I read The Picture of Dorian Gray a while ago but its one of those books that you just never forget. When I was first introduced to the book I wasn’t interested in it at all, it seemed boring and long. If you have ever read the book you know that it is everything but boring and maybe it’s a little long but it’s worth reading.
Basil Hallward is a painter creating a portrait of the young dashingly handsome Dorian Gray when Lord Henry Wotton enters to observe. Lord Henry begins to express his opinions on beauty and the world to Dorian Gray, ignoring the constant opinion of Basil who is telling him to stop. From here on after Dorian Gray seems to believe that beauty is the only worthy characteristic of a person. His vanity is his doom. He rejects his true love knowing that she will one day get old and lose her physical beauty. He becomes rude and condescending towards everyone. He essentially loses his true beauty. Dorian Gray is a perfect representation of how the focus on physical beauty can take away from inner beauty. The portrait painted by Basil soon begins to show the true Dorian, it now shows an ugly person who is deprived of any form beauty. Oscar Wilde does a truly magnificent job in stating that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. This book is a beautiful winding story of self destruction. I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates different perspectives on true beauty.
“It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But it is better to be good than to be ugly.”
Name a book (or books) from a country other than your own that you love. Or aren’t there any?
I love reading book from all over the world. Foreign books expose you to experiences from other parts of the world, other time periods, and other cultural perspectives. If you have not read any foreign books you are missing out. A few of my favorites include:
- Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
- Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
- The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- Les Misérable – Victor Hugo
- The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
- The House of Spirits – Isabel Allende
- Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
What are some of your favorite foreign books or authors?
You meet up with a guy that you met on an online dating site for the first time. You notice that he is shorter than he described to you. He said he was four inches taller than your height. But, he is the same height as you and you are not even wearing heels. This is a red flag. If he lied about something as noticeable as his height—what else is he going to lie about to you?
Similarly, in “Kissing Frogs in Cyberspace,” Dianne Sweeney discusses the red flags that she has learned when screening potential dates. Although not written as a “how-to” book, Sweeney’s memoir of the first six months of her online dating quest documents her experience with several online dating services and publishes actual emails from potential suitors. Through her experiences, we can learn from her lessons in dating and even relate to the dates that are entered into with high hopes but turn out to be duds. Even though I have been on many similar bad dates as Sweeney, it’s a lot funnier when it’s happening to someone else. Sweeney’s voice is honest, relatable, and humorous—I laughed out loud on public transit while reading her book. I would definitely recommend this book to all of my friends that are single ladies.
If you could rewrite the ending of any book, which book would it be? And how would you change it?
This is a really good question and I am sure I felt like that after reading a few books. However, the only one that comes to mind is Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. I felt that she forced a happy ending for everyone. Jacob is a teenager so I am sure he would have gotten over Bella eventually. The fact that he was destined for her daughter did not bother me as much as her trying to make him have a happily ever after ending.
About a week ago, I finally finished reading The Pillars of the Earth. My initial intention was to review each part as I got through it but soon after I realized that it wasn’t such a good idea. Once the story picked up, I could not put it down and regretted not being able to take the book around with me. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it. Don’t be discouraged by the size.
The Pillars of the Earth is an incredible story full of intrigue, romance, history, and architecture. The novel is set in the middle of the 12th century and centered around the building of Kingsbridge’s cathedral. It follows the lives of several characters, particularly those of Prior Philip, Tom Builder, Ellen, Aliena, Jack, Waleran Bigod, and William Hamleigh. The stories of the characters are intermingled as their lives are affected in one way or another by the construction of the cathedral. Most of the characters were driven by ambition, pride, love, and/or promises.
Among the things that I enjoyed about this book was that most of the female characters were not damsels in distress. Although they were victims of injustice and tyranny they were also survivors. The women of the story were clever and were not only able to recover but also succeed. I am not sure how historically accurate their success is for the 12th century. On the other hand, most of the men in the story seemed dependent on women helping them out or telling them what to do, particularly Richard. Richard’s character was actually rather annoying.
My favorite characters were Prior Philip, Ellen, Aliena, and Jack. Ellen seemed to belong to another time period. Her independence, boldness, bluntness, and sense of justice seemed at times slightly out-of-place. Both, Prior Philip and Jack, shared an innocence about the world that was endearing but were quick to figure things out.
I decided to read The Pillars of the Earth after watching the Starz TV adaptation. I have to say that I liked the ending of the Starz TV adaptation a little better. But the ending of the book was satisfying.
When you travel, how many books do you bring with you?
Has this changed since the arrival of ebooks?
It depends on the length of the trip. If it’s a short trip I usually just take whatever I am reading. Since I like to travel lightly the most books I will carry are three, current read plus two back-ups.
I don’t own an e-reader but have been debating about getting one for the longest time. I enjoy holding the book in my hands and flipping the pages, which is why I have been resisting. However, I am beginning to see the benefits of getting one. An e-reader would take up less space in my bag and I could carry more than one book without adding weight to my bag.
If you read series, do you ever find a series “jumping the shark?” How do you feel about that?
And, do you keep reading anyway?
I am not a big series reader because once I start reading a series I have to finish it. I have to know what happens next. Most of the series that I read have been pretty good. However, I felt that the most recent book of the Sookie Stackhouse novels was somewhat “jumping the shark.” The storyline was all over the place and a bit boring.