It does sometimes seem as though the months of May and June have just become synonymous with exams. For the last five years of my life that’s what they’ve been – and this year was no exception (for May at least!) Naturally, exams always tend to equal a decline in the amount of reading for pleasure that I’m able to do, and so I only actually managed to read one short book this month. That being said, I did have a good month for watching films that I’ve never seen before, and I also accumulated some new books for my birthday this month which I thought I would show as well!
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
This was a re-read for me, as I needed to think of a book that I could do either a feminist or Marxist reading of for my literary theory exam and this seemed to work nicely for both. I was reminded instantly why I loved it so much the first time around; Wilde’s prose is dripping with luxury and extravagance, while his sharp social criticisms leave you marvelling at their wit.
The story follows Dorian Gray, an attractive yet naïve young man, who is gradually drawn into the power of his own beauty, believing it to excuse all of his poor actions. The consequences prove deadly, and Dorian is left to reconsider his own morals.
I think what I love the most about this book is the message throughout, and how perfectly the ending ties together everything that Wilde has built up but in a way that still completely takes you off guard – I’d read it already, and was somehow still taken aback. I honestly think that using a painting as a central focus, so that the reader can clearly see how visceral the change is in Dorian’s mindset, is genius. It just works so well.
The interactions between characters then add the witty commentary alongside this; admittedly Lord Henry does go on for a bit too long sometimes, but it’s worth it overall to convey Wilde’s own criticisms. All of the dialogue sparks with life and humour, while Dorian’s internal monologues provide a greater depth to what he verbalises, making this a read that is full of layers and underlying conflicted states. Without a doubt, I’d recommend it as a great introduction to classics: the writing style is relatively accessible, and it’s a short read which will really make you think, at only 194 pages.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Some Like It Hot (1959) – Unexpectedly hilarious and ahead of its time (4/5 stars)
Casablanca (1942) – Slow in many parts but did enough to keep me interested (3/5 stars)
The Danish Girl (2015) – Beautiful cinematography, although as I understand it, lacking in a lot of historical accuracy (4/5 stars)
I was lucky enough to receive three books for my birthday this year; two of which were picked by family from a list that they asked me to provide, and one was a complete surprise (but happened to be a book that I desperately wanted anyway!)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – A classic that almost everyone seems to have read, and one that I think will be useful to have in mind further into my degree.
Circe by Madeline Miller – History and mythology is a perfect combination, and I know how well-loved this book is already in the book blogging community!
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – One of the most highly anticipated in my plan of embarking upon reading more historical fiction.
Considering that revision took up so much of my time in May, I’m pleased that I even managed to finish one book this month. I’m now three books behind in my 2018 Goodreads goal, but I am sure that the long summer will provide me with many opportunities to dive into the books that are calling me from my shelves. I hope you read some good books in May; if you did, please let me know your recommendations!
Have a lovely day, and if you’re still in the middle of exam season, good luck!