Happy Birthday, Margaret Atwood!

None of her books are on our official reading list, but we love Margaret Atwood and are pretty sure that Daria would, too! (How could she not love dystopian speculative fiction?) Today is Atwood’s 75th birthday, so to celebrate, here is a photo of her sporting a mustache in honor of former Canadian astronaut and author Chris Hadfield at the Toronto International Book Fair.

We highly recommend everything she has ever written. Also, check out this list from BookRiot with 75 Reasons Why Margaret Atwood is Awesome, her recent interview with Goodreads, her Reddit AMA from last year, and read her new book Stone Mattress.

Wrap-Up: The Scarlet Letter

The-Scarlet-Letter-A“Yet one tomb-stone served for both. All around, there were monuments carved with armorial bearings; and on this simple slab of slate—as the curious investigator may still discern, and perplex himself with the purport—there appeared the semblance of an engraved escutcheon. It bore a device, a herald’s wording of which may serve for a motto and brief description of our now concluded legend; so sombre is it, and relieved only by one ever-glowing point of light gloomier than the shadow:—
“ON A FIELD, SABLE, THE LETTER A, GULES””

I love how that book ends! It’s so sad and beautiful, much like the rest of this wonderful novel. I hope you enjoyed revisiting this book as much as I have enjoyed it! When I read great literature like this, it gives me hope in our jaded, processed society that something so important and amazing has endured for hundreds of years.
Now on to the discussion questions!

Question #1 – What did you think of it?
Question #2 – What do you think Daria would have thought of the piece?
Question #3 – Are there any final, thoughts, themes, questions, etc. that you would like to discuss?

Our next book is going to be a little different for the book club. We will be venturing out of the classics and will be reading our first non-fiction selection, Backlash by Susan Fauldi.
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If you have any thoughts or ideas on the novels we are reading or our discussions, you may e-mail us at SickSadBookClub@gmail.com or follow us on twitter @SickSadBookClub

Intro: The Scarlet Letter

Our next book is a classic high school reading assignment. Honestly, I don’t know a single person who was not assigned to read this iconic and, in my opinion, amazing book in either tenth or eleventh grade English class. In fact, many of you may have also encountered this tale in your history or social studies (depending on how politically correct your school was) classes. This famous novel, published in 1850, has become one of our many cultural touchstones. There have been countless retellings and adaptations since publication, so many in fact, that there is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the many works. I am of course talking about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter!
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As I look out the window on this typical grey fall day with the wind blowing the recently turned leaves onto the damp ground, I cannot think of a better time of year to visit the oppressive and hypocritical world of puritan Massachusetts! And who doesn’t love a tawdry little tale of naughtiness between the sheets 😉
This is, surprisingly, the first book on our list that I have actually already read. I hope you are looking forward to revisiting it as much as I am! The discussion questions will be posted on November 13!

Wrap-Up: In Memoriam

So, how did you enjoy reading a poem for a change? This poem was a lot longer than I anticipated. Here I thought we were getting a break, and then our poem ends up being the length of a novella? Well, at least it was no Iliad.

What did you think? I wasn’t blown away by this poem, but it was fascinating to see Tennyson’s reaction to his friend’s death and tracked his grief. The beginning is angry and sad; but over the years of writing about the experience he mellows out and comes to terms with the loss. The famous line “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” is from this piece (for some reason I always thought it was Shakespeare?) and Daria eloquently explains it in the episode like this:

Daria – Well, he’s acknowledging that if something makes you feel good, like being in love, there must be a corresponding painful side, like losing a love, and that it’s just a fact of life.

Mr. O’Neill – Sad, but true.

Daria – And what’s intriguing about it is that no one calls Tennyson a big unhappiness freak just because he understands that.

Mr. O’Neill – Is he a big unhappiness freak?

Daria – No, he’s a realist. He says, “Emotional involvement brings pleasure and extraordinary pain.” Then he declares that it’s better than feeling nothing at all.

Mr. O’Neill – That is excellent, Daria.

Daria – Of course, this was before the advent of community property laws.

Conversations like this remind me that at one point in time there was more to MTV than teen pregnancy reality shows. Can we have more intelligent introverts on TV, please? Anyway, here are the wrap-up discussion questions:

Question #1 – What did you think of it?
Question #2 – What do you think Daria would have thought of the piece?
Question #3 – Are there any final, thoughts, themes, questions, etc. that you would like to discuss?

Our next selection is a book that you most likely read sophomore year of high school: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Nothing like a good supernatural allegory for the month of October!

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Intro: In Memoriam

5713108-MWe have been reading some lengthy, complicated and/or weird titles lately, so I am pleased to announce that our newest reading assignment is short! The next selection on the Daria reading list is In Memoriam, a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It is referenced in the episode The Misery Chick, where Lawndale High sports hero Tommy Sherman returns for an award only to be killed by his own beloved football goal post. The student body, mourning his loss, turns to Daria for advice, considering she likes to think about death, or so they think. At the end of the episode, Mr. O’Neil has the students studying Tennyson’s In Memoriam, which is fitting, considering it was written as an obituary.

So, this may not be the happiest of poems (or Daria episodes, for that matter), but I am guessing there are considerably less drug-induced visions than in out last reading!

Since this is such a short assignment, we will be wrapping up and posting our discussion next week.