Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Love and Literature.

I'm feeling a bit torn about writing a Valentine's Day post - on one hand, the single girl that I now am wants to say, "Eff Valentine's Day, it's nothing but a holiday made by Hallmark and Godiva," but really, the romantic in me loves Valentine's Day (I think it also helps that I have never been happier since the breakup - so I am neither miserable or bitter - phew!).

Plus, so many of you, my dear friends, are so happy in your relationships/marriages, that it is just impossible for me to be bitter towards the idea of love, because I've seen firsthand that it is definitely not just a thing of fairy tales.

From the time we're young, we hear stories of Cinderella and Prince Charming, of Beauty and the Beast, and how love changed them -- for me, this fascination of love in reading (and a love for reading - I mean, I am a teacher after all!), was something that just continued to grow. I feel like I was one of the few in my Lit classes in high school that actually read the books and didn't rely on SparkNotes for all my answers (except Frankenstein because I hated that book with a passion).

My love for reading completely unrelated to Valentine's Day and just proving that I am a massive nerd? I think not (minus the nerd part, because really, I can't help who I am).

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I remember reading about Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, sucking in my breath, waiting for the moment when they realize they're in love with each other; I gasped in horror when I found out that Rochester was married, and poor Jane Eyre had her heart broken; and I was thrilled when Ron and Hermione finally admitted that they were in love.

I've learned a lot of lessons about love from the books I've read - and for now, I'm perfectly content to curl up with a glass of red wine, and live vicariously through the love in the lives of my favorite literary characters.

Through the years and the books, I've learned quite a lot about love and relationships - though I still blame Jane Austen for the fact that I really want my own Mr. Darcy because he is just the epitome of perfection.


Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen

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Elizabeth Bennet is a character way ahead of her time - she refuses to marry for money or social status, and insists that she will wait for love, which was an entirely new concept for her day and age.

Enter, Mr. Darcy, who is rude, stubborn, and unrelenting - and yet, so perfect because he is basically the male version of Ms. Bennet. The entire book, you just wait for the two of them to freaking realize that they're in love!

This is seriously one of the greatest love stories of all times - and if you haven't read it yet, I INSIST that you do (I'll even send you a copy of the book because I literally found ten copies while cleaning my room).

(Plus, Colin Firth makes a REALLY yummy Mr. Darcy).

"In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."


Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

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I read this book my senior year of high school in AP Literature, and thought that I had never read a more touching book. Once you get the dialogue down, which is a little hard to get through at first until you get used to it, you get to the heart of Janie Crawford, a woman who grows and learns from each relationship she is in.

Basically, this book taught me that love changes us - and that each relationship we get in, even a friendship - changes the way that we love. In the words of Janie, "love is like the sea."

"Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore...”


Bergdorf Blondes, Plum Sykes

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This book is chick-lit at it's best, but I just adore it. I reread this book every year (along with Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice & Men, and On the Road - I feel like it's a literary sin to group these together with a chick-lit book?), but it just makes me happy because it is absolutely adorable.

This book has taught me that sometimes love comes unexpectedly - and that it's more important to have someone that really, truly cares about you than to have the most perfect closet in the world. In other words, yeah, it's great to have someone there when you're looking and feeling fabulous, but it's the person who is there when you're sick and moody and feeling awful who still loves and cares for you who is the most special.


The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Unrequited love. I think a lot of us have been there before - you love someone, they don't feel the same way back. Or, in Gatsby's case, they're married to a total jerk, but won't leave that jerk, even though they love you back.

Basically what I've learned through this book, is that, like Gatsby, you can have anything in the world - money, nice clothes, cars, whatever - but love is what makes it all worth it (even unrequited love that makes you crazy and totally sucks). Another lesson, is that sometimes love takes sacrifice (though I hope I never have to make a sacrifice like the one that Gatsby made for Daisy).

He hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real. Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs...”


Harry Potter (I-VII), J.K. Rowling

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Judge me for loving Harry Potter - I do not even care. :)

Harry Potter has shown me that the ability to love is the greatest gift that we could ever possess, but love is not easy because it requires trust, and trust isn't an easy thing to give out, especially when things are hard. The love Harry's mother has for him saves his life, the love Dumbledore has for Harry molds him into the person he becomes, and love becomes the very thing that saves everyone in the end.

No matter how difficult things get, if you have love, you're one up on all the people who are living without it - consumed with other things. Dumbledore says it best in the final book -

"Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love."


Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

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Charlotte Bronte could have written soap operas - for real. The girl had an active imagination. This was another book I read for pre-AP Lit my junior year, and I devoured this book.

Premise of the book is simple - two lonely people (one an orphan girl, the other her super rich employer), find that they can cure the loneliness they both suffer. Love breaks the ice of the crabby and rigid Rochester, and he and Jane continue to grow closer. Unfortunately, his timing sucks, because he forgets to tell Jane about his ridiculously crazy wife who lives in the house, hidden away.

