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through freshly pressed, i (and hundreds of others) discovered a new blog about books, which reminded me just why i started blogging in the first place: i like words. i like to teach them, i like to write them, i like to speak them and i especially like to read them.

this new blog, the insatiable booksluts (good name, no?) has inspired me with a challenge: to write the first few lines of the book i’m currently reading and my reaction.

according to the author of the blog, this challenge was originally found here. i don’t want to leave anyone out or not give credit where it’s due.

i couldn’t find a picture of my version online, as it’s old and falling apart and cost me a euro at the english books and tea shop here in cologne.

first lines:

**note: i am not including either the introduction or the preface, as i don’t understand why books have them and i make it a point never to read them (something my lit teachers in college would get quite annoyed at)

the rambler who, for old association’s sake, should trace the forsaken coach-road running almost in a meridional line from bristol to the south shore of england, would find himself during the latter half of his journey in the vicinity of some extensive woodlands, interspersed with apple-orchards. here the trees, timber or fruit-bearing as the case may be, make the wayside hedges ragged by their drip and shade, their lower limbs stretching in level repose over the road, as though reclining on the insubstantial air.

this might just be extremely un-hardy-ish of me, but i feel like a “boo-yah” is necessary. i mean, right? doesn’t everyone finish a sentence by hardy and simply shake their head in amazement?

no? let me repeat: “…their lower limbs stretching in level repose over the road, as though reclining on the insubstantial air.”

there are a few genres of literature that i’m just a sucker for: victorian, magical realism, and southern (both à la faulkner and à la ya-ya sisterhood). and well, within those genres, there are some folks that i’m quite partial to, thomas hardy probably being first and foremost.

so, yeah, i’m loving this book, as i knew i would.

one of my favorite parts is how the english countryside is the main character, and you can see it as early on as these first lines. wessex, hardy’s “merely realistic dream country” (stolen as a quote from wikipedia), is completely personified and plays such a major role in the all of his novels, that it’s amazing i don’t skim-read more (which i normally do during the “boring” bits, even of books i love).

i’ll leave you with my favorite quote thus far:

it was a house in whose reverberations queer old personal tales were yet audible if properly listened for; and not, as with those of the castle and cloister, silent beyond the possibility of echo.”

** edit: i’d like to read this novel again sometime and count how many times the word “woodland”, in some form or another, appears. of course, i’m not criticizing. after all, it’s not up to me, a mere mortal, to question what the illustrious thomas hardy does. i’m merely curious.

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