Sunday, March 2, 2014

Friday Reads: February Book Reviews, Part One by Christine Locke

Ok--so I'm just a little late!!   This week I'm publishing a two-part collection of reviews  for my February readings....  Enjoy!  I'd love to hear what you've been reading to inspire your writing.

The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction by Nick Groom

If you write gothic novels (don't know?  have a look over here...Meanwhile, Back at the Mansion), you need to read this little book.  Unless you already have an MA in gothic lit, of course.  Groom could have titled this one: "Gothic Novelists: Why You Write What You Write."  Seriously, he covers everything from the Goths who sacked Rome to black lipstick.  I especially enjoyed the explanation of the rise of the gothic novel in the eighteenth century.  Did you know The Castle of Otoranto was not actually the first gothic novel? Did you know the Victorian novels we think of as gothic came around after the genre had already had its day in pop lit and had become more of a literary thing?  One could make the argument that we've been seeing a new flood of pop gothic novels.  What do you think?
In any case, this is a fantastic literary and historical lesson for those of us who write in the genre.  I highly recommend it.
P.S.  I also love that the paperback cover of this book has long tabs to fold in over the pages as bookmarks.

The Call to Create by Linda Schierse Leonard, Ph.D.

This book is the first of its kind that I've read.  Basically, Leonard has written a book about creativity employing Jungian archetypes to illustrate her theories. I tend to read a lot of books for writers, and Leonard's book does include writers in its audience.  But she is actually writing for creatives of all kinds, and her examples include musicians, painters, poets, actresses, etc.
One of the many aspects of this book that I appreciated is the recognition that creativity is cyclical.  Leonard explores why that is, beginning in the first chapter where she likens this to the seasons of nature. She writes that that creative "downtime" you're experiencing might just be the "winter" of your cycle.  I like that thought.  Leonard warns that creatives should not expect to be in their most productive  "season" all the time.  If you think of this the way you think of your garden, it does make sense.  And it's a much gentler explanation than "writers' block"--at least I think so!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

As you may know from my January reviews, I'm (re?)reading the Harry Potter books with my eight-year-old son this year.  He and I each breezed through the first one only to get a little bogged down in the second.
Yet by the time Harry is discovering the secret diary's method of communication, the story gains incredible steam.  The fantastic conclusion with Fawkes and Godric Gryffindor's gift (and how wonderful are these character names Rowling came up with?  I know it's been a long time and these things are household terms now, but still, it's worth saying) had me glued to my little kindle screen even though I know how it all turns out.
Same with my son--only, he's still borrowing his sister's paperback version.  I think a box set of these books will find its way to him soon....
And btw, if you have Amazon Prime and a kindle device, be sure to take advantage of the ability to borrow this book for "free." (It's included with the Amazon Prime fee, along with a lot of other stuff that makes membership worth your while.  They're not even paying me to say that.)

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