Tag: Ulysses

Bookish Masks to Make Your Friends Jealous

Show your love of literature with these five masks hand selected for bookworms.

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5 Long Books to Get You Through Long January

Does anyone else feel like January has been ongoing for approximately three years now? The holidays have passed, everyone is back to work and back to class, the light at the end of the January tunnel has never felt so far away. To help you through the remaining two weeks (three months in Jan time), we’ve compiled a list of lengthy books that you can lose yourself in this month. Before you know it, it’ll be February, and you’ll have serious bragging rights.

 

 

1. it by stephen King

 

image via amazon

 

Stephen King’s spooky It is as long as it is creepy. Coming in at 1138 pages, it is one of his longest novels. The story takes place over twenty eight years which is equal to one single January. Plus, if you factor in all the time you’ll spend having nightmares from reading it, you’ll definitely make it to the end of the month.

 

2. Ulysses by james joyce

 

image via amazon

 

James Joyce’s Ulysses is the ultimate way to get through the month. Instead of focusing on the January blues, lose yourself in Bloom’s instead! The infamous novel has a page count of 730 and with the time it’ll take to figure the story out, plus the time you’ll spend bragging about it after, spring will be hurtling towards you when you’re finished.

 

 

3. Lord of the rings by j.r.r. tolkien

 

image via amazon

 

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (as one unit) rings in at 1178 pages. If you get through that too quickly, try teaching yourself elvish. Before you know it, you’ll be one language smarter and ready to woo your S.O. for Valentine’s Day.

Bonus: check out our ranking of LotR covers here.

 

4. les misérables by victor hugo

 

image via penguin

 

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables chronicles the misery of life in 1800s Paris in a hefty 1900 pages, making it the perfect length to see out the rest of the month. Compound this with the film adaption for the full experience. If you learn the musical’s songs, too, you could make it through January 2021, too!

 

 

5. Harry potter and the order of the phoenix by j.k. rowling

 

image via amazon

 

The fifth installment of Rowling’s Harry Potter series spans 870 pages. To read the entire series from beginning to end, it would take the average reader around two months. So if you start now, you can be finished by January 24th, and fit in another long read before February.

Happy reading! Two weeks to go, folks. We can do this.

featured image via kath walker illustration, flickr


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the canterbury tales

12 Challenging Books Readers Struggle to Finish

As a former English major, I’ve had the misfortune pleasure of coming across some of the most intellectually challenging literary works. Believe me, I love to read and I enjoy challenging myself but when it’s Friday night a week from finals and you’re assigned to read Paradise Lost, no one should fault you for turning to SparkNotes. It just so happens that a lot of literary titles that are put on the pedestal of the best literature in history happen to be complicated AF (though very much worth reading). Yes, no one can deny that Moby-Dick is an American classic, but if you’re telling me you’ve never once yawned or snoozed when you read it, I don’t quite know if I can trust you.

 

From puzzling allusions (including religious references easily missed by people unfamiliar with religious texts) to drawn out plots to overly complicated language, here are 12 literary works that readers have struggled with finishing (let alone understanding).

 

1. The Canterbury Tales | Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales are a collection of the funniest, most complex, and most awarding tales. Chaucer’s use of Middle English language, however, make them hard AF to understand.

 

2. Moby-Dick | Herman Mellville

 

Through the plot of Moby Dick is pretty forward, the actual story, comprised of overly-described prose and complex biblical and mythological references set in a slow pace of it can be particularly hard to grasp. By the last page, you may not understand what just happened.

 

3. King Henry IV | Shakespeare 

While Shakespeare’s witty works comprised of Early Modern English have proven to be difficult for many bookworms to get through, King Henry IV is particularly challenging. There is a lot going on, schemes from left and right, and (in my opinion) it’s not quite exciting enough to be a page turner. Titus Andronicus, on the other hand, is definitely filled with a ton of shocking action to carry you to the finish line.

 

4. Paradise Lost | John Milton

This epic poem is naturally long enough to keep you reading for weeks, but throw in Milton’s obscure language, endless biblical references, and run-on sentences and you may give up half way in.

 

5. Infinite Jest | David Foster Wallace 

With a whopping 1, 079 pages, Infinite Jest is among the longest novels ever written. Known for its unconventional narrative style, this experimental book is filled with complex ideas and language, immense detail, and endless footnotes which will keep you busy for awhile.

 

6. War and Peace | Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace is brilliant. It’s also really long. Period.

 

7. Atlas Shrugged | Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged can be eye-opening, but its philosophical and political ideas presented in lengthy monologues can be tough to grasp. The novel use of elements from multiple genres – mystery, romance, and sci-fi – may further confuse readers.

