storyline. So badly couldn’t get into the storyline that I can’t actually remember much of it when it comes down to writing this review…

<- The Jewel of Seven StarsDracula’s Guest ->

Image source: Goodreads

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

Overview
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende - Penguin Books Australia

Title: The House of the Spirits
Author: Isabel Allende
Rating Out of 5: 1.5 (Couldn’t get past the first chapter)
My Bookshelves: Classics
Dates read: 27th April – 4th May 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 1982
5th sentence, 74th page: She was doubled over beneath the weight of a sheaf of hawthorn for the kitchen hearth, barefoot, her head bowed.

Synopsis

As a girl, Clara del Valle can read fortunes, make objects move as if they had lives of their own and predict the future. Following the mysterious death of her sister, Rosa the Beautiful, Clara is mute for nine years. When she breaks her silence, it is to announce that she will be married soon to the stern and volatile landowner Esteban Trueba.

Set in an unnamed Latin American country over three generations, The House of the Spirits is a magnificent tale of a proud and passionate family, secret loves and violent revolution.

Thoughts

I really, really, really wanted to like this… but I just couldn’t. I ended up skim reading the whole story and just feeling really “eh” about the writing. To the point I actually looked up the synopsis to see if I’d missed anything. I hadn’t. I was just “eh”.

I love the premise of this story. And I’m going to keep my copy of the book because I really want to like this. But I’m just not confident in that fact. I don’t know why though. There is nothing seriously wrong with the writing, the story, anything. I just could not get excited.

I’m going to try this book again in a few years time and see if I can get a bit more excited about this… because I really want to!

<- More Isabel AllendeMore classics ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia

The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

Overview
Image result for barnes and noble leatherbound dracula and other horror stories book cover

Title: The Jewel of Seven Stars
Author: Bram Stoker
In: Dracula and Other Horror Classics (Bram Stoker)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Horror
Dates read: 30th – 31st October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Barnes & Noble Leatherbound
Year: 1903
5th sentence, 74th page: The book was one which, on the very face of it, required special attention.

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Synopsis

An Egyptologist, attempting to raise from the dead the mummy of Tera, an ancient Egyptian queen, finds a fabulous gem and is stricken senseless by an unknown force. Amid bloody and eerie scenes, his daughter is possessed by Tera’s soul, and her fate depends upon bringing Tera’s mummified body to life.

Thoughts

I really didn’t get all that into this novel. I did enjoy it at the time of reading. But once I finished it and sat down to jot down some notes… there really wasn’t much that I could think of to write. The whole thing was just a little bit “eh”.

Although I don’t have heaps to say about this, I did really like the atmosphere that the book created. It was perfect for sitting up late at night, drinking a glass of red wine and sinking deep into a classic. It was a little bit eerie and creepy. And just generally a good experience.

This is most definitely one of those classics that I’m going to have to reread in the future… I think that it is one, that will get better the more times I read it and sink into the world that has been created.

<- DraculaLair of the White Worm ->

Image source: Amazon UK

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Overview
Amazon.com: Moby-Dick (Word Cloud Classics) (9781626860575): Melville,  Herman: Books

Title: Moby-Dick
Author: Herman Melville
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Oceans
Dates read: 5th – 22nd October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1851
5th sentence, 74th page: When Bildad was a chief mate, to have his drab-coloured eye intently looking at you, made you feel completely nervous, till you could clutch something – a hammer or marlingspike, and go to work like mad, at something or other, never mind what.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

“Call me Ishmael” is the iconic opening line of Herman Melville’s classic American novel, Moby-Dick. Ishmael is a seaman aboard the whaling vessel, Pequod, under the vengeful captain, Ahab. Maniacally seeking retribution from the great white sperm whale called Moby-Dick–the whale responsible for the captain’s missing leg–Ahab leads the crew on a quest to kill the infamous beast. A fictional work based on actual events, Moby-Dick is a classic that has been enjoyed for generations, and it’s now available as part of the Word Cloud Classic series, making it a stylish and affordable addition to any library.

Thoughts

I can totally see why this is such a well-known classic. It was a very enjoyable and intense story. And, even though I only gave it 3 stars, I would totally read it again. I felt like throughout this I was actually missing quite a bit… so I would actually quite enjoy re-reading this and picking up on all of the bits and pieces that I missed. Actually, I think that this is one of those stories, that no matter how many times you read it… you’ll always find something new to the story that you just didn’t notice before.

There was a heck of a lot of symbolism throughout this story. More than my puny little brain seemed to be able to comprehend if I’m being honest… although, most of the symbolism that I felt I was picking up on was very homosexual in nature… I’m not sure if that was just the mood I was in though. Or the simple fact that the Whale is a sperm whale (I mean, queue the jokes here).

This isn’t a feel good, comfortable story. At all. Which is probably why I did enjoy it and am likely to reread this. I’m not necessarily big on stories which are all sunshine and lollipops every time I open a book. And at the time of reading this, I was finding that there were a few too many happy, happy stories on my TBR. This was a really good break from that – I loved the discomfort that it left you with.

