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Jane Eyre

Presenting: The Real Housewives of Classic Literature!

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Everyone loves The Real Housewives! OK, to be fair, not everyone is aware of how magical the Real Housewives can be on occasion. While a lot of people find them irritating, where else are you going to find crazy moments where weird rich women debase themselves like insane animals in a menagerie for we the people to marvel at? No matter what your opinion is on The Real Housewives franchise, it’s hard to deny that they’re a bonafide cultural phenomenon. Love them or hate them, their hilarious quips, wild cat fights and generally unblinking attitude towards affluence are here to stay. So, if we were to cast a new season of Real Housewives, populated by some of the most desperate…

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The Original Fan Fiction Prequel Marks its 50th Anniversary

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It may not be entirely fair to refer to Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (WW Norton & Co.; reissuing January 25, 2016) as the first great work of fan fiction—it stands entirely on its own as a classic. But the “prequel” to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, which celebrated its 50th anniversary of publication this week, is the grandmamma of an entire genre that has spun some classic novels. In case you missed it in English class, Wide Sargasso Sea answers one of the biggest questions from the pages of Jane Eyre—who was the woman in the attic and what drove her mad? Author Rhys wasn’t satisfied with Bronte’s explanation that all Creole women are crazy and instead spent nearly…

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TED Talks: Lisa Bu Shares How Books Help Us Discover Identity

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What was your childhood dream? Growing up in China, Lisa Bu wanted to be a Chinese Opera Singer – but her parents didn’t approve. In her TED Talk from TED 2013, Bu describes how books helped her discover her identity and branch out within her own culture. She also discusses how books transformed her thinking and helped her adapt to life in the United States. Most profoundly, she speaks about how books taught her the true purpose of dreams and aspirations: “‘Coming True’ is not the only purpose of a dream – its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can…

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From Jane Eyre to Mockingjay to Austenland: Books that Need More Sex

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I should preface this by saying I’m not a pervert. Well, not much of one anyway. But sometimes you’re reading a book and you just know that a sex scene would make all the difference. Maybe the couple is getting a little too close; maybe that kissing scene is just a little too hot. The reason doesn’t even matter really—you just pray that the characters will start to go to town. And if you’re lucky, they do. But there are times when your fave couple just chastely kisses or walks away, letting all that delicious sexual chemistry go to waste. For those of us who are a little more, um, in need of that great love scene, here are five…

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Man Crush Monday! Book Boyfriends That Have us Swooning

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We heard you and by popular demand the book boyfriends are back in honor of Man Crush Monday (#MCM)! When I first wrote about my book boyfriends, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to narrow it down to only five. I’ve been voraciously reading since I was a kid, and at this point my book-crushes are a little out of control. How could I have skipped Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre or, as one reader pointed out, Travis Maddox from Beautiful Disaster? And while those two are definitely high up on the list, they aren’t quite in my top 10. Like I said before, a book boyfriend goes beyond a simple appreciation. It’s an all-consuming love, an obsession that continues…

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What if Jane Austen had an unlimited text and data plan?

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Anyone with a college education can clearly—and sometimes painfully—recall being assigned some of literature’s classic works. Sometimes they were enjoyable—hello, Greek mythology! Sometimes, not so much– I do not care what anyone says, Les Miserables should have stayed on the shelf and out of my backpack. Fortunately, our suffering was not in vain. We have now been rewarded with the hilarious Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg (Henry Holt & Co., Nov. 4, 2014). If you give Circe a smartphone, what would she text? How about Lizzie Bennet’s mother? This hilariously modern take on some of literature’s best known characters answers that question. Funny and irreverent, Text from Jane Eyre stays…

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What kind of flower are you? Six literary heroines and their floral alter egos

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A red rose means love. A daisy, innocence. A violet signifies faithfulness. Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s bestselling novel The Language of Flowers (Ballantine, 2011) sparked renewed interest in Victorian “floriography,” or flower symbolism. Recipients used floral dictionaries to decode the meanings of complicated “talking bouquets” and made floral arrangements to communicate feelings society would not permit them to say aloud. To celebrate spring, BookTrib offers a bouquet of seasonal blooms and their fictional counterparts. These female characters (and one real-life heroine) are no shrinking violets. Daffodil: Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind)  The daffodil, also called the narcissus, has several meanings in floriography. Sharing a name with a Greek character who falls in love with his own reflection, it’s no surprise that…

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My dear, you SHOULD give a damn

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Lists are everywhere. Books are everywhere. So it makes sense that lists about books are omnipresent. There are lists of the best books ever written, the worst books ever written, the books you should read before you die, the books you should read to make sure you never die (immortal vampires, anyone?), and everything in between. I hate to be the one to break it to you that it is impossible for you to read all the books currently in publication, let alone the thousands coming down the pike. Even with that new-fangled app that purports to let you read a novel in 90 minutes (that’s a gripe for another time), you simply won’t get to turn every page of…

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I’d like an order of fashion with my literature, please

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After I got back one of my latest book edits, I noticed that my editor had crossed out about half a page. The note next to it said something like this: “unnecessary description.” And then, “I think you might be a little obsessed with clothes.” Well, she had me there. I am—as all of my friends and family can attest to—more than a little obsessed with clothes. But it’s not just that I have a lot of them (and I do, trust me). I also like to talk about them. I want to know where you got that shirt and those shoes, I check about ten different style blogs every day, and when I’m reading a book I have a…

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Need a date (or want to stay single)? Open a book.

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Literature is rife with romantic prospects, as well as those people your mother would tell you to avoid at all costs. When you’re sitting at home, staring at your bookshelf this Valentine’s Day, consider these fictional characters who would arguably make a better (or infinitely worse) date than that one you’re either preparing (or wishing) for. There’s someone here for everyone. Let’s start with the ones in the plus column.     Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice): Everyone’s (or at least most people’s) favorite eligible Austen man, Mr. Darcy is the one you want if you’re into hate-at-first-sight that eventually blossoms into love.         Count Dracula (Bram Stoker’s Dracula): A less obvious choice, but…

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