Armchair BEA Day 1 - Introductions & Literature

Monday, May 26, 2014 12:55 AM
Design by Amber of Shelf Notes
I am so excited to be a participant of Armchair BEA 2014! This is my first time participating, and I look forward to each discussion post and to visiting other book blogs! I may even join in for some of the Twitter parties, but we shall see. I am horrible at keeping up with those.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Armchair BEA and have yet to participate, Armchair BEA is for the book bloggers that cannot attend Book Expo America and/or the BEA Blogger Convention in New York City this year. This virtual convention offers some bookish discussions, giveaways and other events so us book bloggers at home won't miss out on all the fun. Armchair BEA will last from
May 26th to May 31st, 2014, and dual discussion topics are scheduled for each day. Each participant can post on one topic or both; it's all up to them. For more info on Armchair BEA 2014 and to see the overall agenda for this year, check out the website here!

For the first day, I will be answering some introductory questions to help you get to know the real Courtney Reads A Lot, and I'll be discussing what I think of when I hear the word "literature." Woohoo!

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from?

My name is Courtney, hence the blog name. I have been blogging for almost 2 years now, since July 2012, though I did take a blogging break for several months last year to sort things out. I was persuaded to blog by my close friend and fellow book blogger Amanda from Late Nights with Good Books. We went to college together, and once we realized we had similar interests in reading and writing, we bonded and have remained friends all these years. I am blogging from Pennsylvania, and I have lived there all my life.

2. What genre do you read the most? I love to read because ___________________ .

I definitely read books from the fantasy genre the most. I love to read fantasy because it allows me to visit another world, and I always enjoy the world building.

3. What does your favorite/ideal reading space look like?
My Ideal Reading Space (Source)
I'd definitely say a window seat where I can stretch my legs out, which, unfortunately, my parents' house does not have. But hopefully, someday, when I have my own place, it will have one. I also love lots of pillows and a blanket!

4. Share your favorite book or reading related quote.

I have so many, but fine, I'll pick just one.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

5. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 books would you bring? Why? What 3 non-book items would you bring? Why?

- 3 books
1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville - I have plenty of time to kill, so why not finally read this chunkster I've been meaning to pick up for years?
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - It's my favorite book of all time, and I never grow tired of it.
3. SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate, on Land or Sea by John Lofty Wiseman - If I'm going to survive on a deserted island, I need a survival guide. I'm no survivalist; I've never even been camping.

-3 non-book items
1. A machete - I'm going to need something sharp, and what seems more fearsome? A machete or a pocket knife? Let's be honest here.
2. A blanket - It could get cold, and everyone needs some comfort, especially in this type of situation.
3. A water bottle - Need to keep hydrated!

What do you think of when you think of literature? Classics, contemporary, genre, or something else entirely? We are leaving this one up to you to come up with and share the literature that you want to chat about the most. Feel free to share a list of your favorites, break down your favorite genre, feature your favorite authors, and be creative about all things literature in general.

If asked for a broader definition, I would say "literature" refers to any written work. But usually, when I think of literature, I think of classic literature. By this, I mean the classics that have stood the test of time, the ones we return to generation after generation. I may not always like them, and I may even detest some of them (here's looking at you Catcher in the Rye), but I believe they teach us some of the most important lessons we will ever learn. I was introduced to many of my favorite classics through assignments I was given in high school, but this did not make me love them any less. Here are some of the books I think of first when I hear the word "literature."

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
First Published: 1813

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. (Goodreads)

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
First Published: 1960

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature. (Goodreads)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
First Published: 1847

Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.

With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte's innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers. (Goodreads)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
First Published: 1925

This is the definitive, textually accurate edition of a classic of twentieth-century literature, The Great Gatsby. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan has been acclaimed by generations of readers. But the first edition contained a number of errors resulting from Fitzgerald's extensive revisions and a rushed production schedule. Subsequent printings introduced further departures from the author's words. This edition, based on the Cambridge critical text, restores all the language of Fitzgerald's masterpiece. Drawing on the manuscript and surviving proofs of the novel, along with Fitzgerald's later revisions and corrections, this is the authorized text-- The Great Gatsby as Fitzgerald intended it. (Goodreads)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
First Published: 1847

Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine's father. After Mr Earnshaw's death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine's brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature. (Goodreads)

1984 by George Orwell
First Published: 1949

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is more timely that ever. 1984 presents a "negative utopia," that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world—so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time. (Goodreads)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
First Published: 1818

At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankensteintells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein. (Goodreads)

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
First Published: 1854
After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There the lives of two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil roads of London, they are drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror, and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine. (Goodreads)

The Iliad by Homer
Written: 762 B.C.?

The Iliad is one of the two great epics of Homer, and is typically described as one of the greatest war stories of all time, but to say The Iliad is a war story does not begin to describe the emotional sweep of its action and characters: Achilles, Helen, Hector, and other heroes of Greek myth and history in the tenth and final year of the Greek siege of Troy. (Goodreads)

The Odyssey by Homer
Written: Between 750 and 650 B.C.?

If The Iliad is the world's greatest war epic, then The Odyssey is literature's grandest evocation of everyman's journey though life. Odysseus's reliance on his wit and wiliness for survival in his encounters with divine and natural forces during his ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War is at once a timeless human story and an individual test of moral endurance. (Goodreads)

Having read all of these books, or well, parts of these books in the case of The Iliad and The Odyssey, I can attest to the quality and the timelessness of these classics. I would recommend them to anyone, and they are just some of the books I think of whenever someone brings up the topic of literature.

What about everyone else? What do you think of when you hear the word "literature"? I look forward to your comments and to stopping by others' blogs!


  1. Awesome list of books there! I want to re-read them all over again! Good to meet you Courtney!

  2. The window seat nook for reading has long been a fantasy of mine too. Unfortunately my house does not have one! To Kill a Mockingbird was a book I loved and as you say unforgettable.

  3. Saying hello as another Armchair BEA member. This is my first time. To Kill a Mockingbird is my all time favorite book and Jane Eyre is in my top ten. :)

  4. Wonderful books you have there. I haven't had a chance to read "The Great Gasby" yet. I will never forget reading To Kill a Mockingbird nor Homer's books. Love, love, love reading Homer.

  5. You listed some of my very fave classics here, and one glaring one (1984) that I STILL haven't read!!! Happy Armchair BEA!!!!

  6. I love fantasy too, for the same reason :) I like it when things happen that can't happen in real life; love everything that has to do with magic. I also used that picture as my perfect reading spot :D

    Mel@thedailyprophecy - Introduction

  7. I love that little reading space. There aren't any window seats in my house, let alone one as gorgeous as that. If only! :) And I had no idea you and Amanda went to college together. That is so cool!

    I love the whole idea of Armchair BEA. It sounds like a lot of fun!

  8. Nice to meet your Courtney! Excellent list of lit fic. But I'm a big fantasy girl as well. Have you read The Lumateren series by Melina Marchetta? Excellent!

    1. I actually have read that series! Well, the first two. It is rather good! I love fantasy too, and I am always up for a fantasy read.

  9. I would definitely take Jane Eyre with me. Your non-book items are excellent too. I think you could make it a long time.

  10. Just read I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora. It is a middle grade novel and a most enjoyable one. Here is the link to goodreads:

    LOVE your island survival book list and items,'re thinking!

    Enjoy the rest of #armchairbea!

  11. Stopping by from #ArmchairBEA! Nice to tweet you.

  12. I love To Kill A Mockingbird. Lovely nook too! Great to meet you!


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