 

8. Ulysses | James Joyce

The most experienced, intellectual, and seasoned reader can come to a crossroads when they pick up this book. It’s widely known as one of the most difficult novels due to Joyce’s layered allusions, stream-of-consciousness technique, and rich vocabulary.  Ironically enough, those same qualities have made it one of the most revered book in history, and many readers who have managed to finish it have argued that the struggle is worth it.

 

9. Finnegans Wake | James Joyce

Like Ulysses, Joyce’s experimental attitude reflects on the pages of Finnegans Wake. Written over the course of seventeen years, it experiments with the English language, incorporates stream-of-consiouness technique, and has a lack of structure that can take readers just as long to finish as the author did writing it.

 

10. Gravity’s Rainbow | Thomas Pynchon

Named by Time Magazine as one of the all-time American novels, Gravity’s Rainbow has managed to dazzle and complex readers since 1923. Its 700-plus pages introduces readers to over 400 characters amidst a backdrop of World War 2 action giving readers a lot to deal with before they reach the last page.

 

11. The Brothers Karamazov | Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If you’ve noticed a theme on this list, it appears that many readers often struggle with literary works containing religious and/or philosophical ideas. The Brothers Karamazov has both. The novel deals with complex ideas, such as right vs wrong, human conscience, moral responsibility and other religious matters written over the course of 700-plus pages, enough the challenge many readers.

 

12. The Bible

One of the most widely read books, The Bible contains a series of complex stories written in intricate language whose meanings have lead to various interpretations and debate around the world. Given that stories from the Bible were originally passed along orally, its no wonder that that it can be more challenging for people to read it on paper versus hearing it aloud.

 

 

Let us know if you’ve managed to finish any of these titles and which you’d highly recommend to your fellow readers!

 

Featured image shows illustration from The Canterbury Tales via Three Gold Bees

Book days around the world

Literary Holidays From Around The World

Most readers are familiar with World Book Day, Library Week, and National Poetry Month, but most aren’t as familiar with lesser known holidays like Jolabokaflod, Burns Supper, or Bloomsday. These literary holidays from around the world keep readers looking forward to book-centric gatherings all year round.

 

1. Jólabókaflóð – December 24

 

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Image via Read It Forward

 

With Iceland publishing more books per capita than any other country with 5 titles per every 1,000 Icelanders, it’s no wonder that one of their most anticipated holidays is commonly known as the “Christmas Book Flood.” Kristjan B. Jonasson, President of the Iceland Publishers Association, said, “The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted…we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading.” Books are mostly purchased from late September to early November, thus the name of the “book flood” when the books purchased are given as gifts. 

 

2. Burns Supper – January 25

 

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Image via Pluckemin Inn

 

This annual celebration of the life and work of Scottish poet Robert Burns brings not only Scots, but also Scots-at-heart together to celebrate his literary contributions. Most commonly celebrated with dinner and drinks, the holiday not only celebrates Burns, but also Scottish culture as a whole. Dinner usually consists of Haggis, a dish made of oats, spices, and sheep offal alongside potatoes and all topped off with a whiskey sauce. 

 

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Image via The Telegraph

 

3. Bloomsday – June 16

 

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Image via NPR

 

One of the most recognized literary holidays, Bloomsday celebrates the events portrayed in James Joyce’s famous Dublin-based novel, Ulysses, along with the author himself. The day is celebrated with an assortment of activities ranging from walking tours to public readings across Dublin and around the world. On the Sunday before the 100th anniversary of the fiction events, 10,000 people in Dublin were treated to a free full Irish breakfast consisting of sausages, rashers, toast, beans, and puddings. 

 

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Image via Falvey Memorial Library Blog

 

4. National Tom Sawyer Days – July 4, 5, and 6

 

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Image via Hearld Whig

 

The National Tom Sawyer Days take place in Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Missouri with activities offered for all ages and all interested. It is celebrated every year with with a parade float, flea market, and carnival for children. Celebrated simultaneously with the Fourth of July, celebratory fireworks are set off over the Mississippi River. 

 

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Image via Visit Hannibal

 

5. Hemingway Days – July 16-21

 

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Image via Opal Unpacked 

 

Hemingway Days are celebrated every year to revel in the legacy of Ernest Hemingway, his work, and his lifestyle. Celebrated with literary readings, theatrical premiers, short story competition, fishing tournament, 5K Run, the Running of the Bulls, Paddle board race, and rounding it all out with a birthday “party” to celebrate Hemingway’s birthday on the 21st. Hemingway Days are celebrated yearly in Key West, Florida, where Hemingway wrote some of his best-known works.. 

 

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Image via Clarín

 

Featured image via Claddagh Design.