A Chat About Shakespeare

Book Club

In the spirit of the new Shakespeare drama written by Ben Elton, starring Branagh, Judi Dench and Ian Mckellen (Also known as the epitome of thespians) called ‘All is true’ which is out today, here is a little chat about the famous bard himself. Shakespeare is a playwright and poet we all know about, some know of ‘Yorrick’s skull’ in Hamlet, or ‘to be or not to be’. Others know of his plays in more depth having studied them at school, and all English speakers use phrases from his plays in everyday life. But the question many ask is of the relevance of his plays today.

At the Globe!

I love Shakespeare’s plays, I revere his craft and the storytelling; the way in which the plays really capture human nature – the ways in which we think, our own hypocrisy, our flaws, our tendencies and the multifaceted sides of all of our personalities. I find that when I watch or read one of the plays, each time you get a new insight into what it means to be human. I think the quote that really sums it up is from Hamlet when Ophelia in her supposed madness says ‘we know who we are, but not what we may be.’

Shakespeare, in my opinion, is often a little bit like marmite – you either love it or you hate it. However, if you are currently one of the haters I urge you to give the plays another try. Go in with an open mind and if it’s a play done by great actors you will understand it.

My personal recommendation is Henry IV as part of The Hollow Crown series of Shakespeare’s histories with Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal, Jeremy Irons as Henry IV and Simon Russel Beale who plays a brilliant Falstaff, or Branagh’s ‘Much ado about nothing’ with Emma Thompson is very funny and was the film that got me into loving Shakespeare’s plays. (You can find both of these on amazon)

Other favourite performances…

My favourite adaptation of ‘Hamlet’ is Andrew Scotts performance – if you get the chance to watch it, his performance is so clever with little actions really emphasising the themes of the play even if you don’t completely understand the language.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to The Globe, there really is nothing quite like seeing the plays in a replica of what it would have been like watching his plays in the Elizabethan / Jacobean era.

I saw Almeida Theatres Richard II starring Simon Russel Beale a couple of weeks ago, The national theatre often record many of the live performances which makes it so much easier to see theatre in your home town.

Shakespeare with all its old English and metaphor can make it seem completely inaccessible but I urge you to watch some of these adaptations focusing on all the incredible themes focusing on the human capacity to be multiple beings and how he captures human nature. So many scholars have taken Shakespeare over but his plays are something everybody can enjoy.

This new film focuses on Shakespeares later life in his final years and I can’t wait to watch it, I have heard it is quite emotional.

What are your favourite adaptations?

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Book Club: The Song of Achilles

Book Club

I think I am off to a good start with my resolutions; of reading the books on my ever growing list. This was one of them –

“The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller.

The story was so captivating I couldn’t wait to pick it back up again and I finished it in just over two days! I know very little of Greek mythology and had no idea about this love story perhaps overlooked by the tales of war in Troy. It is such a tragic but beautiful love story between Achilles and Patroclus, all written in the perspective of the latter. Of the little I knew in Greek mythology, I had heard that Achilles was arrogant and selfish, Miller’s story tells a very different, sensitive side to this legend really examining the ways of human nature, about our motivations, fears and hopes and how they drive us to our fates. It is almost paralleled with Shakespeare, following a similar course to Romeo and Juliet and examining the complexities of human nature.

Overall I would highly recommend this book whether you are a Greek mythology newbie like me, or have a passion and are well read in it, I think that you would enjoy this book if you want a story of love, of pride, of fate, of what it means to be a ‘man’ and of war, this is for you. I have, however, come away with a renewed interest in wanting to learn more about Greek mythology and this part of history.

I am now about to read her second book ‘Circe’ which so many people have been raving about recently – apparently it’s a feminist take on this Greek myth. Have you read it? What did you think?

Join my #bookclub on Instagram and let me know what you are currently reading on instagram 👇

Book Club: 2018 in review and 2019 goals

Book Club

At the beginning of this year I set myself the goal to read 7 books (you can read the post here)

I know it is not very many books but In reality when setting this goal I knew it was going to be a little unrealistic as school work does end up getting in the way.

