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!
scarlet-letter-cover-5
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!

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.

Intro: The Teachings of Don Juan

don juan book coverOne of the best things about this blog (besides the amazing hostesses) is that we get the opportunity to read a lot of books that we would otherwise not be exposed. Our next book is The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda. This will be our first look into an anthropological memoir. Personally I have very little exposure to this genre so I’m delving into fresh territory. That is a refreshing position to be in for an avid reader!

This book appears in Daria in the episode “The Teachings of Don Jake” where Daria and her family go on a camping trip that goes awry.

Daria: We’re out in the middle of nowhere, nobody knows we’re here, we have no way to contact anyone, and our parents have gone insane.
Quinn: Yes.
Daria: [pause] This is really scary, Quinn.
Quinn: But why did they go insane?
Daria: Judging by dad’s woodland skills, I’d say it was the berries.
Quinn: It couldn’t have been the berries.
Daria: That’s what I think, because you ate the berries and you seem fine.
Quinn: (pupils becoming bigger) No, I mean because those weren’t the glitter berries.
Daria: Glitter berries?
Quinn: You know, the glitter berries! The ones that fill your mouth with beautiful sparkling glitter when you bite into them. Those are the ones that make you act weird. I mean until you spread your shimmering wings and fly away. Daria, you don’t have a mirror do you? I wanna check my makeup.
Daria: You’re not wearing makeup.
Quinn: I’m not?! Oh, no! [reaches down and rubs mud on her face]
Daria: Quinn, maybe you better take it easy for a while.

I've gone camping plenty of times with my family. Luckily, no one went crazy from eating glitter berries!

I’ve gone camping plenty of times with my family. Luckily, no one went crazy from eating glitter berries!

This is by far the shortest book that has been on the list so far (only about 150 pages, depending on your edition). It’s a pretty nice reprieve after the previous three heavy hitting books we just read 🙂 The wrap up will be posted on September 16 and be sure to check the twitter account for weekly reading assignments to keep yourself on track!
(Note: many editions come with the anthropological notes at the end. You don’t have to read these if you do not wish. Our discussion will be focused on the actual teachings part of the book. However, if anthropology is your drug of choice, go to town!)

Intro: The Iliad

We have been reading some doozies lately here at the Sick Sad Book Club! And this next book is no exception: we’re reading The Iliad by Homer, described as “an ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter,” which really should be enough to scare off anyone.

This is by far the oldest piece on our reading list, typically dated to around the 8th century BC. To put that into perspective, when The Iliad was written, the Greeks had just started using an alphabet, Rome was founded, and King Midas was a living historical figure. How crazy is it to think that you can go onto the internet and find a digital version of a book written 2,800 years ago?

The Iliad was featured in the same Daria episode as Moby-Dick and The Brothers Karamazov – The Big House. While Daria and Quinn are grounded, Daria gives her sister a copy of the book:

    Daria: Try this. I think you’ll get into it.

    Quinn: Ha, ha, very funny. Now give me something that I can read.

    Daria: No, I think you’ll like it. It’s about this girl who’s so popular that everybody fights over her.

    Quinn: Any horses in it?

    Daria: As a matter of a fact, there’s a great big one.

    Quinn: This is a trick, isn’t it.

    Daria: Yes.

(Also, the writers confused this with The Aeneid, so you will not actually find Helen and the great horse in this poem!)

Because of our change in book club model, there will not be a discussion posted next week. Instead, check back here in six weeks, on August 12, for the book discussion. In the meantime we will be tweeting the weekly assignments (follow us at @SickSadBookClub) to keep you on track.

Good luck and happy reading!

Intro: The Brothers Karamazov

Annnnd….. We’re back!!

Seriously, you need to read these books!

Seriously, you need to read these books!

I hope everyone enjoyed the break. I know that I, like many of you, did not take a complete break from reading. What did you read during the break? I read Tana French’s second novel in the Dublin Murder Squad series, The Likeness. I love crime novels. It’s one of my many guilty pleasures. I loved the first one, In the Woods, and this one is equally good! I won’t spoil anything, only suggest that you go out and read it now 🙂 ( I just picked up the third book for $4.99 at Barnes and Nobel today and will read it as soon as I finish our next book!)(I think I have a problem…)

Anyway, back to the list! Our next selection is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I know, it sounds quite formidable, but I think we are up for the challenge 🙂 Daria read it right after Moby Dick while she was grounded… I love the unrealistic standards set by television.bros

 

We will be taking six weeks, just like Moby Dick, to read this very long Russian novel.

Reading assignment: Books 1-2

Intro: Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

So far we’ve tackled the semi-autobiographical, an Elizabethan play, and non-fiction – now it is finally time to dive into the novel with the classic Moby-Dick!

As mentioned in the last post, this and the following two books are all pretty hefty. Interestingly, Daria read or mentioned them all in the same episode, The Big House, where she and Quinn were both grounded for a month after a bizarre session of Family Court with their parents. I know Daria is a pretty voracious reader, but finishing both Moby-Dick AND The Brothers Karamazov within 30 days? That’s just crazy. We definitely won’t be holding you to that schedule!

daria-moby-dick

Good one, Quinn.

Herman Melville’s famous book was published in 1851, and like all the books we’ve read so far, it is in the public domain. That means you can read it for free! Ebook versions are available from Project Gutenberg and through your iBooks, Kindle or Nook store. Second-hand bookstores are great for finding copies of these old books, too.

Reading Assignment #1: Read chapters 1-22
(I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s really only about 150 pages.)

Intro: Walden by Henry David Thoreau

I have been known to get a little crunchy granola from time to time. I go to farmer’s markets with my reusable canvas bags while wearing my Birkenstocks. I am more comfortable in a cabin on the lake then an all-inclusive beach resort.

granola

Speaking of which…

Our next selection comes to us from episode six, This Year’s Model. Daria reads Walden by Henry David Thoreau for Mr. O’Neill’s class. This high school classic is familiar to most confused by some… (Brittany confuses Walden Pond with On Golden Pond. But who can blame her?).  Basically the long and short of it, via the high school English class definition, is an over privileged white man is tired of the way society is shaping up and decided to hide out in the woods for a while and pout.

A view of Walden Pond. Can you really blame him for not wanting to leave?!

A view of Walden Pond. Can you really blame him for not wanting to leave?!

So join me around the camp fire, break out the non-GMO organic hemp snacks and your acoustic guitar, and sit back and enjoy the first reading assignment of Walden!

Reading Assignment: Read chapters 1-4