Quarterly Bookthoughts: Apr-Jun 2019

The second quarter was a less jam-packed with books than the first three months of 2019. I read four in total: the first two volumes of the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, and two novels by two Brontë sisters.

The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

I had heard good things about this fantasy series from Holly Dunn, a book cover designer I follow on Instagram. When I finally picked up The Name of the Wind, I instantly saw why author Patrick Rothfuss has such a devoted fan base. He’s a gifted writer; the world he’s created is rich and interesting; the fantasy elements of the story have a scientific twist that makes them feel grounded in reality. After devouring the first book, I started the second as soon as I could.

The only complaint I have is that some parts — how can I put this? — some parts made me think, “This was definitely written by a man.” The protagonist is kind of a Marty Stu. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed both novels and look forward to the third installment.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I had been under the impression that Jane Eyre was a dark, brooding, melodramatic story (perhaps due to the vibe of the film adaptations). That’s why I avoided reading it for so long. But this year I was determined to check it off my list, and I am so glad I finally did.

What a beautiful book. I had become so accustomed to the style of authors like Austen — where actions, feelings, and even dialogue sometimes lurk between the lines — that Charlotte Brontë’s writing seemed especially vivid to me. I also quickly fell in love with Jane as a character: Her lively imagination, sense of self worth, and “get shit done” attitude were refreshing and admirable. I wasn’t sold on Mr. Rochester for most of the book, but even he won me over in the end.

(If you’d like to see some quotes from Jane Eyre that I hand-lettered, click through below to the original Instagram post.)

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

After finishing Jane Eyre, I dove into another Brontë novel. I am astonished that this intense, hopeful, moving story has not been turned into a sweeping cinematic romance à la Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice (it has been adapted for radio, theater, and television, but never for film).

I admire Anne Brontë’s wisdom and courage to write this book as she felt it needed to be written. Some parts were painful to read; they dragged on agonizingly, but that only made it easier to relate to the characters’ feelings of anticipation. Some critics, however, objected to the impropriety of the content, so Brontë defended her choices in a preface to the second edition. Even if you don’t read the book, I urge you to read the preface. I had a difficult time choosing just one quote from it to feature here:

Oh, reader! if there were less of this delicate concealment of facts — this whispering, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace, there would be less of sin and misery to the young of both sexes who are left to wring their bitter knowledge from experience.

Anne Brontë

The book also addresses gender roles, marriage, domestic abuse, alcoholism, and parenting (including one scene with a very satisfying retort to mommy-shamers). And despite the heavy subject matter, the ending — do I have to say “spoiler alert”? — is a happy one.

With that, I’m caught up on Bookthoughts! The next installment will comprise my July, August, and September reads. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts in the comments below, on Instagram, or on Twitter.

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