Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekly Geeks: Time Capsule

This week's Weekly Geeks is to make a virtual time capsule:
Choose a time of your life--childhood, middle school, high school, college, etc--and create a time-capsule post to share with your readers. Include anything you like--favorite books, favorite authors, favorite series, favorite genres, favorite songs, favorite albums, favorite musicians, favorite movies, favorite tv shows, favorite toys, favorite games, favorite styles, etc. You can make it as general--or as personal--as you like. If you're brave, you might even include personal pictures! (Though that is NOT a requirement!)

Me, one Saturday, not studying.

Being bookish, I choose to focus only on books and to use those college years (undergrad and postbach) when I found the classics and discovered so many of my, now, favorites. See, I was fortunate enough to go to a smallish Liberal Arts school, where literature was taught in just about all disciplines and the humanities were required and encouraged and well taught. Thanks to so many wonderful classes, most of which were NOT lit, I discovered some fantastic authors.

John Donne

I couldn't have a time capsule from this age without a book of John Donne's poems. I absolutely fell in love with him (wish I'd remembered him for my Literary Crushes post!) at first reading--fantastic poet! We only read a few; I went out and bought a "complete" volume which is well worn and marked up now. His unusual imagery and metaphors are often quite erotic and always fantastically well penned. His later religious poems are no less fantastic. (A selection of his poems can be found online here.)

Virginia Woolf

"Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself."

A copy of Mrs. Dalloway would also have to be in this time capsule. This was my first experience with Woolf, and oh how I dreaded reading it. I remember sitting down with it, opening it up with a sigh and hours later having to force myself to stop reading and go to sleep, a converted Woolf fan after one evening's reading. I still rank her as one of my top favorites and am the only person I know that reads Woolf for pleasure.

Edmund Spenser

Ah, Spenser's Faerie Queene! How many hours have I spent rereading that for pleasure?! That's another one I owe to the college years, and another one looked on with dread. I turned out to be a very readable, lovely worded (and beautiful to listen to read out loud, even if only reading it out loud by oneself) epic adventure of knights and ladies and dragons, all allegorical if you care to figure it out and just good fun if you don't. (Now that I've looked it up on Amazon, though, and seen just how expensive it is to get a complete volume, I don't think I'll be tossing my copy in a time capsule anytime soon!)

Waugh, portrait by Lamb

This is also the time in my life when I found Evelyn Waugh, though I can't credit college with that, as it was due to the Brideshead Revisited miniseries that his works caught my interest. I've read and reread Brideshead (my copy is much marked and noted) and all Waugh's other novels as well. He has become one of my favorites as well, and no time capsule of this time would be fully representational without a copy of Brideshead.

Wilkie Collins
One last book I would have to toss in my time capsule to round off this era would be something by Wilkie Collins, most likely my favorite The Woman in White. It was during this time that I learned that not all Victorian writers are like Dickens, that (as a matter of a fact) many of them are actually easy to read and very entertaining. I can't remember how I was introduced to Collins' "sensationalism", but I fell for it and the entire genre of Victorian sensationalism as a whole. Since then, I've devoured every one I could get my hands on, from Alcott's short stories to Collins' dramas to the highly popular thrillers of M. E. Braddon. Their contemporaries considered them vulgar and scandalous, their public clamored for more and I consider them my one bad literary habit. I generally enjoy all Victorian novels (with the exception of Dickens; I've never found him enjoyable despite years of attempts) but the more sensational, the more dramatic, the more scandalous the better in my eyes.

Louisa May Alcott

As an aside, if you've only read Alcott's Little Women, allow me to suggest a selection of her short stories, or her "shocking" novella. It will give you a completely different view of this writer of juvenile classics.

So there you have it. . . A bit of a time capsule of what books where so very important, and continue to be, to me at that very influential time in my reading life.


  1. Oh oh oh! I read Woolf for pleasure! I had never heard of her until The Hours movie came out and I threw myself into that like a project and admittedly, didn't quite 'get' Mrs. Dalloway the first time. And so, since I am not much of a re-reader, I tried with Mrs.D a second time and LOVED it. Next up was To the Lighthouse and now I am a big big fan. I have her bio by Hermione Lee that I would love to start soon, too.
    I have yet to read Evelyn Waugh but am looking forward to it. and my first Wilkie Collins was last Fall and ADORED the Woman in White. Obviously, I was not an English Lit major, huh? :)

  2. Hooray for someone else that loves Woolf!

    My BA is in history, but I loved lit so much that I took a lot of lit courses as filler.

    If you decide to try Waugh, start with Scoop or Brideshead Revisted, or even the Loved One. I love all of those!