While the premise (and very condensed) summary might sound depressing, I promise that it is actually a beautiful story - and it shows that love can break the toughest of exteriors, and cure the loneliest of people. To me, that is a message worth believing in.


The Wedding, Nicholas Sparks

The Wedding

Okay - Nicholas Sparks's wife is seriously the luckiest woman in the world (aside from Colin Firth's wife - that's two Colin Firth references in one post, not too shabby!).

I'm not going to say too much about this book, because if you haven't read it, I BEG you to. It is ridiuclously beautiful - and has a twist ending that you just will not see coming at all. Plus, it references The Notebook, another Sparks novel, since Noah Calhoun is a character in The Wedding, and is just as romantic as ever, even as an old man.

Read this book, and send me roses when you finish it, because you will melt inside.


The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

Okay, I haven't lost my mind, I promise. I know that this book isn't a typical for "romance," and I don't consider it to be. However, this is a story about unconditional love, and a love that is so deep, it is self sacrificing to the fullest extent.

Can I put this book on level with the relationship of Darcy and Elizabeth? No - but in it's own way, it is just as beautiful of a love story as any other.

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Who are some of your favorite literary couples?

I hope that you all have a beautiful Valentine's Day - whether you're single, dating, engaged, married - you're all beautiful people and deserve the very, very best.

Currently listening to: Nicki Minaj - Super Bass
(My mom said she will pay me $100 if I can successfully rap every single word to the song by Sunday. It's been on repeat since she laid the challenge down, and I won't lie - my flow is sick and I've got it almost all down).

26 comments:

Em [the writer] said...

All those books are so good! I too, swoon over Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice every time! Some of those I haven't read yet but I'll be sure to pick them up. Sounds like you'll have a great V-day. Sadly, I'll be performing on that day for probably two people in a mix production at my school. Ugh. Your post did cheer me up about it though :)

P.S. I so saw Black Swan this weekend per your recommendation. I loved it. AND THE OUTFITS WERE SO FRICKIN CUTE!!!!

▲my• said...

Ron and Hermione <3

Also, I always feel like such a bad reader/student for saying this, but I never read any Jane Austen books. I was supposed to for school, but I never did it. That really should change... Haha.

Happy Valentines day! I've been single my whole life but I still love the holiday. Even if it was just invented my Hallmark and Godiva. I LOVE HALLMARK AND GODIVA.
Haha.

Also, you are too sweet for mentioning your friend who does ESL in Japan. If this goes somewhere I may just ask you to introduce us haha.

Morgane said...

I'm not a very valentine girl as i consider this like a commercial think , call me realistic or non dreamer ; We don't celebrate la saint valentin in our couple lol!

But i'm really love jane Austen books too . A Roméo and Juliette always thrills me too, some Tristan and Iseult , some Stendhal "le rouge et le noir" , but i don't know some american litterature ones!

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

First off, I love you even more now that I know you're a Nicki fan! LOL! I've had that CD on repeat since December and I can't get enough of it! I adore her, which is weird because I am not a hip hop fan...

Anyways, I know this is going to cause you to gasp, but I have never read any of those books. I know, right? Not even sure how it's possible that the classics weren't required in school. I started off in AP English Freshman year and did great; however, school was getting in the way of sports so I dropped it sophomore year. Yup, I was a jock and played three sports so like a moron I didn't try in school. Point is, I am lazy. Which is sad and embarrassing.

Even in college I didn't finish one.single.book. I was great at writing essays so I always read enough to fake it. In the end I've just cheatied myself.

I know it's late but maybe my New Year's Resolution should be to start reading. I could be getting into all of these classics but instead I sit on the couch watching TV. Not OK.

So after this ridiculously long comment, I have come to the conclusion that I am going to read more! Thanks for the inspiration :D

...of course it will have to start next week because tomorrow is Vampire Diaries night and I'm not gonna read on the weekends psh! ;)

HiFashion said...

Despite being endlessly single, I'm a sucker for love stories!
I've just started The Great Gatsby and am loving it! And yes, Hermione and Ron are so perfect!

I saw Love Story at the theatre a while ago and it was so beautiful. I've just bought the book now and can't wait to read it. It's a lovely story. Definitely recommend it.

Lindsay said...

Oh my gosh you totally got my esp messages I was sending you. I saw your tweet about not knowing what to write about and I even thought in my head "favorite books!". I love that you incorporated your favorite love stories though. I completely agree with your choices. Nothing will ever top Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I need to see the Colin Firth version!

I'm adding The Wedding to my reading list!

I totally hope you win your $100! Buy something fun!!

I can't wait for Survivor either!!!

