The Decameron

“Essere la natura de’ motti cotale, che essi come la pecora morde deono cosi mordere l’uditore, e non come ‘l cane: percio che, se come cane mordesse il motto, non sarebbe motto, ma villania” – The Decameron, Boccaccio
The nature of wit is such that its bite must be like that of a sheep rather than a dog, for if it were to bite the listener like a dog, it would no longer be wit but abuse. 

The Decameron is 600-years old collection of novellas by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio. The book contains 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three men who are sheltering in a villa outside Florence. Decameron apparently has something to do with number ten. Ten nights are spent telling stories. The book is quite humorous, the tales are full of wit and practical jokes and from time to time they offer some wisdom, although some of the tales are quite old-fashioned.

.There’s  a lot to The Decameron and that makes it hard to review it. There’s a lot of sex and many tales center priests and women. On the other hand, it’s always nice when church is mocked. There are many lies and lots of deceit in Decameron and those two are perhaps the core themes here.

“Io ho inteso che un gallo basta assai bene a diece galline, ma che diece uomini posson male o con fatica una femina sodisfare.” – The Decameron, Boccaccio
I have always been given to understand…that whereas a single cock is quite sufficient for ten hens, ten men are hard put to satisfy one woman.

I liked how they were well aware of these natural laws like there was Murphy’s Law Nature, Fate, Fortune No matter what you do in life, life is out of control. Characters in stories are prank each other yes, however there also seems to be a lot of bad luck.

I also liked this tragic backstory. Our storytellers have ended up in villa outside Florence because they are trying to escape the Black Death raging in Florence. Good sense of humor is vital survival skill. I’m rating this book 4/5 stars. It might seem quite high, however I wasn’t expecting anything much from this, in fact I don’t think I have ever even heard of this book so it was quite entertaining read.

How- To Read The Decameron
1.
You should really chew on it. The Decameron has so many themes and many wise lines so just take your time with it.
2. Paperback has almost 900 pages… so definitely take your time. Maybe read one tale a day? Maybe ask fellow readers which tales they liked.
3. If you have to read this for college or for some literature class, just skip reading and wikipedia what happens in book. It will be painful to read this for a class :D
4. Tales about lustful monks might tire you but main theme of Decameron is lies and deceit so it’s quite entertaining even with sex factor. Reading this is like watching a soap opera.
5. If you’re really excited about this, I would recommend you this book called La Divina Commedia from fellow Italian for further reading.

“Leggiadre donne, infra molte bianche colombe aggiugne più di bellezza uno nero corvo, che non farebbe un candido cigno.” – The Decameron, Boccaccio
Charming ladies, the beauty of a flock of white doves is better enhanced by a black crow than by a pure white swan.

This book pretty much  wrecked my Goodreads ‘year published’ stats. There’s no fixing that huge century-long gap… is there. Have you read any books written centuries ago that you have liked? Have you read The Decameron?

//Anastasia

All pictures very kindly borrowed from the internet & Wikipedia Commons.

Eragon

“First, let no one rule your mind or body. Take special care that your thoughts remain unfettered… . Give men your ear, but not your heart. Show respect for those in power, but don’t follow them blindly. Judge with logic and reason, but comment not. Consider none your superior whatever their rank or station in life. Treat all fairly, or they will seek revenge. Be careful with your money. Hold fast to your beliefs and others will listen.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Eragon is the first novel in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Shortly about the plot, the book tells the story of a farm boy named Eragon who lives in a small village in the kingdom of Alagaësia. In the very beginning of the book, Eragon finds a mysterious stone. Or so it appears until Eragon realizes it’s not a stone but an egg. A dragon egg which should not be possible as dragons have long disappeared from Alagaësia. The reason for their extinction is a dragon rider Galbatorix who killed all the dragon riders and their dragons and crowned himself king. Of course, Galbatorix soon finds out about Eragon and Saphira and wants to hunt them down.

“The greatest enemy is one that has nothing to lose.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

I first read Eragon when I was 13 and back then I was immediately hooked by this story and it’s just impossible not to adore Saphira. I was so enamored with her, that I used her name + some characters as my first nickname in various internet pages. Reading and reviewing Eragon now, ten years later, is harder than I expected. There are issues with Eragon and you have to keep in mind that Christopher was only 15 when he wrote Eragon (I was so jealous of that fact). Sometimes the pace of the book is very fast and sometimes one event seems to go on for tens of pages. Writing is a bit clumsy and there are grammatical errors.

