My Life in Books Tag

adult blur book business
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

It’s time for another book tag post! I snagged this one from Dreamland Book Blog. Feel free to give your own answers in the comments. Or, if you decide to post it on your own page, share the link 🙂

1. Find a book for each of your initials.

I haven’t read American Gods yet, but I did read Anansi Boys, which is its sequel. I probably should have used that one instead. Either way, I like the trifecta of gods, vampires, and werewolves.

american-gods

A: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

salems lot

S: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

bitten

B: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

2. Count your age along your bookshelf: What book is it?

One of my favourites: Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende.

island beneath the sea

3. Pick a book set in your city/country.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Not only is it set in my city, but part of it is set close to my neighbourhood.

alias grace

4. Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to.

I’m going to have to give two answers for this one. First, a fictional place:

prisoner of azkaban

Who wouldn’t want to go to Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, and the Burrow? Some of the other wizard places are also intriguing, although definitely not Azkaban.

And secondly, a real place:

Enchantress_of_florence

Florence, Italy (and Tuscany in general, of which Florence is the capital). Museums, art galleries, cathedrals, history, great food, and beautiful views. I’m kind of wondering why I’m not already there.

5. Pick a book that’s your favourite colour.

Sadly, the cover of my copy of H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds isn’t this beautifully designed (credit to Kjell Roger Ringstad), but it is red.

war-of-the-worlds-cover-by-kjell-roger-ringstad

6. Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

I had very fond memories indeed of all of Gordon Korman’s books–until I recently re-read them. Most of them don’t stand up. But No Coins Please, the story of an 11-year-old con artist, is still funny. If you can find a copy, I recommend it.

No_Coins,_Please

7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

I’m having the worst time getting through a biography of Vladimir Nabokov (I have to read it a few paragraphs at a time in between other books–it’s dry, dense, and long, but at this point I’m too invested to give up). As for fiction, I found James Joyce’s Ulysses tough (I did finish it, though).

ulysses

8. Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?

Well, it was Ulysses. I would love to read Shakespeare’s complete works. Or classical lit, like Homer and Sophocles. Guess I’d better get started on that…

william-shakespeare-complete-works-2 the-oedipus-plays-of-sophocles-oedipus-the-king-oedipus-at-colonus-antigone the odyssey emily wilson

I hope you enjoyed this post. What would some of your answers be? Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? Tell me in the comments…

Library Inspiration

books filed neatly on shelves
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

If I weren’t involved with books or publishing, I’d be a decorator/interior designer (not sure I have the artistic skills for it, but I would try). I love putting a room together and my tastes are highly eclectic–everything from Gothic Revival and Art Nouveau to  Amélie’s apartment and the Gryffindor common room. I’m drawn to spaces that are comfortable, warm, colourful, and with some whimsy. In my own home, most rooms need to include books too. Minimalism? No thanks. (The only books for my donate pile are the ones that tell me to get rid of my other books.)

I thought I’d share some pictures of home libraries I find inspiring. I don’t own any of these photos–I saved them all from Pinterest (follow me). If you see your photo here and would like me to credit or remove it, please let me know.

 

I love the cozy feel of Vita Sackville-West’s library. And you can never go wrong with a tower.

library 1
Author Vita Sackville-West’s Tower Library / photo: Writers´ Houses

 

Bookcase art, flowers, and comfy couch inspiration here:

library 2
Via toocutethings.blogspot.no

 

Floor-to-ceiling books and an old-fashioned library ladder–these are my goals. The arched doorway is a nice touch.

library 3
Via ablogwithaview.tumblr.com

 

So many books…

library 4
Via oldhousedreams.com

 

This is just the definition of cozy. I would never leave.

library 5
Via bookshelfdiary.tumblr.com

 

Happy colours, orchids, and built-in shelves. I’m not a fan of the books being used to prop up the coffee table, though.

library 6
Via myidealhome.tumblr.com

 

Based on the way the shelves are set up, this is probably a bookstore, but I don’t care. I would love a room packed with shelves and featuring a window seat. Great floor too.

library 7
Via @gisforgeorgina on Instagram

 

This is the perfect reading spot: plenty of books, a comfortable window seat, and a table for working.

library 8
Via bookbub.com

 

Cozy and comfortable.

library 9
Via My Domaine

 

Everything about this. I need to get a blanket like that for my boring grey couch.

library 10
Via frommoontomoon.blogspot.com

 

For those of us who can’t afford a Parisian apartment like this one, the look could probably be emulated with wallpaper, paint, and similar furniture. And a whole lot of books ❤

library 11
Via @primeplaces_ on Instagram

What do you think–do any of these appeal to you? What do you look for in a home library? Minimalism or maximalism? Share in the comments…

5 Bittersweet Real-Life Love Stories

close up of tea light candle against black background
Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

It’s Valentine’s Day, the romantic holiday with pagan roots. Although love may be grand, it’s not all sunshine and roses (sometimes it’s rejection and hard time). Here are 5 love stories from history that are equal parts romance and tragedy…

Cleopatra and Marc Antony

cleopatra and antony
Cleopatra greeting Antony, A.M. Faulkner

She was Queen of Egypt, he was co-ruler of the Roman Empire. He envisioned himself as  Dionysus, Greek God of wine (and drama), and she captured his heart by presenting herself as Aphrodite, Goddess of love. Their relationship was based on passion and ambition, and it reached mythic proportions. Their twins were named Alexander Helios (the Sun) and Cleopatra Selene (the Moon). Circumstances kept them apart much of the time, and Antony was even forced to marry his rival Octavian’s sister, but Antony and Cleopatra met when they could and celebrated triumphs (and failures) together. Unfortunately, their actions led to war, invasion, and ultimately, defeat. Anthony fell on his sword in an honourable suicide. Cleopatra, knowing she would be paraded through the streets of Rome in humiliation, arranged to have an asp (an Egyptian symbol of divine royalty) smuggled to her. With a bite from the snake she committed what is possibly the world’s most famous suicide, while at the same time attaining immortality for her and her love.

