Friday, 5 November 2010

Literary Blog Hop

We haven't participated in a blog-hop for months now but we couldn't resist taking part in The Blue Bookcases literary hop. Even if you have no interest in participating its worth checking out the other links just to look at other blogs which come under this category.

The question for the blog hop is;

Please highlight one of your favourite books and why you would consider it "literary."

Of course this question only brings up the further question of what is literary. My source of all knowledge Wikipedia classifies literary as 'focusing more on style, psychological depth, and character, the plot may or may not be important. Mainstream commercial fiction focuses more on narrative and plot'.

That sounds about right although I did like someone's answer on yahoo answers who said 'a book is classed as literary when its on the spark-notes website'. Chris even joked that he classifies something as literary when he finds it hard to read.

On that note we have both listed our most hardest book that we liked. A book that despite being sometimes difficult was in fact worth it in the end.

Jess's choice

The Turn of the Screw

The hardest book I have read is actually Moby Dick but I couldn't finish it (and not did I like it) so this is my choice. Ok so this one is a stupidly short one but believe me it felt as times like I was taking on a 500 page epic. The writing I found flowery and heavy and was not what I would consider an easy read. After saying that, I found parts of it quite creepy and I enjoyed the overall story of the governess as she looks after two slightly odd and possibly demonic children.

Chris's Choice

Lord of the Rings

Technically this is cheating since the book is, in fact, a trilogy; The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King all written by J.R Tolkien. To be fair my copy is all together in one book so I guess it's not cheating too badly.

I found the book challenging for numerous reasons but the most obvious would be its sheer size. At 1216 pages it isn't exactly short and took me some months to drag myself through. The depth of the story and the characters in it are breathtaking. I'm sure there is no book like it in the world. Unfortunately there are a lot of characters and it became quite difficult to remember them all, particularly as none of them are found in the English language. At points it felt like entire chapters were dedicated to describing a landscape or a castle which isn't the kind of writing I appreciate. I stuck with it because it is such a wonderful and exciting book and Tolkien really did have the ability to transport the reader to another place. I loved 'The Hobbit' (a much shorter book) and had to know how the adventure would end. Hopefully some day my son will allow me to read it to him at bedtime but until then I doubt I'll have the courage to attempt it again.


  1. I count Henry James as literary torture. Turn of the Screw is bearable, but only just.

    oI just finished Lord of the Rings. I consider it to be literary, for one thing, because of its layers of allegory.

    Rose City Reader.

  2. I have no idea if I'd read that James book. Jason says he thinks I did, back in my project in 2001, but if I did, I don't remember a word of it.

  3. Every time I visit you, I find the most thought provoking posts. Did I tell you I love your blog?

    That said, I was also glad for a little clarification on literary. I most certainly 'require' a bit of psychological depth, and with my great affection for Japanese literature, I've learned to abandon a plot as necessary as well. The 'pulp fiction' kinds of books are fun, once in awhile, but I find they're like a Twinkie: they leave nothing of value behind, nothing for me to chew on, so to speak.

    As to what would be my favorite literary classic? There's no way I could pick one. Several come to mind (Atlas Shrugged, Anna Karenina, The Tale of Two Cities, Possession)...I'll have to get back to you on my top ten. ;)

    I do love the Fellowship, though. Very much.

  4. Found you on the hop and I'm now following you :)

    I don't think literary books have to be hard to read - sometimes they can be the easiest if they have a great story.

    I love Lord of the Rings now, but have to admit I prefer the films (hoping any die-hard fans don't come after me!)

    Sam at Tiny Library

  5. Hi there! I really like both of your chosen books. Henry James is difficult to read. Turn of the Screw is probably his best followed by The Aspern Papers. It's a great little gothic number that is astonishingly full gothic elements.

    Lord Of The Rings! I chose a different kind of Ring trilogy (Koji Suzuki) for my post, so it's great seeing someone else rooting for the serial story rather than a standalone one. It's very true, there isn't another book like it in the world, nor will there ever be. Tolkien was the king of 'epic'.

    Lovely blog by the way, I'm off to rummage around your posts!

  6. I haven't heard of this hop, I definitely will visit others and look at the answers, this will be interesting.

    I can't think of an answer, I wonder if Still Alice by Lisa Genova will count.

  7. Ouch! Neither of these is on my 250 List! But I do have three Henry James novels, and The Hobbit.

    I had no clue Lord of the Rings was three books!! Yuk! (I'm assuming; I haven't actually read it.) ;-)

    Fun hop.

  8. Interesting definitions. Typically, the writing is harder to work through, I think, with lots of rereading of sentences and phrases.

    I've also joined in the Literary Blog Hop this week. I hope you will stop by my blog, too.

  9. Ha, Chris-- As a Tolkien geek, I so pleased you appreciate LoTR but it is still funny to me that you consider it long and difficult. To me it is way too short-- I would love more more more!!

    Did I mention the last time we chatted about it that I've read it 10+ times? I do remember skipping a lot of the descriptions during my first read as a young teen but the more you read it the easier it gets-- my appreciation of the beauty of the prose increases and I gain new insights each time I read it.

    Sam: I'm coming to get you! mwahahaha!

  10. I'm so glad I found you both through the literary hop! I notice you've reviewed The Angel's Game, and am going to email you about it (to avoid spoilers by posting here). I hope this is okay. Anyway, I really love your blog, and my do you review quite a range.

  11. I recently listened to The Turn of the Screw on audiobook, and enjoyed it very much; that said, I did have to pick up the physical book from time to time as the writing, is as you say, quite flowery, and there were parts that I needed to re-read.

    Hope you are enjoying your holiday :)

  12. I too avoid James if at all possible. I went through a phase in my twenties when I read about half of his works. One day, I snapped the book shut and just said, "Ughhh!" And I've never picked up another. "Turn of the Screw" interestingly enough is probably one that I did largely enjoy though.

    "The Lord of the Rings" is one of my all-time favorite fantasy novels. I will always have a strong emotional connection to that set of books, as my father read them aloud to us as children. The Peter Jackson film adaptations of the novels exceeded my wildest dreams too!

    Have a wonderful weekend, both of you! Cheers! Chris

  13. Turn of the Screw, yup, that's an odd one as ghost stories tend to be, and creepy...the language is of its time and for contemporary eyes "a tough read" to get through.

    My Fred spent many nights reading Lord of the Rings to our son, some special bonding went on during that time...I can't advocate enough that parents should read to their kids and spend time just talking to them (good grief, turn the TV off and talk to your kid/read to your kid.)

    Found my way here through the blog hop, I'm sauntering along, enjoying the's been a very interesting trip.

    Nice blog. I'll be sure to visit again.