“It’s amazing that a man who is dead can talk to people through these pages. As long as this books survives, his ideas live.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Where the magic of Eragon lies, is the interaction between Eragon and Saphira.  Their relationship is everything you want a creature and a human to have. And I love how they’re similar, yet different in many aspects and how they grow in the story.

5/5 stars

How-To Read Eragon
1.
If you love Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance or Earthsea series, I’m sure you’ll adore the Inheritance Cycle. There are similarities between this one and LotR that may annoy some readers, yet I think that if you read enough of books, you’ll see that there are nothing but similarities everywhere. 
2.
This is a wonderful read for fantasy lovers and especially for dragon lovers. Though the length of the book is not very easy.
3.
You can read a sample chapter of the book by clicking here.
4.
There’s a movie adaptation yay. The movie got mostly unfavorable reviews. I just don’t get why they always fail with movie adaptations of great books like this.
5.
 Eragon is the first part of the Inheritance Cycle, so if you liked this, you’ll have 3 more books to go.

“Books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Have you read Eragon? Who is your favorite dragon in literature?

The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up

“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy is J. M. Barrie’s most famous work, in the form of a 1904 play and a 1911 novel. It tells the story of Peter Pan, a mischievous little boy who can fly, and has many adventures on the island of Neverland that is inhabited by mermaids, fairies, Native Americans, and pirates.

“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. ”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I think Peter Pan was something that I first learned about through Disney’s film adaptation many years ago. I think no matter in what format you first learned about this story, it will always be a story of making the impossible possible by believing. And that one must believe in fairies.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

There are many magical things about Peter Pan’s story. The story is wonderful. Something magical happens and three ordinary kids are taken to a magical land. The Neverland and to find it you must find the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. And there they encounter many different kinds of adventures.

“Stars are beautiful, but they may not take part in anything, they must just look on forever.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Characters are one of a kind, I think. There’s the one and only boy who would not grow up, Peter Pan, a young boy dressed in leaves and the only one able to fly without the help of Tinker Bell’s golden fairy dust. And Tinker Bell. I understand very well why she became the messenger of Disney’s magic. She’s no fancy fairy, she mends pots and kettles and even though she’s usually helpful and kind to Peter, from time to time she’s also ill-behaved and vindictive.

“Tink was not all bad: or, rather, she was all bad just now, but, on the other hand, sometimes she was all good. Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time. They are, however, allowed to change, only it must be a complete change.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Then there’s The Darling Family and the children: John, Michael & Wendy Darling. The lattest one is the eldest one of the children who likes the idea of homemaking and wants to be a mother which she sort of also becomes for the Lost Boys. I never liked Wendy’s character for some reason. & The Lost Boys, sad but fascinating idea about how they turned up in Neverland. And then also one of my all-time favorite villains: Captain James Hook. Who wants to kill Peter Pan. Not so much because Peter cut off his right hand but because Peter drives him to madness. Oh and the ticking crocodile.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I really adore Peter Pan, however, I can’t quite bring myself to give it 5 stars review as there were a couple of things that I did not like: Wendy was really annoying and the last chapter of the story was also rather annoying. I think perhaps the book would have been better without it. And then the background of this story is a sad one.

“To live will be an awfully big adventure.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

4/5 stars

How-To Read Peter Pan
1.
A dear child has many names. This novel goes by different titles such as: Peter Pan or Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy. If you’re looking for one with illustrations you might want to look for Peter & Wendy.
2.
There are two prequels to Peter Pan’s story called: Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens: “Before he flew away to Neverland, the little boy who wouldn’t grow up dwelt in the heart of London, with birds and fairies as his companions.” and  The Little White Bird where only few chapters are about Peter Pan and the rest focus on Barrie’s ponderings. I think only Peter Pan’s story matters but if you’re a fan, I warmly recommend the first part too.
3.
You can read and download Peter Pan and all the other works by J.M. Barrie for free at Project Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16
4.
Don’t get me started about Disney’s adaptation. I love it. And it’s nice to read the story after you’ve seen the film. The novel is a bit darker.
5. Clap your hands and say, ‘I believe in fairies!’