Have a great Valentine's Day doll. You deserve the best too.

Couture Carrie said...

Awwww awesome post!
Love Plum, Shel, and Jane!

xoxox,
CC

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

Oh I just love Pride And Prejustice! This is a great list!

Claire said...

you might like 'Lost in Austin' it was a british TV series about a girl obsessed with Elizabeth Bennet, she ends up swapping places with her, a bit of a different angle on the Mr Darcy thing but very good! Love all your other books too :)

Jocelyn said...

aw.... this post was amazing. I am so glad that you included the giving tree Allison. That is one of my favorites. I remember like 5 years ago after I read P&P, I cried non-stop for about 2 hours knowing that I would never find someone as sweet as Mr. Darcy. I hope that I one day we will all find out Mr. Darcy.

What you said about love is so true. It reminded me of this quote from Juno-

"Look, in my opinion the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what-have-you. The right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with."

I love it. And i love you, and I love your blog.

happpy v-day my dear!

-joce

amy b.s. said...

total like button. and i love that you included harry potter. and shel silverstein. and i really have to get on reading the classics. i am terrible!

Style, She Wrote said...

Great love story picks! I love F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nicholas Sparks, and Plum Sykes especially. Another favorite -- The Sun Also Rises. Definitely a sad love tale. xo style, she wrote

MizzJ said...

I am so glad you didn't cite any of the Twilight books in this list! I think those books (and please, no hate mail twi-hards, this is just my own opinion) just teach the absolutely wrong idea about what love is and what it should be like. Anyone who thinks they do, should at least 1 of the books on this list!

TigerLily said...

Love all your pics! I love them all except for the last 3 books which i have yet to read, i especially been lusting over The Giving Tree since it has great local reviews here (i live in Jakarta, Indonesia)


YURI
The fashion blog:http://twothousandthings.blogspot.com
Reviews & Giveaways:http://tigerlilysbook.blogspot.com

Anahit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anait said...

This is so great! You covered almost all of my favorite love stories....though I read the Great Gatsby once and hated it. I think I was too young to appreciate its message.

I read Pride and Prejudice when I was 13, I think and was so blown away. I haven't read it since, but no need to send me a copy,I'm a Borders whore :)

A few of my favorites not mentioned in your post are....Lancelot & Guinivere, Tristan & Isolde, and Heathcliff and Catherine from Wuthering Heights.

I am so thrilled you are happy post-breakup.......celebrate YOU on Valentines Day

fhen said...

oh i dont celebrate valentine's day very massively either
i agree with you
seeing friends happy with their loved ones make me happy as well
I should grab those books! really. i need more stuffs to read. thank you for sharing. oh and happy belated birthday dear
wish you all the best :)


xoxo

daisymay aka Chantele said...

Thanks for stopping by. It's strange I didn't own any cardis until about 2 years ago then I started buying them and can't stop, they just look so girly and cute!

Daisy Dayz Home
Cross-Jones-Photography Home

Holly said...

LOL at you and your mum's challenge! :P Good luck!

yiqin; said...

ive always wanted to read the great gatsby!

Lani said...

I should reread some of these books. I've read most of them in high school, I just wished I had a greater appreciation for them back then. I was totally a "sparknotes" student. =p

la petite fashionista said...

i agree, being single on valentine's day is definitely different from being in a relationship but it doesn't have to be bad. i'm too much of a romantic to be bitter about it. i plan on spending mine w/ my single girlfriends + lots of wine + cupcakes. hey not so bad right?

Jenni said...

Your flow is sick.... LOL!! You make me laugh Allison!! And this post was so sweet. It really inspired me to get back into some of the books I've started (including "Their Eyes Were Watching God!") AND inspired me to watch Pride & Prejudice again! I just told my mom we need to have a P&P movie day!! Hehe!!

Have a wonderful V Day, my sweet friend... you do NOT have to have a bf to enjoy the day and just celebrate LOVE, as you have done so beautifully in this post! <3 <3

Jenni said...

PS - I ADORE Harry Potter as well, and I love the Dumbledore quote you included!! I really need to read the actual books... all I've done is see the movies! :(

Kelly @ The Startup Wife said...

I LOVED LOVED LOVED this post!!! I'm so tempted to steal the idea sometime. I adored Jane Erye, too. SO juicy. And I loved Their Eyes Were Watching God--it's been so long. I should reread it. And The Great Gatsby holds a special place in my heart--one of my fav books ever, and when J proposed he'd gotten an old copy of the book and cut a box out of it to surprise me with the ring inside.

Also, I looooooooooove chick likt (like, love) and am always on the hunt for good chick-lit books (too bad so many are bad) and I'm totally going to check that one out!!

Hope you have a great Valentine's Day! And that you earn that hundred dollars. ;)

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