Armchair BEA Day 1: Introductions & Classic Literature

Since attending BEA in the US can only be a dream for me I am thrilled that the book blogging community has their own event - Armchair Bea.  Let's get started with the introductions.


1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

My name is Shan, I'm a mum of 2.  I have been blogging for 3.5 years now.  I started because friends of mine were always asking me what I had recently read, in search of a good book to read themselves.  But as I would list every book I had read since the last time we spoke, their eyes glazed over.  I realized I read more than most people I know, and I remembered the personal blog I kept on Xanga all those years ago and I thought a blog would be a great place to put down all my thoughts on books.  Little I did I realize that there was such a wonderful book blogging community or that my blog would become what it has.

2.  Where in the world are you blogging from?  Tell a random fact or something special about your current location.

I live in the fabulous city of Toronto, Ontario.  You may have recently heard about our "interesting" mayor and his ahem, "interests" in the news wherever you live lately but there is so much more to our beautiful city.  Toronto is called the "City within a Park" because we have over 7,393 hectares of green space and 1,473 named parks, many of which I take full advantage of during the summer!

3.  What are you currently reading, or what is your favourite book you have read so far in 2013?

I recently read a book that made me want to declare my favourite book of 2013 right then and there and that is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  A close second place is Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi.  I am currently reading a book by another fantastic African writer, On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe.

4.  Name your favourite blog(s) and explain why they are your favourite(s)

Leeswammes - as a first generation Dutch-Canadian, I have a soft spot for all things Dutch so that drew me to Judith's blog in the first place.  But I stayed because we have similar (eclectic) reading tastes and I can always count on her for an honest review.

Farm Lane Books Blog - Jackie is a fan of literary fiction and closely follows the literary awards season.  As someone who is getting more and more into this genre, I look to her blog for the best recommendations.

5.  What is your favourite part of the book blogging community?

I love how international it is.  I love that we connect with people around the world who have similar reading tastes and be exposed to great literature from all over the place.  There are so many fantastic events that allow us to travel the world through books and interact with people from so many different cultures.  We all know that the written word can transcend all cultural barriers, and so does the book blogging community.

THE CLASSICS

I didn't read much of the Classics when I was in school.  In our English classes we concentrated more on Canadian literature and Shakespeare was about as much of the Classics as we got.  So when I started blogging I saw the many wonderful opportunities there were to read classic lit and I decided to go for it.  That's why I joined the Classics Club and why I'm using the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list to choose books.

Some of my favourite classics include 1984 by George Orwell, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.  As a new convert to reading the Classics my advice to other newbies is to try starting with a genre you really like.  For me, I really liked 1984 so I decided to continue on with the dystopian/science fiction books and I've come across a lot of Classics that I like.  It's kind of eerie and strange to read these books written so long that really seem to predict the way things are going currently.  I think making the connection between what you like now and what was written back then will help make them seem not as daunting.  Don't start with a book just because everyone else loved it, read what you love!

Comments

  1. I was actually planning to read 1984 this year. I do love dystopians and I've never been required to read that one. It does seem time to delve into some of the classics that have so influenced the things I enjoy reading now!

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    1. I read 1984 in high school on my own because I'd heard so much about it. I find that the dystopian classics have fuelled me into reading the current ones!

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  2. I'd wanted to read 1984 because I've heard and read so much about it. However, I really am NOT a dystopian fan. Such stories always make me depressed. I think the only full length dystopian novel I've ever completed is A Brave New World....and even that only because I had to read it for my degree! Having said that, I'm still hoping to give 1984 a try some time, some day. :)

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    1. I'm sure one day you'll be in the mood for it. They can get depressing and creepy, I prefer 1984 to A Brave New World, though I liked that one as well.

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  3. It is great seeing blogs run by people all over the world! Hope you enjoy Armchair BEA!
    Chelle

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    1. Thank you! I love how big, and yet small, our world is.

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  4. Shan, great to see you at ArmchairBEA!! I didn't know you were from Toronto. I moved from there to Scotland about a year and a half ago, and yes I've been following Mayor Ford's escapades from afar.

    About the classics: If a classic is a book that has stood the test of time, then yes, I agree that The Handmaid's Tale is a classic. But, in my head, when I hear people talk of classics, I always picture books by dead authors. What do you think? Does this make a difference?

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    1. I always thought of classics as by dead people from long ago as well. The 1001 Books to Read list kind of changed my mind. I think there are some, like The Handmaid's Tale, that we know now will be considered a classic.

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  5. This is my first year of doing Armchair BEA as well. I haven't heard of the blogs you listed...I must go check them out!

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    1. Please do check them out, they're wonderful. Any of the blogs on my sidebar are wonderful. Hope you have a great time with Armchair BEA.

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  6. I'm with you on being able to chat with people all over the world, and I love chatting about great books. Enjoy this weeks #ArmChairBEA

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    1. It's so great that the internet has been able to make our world smaller in that way.