Héloïse and Abélard

heloise and abelard
Abélard and his pupil Héloïse by Edmund Leighton

In 12th century Paris, an intelligent, inquisitive young woman named Héloïse was introduced to Abélard, a philosopher and teacher enlisted by Héloïse’s uncle to tutor her. Their intellectual bond soon deepened into love. Héloïse became pregnant, and to avoid a scandal they secretly married after she had the baby (a son named Astrolabe, which goes to show that geeks have always existed). Unfortunately, scandal found them anyway (mostly thanks to her infuriated uncle). Héloïse was sent to a convent, while Abélard was viciously attacked and forcibly castrated. He went on to become a monk, and she a nun. Although they never saw each other again, they did resume a correspondence, and their letters stand as testament to their feelings. After they died, their bones were moved so that they could finally be together (there’s a dispute as to whether they’re buried at The Oratory of the Paraclete, or in their famous tomb in Père Lachaise Cemetery).

Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas

wilde and douglas

Lord Alfred, or ‘Bosie,’ as he was known, was Wilde’s love and muse at a time when LGBTQ rights were not only nonexistent, homosexuality was illegal. Their relationship was tempestuous, and marked by arguments, separations, and reunions (the latter, thanks mostly to a forgiving Wilde). Bosie’s father (the Marquess of Queensberry), angry about the relationship, denounced Wilde publicly. When Wilde’s libel suit against the Marquess failed, he was arrested and ultimately sentenced to two years of hard labour for “gross indecency.” Wilde and Bosie were reunited after Wilde was released, but it should be no surprise that their friends and families forced them apart. Then again, Bosie was a selfish and reckless person, and it’s debatable how much he really returned Wilde’s feelings. Interestingly, the phrase “the love that dare not speak its name” was coined by Bosie, not Wilde, as most people believe. Maybe a better love story was the one between Wilde and Robert Ross, who was possibly his first male lover and also a lifelong friend. Ross was with Wilde at his deathbed, and later commissioned Wilde’s tomb at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Ross asked the artist to include a small compartment in the tomb for his own ashes, which were transferred there in 1950.

Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley

elizabeth and dudley
Robert Dudley and Queen Elizabeth I

Sometimes genuinely loving someone isn’t enough. Elizabeth and Dudley’s story is a complex one, further complicated by rumours that have persisted through centuries. Dudley earned Elizabeth’s love early in her life, when he stood by her at a time when she was in trouble and it would have been easy to abandon her. Although Dudley wanted to marry her for many years, she could never allow it. As Queen, Elizabeth was averse to marriage, not least because marrying would have transferred her power as monarch to her husband, while she would have been relegated to quietly producing heirs. But even if she had wanted to marry, she couldn’t have married Dudley. There was no strategic political advantage to marrying him, he was generally unpopular, and he was a commoner (whatever position he had in society was directly thanks to her). He was also already married. After his wife died under mysterious circumstances, he was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing, but belief persisted among many that he’d had her killed. Eventually, Dudley accepted that Elizabeth would never marry him, but since he wanted heirs he went on to (secretly) marry twice more, for which Elizabeth never entirely forgave him. Still, he was her clear favourite and she gave him titles, prestige, and power; in turn, he gave her companionship, support, and devotion. They shared an emotional bond that even most married couples at that time could only dream of.

Dante and Beatrice

Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_Salutation_of_Beatrice_-_2
Salutation of Beatrice 2 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Alighieri and Beatrice Portinari’s story is one of unrequited love. Dante claimed he fell in love when he met Beatrice at the age of 9 (she was 8). Despite his intense feelings for Beatrice, Dante married Gemma Donati when he was around 20, while Beatrice married Simone de Bardi when she was 21. She died three years later. Although they barely knew each other and met only a handful of times, Beatrice would be Dante’s idealized love and muse for the rest of his life. She was his inspiration for Vita Nuova, and his guide to heaven in his Divine Comedy. Despite the lack of any real relationship between the two, the love Dante had for Beatrice has sparked imaginations to this day. There are paintings of the pair and poems written about them, references in books and on TV, and even an asteroid named after Beatrice.

Some of these stories may be more bitter than sweet, but perhaps that’s why they continue to inspire. Love isn’t love without a touch of the tragic. Or as the immortal Shakespeare put it, the course of true love never did run smooth.

What do you think? Do you have a favourite historical couple? Share in the comments. And happy Valentine’s day ❤

Read More:

Cleopatra and Marc Antony

Héloise and Abélard

Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas

The Life of Elizabeth I

Dante and Beatrice

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