This year I read:

  1. The da Vinci Code
  2. Origin
  3. A Dolls House
  4. A streetcar Named Desire
  5. A Handmaids Tale
  6. Kane and Abel

However half of those books are ones that are compulsory for me to read for my English literature A level so I am a little disappointed I hadn’t read more in my own time (particularly as only one of these were on that list I set myself). Nevertheless I will continue my ambition to read more.

I loved all the books I read, my favourite however was probably either Origin or Kane and Abel as they are both fantastic thrillers and overall much more enjoyable reading. I am a little unsure about The Handmaid’s Tale to be honest, I actually much prefer Nineteen eighty-four.

Here are the books I plan on reading next year (I will set myself the goal of 5, although I imagine I will have more time for reading as I have a longer summer after I have done my A level exams).

  1. Frankenstein By Mary Shelley
  2. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
  3. Weathering Heights by Emily Bronte
  4. The prodigal daughter by Jeffrey Archer (sequel to Kane and Abel)

Then the 5th one I am unsure about because there are some more classics that I would love to read however there are some really great new books I’d love to read to – particularly maybe the A Discovery Of Witches books as I watched the first series of the adaptation and I was hooked. I would also love to read ‘Circe’ or ‘Song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller as I have heard they are amazing.

Book Club: Origin review

Book Club

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I recently finished reading Origin by Dan Brown; I am a huge fan of his books anyway after having read Inferno, and this sequel does not disappoint – its just as thought provoking and fascinating as his past novels.

To sum up the novel, without spoilers, the novel is a thriller following the Harvard professor Robert Langdon going to see an ex students presentation about a new discovery he has made. He then finds himself running for his life along with Museum manager Ambra Vidal. It follows all the places they visit and all of the organisations, people and architecture in the book are real which is really interesting.

Brown also touches on some very controversial topics including the ongoing religion vs science debate and the impact technology has on todays society. It is incredibly thought provoking; it made me question and want to find out more about the topic and the way in which science and religion both have parts to play in todays society. It makes you ask questions about the relevancy of religion in the modern world, about the impact new scientific discoveries have on society and about the conflicts that can occur due to the differences in opinion people have over answering these questions.

Religion is presented almost like a comfort blanket in the novel by some characters (although the protagonist, Robert Langdon, remains a bystander throughout) as an idea that people go to when the world does not give them clear answers. For example what happens when we die – science cannot yet give a definite or ‘nice’ answer so perhaps religion is that blanket to turn to. Other characters depict a world in which science can cause more suffering for example issues with the lack of morality and emotion in computers or a lack of hope amongst society due to the less romantic answers to some questions Science is trying to answer. In this way, Brown presents a clear discussion of these themes allowing the reader to make up their own mind of what the answer should be. Science or Religion or maybe even both, side by side?

Overall I would 100 percent recommend this novel, it follows a very similar story arc as to many of his other novels but the topics are very relevant and fascinating – I couldn’t put the book down, I was so eager to find out what was going to happen next. It not only feels like you are reading a thrilling novel but also learning a lot from it too.

Have you read Origin, If so what did you think?

Have you got a favourite book? I would love to know your book recommendations – please leave a comment below!

Thank you so much for reading 🙂

(This is all my own opinion, unless otherwise stated, about the book and the themes it entails. You may think completely different ideas about the themes or have different thoughts about the novel as a whole and I am happy to hear your opinions about them)

 

Book club: On My 2018 To Read List

Book Club

One of my resolutions was to read more. I have always loved reading but over the last couple of years schoolwork seems to have taken over and my passion for reading diminished a little. I am currently reading Origin by Dan Brown, an author whose books I have come to love, I’m about half way through and I’m hooked. Now it may be reading over schoolwork!

This is my  ‘to read’ list for the rest of the year…

Sense and sensibility – Jane Austin

I’ve been wanting to read one of Jane Austins novels for a while, I’ve seen the films and I really enjoyed Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austin apparently writes in a similar style. Its also one of those classics that I think will be really interesting to read.

Hidden Figures

The film was incredible, Looking at the women in Science who were behind making the Apollo mission possible but were never recognised at the time. Its supposed to be a really empowering read and a compelling look back into history.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine

This is currently one of the best sellers on Waterstones and looks like a thought provoking story line.

