Dickens in December: I give up.

You may have noticed the lack of a Pickwick Papers update on Thursday. I was putting off formally giving up on it because I thought that I might sit down and catch up over the weekend, but I didn't, and I haven't got the slightest inclination to read any more of it. It's actually stopping me from reading other stuff, as I was feeling guilty about not reading it. So enough is enough, I quit!
You have defeated me once again, Dickens! Curse you!

Oh well! I read more than half, and I think that's a perfectly respectable amount to have read. 

I don't really understand what happened though, because I really enjoyed the first few chapters that I read. I don't know if it's because I was in a different state of mind when I was reading them, or whether it was just that the things that I was enjoying hadn't been repeated ad nauseum yet, but yeah, maybe that's just a sign of how inconsistent the book is. And how pointlessly long it is. And how desperately in need of an editor it is. I think this might be the first time that I have enjoyed a book so much at first and then ended up giving up on it. I quite often start not really liking something and warm up to it halfway through, but this is definitely a new experience for me! It's weird, I don't like it.

Still, I'm glad that I took part in the readalong! I think that this, combined with A Tale of Two Cities last year has firmly led me to the conclusion that I really don't particularly like Dickens. But if it has a plot, as Tale of Two Cities does, I can muddle through even though I dislike the way that he writes in general and find that I have to force myself to concentrate in order to figure out what is actually going on. So thank you to Bex for organising the readalong, and I'm very sorry that I wasn't able to see it through to the end.

I am glad that I didn't invest in a nice copy of the book now though! Hehe.

Is anybody still actually carrying on with the readalong?

Blog related note:
So you know, there may not be very many/any more posts from me this year. I am going to the UK for Christmas for the first time in 6 years, and need to actually start preparing for that (I'm SO EXCITED!), and I'm going to be over there until the end of the year. So if I don't post again, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas/whatever other seasonal thing you celebrate/end of December!


Dickens in December: The Pickwick Papers readalong, part 3

I did much better at reading the chapters in time this week, and my suspicions were correct: I do definitely enjoy this book more when I'm reading it at a more leisurely pace.

That being said, is it just me or was there a lot of fairly racist stuff in this week's chapters? I have no examples, because I'm not that organised, but there were a few bits where I noticed it. Sigh. Also, I had noticed this earlier but all of the female characters in this book seem to faint a lot! Was fainting actually that prevalent in that time (something to do with wearing corsets, perhaps?) or is it just Dickens being an arse?

I also feel like I'm supposed to like Sam, or empathise with him much more than with the other characters, but he is kind of leaving me cold. I don't mind when he's interacting with the main characters, but as soon as he goes off to see his father or does anything on his own he starts grating on me. How does everyone else feel about him?

Onto more positive points - I am definitely enjoying Winkle's ineptitude at everything. He is like me, although nobody would ever look at me and assume that I would be good at anything sporty, hehe. I really liked the ice skating chapter in general, although when Pickwick fell through the ice my first reaction was to think that he was going to almost die like in every other thing that I've ever read/seen where that happens.

I also like that most of the scrapes that people get into are as a result of them being extremely British and not actually talking about stuff for fear of embarrassment/embarrassing the other person.

When someone at some point started reciting (or whatever - yeah, I made no notes, sorry) A Christmas Carol, I really thought that we were going to get some prototype version of the later A Christmas Carol, which we didn't, but the goblin story was an awful lot like A Christmas Carol, right? I always think it's interesting to see stuff in earlier work that is then expanded on in later work. Makes me feel like some kind of literary detective! Although you know, the goblin story was quite boring. Why have goblins if you're not going to use them well? Silly Dickens.

When I saw that the trial had a whole chapter of its own I groaned a bit, but I actually really enjoyed the trial. It was all completely ridiculous, of course, but that is definitely not a bad thing.

Anyway, although I am enjoying some parts of the book, I am finding the whole thing is getting a bit stale. It is also far too long. If it was cut down so that only the actually interesting and amusing bits were in there, it would be much better! I am generally against abridging books, but I think I would enjoy an abridged version of this much more. This is also where actually have a plot would save the book somewhat, as at least I would (probably) want to know what happens next. As it is, I end up hoping that the next anecdote will be interesting each time I pick up the book, and I'm disappointed more often than not.

