My Tsundoku Project: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

remarkable creaturesThe next book on the list is Remarkable Creatures by one of my favorite female authors, Tracy Chevalier. Her most well-known book, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, was made into a movie starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson. That was my favorite and the first book I’ve read of hers.

Remarkable Creatures came out years before in 2009 but I was hesitant to buy it when I read the story was about some female fossilists in the 1800s. I thought I wouldn’t be interested but how wrong I was. I loved the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. I could totally relate to them as I, myself am about society’s next casualty in the search for Mr. Right. How could I ever doubt the wisdom of Tracy Chevalier? I’ve collected her works over the years but The Girl with the Pearl Earring still holds a special place in this bookworm’s heart.

Remarkable Creatures, as you may already deduce from the synopsis at the back of the book, is not full of dark twists and turns, nor does it have scandalous intrigues or any nail-biting trill rides. It’s almost like reading a Jane Austen with a bit more substance. The drama is very subtle which could turn off most people. I appreciated the story and landscape though. From this busy city, I was transported to the misty shores of Lyme Regis, looking at fossils at it’s cliff walls and sandy beaches. I must tell you it’s a welcome escape especially since I read most of it while commuting and stuck in traffic.

I almost forgot that the characters actually existed. I just googled Mary Anning when I was more than halfway through the book. It made the story even more interesting to me. Although it was quite a spoiler when I read William Buckland actually married someone else. It’s an awww moment as I loved his eccentric character. He’s my kind of a goofy nerd.

Just like in every Tracy Chevalier book, she added some intrigues that although might be intriguing, I highly doubt happened. It’s not as though this is an accurate historical text book though. I loved the details she put in. The description of the cottage and of Lyme Regis made me want to experience it for myself. Let me put Lyme Regis in my dream list of places to go in England. (Just after High Gate Cemetery and Baker Street!)

All in all, I highly recommend this to someone who loves Jane Austen (surprise reference included), historical novels and of stories that are nuanced and not overly dramatic.

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So You Wanna Love Books but You Can’t

Disclaimer: This was posted Monday, July 4th, 2005 at 1:32 am at my former Pinoyhobbit blog at Friendster. Recycling content because these are my babies and I’m not ready to let go…and yes, I’m a lazy blogger…

I would love it if I can converse with my friends about books like I can about movies or TV… Some of you probably think it’s a lot boring work but actually it’s like an acquired taste. It’s like “balut” you know… i.e. you don’t expect an American to automatically like that egg with a duck embryo inside, now would you? But we, Pinoys can gulp down at least 2 or 3 in one sitting! The same is true with reading. I acquired it as a wee child… My sister found out that if she gives me a book, I would sit quietly at her office and not make a mess.

The only thing is, I read both the good and the “junk”! So I’m not a discriminating reader. I cringe only when I pass by the Filipino-Romance Novel section of the bookstore, but that’s it! Yes, I’ve read the Harry Potter books, I’ve passed through the Mills and Boons stage, I admit to have read those romance novels I don’t think I was suppose to read at 12 yrs old, and the fairy tales and the Dan Browns. I told you I’m not discriminating. In my defense, I also read literature (admittedly, they were the children’s version) before turning 13.

I read Bulfinch’s Mythology at 12 yrs old. I never returned it to my bro because I liked it so much. I did not like the Sweet Valley High series but I did go for the Christopher Pike series of horror stories. I remember there were two groups of bookies from my class in high school. The Romance group and the Horror group. Obviously I belonged to both. I can always have any book I wanted so I was the main source for both groups. (A lot of books were lost in this borrowing system)

When I got to college, I remember reading Sophie’s World by Gaardner. The history of philosophy did not interest me as much as the mystery that surrounds Sophie. Later, I would regret buying Gaardner’s Maya but would consider his Vita Brevis one of my all time faves. In college, too is were I found out about Zafra. (My sister’s look-a-like, No Leny, not you!) From her, other books were discovered, some of them I did like like: Ian McEwan.

And then, there was Perfume (apparently Kurt Cobain’s fave book)by Suskind, Asleep by Banana Yashimoto (I like the name! hehehe), Fountainhead by Rand, and all the books of Tracy Chevalier. There are more books in my collection but some I forgot or did not like so much.

So, I recommend these books for all the non-readers in my circle who want to be freak like me! These were the books I really liked.

Read short stories first they are quick and easy to read! I recommend: O. Henry’s collection of Short Stories, F. Sionil Jose’s Platinum & Other stories, Mananangal Terrorizes Manila & Other Short Stories by Zafra, The Day Dreamer By McEwan, Asleep by Yashimoto.

And go ahead read Harry Potter, Dan Brown and other Best Sellers! We are not snooty literature scholars anyway! If you can’t enjoy what you read, why should you bother?

Note: I’ve since enjoyed the company of people like me who love to read. I address this post to those who still can’t find the value of books in their lives.