As the year comes to a close, it is time for people of the book world to make their choice of the best books of the year. While we await for the winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards, we get to see other literary institutions celebrate another great year of reading.
Since 2012, Waterstones Book of the Year has been a highly anticipated event the bookstore chain has looked forward to. Nominated by their booksellers, the shortlist is judged by many factors ranging from the book’s writing style to the beauty of its production.
Last year’s pick was La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman. Let’s see which books are battling for the seventh year title:
Pages: 56 pages
Published: February 26, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories, Classics
A short story by Kate Chopin. The story takes place in an unnamed city–a city large enough to have a department store, a fashionable restaurant, a theater, and a cable car–probably in the early 1890s.
Kate Chopin was a great writer and never given the respect she deserved during her lifetime. Besides her popular novel, The Awakening, Chopin explores taboo issues such as what is it like to be a woman in society or the race identity. Like her popular novel, The Awakening, Chopin was never afraid to talk about issues and takes on the challenges that everyone else is afraid to touch.
Pages: 110 pages
Published: March 3, 2016 (first published 1819)
Publisher: Penguin Little Black Classics
Genre: Classics, Fiction
Mary Shelley’s dark story of a bereaved man’s disturbing passion for his daughter was suppressed by her own father, and not published for over a century.
The only book I read from Mary Shelley was Frankenstein. So when I saw this novella, a story that her own father suppressed, I was very intrigued. Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite books so I wanted to see what other books Mary Shelley wrote.
Matilda is somewhat like Frankenstein, dealing along the same theme of the parent-child relationship. Shelley does a great job of having the reader identify with Matilda’s abandonment and loneliness issues. As the reader, you get the dive in her complicated relationship with not only with a mother she never got to meet but a father who abandoned her. Intensity of these relationships was clearly felt and Shelley did a great job portrayal for the first half of her tale.
The subject of incest, disgusting as it is, was one of the things that interested me in reading in this story. However, Shelley barely approach the subject, only a mere declaration from Matilda’s father. When this occurs, you get the overly dramatic and emotional telling of both Matilda and her father’s feelings, a perfect example of living in the Romantic Era. This when it got a little repetitive and at times straining to read. I was going to completely write this story off until I realized that I needed to do some more historical research to understand a little more of Mary Shelley’s intention of writing this story.
To understand Matilda, you need to know learn the background of the author. Mary Shelley is the daughter of feminist philosopher and writer, Mary Wollstonecraft. Wollstonecraft contracted an infection from the birth and died ten days after Shelley was born. William Goodwin left Mary in the care of a family member for a time while he traveled around Ireland.Although there is no evidence to the contrary, you might consider this novella a little bit of an autobiographical account of Mary Shelley’s life. So finding more about Goodwin’s and Shelley’s relationship, I saw that this was a perfect example of the parent-child relationship.
Then I discovered the reason why Shelley wrote this Matilda. Shelley and her husband, Percy Shelley, lost two of their children and writing this novella distracted Mary from her grief. Mary became emotionally and sexually distant from Percy so maybe writing this story helped her put her feelings in words. That could be the reason why it was so overly dramatic and at times all over the place. The story may have been a downer and have a depressing ending but it was how Mary felt at the time and the only way she can put her feelings into words. It gave her chance to look back at her life and examine her present and somehow combined the two to create a story, no matter how controversial it may be.
So be prepared. If you would like to read this story (and I highly suggest that you would), try to keep an open mind. Don’t look at as another Frankenstein because it is not. Knowing more about Mary’s history actually gave me a better understanding of Matilda and this novella gives us a rare look into this great novelist’s life.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Pages: 287 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Nonfiction, Classics, Art
In Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover, Paul Buckley showcases more than ten years of stunning cover designs from Penguin Classics. This curated tour begins with the now-iconic redesign of the signature Penguin Classics black-spine series in 2003 and moves through award-winning series like the Penguin Classics Graphic Deluxe Editions, Penguin Drop Caps, and Penguin Horror. Exhibiting a mesmerizing array of front covers and full cover layouts, Paul Buckley illuminates the unique and inventive approaches to typography, image, and design that grace Penguin’s covers of the best works in literature. Throughout the book, the artists and designers including Chris Ware, Ivan Brunetti, Jillian Tamaki, Jessica Hische, and Ruben Toledo who have collaborated with Penguin Classics offer commentary on the design process. For lovers of classic literature, book design, and all things Penguin, Classic Penguin has you covered.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. That saying always applied to people but us book lovers try to judge the story instead basing our first impressions on the book cover. However, it is first thing that we see when we peruse through the shelves and impressions our based on how beautiful the book cover is. It mostly influences us when we are either buying or borrowing the book. That shows how important book cover design is in publishing. It attracts attention to the reader. Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover demonstrates just that.