Some quotes that I enjoyed/that confused me:

‘What, Sammy!’ exclaimed the father. ‘What, old Nobs!’ ejaculated the son. And they shook hands heartily.
- I think I need to start using "What, old Nobs!" as a greeting.

"‘Fine time for them as is well wropped up, as the Polar Bear said to himself, ven he was practising his skating,’ replied Mr. Weller." 
- What is Sam going on about here? Or any of the time when he's talking?

"The chief features in the still life of the street are green shutters, lodging-bills, brass door-plates, and bell-handles; the principal specimens of animated nature, the pot-boy, the muffin youth, and the baked-potato man."
- I have no idea what a muffin youth is, but I want to be one. Or a baked-potato (wo)man. Mmm, baked potatoes.

"Veil, young brockiley sprout, wot then?"

- Young brockiley sprout, hehe.


Comics I read in November

Okay, so I'm not a huge comic/graphic novel reader (although I have read a sizeable amount of manga), but I do buy them occasionally and would love to read more! If I ever get some kind of tablet device then I would really like to look into exploring comixology or maybe signing up for marvel unlimited... but for the time being, printed comics, yay!

Hawkeye Volume 3: LA Woman written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Annie Wu and Javier Pulido

I talked about the first volume in Matt Fraction's Hawkeye run (ah, I feel like whenever I talk about comics I'm getting all of the terminology wrong, help!), here, and I also read the second one, which I didn't blog about (because I am a bad blogger) but did enjoy. This volume is much more straightforward than the first two volumes, which tended to have non-linear stories. It follows Kate Bishop, the other Hawkeye as she goes to L.A. Obviously this means almost no Clint Barton (boo!) but I like Kate, so yay! I guess the next volume released will cover what Clint was up to while Kate was in L.A., so I'm looking forward to that.

The first bit of it is taken not from the normal Hawkeye comics but from Hawkeye Annual #1 (I guess? Comics confuse me), and it's slightly jarring after the other things because it has a completely different colouring style, although it's apparently the same colour artist. Normally these Hawkeye comics have a very limited colour palette (which I like), but the first one uses more standard colours (I guess?). I didn't dislike it at all, but it felt like I was reading something else. It's weird how much having different colouring changes the feel of the comic! And I so wouldn't have been able to put my finger on what felt so different had it not been for the additional stuff at the back of the second volume where the person who does the colouring talks about how he purposefully uses a limited palette.

Anyway, if you are at all interested in Hawkeye I really recommend this (but do start at the beginning of this run, not at volume 3!)

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Adrian Alphona

This is definitely a much more straightforward comic than Hawkeye. There has been a lot of buzz around this, mainly focused on the fact that the main character, Kamala Khan, is a Muslim Pakistani girl, which is pretty unusual for a superhero. I think the comic does a really good job of making Kamala's life seem completely normal for her (if that makes sense? I think sometimes things can go too much in the direction of WOW LOOK HOW DIVERSE WE'RE BEING! rather than actually seeming real), and I really liked her as a character. 

The story itself is pretty straightforward, Kamala ends up getting the power to alter her body so she can change her body at will, and one of the joys of this is that she could use it in the way that most teenage girls would and make her ideal body or something (...okay, maybe not just teenage girls because that is exactly what I would do if I had that power before even considering doing anything else, if I'm honest), and at the beginning she does struggle with that a bit, but then she just uses her ability to be awesome and try to fight crime, which is a wonderfully positive message.

I say this as a complete comics newbie, but so far it seems like this would be a good comic to jump in with, as so far there has been nothing that relies on you having a massive amount of comic knowledge to understand. I managed with my knowledge which is mostly just based on marvel films, hehe.

Honestly, it's pretty rare when I read something that I don't have some small complaints or criticisms about (my husband said that my constant criticism of everything is a sign that I'm turning Japanese, but I think that I've always been like that, and most of my Japanese friends are about a million times less nitpicky than I am), but I really couldn't find anything wrong with Ms. Marvel. I want the next volume to come out now!