To kill a mocking bird

This is one of my friends favourite books and she’s been urging for me to read it for a while. Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the thirties through one man’s struggle for justice.

The Da Vinci Code

I am currently reading Origin, which is Dan Browns newest book of the Robert Langdon series, and I read inferno last year but I have never read the earlier books so I really want to read the first book to see where it all started. A lot of people say this is the best one too so really looking forward to reading it later this year.

Wild

I really enjoyed the film and it was a really poignant story about a woman who backpacks across America to find herself. I had wanted to read it before watching the film but I never got round to it – better late than never… right?

The Road

I think I am going to be reading this in English next year along with A handmaids tale and its always good to be ahead 😉 haha

A pair of silver wings

My dad recommended this book to me – he claims it to be one of the best books he’s ever read so i’m looking forward to seeing if I find it as good as he claims it to be.

If you have any book recommendations please let me know! It is such a struggle to find a good book and I hope that my reading list may have helped you. For my other recommendations please see my ‘book club’ section xx

 

To Read: Inferno

Book Club, Lifestyle

I finished reading Inferno whilst on holiday in Nice, France, it was an amazing book simply because it was so thought provoking. Without giving too much away Inferno is basically about a professor helping the WHO to find a potential ‘plaque’ Zobrist could have hidden. The book takes you on a journey around Florence, Venice and Istanbul so is very cultured. I really want to go to Italy now!

I’ve seen the film as well which is still really good but the book is honestly so much better because the ending of the film is very different and the film leaves out many of the details from the book which would probably be too difficult to portray in a film.

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The main issue this book is based around though is the taboo topic of the increase in human population. The book includes a graph of this increase and how overpopulation can lead to so many issues but how we don’t know how to face the issue in an ethical way.

In my opinion it is something we need to deal with soon because we as humans do have a massive impact on the environment. The more people there are the more cars there need to be on the roads, the more electricity we need to create, the more houses we need to build, the more land we need, the more food we need, the more water we need, the more trees we need to cut down, the more of everything we need.

I kind of think we are the reason for global warming; its not necessarily just the cars we are using and other ways we are producing co2 but we are heating the world. If you think about it every piece of technology we use produces heat as a by product, the more people there are the more people there are using these products. The more people there are the more we have to use intensive farming because there is not enough land for organic farming, the more people there are the more co2 we are producing because that is the product we breathe out along with all other animals, the more heat we are creating because we live so closely together; we could be essentially creating our own greenhouse effect like when penguins huddle together to create heat. Obviously I am no scientist and this is just my opinion.

Maybe we are just so naive to not notice or do anything about the fact that we are the biggest problem facing the world. But I really couldn’t think of any way that we would be able to deal with it anyway.

Have you read inferno? if so what did you think of it x

a few of my favourite things from September

Book Club, Favourites, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Hello October, i love autumn; when the leaves begin to fall, the time when you can cozy up in the thickest jumpers, light the spicy candles and go on crisp walks.

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(images from google)

Because of my love for the season i thought i would share some of my favourites fro last month and generally what I’ve been loving recently.

the first has to be cozy pyjama bottoms, they look adorable with little foxes and are so comfortable- i pretty much wear them as joggers around the house!

although this actually came out at the beginning of October this year, i still thought id give it a mention; EstĂ©e Lalonde’s Bloom book. Its so interesting I love her style of writing and her personality.

Bath and body works ‘leaves candle’, i only managed to get my hands on this when my friend very kindly got it for me from her trip to America earlier this year. It smells as amazing as everyone says; the perfect sweet to spice combination and truly is the scent that makes you think of autumn. the packaging is beautiful as well with its gold leaf lid.

Music wise, i am quite into alternative usually. I have got 5 songs i really love at the moment, constantly listening to them on repeat;  Tom odell with true colours, Emelie SandĂ© with hurts- a really powerful song, James arthurs new song- don’t let go and the new version of ‘where is the love?’- i really love the message of the song.

I hope you have a great October- soon to be halloween! have you got any plans or costume ideas?