This may not be my favourite classic. But it was an enjoyable one. It was pleasant and fun, and I can’t wait to pick it up again in the future and learn more about all the parts of this story that I missed…

<- The Prince and Other TalesAnne of Green Gables ->

Image source: Amazon

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Overview
Dracula, Word Cloud Classics by Bram Stoker | 9781607105510 | Booktopia

Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Series: Word Cloud Classics
In: Dracula and Other Horror Classics (Bram Stoker)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Horror
Dates read: 14th September – 20th October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1897
5th sentence, 74th page: I trust her feeling ill may not be from that unlucky prick of the safety-pin.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Irish author Bram Stoker introduced the character of Count Dracula and provided the basis of modern vampire fiction in his 1897 novel entitled Dracula. Written as a series of letters, newspaper clippings, diary entries, and ships’ logs, the story begins with lawyer Jonathan Harker journeying to meet Dracula at his remote castle to complete a real estate transaction. Harker soon discovers that he is being held prisoner, and that Dracula has a rather disquieting nocturnal life. Touching on themes such as Victorian culture, immigration, and colonialism, among others, this timeless classic is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats! Now available as part of the Word Cloud Classics series, Dracula is a must-have addition to the libraries of all classic literature lovers.

Thoughts

I absolutely loved this novel. I remember picking it up last year, reading the first page and then, honestly, just getting distracted. So I wasn’t all that optimistic when I decided to try again this year… and boy was I wrong. And surprised. It was a wonderful journey into the realm of Stoker and I can FINALLY say that I have finished Dracula.

This classic is so well written and done in a form that I really wasn’t expecting. I’ve read a few recent books in this style of memos and letters cobbled together. But this is most definitely the oldest one. And, as such, it was somehow all that much more unique and… well… awesome. I loved this. I can’t stop thinking about it. And, if you get past the first three chapters, you will feel the same. I can almost guarantee it!

Honestly, there aren’t really words for how much WOW this story made me feel… it was just an amazing adventure. Kind of dark, really intense and… well, I can see where the vampire myths started and what makes this such a popular classic.

Mina and Lucy were really good female leads (and victims). They were a little bit soft and not necessarily the strongest of characters. But I do like how they, one and all, inspire love in the other characters. And it wasn’t really a sexual love (alright, in the case of Lucy it often was). But it was that love for one another that I think all of humanity needs. Or at least, that’s how I was understanding it.

This story was filled with darkness, tragedy, and a whole heap of love. I like that it was mostly happy endings and just all in all, a great, impossible to put down story. I can’t wait to read more Bram Stoker stories!

<- Treasure IslandThe Art of War ->

Image source: Booktopia

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Overview
My Ántonia

Title: My Antonia
Author: Willa Cather
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Westerns
Dates read: 26th – 27th June 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1918
5th sentence, 74th page: Sometimes he was completely hidden by the clouds of snow that rose about him; then he and the horses would emerge black and shining.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Willa Cather’s novels brought the life of American settlers on the Great Plains to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness during a time when the lands west of the Mississippi were undergoing rapid transformation. My Ántonia, considered by many scholars to be her first masterpiece, tells the story of a young orphan, Jim Burden, who is sent from Virginia to Nebraska, where he grows up with his grandparents on their farm. He becomes friends with Ántonia Shimerda, a Bohemian girl who endures her own struggles as she enters adulthood. Rich in themes that will resonate with readers of all backgrounds, My Ántonia explores the struggles and triumphs of ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Thoughts

This is the first ever full-length Western that I’ve had the privilege to read. And it wasn’t as tedious as I kind of half expected. Mostly, I was expecting it to be a little slow like the short stories I’ve been reading in The Mammoth Book of Westerns. But, it wasn’t like that at all. In fact, I kind of completely loved this novel and just devoured it in one night – I found it really difficult to put down, put away and stop thinking about. Which was surprising, specifically considering the fact that I was a bit eh about her short story.

There is something about Antonia that should feel seriously tragic. And heart wrenching. And just, all round sad. Yet, even though there are moments throughout which do make you feel a little sad, there really isn’t an overall tragic feeling to this story. In fact, it’s almost hopeful and uplifting. Which, if I’m recounting this story, is not how I would be able to describe it. But something in Cather’s story telling manages to make that feeling of hope and the future seriously come alive. It’s a little disconcerting and is probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed this book so much.

Like Cather’s short story, one of the things that really stood out in this novel was the beautifully setting. It was a world in which you were completely immersed from the very first moment. And a really nice transportation into a moment in history that I never knew I was intrigued by. Definitely a very well written story. One which transported you to another world and another time. A world filled with different priorities and challenges, but ones which feel familiar regardless.

This isn’t a fast-paced, crazy storyline. It’s not a grip the edge of your seat kind of story, instead, what it is is just… fun. It’s a great story that transports you to everyday life and the ways in which we form and create bonds. The ways in which we change over time. And how some people are able to stand the test of time in their friendships, even in the most trying of circumstances.