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Thoughts? Did you first read Peter Pan or see the Disney adaptation of it?

Watership Down

“All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

Watership Down is a classic adventure novel, written by Richard Adams. It’s set in southern England and the story features a small group of rabbits who escape the destruction of their warren and seek a place to establish a new home, encountering perils and temptations along the way.

“Animals don’t behave like men,’ he said. ‘If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill they kill. But they don’t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures’ lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

I first read Watership Down approximately ten years ago. It’ll always hold a special place in my heart. The rabbit characters are very sympathetic. Then, I loved the fact that the rabbits had their very own language called Lapine, and they also have their own religion and history. For example, the story of  El-ahrairah, the rabbit folk hero.

“You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it’s not that simple.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

I guess it’s hard to write something such as Watership Down and for that I applaud the author. (I was saddened by the news of his passing last year.) I mean story featuring rabbits might sound a bit absurd at first. However, it’s far from absurd because of the well-thought story and the well-written characters as well as the serious tone the whole novel carries. I don’t know, in my experience, it’s something about the genre. If the story is told from the animal’s perspective or narrated by an animal, it eventually turns sad.

“The rabbits mingled naturally. They did not talk for talking’s sake, in the artificial manner that human beings – and sometimes even their dogs and cats – do. But this did not mean that they were not communicating; merely that they were not communicating by talking.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

“I’d rather succeed in doing what we can than fail to do what we can’t.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

“Men will never rest till they’ve spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down

5/5 stars

(I suppose most of my reviews here have been four/five stars. I’m mostly only reviewing my favorite books, not every book I read because I don’t have time for it and I don’t see why bad books should deserve more attention)

Tips
1.
It’s quite a long book, nearly 500 pages and I think it gets really interesting only after couple of hundred pages so don’t give up on it right away. If you’re planning on buying this, I recommend buying  40th anniversary edition you can see in the pictures above. It’s just gorgeous.
2. 
I think this is a good book for everyone really. There are so many lessons you can learn by reading this: about the corruption of power and about compromises and about good leadership.  And I guess about how evil humans are but that there are always two sides to a coin.
3. 
If you love animal xenofiction, this one is for you and you’ll probably like other books by Richard Adams too, for example, The Plague Dogs and Traveller.
4. 
There’s a follow-up to Watership Down called Tales from Watership Down which Adams finished nearly 20 years after the first book. I warmly recommend reading it if you want to dive deeper into world Adams had created in this first novel.
5.
There’s an animated film and also tv series of Watership Down…both quite sad.

Have you read Watership Down? Thoughts?

//Anastasia

Top Ten Folio Society Covers

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: “Cover Theme Freebie: literally anyyyything about covers….top ten covers that scream Spring, ten books with ice cream on the cover, ten books with blue covers, etc. etc.” I decided to show you all my favorite Folio Society covers….now I still have to save enough of money to buy all these pretty babies.

1.  Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Illustrated by Illustrated by Andrew Davidson

“The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”
― Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express

2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
Illustrated by John Tenniel

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

3. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Dave McKean

“Hey,” said Shadow. “Huginn or Muninn, or whoever you are.”
The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.
“Say ‘Nevermore,'” said Shadow.
“Fuck you,” said the raven.”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

4. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Illustrated by Maurice and Edward J. Detmold

“Now, don’t be angry after you’ve been afraid. That’s the worst kind of cowardice.”
― Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Illustrated by Anna and Elena Balbusso

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

6.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Illustrated by Sam Wolfe Connelly

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

7. The Shining by Stephen King
Illustrated by Edward Kinsella

 “Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in.”
― Stephen King, The Shining

8.  A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Illustrated by Ben Jones

“The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.”
― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

9. Mort by Terry Pratchett
Illustrated by Omar Rayyan

“Albert grunted. “Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?”
Mort thought for a moment.
“No,” he said eventually, “what?”
There was silence.
Then Albert straightened up and said, “Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ’em right.”
― Terry Pratchett, Mort

10. The Narrative  of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe
Illustrated by David Lupton

“Sensations are the great things, after all. Should you ever be drowned or hung, be sure and make a note of your sensations; they will be worth to you ten guineas a sheet.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket and Related Tales

All pictures from Folio Society website.
Happy TTT!