[Book Talk] Carmilla by J. Sheridon Le Fanu

carmillaBook Details:

Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Read: October 2017

Synopsis:

Predating Bram Stoker’ Dracula, Carmilla is the ultimate gothic vampire tale—stylish, menacing, sensual, and spellbinding

You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one for ever.

When a mysterious carriage crashes outside their castle home in Styria, Austria, Laura and her father agree to take in its injured passenger, a young woman named Carmilla. Delighted to have some company of her own age, Laura is instantly drawn to Carmilla. But as their friendship grows, Carmilla’s countenance changes and she becomes increasingly secretive and volatile. As Carmilla’s moods shift and change, Laura starts to become ill, experiencing fiendish nightmares, her health deteriorating night after night. It is not until she and her father, increasingly concerned for Laura’s well-being, set out on a trip to discover more about the mysterious Carmilla that the terrifying truth reveals itself.

My Thoughts

I am all about the spooky book during October and Carmilla by J. Sheridon Le Fanu definitely fit the bill! However, I’m a bit disappointed that I read the back of the book while reading the story. I think it was the Wikipedia page I was reading after finishing this book and it talked about how this book is about a vampire and since in this day and age they’re so commonplace in literature that it might be hard for new readers of this book to actually find it spooky. I both agree and disagree with this – I agree because I had loved the atmosphere of the story, the account of young Laura and her new friend who stays at their castle, but then I read the back and it talked about vampires and I realized this was a vampire book. This is why I prefer to go into books without knowing anything about them because I’m sure it would’ve been much more satisfying if I hadn’t known it was about vampires.

I think the most surprising thing about this story is that it’s about vampires before the whole vampire craze actually happened. This was published before Dracula by Bram Stoker and it’s such a good little book at just over 100 pages. I loved the atmosphere and the way it was written, as an account of what happened, rather than a story as it happens. I’m almost tempted to read Dracula to compare and see which is better but I feel like that one would be more in-your-face vampires whereas this one isn’t. It was a really creepy story and it made me want to look more into the history of vampire lore and see where it came from.

I was also interested to check out more of Sheridan Le Fanu’s books and I already ordered a Penguin Little Black Classics edition of Green Tea to try out.

Do you have any favourite vampire books that are deemed classics? 

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[Book Talk] The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

9 the yellow wall-paperBook Details:

Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Read: October 2017

Synopsis:

‘The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing.’

Written with barely controlled fury after she was confined to her room for ‘nerves’ and forbidden to write, Gilman’s pioneering feminist horror story scandalized nineteenth-century readers with its portrayal of a woman who loses her mind because she has literally nothing to do.

Also contains The Rocking-Chair and Old Water.

My Thoughts

A few weeks ago I went away for a solo weekend vacation and brought around 10 books with me to read (that sounds like a lot but I did manage to read 9 of them!) and one of them was this slim Penguins Little Black Classics edition of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wall-Paper. I had gotten this recommendation from Lucy’s video about Classics For Beginners and since the main story dealt with postpartum depression I was very intrigued!

Once I started reading this little book, I couldn’t put it down! I loved Gilman’s writing style and felt it was so easy to just dive in and read the little stories in the book. And with it being so close to Halloween when I read these stories, they were the perfect fit for an afternoon spooky read. After I finished reading the three stories I couldn’t stop thinking about them! This little book, which is only around 60 pages, occupied my thoughts more than any book I read on vacation and I really attribute it for kickstarting me back into reading classic literature.

The first story, The Yellow Wall-Paper, captures the idea of feeling like you’re losing yourself so effectively. I had recently been diagnosed with anxiety a year or so after having postpartum depression that was diagnosed but not treated and so I felt what the main character was going through so deep in my bones that the story was terrifying. As I said, this book is perfect for Halloween but the stories, especially this one, isn’t overly scary, but it’s still terrifying to read, if that makes sense. It was so hard to believe that this story was written after Gilman had gone through the same “treatment” for postpartum depression, the idea that taking away any activities from someone and cooping them up in a room all alone was the cure for depression being completely mind-boggling.

When it comes to horror, or scary stories, the next story in this book, The Rocking-Chair, definitely fits the bill perfectly. I love stories about haunted things or places and this one freaked me out! I loved how straight forward it was and it would be perfect for reading late at night and have the reader pay more attention to those little noises that come up in the night.

The last story was a bit of a surprise for me – it didn’t seem like horror but I loved the idea of being afraid of water because of a feeling that something will grab you. If you know me, you’ll know I am so scared of the water (not baths, but big bodies of water – you just don’t know what’s down there!) so I loved the images this one conjured up. And the ending! It honestly was the perfect ending for this little book!

When I finished reading this slim book I immediately went to research not only more books by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, but also more of the Penguins Little Black Classics. I love how short they are and that they can be read in an afternoon or evening, just a little taste of a classic that won’t take too long to read at all. In fact, I might just ask Santa to bring me the box set for Christmas. 🙂

Non-Fiction November – Week One Introduction Post #NonFicNov

Your Year in Non-fiction:

I haven’t read a lot of non-fiction this year, but here is what I have read:

Call The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth
Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story by Jewel
Under The Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
A House In The Sky by Amanda Lindhout
99: Stories of the Game by Wayne Gretzky
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
Dinner With Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent
Listen to the Squawking Chicken: A Daughter’s Blueprint for Life from the Mother Who Thinks She Knows Best by Elaine Lui
Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run by Alexandra Heminsley
I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage by Mary Ann Kirby
Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage by Kathleen Winter
The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Geek Girls by Sam Maggs
What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year? It’s so hard to pick just one! I adored Call The Midwife since I had seen the show first and fell in love with Jennifer Worth’s character. I also loved Modern Romance because it was really unexpected for me.

What non-fiction book have you recommended the most? Modern Romance. It was such an interesting read! I thought it would be more of a memoir of Aziz Ansari, but it was more about what the title says – romance in the modern age, or dating in the digital age. And definitely go with the audiobook because Aziz narrates it and it’s great.

What is one topic or type of non-fiction you haven’t read enough of yet? I would really like to just read more topics. I started with a lot of celebrity memoirs and while I really love them, I’d love to read more non-fiction that educates me on various topics.

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Non-fiction November? I’m looking forward to getting more recommendations for non-fiction reads, and getting more inspiration for what to read in the coming months. I’m hoping to read a lot more non-fiction in the new year, aiming for at least 2 a month!

What are your non-fiction goals? If you could recommend one non-fiction book to me, what would it be?