<- Through the Looking-GlassDon Quixote ->

Image source: Simon & Schuster

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Overview
Mansfield Park (Vintage Classics Austen Series) by Jane Austen ...

Title: Mansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Romance
Dates read: 17th May – 8th June 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Year: 1814
5th sentence, 74th page: She entertains me; and she is so extremely pretty, that I have great pleasure in looking at her.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Fanny Price’s rich relatives offer her a place in their home so that she can be properly brought up. However, Fanny’s childhood is a lonely one as she is never allowed to forget her position. Her only ally is her cousin Edmund. When her cousins befriend two glamorous new young people who have arrived in the area, Henry and Mary Crawford, Edmund starts to grow close to Mary and Fanny finds herself dealing with feelings she has never experienced before.

Thoughts

I have started and stopped this classic about three times. Which is super annoying. Because all of the other Jane Austen books that I’ve read thus far I have absolutely adored. As in I started and finished them in a short period of time and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. Yet, there is something about this one that I found more difficult. Maybe it was the size. But I actually went to DNF this for a third time. Then I decided to push on. And boy am I glad that I did!

Once I got past that first third that just made me cringe constantly. I think it was Mrs Norris. What a horrible, odious woman. And I honestly just wanted to cuddle Fanny the whole time – the poor, quiet soul! Anyway, once I got past that first third, I actually started to really love this novel. Fanny’s darlingness grew on me and felt less tragic and painful. Mrs Norris was still horrible and annoying, but there was the sense that others had begun to realise this. And the story just generally started to pull me in. I wanted the happily ever after that I knew was coming because I was beginning to be heavily attached to all of the characters.

Having said all of that, I do still find it weird that the happily ever after involved Fanny marrying her cousin. I know that this was a common practice at the time of this story. But I just found it uncomfortable. Particularly when she was kind of raised with the boy. I mean. Seriously. It was just… uncomfortable. When I stopped thinking about that aspect, and concentrated on the fact that Fanny and Edward made a good couple and made each other happy… well, it began to work.

I think that my absolute favourite thing about this book was the poetic ending. The fact that each and every selfish and annoying character in this book got a comeuppance. That in the end, Fanny’s goodness was noticed and she actually got her happily ever after. Plus, some of the poetic justice was just downright funny.

<- EmmaNorthanger Abbey ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Overview
Amazon.com: Little Women (Word Cloud Classics) (9781607105480 ...

Title: Little Women
Author: Louisa May Alcott
Series: Word Cloud Classics, Little Women #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Contemporary, Strong women
Dates read: 2nd – 6th April 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1868
5th sentence, 74th page: The knowledge that her mother had a fault like hers, and tried to m end it, made her own easier to bear and strengthened her resolution to cure it, though forty years seemed rather a long time to watch and pray to a girl of fifteen.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

No home library is complete without the classics! Little Women is a keepsake to be read and treasured.

When Little Women was first published in 1868, it became an instant bestseller. The book’s gentle lessons and charming story of four adventurous sisters coming of age in Civil War-era New England was originally written as a children’s book, but quickly captured the hearts and attention of readers of all ages. Now part of the Word Cloud Classics series, Little Women is a must-have addition to the libraries of all classic literature lovers.

Thoughts

I have been told to read this again and again over the years. And, as it turns out… I did actually read this as a child… I just didn’t quite remember the reading of this story. But, as soon as I started to sink into this amazing classic, I began to remember bits and pieces. Just enough that I wasn’t floored by some of the more tragic moments, but not enough so that there were no surprises left to me.

At the point of reading this story, I’m an adult and technically older than the little women… yet, there is still a great message and reminder of what it’s like to grow up throughout. Meg’s plight as a wife and new-mother, the ways in which she has to balance everything is something that I’m still constantly working with. And, there are aspects (such as motherhood) that I still have to experience and figure out. Yet, instead of instilling fear in me (which is what normally happens), it instilled a sense of calm and zen about the future. And a great sense of looking forwards.

I know that this is an ensemble novel, but, for me, this story has always been about Jo. Maybe it’s because I relate to her more than any of the other characters. Or maybe it’s just because I can see the most change in her as the story unfolds. But, whichever way it works. It is Jo that completely steals the show for me. She sweeps me away and makes my heart soar and cry in equal turns. There is just something about her journey that works so beautifully and makes you feel completely emotionally invested in her future happiness. At least, that’s how her character is for me. I don’t know that I’ve ever truly been so connected to a literary character, especially one who is in a classic novel.

Little Women is one of those books that just everyone needs to read. It is beautiful, uplifting and impossible to forget. There is a sense of ease to the writing that you don’t always find in novels written in the 1860s, which makes it a great starting classic for anyone who wants to start reading classics, but can’t quite find one to suit. But more than that, it is a story of family, love and finding your own happily ever after, whatever that may be. Something that I think we all need to learn to work towards.

<- Aesop’s FablesInferno ->

Image source: Amazon