2017 Reading List #2: Lady Windermere’s Fan, by Oscar Wilde

The best thing about attending/working at a university where winter break is 5-6 weeks long is how much reading can get done in that time frame.

I’m doing my best to get off to a good start in 2017, and so far, I feel good about my progress.

I’m currently juggling three reading projects at once—sometimes I don’t know how to stop—but I try to balance various genres and goals when reading multiple things at once.

My mom and I are reading the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets together (which is how we first read them when I was much younger), and after finishing Swing Time yesterday, I started on another book that’s helping to cross off one of my 2017 goals: A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf (I’ve never read her before, so I decided it was time to start).

But, since A Room of One’s Own can be complex and less readable that a typical novel, I decided to throw a play into the mix, which is how Lady Windermere’s Fan happened late last night.Reading two plays by Oscar Wilde is also a goal in 2017, and I’ll soon be able to cross that one off.

Lady Windermere’s Fan shows off Wilde’s characteristic witticism and is entirely enjoyable. Like many of Wilde’s plays, this one has it’s fair share of farcical elements, but it’s also a bit sweeter and sadder than something like The Importance of Being Earnest. The play takes place over 24 hours in the life of Lady Windermere, a young woman led to believe that her husband is having an affair with the new harlot in town. In truth, the relationship between her husband and the woman is more complicated, and all kinds of fun ensues during the play’s progress.

I sped through this play much quicker than I’d expected, so I’m planning to continue my Wilde reading alongside Woolf. I’ve got a collection of Wilde’s plays with three more to read, so I think I may just power through the entire thing before setting it aside.

Look for more reflection on my various reading projects in the coming days.

Happy reading!


2016 Reading List #18: Biloxi Blues, by Neil Simon

My 2016 reading list is off to a nice start! Once again, my readings have been greatly bolstered by reading plays, but I’m just as interested in expanding my theatrical knowledge as any other genre, so I do what I can.

After reading Brighton Beach Memoirs two years ago for a class, I was happy to find a copy of Biloxi Blues at a discount bookstore to continue reading Neil Simon’s trilogy. Biloxi Blues is mostly light and funny, though there are some real moments of seriousness as the play revolves around a group of training soldiers in the midst of World War II.

Since finishing After You, I’ve tried to keep my recreational reading to a minimum–that oral exam I have in three weeks (!) requires some serious studying, so I can’t let myself wander too far into fun reading territory. Plays and poetry (which I’ve never considered leisurely reading until recently) have helped me stay sane and entertained while not being too distracting from exam prep.

However, since it’s spring break, I’m letting myself have a little freedom and plan to read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go this week. I saw the movie when it came out in 2010 and really liked it, so I have high hopes for the book. Stay tuned for an update soon!

Books #34 and 35: Angels in America, by Tony Kushner

Just minutes ago, I finished reading Part Two of Tony Kushner’s epic drama, Angels in America. I’m not quite sure how to feel about it, mostly because I don’t know if I even understood all of it.

Angels in America is pretty safely known as one of the must-reads in gay and lesbian literature, with good reason. Kushner takes on AIDS-riddled New York in a mythic way. The play follows the lives of several interrelated characters, two of whom are diagnosed with the disease, while the others suffer its fallout.

At this point, I think the biggest struggle I’m having is due to the fact that I’ve just read the play, not seen it. You can’t deny that plays are written to be watched, so that’s what I need to do. I’ve added the HBO miniseries adaptation of the play to my “to watch” list, and I imagine I’ll move on that soon so I can see how the visual production works

Though my thoughts overall are a bit muddled, I can say a few things with certainty. This play is absolutely essential reading for lovers of drama, or really anyone looking to understand more about the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s. I was discussing this with my mom the other day, but I still don’t really know how to articulate it: reading about or seeing representations of AIDS always hits me harder than other illness, and I’m not sure why. I think it’s something to do with the helplessness and despair, and the politically and socially charged nature of the disease. It taps an emotion in me that I don’t quite understand. Needless to say, I’ll be thinking on this one for some time.

Book #11: Come Back, Little Sheba, by William Inge

My William Inge reading streak continues with Come Back, Little Sheba. I’m reading one last play by Inge before moving on to anything else, so stay tuned.

I was less interested in this play that Inge’s others that I’ve read, but I didn’t dislike it. It’s a shorter play, and I just generally felt like it didn’t have a strong of an impact on me.

The play centers on the lives of Lola and her husband, Doc, and a college-aged woman who rents a room from them, named Marie. Lola is lonely and desires a more exciting life, though she isn’t quite sure how to get it.

Lots of the play’s conflict hinges on the lack of communication between Lola and Doc, who married young because she was pregnant (only to lose the baby). The play presents challenges in marriage, but I didn’t feel like it said as much as I’d hoped.

Now on to the last Inge play in my collection: Bus Stop. I hope I enjoy this one a bit more.

Book #66: As You Like It, by William Shakespeare

My first real reading project of grad school is complete! I’ve also been reading lots of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories and other academic works, but As You Like It was my first real project for my Shakespeare class. This grad school thing is starting to feel real.

As far as Shakespeare’s plays go, I think As You Like It is a good place to start. The last time I read any Shakespeare was almost five years ago, when I read King Lear for my AP English class my senior year of high school. It’s definitely fair to say that I’ve needed a bit of a transition to get back into reading such dense works. 

As You Like It is, in my opinion, a fairly easy read in comparison with other Shakespeare works, so I’m happy to have read it now to ease myself back into the Shakespeare experience. It’s also a fun, light story with an easy-to-follow plot, and features the very recognizable “All the world’s a stage” speech. 

I have a feeling that, now two weeks into my semester, I’m reaching a point when I’ll be much busier with my school work. I thankfully have a week or two before my next Shakespeare work is due, but in the mean time, I’m reading Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and beginning Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. I think it’s safe to say that the remainder of 2014 will be full of rigorous reading for me.