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  7. I think that's such a good point/piece of advice, about starting with the classics that tie in with the kinds of books you already enjoy. After all, they cover a wide range of genres themselves! We didn't cover them much at school either, or at least we didn't in my classes! I read, or was exposed to, more at uni, but there are ones that I wish I'd read when I was much younger.

    I didn't know you were Dutch-Canadian: learnt something new today! :D Happy Armchair BEA!

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    1. Yep, I'm first generation Canadian! I wish I had been exposed to the Classics more in school. I feel now that I'm not going to get the time to read everything I want to (not like I'm old or anything.)

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  8. I'm a newbie blogger, like you! And I also joined for quite similar reasons, too :D How funny!!!

    I also think it's rather telling that some of these classics are quite relatable to today and The Handmaid's Tale was creepy for me!! I can only imagine how much more eerie it would have been reading it in high school, when I was rather naïve!

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    1. I find it quite scary sometimes how well they predicted the future way back when. Fahrenheit 451 had me worried! Looking back now I don't think I fully got everything I could from The Handmaid's Tale in high school, same with 1984 so that's why they have become re-reads for me.

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  9. I went to Toronto once a while ago and loved the city...would love to get back there again!

    I also love how international the community of book blogging is...it's so cool to have people from all over the world stopping by to 'visit' you!

    I have to admit, I haven't read many classics since high school. I've read Pride and Prejudice 3 times because I love it, but really want to read some of her other books - and I already have them sitting on my shelf. I plan on reading Anna Karenina this summer - hoping the length doesn't turn me off.

    My Intro Post

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    1. There are many classics where the length puts me off as well. I'm glad you loved Toronto, it's such a fantastic place, hope you do get back one day!

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  10. My goodness you're in TDot! Gotta make a time to meet the locals and do lunch once I'm done school! I'm from The Hammer! Hop, skip and a GO Train ride away!

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    1. There's a great bunch of book bloggers here in TO, and you aren't far away so get on over here!

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  11. Oh, I LOVE Toronto! When I lived in Detroit, Canada was like my backyard and Toronto was a quick trip. We used to go over for baseball games when the Tigers would be on the road.

    The Handmaid's Tale is still one of my favorite classics, too, even though I didn't read it until a few years ago.

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    1. I love Jay's games, there's always tons of people from all over the place there. I went to a game in Detroit once to see them play the Indians, way back in the day when I was a big Indian's fan as well.

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  12. I love meeting people from all over the world too. I've started talking to people from Germany, Netherlands, Canada, and even South America. It's just crazy that we're able to connect through the internet with our love for books! I need to read 1984 one of these days. Especially because I love Dystopians so much. I just have so many books on my shelf waiting to be read...

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    1. I can't imagine what life would be like if we couldn't all connect all over the world through the internet. I'm old enough to remember when it all just started out in people's homes, I never would have dreamt of being able to be a part of this community.

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  13. Oh, I love the classic dystopians!

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  14. 1984 is still on my list. My only Orwellian experience so far was Animal Farm -- loved that one, though.

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  15. I did hear about your mayor and his "interests." Sorry that this is happening in your city!

    I don't read a lot of classics, but 1984 is one that I've always wanted to read.

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  16. Ha ha, I have heard about your mayor. Sigh..aren't political scandals the most fun?

    I need to get to 1984 darn it!

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  17. Ah yes i've heard all the drama about the Mayor!

    Thanks for stopping by Swept Away By Books!

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  18. about things Dutch, have you read The House of Rocamora? that was an interesting HN: http://wordsandpeace.com/2013/03/28/book-review-house-of-rocamora/

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  19. That's such a lovely way of describing the book blogging community! It really makes me proud to be a part of it because, despite the occasional drama, it's a great thing to be a part of.

    I had to read a lot of classics in school, and others I eventually picked up on my own. Both 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale are among my faves too! That's great advice, by the way. I think a lot of people hesitate about getting into classics because it's so daunting, but it's a good idea to look at them as part of general genres (dystopian, historical, etc) and go from there.

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  20. Hi, Shan! Thanks for visiting my intro post today. :) I definitely agree with you that the book community is awesome because it's so international. I love getting to know people from all over the world!

    - Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl

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  21. I read Northanger Abbey quite a few years ago, and I feel like I really didn't appreciate it at the time, especially how it parodied Gothic novels. I think I'd like it more on a second read, and I hope to do that in the near future.

    Thank for stopping by!

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  22. I'm going to add those three favorites from African writers that you mentioned to my TBR list. I like your two favorite blogs a lot too!

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  23. This is my first year and I'm enjoying it a bunch. I'm not a big reader of classics but I have enjoyed the ones that I have read.

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  24. I live in Oakville and work in Toronto, so we are also neighbours! I enjoy dystopian fiction and hope to read more of those kind of classics once I get through a few more books on my list. I also used to consider anything by a dead authors a classic, but since starting my book project I've learned through the community that books like The Handmaiden's Tale are also considered classics. It actually does make sense! What classic is next on your list? Enjoy the rest of ABEA!

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